Brookside Center for Counseling and Hypnotherapy


Trance and Temperaments

by Maurice Kouguell, Ph.D., BCETS

There is a growing need to get together, as a body, to unify therapy. The different schools (of therapy) stay away from one another, not only to develop their individual approaches but also because they do not yet have a unifying paradigm which can be agreed upon by all.

Some believe all problems begin in childhood; others before the individual was born; still others think only of the here and now. Shamans work mediumistically. Western psychologists behave as they were trained. Eastern schools recommend forgetting about oneself (From: Riding the Horse Backwards: Process Work in Theory and Practice by Arnold and Amy Mindell. The authors also state that "Process work is an attitude towards people, not a set of techniques".)

Therapists usually identify themselves with their training institution. Even clients seem to choose therapists trained by institutions following the specific thinking or approach as established by Freud, Adler, Jung, Horney, Sullivan, Rogers, Perls, May, Frankl, Ellis, Berne, Beck, Skinner etc. and the list keeps growing. New techniques are discovered and rediscovered and altered states defined and redefined while existing procedures are being perfected...but for whose benefit?

Milton Erikson stands out as a genius and had a highly developed talent as a diagnostician because of his ability to figure out the patient's hidden motivations while seemingly inventing or improvising for each individual a specific approach. To that end, he had developed an ability to enter patients' lives as well as their symptomatology and lead him to a theory for each individual. He did not look for preconceived traditional lines or personality traits "but instead looked at their existence." With each individual in an individual situation, he moved comfortably from indirect communications to direct communications to highly authoritarian commands.

What do clients need when they come for help? They must be heard. Sir William Osler MD, Professor Emeritus of Harvard Medical School, states "LISTEN TO THE PATIENT...HE IS TELLING YOU HIS DIAGNOSIS."

Hypnosis/therapy is a cooperative process between client and therapist. The patient may come to believe that this process will be of benefit to him. Some already come to us believing in hypnosis and that is why they choose this form of therapy.

What patients believe the trance to accomplish is far more important than what the hypnotist thinks it can accomplish. Some enter trance more easily than others. Clearly, differences in personality types affect the resistance or willingness to cooperate even though patients may be highly motivated.  In an article entitled: Typology and Trance: Developing Synchronicity in Hypnotic Induction, a study published in the MEDICAL HYPNOANALYSIS JOURNAL, (June 93) Brenneis and Boersma state:

Using Jung's concept of psychological types, consideration may be given to specific preference traits which lend themselves to the trance experience or inhibit comfortable movement to the unconscious realm. Suggestions for induction techniques can then be developed based upon the characteristics of each distinct preference of each individual client. Using this approach to induction allows the therapist to tailor inductions to be based on the clients' (personality) preferences."

There seems to be a trend not only in clinical practice but also in the corporate world to understand the special traits of the individual either to provide them with a therapeutic technique or, by recognizing their uniqueness in the corporate world, to access their specific mental talents.

Recent publications appear to recognize and validate more and more the findings of Jung, especially his contributions to the understanding of topology. Yes, Jung is alive and well.

Assessment preceding therapy is an established procedure. While word association tests and other projective techniques (such as Figure Drawings) are becoming established Standard Operational Procedures, more and more therapists appear to including an evaluation of their clients' temperaments prior to treatment.

Rapport and trance induction is best achieved with someone who can recognize the needs and personality structure, which will be referred to as topology .

Based on Jung's Psychological Types, Myers and Briggs have adapted those findings and presented them in a clear and orderly fashion in their work,  A Guide To The Development Of The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. (MBTI)

The main goal of the MBTI is to uncover the four basic preferences which, according to Jung, direct the use of perception and judgment. Those preferences, as explained in the MBTI manual, "affect not only what people attend to in any given situation, but also how they draw conclusions about what they perceive."

In the process of using that instrument, one needs to keep in mind that the findings are not designed as scales for measurement but rather as traits and behavior patterns.

I would recommend that the readers allow themselves to take inventory and obtain insight into themselves. Please Understand Me-Character & Temperament Types by Keirsey and Bates is available to the general public. Based on the MBTI, it is written clearly and includes the identification and description of the 16 types.

What are the concrete benefits of knowing peoples' types? Keirsey explains:

Suppose it is so that people differ in temperament and that therefore their behavior is just as inborn as their body build. Thence we do violence to others when we assume that differences are flaws and afflictions. In this misunderstanding of others we also diminish our ability to predict what they will do...but first you must study yourself. If you do not have yourself accurately portrayed, no way can you portray anyone else accurately.

As therapists, we may tend to forget that people are different from one another in a fundamental way and treat patients only from our own temperament type or "world view." We may also need to be reminded that those differences are neither good nor bad...they simply are.

So, how can the knowledge of different temperaments be of value to the work of the hypnotherapist?


For the Introvert:

The Introvert is characterized by a hesitant, reflective, retiring, nature that keeps itself to itself, shrinks from objects; is always slightly on the defensive and prefers to hide behind mistrustful scrutiny. (Jung 1953, p.44)

For such a type, the induction will acknowledge their needs. Let them be introverted without judgment. It is suggested that a familiar trance experience be used. Always respecting and allowing their need for privacy and time. Introverts may experience trance very frequently, for they spend a good deal of time focusing on their inner world. It is also wise to remind them that their need for privacy will be respected.

For the Extrovert:

Extroverts are normally characterized by an ongoing candid and accommodating nature that adapts easily to a given situation, quickly form attachments and setting aside any possibly misgiving will often venture forth with careless confidence into unknown situations. (Jung 1953, p.44)

For these clients, it is suggested that the induction be congruent with their life experience, possibly focusing on the person or situation with which the extrovert is preoccupied. The induction might take the way of beginning with a familiar process and gradually adding on the extrovert's life experience to it. Encourage them to feel that they will find answers within themselves.

Sensing Type:

Those with a sensing preference choose to use their physical senses as the major source for information gathering. Sensing types tend to be quite realistic, practical and present orientated, since what they know is based on what they have seen, smelled, heard or touched.(von Franz, 1971)

For the sensing type, it is suggested that attention should be paid to details of the trance rather than to the overall experience and eliciting sensations based on previous experiences.

Intuitive Type:

This type focuses on global aspects and can relate best  by proceeding from the general to the specific. Metaphors and symbols and abstractions are welcomed by that client. Introverted intuitive types may appear to be odd, eccentric and preoccupied with daydreaming and are not deeply concerned about being understood by others...Extroverted intuitive types are guided by hunches, rather than facts, and may vacillate from one idea to the next and they may be seen as creative and flexible. (Hergenhahn,1984,p.52)

The approach of the induction should include looking at future possibilities while using techniques of storytelling, metaphors and symbols. Since daydreaming and imagination are their characteristics, those can be used.

Thinking Type:

In this type, the individuals have a need for control and they need to be made to feel that control is acceptable; that in time, they will accept that they have the control over giving up control.

It may be wise to ask them what imagery they might like to visualize. The process of induction should take into account the above and allow them to develop their own style of going into trance.

Feeling Type:

Those individuals make decisions based on values or emotions without necessarily resorting to logic.

The induction needs to focus on specific feelings. It is suggested that past experiences will facilitate entering a hypnotic state, allow the client to feel accepted.

The above are examples of how understanding temperaments and types can be a helpful adjunct to structuring an induction based on the understanding and awareness of the clients' temperaments or typology.

As illustrated above, each preference has its own characteristics.Acknowledging and recognizing them will certainly enhance rapport.


Brenneis, S. and Boersma, F. Typology and Trance: Developing Synchronicity in Hypnotic Induction, Journal of Medical Hypnoanalysis, 1993,Vol.98.

Jung,C.G. 1959  Basic Writings, Random House


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