Modified Dave Elman Induction
This version copyright © Donald Robertson 2000-2009. All rights reserved. www.UKhypnosis.com
This method of inducing hypnotic trance was developed by the famous US hypnotist Dave Elman. It has gained popularity with modern hypnotherapists because of its ability to induce hypnosis, and test for responsiveness, extremely quickly and reliably. The method generally consists of the following stages, interspersed with direct suggestions of deepening relaxation:
1. Deep breath and eye closure.
2. Arm heaviness test (dropping arm to test for loss of muscle tension).
2. Eye catalepsy test (suggestion that subject is unable to open eyes).
3. “Fractionation” of trance by repeated eye closure.
4. “Losing the numbers”, deepener for mental relaxation and test for amnesia.
5. “Elevator deepener” (optional).
Although this tends to be called the “Elman Induction” it’s actually a series of tests and deepeners which Elman seems to have normally used following an eye-fixation induction, or after simply asking the subject to close their eyes.
Elman’s Own Transcript
This is an excerpt from Elman’s Hypnotherapy (1964) which gives his famous induction technique verbatim, in his own words,
“Will you just take a good long deep breath and close your eyes. Now relax the muscles around your eyes to the point where those eye muscles won’t work and when you’re sure they won’t work, test them and make sure they won’t work… [Subject opens their eyes.] No, you’re making sure they will work. Relax them to the point where they will not work and when you’re sure they won’t work, test them. Test them hard. Get complete relaxation in those muscles around the eyes… [Client now exhibits eyelid catalepsy.] Now let that feeling of relaxation go right down to your toes… In just a moment we’re going to do this again and when we do it the second time you’re going to be able to relax ten times as much as you’re relaxed already.
“Now open your eyes. Close your eyes. Completely relax -let yourself be covered with a blanket of relaxation. Now the third time we do it you’ll be able to double the relaxation which you have. Open your eyes -now relax. I’m now going to lift your hand and drop it and if you’ve followed orders up to this point that hand will be just as limp as a dishrag and will just plop into your lap… No, let me lift it -don’t you lift it- let it be heavy -that’s good- but let’s open and close the eyes again and double that relaxation and send it right down to your toes. Let that hand be as heavy as lead… You’ll feel it when you’ve got the real relaxation… Now you’ve got it. You could feel that, couldn’t you? (Patient: Yes.)”
“That’s complete physical relaxation, but I want to show you how you can get mental relaxation as well as physical, so I’m going to ask you to start counting -when I tell you to- from a hundred backwards. Each time you say a number, double your relaxation, and by the time you get down to ninety-eight you’ll be so relaxed there won’t be any more numbers… Start with the idea of making that happen and watch it happen. Count out loud please. (Patient: One hundred.) Double your relaxation and watch the numbers start disappearing. (Ninety-nine.) Watch the numbers start disappearing. (Ninety-eight.) Now they’ll be gone… Make it happen. You’ve got to do it, I can’t do it. Make them disappear, dispel them, make them vanish. Are they all gone? [The subject says “yes” but on questioning and testing Elman finds that he is simply “too darn tired” to continue.]”
“So make those numbers completely disappear… Banish them… Are they gone? (No.) Make them disappear. I’m going to lift your hand and drop it, and when I do, the rest of those numbers will drop out. Want them to drop out and watch them go… Gone? (Yes.)” (Elman, Hypnotherapy, 1964: 60-65)
Elman Induction Script (Adapted)
Just begin by making yourself comfortable. Rest your feet flat on the floor and rest your hands on your lap, or by your side.
Now drop your head forward slightly and roll your eyes up and back as though you were looking toward a point in your forehead. That’s a bit of a strain but keep it up. Now, inhale deeply, filling your lungs all the way up as you continue to look up and back. Pause for a few seconds. Now keep looking up and allow your eyelids to grow heavy and close down… as you exhale slowly and patiently. Good, now send a huge wave of relaxation from the top of your head down to the tip of your toes. Let all of your muscles turn loose, and limp and wonderfully relaxed… just like a rag doll.
Now, rest your awareness on those eyelids once again. Even though the eyelids are closed down comfortably already, imagine they are closing down all over again, even more heavy and tired and lazy than before. Now relax those eyelids right down to the point where it feels as if they just don’t work anymore. When you know you’ve done that, make a test and find you’ve succeeded and they feel as if they’re sealing shut. Push harder against that relaxation and find the harder you try to make the effort the more lazy and tired and relaxed those eyelids are becoming right now. Now stop trying, send a wave of relaxation right down into that part of you that was trying to make the effort. You’re eyelids aren’t really sealed shut, it just feels as if they are. That’s a good sign, you’re relaxing very deeply.
Now, I’m going to help you to relax even more deeply, and those is how I’m going to do it. In a moment I’ll count 1, 2, 3, when I reach the number three you can open your eyes for a second before I gesture and say the word “sleep.” When I say the word “sleep”, just allow your eyelids to close down and find you’re going back, even deeper into hypnosis than before. Beginning now, 1, 2, 3… opening those eyelids, ready now, “sleep”, relaxing much deeper than before, two times deeper… Good… Once again, 1, 2, 3, opening those eyelids, ready now, “sleep”, relaxing much deeper than before, two times deeper… Good… One more time now, 1, 2, 3, opening those eyelids, ready now, “sleep”, relaxing much deeper than before, two times deeper again… Good.
Now you’re relaxing the body very deeply, and as you relax the body you’re relaxing the mind. Now, I’m going to help you to relax the mind even more deeply and this is how I’m going to do it. In a moment I want you to begin counting down backwards from 100, counting out loud, and repeating the words “deeper and deeper” after each number. Each time you say the words “deeper and deeper”, you’re doubling the relaxation of your mind, especially the counting part of your mind. By the time you’ve counted just a few of those numbers, to 95 or even 96, you’ll find you’ve succeeded in relaxing your mind so deeply that you just can’t be bothered even trying to locate those numbers, they’ve vanished completely, forgotten from your mind. Start counting now, losing the numbers to relaxation as you count, beginning now…
[Intersperse suggestions of deepening until subject stops counting.]
That’s it. Good. Now relax even more deeply, and as you do so make an effort and try to locate those forgotten numbers and find that you’ve succeeded, they’ve faded completely from the mind. Haven’t you?