Conversational Hypnosis

What Is Conversational Hypnosis? 

The art of conversational hypnosis involves using interactive conversation between the hypnotist and another person to give indirect suggestions to the “subject.” It is also sometimes referred as covert hypnosis because of the subtle nature of the suggestions being given during a conversation, without the subject been aware that hypnosis is taking place.

How Does It Differ from Other Forms of Hypnosis?

Hypnosis, as we usually think of it, is the induction of a trancelike state in which the attention and concentration of the subject is intensely focused upon the hypnotist. The subject’s orientation to the surrounding reality gradually decreases. The focus on the hypnotist emphasizes the power of direct suggestions made by the hypnotist, and makes the subject receptive to these suggestions.

Hypnotherapy is hypnosis carried out in a clinical setting, with an expressly therapeutic purpose. Many states require a medical or psychological background of any person calling himself a “hypnotherapist.”

Self-hypnosis is like hypnosis in its total mental focus and fading of the usual orientation to general reality. However, in self-hypnosis, successful persuasions toward behavioral changes are effected through suggestions made by the self.

You may have heard that all hypnosis is ultimately self-hypnosis. This means that hypnosis can be successful only if your subconscious mind is willing to let someone lead you into the trance state. No suggestion given to you while in hypnotic trance will be followed unless your subconscious mind agrees to it. This means that you are always in control of yourself, at the deepest level, during a hypnotic experience. This holds true for covert hypnosis just as much as for other forms of hypnotism.

How Did the Science of Conversational Hypnosis Develop?

Milton H. Erickson

Milton H. Erickson, MD (1901-1980) was an American psychiatrist whose specialties were family therapy and medical hypnosis. As a child in Wisconsin, he intended to follow his father into farming. However, a severe case of polio at the age of 17 left him paralyzed and unable to speak for some time. He was comatose for several days and not expected to live. On the critical night where he was at his worst, he had another formative "autohypnotic experience".

Erickson’s personal experience of recalling his own “body memories” during the period of his paralysis, and then retraining his body based on those memories, was pivotal to the theories he later developed around non-verbal communication and its significance.

Erickson was the first to state that we all pass into and out of the “trance state” many times each day. He maintained that trance is the normal, natural condition whenever we are sharply focused or deeply immersed in an experience like reading or listening to music. In fact, the trance state is so common and familiar to all of us that we generally fail to recognize it as a hypnotic phenomenon.

As a psychiatrist and clinical hypnotist, Milton H. Erickson built on his belief that the unconscious mind is always aware and listening, to create a theory of conversational hypnosis. Whereas ordinary hypnotic technique tends to be authoritarian, giving the subject direct suggestions in the form of commands, Erickson’s linguistic technique induces trance during a conversation between subject and hypnotist. His indirect suggestions invite change rather than insisting upon it; they resonate with the unconscious, instead of causing it to resist.

How Does Conversational Hypnosis Work?

The power of conversational hypnosis depends on three things, which describe the three stages of covert hypnosis. These are:

1. Rapport

Developing a rapport with the person you wish to hypnotize sounds like such an easy, basic step. After all, in almost any conversation, you’d hope that the relation between you and the person with whom you’re conversing would be harmonious, marked by accord and affinity.

To establish rapport, you need both to make yourself comfortable and to make the other person trust you. You can express sympathy with that person’s position on an issue, for example, or you can show that you know how it feels to have something similar happen to you. Or you can simply agree with whatever he is saying.

Suppose you are a jewelry salesperson, and a potential customer is looking for a piece of jewelry for his wife. Your agreement that jewelry is the perfect gift, that she will be delighted with his idea, and that he’s very discerning to have chosen this particular store is part of the art of establishing rapport.

2. Confusion

Once you sense that the other person trusts you, and feels at ease with you, it’s time for the power of confusion. When a person is confused, he is thrown off guard; he is vulnerable, and unconsciously seeks to resolve the situation. Milton H. Erickson taught that when a person suddenly encounters the totally unexpected in the midst of the expected, he automatically and naturally falls into a trance while his mind attempts to figure out what’s happening. This is the moment of “confusion,” a moment that you can use to advantage to slip in a few indirect suggestions. Your subject will be open and receptive to your suggestions while in the confusion-induced trance.

The verbal non sequitur is the perfect linguistic technique for introducing confusion into a conversation. Merriam-Webster Online defines the Latin non sequitur as: “a statement (as a response) that does not follow logically from or is not clearly related to anything previously said.” So, to continue the example of wanting to sell the customer a piece of jewelry, the second stage of your covert hypnosis might go like this:

Customer: I don’t know… I don’t really think this is the right piece for her.

You: It’s a good thing that cars fall from the clouds.

Customer: (blank look)

You: Isn’t it funny how easy it is to change your mind? You know, I used to think I didn’t like baseball at all; but then I attended a few games and found that I loved it. You may soon realize that the same is true of this piece of jewelry. You may find that your wife just loves it.

3. Suggestion

You first induced the trance state by introducing confusion with a non sequitur; then you offered a metaphor to overcome the customer’s resistance. Because of the trance, your indirect suggestions slide right in without being noticed. Faced with confusion, the customer seeks resolution, which is conveniently at hand in your metaphor.

Where Can I Find Out More about Conversational Hypnosis?

There are many websites on the Internet that offer both information and education about conversational hypnosis. A number of courses are available, many in the form of a set of CDs and a manual, others through online downloads. One of the best appears to be the course offered by the Private Hypnosis Club ( The course is titled “The Power of Conversational Hypnosis,” and is presented by Master Hypnotist Igor Ledochowski. The cost of the course, which includes 16 CDs, a huge manual containing session transcripts as well as instructions, and several bonus booklets. User reviews are unanimous in praising the high quality of Ledochowski’s classes.

Another highly-praised course is Kevin Hogan’s “Covert Hypnosis.” Information about this course can be found at

Whether you decide just to read several articles on conversational hypnosis or to enroll in one of the online classes and become a practitioner of Milton H. Erickson’s linguistic technique, please keep one important caveat in mind at all times. Conversational hypnosis is an extremely powerful tool, and it is your responsibility to use it both ethically and legally. If you do so, you can change your life in ways you can only begin to imagine now!

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