Covert hypnosis is the deliberate use of formulated words and phrases as well as body language and gestures in order to subtly communicate with the subconscious mind of another person. The purpose of this exercise is to change the behavior of the subject by planting the seed of suggestion in his mind without the listener realizing that it is being done. Although people in many industries, from sales to media, use this technique, it is also considered a form of clinical hypnotism. When used therapeutically, it is said to help treat psychological problems, pain, and emotional distress.
Sometimes known as conversational hypnosis, covert hypnosis generally takes place during the course of a seemingly normal conversation. This communication is usually underplayed so as to remain subtle, and is said to help alter and build upon the pre-existing neurological state. Unaware that he is being carefully hypnotized, the subject is presented with delicate, well-concealed suggestions that are meant to help the subject make a subconscious decision to change his mind on certain thoughts and behaviors.
Although there are many ways to achieve covert hypnosis, most people will follow three basic steps. The first is to build a rapport with the subject. This is often achieved by finding common ground, asking questions, and making the subject feel comfortable. Next, the subject is asked questions that begin with phrases like, "what if," or, "can you imagine," so as to tap into his subconscious by forcing him to use his imagination. This helps to bypass the critical mind; once that has been accomplished, well-concealed suggestions may then be communicated.
Despite the fact that covert hypnosis has become increasingly popular as something of a party trick, it was initially brought into use as a form of therapy. It is still used for such purposes, and is thought to be effective in psychotherapy. During some psychotherapy sessions, the therapist will create metaphorical stories to help the subject cope or change perspective on a troubling situation.
In addition to psychotherapy, this form of clinical hypnotism has long been used to treat many conditions, habits, and disorders. For instance, hypnosis has been thought to help patients quit smoking, stop overeating, or overcome a drug or alcohol dependency. It has also been used to help with anxiety and sleeping disorders, chronic pain, and to aid in preventing nausea during pregnancy.