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Praise: The Simplest Secret To Success

Calvin D. Banyan, MA, BCH, CI

I made a small change in how I interact with my clients and I became a much more successful Hypnotherapist. When I first started working in the field of Hypnotherapy, I didn't realize how critical I was and how it was hurting my practice. Fortunately, I soon saw the light!

The simplest secret to success in hypnosis is removing criticism and praising your clients selectively and sincerely.

When clients come to you for hypnosis or hypnotherapy, especially the first time or two, they are likely to feel a little nervous about it. New clients are often nervous about issues, such as can I be hypnotized, will I tell all of my secrets, will I do something that will make me look foolish, and so on. Nervousness is just another word for fear.

Reducing Fear Increases Depth of Hypnosis

Every well-trained hypnotherapist or hypnotist knows that fear usually impedes hypnosis. This is why we do a pre-talk before we begin working with a new client. The more successful we are at removing fear, especially regarding hypnosis, the better the session will go.

Criticism Makes Clients Nervous and Nervousness Equals Fear

In addition to removing fear of hypnosis, the more comfortable (unafraid) the client is with you, her surroundings and so on, the more easily she will go into hypnosis and achieve a sufficient level to do the work she came in to do. The wise hypnotist does as much as she can to remove any and all fear associated with the upcoming hypnosis session (and any such fear that may occur during the session).

Praise Increases Feelings of Safety and Security and Deepens Hypnosis

People (i.e., your new clients) fear being judged negatively. When you express negative judgments about them or what they are doing, they feel criticized. The opposite of criticism is praise. Sincere and constructive praise makes people feel comfortable, safe and secure, which is an ideal state for conducting a hypnotic induction and deepening.

Use Sincere Praise

When I mention sincere praise, I mean praising something worthy of praise. Never tell someone that you like their hair or clothing, etc. just because you think that they would appreciate the comment. You can get away with this insincere praise part of the time, but in the long run it will catch up with you and your clients will see through it and decide that you are untruthful and manipulative.

The power of praise is in its sincerity. It is good practice to look for things to praise sincerely. For example, when you are conducting the pre-hypnosis interview with your client, and your client makes a particularly insightful statement about herself, or hypnosis for example, this is an excellent time to praise her by mentioning how insightful her comment was.

Use Praise Constructively

Constructive praise is sincere praise that is delivered in order to reinforce and encourage positive responses to suggestion. It is given instantly after your client responds to any suggestion. Understanding this simple principle will improve the effectiveness of nearly every hypnotic or hypnotherapeutic technique that you can to use in a session.

Praise is a reinforcer. Reinforcers are rewards or pleasant experiences which increase the probability of a behavior,r such as responding to a suggestion. The best timing for such a reward is within a second or two after your client responds to a suggestion. Praise applied in this way is one of the most powerful deepening techniques available. It deepens the hypnosis because it helps remove fear and increases feelings of security or competence. It increases your client's compliance to instructions and suggestions. In other words, praise increases suggestibility because responding to suggestions leads to a pleasurable experience.

The Secret To Using Praise for Maximum Benefit

Here is the secret to using praise during a session. First, begin giving instructions and/or suggestions as you normally do. As you do this, watch your client closely. As soon as you become aware of any level of positive response to your suggestions, praise it immediately. For example, let's say that you have a client in a light state of hypnosis and you suggest to your client that she will go much deeper relaxed as you count from one down to five. As you count and give suggestions for relaxation, watch her closely and be prepared to interrupt your counting instantly, so that you can praise any positive response to the suggestion.

Use those Hypno-Meters

Did you know that each client comes with a set of "Hypno-meters?" Yes they do and here is how you can use them to implement praise as a deepening technique.

Figure 1 Hypno-Meters

Figure 1

I usually conduct my hypnotherapy sessions with my clients sitting in a large recliner. When we are ready to start the session, I have my client push back into the chair and as her body reclines back her feet come up, usually pointing straight up into the air.

As I then guide her through the hypnotic induction I watch her feet. As I suggest that she is becoming more relaxed I can easily judge her response by any movement in her feet.

Her feet are the hypno-meters. When they point straight up as illustrated in figure 1, she has not yet begun to respond to my suggestions.

figure 2 Hypno-Meters

Figure 2

But as her feet begin to move, with her toes beginning to widen as they point off to the left and right as in figure 2, I have physical evidence that she is beginning to respond. (Unfortunately, these hypno-meters do not indicate her level of hypnosis, but they do indicate that she is responding to suggestion for relaxation and give me an opportunity to praise her.

As soon as I start giving suggestion for relaxation, I watch those hypno-meters, ready to praise any sign of movement. Then, no matter where I am in the deepening patter, I will instantly praise her when I see any movement indicating relaxation. For example, a deepening process may go like this, "As I count from one to five, you will go even deeper. One, going deeper. Two, letting yourself go even deeper. Three (and, here I see her feet move because of relaxation and I interrupt my counting so say) Good! Perfect. Keep going. (And, then I continue with my counting.) Four, deeper and deeper. And, Five?"

As soon as I see any physical response to the suggestion of going more relaxed, I interrupt the counting with, "Good! Perfect. Keep going." I believe that, often my clients are not consciously aware of this timely praise, but subconsciously and unconsciously, it is being readily accepted!

Continue to watch for signs of positive response to your suggestions and praise them right away. Other signs of relaxation might include a jerk of a limb, a sigh, or her jaw dropping slightly.

Praise Adds Power To Other Hypnotherapeutic Techniques

Of course praise is not limited to increasing relaxation. Praise can be used at any time during the session when you want to increase a response. Praise can increase responses in their duration, frequency and intensity. This principle is especially useful when doing powerful hypnotherapeutic work such as Age Regression, Forgiveness and Parts Mediation Therapy. In these therapies clients need to be responsive and verbal, even assertive when interacting with "others" in the process (i.e., abusers and offenders from their past). When clients need to speak up, don't criticize their soft voice. Instead praise them for speaking and suggest that they can speak even more clearly or loudly (if that is what they need to do)! I encourage my client by saying, "That's right! Tell him! It feels really good to speak right up and tell him." and "You are doing great!"

When I watch videos of my sessions, I sometimes remind myself of a one-man cheering section as I hand out timely and effective praise.

Universal Utility of Praise

Praise your clients even when they don't seem to be following instructions (it works much better than criticizing)! Then give the suggestion again in a slightly different way and in a more clear form. I find (upon speaking to the client after the session) that most of the time, when a client is not following instructions, either she misunderstood the instruction or didn't understand it the way that it was given.

Praise is the simplest secret to success. Praise your clients before the session during the session, and after the session for doing such a good job. They will look forward to their next session with you. Most of our clients do not receive much praise in their lives. Their sessions will be a bright spot in their week.

By the way, praise works well in most situations, not only when you are doing hypnosis. Be generous in your praise for yourself and others. It makes almost everything in life work better.

Copyright ©2002 Calvin D. Banyan