How to set up ideomotor finger signalling in hypnosis
Definition: Ideomotor – Involuntary, subconsciously produced movement of the body in response to a thought, feeling, or idea. Generally used to enable communication at a deeper level than is possible with verbal expression.
The client should be in a light state of trance. Have them rest their hands in their lap or on the arms of the chair. Another position that works well is to have them lift one forearm, resting the elbow against their side or the arm of the chair. The hand will then lie more or less parallel with the ground and the fingers will be in an ideal position to move freely.
- Introduction: ‘The inner part of your mind knows those things you have forgotten or which you never even knew consciously. This part of the mind can communicate with us using finger movements.’
- Eliciting responses: ‘Now think and feel, yes-yes-yes, and wonder which finger your inner mind will lift to signal yes.’ If necessary, encourage movement by saying something like, ‘It feels like there are helium balloons tied to those fingers making them feel so light and free…’.
Repeat for the no response, specifying that the finger should be on the same hand as the yes response. (Use the same hand because it’s easier to see the responses, which might be very small.)
Now elicit the ‘not ready to know yet‘ response: ‘Sometimes the inner mind is just not ready to let your conscious mind remember something. Think and feel “I’m not ready to know consciously yet” and wonder which finger on the same hand will begin to lift.
- Testing: ‘Now you’ve done so well with this task you can just sit back and go even deeper, and when you’ve got to a level of relaxation that is just right and very very comfortable your yes finger can lift all by itself to let us know you’re there.’
Problems and challenges
With some clients, the finger movements might be very slight – sometimes all you see is a tensing of the tendon leading to the finger.
Be on the lookout for finger movements that go straight up and down in a very purposeful manner – it could indicate the client is faking a response to please you. A true subconscious movement will be very slight or will move in jerky, irregular fashion.
Occasionally you might encounter clients who don’t give any signals. There could be a variety of reasons, including resistance, lack of rapport, and insufficient trance depth. Rather than trying to force the issue, change the subject and continue the session using other methods. You could say something like, ‘The part of your mind that knows how to make you feel better has many ways of bringing important information to your attention, so why don’t you just sit back and relax even deeper and don’t worry about doing anything.’
For more on possible problems with ideomotor questioning methods, see Cheek & Rossi : Mind Body Therapy, p. 23.
The main source for this article is Cheek & Rossi’s excellent Mind-Body Therapy: Methods of Ideodynamic Healing in Hypnosis. Follow the text link for a review, or buy directly from Amazon using the image link.