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The Collected Papers of Joseph Riggio

Beyond Milton Part3

Using a direct hypnotic protocol in consulting type interactions

In parts one and two of this series I've been reviewing the differences between an indirect and a direct approach to hypnotic protocol. One of the fundamental distinctions that was made was the difference between using unspecified and specific language in the alternative protocols. It was pointed out by me in the last article that both approached (indirect and direct) generate an altered state experience, and yet the both "get there" by different routes. The indirect approach builds around vague suggestions to be interpreted by the client and uses information overload to create confusion and neural shut-down, thereby bypassing the "ordinary" critical path of the client. The direct approach uses such precise and specific language in the form of instruction sets that the client doesn't have to think if they agree with the basis premise established for the interaction, this essential "quiets" the neural pathways and leads to the altered state - including the bypassing of "ordinary" critical pathways. In both forms of hypnotic language protocol the client becomes more open to the reception of suggestion and the willingness to take action in relation to the suggestions made.

The advantage I suggested in the more direct approach is that it is more "ordinary" in form being perceived more like "normal" conversation. This allows the practitioner to utilize it in more "ordinary" situations and contexts, like a business type consultation or sales situation. What remains consistent in both approaches is maintaining the connection with the client and leading them to a satisfying experience. This is significantly a function of the skill set of the practitioner with the protocol and with the larger range of interactional skills they bring to the interaction. In a therapeutic setting it would also include therapeutic skills, as in a consulting or sales setting it would include those context specific skills.

What distinguishes the consulting setting from the therapeutic setting are the informal and formal boundaries of the interaction, as well as the desired outcome of the parties engaged in it. The consulting engagement that I want to discuss in this part of the article is based on the client having a specified outcome they want to reach and not having a process or path yet established that will get them there. The form of the engagement is based on a modification to a consultative approach of finding the "delta," representing the "difference," between the "present state" and the client's "desired state." The model I am operating with is a proprietary model, called the "Satisfaction Cycle" developed by me for Applied Behavioral Technologies:

Present State (P.S.+) What's Working?


Desired State (D.S.++) What's the Positive Outcome? --------------- "What's Missing?"

Action | (Critical Criteria and Evidence Strategy)

Solution Experience

In this model the process is recursive, starting an leading from and to the Present State stated in positive terms. The present state and the desired state are established as positive considerations of the client, with the desired state being an amplification and intensification of the positive present state. The movement in the cycle is from P.S.+ to the D.S.++, back to the P.S.+ to find out "What's Missing?" between the current P.S.+ and the future D.S.++ in terms of critical criteria and the evidence strategy of the client. This leads to an opportunity to develop a solution as a full representation of the clients desired state experience and the critical path and resources required to get there (i.e.: the "Solution Experience"). The client is then in a position to take the action necessary to produce the D.S.++ which now becomes the P.S.+ and the cycle begins again recursively.

A brief example of the direct hypnotic protocol elicitation within a consultative setting

The first part of the consultation using the model described above (the "Satisfaction Cycle") is based in uncovering the present state of the client. It is also predicated on doing this with a excitatory/positive frame, therefore the approach must begin from the excitatory/positive premise of the model. [N.B. - There is no premise of an inhibitory or "problem" orientation. The system is organized around what's working or the excitatory/positive premise.]

"So before we begin addressing what to be doing, let's spend the time we need to - to find out where you currently are operationally?" "Let's begin with what it is that's currently working for you and how you've already achieved the successes you've had?"

Here the client is being directed to "assume" a positive state orientation. While there is nothing vague about this, it is very suggestive using both presupposition (that there is something that currently works for the client and that they had success) and also ambiguity ("what's working" isn't specified in form or content and left for the client to decide from where to begin, all the while presupposing a process that's been used to create the current success).

Practitioner (after the client's response) "So you know that doing "X" and "Y" have contributed to your success so far." "And you know this because ... (client's stated reasons, opinions and beliefs - an evidence strategy)." "Knowing that you have already had this success and that it would be likely in the same circumstances to continue being successful doing "X" and "Y" is it possible that you could imagine an even better result in the future or even greater success?" "If that's possible what would it be like?" "I mean if I were to be here again in, let's say, four or five years and you had implemented whatever it would be to make you even more successful what would I be noticing that's different than I'd notice now?"

This is a continuous presentation by the practitioner to engage and lead the client's thinking along a well-defined logical sequence. It is built on the same specific instructional protocol used in a therapeutic hypnotic induction, where the practitioner is leading the client to where they've already gone as they've considered the previous statement. The sequence and languaging are critical to the success of this process to lead the client in an orderly cognitive path that doesn't raise internal incongruities leading to objections or detours. The intention of the practitioner here is to maintain the directionality of the interaction, while keeping the client open and able to respond using their criteria and evidence strategies.

The client's criteria and evidence strategies will be used later in the process in developing the "Solution Experience" to be presented to the client. The structural form of the client's process in accessing and representing their criteria and evidence strategies will form the basis for the structural form of the practitioner's presentation back to the client. As always the intention is to build and sustain the altered state where the client remains open, organized in relation to positive possibilities (the "excitatory" bias") and receptive to the creative solution. For the client the "Solution Experience" must be both emotionally AND logically satisfying. The protocol is designed to insure that the client remains receptive, while the practitioner delivers the solution/intervention that is both emotionally and logically satisfying. [N.B. - The protocol is not designed to develop the solution.]

As the process continues the protocol of interaction remains consistent varying only with the content required to maintain integrity and congruity with the client's responses, the information gathered and the intention of the practitioner. The languaging is developed around a core form that is appropriate to each step in the model and continuously leads the client deeper into the altered state of experiencing the D.S.++ and the critical path required to get there. The practitioner is only facilitating the client's internal process up to the development of the Solution Experience, where the practitioner may begin to include expert information or process that they have. The client will then be led through the altered state experience to perceive the outcome of implementing the solution by taking appropriate action. Then either the client, the practitioner or the client along with the practitioner will implement the solution by taking action on behalf of the client towards producing the D.S.++.

Benefits of applying the direct hypnotic protocol in a consultative context

The direct hypnotic protocol makes this process especially suitable in consultative contexts where the client would not necessarily be open to the use of a more indirect or "formal" hypnotic protocol (e.g.: one in which they would be requested to close their eyes and imagine ...). By using a protocol which organizes around a positive/excitatory frame the participants are organized to think in terms of what's possible and seek solutions to create that. This is distinctly different from organizing around problems and seeking to resolve them ... with solutions. The protocol suggested and described builds a "moving towards" motivation which has tremendous directionality built into it. The advantage of building around a moving towards solution with directionality is the "teleological" effect where the system begins to organize to bring about the desired state.

Over time teleological systems begin to filter data in relation to the future desired state. This allows the system to organize in relation to how it can use the current situation and the information that it contains to bring about the desired state, regardless of the specific information contained in the current situation. The system then begins to reference in relation to the desired state as a "teleological projection" using the projection as the filter and then sorting the information in regard to what to be doing in relation to it (the information that is current) that would allow the system to produce the desired state experience.

The alternative of sorting by problems builds on an negative/inhibitory premise and a "moving away" motivation. The only directionality the system can have is away from the current experience without a specified outcome experience to organize around. When the solution is generated from the problem state the solution will contain the germ of the problem state and will be organized to avoid the problem in the future as the organizing paradigm of the system. This results in the system filtering for what it doesn't want to avoid risk.

The system that is organized from the problem state is filtering for how to avoid the risk associated with problem. While this can generate a tremendous motivation to act, the opportunity for reward is often neglected because the system's resources are engaged in scanning for and responding to risk. In a teleological system the system is scanning for an responding to opportunity. The system is engaged in maintaining a "towards" directionality and the avoidance of risk is inherent in the system maintaining its ability and capacity to continue its forward directed movement. Ultimately the problem state is energy consuming and the teleological state is energy releasing.

The direct hypnotic protocol allows the system to go to the positive/excitatory position and stay there, in part because, used properly and with sufficient skill, the process allows the client to conserve energy by remaining both quiet and ready. While the protocol establishes a quieting of the neural response it also sustains a heightened awareness and alertness in the attention of the client in the direction of the protocol. This allows the client to access and complete the TDS with the minimum possible energy utilization, freeing the remaining energy for taking action.

This is the final part of the three part series in this article. I hope you have enjoyed it and have also found it useful.

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© 2000-2002 Joseph Riggio / Applied Behavioral Technologies, Inc. - may not be used, reproduced or distributed without prior express written permission by any means including mechanical or electronic.

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