Monthly Archives: April 2017

Conversational Postulate in Hypnosis

At this months NLP & Hypnosis Practice Group, The Trance Cafe the topic of exploration was the Milton Model. Specifically the use and understanding of the Conversational Postulate.

First we inquired into the meanings of the terms. Postulate means a assumption of some reality. But a Conversational Postulate is basically a question form where irrespective of the verbal answer will tend to invoke some kind of action in reality; be this a physical one and/or operating withing cognitive capacity.

Conversational Postulate Hypnosis Newcastle

The verbal answer is most commonly a YES/NO or less commonly I DON’T KNOW or MAYBE. The importance is what happens in actuality, an action or thought that is the subtle or indirect response that is usually inferred by the recipient of the Conversational Postulate question.

For instance:

  • Could you tell me the way to the station?
  • Won’t you sit down?
  • Might it be a good idea to talk about it?
  • Can I ask you to stand up please?
  • Will you show me that again?
  • Is there any more toilet paper?
  • Should you wait before ordering that book?

The basic form will take a MODAL OPERATOR such as Could, Can, Will, Might followed by a personal or group referential index such as YOU or YOUSE’ALL and then a request ( question ) which can be acted upon either physically or psychologically.

So a basic set up for an induction into trance could be:

Could you sit down please? … And can you take two or three deep breaths? … And might you relax your shoulders a little more? … And will you close your eyes momentarily or in just a little while?

So we now have the structure of :

[ C.P. ] [ Suggestion ]

eg [ Could you ] [ Sit Down ]

Following on from this we can use what I call a Conversational Softener or just a Softener that is spoken before the Conversation Postulate [ C.P. ]. For instance:

I wonder … Could you Sit Down? or OK Robert, Could you Sit Down?

Where a Softener is of the form : I wonder, OK Robert,  I’m wondering, Now etc.

If you are ready … Could you sit down please? … And Robert … can you take two or three deep breaths? … And now … might you relax your shoulders a little more? … And I’m wondering will you close your eyes momentarily or in just a little while?

[ Softener ] [ C.P. ] [ Suggestion ]

One of the most useful ( and indeed a social nicety ) words is please. There is one video I saw online of Erickson working with a client who would not at first close their eyes. Erickson used the work ‘please’ several times to affect this. Usually clients are not resistful or not wanting to co-operate so the use of ‘please’ has several uses.

The word ‘please’ in this developing structure can be used in a variety of places. It was found during the practice group that excessive use of ‘please’ felt somewhat unnatural. I leave you to explore this in your own ways. ‘Please’ will fit in any one ( or more ) of the structure sequence marker shown after the ‘Please’ modified ‘induction’ below.

If you are ready … Please could you sit down ? … And Robert … can you Please take two or three deep breaths? … And now … might you relax your shoulders a little more Please? … And I’m wondering will you Please close your eyes momentarily or in just a little while?

[ Softener ] [ -Please- ] [ C.P. ] [ -Please- ] [ Suggestion ] [ -Please- ]

You may have noticed that the last structure phrase in this basic induction is a double bind. The Conversation Postulate may be actualised immediately, or momentarily or in a little while as per the verbal question. So extending the ‘Suggestion’ part of the mini-structure, yes that can be a double ( or single bind ) bind.

[ Softener ] [ C.P. ] [ Please ] [ Suggestion ( Bind Form) ]

Now, as with all structures ( or process ) I wonder, can you thoroughly learn this with plenty of effortful practice or enhanced repetition and then please consciously forget them?

Negation and Negative Effect Postulates

I will leave this post with a little taster of what followed on from this exploration at the practice group; as in putting into a alternative mode of practice within the presented structure.

Assuming your practice partner is sitting down and their name is Mary.

Ok Mary … I see that you are not standing up … Please … I don’t know … can’t you stand up? … and go deeper into trance?

Or assuming Mary has her eyes open.

Mary … I notice your eyes are open … I don’t know … can you not close your eyes? … while you develop more of an altered state?