Glossary of Hypnotic (and non-hypnotic) terms

There are a lot of terms used throughout the hypnosis and the therapy world that may or may not make sense to you. On this page, I have listed a few of the most common with descriptions.

General terms

Below are some general terms that I’ve not been able to group.


Integral Eye Movement Therapy is a brief change work process that generates rapid change in the area of undesired emotional and identity imprints. The process and algorithms of the technique answers the question, “How did the client learn to feel this way, about that thing?” and applies specific change at the right place within the client’s model of the world. Andrew Austin, Creator of IEMT. I am a licensed practitioner of IEMT.


Neuro-linguistic programming is a controversial approach to psychotherapy and organisational change based on “a model of interpersonal communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behaviour and the subjective experiences (esp. patterns of thought) underlying them” and “a system of alternative therapy based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behaviour”. OED


An emotional (and possibly physical) response experienced as a result of some subconscious trigger. Abreactions take many forms from spontaneous regression to a past event to apparently fighting the therapy being given.


The process by which a state of hypnosis is formally achieved with the subject.


Once hypnotised, it is easy to re-orient a subject and then re-induce hypnosis for further work.


The process by which a hypnotist will intensify a state of hypnosis


A process of intensifying a state of hypnosis by repeatedly waking and then re-inducing hypnosis in a subject.


A state of hypnosis where suggestions given by the hypnotist are freely and clearly acted upon. Additionally, approximately 20% of people are able to achieve a somnambulistic state quickly and easily. These people are often described as “somnambulists”. It is also a term used to describe someone who suffers from “sleep walking”.


The process of re-building and intensifying a past memory. This flexible tool can be used to induce, deepen or even as part of a treatment.

Ideodynamic (and ideomotor) Therapy

A method of working originally created as a result of the indirect and subtle approaches of the legendary Milton Erickson. Milton’s student Ernest Rossi developed the therapeutic use of ideomotor and non-conscious movements in new and powerful ways. Having studied with Norman D. Vaughton (one of Rossi’s own students), I use the techniques of dissociating the client from the physical movements caused by conscious processes. This then facilitates access directly to the unconscious mind leading to profound and often dramatic (seen to be believed) change.


A term used to describe specific observable occurrences as a direct result of hypnosis either suggested or self-evident.

Post Hypnotic Suggestion (PHS)

An automatic response that a hypnosis subject will have no conscious control over carried out at some point after a hypnosis session while they are not formally hypnotised.


Complete rigidity of one or more sets of muscles in the hypnotic subject’s body.


The process by an idea “Ideo” causes muscular movement “motor” without consciously creating the movement.


There are many different forms of hypnotic therapy available, so I have listed a couple of terms that are fairly common throughout.


The process of allowing a hypnosis subject to re-experience a past event.


Artificial creation of an intense dislike of something in order to affect a change in behaviour. Often used in therapy for things like gambling, nail biting and occasionally smoking.

Parts Therapy

A therapy that involves identifying the conflicting elements of a subjects personality and aligning them in order to affect change. This is a personal favourite of mine.

The Mind

For a thorough description of the mind model that I use for hypnosis, please see

The conscious mind

The element of the human mind that deals with short term memory, rationalisation and will power. This is often considered the “analytical mind”.

The subconscious mind

The element of the human mind that deals with long term memory, emotions, habits and addictions and self-preservation. It is these functions and area that we aim to deal with for most hypnotic interventions.

The unconscious mind

The element of all animals minds that deals with the automatic processes of living. This includes the immune system and other essential functions.

The critical faculty

The analytical element of a human brain that sits on the border between conscious and unconscious and normally acts to prevent us accepting and reacting to every suggestion given to us on a day-to-day basis. This faculty needs to be by-passed or otherwise appeased in order to effect hypnosis.

The importance of scale

This week I was given the opportunity to work with anchors with a client and it reminded me of the importance of doing things in the proper order: When creating anchors, you must create the desired state 3 (or more) times and each time you run through it, you make the state more pronounced or at least of the same level. If you don’t, you may risk anchoring a less than optimum state.

Say for example, you wanted to be more confident in certain situations, we could build up a “confidence” anchor and attach it to a gesture such as a pinching your thumb and little finger on the left hand together. We do this by putting you into a confident state, firing the anchor (pinching the fingers) and repeating a few times (3 or more). Sounds simple, but it really is!

In the session I had this week, we used a memory revivification (basically using specific techniques to bring to life a previous memory and allow the client to really re-live it in their mind) to achieve the state of mind required by the client.

The temptation to get carried away in the creation of the state and max-out on the first or second run through was strong and it took quite an effort to hold back enough for the second and even more so for the third pass through. At one point in the second pass, the client was obviously completely engaged and was showing some fantastic signs of hypnosis: flushed skin, breathing rate change, twitching eyes and started to wonder how I would enhance the state or even match it for the third pass through!

Fortunately I managed it by getting the client to make their memory even bigger and closer than it had been before at the same time as raising my voice (which by the way is a big tip for those practitioners out there: increasing volume = increasing effect). So the three passes looked a little like this:

Pass 1

I asked the client to choose a memory where they were in the state that they wanted to achieve. I then asked them to run through it in their mind a couple of times to refresh it. Then, by asking questions such as “can you see each person individually” and “do you remember what you were doing before this memory”, I was able to get the client to solidify it in their mind.

Then I said that they should allow that state to start to build until they could feel it inside them now and that when I count to 3 the feeling will build and build until at 3, they should activate their chosen trigger (in this case a foot stamp) before coming back to the room.

Pass 2

The second pass, I asked the client to return to the memory focusing on the things that they focused on last time, but this time, I asked them to remember what they heard, what individual sounds could they hear, what was to their left, to their right, ahead and behind them. I asked them to focus on the colours in their memory and clearly see them in their mind. I asked them to remember what the floor felt like under their feet, what clothes they were wearing and how they felt.

Then I repeated the count to 3 before waking them and breaking the state.

Pass 3

As I said earlier, I was a little worried I’d over-egged pass 2, but I once again got them  to return to the memory, but this time make all the colours brighter and more vivid (and I named a few colours to focus on), then I turned to the sound and told them to make the sounds louder and louder until they were almost too loud and lastly that they should step completely into the memory making it massive and all around them so that they could turn around in their own memory and experience it in a 3D, surround sound, smell-o-vision experince before counting to 3 to set the trigger.

Needless to say, the client was blown away and he said that he was feeling amazing afterwards.

The point I am trying to make with this post is that a sense of scale and perspective is essential when working with any form of trance: from phobias where we ask the client to set out on a scale of 1 to 10 how much their phobia affects them, to creating anchors and remembering to increase the scale of the effect each time.