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Monday Hypnotherapy Myth-busting

Posted May 17 2010 8:28am

Goodness me. It seems like a long time since I did one of these ‘myth-busting’ posts.

I have been so busy planning various new projects including new work with the University of York in Writing for Personal and Professional Development, my new Hypnotherapy Training Diploma in York in 2011 with Adam Eason and a new peer support group for all hypnotherapists in the Yorkshire area.

The new peer support group is this Wednesday 19 May at 7pm at the York Novotel. Please do get in touch if you’re a professional hypnotherapist in Yorkshire and would like to come along.

So myth-busting. Well, actually, it’s not exactly myth-busting today but more a discussion about a term. This term ‘hypnotherapy/ist.’ What do we mean by it?

For example, in my own mind these days, I tend to think of hypnotherapy as a form of solution-focused, brief psychotherapy that utilises hypnosis to help people to make positive and progressive changes in their lives. When I’m working with someone, I might use an entire range of approaches that a solution-focused brief therapist would use together with hypnotic language patterns and hypnotherapy ‘techniques.’

I might use tasking and journaling and draw upon ideas from the Human Givens approach or Stephen Gilligan’s Self-Relations model of psychotherapy. I will always, without exception, teach my clients self-hypnosis – because, really, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis (according to my own research and understanding, anyway) and I believe that self-hypnosis is a very powerful tool for increased calm, confidence and the ability to manipulate our own internal states in helpful ways.

However, one of the issues which I think we face in the field dof hypnotherapy today is the public understanding of the term ‘hypnotherapist.’ For example, some people might immediately think about past life regression – although I never use this in my work – or that a hypnotherapist will help them to ‘remember something they’ve forgotten.’ Or they say ‘Don’t look into my eyes…’ as if I have some kind of power over them…

These are all concepts that are surrounded with controversy, mystery and, yes, comedy in the public awareness and need careful consideration if you want to be an effective hypnotherapist.

For me, becoming an effective therapist of any kind is about developing a style of therapy – and my style happens to incorporate hypnosis, self-hypnosis and Ericksonian approaches, along with some CBT (which has a long history of association with hypnosis) and some more broadly brief therapy approaches.

What do we mean when we talk about ‘hypnotherapy’? We know that there is nothing intrinsically therapeutic about hypnosis as a state (or non-state, depending upon your point of view) in itself.

I don’t like calling myself a ‘hypnotist’ because for me that has connotations of stage hypnotism and the idea that there is a person doing the hypnotising to someone else – whereas my personal model of hypnotherapy is a kind of self-hypnosis that two people co-create. Something like that. I don’t think someone can go into/access the feeling of hypnosis unless they agree to and want to do so. (But there will be hypnotists out there who disagree with that statement.)

There are colleagues of mine who are equally happy with both the term ‘hypnotist’ and hypnotherapist.’ There are others who want to distance themselves from the least possible whiff of ‘New Age’ jargon. There are probably as many ways of doing therapy as there are clients out there looking for it.

But it seems to me that we do need some kind of framework – especially if we are going to continue developing standards of training and CPD and incorporate research – qualitative and quantitative – into the field of hypnotherapy.

So I am really interested to hear what you think? What does the term ‘hypnotherapy’ mean to you?

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