Published on February 25, 2016

The Power of Suggestibility

By Brooke Lemke, Hypnotherapist at Genesis Health System

The Power of SuggestibilityToday’s topic is about the most important tool needed for the hypnotherapist to do their job: suggestibility. One of the primary goals of a hypnotherapist is to understand your suggestibility.

By definition, suggestibility simply means “how one learns”. By understanding and ultimately knowing your suggestibility, the hypnotherapist will be able to provide you with the best suggestions for your subconscious to readily accept. 

The Science of Suggestibility

It was believed that there was a portion of the population that could not be hypnotized prior to 1967 since hypnotists used only direct, literal suggestions. In 1967, Dr. John Kappas found there were different types of suggestibility which explained why the direct, literal suggestions were not working with some of the population.

He found that approximately 50 percent of the population primarily learns through inferences. And so began the change in the field of hypnotherapy to utilize inferences with certain clients. 

Initially, learning is accomplished through our primary caretaker from birth to approximately age five. From about age six to age nine, we become influenced by peers, teachers and others. Around ages nine to fourteen, our secondary caretaker begins to influence our suggestibility.

This means if your primary caretaker said what she meant and meant what she said, you primarily learned direct, literal communication. If your primary did not follow through on what she said and the verbal and non verbal communications were incongruent, you searched for the hidden meaning in what was being said and therefore primarily learned indirectly through inferences.

A Mixed Bag

Because of the outside influences of peers, teachers and the secondary caretaker, you'll never be 100 percent of one type of suggestibility. This means you’ll have a primary suggestibility and a secondary suggestibility, both of which are measured in percentages. For example, if you’re 70 percent direct suggestible, you’re 30 percent indirect suggestible.

This information allows the hypnotherapist to create the suggestions that are best suited for you. The hypnotherapist can test for suggestibility through a questionnaire as well as a physical response test using your hands and arms.

An example of a direct suggestion would be, “You are confident,” whereas an indirect suggestion would be, “You may find yourself standing taller and stronger each and every day.” The inference of standing taller and stronger is confidence.

Different Methods of Suggestibility

In addition to suggestibility, the hypnotherapist pays attention to your key words. These can be visual, auditory or kinesthetic. By understanding if you’re a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner, suggestions can be given to you that your subconscious will accept with greater ease.

Here’s an example: If a visual client says to me, “I see myself lacking confidence and would like more confidence," then I will use a suggestion such as, “Visualize yourself with confidence”. I wouldn’t say, "Feel confident” since “feel” is a kinesthetic word and “see” is a visual word.

These are some of the basics behind the success of hypnotherapy and the power of suggestion to provide you with a greater understanding of how your mind works and what to expect when coming into a session. This also explains why not everyone can buy a hypnosis CD or read a self-help book and experience the same results. Each person learns differently.

In my next blog, I’m going to list a number of areas that benefit well from hypnotherapy!

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