Vol. 31 – August 7, 2005

Ericksonian Hypnotic Language Patterns

Reverse Meta Model
In NLP the “meta model” is Bandler and Grinder’s name for the wellformedness conditions of the surface structure of the English language*. (*See their book “The Structure of Magic.”) In Hypnosis we sometimes chose to deliberately violate these wellformedness conditions (“reversing the meta model”) in order to be purposefully and artfully vague.

Pattern 31. Complex Equivalence
X means Y. This means that. They are equivalents.

“Your trance experience means you are changing.”
“Your listening to my voice means you will go into trance.”

Again, with the Meta Model or Sleight of Mouth, we’d be all over statements like that. “Really? What makes it that way?”
“You’re saying that simply hearing your voice will induce hypnosis? I don’t think so, buddy!”

But as hypno-guides, that’s exactly what we are saying. And as the client hears these statements and buys into them, off they go. Of course it’s not the only thing we’ll be saying. One language pattern alone may not do anything particularly dramatic. But as one of many suggestions offered along the way, they have an effect.

In a similar fashion, Erickson has been quoted as once saying the following:
“You have a conscious mind and an unconscious mind. And I have a conscious mind and an unconscious mind. And we are both sitting in the same room together, so trance is inevitable.” (That’s more of a Pacing and Leading statement, really, but it is similar in effect. To fit the specific complex equivalence pattern it could be stated thusly, “…and our sitting in the same room together means trance is inevitable.”)

Here’s an example in sales, “Your desire to keep your family safe means you’ll buy this car.”

I’d like to put forth the notion that much of what we do in Hypnosis is we alter beliefs. And, a complex equivalence is a statement of belief, so you’ll use this pattern a lot. Keep in mind that, as Erickson and Rossi point out in their book Hypnotherapy, “there are three basic phases (in hypnotherapy) that can be outlined and discussed for didactic purposes: Preparation, Therapeutic Trance, and Ratification of Therapeutic Change.” So it is critical that after the client has an unusual experience in Hypnosis, that you “ratify their therapeutic change” by directing them to make a meaning out of that experience that is positive and useful. You want them to come away with a belief like, “That odd experience means I will achieve my outcome.”

See you next week. Practice. Have fun.