So it is one of your first dates with someone and you are entertaining your date and having the over for dinner, you prepare dinner, wash and change and make yourself look nice and then when that person arrives at the door… You instantly launch yourself on them, you start kissing them passionately and furiously and suggest going straight to the bedroom…

Is this the way to behave on an early date? Is this likely to be met with the kind of response that is going to ignite the romantic flame straight away? I know some of you are saying “yes” whilst giggling right now, but in general, you’d tend to conduct yourself differently, right?

You’d set the mood, maybe have some music on, dim the lights, enjoy the food, flirt and get to know each… and then the attraction starts to develop. The idea gets introduced. You would not turn up at a first date with an engagement ring at the ready either, would you? Or wearing a wedding dress may seem a bit inappropriate for that first date, no?

These may not be the best examples to give, but it is what I used off the top of my head on my hypnotherapy diploma course last weekend when describing why we use a ‘response set’ early on in hypnotherapy sessions at times – to introduce ideas and start to build responsiveness to the therapeutic notions about to be engaged in during the session.

When any hypnotherapy session begins, we often introduce the content of the session before hand so that our client understands the point of it, this goes toward helping enhance the effectiveness of it. In order for us to the build some momentum and have them focused on the key notions of the therapy session, we can introduce it very subtly and gain some agreement about it before we launch into it. After all, surely one of our main objectives with the hypnotherapy is to enhance the client’s responsiveness to your suggestions, no?

When we use a “response set” we are generating a pattern of responses within the client. So that we can have their consistent understanding, and ideally agreement, with the main purpose of the therapy session.

One of the best known response sets is that which is known as the “Yes set” and forms part of the NLP Milton model because Milton Erickson used it a great deal throughout his work and it tends to get used by sales people and therapists alike.

A “Yes set” encourages agreement between the hypnotherapist and the client, by asking the client a number of questions that will invariably have them answering in the positive way. Creating a yes set can involve simply stating a number of things that are undisputable and can only be agreed with and would not be rejected by anyone.

When such ‘truisms’ are stated one after the other, the client agrees with them inside their head. if they agree with four or five consecutive statements, then when you offer something that you’d like them to agree with, a sixth statement (potentially ‘leading’ them) for example, they are then inclined to agree because they are maintaining the pattern of agreement.

In order to have a client truly accept and understand the central component of a hypnotherapy session, you can introduce the notion subtly with the response set early on in the hypnosis session.

Before you ask for specific hypnotic responses, such as telling a depressed person that they can look to the future with some hope and expectancy, for example, (which is a big ask for someone experiencing depression) and you can start to introduce the notion subtly before the intervention gets underway in earnest. Perhaps you suggest that “people often wonder what the future will be like” for example, which most tend to agree with and you have started to introduce the idea of looking to the future.

You can take it a step further and introduce the ideas metaphorically “who would have thought that so many changes would have successfully happened in the field of medicine and things that today we deem incurable or improbable, in the future may well be taken for granted as curable and easily dealt with and overcome.”

if you were going to conduct a glove anaesthesia with a client to show them how to control pain, rather than just expect them to do it straight away, you can start to build a momentum in the client’s responsiveness so that they really get on board with the idea, which can be daunting for some.

You can offer up truisms again so that they realise how natural it is and get them to appreciate that their body is capable of this;  “your body is so complex, isn’t it? Isn’t it fascinating how our sensations can vary so much from time to time … There are times you feel warm, and other times you feel cool . . . There are times when you feel tuned in to your body and times when it feels as though it hardly belongs to you.” Here you just introduce ideas that are true and support the nature of what is going to be happening later in the hypnotherapy session. You are developing agreement with one’s own capacity to do what is going to be asked of them and helping instil understanding.

Very often in hypnotherapy, people need some assistance with their responsiveness to suggestions and the notions presented in therapy. So offering up a response set, helps with that and when done with patience and skill helps to build responsiveness in the client as the session progresses.

Certainly in my experience, it is incredibly useful and beneficial to the hypnotherapy client. It is like setting the scene and creating the mood and not going straight for the snog or marriage proposal on that first date! Hahahaha 🙂