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The Utilization of Ideo-motor Response in

Accessing Unconscious Information, Memories


and Resources as a Primary Treatment Modality
in Ericksonian Hypnotherapy
Stephen H Brooks
_____________________________________
Introduction
This is an edited transcript of an Ericksonian hypnotherapy session demonstrating the use
of ideo-motor signaling. The session is taken from a practitioner diploma course I was
teaching for the British Hypnosis Research & Training Institute at St Annes Psychiatric
Hospital in London in the early 1990s. In 2012 the session was transcribed and I edited
the transcript to simplify the text. The demonstration is in front of a group of seventy
doctors, psychologists and other health professionals and as will be seen from the
transcript I teach the class what I am doing as the session progresses. The demonstration
subject is Elizabeth, who is one of the students and she has volunteered to be a
demonstration subject for the therapy demonstration.
In Ericksonian hypnotherapy, ideo-motor signaling is the name given to a technique
whereby a movement of the clients finger is used to signal an unconscious
communication typically a yes or no response.
I often use ideo-motor signaling with my clients in therapy, just as Milton Erickson did. I
find it invaluable in uncovering the source of early learning experiences that have
contributed to problems and the patterns that have maintained them. I frequently do
therapy using only ideo-motor response as a communication tool, because in this way the
client has no conscious realization of what therapy is occurring. It's a confidential
therapeutic encounter between the client's unconscious and the therapist. The client just
gets better without knowing how they did it.
The technique is quite simple but does require some skill at observation and timing. Once
in hypnosis, the therapist asks the clients unconscious mind to lift one finger for a yes"
answer, and another for a "no" answer. Sometimes the therapist will indicate on which
hands the yes and no fingers will be, I prefer to leave it up to the clients unconscious to
decide. The responses can either be on the same hand or on different hands. It is most
common to use both hands maybe a yes response from a finger on the left hand and a
no response from a finger on the right hand (as happens in this demonstration).
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
It is usually easy to tell when a client is faking, because an unconscious finger signal is
slow with minimal movement at first and often a little shaky. A conscious response is a
direct, conscious, and a more or less immediate lifting of the finger. Ideally there should
be no conscious participation on the part of the client so you get a true honest
unconscious response. When genuine, clients are sometimes unaware of the finger
movements as they happen.
Ideo-motor movement can also be an unconscious movement of the head, foot or other
part of the body and sometimes when a client has been asked to allow their unconscious
mind to move their finger, they also nod or shake their head without realizing it. Because
head nodding and shaking is a part of our everyday non-verbal behavior it can happen
quite naturally and unconsciously.
In hypnosis the unconscious head nods are different from conscious everyday head nods.
In trance they are usually very slow and barely noticeable. If a client nods their head in a
very enthusiastic and conscious way then the response is consciously generated and
should not be relied upon, it is just the client answering consciously and the responses are
based on the clients usual conscious understanding. Sometimes there may be an
unconscious movement of the foot or hand as well, or a twitch in a face muscle. These are
usually unconscious. It is rare for these to be consciously generated as most people do not
deliberately use these other parts of the body to communicate consciously.
There is usually quite a delay between the therapists question and the client lifting the
finger, especially at the start. This is because the client has to process the question
unconsciously, search for an answer unconsciously, and then move the finger
unconsciously. This process gets faster as the client answers more questions and the
process becomes more familiar. The therapist can encourage the finger to lift with
indirect suggestions and notice the initial slight twitch of the muscles in the back of the
hand that usually happen prior to a finger actually lifting.
With some clients you may only see a twitching of the muscles in the back of the hand or
a finger shifting from side to side and a full lift may not happen or take much longer to
happen. This is of no concern. The twitch in the muscle is hard to fake and so is a very
good indicator of a genuine unconscious response. It can be used as an alternative to a
full finger lift. I often will only need that small twitch as a response as this saves time in
therapy when one has a lot of questions. However beware, sometimes a movement may
occur in one place during one session and during another session occur in another part of
the hand. So you need to develop your observation skills to notice these subtle minimal
movements.
The whole purpose of using Ideo-motor responses is to communicate with the part of the
client that knows more about the problem than they do. By communicating directly with
the unconscious mind the therapist is able to call upon the clients unconscious resources
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
for problem solving. A certain amount of negotiation can be done between the therapist
and the client's unconscious mind in this way although the answers are limited to yes and
no. The client need not have any conscious awareness of the communication as it is
happening and he will often forget that it did happen. Usually clients can remember that
the fingers moved but cant remember all of the answers.
There are however limitations when using finger signaling. Any attempt at evoking direct
answers, especially detailed answers via finger signaling, is severely limited because the
fingers can only answer "yes" or "no". Often keeping track of the answers obtained with
ideo-motor responses can be challenging for the therapist. So when getting answers with
finger signaling the therapist should write down both the questions and answers on a
sheet of paper. Sometimes the responses can be quite confusing and contradictory
because the unconscious mind has its own sense of logic and a written record of the
session will help sort out this often contradictory unconscious logic.
There is also the issue of unconscious confidentiality to consider. Keeping a clear written
record of the responses as the session progresses will definitely help you to keep track of
the unconscious communication, but it may not be advisable to show the client the
written record afterwards, as it will often contain confidential information shared about
the client by his/her unconscious.
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration
Hypnotherapist: Stephen H Brooks
Client: Elizabeth
Brooks: OK, do you know anything about deep trance work?
Elizabeth: A little, I used to do it sometimes, but its rather hit and miss.
Brooks: Tell me a little bit about how you use it.
Elizabeth: Well when Im inducing hypnosis people sometimes... they go into a deep
trance, and sometimes they seem to sort of...
(Elizabeth pauses and starts to go into trance while moving both arms left and right
simulating a wave movement)
Brooks: Do you know what you do differently when you work with people in deep
trance?
Elizabeth: What I do differently?...
(Pauses for a several moments)
... you mean am I getting?...
(Pauses for longer as she goes deeper into trance)
I think I am... just responding to that person more completely, probably...
Brooks: Umm...
Elizabeth: (Smiles)
Brooks: Umm. Are you aware that you also go into a trance when you hypnotise your
clients?
Elizabeth: (Smiles and nods her head) Oh yes, yes, yes.
Brooks: How did I know that you do that?
Elizabeth: (Laughs) I was going into a trance just then.
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
Brooks: Yes, we were accessing the state you go into when youre helping clients.
Elizabeth: (Smiles) Yes, yes, yes, yes.
Brooks: Umm yes. (Talks to the students) OK let me explain a little about deep trance
work and the role of indirect and direct suggestion in deep trance work.
Youve been learning a lot about indirect suggestion on this course and we often use
indirect suggestion to help people overcome any fears they may have about going into
hypnosis.
When a person is actually in a deep trance, or already going into a deep trance, there is
less of a need to use indirect suggestion, because they are already in hypnosis. You can
still use indirect suggestion when doing therapy in hypnosis, if you want to only address
the unconscious mind, and dont wish the conscious mind to eavesdrop, but when you
just want to deepen trance, or evoke hypnotic phenomena, you can be quite direct if you
want, once the client is in hypnosis. Milton Erickson was often very direct once his
subject was in trance.
My video called Training In Indirect Hypnosis, which was about inducing and
deepening trance while evoking hypnotic phenomena using only indirect suggestion, was
based on the sole use of hypnotic implication. There was very little direct suggestion in
that session, because I wanted to demonstrate how powerful indirect suggestion is on its
own. But you dont have to do it that way every time you work with a client, although
admittedly, that is my personal preference. You can be direct as well, once the client is in
trance.
So at this point in your training Im going to encourage you to utilize direct suggestion as
well as indirect suggestion, but not until your hypnotic subject is actually in a trance.
Dont use the direct approach as a way of putting the person into hypnosis, use the
indirect approach for the first part of the session. We dont want you sounding like a stage
hypnotist. Were here to help the client feel that the hypnotic experience, and their ability
to heal, comes from within them, not that it is being done to them by someone who
claims to have some kind of hypnotic power over them. We want to empower our clients,
not dis-empower them. So use indirect suggestion for the induction and then use caring
and encouraging direct suggestion for the trance deepening and therapy. I will
demonstrate how you can do this using ideo-motor signaling. You will need to watch
closely to see the indirect induction as a lot of it will be non-verbal. The direct
suggestions will be obvious.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) So what Id like to do, is ask you to think about how you
feel at this moment?
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
Elizabeth: (Closes her eyes)
Brooks: How secure do you feel at this moment? (security was something the client had
mentioned previously)
Elizabeth: Fairly, not completely.
Brooks: Umm, how do your hands feel right now? How secure do your hands feel at this
moment?
Elizabeth: Umm... fairly all right.
Brooks: Fairly all right? Please tell me what position you would have to put your hands in
for them to not feel so secure?
Elizabeth: (Elizabeth tightens her hands) They feel sort of... (Elizabeth tightens her
hands again)
Brooks: Yes OK. Can you do that even more? Can you make your hands feel even less
secure?.. Thats it!
Elizabeth: (Smiles)
Brooks: And how does it feel when you make your hands fell less secure like that?
Elizabeth: Tight all the way across my shoulders and my legs.
Brooks: Not very comfortable?
Elizabeth: No.
Brooks: So does that mean... (pause) if I lift your arm like this (Brooks lifts Elizabeths
arm as part of the hypnotic induction), and then I ask you to relax it... just to relax your
fingers, thats it... just relax them nice and comfortably like that, so they feel the opposite
of how they felt... thats it... the opposite from how they were... (series of implied
questions)
And then you relax that one... (Brooks lifts her other hand)
Does that then feel more secure?
Elizabeth: Yes
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
Brooks: (Brooks gives a short analogy) I realized something some time ago. I was stuck
somewhere, I cant remember where it was now, but I needed something to eat but there
wasnt anything to eat. I knew I had to wait a long time to eat and I felt very hungry. But
as time passed I started to appreciate the waiting and the hungry feeling. I realized how
important it is to feel hungry in order to enjoy food. And the more I looked forward to
eating, the more I knew I would enjoy the food when it came.
Now you know, that when you wake up in the morning, theres usually daylight, and
when you go to sleep at night its dark. But with hypnosis you can go to sleep any time,
(Whispers) if you wish... and you know that I can use the word sleep yet dont mean
sleep. When I use the word sleep it can mean something entirely different. But you dont
need to know what it means consciously.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Im going to ask Elizabeth some questions here...
questions about what she feels like, and about what is happening for her.
There are three ways to deepen trance initially. One way is to suggest it, the other way is
to wait and let her go deeper, this means, you dont say anything, and the other way is to
utilize the physiological and psychological changes that occur and the hypnotic
phenomena that develops, to deepen trance. So I will use a combination of all three.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) OK Elizabeth, I just noticed that you moved your hands just
then. How do they feel right now?
Elizabeth: They feel OK.
Brooks: OK? and how do your fingers feel?
Elizabeth: Tingly.
Brooks: Tingly?... which hand feels the most tingly?
Elizabeth: The left.
Brooks: The left hand feels more tingly than the right... OK, and how do your eyelids
feel right now?
Elizabeth: Heavy.
Brooks: Heavy? Do you think that you can still open them?
Elizabeth: (Elizabeth opens her eyes)
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
Brooks: So they are not that heavy, not yet.
OK, what would you have to do in order to make them so heavy that you couldnt open
them?
Elizabeth: Just let myself breath deeply and slip deeper into... (Elizabeth goes into
hypnosis)
Brooks: Umm, thats right, thats it.
Now I can ask you questions, but of course you dont have to answer verbally.
You know that there are many ways you can communicate.
Just allow that tingling to develop in your hand as that heaviness develops in your eyelids
as you breathe.
Just going as deep as you need to go in order to accomplish what were going to do here
today.
Id like your unconscious mind to let you go even deeper into a hypnotic state.
You can think, you can hear, you can see in your minds eye. You can feel. Every thought
that you have can help you go deeper into hypnosis.
Every image can help you go deeper into a hypnotic state.
Every sound can help you go deeper and deeper into trance.
Every feeling can help you go deeper and deeper into hypnosis.
Now I wonder whats happening to the thumb on your left hand. Thats right. How is the
feeling in that thumb different from the felling in the thumb on your right hand?
Im going to talk about your fingers and thumbs because we can all be fingers and
thumbs.
I wonder what it would feel like to not know how to pick up something with those
fingers.
Almost as if that hand isnt yours.
Yet somehow unconsciously your hand can move to pick things up but without you
knowing how its happening.
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
Now your hand knows how to hold a pencil or a pen, or a knife and fork.
But you dont have to think about how to hold a knife and fork.
Because your unconscious mind knows how to hold things without you having to think
about it.
Now you can go into a deep deep hypnotic state as you breath.
Going deeper with every time you exhale, or maybe your unconscious mind would prefer
you to go deeper as you inhale. You can be curious about that.
Maybe youve spoken on the telephone and written something down without knowing
what you were writing.
Maybe you were doodling and didnt notice what you were doodling until afterwards.
You know how to wave at someone in the street. You dont have to think about how to
move your hand, it waves all by itself.
A friend comes towards you with their arm outstretched and they raise their hand to shake
your hand, and your hand lifts all by itself. You dont have to think about how to do that.
Id like you to go deeper and deeper into hypnosis now.
Deeper and deeper, deeper and deeper. Notice what its like to go deeper and deeper.
Experience it in your body, as you breath and as I talk to you.
Going deeper and deeper each time you breath. Thats right, deeper and deeper.
Id like you to count numbers to yourself as you go deeper. I dont know if your
unconscious will ask you to count yourself into hypnosis by counting forwards or by
counting backwards.
Wait for a moment to find out...
Then just count to yourself and let each number fade into the distance as you go deeper
and deeper. Just deeper and deeper, each number fading into the distance. Each number as
you count, as you go deeper and deeper. Deeper and deeper, deeper and deeper.
As you go deeper and deeper, so you start to alter the sensations in your body, how are
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
you doing that?
You really dont know, do you?
Thats right, going deeper and deeper and deeper.
Starting to recall the experience of being somewhere very comfortable.
Deeper and deeper. Starting to recall the experience of being somewhere very
comfortable.
That heaviness in your eyelids. Heaviness in your eyelids getting more and more heavy.
As if those muscles are so tired in those eyelids. So tired, so relaxed. So tired in those
eyelids now. In those eyelids, so relaxed.
Thats right. And you feel a gentle touch on your shoulder. (Brooks touches her gently on
the shoulder)
Now I want you to go deeper and deeper.
Heaviness in those eyelids now. Thats right, deeper and deeper all the way down. Thats
right, now deeper and deeper and you can be aware of the heaviness in your eyelids.
Even as you breath, have you almost lost the sensation of some part of your body? Is
there some part of your body you cant feel? Where in you body is that?
(Elizabeth nods)
Thats right, you cant feel that part of your body... you cant feel that part of your body.
Heaviness in your eyelids, so heavy as you go deeper now. All the way down. Now thats
right, thats it. You cant feel that part of your body. Really cant feel it. You can wonder
where it is but you cant feel that part of your body.
Its such an interesting learning experience as you go deeper and deeper, as you continue
to count.
Remember to continue to count as you go deeper and deeper. Just deeper and deeper.
You really cant feel that part of your body. As your eyelids are so heavy now, all the way
down.
Deeper and deeper, now just deeper and deeper and deeper.
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
And your unconscious mind can listen to every single word that I say. Every suggestion,
your unconscious mind can hear, every single suggestion, every word and implication.
Your unconscious mind can tune into my voice and hear every word and suggestion as
you go deeper and deeper.
And you conscious mind can hear the sound of my voice, the sound, only the sound.
Now going deeper now, thats right, all the way down as you experience the sensation of
a gentle touch on your shoulder.
I am touching you on your shoulder. As you breath, as you exhale, feel my gentle touch
on your shoulder. Just feel that slight pressure on your shoulder, that slight pressure.
Deeper and deeper now.
In that very comfortable place, that very comfortable place. And what can you see in this
comfortable place? What can you hear? What can you feel in this comfortable place?
In this comfortable place you can look around this comfortable place, hear the sounds and
the feelings of being in this comfortable place. Just enjoy the experience of being in this
comfortable place. What can you see, hear and feel? What experiences.
Have those experiences now. Have those experiences. Have those experiences in every
way now. Have those experiences. Have those experiences and when I ask you to talk,
you can reply.
When I ask you to talk, you can speak to me. You can allow your mouth to move, your
lips to move, and you can talk to me. Easily comfortably and stay in that relaxing place.
Going deeper and deeper now. All the way down, deeper and deeper, deeper and deeper
now.
When I ask you any questions you can talk to me.
Deeper and deeper, deeper and deeper. Eyelids getting heavier and heavy, heavier and
heavier as you go deeper and deeper and experience being in this place.
Experience being in this comfortable place. Experience it fully now, experience it in
every way, every way experience it.
Now Elizabeth, now I want you to answer some questions for me. What is this place
youre in, where is this special place? Tell me where this place is?
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
Elizabeth: An orchard
Brooks: An orchard, are there trees in this orchard with fruit on?
Elizabeth: All sorts... a plum tree.
Brooks: Do you like plums?
Elizabeth: Umm.
Brooks: Are you going to pick one? Which one are you going to pick? Can you see one
that you would like to pick? Which one are you going to pick? A big one or small one?
Pick that plum now. Can you reach and get that plum? Pick that plum.
(Elizabeth nods)
OK put it to your mouth and bite into it. Taste that plum. Taste the texture of the skin on
the plum, the fruit inside. The taste is so nice, sort of firm but sweet. You can taste the
fruit around the stone, the stone inside the plum. Taste the dryness of the stone. Spit that
out or take it out.
(Elizabeth spits out the hallucinated plum stone)
Umm that salvia flows, as you taste that plum. Maybe its the best plum youve ever
tasted or maybe the next one will be the best plum youve ever tasted. On a scale of one
to ten how do you rate the taste of this plum?
Elizabeth: About eight.
Brooks: About eight, pick another one now. Pick a number ten. Pick a number ten plum.
There are some more plums up there.
Which one do you think is a number ten plum? Have you seen one yet? Do you want to
feel it, to test how soft it is? Just test it to see how soft it is. Can you feel it?
Elizabeth: Umm.
Brooks: Do you think thats going to be a number ten plum?
Elizabeth: (Nods her head)
Brooks: Taste that plum, put that to your mouth and bite into that plum. Bite into that
plum now. Bite into it, taste that one. Taste that lovely taste. Its probably the best plum
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
youve ever tasted. The best plum youve ever tasted. Just so perfect, perfect. Nothing
wrong with that. Exactly, exactly as you like it to be. Perfect, perfect.
How do you rate this one on the scale of one to ten?
Elizabeth: (Mumbles the word ten)
When I touch you gently on the shoulder you can go all the way into a nice deep hypnotic
trance. Go now deeper and deeper, deeper deep and deeper, all the way down. Just deeper
and deeper, deeper.
Anytime I touch you on the shoulder like that you can go deeper and deeper, deeper and
deeper.
Thats it just allow your head to get very very heavy. Head gets very very heavy as you
go deeper and deeper. Deeper and deeper.
Notice how your hands feel at this moment (lifts her hands). Now Im just going to bend
your fingers slightly just to loosen them up. They became a little bit stiff didnt they (her
hand became spontaneously cataleptic). Just loosening those fingers up a little bit.
Now Id like your unconscious mind to allow you to go deeper and deeper. Allow your
unconscious mind to let movements and feelings return to your fingers but only to the
extent that they can move to answer my questions. Only to the extent that they can move
to answer my questions.
Deeper and deeper, deeper and deeper.
Allow your fingers to move to answer my questions. Deeper and deeper.
So your conscious mind can go anywhere it chooses. It doesnt have to pay any attention.
Just your unconscious mind to answer questions.
Now Id like your unconscious mind to show me what a yes is like. To allow one finger
on one hand to lift as a yes signal from your unconscious mind.
One finger to be a yes signal and another finger to be a no signal.

So first of all Id like your unconscious mind to allow one finger to move. Will it be on
your left hand or right hand? I dont really know. Show me what a yes is like... Id like
the unconscious mind to show me what a yes is like.
Elizabeth: (Slowly lifts a finger on her left hand)
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
Brooks: And continue to let that yes signal happen so I can see it clearly (her finger
lifts higher on her left hand).
Thats right, and let that finger return to normal. Let that finger rest back where it was.
(Elizabeth lowers the finger on her left hand)
Now Id like your unconscious mind to show me what a no signal is like. What a no
signal is like.
Thats right allow that signal to continue in that way, in its own way.
Umm more and more, let that no signal continue.
(Elizabeth lifts a finger on her right hand)
Now just let that finger return to normal (Brooks helps move her no finger back to
normal as it is slow in returning)
Now Im just going to ask some questions of your unconscious mind.
Just go deeper and deeper and deeper (Brooks places his hand gently on her shoulder)
deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper deep.
(Brooks starts talking to Elizabeths unconscious by referring to it while talking to
Elizabeth) Is your unconscious mind willing to communicate with me, with these ideo-
motor signals?
Elizabeth: (Lifts the finger on her left hand as a yes response)
Brooks: Thank you, Just let that finger return to normal, return to normal. Thats right,
thank you very much. Just allow yourself to go deeper and deeper and deeper. Thats it all
the way down. All the way down. All the way down.
Does your unconscious mind want you to come out of a trance in a minute?
Elizabeth: (Lifts the finger on her right hand as a no response)
Brooks: Just let that signal develop even more, even more. Even more.
Thats it, now let it return to normal. Thats it all the way down deeper, thats it. Even
deeper and deeper than before. Id like you to count, continue to count to go deeper.
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
Only listen to the sound of those numbers in your head. As you count those numbers, Im
going to talk to your unconscious mind and what ever I say to your unconscious mind is
only for your unconscious mind.
Just give your conscious attention to the counting of those numbers.
And if you miss a number you can continue counting, but remember what numbers you
have missed, and make a list of all of those numbers you missed while you continue to
count. And each number that you count, you go deeper and deeper, deeper and deeper and
deeper as I talk to your unconscious mind.
Continue to count as I talk to your unconscious mind. Just allow your unconscious mind
to hear me, your unconscious mind to hear me and respond without you having to listen.
And deeper and deeper and deeper now. Im talking to your unconscious mind now. Keep
going deeper and deeper in your own way... in your own time.
(Brooks talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind) Im going to talk about Elizabeth. Im
going to talk about her and what she can achieve for herself today. I would like to talk
about Elizabeth and how we can help her achieve things for herself.
Has Elizabeth got a particular problem that she wants to work on, at an unconscious
level?
Elizabeth: (Lifts the finger on her left hand as a yes response)
Brooks: (Brooks talks to Elizabeth) Keep counting and go deeper and deeper, deeper and
deeper.
Thank you, just allow that movement to return to normal. Thats it thank you very much,
thank you very much. Now you keep going deeper as I talk to the students. Just keep on
going deeper.
Brooks: (talking to the students) Let me tell you whats been happening so far. Now
weve got our ideo-motor responses here, and it will be very interesting to pay attention
to the answers that we get from her unconscious, it might also seem quite confusing,
because you might discover that the unconscious has its own sense of logic.
So if you want to keep a note of the questions Im asking and then the answers we get, it
will be very interesting when we look back and analyze what weve got.
Im going to do this as a content free therapy session because I dont know what her
actual problem is. I have deliberately structured the session in this way so we are limited
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
to only the yes and no signals as a therapeutic tool, because with ideo-motor signaling
you are limited to only yes and no signals. So Im showing you exactly what you can and
cant do with ideo-motor signaling.
Lets suppose that someone comes in to therapy and they have a problem where they feel
anxious but cant define why they feel anxious. In other words, there would be a
symptom without any consciously identifiable cause. We would be in the same situation
we are in now. We would have a lack of information. But we would have a
communication channel to the unconscious part of the person that knows about the cause.
So first of all, we have to ask if that part of her unconscious is willing to help her resolve
the problem by allowing us access to the cause. Why do we need this willingness to help?
Because the unconscious has so far kept this cause out of the clients conscious
awareness, usually as a protective measure, and having a therapist digging around may
jeopardize that protection. So this is very much a matter of building trust between the
therapist and the clients unconscious.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious) Now are you willing to help me help
Elizabeth with this problem? If you are willing to help me help Elizabeth with this
problem your unconscious can give me a yes signal. If your unconscious is not willing it
can give me a no signal.
Elizabeth: (Moves the finger on her left hand as a yes response)
Brooks: Thank you, thank you. Now let that finger relax back to where it was.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Now let me tell you whats been happening so far with
regards to setting up the ideo-motor signaling itself.
Notice that I gave her a task of counting numbers to herself. Then I gave her the task
again but to also keep track of any numbers she had left out. This is a difficult task at the
best of times, so it ties up her conscious attention nicely. And I told her that she neednt
pay attention to me, she only has to count. By giving her the task of counting, I make it
very difficult for her to pay attention to me consciously and respond consciously, because
she has to keep track of her counting. This allows me to get through to the unconscious
and get a more reliable ideo-motor signal.
Now earlier, her initial ideo-motor signal was genuine, but it happened too quick for my
liking. Which means that there was a percentage of conscious communication there as
well. I still feel it was an unconscious response but it was a kind of compromise. In other
words I feel that she was consciously assisting her unconscious and we dont need that,
we need an honest purely unconscious response.
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
Now we are getting much more reliable unconscious communication because there is a
definite delay in the response. Did you notice that? The movement doesnt seem so
conscious, its more like its happening all by itself, its not consciously controlled.
(Brooks shows the students how her fingers have now been moving) And thats the
communication we want to get. It has to be as unconscious as possible to be genuine.
You can have a signal which is a combination of the two (conscious and unconscious
responses) and you can still work that way, but I prefer to work on a totally unconscious
level. I dont like to have the client in the room with me, only her unconscious mind.
Lets find how much Elizabeth knows consciously about the cause of her problem.
Brooks: (Brooks talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind) Does Elizabeth know the cause
of this problem at a conscious level?
Elizabeth: (Moves the finger on her left hand as a yes response and moves the finger on
her right hand as a no response)
Brooks: (talks to the students) You see! there is the strange sense of logic that I was
talking about, we get a yes and a no. So now we know that she knows part of the
cause consciously but is unaware of another part of the cause.
Brooks: (Brooks talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind through Elizabeth) Now does
your unconscious mind have a full knowledge or awareness of that cause at this moment?
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand as a yes response)
Brooks: Thank you. (Talks to the students) Right so the unconscious knows what the
cause is. It has full awareness of what the cause is. Lets find out if its willing to share it
with her. Because obviously sometimes the unconscious mind protects the person by
holding stuff back. Lets find out if its willing to share, and if it is, how much its willing
to share.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind) Are you willing to share with Elizabeth
the cause of the problem?
Elizabeth: (Moves the finger on her left hand as a yes response and also the finger on
her right hand as a no response)
Brooks: OK OK, thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) So now we have a yes and a no signal again from her
unconscious. Its willing to share, and yet its also not willing to share!
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
So does this mean that its willing to share a part but not all? Or does it mean that its
willing to share all but only under certain conditions. These are the two ways of looking
at her response, and we have to check both of these out. Im going to suggest this to her
in a very specific way.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind through Elizabeth) Im going to ask your
unconscious a question and Id like you to answer yes or no but I dont want you to
answer until I give you the signal.
(Talks to Elizabeth) So go deeper and deeper, keep on counting deeper and deeper and
deeper. Deeper and deeper.
(Talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind through Elizabeth) I dont want you to answer the
question until I tell you that you can answer. Now there are two alternatives as I see them
here - two ways that your unconscious may be willing to share with Elizabeth.
Number one, is that youre unconscious is willing to share part of the cause but hold
another part back?
Number two is it that your unconscious is willing to share all of the information about the
cause, but only in a way where Elizabeth wont recognize consciously what the
unconscious is sharing.
(Talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind) If its number one answer yes.
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand as a yes response)
Brooks: OK OK , thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) As she has answered yes to choice number one, we
shouldnt assume that she would have answered no to choice number two, she might
answer yes to both questions. So lets find out.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind) If youre willing to share all of it, but in
a way that she wont be aware of, please let me know by giving a yes response.
Elizabeth: (Moves the finger on her left hand as a yes response and also the finger on
her right hand to indicate no)
Brooks: Thank you, thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Now isnt this fascinating. Lets think of how she could be
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
answering this question. So she has already agreed to share a part but also hold part back.
So is she now willing to share all of it but in a way that wont be recognized by Elizabeth
consciously?
Is she going to share the part that she was going to share, in a way thats not going be
recognized? And is she going to share the part that she wasnt going to share in a way
thats not going to be recognized? Can you see how complex ideo-motor responses can
become. Our conscious limited ways of understanding are really challenged when we
enter into a conversation with the unconscious. Of course I am deliberately phrasing my
questions so as to evoke these kind of unconscious responses for the purposes of the
demonstration.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Just go deeper and deeper. Keep on counting as you go
deeper, thats it.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Because we are talking about how this sharing will occur
she may even get some conscious recognition now. In other words, by talking about the
possibility of sharing, we may have initiated the sharing.
Elizabeth: (Elizabeth has a slight smile on her face)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) See the smile? her smile is her recognition of our
recognition that sharing has been initiated. Its not an unconscious smile, it is a conscious
response to our comments on what she is possibly experiencing consciously.
If we get deeper and deeper into this kind of questioning well probably get very
confused, but lets continue. Im not writing down her answers, but you need to in order
to understand. For now I am going to keep her answers up here (Pointing to his head).
Lets see what happens if we ask Elizabeths unconscious mind a direct question.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind) Do you want to keep something back
from Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand slightly as a yes response and also her finger
on her right hand to indicate no)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Now weve got a no here but we also got a tiny little yes
movement at the beginning.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind) Thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Now Im confused about the signals Ive just seen now. I
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
saw a little yes then, I saw a no then I saw a yes again. So Im going to ask for her to give
me a clearer response.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind) Do you want to keep something back
from Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand as a yes response and also her finger on her
right hand to indicate no)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Yes and no. Weve got a yes and no OK.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Just relax thats fine, fine. Continue to count Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: (Smiles)
Brooks: (Talks to the students and to Elizabeths unconscious mind) Now she is smiling
and I want to know what the smile is about, because I am not inside her head. I want to
find out if she is smiling because she is having a wonderful trance. Is she smiling because
she is amused by what her fingers are doing or is she smiling because she is getting some
of the recognition from her unconscious. Im very curious to find out.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind) We will number these different
responses one, two and three.
Number one is because Elizabeth is having a good trance.
Number two is because she is amused by her fingers.
Number three is because she is getting some recognition of the cause.
If its number one answer yes.
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand for a yes response but then moves her finger
down)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Its going down quickly, so although the question may be
relevant, after all she is having a good trance, it may not be the main reason for her smile.
The fact that she doesnt respond completely with a yes to this first question doesn't mean
that shes not having a good trance of course. It simply means that it is not the main
reason for her smile.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind) OK is it number two, because youre
amused?
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand as a yes response)
Brooks: Yes, OK thank you, thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) So the smile is coming as a response of the sense of
amusement, recognizing what her fingers are doing. I will now ask number three.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind) Is it also because youre developing
some awareness of what the cause of the problem is?
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on right hand as a no response)
Brooks: No, OK.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) So her smile is because she is amused by how her fingers
are responding all by themselves. Not because she is understanding things about her
problem.
Now lets summarize. We know that the unconscious is holding something back, we
know that she needs to have access to this to overcome her problem and we know that her
unconscious is unwilling to share it with her directly.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind) Will Elizabeth be able to overcome her
problem if you share with her the information that you are currently holding back?
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand for a yes response)
Brooks: Thank you, Thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) So the unconscious confirms that the information needs to
be shared but that it is not willing to share it directly. In other words, it does not want her
to experience a sudden realization of what the cause is. So we must create a context
where it can share what is needed in a way that will not be harmful to the client. So our
next step is to get it to share it with her indirectly.
Now Im interested to find out how her unconscious mind is going to give her this
information. It could be in a dream, it could be as pictures, sounds, feelings, it could be
now or could be later. Now the best way to do this is to say that Id like the unconscious
mind to decide how its going to give it to her, and to let us know when its made the
decision.
Another way would be to say, will it be in a dream? Will it be in everyday waking life?
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
Will it be when you expect it? Will it be when you least expect it? Will it be now? Will it
be tomorrow? In other words, giving the unconscious multiple choice questions. But that
would take up a lot of time when using only ideo-motor signaling as a communication
channel. So we need to integrate these two approaches.
So the best way is to ask the unconscious mind to make the decision when and how while
reminding it of the options and choices available. So lets ask the unconscious mind to do
this.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind) Id like you to look at the information
you are going to share with Elizabeth from every angle and decide in what way Elizabeth
can most benefit from the sharing of this information, and how you can share this
information with her in a way that is healing and empowering.
To look at sharing this information gently and indirectly with her in her everyday waking
life or when shes asleep or when shes expecting it to happen or when shes not
expecting it to happen. To find the best and most therapeutic way of sharing this
information.
Consider all the different possibilities and ways of sharing this information with
Elizabeth so she can help herself overcome her problem. Look at it in every detail, every
aspect, from every perspective. Look at it thoroughly and then give me a yes signal when
you have decided how youre going to give Elizabeth that information.
Give me a yes signal when you have decided.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Now we are going to wait for this internal unconscious
sorting process to occur, and then when her unconscious mind gives me the yes signal I
will see if I can find out how long it will be before she receives the information. It could
be a part today, or part tomorrow, part next week. It could all come at once, I dont know.
We will see if we can find that out as well.
So lets look at this as if Elizabeth were a client in your office. First of all there is the
rapport, then the conscious questioning and general information gathering, then the
induction of hypnosis and then the ideo-motor signaling session.
Now if this were the first or second session of hypnosis with a client and we were now at
this point of having established communication with the unconscious, and had also
obtained agreement to communicate something therapeutic, I would probably suggest
amnesia to avoid any unpicking of the session and then, at the end of the session, send the
client away with instructions to wait and see what happens between sessions.
Then on the following session I would spend time asking the client about what insights,
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
thoughts and changes had happened since the previous session... Ill tell you a story about
that at the end of this session. Ill give you an example when we finish.
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand for a yes response)
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind) Thank you, Thank you
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thats right, thats it. Deeper and deeper and deeper and
deeper. Your doing very very well, very very well. Deeper and deeper thats it all the way
down, deeper and deeper.
(Talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind) Now you can either give this information to
Elizabeth all at once in one go or you can give it to her a piece at a time. If youre going
to give it to her all in one go give me a yes signal. If your not going to give it to her all
in one go please give me a no signal.
___________________________________________________________________
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Now I have asked her unconscious here for a clear yes or
no signal, I shouldnt just ask for a yes. If I just ask for a yes signal and she doesnt lift
her finger, would that mean a no, or would it mean that her unconscious is still processing
the question? We have to get either a clear yes or no.
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on right hand as a no response)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) There we are, we have a no, but we would not have gotten
that if we had just asked for a yes response and assumed that a no movement was a
negative response.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank you, Thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) See, her unconscious doesnt want to give her the
information all at once. Maybe the information is too sensitive and so would be
overwhelming to her consciously for her to receive it all at once.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious mind) If youre going to give the information
to Elizabeth at a piece at a time, give me a yes signal. If your not, give me a no signal.
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand for a yes response)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) You see, you have a yes signal coming up here and Im
waiting to see if we will get a no with it because previously we had a yes and a no.
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand again for a yes response as if agreeing with
Brooks or confirming her yes response)
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank you, Thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) What would happen if we had a yes and no there?
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on right hand for a no response)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) There you are, there is the no response as well.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank you, Thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) How can we interpret these answers? Are you keeping up
with me because the unconscious works in very strange ways. It seems to contradict itself
sometimes if you try and understand it from the point of view of conscious logic. We
have to interpret what it says in terms of unconscious logic.
The combined yes and no signal probably means thats its going to share a piece at a
time but that there are some pieces its not going to share directly or in a way that can be
understood or even sabotaged consciously.
Lets summarize so far. We know that the unconscious is going to share some information.
Not all, but some information, and we know that this information can be enough to help
her get over her problem. It is going to share this information a piece at a time but it may
hold back some of the information that it has agreed to share a piece at a time. So how
can it simultaneously hold back information and also share it?
From my experience I would say that her unconscious may give her a piece of the
information without the conscious recognition that shes received it. In other words, she
can receive information that was previously unconscious in a disguised form so that she
can use it to resolve her problems without knowing the true nature of the information. So
Im going to run with that as it is a pattern that I have seen before when the unconscious
wants to protect the client but at the same time wants to help the client by sharing
information.
Lets find out now over what kind of time scale this will happen.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious through Elizabeth) Im going to give you three
choices.
Number one, your unconscious mind can share that information with you over this
weekend or...
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
Number two, it can share it with you over the next two weeks or...
Number three, it can share it with you over a period longer than two weeks.
If the answer is number one give me a yes signal, if its not, give me a no signal.
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand for a yes response)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Weve got a yes finger coming up here.
Now we have to be very specific with our questioning. You know when I just said, if its
going to share it with you this weekend, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to say
all of the pieces or all of the information this weekend.
Because if her unconscious wants to share it over two weeks, it has to start sometime,
right? and it could start this weekend, in other words this weekend could be the start of
that process. But we wouldnt know that, because my question wasnt specific enough.
So we have to clarify, is she going to share all of the pieces this weekend, or is this only
the beginning of the sharing process. That was my mistake so I need to check again and
rephrase my question, because the unconscious responds to literally to questions.
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand for a yes response)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) She gave me a yes there. So what was she answering yes
to? I was not addressing her unconscious while talking to the class just then, but her
unconscious may have thought I was. Or maybe it is getting impatient with me!
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious through Elizabeth) Ill ask that question again.
If your unconscious mind is going to share all of that information with Elizabeth over the
course of this weekend, give me a yes, if not give me a no.
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left and right hand for a yes and also a no response)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) See weve got both a yes and no here again. So this
suggests that her unconscious will share a part of it directly with Elizabeth this weekend
and will share the other part of it indirectly. But before we accept that answer lets check
out the other options and see if this sharing will continuing beyond this weekend.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank you, Thank you.
(Talks to Elizabeths unconscious through Elizabeth) Is your unconscious mind going to
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
share all of that information over the next two weeks.
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left and right hand for a yes and also a no response)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) See we have a yes and a no here. So it seems to suggest it
could take longer. Lets find out, always ask the question, dont assume.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank you,
Brooks: (Talks to the students) We will go for number three now and see what it says.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Deeper and deeper.
(Talks to Elizabeths unconscious through Elizabeth) Is your unconscious mind going to
share all of that information over a period longer than two weeks? If its a yes give me a
yes, if its no give me a no.
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand as a yes signal)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) We have a yes over here. So we now know that this
sharing will take longer than two weeks, will start this weekend, and that some of this
information will be shared directly to her conscious mind, and the other information will
shared in a disguised form, maybe as a metaphor in a dream for example.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious) Will this sharing be enough to help Elizabeth
help herself get over her problem?
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left and right hand for a yes and also a no response)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Weve got a yes and no. So the sharing is going to help
her but not completely.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) So her unconscious mind is saying that the sharing will
help her but she also needs additional resources to fully overcome her problem. So where
do we get these resources from?
It could be the that these come from the therapist, or her circumstances, environment, or
more likely from her own unconscious mind. But if her unconscious mind already has
these resources why hasnt it applied these to helping her already? Well no one asked it
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
to. And that is our job as therapists - to negotiate with the unconscious mind and get it
fully involved in the healing process.
Im now going to ask her unconscious if it has the resources to give her.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious through Elizabeth) Does your unconscious
mind have the resources to give to Elizabeth, at the appropriate time so that she can get
over this problem?
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand as a yes signal)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Weve got a yes over here.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) We have a definite yes.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious through Elizabeth) Does your unconscious
mind know how to use those resources to help Elizabeth help her get over her problem?
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left and right hand for a yes and also a no response)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Weve got a yes and no. So she knows partially how to
use those resources and partially not know how to use them.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank you, thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Ok we are coming towards the end of the therapy now.
So lets find our way out. Lets find out if Elizabeth has the means to find out how her
unconscious can use these resources. Is there anything she can do, people to talk to,
things to read, things to learn or work to do on herself. Is there personal work she can do,
tasks she can accomplish or a therapist she can see etc.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious) So are there other things that Elizabeth can do
that will teach her ways of discovering how her unconscious mind can use all of these
resources to help herself.
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand for a yes response)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Weve got a yes.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank you, thank you.
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
Brooks: (Talks to the students) So there are things she can do. But before we all pack
up and go home, we need to get a contract established. We have got a good initial
commitment by asking what she can do. That was my way of getting her unconscious
agreement, I now need to to get a firm commitment that she will do what is required of
her. Can and will have different meanings.
So Im going to find out if her unconscious mind is willing to commit to letting her do
these things, because that is where her motivation will come from. We need to establish
that the unconscious will motivate her to do the things she needs to do.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious) Are you willing to let Elizabeth do these
things? If you are willing to let Elizabeth do these things you can give me a yes signal. If
you are not willing, give me a no signal.
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand for a yes response)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Weve the yes signal over here.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Now there is something you need to be aware of when
using ideo-motor signaling, and this is to not will the clients unconscious response.
When I first started practicing as a hypnotherapist in the 1970s I found myself willing
the client to answer yes to this or that questions because I wanted the session to go well.
But by willing the response you are indirectly suggesting the response to your client, so
you are not getting a genuine unconscious response. Be aware of that temptation.
If you are mindful of the power of implication in influencing the unconscious mind you
do of course use this in therapy. And here in this demonstration my outcome is twofold,
to help the client, and to teach the class by demonstrating the complexity of ideo-motor
signaling, so I am using questions that can generate ambiguous responses, but this is
mainly for teaching purposes.
So lets summarize again, Elizabeths unconscious knows that there are things that she
can do and it is willing to let her do these things. So now Im going to ask her
unconscious mind if its important for Elizabeth to actually know what these things are
going to be.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious) Is it important for Elizabeth to know
consciously, what these things are going to be?
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left and right hand for a yes and also a no response)
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Great, we have the yes and no here. Which suggests that
some things are important for her to know and some things can be kept back. Shell just
do them anyway.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank you. Thats it, thank you. Deeper, thats it deeper
relaxed.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) So we now know the unconscious mind is willing to let
her do these things. But its not important for her to know what all of them are. But its
important for her to know what some of them are. So lets find out if its willing to share
with her the ones that are important.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious) Are you willing to share with Elizabeth the
things that are important?
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left and right hand for a yes and also a no response)
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank you, thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Isnt this interesting? Her unconscious mind is saying that
it is important for her to know some of those things in order to do them. Yet its saying
that its not willing to share some of those things. Here we have a double bind, her
unconscious has put her in a double bind. Now this could be the reason why she cant get
over her problem, you see.
Her unconscious mind is preventing her from learning about the important things that she
has to do in order to be able to have the resources to go with the information that shes
going to be given to get over her problem.
So its not willing to share. So now we have to negotiate with her unconscious mind
because we know its important for her to know. But also we know that the unconscious
is not willing to share. So we have to do a deal here, we have to do a deal with her
unconscious mind. Because if its important for her to know and her unconscious is not
willing to share, were not going to get any further.
So we have to get her unconscious to agree to share information about the important
things she has to do, but to do so in a way that protects her. Maybe Elizabeth doesnt need
to know what important things she has to do, but can just have the motivation to do them,
without knowing consciously why or from where that motivation came from. So how do
we do this?
Well we are taking here about doing things. In other words tasks. So Maybe we can
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
get her unconscious mind to give her tasks that have covertly embedded within them the
important tasks that she needs to achieve in order to have the resources to combine with
the information her unconscious mind is going to share with her over time that will then
allow her to overcome her problem.
She has to be motivated to carry out the tasks, so they have to feel important in some
way, just enough for her to carry them out, and at the same time without awareness of the
embedded covert task that actually is important for her therapy.
Lets look at what other possibilities there could be. How can we get her to know that
something is important, without knowing that its important?
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) And I am sure youve had the experience of feeling
compelled to do something without quite knowing why. And then maybe later youve
discovered why you felt so compelled. In the same way you may have had someones
name on the tip of your tongue without knowing that persons name. Or maybe you felt it
was very important to do something, check something, write something or ring someone.
Yet you couldnt remember quite why you had to do it, but you knew it was very
important.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious through Elizabeth) Is your unconscious mind
willing to let Elizabeth know what is important for her to do in order to gain access to the
resources to help herself but without her knowing why its important.
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand for a yes response)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Weve a yes here.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious through Elizabeth) So is your unconscious
mind willing to allow Elizabeth to do thoese important things.
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand for a yes response)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Weve a yes here.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank you.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) OK so lets just summarize, where are we? First of all her
unconscious mind is going to share with her some information that will help her get over
her problem, and it will share it a piece at a time over time. Secondly, its going to allow
her to do certain things which are important to help her gain access to the resources that
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
she needs in addition to the knowledge that she gets from her unconscious. One more
question now, just to round it off, OK. This is the big one, the question that tells whether
we can now close the session or not.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious) I would like you to consider if Elizabeth
needs anything else to help herself in addition to what you have promised. And if she
now has everything she needs, give me a yes signal. And if she doesn't yet have
everything she needs, give me a no signal.
(Elizabeth takes her time to respond)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) This is a big decision, a big question isnt it? So it takes
time for the unconscious mind to organize itself while the conscious mind is passive,
maybe just as an observer or maybe completely unaware of the unconscious decision
making process.
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand for a yes response)
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Just allow that movement to become more obvious.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Now this is fascinating because we have a yes there on
her finger, plus other affirmative signals that weve noticed as well (Her slow head
movements).
Brooks: So it looks like a yes, but Im going to ask the fingers to relax and ask again to
be double check. We want to be certain that weve covered everything.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank you, relax.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Im going to ask the same question again because its not
enough for me. Ive seen it but I want confirmation.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeths unconscious) So now will Elizabeth have everything that
she needs in order to help herself get over this problem? If the answer is yes, I would like
a yes movement to occur in an obvious way, and if its a no response I would like a no
movement to occur in an obvious way.
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on her left hand for a yes response)
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank You.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) OK. So lets assume that you have come to the end of the
session with your client but you wish to continue with the ideo-motor signaling on the
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
next session, maybe a week later. How do you set that up? You could start all over again
when you next see your client, but given that you are using a very time consuming
therapy technique, you may want to save time on the actual hypnotic induction by setting
up a post-hypnotic cue at the end of this session.
OK so lets put this into the context of a therapy session in your office. You have got this
far, but time is running out, and lets say that you have not managed to finish the ideo-
motor session within the one hour you had available. What do you do? Well you really
have no choice but to continue with the ideo-motor signaling during the next session a
week later. So you need to establish and test a post-hypnotic cue for the client to re-enter
trance the next time you see her. In this demonstration I have already established a post-
hypnotic cue earlier with the post-hypnotic anchor on her shoulder. So now I need to
reinforce it and test it.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Every time you feel me touch you on the shoulder, like this.
(Brooks touches her shoulder) You can go into a deep deep hypnotic state. Every time
you feel this hand on your shoulder, your head will just fall forward and go into a deep,
thats it, hypnotic state. Every time and anytime, anytime you feel just me, only me, put
my hand on your shoulder. Anytime I put my hand on your shoulder like that and when I
say the word now, you can go into a deep deep hypnotic trance. Back to the same
hypnotic state. Back to the same hypnotic state, and when you go back to the same
hypnotic state I can talk to your unconscious mind in the way I have been. And you can
respond in that way.
Whenever you feel me touch you on the shoulder with my hand you can go deep into
hypnotic trance immediately. Your eyes can close immediately and you can return to this
same relaxed way of breathing. The same relaxed way of breathing.
(Talks to Elizabeths unconscious through Elizabeth) Does your unconscious mind agree
to respond in this way so that I can help you?
Elizabeth: (Moves her finger on left hand for a yes response)
Brooks: (Talks to the students) Weve got a yes response over here.
Im just checking out if the unconscious mind agrees for me to do this. If the unconscious
had said no, there would be no point in me trying to get her into trance again with this re-
induction technique.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Thank You, thank You. Thank You.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) So Ive set up my post hypnotic cue. So the next time
your client comes back into the office you can carry on working by putting her back into
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
the same trance just by touching her on the shoulder. This saves time as ideo-motor
signaling is time consuming.
Now if it gets to the point where you cant get any more information from the
unconscious by using yes and no responses, you then need to introduce automatic
writing. This can initially take longer to set up because you have to teach the person first
to hold the pencil. Then teach them to write a Y for yes and a N for no, then to write
the word yes then to write the word no. Then to start writing their name, then start writing
sentences. And that can take maybe one hour or it can take five hours depending on who
youre working with. But if youre working at this kind of depth, five hours spent setting
up the communication channel is time well spent, especially if you want content from the
unconscious instead of just yes and no responses.
So Im now going to get her to come out of trance by clicking my fingers. I generally
dont do this when I work with clients, but as this is a demonstration, I want to create a
clear signal for her to come out of trance for her own education and to demonstrate how
clients can shift dramatically between the waking state and a trance state.
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Now Elizabeth in a few moments Im going to click my
fingers it will sound like this. (Brooks clicks his fingers) And when you hear that sound
you can immediately come out of hypnosis.
(Brooks clicks his fingers).
Elizabeth: (Immediately smiles and comes out of trance)
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth) Ah, how about that. Hi how are you?
Elizabeth: OK.
Brooks: What do your hands feel like at this moment?
Elizabeth: Very heavy. (Elizabeth has a slurred speech)
Brooks: Which one feels the heaviest?
Elizabeth: The left one.
(Just as Elizabeth responds Brooks puts her back into trance my touching her on her
shoulder again)
Brooks: Now now all the way down, just deeper and deeper, deeper. Thats right.
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
(Brooks clicks his fingers and Elizabeth instantly comes out of trance, blinks her eyes a
few times with a smile on her face)
Brooks: Now, are you sure its the left one or has it changed to the right one?
(As Elizabeth thinks about the question Brooks places his hand on Elizabeths shoulder
for her to go back in to trance. She smiles and giggles)
Brooks: Now, thats it, all the way down. Just deeper and deeper and deeper, and deeper.
And deeper and deeper and deeper. Thats it youre doing very, very well. Youre doing
very well.
(Brooks places his hand on Elizabeths shoulder to deepen her trance)
(Brooks clicks his finger for her to come out of trance) OK hi
(Elizabeth opens her eyes and smiles)
Brooks: Is that OK? Right OK is there anything you want to share with us?
Elizabeth: Well Im still sort of half way there. (Meaning that she is still coming out of
trance)
Brooks: Can you stand up?
(Elizabeth rolls her eyes and thinks about it)
Elizabeth: I dont know. (Laughing as she puts on her glasses)
Brooks: You can, yes you can.
(Elizabeth stands up and then takes a seat with the others students in the class)
Brooks: Thank you very much Elizabeth, thank you, thank you very much.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) OK now, it will take time for her to come back. Shes had
quite a deep experience.
So lets just summarize what we did. I did a vague indirect induction to start with by
homing in on physiological changes and developing phenomena and how she felt as she
went into trance. This utilized non-verbal induction approaches too by lifting her hands
and arms. I then gave her a simple counting induction and trance deepener where she
counted to herself, this was a way of tying up her conscious mind.
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
I then moved her fingers so that they were looser, because they were a bit cataleptic. They
were actually a little bit ridged. Which would have meant that it would have been
difficult for her to respond with the ideo-motor responses.
The first ideo-motor signals where a mixture of conscious and unconscious responses, but
they became more and more unconscious as we went along. Im one hundred percent
confident that the latter part of the session was totally unconscious. This was
recognizable when she smiled the first time. She said she found her unconscious finger
movements amusing. I believe that she was genuinely surprised at how her fingers were
answering all by themselves.
Brooks: (Asks Elizabeth to confirm this) Is that true?
(Elizabeth nods and confirms this)
Brooks: (Talks to Elizabeth in the class) Yes you seemed to be genuinely surprised at
how your fingers were responding. Is that because they were saying things that you didnt
expect them to? Or because they were just responding?
Elizabeth: My fingers were just moving all on their own.
Brooks: Doing it by themselves, OK.
Brooks: (Talks to the students) We had a good example of the complexities of ideo-motor
signaling, and some insight into the sense of logic used by the unconscious mind, which
can often appear confusing if you try and understand it using conscious reasoning.
To understand it you have to think of how the unconscious mind processes information,
and how it perceives and makes sense of reality. It exists in various dissociated forms.
And it can communicate on many different levels.
So under normal circumstances the client would come back and you would carry on your
work with ideo-motor signaling, or you would teach automatic writing. The period
between the sessions is when the real therapy happens because that is when the client
receives information from the unconscious. They may start to have dreams, or maybe just
thoughts. Maybe something happens to trigger a thought and they come back to the
therapist and say, its funny Ive had a strange week. I suddenly remembered this person I
used to know, or I remembered this, or this happened, and I normally dont behave like
that, its very strange.
I promised you that Id give you an example, so this is one of my case studies.
I girl came to see me, she was one of the clients I had in Basildon some years ago. She
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
came to see me and she was generally anxious but didnt know why she was anxious. But
she did know that her relationship with her mother, father and sister was very
uncomfortable. And she couldnt stand to be with her mother and father especially for
very long when she visited them. Being with her sister was not so bad but she had a lot of
problems communicating with her mother and father and there was no affection between
members of the family.
This woman was married, but I dont think she had any children. She was married and
was about twenty eight or thirty years old. On the first session she said she didnt have a
clue about what the cause of her problem was, and even after questioning her I too
couldnt identify the cause of her increasing anxiety when around her family. So I
decided to use ideo-motor signaling.
After establishing a good trance and reliable ideo-motor communication with the
unconscious, it agreed to give the client a little bit of information about the cause of the
problem, a week at a time.
So she returned for sessions over a period of a few months and each time would bring in
a little bit more information about the cause of her problem. At no time was she
overwhelmed or traumatized by what her unconscious told her. It all unfolded slowly and
in a way that she could deal with comfortably. All information came to her in the form of
dreams.
One of the many things she came back with was a forgotten memory of working with her
grandfather (who was no longer alive) on a greengrocers barrow in Romford market. She
had forgotten all about this. And she had forgotten how she had been close to her
grandfather. Another time her forgotten memory was something to do with her mother
being scared of her grandfather. These forgotten memories would surface between
sessions in the form of dreams and she would recount them in each therapy session. No
further therapeutic intervention was attempted, and no attempt at any kind of
interpretation, only encouragement that the unconscious should continue sharing these
memories with her. This continued over a number of sessions.
After one particular session she said she wanted to talk to her parents, even though she
didnt know why she wanted to do this. So she went back and she told her parents that
she was in therapy with me and her parents were very defensive, incredibly defensive
about her coming to see me for therapy. This client must have had about six or eight
sessions with me by then.
During the next session she said, its something to do with my mother but its not about
my mother. I dont know what it is. Its something to do with my mother and something
to do with a man but its not my father. I dont understand but my mother has something
to do with it.
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013
During the penultimate session she came in, not to have therapy, but to tell me that she
was going to confront her mother directly. I tried to stop her as I thought it too early, but
she had decided to go ahead as she now believed she had been sexually abused by her
grandfather as this information had come to her a piece at a time in her dreams between
the therapy sessions.
At the end of all of it, she did confront her mother and it turned out that she had been
sexually abused by her grandfather, when she was a child. Her mother had known it was
going on but had felt unable to stop it because the mother had also been abused as a child
by her father, the same man. This man had abused his daughter and then had gone on to
abuse his granddaughters. The sister then came forward and said it had happened to her
too. All three were victims. This confrontation towards the end of her therapy was a
major turning point for the entire family. Everyone was crying, hugging and holding each
other in a way they had never dared before. This family had never touched each other
physically or lovingly the whole of their lives. But this coming together in their shared
grief and pain healed them and brought the three women together physically and
emotionally.
When the client returned for her final session she was radiant and very relaxed. She told
me everything that had happened. Of course she hadnt come for more therapy but only
to share with me how good she felt and what she had accomplished. Ill never forget how
good that made me feel too. This healing would never have happened, if I had just treated
her with basic hypnosis or NLP. The ideo-motor signaling enabled me to talk directly
with her unconscious mind and encourage it to release these forgotten memories to her
conscious mind in a gentle and safe way.
So although we may call this great therapy, the therapist doesnt actually offer guidance
or reflect back his observations to the client. The therapists job is only that of observer
and facilitator. All I did was to set up the communication channels. Neither of us knew
what the outcome would be. I had the map, the client took the journey, and her
unconscious mind chose the destination, that is how we reached the goal.
And regarding todays therapy demonstration, neither of us knows how Elizabeth will
utilize the learnings she has made from this session. And maybe this is one of the most
important points about Ericksonian hypnotherapy; how we achieve the outcome is less
important than actually achieving it. Its all about trust, trust between therapist, client and
the unconscious mind and creating a common purpose, to help the client heal themselves.
Transcript Copyright Stephen Brooks 2013
www.british-hypnosis-research.com
Ideo-motor Response Demonstration - Stephen H Brooks - Copyright 2013