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gratitude

Expressing gratitude improves hypnotherapy results

Expressing gratitude

Gratitude is an approach to living. We can all be miserable about what we don't have, or all grateful for what we do have. Expressing gratitude to others leads to better relationships and better health.

Whenever I create change in my client during a hypnosis session, I always try to reinforce the change by getting the client to express gratitude. It is quite simple. I say something like, "there is just one thing more to do. And that is to express to your gratitude your mind for having made this change. So take a moment now, and in whatever way makes sense to you, just send a message of gratitude to your own mind. Think about how much you wanted this change, and how happy you are to have the change. And send that message to your own mind saying 'thank you '."

Expressing gratitude as parts therapy

This simple act can help to make the change permanent. Asking the client to send that message involves asking them to imagine how that message would be sent, and how it would be received. For some people it will be visual, some people it will be auditory, and for some people it will be a kinaesthetic experience.
But whatever it is, it is reinforcing the work that I have done in a very personal way that I am unable to do for them. To a certain extent, you are engaging in a bit of Parts Therapy. Part of them is sending the message, and part of them is receiving the message.

Expressing gratitude as homework

Whenever you express gratitude you make changes in your brain in the part that regulates emotion and motivation. If you want to give your clients homework, ask them to keep a gratitude diary. Tell them to write down three things that they can be grateful for that happened that day. Research has shown that keeping a gratitude diary can reduce the symptoms of depression.

You can take this idea a step further. Tell your client to visit or phone someone every day. And during that personal interaction to find the reason for expressing gratitude to the other person. Social interaction linked to gratitude is very powerful at reducing social anxiety. For clients who don't feel comfortable doing this, they can write an email expressing gratitude to the other person, and just not send it. The results are nearly as good.

So why not get into the habit of building a gratitude part into your hypnotherapy sessions?

 

 

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improving hypnotherapy outcomes

Improving hypnotherapy outcomes

Improving hypnotherapy Outcomes

Hypnotherapy is one of the talking therapies. It is interesting to consider how it is similar and how it is different from other talking therapies. Examining the structure of other talk therapies might give insights into improving hypnotherapy outcomes.

Some of the most used talking therapies and what they do, include:

cognitive behavioral therapies: change how you think about the world, stop using dysfunctional schemas

interpersonal psychotherapy and some dynamic therapies: improve into personal relationship skills

self compassion therapies, acceptance and commitment therapy: be more accepting of yourself

emotion focused and dynamic therapies: be able to express difficult emotions

mentalization therapies: accepting the perspective of others.

 

All of these therapies have a number of factors in common. First is the relationship between the therapist and the client. Second is building an expectation in the client that they will be helped. Third is the actual form of therapy.

Many decades of research suggest that the relationships and expectations are much more important than the actual therapy itself.

The therapeutic relationship

The relationship between the client and therapist actually begins before they get to know each other. Research suggests that a level of trust of some sort is worked out in the few microseconds before either person says anything. This level of trust is influenced by how the therapist is dressed, the layout and furnishing of the office, and interpretation of the therapist's facial expression. It may also be influenced by recommendations from others and beliefs about that type of therapy in general. The relationship is also strongly influenced by whether the client wants to be there, or has been forced to go there.

The psychodynamic relationship

This is basically about how the client and therapist perceive each other. This relationship is different from normal social relationships because there is an implied confidentiality, and it focuses entirely on the emotional problems of the client. Whatever the client says, the therapist has to accept it uncritically.

Expectations and goals

Expectations have a strong role in outcomes. This is basically the placebo effect at work. If you believe something will work, then it very often does. People who believe a bottle of wine is expensive, will reliably report that it tastes better.

If the therapist sets out to create positive expectations in the client, this can be enough to lift the client out of the cycle of hopelessness. They may have tried and failed many times. If someone tells them, with evidence, that they can get better, this will have an immediate effect.

Similarly, giving people a reason for their distress or illness, may reverse faulty thinking. Many clients come to therapy with 'folk' explanations for why they feel the way they do. Replacing these with scientific or pseudo-scientific explanations changes their mindset.

Giving the client a goal, and a way to reach that goal, gives them a way out of their problem. It focuses on the problem, and not on their personal failures.

Specific therapies

Every type of therapy is based on some sort of theory, and some sort of protocol for creating change. However, in most talking therapies, there is no clear scientific explanation for how they work. Each therapy has a theory that they insist is right, and every other theory is wrong. Each therapeutic model insists that there must be certain elements present before change can happen.

However, more than a century of research suggests that the effect of the specified elements of the therapy is actually very small. In other words, it really doesn't matter what therapy you use. They are all about equally effective.

Why does the therapy not matter?

This rather unexpected result can be explained by any number of things.

In some therapies, the client and therapist will meet for hundreds of sessions. It has been suggested that much of the benefit of therapy is actually because it is in the nature of a professional friendship. The client feels validated, accepted, understood, and avoids loneliness. This in itself can be very therapeutic.

Many clients come to therapy because they are living in unbearable situations. It is the situation that is causing the problem. Most therapies do not deal with clients' lifestyle at all. So giving them a goal and a way to reach it may be enough to help them change the external causes of their problems.

Therapeutic alliance

Research finds that the most important element in therapy is what is called the Therapeutic Alliance. This consist of the therapist-client bond, the goals of the therapy, and agreement about the tasks of the therapy. It includes elements of empathy, positive regard and collaboration.

Laboratory experiments have shown the personal relationship between the caregiver on their client has a major effect on the success of the treatment. Just having a warm and friendly manner goes a very long way. Personal relationships also involve recognizing and valuing your client's cultural background.

Expectations also play a major role. No matter what type of therapy is offered, giving your client a solid expectation of success affects that success.

Research also shows that the warmth and friendliness of the therapist is much more important than how good the therapist is at delivering the therapy. This reinforces the findings that the therapy itself is not all that important.

Improving hypnotherapy outcomes

You might think doing hypnosis has little in common with say psychoanalysis, or CBT. But in fact, the same elements are there. There are lessons to be learned from this research.

You, as a hypnotherapist, can work on each of the three elements. Start by building trust. You can improve your website, or your sales literature, to include testimonials and other proof of how good you are. Make sure that your office gives the impression of professionalism and competence. You can make sure that you dress appropriately. You can decorate your office with your awards and qualifications. All of these will go a long way to convincing your client that you are reliable and competent, before even opening your mouth.

You can spend time building rapport with your client, before starting the therapy. Showing an interest in the client's lifestyle, situation, relationships will all help to build a deeper level of trust.

You can spend time explaining how and why you work the way you do. Make sure that the client has no unanswered questions or reluctance. Fill your client with confidence in you, that you care about them personally. Don't treat all smokers the same, or give all phobias exactly the same treatment.

Make sure that you spend time telling the client exactly what to expect from you, and during the hypnosis, and what they will feel after the hypnosis.

Very importantly, don't just tell them at the end it's all finished and they don't have to do anything. Give them some sort of homework to do. Even if it's a placebo, it will constantly remind them that they have changed and focus them on making that change permanent.

Improving hypnotherapy outcomes is not about better hypnosis

Most hypnotists spend a lot of time and effort on trying to improve their hypnosis. They try to become better hypnotherapists, to become better at delivering the therapy.

Perhaps some of that time would be better spent developing skills in managing the therapist-client relationship?

 

 

 

Source: Bruce Wampold. (2015) How important are the common factors in psychotherapy? An update. Psychiatric World. https://doi.org/10.1002/wps.20238

 

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metaphor in therapy

Metaphor in hypnotherapy

The role of metaphor in hypnotherapy

Sometimes it happens in therapy that you just don't know what to do next. For me, it is usually when I ask a client to try to access the feelings about their behavior, or perhaps about things that happened earlier in their life, and they're can't find an emotion for me to work with. When that happens, I always use Metaphor in Hypnotherapy.

If your client cannot find an emotion then your options are fairly limited. You cannot go for a regression to the Initial Sensitizing Event, because you need an emotion to link to the original event. Or you can focus on the surface problem and use Direct Suggestion hypnotherapy. Another option, is to put your client into trance and either just give them a very relaxing experience, or teach them how to do self hypnosis. This often reduces the stress that underlies their problem, and gives them a temporary relief.

Metaphor in hypnotherapy

Sometimes your client cannot find an emotion, or is too frightened of the emotion. In that case,  metaphor therapy is the best way. You can use behavior-centred metaphors, or you can opt for using a generalised metaphor.

What I mean by behavior-centered metaphor is something that is specific to this client and their particular behavior. When you first talk to your client you are trying to find out what their problem is, and how they see it. If the problem is  procrastination, then you can narrow it down to a phrase your client uses to define their problem. They might say "I feel like I'm stuck". Or "I just cannot get started, and I'm easily distracted". For each of these  you can invent a vivid story about someone just like them, who does some action which is metaphorically identical to what they need to do.

Generalized Metaphor in hypnotherapy

Alternatively, you can ignore the specific problem the client has brought to you. In almost every case, your client's problem is actually connected to some issue they had when growing up. You can use a generalised metaphor as a non-specific therapeutic approach. Put your client into trance. Then tell them a long metaphor story about how they can let go of whatever it is that is causing the anxiety. The traditional method is about "dropping the stones". In that metaphor you suggest in trance that they are carrying a backpack. The backpack is full of bricks. They can take the backpack off and tip out the bricks. The basic metaphor is usually dressed up in some fancy location, with added details that relate directly to the client's personal experience. If you are not good at making up stories, then there are many collections of healing metaphors you can use.

But there is never any reason to feel "stuck" yourself when you don't know what to do next in therapy.

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past life regression hypnotherapy

Past Life Regression Hypnotherapy

Past Life Regression Hypnotherapy

A client booked in with me writing "I would like to have a past life regression hypnosis. I feel a bit unhappy, like I am not fulfilling my purpose. I feel a bit lost." Past life regression hypnotherapy requests are fairly common but I always wonder what prompts the client to ask for one.

The client was a young primary teacher. She told me "I feel totally confused about my feelings, and my own life. I was going to resign my job because I couldn't really understand how I was feeling. My friends tell me it must be something I did in a past life."

Different assumptions

It became obvious fairly quickly that she really was not in touch with their own feelings. I gave her the dysthymia questionnaire. She identified with most of the areas, particularly with circular thinking. We discussed how rumination was affecting her. On looking at the the other aspects of dysthymia,  it became clear that she also has black and white thinking. This is defined by high expectations and distress at not achieving them. The rumination and failed expectations were driving her  lack of feeling, of disconnection.

It had never occurred to her that she had depression, despite the fact that her sister has depression, and her mother shows every sign of it as well.

I outlined what she has to do to fix her own depression, emphasizing exercise, but not going into detail or suggesting that she should come back.

We agreed that all of her symptoms were consistent with depression, and there was no point in doing past life regression.

There was not a lot of time left, so I had to do something fairly quick to end the session.

Metaphor therapy

She came to my office convinced there was something hidden inside that was making her act and  feel this way. So I decided to use metaphor therapy to clear that thing. I did a short induction. I suggested there was something lodged in her unconscious mind. Her own mind searched for it, found it, and ripped it out. Then it turned to liquid and drained out through her feet.

She was one of those clients who do a lot of moving in trance. I was concerned that she was not deep enough, so I deepened her by going down some steps into a garden. I didn't know what to do next. So I just let my unconscious mind take over. I noticed a potted plant on my windowsill. So I took her to a large glass house. The glasshouse was hot and steamy and everything was growing. I led her to a bench where there was a flower pot with rich earth in it.

Grow your answer Therapy 

There was a packet with her name on it. She felt it, and it appeared to have a seed inside. There was a sign that said 'open me'. I got her to plant the seed. Then someone appeared and said "I have been waiting for you to plant that seed. Now I will look after it for you. The seed will grow into a plant with many beneficial properties. It will continue to grow throughout your life. Who who knows what it will produce?".

I then got her to go outside and had her sit on a bench. She fell asleep on the bench and began to dream of a woman sitting on a bench. She dreamed of a woman sitting on a bench dreaming about a woman sitting on a bench and hearing these words. I continued with the multiple levels of dissociation until even I got lost in it.  This could be a good way of doing multiple embedded metaphors?

Feedback on this Past Life Regression Hypnotherapy

I was a little concerned that she had not really been in trance, due to the amount of wriggling around that she did. So I asked her what she remembered about the hidden object. She said it was that one of those things that suck blood, a leech. So, I was happy that she actually had been utilizing her own unconscious mind.

At then, at the end, saying goodbye, she said "and I really liked the whole plant thing, and this thing growing".

What I learned from this is that it is quite amazing how people can misinterpret their own symptoms. This woman was being encouraged to go down the path of New Age spirituality, and who knows where it might have led her. She just did not recognize the source of her own problems.

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professional development hypnotherapy

Professional Development Hypnotherapy Training

Professional Development Hypnotherapy Training

Recently I was a speaker at a training day for the members of the New Zealand Association of Professional Hypnotherapists. I am currently the Vice President nzaph.co.nz

The day was highly enjoyable and covered topics and techniques of interest to professional hypnotherapy.

After my presentation, the next speaker talked about a method of soul restatement, a therapy she has developed to deal with the sources of people's unhappiness. She outlined her theory. Then led everyone in the room on a journey of visualization. It is long time since I was on a guided visualization. I had forgotten how powerful it is. I enjoyed it immensely and learned a great deal.

Part of the membership requirements of NZAPH is to undertake professional supervision. The afternoon was given over to discussing the role of supervisors for practicing hypnotherapists.  It was good to learn from other supervisors about what they think the supervision relationship.

Professional development also includes marketing. One presenter talked about the role of social media in marketing for hypnotherapy businesses. Technology changes all the time. You need to keep up with how young people use the internet if you want to reach them.

Metaphor training

The final part trained us in the use of physical metaphor in therapy. In the first exercise we chose a toy from an assortment and then to justified the choice of that toy. We then tried to explain what it revealed about each person.

Then followed a fun exercise with playdough. The leader told each person to close their eyes and then model something out of the Playdough. The first task was  to represent an incident when they felt angry about something. Most people created something spiky.

Next, we had to model something that represented how we felt the last time our hearts were really touched by something wonderful. We created those models and discussed what they meant metaphorically.

Then we had to combine both models. The resulting change in feelings was quite spectacular.

Training days are often great fun. Make sure that you take every opportunity to attend anything on offer by your professional association.

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woebot

Woebots may be coming for your job

Woebots may be coming for your job

Woebots are artificial intelligence programs which advise  and counsel you. The best-known one is Siri. This is Apple's home assistant. You can ask it what the weather is going to be like this afternoon, you can ask who is going to win the big match, you can ask it where to get the cheapest curtains for your living room. You ask a question and it answers.

But almost half the conversations with Siri and Alexa, Amazon's equivalent, are actually conversations about emotions. People tell woebots like these about their stressful day, about how they feel about people at work, about how they really wish someone would phone them. More and more people live on their own, and have no one to talk to. So they talk to the woebots.

People will say, "I feel sad". Or "I am so lonely". And they expect the application to reply. It does reply. In fact all of this type of artificial intelligence conversational software has preprogrammed responses to questions like these. Google Assistant might reply to you "I wish I had arms to give you a hug". Or you might be told "Nobody said life was going to be easy. What do you think you could do?".

The arrival of the woebots

Talking to a machine has gone from seeming weird to being normal in many households. It is only a small step from telling Google Assistant "play me some upbeat music, I'm feeling down" to saying "I'm feeling down, how do I get out of this?".

And the machines are getting better and better at it. Artificial intelligence used to be about how to beat a chess grandmaster. The software learned from every game. It learned from its mistakes. Gradually, the software increased its playing skills until today chess programs are better than any human being.

Learning to play chess is different from learning how to counsel someone deep in grief. But the same basic principles apply. Do something, measure how well you did, change your next attempt, and see if it is better or worse.

This is not going to work terribly well between a machine and one person. But when the machine is learning from hundreds of thousands of people simultaneously it becomes a completely different situation.

Pretty much the same questions are being asked by hundreds of people at any one moment. The software understands multiple languages and is available in every country. Therefore the opportunities for learning are greatly increased. The software offers a response, and then analyses the reply. It does this over and over tirelessly, 24 hours a day. And it learns.

Your woebot counselor is here now

It is predicted that it will not be long before everyone has access to a conversational robot. Past experiments have shown that people will speak more freely to a machine than they will to a human being.  The machine doesn't judge you. The machine doesn't make you feel embarrassed. It has endless patience. It's always there for you. And it costs nothing.

That last point, that it is free and always there, is what should give concern to many in the caring professions. People go to counsellors very often just to have someone to listen to them. One of the primary benefits of counselling is just to allow people to unload how they feel.

If talking to a machine makes you feel good, then you will do more of it. The machines are getting better at giving helpful advice and encouragement. Why would someone go to a counsellor, if you can talk to a friendly understanding voice on your cell phone day or night?

Leave a comment
How could you convert this software into an asset in your practice?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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hypnosis blogs

Hypnosis Blogs Website Update

Blog and website Developments

Several good things have happened this week on my hypnosis blogs and my personal service website.

Relaunch of personal hypnotherapy website.

I have revamped my old personal hypnotherapy site wellingtonhypnosis.co.nz

The old website was in need of a complete rebuild. It had served me well for more than eight years. But it reflected an old Internet paradigm. It had been built in HTML and CSS using Dreamweaver. However it could not cope with the demands of being viewed on cell phones on tiny screens.

Statistics suggest that more than 60% of all websites are exclusively accessed through mobile devices. The old website also really could not cope with multimedia. The new version will have video and sound files embedded. I moved hosts and so the new website is basically a skeleton at this point but will get up to full strength over the next few days.

My office is now in the Hutt Valley. I have a new custom-built office in SilverStream which will be able to serve people all the way from Upper Hutt to Wellington. As well as a new office, there are extensive gardens, beautiful views, and a meditation retreat.

 

 

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supernatural ability

Everyone has a supernatural ability

Would you like to learn a supernatural ability? The hypnotist Milton Erickson was famous for his powers of observation. People believed he had some supernatural ability. He seemed to be able to tell what a person was thinking and feeling just by looking at them.

Forced to observe 

He explained that he got this power because he had polio as a child. After his illness he was almost totally paralyzed and could only observe. He was left in chair all day and his large family went about their daily business around him. After a while, since he didn't speak or move, they forgot he was there. Silently, day after day he passively observed. And then he began to notice that what his sisters said did not agree with their actions. Somehow, he could tell how they felt by how they dressed and moved. He realized his sisters were communicating by more than words.

This was the skill that he brought to his therapy sessions as a psychiatrist. For many years, people assumed that it was something that was unique to him because of the special circumstances of his upbringing.

Everyone can get a supernatural ability

However, a book by Oliver Sachs shows that this is not so. Sachs is neurologist who studies the effects of damage to the brain. Some damage knocks out  parts of the brain but leaves other parts working. In some cases it affects speech, or motor skills, or the ability to recall concepts but not words.

In the book, Sachs describes how strokes cause some people to lose the power of speech and writing but otherwise are completely lucid. Some of these people made a full recovery and were able to describe what was going on in their minds while they were partly disabled. What is interesting from a therapy point of view is how being unable to communicate affected the rest of their thinking.

Several patients reported that after some weeks of total frustration, to the point of wanting to scream but being unable to, they gradually began to acquire different skills. By being unable to talk, but being able to play cards, they began to notice facial expressions, body posture, clusters of movement. They knew what people coming towards them were going to say even before they got within talking distance. And they reported that as their isolation went on, they got better and better at it.

After recover the common message was 'I realized that I never really listened before'. The interesting thing to me is that apparently everyone can learn this skill.

Why wait until you have a stroke?

What do you think is the key to listening? Share it below.

 

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western philosophy

Western philosophy of psychotherapy

The town I live in has been getting more and more immigrants from various parts of Asia. They now make up a noticeable proportion of the local population. This means that I am getting more clients from an Asian background.

Most of these clients are in every way comparable to people who have lived here all their lives. But I do notice that there is a distinct cultural difference with some groups. Indian clients seem to be quite comfortable with standard methods, but it is different when dealing with clients from traditional Chinese or Taiwanese backgrounds.

Western philosophy of psychotherapy

The Western philosophy of psychotherapy is based on the idea that you are what you are because of how you were brought up. If you have a psychosocial problem then it came from your childhood, or at least most of it does. Western psychology does not accept that you are born with predestined problems. Nor do cosmic forces shape who you are, or the alignment of the planets, or anything else.

Blaming your parents is emphatically rejected by many clients from Chinese families. They are so set with the idea that parents have to be venerated and respected. The idea that their parents could have done something wrong is just unthinkable. If the client has a problem it can only be because of some fault that the client has. Even the possibility that you could think of tracing your personal problems back how your parents treated you is unacceptable.

I have tried linking to their beliefs in chi and other external forces with some success, but I feel it is not ideal. I am not at all sure of how to deal with this issue.

How do you deal with different cultural expectations? Share your ideas below.

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newsletter-materials

Newsletter materials available

I received this email the other day:

Dear Mr Mason,

A year or so ago I purchased your excellent book of scripts and have enjoyed studying them. I am at present engaged in writing a doctoral dissertation.  I would like your permission to quote and use a selection of your scripts in my paper, with proper acknowledgement of course. My committee needs proof that I have gained your permission even though you indicate that for educational purposes I would be free to do so.

I of course wrote back giving permission. I am always happy for people to use my scripts for education and training. In fact I have special offers for people who train others and hypnosis schools.

I also am always happy for the editors of newsletters to use any of my material. In the past I have supplied hypnotic metaphors and scripts for the journal of The Australian Society of Clinical Hypnotherapists,  the Hypnotherapy Journal, and the journal of the National Council for Hypnotherapy in the UK.

Everybody wins when we share newsletter materials

Hypnotherapy is a sharing profession. Everyone can improve, and the easiest way to improve your own performance is to learn from others. If the whole profession became more open to sharing then we would all benefit. I subscribe to a lot of blogs from other hypnotherapists. Unfortunately, a great many of these use their blogs for self-promotion. Every blog entry it seems is trying to sell training or appointments of the authors book. For most of these blogs, this format defeats the point of a blog. The blog is supposed to be about sharing your personal opinions and communicating with other people about a particular topic. I guess the trouble is that producing original interesting material is actually quite difficult. On the other hand, genuinely held beliefs and observations are always interesting. That is why newsletters are so popular and such a good way of reaching your membership.

If you run a newsletter or a magazine feel free to contact me.

Should there be more sharing in the hypnotherapy community? Share your ideas below.

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