Select Page

Hypnotherapy in Edinburgh Explained



I would like to explain more about hypnotherapy.  Let me first tell you what it is not and what it is.  Many people’s perception understandably is usually what they have seen on the television.


The stage hypnotist conducts a series of suggestibility tests with all his audience to find out who the most susceptible people are.  A small percentage of the general population can enter into a deep trance state rapidly; a trance state is no more than focused attention on one thing to the almost total exclusion of everything else.  A trance state is not dissimilar to driving a car down a long, long road then wondering how you have arrived at your destination, or reading a book and losing track of time.


Because the stage hypnotist has let’s say 300 people in the audience, he will ask all the of the people to imagine their hands sticking tightly together with super glue. He will lower the tone of his voice and softly repeat this suggestion.  Those whose hands stick together are the susceptible people and those who don’t are cannot be hypnotised.  Well in fact they can, but he has a show to do and wants the people who are easy to work with.  Some people have a perception that they will fall asleep and orbit Jupiter and come back with a personality transplant.  However if they fell asleep (which does occasionally happen) they would not hear what is being said!


The state itself is not dissimilar to how you feel just before you fall asleep at night in that dreamy, relaxed state or just before you wake in the morning when you are wondering whether or not to get up, half asleep, half awake.


I use my voice to induce a hypnotic state.


During my sessions, a person is not asked to talk as this can be circuitous and runs the risk of creating false memory syndrome.


Before using hypnotherapy, the consultation is conducted using Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy approaches which are excellent at isolating dysfunctional core beliefs that a person may hold, they are usually in the form of demands (not preferences) that they are levelling against self, others or the world with an inaccurate definition.


The core beliefs are;


●To create anxiety, they demand that they must not look foolish around significant people and then tell themselves that they are awful if they do.


●To create anger, they may demand that the other person should treat them well and if not they are awful.


●To create depression they may demand that the world around them must be a specific way and if not they cannot stand it, it is known in REBT as ‘can’t stand it itis’.


Dr Ellis creator of cognitive therapy differentiates between demands and preferences by asking a client that if the wished to have $10 in their pocket and if not too bad; they would feel concerned. However, if they demanded that they ought or must have $10 in their pocket and if not they are awful, they are then going to feel anxious.


Ellis was unique as a psychotherapist; he would tell you what was wrong with you and how to fix the problem.  Why did he make this authoritarian, dramatic, direct confrontational thought provoking neurotic busting, disliked by the Freudians and other psychodynamic practitioners dare devil approach?  Dr Ellis knew what was wrong with you and how to fix it; he did not want to see people suffer a moment longer than they had to.  Today, cognitive therapy can rightly claim that it is the most trialled psychotherapy of all time that works!


In my hypnotherapy sessions in Edinburgh with my clients, I place emphasis on the person themselves understanding where they are going wrong with their thinking and their subsequent reaction to the dreadful symptoms created by their thinking.  You may know of the old saying: ‘You can feed a person for a day or teach them how to hunt for the rest of their lives’.  Through my recovery I discovered that hypnotherapy alone was not enough, because it might temporarily help a person feel better, but to make a person better long term requires conscious knowledge and understanding.


To quote Dr Claire Weekes: “Recovery means not never having the same symptoms ever again, so long as we live we are subject to recurring bouts of memories, recovery means knowing how to deal with those symptoms”.


The subject of memory is one that has been referred to many times by Dr Weekes.  She was the first woman to qualify from SydneyUniversity with a doctorate in science and at age 37 became a GP.  She said: After 40 years in medical practice treating nervous illness, the one area that would keep a sufferer ill was memory.  Memory works through sight, sound, smell, taste and emphasised feeling!  Even years after the person had thought they had got better, if they had not been taught to get better through cognitive approaches they would still be subject to being ill again.


Dr Ellis would often say that emotions were not magical and mystical but products of beliefs and internalised thinking.


It would follow that demands and inaccurate definitions create anxiety, anger and depression.  Then, memory working through our 5 senses re-presents the bad feeling the next time a person is in a situation where they had previously experienced the detrimental emotion.  In short every time the door bell rings, the dog barks, I shout at the dog (or nervous system) the dog then barks louder the next time the door bell rings. Over time, many people then let the situation define them as they feel so helpless, rather than them defining the situation!

“We are and probably always will be fallible mistake making human beings but in order to ignore that fact, we create fiction, myths, heroes and heroines.”  Albert Ellis


We set ourselves up to create unrealistic outcomes by failing to accept our fallibility so therefore create a compensatory demand which in turn puts ourselves, others nervous systems under inordinate pressure to be a specific way and when it is not we condemn self and others.  Like putting your head into a lion’s mouth and shouting “boo!”  Then becoming perplexed why you have a sore head!


Two and a half months before Dr Ellis died in New York in 2007, I had the good fortune to meet him.  The most striking aspect of our 2 hour long conversation was that his brilliant therapeutic approach stood apart from others by being more philosophical.


Animals, unlike human beings cannot think about their thinking.  Animals it would also seem do not suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, humans do!  That tells me that we as humans think wrongly about our thinking!  We do not always prefer, wish dream, desire, hope and work towards our desired outcomes, we demand from ourselves and others then ‘awfulise, magnify, catastrophise, dramatize, anxietize’ us/them, thereby creating and trapping detrimental emotions which remain in memory,  a truly vicious circle.


With unconditional self/other and world acceptance (if for no other reason we are all fallible, mistake making human beings, living in a world populated by 7 billion others, it may be more effective to accept what is, then work to change what we dislike with a simple question:  “What outcome do we want from a situation”?




This explanation of rational emotive behaviour therapy, any in-depth discussion of the symptoms the person presents allied with the pro-active  rational emotive imagery technique will have knowledge, understanding, and hope beginning to flourish with fear, bewilderment and even more fear beginning to wither.  This is teaching a person how to hunt for the rest of her/his life and safely helped me out of the wheel chair!


This inspires confidence in the therapist and takes away a fear of the unknown as the discussion now moves back to enhance this learning at an even deeper level of conscious awareness using comfortable and relaxing hypnotherapy.


Before hypnotherapy, I meticulously ask about the person’s hobbies, interests and successful memories (they now have the rational emotive imagery inspired one) they have of dealing with problems, in order to allow the person to recall and implement their abilities more to the attitude they have been irrationally or non-self helpingly applying to the situation.


There are so many ways to induce a hypnotic state and in my opinion the most effective way is for the therapist to speak slowly, with confidence, semantically precisely and with relevance to the client. There is no point talking about walking down a hillside on a summer’s day if the person has a fear of heights.  No point in talking about how good cigarettes are if the person wants to stop smoking!  Within hypnosis, there are so many different techniques, from automatic writing, dream analysis, age regression, time projections, symbolic imagery, encouragement of cathartic release, use of metaphors, neuro linguistic programming (NLP) swish techniques, new behaviour generators, six step reframes, aversion therapy and parts therapy.  After conducting over 7,000 Hypno-psychotherapy sessions I advocate keeping your approach simple effective and pleasant, focusing in on any positive events, memories, and perceptions from the past, the present and near future with a rational emotive influence.


During the hypnotic sate, the person may feel their fingers tingle, shoulders arms legs may feel heavy (limb catalepsy) they might experience rapid eye movement, sensory distortion, time distortion so for example 30 minutes may seem like 10-15 minutes on the first session and on subsequent sessions may seem like 5/10 minutes as the person becomes more au fait with the process.  This time distortion occurs as the person becomes more inwardly and comfortably focused on pleasant powerful effective thoughts, feelings and events to the almost exclusion of external factors which become irrelevant.  In other words time goes quickly when you are having fun.


The person in the hypnotic state will look relaxed, facial features go into repose, skin colouration will be paler, the therapist will witness rapid eye movement and hear the person’s breathing slow down and observe passivity of movement.


The vast majority of the people I have treated will enter into a hypnotic state on the first session with deeper levels of relaxation occurring as the session’s progress.



Robin W. Thorburn ADHP (NC) MNRHP FNSHP UKCP (H)