What are Hypnotic deepeners?

The deepener’s job is to take someone from being in a trance to being in a deeper trance (see trance depth). There are a number of reasons why someone would want to do this;

  • It is general believed that the deeper the trance the more effective the therapy. The evidence for this is not clear, particularly because lighter states of trance may allow you to work more flexibly.
  • People are presenting for ‘hypnotherapy’, the emphasis here being on the ‘hypno’ part and as such may have a more convincing experience with a deeper state.

There are many different formats for deepening and below we will explore some of the most common.


Numerical hypnotic deepeners

These are deepener’s which rely on counting up or down, commonly this might be counting down from 3 or up to 10. The counting provides a defined period of time in which the deepening can occur thus allowing the mind to make the transition. Typically, suggestions such as “deeper and deeper, “deep sleep” and “relax” will be made in and around the numbers to help facilitate the deepening.

Natural phenomena hypnotic deepeners

Possibly the most common natural phenomena hypnotic deepener are those which use ideomotor response to return a limb to normalcy after having conducted induction through an Arm levitation or Limb catalepsy induction. A lesser example of a natural phenomenon deepener is delivering deepening suggestions as the subject exhales to gain the benefit of the simultaneous physical suggestion given by the act of breathing out. for more on natural Phenomena in hypnosis  

Visual engagement hypnotic deepeners

These look to create deepening by encouraging the subject to focus internally on imaginary imagery, typically a journey or favourite place. This creates dissociation from the current environment and may help access resources states, such as relaxation which in themselves may further deepen the subject.

Dissociative hypnotic deepeners

These are deepeners which explicitly encourage dissociation, the separation of subject from their current time / space. Many people argue that dissociation is the basis of hypnosis so anything which encourages it is likely to be useful. A typical example of dissociation deepening is asking a subject to imagine floating out of their body, this can easily lead into a visual engagement deepener such as a journey to a favourite place.

Triggered and conditioned hypnotic deepeners

These are a little different to the other types of deepener as when initially introduced they are not intended to procedure deepening but rather are establishing a cue for deepening at a later point. The cue word may be “sleep”, “relax”, “Nowww” or something similar. The use of the cue word is to take the subject back to the state in which the cue word was installed, to this end the hypnotherapist will look to install as deep a trance as possible before installing the cue word. Such deepening words are resources to be applied by the hypnotherapist when trance depth has been disrupted by something or an extra bit of deepening is required.

The above are all elements of deepeners and may well in mixed in together to create a more effective whole.

hypnotic deepeners

The author – Matt Krouwel is a hypnotherapist and post graduate researcher into hypnotherapy at University of Birmingham (UK)