A complex equivalence is a statement of a belief. Famously, in some people’s model of the world, it is one of the two forms of a belief that is used in Sleight of Mouth. (Cause/effect is the other)
The simple structure of a complex equivalent is “X means Y.” This means that. They are equivalent.
“Your trance experience means you are changing.”
“Your listening to my voice means you will go into trance.”
Of course, if someone said that to us, we’d be all over statements like that. We’d whip out our knowledge of the Meta Model or Sleight of Mouth, and say “Really? What makes it that way?”
“You’re saying that simply hearing your voice makes me go into trance? How specifically does it mean I’ll go into trance?”
But as hypno-guides, that’s exactly what we are saying. We are purposely being vague and fuzzy with our language (purposely violating the meta model) in order to influence the client. And as the client hears our statements and accepts them, off they go into trance. Of course, it’s not the only thing we’ll be saying. One language pattern alone may not do anything particularly dramatic. But as one of many suggestions offered along the way, they have an effect.
In a similar fashion, Erickson has been quoted as once saying the following:
“You have a conscious mind and an unconscious mind. And I have a conscious mind and an unconscious mind. And we are both sitting in the same room together, so trance is inevitable.” (That’s more of a Pacing and Leading statement, really, but it is similar in effect. To fit the specific complex equivalence pattern it could be stated thusly, “…and our sitting in the same room together means trance is inevitable.”)
Here’s an example in sales, “Your desire to keep your family safe means you’ll buy this car.”
I’d like to put forth the notion that much of what we do in Neo-Ericksonian Hypnosis is alter beliefs. And, a complex equivalence is a statement of belief, so you’ll use this pattern a lot. Keep in mind that, as Erickson and Rossi point out in their book Hypnotherapy, “there are three basic phases (in hypnotherapy) that can be outlined and discussed for didactic purposes: Preparation, Therapeutic Trance, and Ratification of Therapeutic Change.” So it is critical that after the client has an unusual experience in Hypnosis, that you “ratify their therapeutic change” by directing them to make a meaning out of that experience that is positive and useful. You want them to come away with a belief like, “That odd experience means I will achieve my outcome.”