The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners.


Steve Stork will be teaching

When You Come to the Emotional Bridge of Change… Take it

Friday, April 20, 2018 at 10:30 am

Often hypnotherapists find it difficult to guide a client through a highly emotional abreaction. No training can prepare you for the variety of abreactions your clients will encounter; so it’s easy to get stumped at what to do next. As you arrive at the emotional bridge, you should not be scared to cross it. The emotional bridge arises as the subconscious mind determines where it most needs healing.
Witness video examples from actual clients (with permission) to learn what to look for and how to cross that bridge when you come to it.

  •  The importance of the emotional bridge
    •    How to recognize abreaction in a client
    •    How to respond to a client entering an abreactive state
    •    How to take advantage of the emotional bridge to promote change
    •    How to avoid jumping in the pit with the client

Dr. Stork brings to hypnotherapy 35 years of teaching in public school and universities. Master teacher, coach, author, editor and web designer; Dr. Stork offers a keen qualitative researcher’s perspective to training hypnotherapists. He is co-author and practice partner with Dr. Kweethai

Click here to register

by Steve Stork, EdD, CHT & Kweethai Neill, PhD, CHT

A hallmark of effective, transformational hypnotherapy is the emotional bridge. It is that point where the client crosses the line from talking about events and related emotions into an abreactive state where those emotions are re-experienced, as if re-living the event. The client’s abject fear or anger can be difficult to watch; but you cannot be squeamish, it’s exactly what you want!

The Emotional Bridge signals that the subconscious has come to the fore, where it is now accessible and amenable to change. Though presumed to occur only in a sequence following trance induction and deepening, it may actually appear any time during a session. Indeed, an experienced interviewer, operating via open-eye trance, can provoke the emotional bridge without any formal induction.

The key is to recognize the signs of an impending emotional bridge. Stonewalling. Denial and Redirection. Inarticulate or Loss of words. A sudden or significant shift to a defensive body position. These are signs that the client is uncomfortable with rising emotions; which means the interview is having its intended effect. Rather than backing off, questions and probes need to continue in the direction of provoking an abreaction.

Crossing the bridge means, essentially, you break off communication with the client’s conscious mind in favor of the subconscious. In many cases the abreaction serves as an instant induction. If the abreaction takes place after a formal induction, it serves as a deepener. In other words, to respond effectively, in the moment, requires paying more attention to the client than to a particular sequence or methodology.  The only relevant sequence is that you guide the client to an emotional bridge, recognize it as it occurs, then let the client’s subconscious take you where it needs to heal…immediately…then follow where it leads.

Clues for getting to the bridge
Help the client identify Feelings. Do not allow the client to linger or perseverate on objective or logical details of an event. Move the conversation to her subjective experience, the feelings that accompany the event. Then start to probe and examine those feelings.

Intensify feelings by facing hard truths. Seek clarification of personal fears revealed in negative emotions. Pose alternative scenarios that contrast the client’s assumptions. Facilitate an examination of the event from the perspective of other participants. Guide her to construct for herself responses, versus reactions, that further her best interests.

Be persistent. Approach from different angles. It is human nature to resist change; particularly in reference to habits of mind. You cannot convince a client her habitual assumptions are wrong; the goal is to guide her to convince herself.

Engage the imagination. Any form of direct teaching or recommendations are intended for the conscious mind. The subconscious mind responds better to indirect guidance “Can you imagine…?” So, while you may have solutions in mind, you cannot share them directly; keeping in mind that the client’s subconscious may create even better solutions if given the right encouragement.

What to do upon crossing the bridge
Solidify the subjective experience. These are the questions typically asked when the client “opens the door” to the healing place. “Is it day or night?” “Describe your clothing.”

Summarize and get agreement. Validate the client’s emotional state by parroting her terminology. Accept the reality of her subjective experience. Avoid any temptation to interpret, advise or moralize. The hypnotherapist’s role at this point is to support this state while guiding the subconscious toward resolution.

Common questions
What level of trance is necessary? The emotional bridge may emerge in open-eye trance or after formal induction and deepening, or at any state between. The level of trance is not as important as putting the client in a position to gain access to feelings.

When is induction or deepening necessary? Since all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, it is more important to establish trust and rapport with the client than to rely too heavily on depth of trance. On the other hand, if the trance state appears tenuous it may be useful to slow the pace and do some deepening; putting the client in a better position to respond as trance work proceeds.

How is the emotional connection maintained? Here is where you return to basic hypnosis skills. Enhance the imagination by asking sensory-oriented questions. Create measurability; “On a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 meaning that…” Introduce a control function, “Turn the dial to increase and decrease this emotion.” Identify the players, “Who is there? What relationship are they to you??”

What is the path to resolution? That really depends on your level of training or a methodology you choose to follow. In our office most issues are addressed with a combination of Soul retrieval to integrate child self and adult self, Gestalt dialog to reframe trauma and abuse, and another Soul retrieval that transfers energies between client and abuser to restore a positive sense of self.

Dr. Stork’s presentation at the ACHE Conference will include video clips of Dr. Kweethai crossing the emotional bridge with clients.

Register here


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