Ok, so let me answer that question that is the title of todays shorter blog entry… Do we need indirect language patterns in hypnotherapy?
Nope. We don’t.
Ideally, in the fields of NLP and modern hypnotherapy, we’d like to help simplify communication, yet there seems to be this insistent proliferation of budding hypnotists being told that they must learn complex language patterns… Mainly born out of the work of Milton Erickson and bastardised by the fields of NLP, indirect hypnosis and their proponents.
If you are after good, thorough results in therapy with your hypnotherapy clients, it is not essential to have your brain cluttered with any seeming need to be able to rattle off complex language patterns.
It is a nice skill to have, and having a great understanding of how successful hypnotherapists (I am talking about Erickson) communicated is nothing to be sniffed at. I certainly study Ericksonian language patterns, I teach them and think they are useful for being persuasive, enhancing the confidence of the hypnotherapist using them well, and can be used more with particular types of clients… Particularly resistant clients.
That said, there are many other things you can do to educate the client sufficiently and develop rapport prior to the hypnotherapy intervention to overcome any such resistance.
So just because someone is able to rattle off indirect language patterns that inspire awe in their students, such language usage is not indicative of successful therapeutic results. It just isn’t.
If you have some empirical data that demonstrates the accelerated efficacy of hypnotherapy when indirect hypnosis language patterns are used, then forward it on to me, I am more than happy to review and change my mind if the evidence is there.
In the absence of that though, I’ll leave you with the findings of Lynn, Neufeld and Mare (1993) cited in Direct versus indirect suggestions: A conceptual and methodological review in The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 12(2), 124-152.
“Direct, traditionally worded hypnotic techniques appear to be just as effective as permissive, open-ended, indirect suggestions.”
There, I said it. I’ll await the usual batch of disagreeing emails loaded with logical fallacies… 😉
Horses for courses… for some clients, indirect suggestions are useful. For others, direct will get better results. A lot depends on rapport levels as you say.
When I practiced as a hypnotherapist, I got good results for many clients relying on scripts and direct suggestion because that’s all my original, fairly crappy training had given me. I’m sure I could have got better results for some clients if I’d known about indirect suggestion as well.
Where I’ve found indirect suggestion comes in really useful is in training, where there isn’t a formal trance induction, though more for inducing the right mood and shaping what the students are thinking about rather than for installing facts or procedures.
Oh I’m so with you on this Adam. And yet, I think I use them unconsciously, maybe! There are times when a client will say ‘what? can you repeat that, I didn’t get it’ but I know it hit the spot and am completely incapable of repeating whatever it was that I said as I haven’t got a clue what came out of my mouth!
My tuppence worth is that having a knowledge of the patterns enables a practitioner to be aware of their own language patterns and how much they use on a daily basis, like me, unconsciously.
I agree, Jackie – an extremely useful addition to our skillsets but surely not a panacea. And of course Mr Erickson was also a master of direct suggestion too, wasn’t he? A thought-provoking post as ever, Adam!
I can remember threating over language patterns during the second training block. That was until you MADE ME (:P) put down my notes of intricaterly written language patterns i was going to use, with included diagrams.
I worked with my sister on hypnosis relaxation session when I got back and was actually quite amazed at how easy language just flowed.
Written in the Heap and Yapko book regarding langauge it also mentions that there’s no evidence to suggest that indirect or direct is any better than each other, however there’s a time and placefor both. I suppose part of it is learning to trust yourself, be in good rapport with your client and have more flexibilty with language (direct and indirect).
Andy (Smith) – That is interesting that you mention you have found it useful in training contexts to use indirect language… And I empathise greatly… My first hypnotherapy training left me with very few options.
Jackie – I use them without realising… And often my students pick up on them and giggle in class, when they were not meant at all, I feel like they think I am using the stuff all the time on purpose, when I am not. i agree that having the skills and knowing when to use them is key here.
Derek – nice tag question 😉
Andy – Quite right. And I saw a huge improvement in you when you let go of the notes. 🙂
For me, I think intention behind the words being used is incredibly important. And as we have all tended to allude to here, using the right tools at the right times. I just would like students and lay-hypnotherapists to know that it is not essential to be able to talk in the same fashion as Stephen Brooks, or feel the need to memorise every single on of Jamie Smarts language pattern cards in order to be an effctive hypnotherapist. Evidence (from several sources) clearly shows that indirect or direct language choice in hypnotherapy is no more efficacious than the other.
Thank you all for your contributions here, they are all very much appreciated.
Adam, you continue to provoke… thought and I thank you for that!
In the time we share with that other human being our client:)
and as the rapport develops, meaning we somehow know that we have entered into each others weave – it follows that one instinctively & unconsciously knows whether direct or indirect will be of choice.
As an ethical respectful practitioner at heart, the individuality of that person’s system will perhaps be our only guide.
Thank you Judith, as always, I appreciate your contribution 🙂
Brilliant, Adam! We of all people (in this field) should be able to investigate our own dogmas and work out our own answers about what works. Thank you for this research based post.
Exactly Richard, and thank you for your comment, appreciated.