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Hypnosis without Imagery: 7 Effective Hypnosis Techniques That Do Not Involve Imagery

Imagery typically is used as part of clinical hypnosis, but effective hypnosis therapy can also be provided without use of imagery.  

When imagery is used, patients can be taught to imagine themselves 

Patients can be prompted to imagine what they can see, hear, smell, feel, and taste in their imagination. Induction of the imagination prompts activation of the brain centers that perceive each of the senses, and thus attention to each of the senses leads to a “whole brain” experience that some patients report feels real. The ability to experience imagined scenes as real is one of the characteristics of individuals who are highly hypnotizable.  

However, there are a significant number of individuals who report that they cannot imagine well in their “mind’s eye.”  Nonetheless, clinical hypnosis can be adapted so that it can be used effectively with such patients. 

I happen to be an expert in such hypnotic adaptation, as while I have been able to facilitate hypnosis for thousands of patients who have an excellent ability to use imagery, I do not have such an ability. I recall my extreme frustration in my college Organic Chemistry classes because of my inability to rotate images of molecules in my mind. Fortunately, I have nonetheless been able to utilize hypnosis for great benefit in my own life. 

Like with the use of imagery, note that in the following examples of non-imagery methods, achievement of a hypnotic state involves altering the state of consciousness from the “here and now” to a state in which people are more receptive to suggestion. 

Change “Can” to “Might” 

Sometimes, patients wonder what they should do if they cannot imagine a particular sense. Such patients can be reassured that imagining how something “might” be perceived can be as helpful as asking themselves what they “can” perceive. 

Eye Roll 

Patients can be instructed to look straight ahead, and then roll their eyes back as if they are trying to look through the top of their head, without movement of their head. They are then told to close their eyelids slowly and told that this allows them to enter a hypnotic state. 

Focus on Movement 

Borrowing from meditation practices, a hypnotic state can be achieved by focusing on a repetitive movement. For example, patients can be taught to focus for several minutes on the sensation of air moving in and out of their nostrils as they inhale and exhale slowly. Alternatively, patients can closely observe movement of trees or leaves in a breeze, or the rhythm of waves lapping a shoreline. 

Focus on a Spot 

Staring at a spot on the wall or at a coin held between the thumb and index fingers, especially when attention is fixed on a spot above eyelevel, can lead into a state of hypnosis. Patients can be encouraged to allow their eyelids to close as they feel heavier during such a staring exercise. The natural tendency for eyelids to fatigue while staring augments this type of hypnotic induction. 

Directed Thoughts 

Focusing on a single thought can also be hypnotic. Patients can be taught to fill their mind with a loving thought that they direct toward a specific individual, groups of individuals, or even the world at large. Examples of such thoughts include a wish for success, a prayer for well-being, or gratitude for the existence of others. Another form of directed thought involves repeating a mantra such as “Om.” 

Patients may recognize such directed thoughts as commonly used techniques to achieve and maintain a meditative state. However, while people who meditate can be instructed to continue with the single thought throughout a session to clear their minds, patients who are doing hypnosis add the use of suggestions, including self-suggestions, to help promote change in themselves. 

Listening to a Story 

When patients become engrossed in a long story or engaging movie, they often enter a hypnotic state.  Evidence of this phenomenon is when people lose track of time during such experiences. 

Silencing the Mind 

Some people are able to achieve a hypnotic state by pausing their thinking process and listening carefully for input from their inner voice that emanates from their subconscious.   

Once patients achieve a hypnotic state with non-imagery techniques, they can be given hypnotic suggestions. For example, patients might be told that they can  

Take Home Message 

Almost every person who wants to learn how to use hypnosis can be taught how to achieve a hypnotic state with techniques that may or may not utilize imagery. 

About Center Point Medicine 

You can learn more about Center Point Medicine, hypnosis, and other great topics by following us on social media or heading over to our website. New blogs are added weekly. A list of all current blogs can be found HERE. 

For medical professionals looking to open their own Center Point Medicine office providing pediatric counseling and hypnosis services to your local community, please follow this LINK to learn more about our franchising opportunities.  


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Profile Photo or Ran D. Anbar, MD, FAAP Ran D. Anbar, MD Ran D. Anbar, MD, FAAP, is board certified in both pediatric pulmonology and general pediatrics, offering hypnosis and counseling services at Center Point Medicine in La Jolla, California, and Syracuse, New York. Dr. Anbar is also a fellow and approved consultant of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. Dr. Anbar is a leader in clinical hypnosis, and his 20 years of experience have allowed him to successfully treat over 5,000 children. He also served as a professor of pediatrics and medicine and the director of pediatric pulmonology at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, for 21 years.

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