Copyright Philip Holder 1999


The core principle of hypnotherapy is to create a heightened state of suggestibility in order to introduce positive suggestion. These suggestions will then facilitate positive changes in attitude, behavior and perspective. The ability to help your clients succeed in accomplishing their goal(s) depends significantly on your client’s faith and trust that these changes are not only possible, but also likely. With one of my clients in for his second visit, the conversation went something like this.

Dr. H.:

You’ve been doing well this past week I trust.


I’ve been doing great. My stress levels are down and I find that I’m able to cope calmly with the pressures that were setting me off before. I’m not sure though if it’s the hypnosis. It could just be the power of suggestion because I expected something to happen by coming to you.

I assured him that he was right on both counts. It most was certainly the power of suggestion… in other words, hypnosis. I explained (again) that hypnosis is exactly that. He had simply never thought of hypnosis in that light. Our vehicle for facilitating change in fact is the power of suggestion.


The cornerstone of accomplishment is a positive attitude… It is the faith that “it” will in fact happen that enables the person to move from point “A” to point “B”. This faith coupled with a true desire to achieve a goal is a powerful combination. The power of suggestion therefore is closely intertwined with the faith that it will happen. Without that faith, suggestion may not be able to overcome previously held negative perceptions.


We are in essence speaking to the child within when we speak to a person who is in hypnosis. The child doesn’t analyze or rationalize, he/she either likes, and accepts a suggestion or he/she does not. As well, anyone with children knows how quickly they can change their preferences.

When someone comes to me for help, I am not concerned with the attitude he or she had yesterday or last week. I am not concerned for that matter with what his or her attitude was when walking into my reception room. I’m concerned with their perception and attitude at the time of induction. This is what is most often missed in preparation and in the pre-talk. Below are four things to consider that will help you in creating faith and a positive can do attitude with your clients or patients.

  1. Never become sidetracked or drawn in by negativity.

Many times people come to us (hypnotherapist) with low self-esteem and a defeatist attitude. Often they come to us after exhausting all other options. They have failed… until now. They are beaten and feel incompetent. It is easy to inadvertently get caught up in this negativity without even noticing it. If you do this, it will shake his/her faith in himself and deteriorate your prospects for success. If you want a great success record, this is not where you want to go.

Never allow yourself to be drawn into conversation centering around his or her past failures. Comments like, “ Well, don’t feel bad, none of us has success all of the time” WILL NOT inspire your clients or give them faith in themselves. Instead, find out where they have succeeded. It doesn’t matter in what, or to what degree. What is important is that they begin to feel “That they can”.

For example, I had a client who was very successful in business but felt like a personal failure because he couldn’t stop smoking. He came to me with a very negative attitude. As he put it, “I’ll give this hypnosis stuff a shot, but nothing else has worked so this probably won’t either”. How would you have addressed his comment? If you answered that you would tell him what a “powerful tool” hypnosis is, or something like that… BZZZZZT, wrong answer… next contestant please! It is important to realize that the merits of hypnosis are not the issue. The issue here is the client’s attitude and self-image.

The first question I asked him was “What accomplishments in your life are you the most proud of”. His reply mostly revolved around his ability to start up and develop a lucrative business. I said to him, “That must have been tough. You probably had to overcome tremendous obstacles on the road to success. That’s something to be very proud of”. He agreed that he had done well in overcoming adversity and began to tell me about one of his experiences. This was just the window of opportunity that I was looking for. It was the perfect opportunity to change the negative attitude that he had walked through the door with. It was an ideal opportunity to positively influence his perception before induction.

I explained to him that the same powerful mind that accomplished so much could easily defeat a silly little cigarette. I told him that the problem to date had not been him. It was simply that he had been depending on external resources like patches and nicotine gum rather that his most valuable asset… his mind. I assured him that for anyone who had accomplished the wonderful things that he had accomplished, leading a healthy, smoke free life would be a cakewalk. He agreed. He was psyched. He was ready to go, and so was I. He now had the power and the faith in himself that he could accomplish his goal. Guess what! He doesn’t smoke anymore.

The lesson… Always focus on the positive. Negative thoughts bring negative results. Positive thoughts bring positive results. One’s perception usually becomes their reality. When the person believes (has faith in) it to be so, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s almost as if people want so badly to be correct that they will live out their belief, (be it productive or detrimental to their lives). This is why it is so critically important to move the client toward a positive attitude. Especially relative to and during the session that he or she is about to partake in.

We can always find fault if we look for it. Likewise, we can always find a positive side to something if we look for it (E.g.: That man has only one leg, but he gets twice the life out of a pair of socks). It is not your client’s duty to come to you with a great attitude. It is very often up to the therapist to direct the client to a more productive attitude. This is accomplished by awakening your client to the knowledge that he or she has always had the power for positive change within them. By convincing them, if only moments before inducing hypnosis, that he or she has the ability to accomplish what they’ve set out to do, they will accomplish their goal. In effect, they succeed by your giving them the faith to know they can.

  1.         Begin creating a “Yes” response from the moment you greet your client. From the moment my client/patient walks through the door, I begin drawing “yes responses” from them. Virtually every question I ask and any statement that requires a response is designed to solicit a yes response. In effect, I am having them practice a “YES ATTITUDE”. For example, I avoid statements like… If you try, you can accomplish your goal today. A more positive approach would be to say to the client or patient, “Today, I will help you accomplish your goal. Isn’t that great (as I nod my head “yes”, the client agrees with either a nod of the head or a “yes” response)”. Then I might say something like, “You have the power, and I know that you are highly motivate. After all, that is why you are here, right!” (Again, I am nodding yes and getting the yes response back from my client or patient). Never make comments like, “Do you think you can do it?” or “Will you try” To your unpleasant surprise, you might get a negative “I don’t know” response. Furthermore, avoid using the word try. Try is the disciple of defeat. It gives the person a back door out (e.g.: I didn’t say I would do it, I just said that I would try).
  1.        Create a positive self image within the client. Explain that everyone experiences hypnosis a little differently and because of that, no one can do it wrong. Encourage the person along the way. Tell them how good they are doing. Focus on the positive things that they say and congratulate them on their “positive remarks”. Even when I have someone in my office who’s self esteem is in the dumpster, I always find something within that person that he or she takes pride in.

I recall one woman who came to me who was convinced that she was completely worthless and couldn’t do anything right. After a few moments of listening to her self-condemnation I said… “Tell me what you enjoy doing most”. She thought for a moment and then replied. “I like cooking”. I said, “I know you must be a good cook. We generally do best at the things we enjoy, don’t we?” (As I nodded my head up and down.) She said, “Yes, I am a pretty good cook”. “See” I said, “You do have wonderful qualities. I couldn’t cook like that. I sometimes forget the recipe for ice”. She laughed and was visibly more excited about her prospects for success. I simply helped her to see a quality that she possessed. Our conversation had helped her to gain “faith in herself”.


This methodology is not so different from that of faith healers. If the belief structure is there, and the person expects it to happen (their goal), it usually will. To keep the belief system in tact, it is also important to provide the client or patient with positive reinforcement and reasonable expectations. For example, if an obese woman came for weight loss and you were to imply that in six weeks she would look like a “Bay-Watch Babe”, when it didn’t happen, the faith would be damaged. Reinforce positive and realistic goals. Encourage your client that the key to success is to consistently keep moving in a positive direction. That as long as they are pursuing a better quality of life, they are to be commended.

As a basic example, let’s say a two pack a day smoker came to you to stop smoking. After the first week, that person has not stopped completely but he or she has cut down to two cigarettes a day. Reprimanding the person for cheating with those two cigarettes would only diminish his or her chances for complete success. It would damage his or her faith in respect to their ability to succeed. It would be far more productive to congratulate the person on his or her “success”. Encourage your client by saying, “You are on the right path. You are well on your way to the full accomplishment of your goal. See how powerful your mind is. In only a few days, you’ve taken back almost all control of your life from tobacco. You’re almost there. The rest will be a cakewalk for you. I’m so proud of you”. These are empowering statements that give the person faith in themselves and the ability to succeed.


Whatever we practice to be, we become. Some people wait for a magical bolt of inspirational lightning to hit them or the spirit to move them. Personally, I believe that the behavior precedes the feeling. By having them practice self-talk and attitudes that are exemplary of having faith in one’s self, a person begins to generate faith. The more one practices a positive attitude, the more positive their direction becomes. Will this method guarantee you success with every client or patient? Of course it cannot. I know of no therapeutic or medical modality that can unconditionally guarantee success every time. For anyone to profess so would be egomania, ignorance, or both. What is important is that generating faith and positive attitude will increase your success rate. It will move you toward your goal of helping more of those who come to you.

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