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A prime element in modern hypnotherapy is utilization. As we dis-
cussed in Chapter 4, earlier Hypnotherapists-including Milton
Erickson in his early days-would say to people, “Uncross your
legs, put your hands on your thighs, take a deep breath, go into a
Eventually Erickson learned by experience to direct trance less and
less. He began to allow what would happen to happen. This is
called utilization.
As you begin practising hypnosis, you can get excellent results in
the process of inducing and deepening trance by utilizing every-
thing that happens. This means that you pay close attention to the
things your client is doing and saying. In response to anything
your client does, you can say, “That’s right.” Weave smoothly into
your conversation the things the client does and even unexpected
things that may happen around you.
I remember working one evening with a client I had led into deep
trance. We were sitting very near a grandfather clock with chimes
that would reverberate through the whole house. It was almost
seven o’clock. As I sat in deep rapport with the client, all of a sud-
den out of the corner of my ear, I heard the clock make that
whirring sound it makes before it chimes. I thought to myself, “Oh
no, what am I going to do? The client is in deep trance.” As I heard
the weight begin to move down on the pulley and the hammer
began to pull back, I said, “In a moment, you’re going to have a
profound revelation of seven ways that you know that you’ve
changed.” And the hammer came down and sounded a profound
Bongg!, and I said, “.” Bongg! “…two.” Bongg! “. ..three.”
Bongg! So utilize, utilize, utilize. Use everything that happens in
the context of hypnosis to deepen the client’s trance. When my
clock client came out of trance, she said it had been one of the most
profound experiences of her life.
Erickson was a master at utilization. He would use everything that
occurred in trance. He would say to the client, “I’m not sure if
you’ve noticed this, but your breathing has slowed down. And
your eyes have become fixated on that spot on the wall. And
whether or not you’ve noticed this, perhaps one or the other of
your arms has become slightly stiff.” Erickson would utilize every-
thing that happened because he loved paying attention to things. Hypnosis: A Comprehensive Guide
You can utilize everything that happens in the context of a client’s
trance. For example, if you see something that the client is about to
do, tell the client to do it. And when they do it, simply say “That’s
right.” That’s utilization.
Let us suppose that you say to your client, “In a moment you’re
going to blink.” (That is an automatic thing that will happen
whether you talk about it or not.) After a long or a short moment,
the client will blink, and you say “That’s right!” When the client
blinks, their Unconscious Mind begins to accept the idea that it
triggered the blink in response to your suggestion. And in accept-
ing the suggestion to blink, the client’s Unconscious becomes more
accepting to additional suggestions. Utilization is powerful.
The focus on paying attention to even tiny things that the client
does is very important. Psychoanalysis attempted to do away with
this. The psychoanalyst would sit at the head of the couch with the
patient facing away from him, and neither would see the other.
Erickson initially came under a great deal of criticism for suggest-
ing that the therapist look at the client and observe certain things.
And this practice added greatly to his effectiveness.
So I suggest that you look at your clients while you’re working
with them in hypnosis. It is a good idea to have your chair at a 90
to 135 degree angle to the client’s chair, for two reasons. First, this
angle will enable you to take full advantage of peripheral vision,
noticing anything from the events in the room to the rise and fall
of the client’s chest as they breathe. Second, this angle will enable
the client to have space-avoiding any feelings of invasion-and
feel safe; this will strengthen your rapport with the client. And you
will be paying attention to the client.
A special variety of utilization is the use of convincers to build the
client’s belief in the reality of trance. People often expect trance to
be something remarkably different from anything they have expe-
rienced. They may discount the level of trance that they attain
because it feels so familiar. As often as I tell my clients, “Trance is
a normal state. It’s going to feel very familiar,” they sometimes
have doubts about whether anything is really happening.
A convincer has the purpose of showing the client that they are or
have been in trance. The best convincer is the client’s own behav-
ior, preferably an action or behavior in which there is some
dissonance between the Conscious Mind and the Unconscious
Mind. For example, when a client has arm catalepsy, you can have
them open their eyes and look at their rigid, raised arm. When you
then ask the client, “Are you in trance?” they have a solid convincer.
Likewise, you can notice certain things clients are about to do even
before they become aware of them. You can ask them to do those
things, and as they act, apparently in response to your suggestion,
and you say “That’s right,” their own behavior becomes a convin-
cer that they are following your suggestions.
Our emphasis on utilization stems from Erickson’s discoveries of
its great power. But utilization works equally well with the tech-
niques of the other masters whose work we will discuss. The
following exercise will allow you to experience the naturalness
and the effectiveness of utilization. Do it with a partner who
shares your interest in hypnosis.

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