Words have power. For us to understand something we have to place that word into an emotional context (Don’t believe me? Let me give you a tirade of personal abuse and see how long you can remind yourself it is only words…)

And one of the words I noticed still seems to create an incredibly emotional response is the word “hypnosis”. The response still tends to be negative.

I say still, because hypnosis is becoming increasingly mainstream thanks mainly to an increase in research of the positive effects in a therapeutic context.

But I still hear phrases like “It’s manipulative” or “its dangerous” or “it doesn’t work” or “you won’t make me act like a chicken will you?”

Maybe these are some of the things you have thought when you have heard the term hypnosis or maybe you have heard such phrases from clients or friends when you mention what you do.

So, how can we reframe the term and get people comfortable with the idea of hypnosis and show them that it isn’t anything evil?

Well, after noticing this regular resistance with the term hypnosis I started working on a strategy to reframe the meaning of hypnosis and make people feel more comfortable with the term. My first thoughts were to just avoid the word altogether and use another phrase such as “persuasive language patterns” (as some organisations try and do), but the problem with that is that hypnosis and trance are so intrinsically linked to NLP that it is difficult to avoid.

So, to “arm” myself, I did a little research into the term “hypnosis” to see what was quite so evil about it. And here is what I discovered…

Hypnosis is a way of creating a “trance like state”.

A “trance state” is defined as an “altered state”.

An “altered state” is an other mental state (or mood?) than you are in right now. So, if you are unhappy and someone tells you a joke and makes you laugh they have altered your state, therefore they have hypnotised you.

So, essentially all communication, if you think about it is hypnotic to some extent. In fact, we are all hypnotists, the difference between trained and untrained hypnotists is that trained hypnotists can control their communication more effectively to create the altered state that is required, rather than at random.

Usually this altered state is a state of relaxation as this seems the most conducive to therapeutic change, but you can easily use the same principle for energised hypnosis or motivational hypnosis.

Hypnosis is just, in it’s most basic and broadest definition, simply a structured way of doing changing your mental state. Now, what isn’t comfortable about that?