Hypnotherapy and virtual reality may be coming to a screen near you. Is the future of hypnosis about therapy over the Internet?
Anyone who has been doing hypnotherapy for a long time, will quickly realise that a lot of it is repetition of standard routines plus a personalised twist. Several companies have set up in business to exploit this fact. They offer personalised recorded therapy for stop smoking, weight loss, confidence, and other common problems. The basic deal is that you email your name and an idea of what your problems are and they will record an induction using your name, and try to adjust their standardised therapy routines to suit what you ask for. They then post the CD to you.
The business proposition is that it is much cheaper than seeing a therapist face-to-face, and more personalised than just listening to a CD or MP3 recording. Modern audio technology is cheap enough, and easy enough to use, to make this possible. It is only a very short step to imagine the whole thing on simulated video. As well as choosing what you want to be cured of, you could also choose the gender, race, age and accent of your virtual reality hypnotherapist.
The question is: is this actually a useful form of therapy?
There are several problems with this. The first is that clients are very often do not know what it is that they want. The origin of a behaviour problem can often be hidden under layers of old programming. Even where the problem is a very straightforward thing, like stopping smoking, a successful treatment often depends upon working out why the person smokes. You then address that reason.
The second problem is that everyone is unique. It really is too simplistic to think that a standard routine will work with everyone, or even with a high percentage of people.
The third problem is that not everyone is equally hypnotisable. The advantage of seeing a therapist face-to-face is that the therapist can judge exactly how the words are being received, and adjust the delivery to suit.
There is nothing wrong with delivering therapy by CDs. I have listened to CDs myself, and found some of them to be very useful. However, even with a full money back guarantee, I feel that there is going to be a very great number of people for whom it just won't work. Most of those won't bother asking for their money back, and will just assume that the problem is them. The danger is that the failure will leave the client even more in despair, believing that they are incurable.
None of these personalised recording services have any sort of follow-up system, and is hard to see how they could have one that worked. But a face-to-face hypnotist can take the extra time to work out why you are not getting the changes you want.
It does cost more, but isn't it better to have a service that works that costs extra, as opposed to a cheap service that doesn't work?