Prior to becoming a performance coach and clinical hypnotherapist, I spent 30+ years as an accountant. A considerable amount of my time was spent auditing – checking facts and figures against the available evidence to ensure that information was true and fair and complied with applicable rules and regulations. The need for evidence became part of my modus operandi.

Given my background, it was perhaps no surprise that on becoming a coach I adopted an evidence based approach to my work, and particularly to the use of hypnosis.

An evidence based model of hypnosis

The evidence based model of hypnosis I adhere to, and the evidence supporting it, rejects the notion that hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness, or a trance state, or that it's magical or a 'special' state of some kind. Instead it supports the notion that hypnosis is a cognitive process that involves adopting and applying a specific set of attitudes and behaviours.

The label given to this set of attitudes is the Hypnotic Mindset.


Before we look at the Hypnotic Mindset let's pause a moment to define hypnosis.

James Braid (1841), generally regarded as the founder of modern hypnotherapy defined hypnosis as "focused attention upon an expectant dominant idea or image."

The purpose of this focused attention is to avoid distraction and to evoke ideas (cognitions) that lead to certain desired responses.

Braid's definition clearly establishes that hypnosis is not a thing, it's a cognitive behavioural process, i.e. hypnosis is something you do rather than have done to you.

You play the key role in hypnosis

When a person informs me "I tried hypnosis and it didn't work," it's likely that hypnosis and the Hypnotic Mindset weren't explained to them prior to their being hypnotised (or not!).  The person was most likely a passive participant in the process, expecting the hypnotist to say or do something magical that would produce the result the person desired.

"Hypnosis depends more on the efforts of the subject than any 'artistry' of the hypnotist."

~ Ernest Hilgard (1965) - American psychologist and professor at Stanford University

Hilgard was echoing the opinion of Braid who, back in the 1840s, understood that the success of hypnosis depends largely on the active engagement of the person being hypnotised in adopting the Hypnotic Mindset.

The Hypnotic Mindset

I first learned about the hypnotic mindset from my former coach and mentor Adam Eason. Adam discusses this mindset in detail in Chapter 1 of his marvellous book: The Science of Self Hypnosis - the Evidence Based Way To Hypnotise Yourself.

The Hypnotic Mindset includes:

  • our attitude towards hypnosis
  • our level of engagement in the role of being hypnotised
  • how safe we feel engaging in the process
  • an understanding that you are in control of the process. You retain your ability to control your behaviour during hypnosis and to refuse to respond to suggestions and even oppose suggestions.
  • believing in our ability to successfully engage in the process
  • encouraging yourself during the process
  • optimism about the outcome of the process, expecting success and a positive outcome
  • our confidence in our ability to respond to suggestions
  • the active engagement of our imagination to the best of our ability and in a way you find convincing
  • responding to the suggestions given in an active manner
  • accurately attributing our responses within hypnosis to our imagination and expectations
  • our level of motivation to fully engage in the process

This notion of the Hypnotic Mindset may seem sobering and a far cry from the magical way hypnosis is portrayed in the media, on TV, film and stage, but it's strongly supported by evidence.

Prior to a client experiencing hypnosis for the first time, I explain their role in the process and the need for them to adopt the Hypnotic Mindset. I've found that with this understanding it becomes much easier and quicker for the person to achieve their desired outcome(s).

The Hypnotic Mindset is a skill that can be enhanced with practice

The ability to adopt and apply the Hypnotic Mindset follows a classic bell curve. At one end of the curve sits a small percentage of people who aren't very good at adopting a Hypnotic Mindset and at the other end sits a small percentage of people who are highly skilled. Most of us sit somewhere in the middle. The good news is, no matter what your current level of skill, with practice you can enhance your ability. And better still, the more skilled you become the more you increase your responsiveness to hypnotic suggestions.

Hypnosis - a valuable life skill

I encourage my clients to learn self hypnosis so they are better equipped to make changes in their lives. Being confident and capable in the practice of self hypnosis builds self-efficacy. It puts you in the driving seat of change. Imagine being able to reduce your worry, anxiety and stress. Imagine increasing your success and performance.

What Next?

If you'd like to change your life in some way, perhaps achieve a goal or overcome one or more obstacles, then I encourage you to experience hypnosis.

If you'd like to explore your options let's have a chat. Contact me now on 021 056 8389 or email me at

Have a wonderful week.
Go well


Tony helps individuals to harness the power of personal change to achieve success and well-being in life, work and business. Tony's particular area of expertise is in helping people perform under pressure and gain freedom from worry, anxiety and stress. Tony’s solution focused approach to coaching uses a range of techniques drawn from the fields of co-active coaching, hypnosis, positive psychology and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

Contact Tony today to discuss how he can help you, or if you think Tony could help someone you know, you might like to encourage them to get in touch with him.