1. Double binds give an illusionary choice.
Double binds are one of the most effective indirect language skills we have available for inducing trance or encouraging therapeutic change in therapy. The double bind appears to give the Patient a choice, however, the choice is only an illusion. The pre¬requisite to structuring a double bind is the embedded presupposition that something will occur. When the Patient is asked to choose between two or more alternatives it is already presupposed that the behavior being suggested by the therapist will occur as a result of either choice made by the Patient. For example to ask “do you prefer tea or coffee?” is to presuppose that the person is going to drink. Because the question doesn’t ask whether the person wants to drink, but is more concerned with what kind of drink, the Patient answers the question without being aware that they have committed themselves to drinking something.
2. Binds give the Patient a conscious choice.
Binds are questions that can be answered consciously by the Patient. For example to ask “do you want to go into trance in this chair or that chair?” the therapist is asking a simple question which can be answered consciously. However, the decision to sit in one chair or the other effectively binds the Patient to the task of going into trance regardless of which chair is chosen. So here we can see a simple bind for trance induction that can be answered consciously by the Patient. Sometimes when the therapist asks the Patient a simple bind question the Patient can reject either choice because the decision is made at the conscious level. With double binds Patients usually find themselves choosing unconsciously without resistance.
3. Double binds give a choice that can only be answered unconsciously.
A double bind requires that the response or choice be made at an unconscious level. For example to ask “are you going deeper into trance as you inhale or you exhale ?” is to ask that the Patient become aware of changes in his trance experience that are contingent upon inhalation or exhalation. Here we see a presupposition that the Patient is going to enter trance. In order to answer the question the Patient has to pay attention to the changes in his internal state. These changes can only occur on an unconscious level. So he has to wait for the hypnotic response before he can answer the question. The actual experience of waiting and focusing attention inward in order to answer the question is in itself trance inducing.
4. Conscious/unconscious double binds are the same as double binds but emphasize the dissociation between the conscious and the unconscious mind.
Suggestions such as “you can remember certain memories and your unconscious mind can remember others, which come first?” require the Patient to not only wait for an answer at an unconscious level but emphasize the difference between conscious and unconscious processing. In Hypnotherapy Training it is always useful to separate the unconscious from the conscious mind to avoid:
a) sabotage on the part of the conscious mind.
b) recall of communications directed solely to the unconscious mind. or to promote:
c) structured amnesia for traumatic experiences or memories repressed at an unconscious level.
Many of the forms of hypnotic suggestion are designed to dissociate the conscious from the unconscious mind.
7. Examples of conscious/unconscious double binds:
“if your unconscious wants you to enter trance your right hand will lift otherwise your left hand will lift”.
“I can talk to you (conscious) and I can talk to you (unconscious) and you (unconscious) can respond without you (conscious) knowing how you are doing it.”
(Born 21 July 1951 in Cambridge, United Kingdom) A British hypnotherapist
and a pioneer in the development of indirect hypnosis.
Introduced Ericksonian techniques to the UK and Europe.
Has over thirty years experience as a hypnotherapy trainer and has designed
hypnosis courses for over 20 hospitals and universities. Recognized
as a world authority on hypnosis and is a pioneer in the field.
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