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Informed Consent

The content on this page is just one of the many ways to explain consent. It's a very simple issue in concept, but to put it into practice, there are many ways to explain it.

Some other awesome resources, feel free to check them all out and find the one that clicks with you most. Knowing more about consent has never been a problem.

The basics of consent

Before we begin

Learning about consent, in general and for a specific person, is a process: you are making a map of their consent. And the longer you work on that map, the more familiar you become with the consent you're mapping.

Remember: A map is not the territory. It's important to strive to making the map as good as possible for what you plan to do and accept that mistakes will be made. Maps in the real world are also continuously updated.

What is consent?

Informed consent: permission granted in full knowledge of the possible consequences.

This means both hypnotist and subject inform themselves and each other about what is going to happen and what is expected.

Why get consent?

To have permission. You should not do anything to anyone without permission!

When to get consent?

Before you start trancing. During hypnosis, people are much more amenable and cannot think (as) critically about what they want.

This also means that you don't get "further" consent during a session. Someone is much more likely to say yes after fractionation than before. So get permission for followup actions before you start!

Who gives consent?

Both parties. While the focus is generally on the subject to give consent, the hypnotist should also consent to what is going to happen.

How to get consent?

There are many ways. In the most simple form, a consent question is asked before you start:

Would you like to have a nice relaxing session?

If that is all you intend to do, that question covers the basics. If you want to touch someone, for example to lift their arm, ask. If you want to do more with them, ask.

This is called "negotiation", and something that makes this a lot easier is Likes & Limits

What should be agreed upon?

These are some of the things that you will want to consider and make sure that everyone involved is clear on:

Revoking/Changing Consent

Before or during a session

At any moment, anyone can still change their mind. It's important to allow this, welcome it and give it space. The reason why isn't relevant and the more open you are to change, the more safe you and they can feel.

If you are leading a session, it is vitally important to welcome feedback in all its forms. Welcome "no" and other forms of feedback that help you improve the quality of the session for the subject. The same goes for if you are the subject, saying "no" is important to help everyone feel better.

A very simple method of changing consent is the stoplight safeword system.

After a session

Because it's not possible to change/retract consent after everything is done, it's very important to cover consent before the session and verify it during the session. Are you still okay?

If anything happened that anyone involved is not happy with, where did it go wrong? Was there a misunderstanding? Was the consent not informed enough?

Pleasing vs actual consent

Some people have difficulty saying "no". You ask them if they want a cup of tea and they'll say yes even though they're not really thirsty.

It is very important to keep an eye out for this. While some people are just naturally shy, it helps to look for the Emphatic Yes! and not a "oh ok sure".

Another thing that can help is to practice using the safeword or saying "no", and to compliment them when they do.

Closing notes

There are many different types of consent and it's important to keep informing yourself as things develop. The more you know, the more informed you can choose.