Journeyman Stage

The journeyman stage has the same structure as the beginner stage. The bits not mentioned (checklist, wakeup, aftercare, debrief) are the same. However, for the journeyman stage, the induction is different and a deepener and suggestions are added. There’s also no "pay attention'' step, although you can add it yourself if you feel like it.

The goals for this stage are to learn the Elman induction, introduce the idea of a deepener, and get both you and your subject comfortable with suggestions.

  1. Checklist

  2. Pretalk

  3. Induction

  4. Deepener

  5. Check In

  6. Suggestions

  7. Wake up

  8. Aftercare

  9. Debrief


In this stage, you’ll be giving more active suggestions that involve your partner moving and doing things that you suggest.

The experience of following a suggestion is always personal, and all experiences are valid. People may have the experience of wanting to please the hypnotist, or find that everything the hypnotist suggests sounds like a great idea, or feel like they are daydreaming. Some may feel like they are following suggestions without any conscious decision at all. It really depends on your partner.

Go over the suggestions. Ideally, have them written down on 3x5 cards and show them (this is a useful reminder if you lose track). Yes, even for an arm raise.

Why? Because someone who is hypnotized is suggestible by definition. Once you hypnotize someone, they cannot meaningfully consent. This may lead to giving them suggestions which they end up following, but have mixed feelings about. Your partner may feel "puppeted" or be annoyed by amnesia suggestions, for instance, but still feel that they have to follow them. Going over suggestions beforehand minimizes the surprise and helps build trust.

Never renegotiate with someone mid-session. Yes, you see stage or street hypnotists drop suggestions in all over the place. You aren’t seeing what happens after the show. There can be potentially severe after effects, and it is not worth it. Say what you’re going to do, establish they understand what they’re agreeing to, and then do that and only that. You can negotiate things like implied consent and consensual non-consent with your partner when you have the experience and trust to do so safely, and have the skills to recover if things go wrong.

This goes for your partner as well. Your partner may have lowered inhibitions in hypnosis, but this does not mean consent. Defer any invitation you may receive. Ask them about it in debrief, get their consent and you can do it next time around.


The Journeyman stage uses an Elman induction. The nice thing about the Elman is that it has activities built into it, so you are continually working with your subject.

The Elman is a reliable workhorse induction. The advantage of the Elman is that it’s short, has feedback built into it, and combines many different forms of relaxation. It produces results with a broader spectrum of subjects than some other inductions. Once you’re an experienced hypnotist, you’ll typically start with an Elman when working with a new subject for the first time.

With the PMR, you printed out and read through the script. The Elman is more interactive, both physically as it involves hand passes, arm drops and so on, and mentally, as you are asking questions and watching your subject throughout the process. As such, you should rehearse the Elman before the session and get all the movements down. Don’t read from the script. Print out 3x5 cards and use them as flash card to remind you of the next step, and keep rehearsing until you don’t need the flash cards anymore.

Be prepared to cover what to do if the numbers don’t fade away. Number amnesia (aka number block) can sometimes be an issue for people who use numbers in their line of work, such as mathematicians. Using a backwards alphabet may be more appropriate.

If you run into difficulties, you can see a troubleshooting video.

Elman Troubleshooting

The Elman is traditionally done in person. If you’re hypnotizing your partner over Skype, here’s how to modify it.

If you want to know the details, Marnathas gives a good analysis of the guts of the induction.

If you want to know more, Graham Old has an excellent book all about the Elman Induction.


Follow up with a deepener. A deepener is a visualization or an experience that "deepens" the sensation of being hypnotized, and provides a framework for stabilizing the trance. Deepeners usually involve repetition and cycles, and lead the subject’s thoughts to the idea of following suggestions, feeling good, and quieting conscious thoughts. Deepening can be a nice experience, but excessive deepening can result in an unresponsive subject, otherwise known as "too deep" or Esdaile state.

Elman Deepener

The standard deepener is to go down stairs, but there are many to choose from.

Check In

Check in after the deepener. You can ask them how deep they are on a scale.

If your partner doesn’t respond, it’s possible that they may be too deep. You can "undeepen" them by counting back up. They will naturally come out of trance after a while no matter what, so it’s no worse than taking a nap.


Suggestions are the delicious filling in the pastry of hypnosis. They work by themselves, but become much more effective when you add the right ingredients.

There are a wide range of abilities when it comes to suggestions, and they don’t always correlate with each other. Avoid saying any suggestion is "easy" or "hard" because you won’t know until you try it. Some hypnotic suggestion scales put some suggestions as harder than others, but some people may find negative hallucinations easy, and positive hallucinations hard, or vice versa.

Here are the basic suggestions to go through. Check with your partner that these are okay.

  • Magnetic Hands

  • Arm Levitation

  • Rigid Arms

  • Hypnotic Reinforcement

There are also suggestions that can bring up bad memories for people, i.e. saying "You feel happy, smile" can be an uncomfortable and condescending suggestion for some women. Find what works for your partner.

Before you get into giving suggestions themselves, set up safeguards and establish that they can ignore any suggestion that makes them feel uncomfortable, and will only feel the effects of the suggestion when it is safe and acceptable for them. You may have already covered this in the pretalk, but it’s good to reinforce it. Setting up a safeguard builds trust that your subject is safe even when they are not behind the wheel. You can suggest that because their mind will reject suggestions that make them uncomfortable, that makes any suggestions they do accept all the more powerful.

Give your partner a framework for following suggestions. Tell them they’ll find they become very engaged in the suggestions and have fun participating in them, noticing that they can find this easier and easier to do as they go along. If they really like acting improv classes, you can suggest it’s like improv. If they have played Simon Says as a child (and enjoyed it), they can use that as a framework.

Similar to giving your partner a framework, give your partner a motivation and reward them for following a suggestion. This may be as simple as saying "it will feel good when you raise your hand" but you should understand what your partner likes. You may notice this guide suggests in multiple places that you should tell your partner when they are doing a good job and thank them. Expressing praise and gratitude may seem like a small detail, but it’s an important sign you are acknowledging and appreciating your partner. Praise and appreciation can be a significant reward in itself.

Now it’s time to go through some simple suggestions. Reality is Plastic has excellent chapters on giving suggestions, although it tends more to the street hypnotist style.

Magnetic Hands

Start with Magnetic Hands. This is a classic suggestion that brings the hands together automatically.

Arm Raise

Then go to an arm-raise. Suggest that their arm is feeling lighter and lighter, and is rising up from their lap, and the lighter their arm gets the better they feel, and the better they feel the lighter their arm gets.

If the arm doesn’t rise after some amount of time, you can suggest the feeling will get stronger when you touch their wrist lightly. Here’s another .

Stiff Arm Catalepsy

Once their arm is up, you can suggest stiff arm catalepsy.

I am going to count from one to three. On the count of one I want you to make a tight fist with your right hand. On two, I want you to raise that arm up toward the ceiling and on three to really make that fist as tight as you can. One, make that fist, two, raise it up toward the ceiling now three make that fist, tight and feel that stiffness, feel the skin on the back of the hand tightening, the wrist locking out. Even tighter in your forearm, your triceps, right into your shoulder. Imagine you have a steel bar running through your fist, through your elbow to the shoulder, your arm is like a steel bar. Now you arm is getting stiff… make it stiff, stiff… stiffer and stiffer, tighter and tighter…you cannot bend it try as hard as you will. Try hard and find you cannot bend it, the harder you try the stiffer it gets. You cannot bend your arm.

— Anthony Jacquin
Reality is Plastic

With any suggestion, find a way to integrate it into their experience and focus on inducing the belief. For example, your partner may not believe a positive hallucination of a dragon in the living room, but they will completely believe that they are watching a video of a dragon on their phone.

Hypnotic Reinforcement

Just as in the first session, you should wrap up before the wake up with a hypnotic reinforcement, collecting what they’ve learned about following suggestions and pointing out that they can go into a hypnotic state even faster now.