Rapid inductions… Do they have a place in hypnotherapy? Are they effective? Are they just meant to be used for entertainment / stage hypnosis? Well, hopefully this blog will help de-mystify rapid inductions and answer those questions for you… but first, a question that many people ask;
“What ARE rapid inductions?”
Well, the ‘induction’ part of a hypnosis / hypnotherapy session is the bit where the client is hypnotised. Generally, this process can take a matter of minutes, and depending on the methods / training of the hypnotist or hypnotherapist in question, it can range from a couple of minutes to 10, 20, 30 even 40 minutes (or perhaps even longer, yikes!). In contrast, rapid inductions (sometimes known as instant inductions, rapid hypnosis, speed hypnosis, fast inductions…and many more less catchy monikers) are rapid, i.e. fast. So they do not take as long as the slower, more progressive inductions, yet they achieve the same result: Hypnosis. So, the basic principle of rapid inductions is to put a client / subject into the state of hypnosis fast (and by fast, we’re talking about under a minute… Sometimes within a couple of seconds – yes, seriously).
But how do they work?
Well, contrary to the more ‘progressive’ hypnotic inductions that can be very verbal or scripted in nature, rapid inductions tend to be a much more physical / engaging process. So instead of talking a person into a state of hypnosis using suggestions for relaxation, focus, tiredness and metaphors such as going down stairs, or floating on a cloud, etc., rapid inductions involve physically ‘confusing’, ‘interrupting’ or ‘shocking’ the subject. This creates a momentary ‘window of opportunity’ whereby they will more easily accept a direct, simply stated suggestion, such as to ‘go into hypnosis’, or, as is more commonly associated with rapid inductions, to ‘SLEEP!’
(…and no, just like ‘regular hypnosis’, it isn’t actually sleep, even though it does look like it when people ‘slump down’ during rapid inductions. ‘Sleep’ is just a buzzword that has become associated with going into hypnosis, it can often be expected by clients, and as we know, it can be very useful to meet expectations when hypnotising people, so ‘sleep’ it is).
So, rapid inductions are faster than the ‘standard’ types of inductions that many hypnotherapists use and are taught… This means that by using rapid inductions a hypnotherapist would potentially be saving a lot of time within the session, giving them more time to do therapy work. Seems like a win-win, right? So then why wouldn’t a hypnotherapist use rapid inductions?
Why NOT use rapid inductions?
A lot of the time, rapid inductions can be used within the therapy room (most of the time, in fact), however sometimes it can be the personal views / beliefs of the hypnotherapist in question that may cause them to avoid using rapid inductions. Some hypnotherapists believe that these inductions are too ‘flashy’ or ‘gimmicky’ for the consultation room, or that there is too much of a connection to ‘stage hypnosis’ and it appears ‘unprofessional’ (for whatever reason). Now, though some stage hypnotists use rapid inductions, others (many others, infact) actually use progressive inductions similar to those used by hypnotherapists within their stage shows! But, I guess that fact is not going to stop those same hypnotherapists from using the progressive approach… so what else could it be that’s stopping them from embracing rapid inductions?
It’s true that some hypnotherapists are simply uncomfortable touching clients as a part of the rapid induction process. Touching the client (appropriately, obviously) is generally an integral part of any rapid induction process, so if you’re not comfortable with that, or not willing to get comfortable with it, then rapid inductions aren’t for you, and that’s fine, it’s a personal choice that I totally respect.
There are also some hypnotherapists who are not (yet) confident enough to even try using rapid inductions, as it is waaay out of their ‘comfort zone’, perhaps because sometimes subjects may not respond as expected to a rapid induction (opening their eyes, for instance), whereas with the old faithful progressive induction there is usually no reason for the subject to not keep their eyes closed (whether in hypnosis or not). This is a similar thought process to those therapists that do not ‘test their work’ and avoid contacting clients post-session ‘in case it didn’t work’. It behoves you as a therapist to check that what you’re doing is working, because hypnotherapy doesn’t always work on the ‘first try’, but that’s not a good reason to give up on a client, in the same way as it’s good to know that your clients are actually going into hypnosis. This final point (in my experience) seems to be the main reason that some therapists shun rapid inductions in favour of the more ‘safe’ (but slower) option.
That said, however, there are certain times where rapid inductions would be contra-indicated or where you might be better off using a different approach, such as:
Injuries / ailments / frailty
As rapid inductions are often physical in nature, if used incorrectly / unsafely they have the potential to cause physical harm. For instance, a ‘handshake induction’ involves gently tugging a persons arm… if said person has shoulder issues, you could potentially aggravate the issues further by moving their arm in such a way. This will not tend to go down well with a client, so it is the #1 rule that when using rapid inductions you must always check for any injuries (generally of the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, back & neck). Client safety should always be at the top of your priority list.
Clients may come to see a hypnotherapist due to having highly stressful lives and not being able to cope with the stress. Sometimes, just the process of gradually going into hypnosis, taking them gently from stressed to relaxed over a longer period of time can be a welcome relief to the client, and can be highly therapeutic in itself. In these cases, a slower, more progressive induction may actually be of therapeutic value to the client, and would perhaps be the sensible choice.
Fear of falling / Vertigo
Those clients that are afraid of heights and falling may not respond well to some rapid inductions, as they can involve the client’s body slumping forwards rapidly (which can be reminiscent of falling), as such they would not respond well to many ‘shock inductions’ and would ‘come out of it’ straight away (usually with a worried look on their face), however, this can usually be worked around by altering the clients sitting position and working on their expectations. Which leads me nicely on to:
If a client comes to you expecting a slow, relaxing progressive induction (for whatever reason), it can be better to go with that approach because it’s what they have imagined and thought about in the lead up to the session. They are prepared for that to happen, so if it does, this will help keep rapport with the client and they will likely perform better in hypnosis, having had their expectations met in the induction phase.
Why you SHOULD use rapid inductions…
In the same way as times when a slow, talky progressive relaxation induction is a good choice, there are also times when a super fast rapid induction would be a much better choice:
Yes, expectations again (you know what’s coming). If a client expects you to hypnotise them fast… if they expect you to click your fingers and to say ‘SLEEP!’ because they saw a hypnotist do it on TV, or because their friend went to a therapist proficient in rapid inductions, then refusing and doing the opposite is akin to telling them that their beliefs are wrong (as well as potentially appearing unskilled / inexperienced when you can’t do something that they’ve seen other hypnotists do). Good luck with that approach when you’re trying to build rapport before you hypnotise someone; “You’re wrong, now do as I say…”
If a client is in pain (especially acute pain), how likely do you think it will be that they will be able to ‘just relax…’? Pretty unlikely. A rapid induction is very useful when working with pain clients as a way to instantly get them into hypnosis where a progressive induction may have its limitations. Also, using this approach you can (potentially) immediately reduce their pain, as when in pain we tend to ‘tense up’ (whether consciously or unconsciously), which creates more pain. Going into hypnosis tends to relax the physiology, therefore having the potential to reduce the experience of pain immediately. Handy, right?
Anxiety / Panic
Similar to pain, clients in a state of anxiety or panic are unlikely to be able to relax or focus for extended periods, such as to relax all of the muscles from the feet to their head… So again, rapid inductions may well be the sensible choice here. Obviously if the subject is anxious about the hypnosis process itself, then you may take a different approach.
Again, people in emergency situations (such as road accidents) can often benefit from hypnosis to calm them, to reduce pain, etc. Some emergency servicemen (and women) actively use hypnosis for that exact reason. Rapid inductions often work well in these scenarios.
Depending on where you perform hypnotherapy (we don’t all work in offices), you may not always have time for an extended session. Sometimes you may need to get a session finished in under 10 minutes, if you work with hypnosis in a hospital for example. If your induction process alone is 10 minutes long, then you’re not going to get very far.
Spur of the moment / environmental
Sometimes you may end up doing a hypnotherapy session when you least expect it, and potentially whilst you are away from your usual therapy environment. It is unlikely that you will have a comfy chair to hand, and sometimes the subject that you are working with may actually be standing… Progressive relaxation won’t work well if the subject is uncomfortable, nor if they are standing up. People can go into hypnosis standing up (see any stage hypnosis show), so again, if you ever need to do some ‘impromptu’ hypnotherapy whilst you’re out in the big, wide world, rapid inductions can be a highly useful tool to have in your hypnotherapy toolkit.
So there you have it…
There are certainly reasons for and against using rapid inductions (depending on the situation / client / therapist), but to totally disregard them is probably not the most sensible / informed decision. Many therapists (myself included) use rapid inductions 99% of the time in hypnotherapy sessions. Many other hypnotherapists only use them ‘as and when’ they feel it appropriate (such as when encountering one of the points just mentioned above). Whether rapid inductions are ‘your thing’ or not, it’s certainly a good idea to understand and have a good working knowledge of how they work in case you ever need a slightly different approach to getting a client into hypnosis. We certainly teach them to all of our hypnotherapy students on our NGH Hypnotherapy Certificate course.
If you’d like an introduction to using rapid inductions, take a look at my book:
The Instant Hypnosis and Rapid Inductions Guidebook:
Or the DVD (if you prefer to watch, rather than read):
Hypnosis 101: Learn to Hypnotise Fast:
Finally, hands-on, face-to-face practical training is highly recommended for those looking to use rapid inductions (especially in therapy environments), so that you can be sure you are performing your rapid inductions both safely and effectively. As such, when you’re ready to get to get started using rapid inductions and see how they can work for you, it might be worth coming along to one of my 1-day rapid induction training courses. For full details on that, click here:
We hope this blog has been super helpful, but if you do have any more questions on rapid inductions and hypnotising people fast (or anything else for that matter) do please get in touch, because we’re always happy to help!
– written by Rory Z Fulcher