A ‘yes set’ is a technique used in hypnotherapy which involves patients saying ‘yes’ to the therapist’s suggestions. It is a patterned or ‘chained’ acceptance response. Some hypnotherapists, for example, used advanced forms of communication in order to help their clients effect change in the consulting room. One example of this form of communication is ‘chaining’ suggestions. For example, the therapist can make a suggestion that, ‘Once you experience (this), you can begin to experience (that)’. A more specific example might be as follows:
‘As you begin to breathe more slowly, you will start to notice your body relaxing.’
These chaining suggestions are very important when using hypnosis. Michael Yapko (2003), for example, points out that, ‘As the hypnosis begins and starts to develop focus and momentum, enhancing the client’s responsiveness to your suggestions is a primary goal’. The ‘Yes Set’ (Erickson & Rossi, 1979) is one of the most commonly used response sets, and the best way to set this up is for the therapist to provide the patient with a number of truisms, each one requiring the non-verbal answer, ‘Yes’ . As you offer each statement, the idea is that the patient silently agrees to each one. Importantly, it is helpful to move from the general to the more specific. Here is an example of a ‘yes set’ which can be used in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a style of communication which I could well use myself in the treatment of this debilitating condition.
1…The body has a unique way of restoring itself after injury or illness. [Response: Yes].
2…A graze or cut will heal itself at night while we are asleep. [Response: Yes].
3…And the less we worry about a problem, the quicker we will get better. [Response: Yes].
4…And, we all know that the more we relax, the better we feel. [Response: Yes].
5…Which is why a positive suggestion has such a benefit on our bodies. [Response: Yes].
6…And this can reduce any unwanted abdominal pain. [Response: Yes].
7…Which, in turn, will help gastrointestinal transit. [Response: Yes].
8…And this will help us to enjoy life to its full. [Response: Yes].
The ‘yes set’ is a very powerful technique in hypnotherapy, and can be used regularly in treatment.