What Is Conversational
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, 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
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
How Did the Science of Conversational Hypnosis
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
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
How Does Conversational Hypnosis Work?
The power of conversational hypnosis depends on three things, which describe the three stages of
covert hypnosis. These are:
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
(http://www.conversational-hypnosis.com). 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 http://store.kevinhogan.com/covertsubliminalinfluence.aspx
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!