By Dr. John Butler
As a hypnotherapist and hypnotherapy trainer, a common myth I hear is that hypnotherapy is merely mechanical-type programming, as though the marvelously complex, individual human brain is a simple machine. So, often people who have experienced individual psychotherapy or counselling, either as clients or therapists, think of the detailed individual listening and fine-tuning that occurs in that setting, and believe that hypnotherapy would be a much-reduced experience.
Hypnotherapy, in reality, actually increases fine-tuning and individual listening. By training in hypnotherapy, you increase, rather than reduce, your capacity for rapport and building the “therapeutic relationship”, the most vital ingredient in psychotherapy and all psychological therapies. In a comprehensive hypnotherapy training, you learn to
Another common misconception is that the role of the hypnotherapist is crudely authoritarian. The fact is, that a person is completely free, truly themselves, when deep in a hypnotic trance. It is a mentally, emotionally and spiritually liberating experience where the person is in touch with their creative inner power and therefore more strong and more aware. The fact that it can be achieved much more easily than similar meditative states, for instance, through using the amazing human faculty for partnership and communication that is achieved in clinical hypnosis, is a bonus. This faculty can also be extended to a group, and a properly trained hypnotherapist can conduct a group self-hypnosis training session, for instance, and find both a strong group atmosphere, and completely individual responses in all the participants.
Due to these popular misunderstandings of hypnotherapy, numerous hypnotherapy “trainings” are offered on a very superficial level. So I find many of my students come to my courses to add to, or in some cases to correct, the very limited methods that they have been taught, and I like to spread the message as to the true range of hypnotherapy, wherever I can.
by Dr. John Butler
Arthur was 48 years old and came to me with a problem of not being able to sleep. When I asked him about his present life, he said he had been under stress for some time. A freelancer, his field of work was becoming increasingly competitive and he was working long hours, putting off social life and long-term plans. Sometimes he felt so desperate to sleep he would drink a lot more than usual, however he felt hungover, not refreshed, the next day. He was reluctant to try sleep medications, saying he didn’t want to give up on regaining his ability to sleep naturally. So he’d decided to try hypnosis.
Hypnosis is a powerful skill which is imparted to a client through acting in partnership with the hypnotherapist. Arthur proved responsive to this process, and like many clients, found his first hypnotic experience the most relaxed he’d felt “in years”. He then practised at home with a recording I gave him, and he arrived at the next session saying he had managed to sleep better, and to feel rested. This experience gave him much hope that he could regain a satisfactory sleeping pattern.
The increased focus of attention that occurs in hypnosis is highly suited to developing new skills and coping strategies. Arthur’s circumstances had changed, his work life was harder than it had been, and wasn’t likely to get better externally. So the task was to expand his skills to cope better – to move from a “panicked” stress reaction, which was very draining, to a long-term, sustainable strategy. Through mental “rehearsal” and analytical work in hypnosis, Arthur redesigned his approach to his life, reviewing values and choices made in the past. He downsized his outgoings, reducing the pressure on him to accept any work offers that came his way. He ring-fenced a basic program of exercise, healthful living practices and recreation. In hypnosis, we worked out self-commitments for Arthur that he consented to, not only on a conscious but also on a subconscious level (a most common reason for a failure to keep up self-commitments is subconscious sabotage), and in stages he incorporated these into his life.
In 6 sessions over 4 months, Arthur transitioned to an altered lifestyle, designed and chosen by himself. With less pressure, he felt more “true to himself”, sleeping was again something that “just happened” and he developed his relaxation skills by listening to the recording I gave him. An unexpected bonus was that he became more creative in his work, which he was finding very exciting. He joked, “Maybe it’ll be the next big thing, but if not I’m fine having fun with it”.
by Dr. John Butler
Hypnotherapy is essentially a partnership of minds, where through the means of hypnosis, the mind of the therapist and the mind of the client can work together in a powerful, effective alliance. This happens through consent, and cooperation. The power lies with the client, who has the choice of consenting to whatever methods the therapist may offer and of cooperating with them. Let’s take an example, of a route using hypnosis for a client to reach peace of mind.
Patti was a client who had felt anxious since being involved as a passenger in a car accident a year before. Although recovered from the bruises she had sustained, she still felt very anxious about being in a car, and had begun to feel fearful not only about being driven, but about driving herself, and being around traffic in general. She had noticed that she had begun avoiding even non-driving situations where road traffic might be present, and didn’t want her life to become increasingly restricted in this way.
First I demonstrated to Patti, with simple exercises, that her subconscious mind could influence her body directly, through her imagination, and that these bodily feelings were causing her anxiety to spiral – she would subconsciously anticipate danger when thinking about traffic, or driving, and then her body would respond by producing anxiety symptoms – fluttering feeling in stomach, heartbeat accelerating etc. From this demonstration, she realised that if she changed what she imagined and anticipated, her bodily sensations would also change, for the better, and this would reverse the anxiety process. Using my guidance in hypnosis, she then had the experience of creating a powerful feeling of well-being and deep relaxation, entirely through allowing her imagination to follow a chain of ideas which I provided, specifically geared to create those feelings.
The next stage, still in hypnosis, was to guide Patti through understanding that she now knew, from her own experience, that there was some risk to driving and traffic that she hadn’t appreciated in the same way before. She worked out, with my guidance in hypnosis, a “new deal” with herself. She forgave herself for not realising previously how acute traffic danger was; she agreed to learn from her experience by being more alert and aware when driving and being in traffic, and not to be a passenger unless she believed the driver was also alert and aware. She was now taking her safety seriously, and had learned a new appreciation of her value – listening to her survival instinct and working with it. And she was committed to working with her new-found power of conscious imagining, for her own benefit in future.