Hypnotism is a subject which often intrigues, mainly due to a general lack of knowledge, understanding, miraculous unverifiable “testimonials”, stage hypnotists and subsequent perceived ‘magical powers’ associated with it.
I think it relevant to first of all make a distinction between hypnotism and hypnotherapy. My initial reaction is to define hypnotism within the realm of stage hypnosis as hypnotism does not really mean anything. Hypnosis on its own is a futile aspiration if you then do nothing with it.
Stage hypnotism involves the practice of engendering humour from the audience whilst subjects indulge in ridiculous behaviours. Hypnotherapy on the other hand involves utilising hypnosis and then doing therapy or healing within the hypnotic framework.
Stage hypnotists, like some hypnotherapists, have hidden behind mysticism and “magic” for many years and the general public has been deceived or put off by these practitioners.
First of all let us de-mystify hypnosis. Hypnosis is derived from the Greek word to sleep. However, if the person was asleep or unconscious they would hear nothing of the therapist’s words. A more accurate definition would be comfortable self-awareness. Many people are surprised on entering a hypnoidal state that they do not fall asleep, go unconscious or emerge with a personality transplant! The reason for this expectation comes from the stage hypnotist. He utilizes a phenomenon known as somnambulism, 18% of the general population can enter a hypnotic state rapidly. The stage hypnotist, by conducting a series of suggestibility tests, finds those highly suggestible people. He will ask all the audience to imagine their hands sticking together with superglue and those whose hands “stick” together rapidly are the somnambulists and those are the people he wants to work with. Often the remainder of the audience simply believe that they cannot be hypnotised and the people he has just found have been planted by the stage hypnotist. Well the reality is that if they wish to enter a hypnotic state they can. Let us therefore move away from the stage hypnotist to hypnotherapy.
The medical profession has been using hypnosis to assist in surgical procedures, both dental and medical, where anaesthesia was not available or contra-indicated. Sigmund Freud, the father of Freudian psychoanalysis also used it, but later described it as “too capricious”. There are in my view three reasons for that statement; 1. Freud apparently was not very good at inducing hypnotic states, this seems to be a pattern amongst some medical Doctors, as they tend to be too prescriptive or direct whilst having accessed their patient’s creativity, thereby speaking in the wrong manner to the wrong part of the mind. There is really only one form of hypnosis and that is self-hypnosis. It therefore becomes all the more relevant to speak to the client about their hobby, their interest as it is the therapist’s job to guide the client towards his/her own comfortable self-awareness. 2. There is an element of truth in what Freud said as in my view hypnotherapy alone is not often enough to resolve a person’s difficulties longer term. Many, many people require and deserve conscious understanding. 3. Freud was using free association within hypnosis, this means that the person was recalling and associating events in their life (mainly sexual) in a bid to free themselves from neuroses by way of a cathartic release. Freud’s psychoanalysis has been largely proved to be unscientific and ineffectual in helping the person get better.
Good hypnotherapy involves the therapist utilising what the client presents, their hobbies, interests and even the presenting problem e.g. obsession with washing hands can be used; they are already fixated or in a trance state with their pre-occupation as it is so why not get them to focus their attention on it again but this time to bring about a better outcome for the client. By lowering the tone of his voice and thus compelling attention, using pauses, inflections and metaphors, drawing his words and asking the client to recall all the sights, the sounds and feelings that go with being more and more relaxed, this can create comfortable self-awareness.
The therapist can guide and simultaneously during the induction of hypnosis create a therapeutic outcome by directing the client towards a more flexible viewpoint regarding hand washing. “Remember as a child when you were sure things were one way but turned out to be something else entirely” provokes a recall of a different attitude, “I would not want you to give up your repetitive hand washing now… but maybe next week you can choose a time when it will be right for you to significantly reduce the intensity and feel it melting like a stalactite of ice in a heat wave” This wish that he will not change it immediately potentiates a wish to change within the client, then a pre-supposition that the client can change allows a preparation towards a more successful outcome.
This is done by asking the client to see themselves in a past problematic situation, initially experiencing the emotion that they dislike and then feeling it for one minute, (since this is accessing a past memory which is composed of our five senses, including feeling, which has been created by an irrational non-self helping demand, and since the memory at this point is most vulnerable to change) by philosophically observing the memory thus pairing neutrality to it instead of fighting or avoiding it (thus reinforcing it) and then allowing self concern, the person will see a better outcome spontaneously appear. This is called Rational Emotive Imagery. This is martial arts for the mind, utilising the initial force of the problem then changing it into concern from i.e. anxiety, concern is overcome able and normal anxiety debilitates. “You can always yield and come out on top” stated Milton Erickson, a prolific researcher into hypnotherapy.
A hypnotherapy session lasts about 30 minutes, during which the person may experience rapid eye movement (REM), limb catalepsy (shoulders arms legs become heavy) and a time distortion, where 30 minutes may seem like 5 minutes as the person becomes so inwardly comfortably focused on resolution of the problem that they lose track of time. In fact, the good sessions are when the therapist loses track of time as he enters into a trance thus utilising his own creativity and experiences. Throughout the therapist will use potent key words at the moment when the client is engaged in making an inventory of his/her problem solving skills.
I personally have learnt a very great deal from Dr Albert Ellis the founder of Cognitive/Rational Emotive Behaviour therapy. I have found this therapy to be an extremely useful adjunct with hypnotherapy, to increase longer term results and give the client more accurate insight into their problem and a way to change it. Taking them into the past without giving them the road map can often confuse and make things worse. Some inexperienced therapists still look for past life events that once happened to a person but overlook the irrational non-self-helping demand they are telling themselves NOW!
In fact it would be very good idea for REBT to be used in schools to develop a rational self and other helping attitude; this would probably save the NHS millions of pounds, cut crime and improve mental and physical health.
Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy takes the view that while we can influence external events occurring in the world, we cannot stop them. Problems arise when we demand that events/people Should, Ought or Must be a specific way and if not I, you or the world must be awful, but since the world is populated by 8 billion human beings each with billions and billions of brain cells, bad things are likely to happen! Humans are not perfect; it is our inaccurate definition that bad things Should, Ought or Must not happen that creates and maintains anxiety, anger, depression, then a dependency on fictive treatments. If we could put these three detrimental emotions under one title it would be awful, but since bad things happen, nothing is awful. “We are and probably always will be mistake making animals as human beings, but in order to ignore that fact, we create fiction, myths, heroes and heroines” Maintains Dr Ellis. Uniquely, Dr Ellis gave the world of therapy a definite model to work from that allowed the therapist to accurately diagnose and treat psychological symptoms.
REBT and hypnotherapy combined re-calibrate the client’s belief system on both conscious and unconscious levels and allow a client to be freed from troubling past events and perceptions therfore enabling him/her to manage life’s inevitable adversities; the client takes the cure with him/her. You can feed a person for the day or teach them how to hunt for the rest of their lives. Hypnotherapy, is a much misunderstood part of psychotherapy and is an extremely effective therapeutic tool which merits much deeper understanding and far wider use.
Hypnotherapy can treat a range of conditions, including anxiety, panic attacks, sporting performance, public speaking, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, pain control, smoking, weight loss, exam nerves, business performance, depression, blushing etc. It can also be utilised in Life Coaching.
Robin W. Thorburn ADHP (NC) MNRHP FNSHP UKCP (H)
Corporate Hypno-Psychotherapy Edinburgh
My corporate psychotherapy service in Edinburgh can help individuals and organisations to successfully address a variety of workplace issues.
Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and hypnotherapy can be used to deliver improved results tailored to the specific needs of your employees and your business.
The three types of therapy listed above can help with the following areas and more:
Presentations & Public Speaking
Personal Problems Affecting Workplace Performance
For a confidential chat about your corporate psychotherapy needs, call me now on 0131 445 2485 or get in touch through my contact page.
REBT for Corporate Clients
Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) helps to change the way a person thinks about themselves and their environment.
REBT can deliver positive changes quickly in a long lasting and effective way in workplace situations. Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy pinpoints how the way people perceive themselves and others has an effect on workplace relationships and behaviour patterns.
REBT challenges people to think about situations in a rational way and is suitable for those who manage people as well as individual employees.
Discover more about Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy here.
CBT – Changing Workplace Behaviour
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be used in conjunction with Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy to identify thought patterns and belief systems which could be causing problems in the workplace.
CBT provides life-long tools which empower people to deal with a whole host of problematic corporate situations in a clear and effective way.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is one of the leading types of therapies in use today and can deliver a great return on investment for your organisation through areas such as increased workplace harmony and more productive employees.
Discover more about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy now.
Corporate Hypnotherapy in Edinburgh
A combination of hypnotherapy and REBT has proven to be a very successful way of solving workplace problems for many of my clients.
The natural relaxed state achieved by hypnotherapy allows the client to become more self-aware so that they can appreciate and understand how looking at issues from a different perspective can make all the difference.
I have also conducted hundreds of successful hypnotherapy sessions which have helped people with their irrational fear of public speaking and making presentations at work.
Discover more about the benefits of hypnotherapy here.