Ideomotor Signaling in Hypnosis – The Direct Path to the Truth

The true value of hypnosis as a therapeutic tool lies in the power it gives therapists to access a client’s unconscious thoughts and hidden memories. Subconscious content can often be elicited simply by asking the client to verbally tell you what she is experiencing or to answer questions you have asked. While it is quite convenient for the therapist to work this way, there are at least two disadvantages:

  • verbal responses tend to lighten the trance
  • Verbal responses can be falsified, either intentionally or unintentionally.

It’s pretty easy for a guy to give you the answer he thinks you want to hear. This is often done quite innocently out of a natural desire to please, but it tends to get in the way of the truth. Ideally, the therapist needs an alternative way of eliciting responses from a subject that cannot be falsified or altered by interference from the conscious mind. This is what makes ideomotor responses such a valuable addition to the hypnotherapist’s toolbox.

What is ideomotor signaling?

The term ‘ideomotor’ links mind (ideo) and movement (motor). Quite simply, it is the use of spontaneous physical movements (most often with the fingers) to indicate mental positions such as yes, no, and maybe. It is a very basic form of communication, but because it occurs below the level of speech, it does not cause lifting from the trance state and does not require conscious effort, so there is less chance of a false response.

How to establish ideomotor signaling

When the subject is in a trance, tell him that you are going to establish a form of communication that will allow him to remain deeply relaxed and allow his mind to be as comfortable and lazy.

Then tell them to imagine the word ‘yes’ and keep imagining it until a finger on one of their hands starts to go up. She keeps coaxing him until one of her fingers makes an involuntary movement. It is very important that the movement is involuntary. A conscious movement will tend to be a strong and direct movement, while an involuntary movement will be floaty and the finger will tend to jerk. You will get the clear impression that the finger is moving ‘strangely’, and this will be your test of the validity of the answer.

Once you have a yes finger, ask the subject to focus on the word ‘no’ and repeat it until another finger on the same hand begins to move. It’s a good idea to keep it in the same hand because if you allow it to show up in the opposite hand it can be quite difficult to spot.

Once you have one yes finger and one no finger, tell the subject to focus on the ‘I don’t know/can’t tell’ thought. Note which finger is raised.

Use of ideomotor responses

You can now use finger signals to get at hidden truths that the subject is not aware of. Inform the subject that he is not to tell you the answers to his questions, but that he is to let them come to those fingers and assure him that this will happen naturally and easily and that he has nothing to do.

Now it’s your turn to ask questions to begin to identify the problem. Some typical questions include the following:

  • Is it okay for us to know the cause of this emotional problem? (This is a good question to start a regression.)
  • Did the problem start before the age of 3? (If yes, ask if it started before 2 years, 1 year, etc., until reaching the exact age).
  • Is there any disturbing event that caused this problem?
  • Is it safe for you to let go of this perception?

You can keep asking yes/no/don’t know questions like these to dig deeper into the truth and guide the subject to a point where they can release whatever is troubling them. Remember to watch your finger movements and make sure they are involuntary. You’ll notice it immediately by the wavy, unruly way the fingers move. If the finger is fired too directly, there’s a good chance your subject controls the response and isn’t quite ready for the truth yet.

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