Hypnotized – or Asleep?

A fellow hypnotherapist recently asked me about a client she had who seemed to fall asleep during a sessions. What should she do?
My answer is here…

Hi Keith,
I have one weight loss client that totally goes to sleep during the session. I tell her that no matter where her mind my wander my voice will be with her but I’m not exactly sure what she is getting. Does she really, really hear me or is she as by all indications sound asleep as in she actually snores a little? All the signs of trance (breathing, eyes, arm cat. and make one arm stiff and rigid then relax it) are there but then she just zones out! I know for sure it’s nothing on my part as almost everyone gets the same, be it your Modified Dave Elman or “Michael’s Really Cool”. HELP!! She did get suggestions from the first session as she now sleeps well thru the nite and when she gets up goes right back to sleep.



Hello M.A.,

If you think a client is asleep, give them a suggestion that allows you to see whether on not they respond. Finger twitches are good for this (You can set up yes/no ideomotor signals if you like). You know, ask her to twitch a finger as an indication she’s accepted a suggestion or something. In my experience, sometimes people who appear asleep still respond to suggestions but they may respond slowly. So, give them a minute or two of repeating the suggestion and watch closely.

If they respond, you’re good to go. If not, you have two choices…

1) Wake them up to the point where they respond.
2) Work with them while asleep (them, not you).

The challenge in working with them while asleep is rapport. In essence, a person who is asleep has very little connection to you or anything else in the “real” world. They just ain’t listening. So, you have to make a bunch of suggestions to the effect that they can hear you, they remain asleep and they follow your suggestions. You’ve got to keep hammering away, often for several minutes before they respond. Once again, you should ask for some physical response as an indication that they can hear and follow instructions. The will respond s-l-o-w-l-y.

In the case of your client–since you know she’s prone to this, you could suggest early on that even if she falls asleep, she will continue to hear and absorb suggestions.

Otherwise, you’ve got to wake her up some. If she won’t follow normal, spoken suggestions you’ll have to either bring your voice volume up a bit or touch her gently on the shoulder. Just use your common sense and wake her gently. I personally think there are fewer risks with letting your voice be a bit louder–do it gently though.

The upshot of the whole sleeping or not issue is whether or not the client responds to suggestion. I’d guess that’s what your instincts told you and why you checked to see if she followed the sleeping suggestions. It’s also telling that the client had sleep issues. Maybe that was her mind’s way of letting you know she was cooperating.


How to Hypnotize: Step-by-step Induction Instructions and Examples

About The Author:

Keith Livingston is the main instructor for Hypnosis 101. Keith has been studying hypnosis since he was a boy and doing hypnosis & NLP training since 1997.

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