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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

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 the whole room on a journey of visualization. It is long time since I was on a guided visualization. I had forgotten how powerful it can be. 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 the experience of other supervisors about what the relationship entails.

Professional development also included marketing. There was  talk on the role of social media in marketing for hypnotherapy businesses. The 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 was training in the use of physical metaphor in therapy. The first exercise was to choose a toy from an assortment and then to justify the choice of that toy, and to explain what it revealed about each person.

This was followed by a fun exercise with playdough. Each person was asked 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.

Then we were each asked 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 were asked to combine both models. The resulting change in feelings was quite spectacular.

Training day can be great fun. Make sure that you take every opportunity to attend anything on offer by your professional association.

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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.

Relaunch of personal hypnotherapy website.

I have revamped my old personal hypnotherapy site

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.

Blog Features in the top 100 list

The second notable thing is that the blog has been chosen to be listed in the top 100 hypnosis blogs. Head on over to to see the listing. Many thanks to Anuj Agarwal, the founder of Feedspot.   There are dozens and dozens of really great hypnosis blogs. You might want to check it out.



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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 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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unconscious mind

Can you define the unconscious mind?

Hypnosis deals with the unconscious mind. Talk to any hypnotist and they will go on at great length about how they work with the unconscious mind. And yet not one of us can actually give a coherent, defensible definition of "unconscious mind".

How do you know you have an unconscious mind?

The only thing that you and I can say with certainty about the world is that we are conscious of our own thinking. Everything else is supposition. If you have seen the movie "The Matrix" you will know that there is no way of proving that you are not actually living inside a computer simulation. Everything in the world around you comes from your own personal interpretation of external stimuli.

But you have no way of knowing whether the same stimuli are being experienced in other people's brains. It is clear that dogs and cats can think and respond to stimuli. So can computers. But are they "conscious"?

How can you measure your unconscious mind?

It is extraordinarily difficult to define precisely what consciousness is. People have thought about this for centuries. Many philosophers believe that the question is unanswerable. So is the only thing we know for sure, that we personally are conscious, the biggest mystery in the world?

One of the main problems is measuring consciousness. Every year a few people in surgery, who appear totally unconscious under a general anaesthetic, report having felt the scalpels and can recall every word that was said. Is a newborn baby conscious? Can we create consciousness in machines? If we can, does that mean that the same machines might develop an unconscious mind?

Latest research into consciousness

Recently, researchers have attempted to measure consciousness by applying magnetic fields to the brain, and then analysing the subsequent responses. They have found a fairly reliable way of being able to tell if your brain is conscious or not. The test was applied to long-term patients who are totally unresponsive to any outside stimulus. Most showed no response. But 20% of them produced a reading that suggested that they are in fact conscious of what is going on. It is possible that they are completely unable to respond, but actually at some level of consciousness.

However, the test works by measuring how integrated information processing is. The more integration there is, the more confident you can be that consciousness is present. One problem with this approach, is that it means that nonliving things can be conscious. You could argue, as many do, that the universe processes information, and therefore has a "consciousness".

Another objection is that information processing may not be the same as "intelligence". A computer processes information at great speed, but is not by any normal definition intelligent.

But all of this leaves open the question of "what is the unconscious mind?" It appears that that question is no nearer to being answered.

How would you define the unconscious mind? Share your ideas below.



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laptop in hypnotherapy

Using your laptop in hypnotherapy

Today I learned how to use my laptop in hypnotherapy. I had a client come to see me today who wanted a quite specific treatment. She wanted me to make cigarettes taste horrible. This is called aversion therapy. I don't usually do aversion therapy, but this smoker insisted on that approach, so I agreed.

Because I seldom use that approach I decided to use one of my own scripts, the Smoking Aversion script. I haven't used it for some time, so I thought it would be best if I read it over first. It is a long script, and employs lots of precise repetition, so I decided to actually use the script in therapy.

Now in the past when I used a script to guide me I referred to a printed copy. There are several problems with this, but the main one is the noise that the paper makes when you move from one page to another. Not to mention the irritating habit it has of sliding off your knee onto the floor.

Using your laptop in hypnotherapy

So I decided to try displaying it on my laptop instead. This worked remarkably well. I was able to flip from page to page soundlessly, to skip over bits, and to pick and mix from other scripts. Another problem I didn't have was losing my place. With a printed sheet you have a lot of lines in front of you on the page. After I deviate from the script or I have been watching the client's reaction it is sometimes difficult to find exactly where you were on the page. Because the laptop has a smallish screen, I was only looking at four or five sections at a time, so it was easy to get back on track. I was surprised at how easy it was, and how nice it was to not have to think about what to say next, and just follow the stages of the script.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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hypnotised against their will

Hypnotised against their will

I had this enquiry today:

Is it true that people could be hypnotised against their will? Is it just a myth? And how do mentalists hypnotise people within few minutes?

I replied:

It depends what you mean by hypnotized. Hypnosis takes many forms. Hypnosis has been defined as the art of planting suggestions into someone else's mind. The most common form of this of course, is advertising. When you are watching television, you are relaxed and your mind is open. At that point advertisers push their message into your brain suggesting that you buy their product. You didn't ask for this, you didn't agree to it, and it is inserting an idea into your mind against your will. People say they don't respond to advertising, but advertisers wouldn't do it if it didn't work. So yes, people can be hypnotised against their will.

If you're thinking of formal hypnosis, then no, you cannot hypnotise anyone who knows that you are trying to hypnotise them. If I know someone is trying to hypnotise me, all I have to do is repeat "NaNaNaNa" over and over in my mind and that will blank out whatever they are saying.

Hypnosis is a normal and natural process. We all go into hypnosis many times a day. Any time you daydream, any time you drive home and can't remember how you got there, any time you are lost in a computer game or a good book, you have been hypnotised. It is actually very easy to do.

All you have to do is to get people to focus on something and suggest that they stay focused on that you suggest that they are getting relaxed and tired and sleepy. Most people will go into trance within two or three minutes. It is no big deal. It certainly is not any kind of mystery.

You can learn to hypnotise people after an hour's training and study. The simplest methods will take ten minutes to put someone into trance. Faster methods will take less than a minute. It depends what you want to do after they are hypnotised.

However, nobody can be made to do anything they wouldn't normally do. You cannot go down to the bank and tell the manager to give you all their money and forget about it. It just doesn't happen. You can't tell a girl to fall in love with you. It doesn't happen. You cannot tell a girl to take her clothes off. That doesn't work either. Millions of men have tried it, and have failed every time.

So yes, you can hypnotise people against their will. But you cannot make them do anything that they wouldn't do when fully awake.


How would you deal with this ? Share your ideas below.

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Hypnosis Brainwashing

Hypnosis Brainwashing the therapists

Hypnosis Beliefs

The other night I was talking to someone with quite a long interest in hypnosis. Something she said reminded me of why the medical profession finds it easy to write us off.

I mentioned that I had a genetic health disorder which caused my body to retain iron. It is treated completely by me donating a unit of blood every three months. The listener looked at me strangely.  When I asked her what she was thinking, she said "Why don't you just use hypnosis to cure it?"

I was quite taken aback at this. I asked her what sort of hypnotherapy she thought might work. She quite confidently told me that all I would have to do was to visualize all the iron collecting together and leaving my body, and I would be cured.

Hypnosis Brainwashing

This level of naivety is quite astonishing. But this is not the first time I have come across it. It appears that some hypnotists have been brainwashed into the belief that hypnosis can fix everything. Apparently, according to some people, hypnosis can cure cancer, grow hair on a bald head, make you taller, increase the size of your bra cup and let you learn a new language while you sleep. The fact that all of these are obvious nonsense does not seem to prevent people from repeating them as self evident truth.

Hypnosis Brainwashing the therapists

Hypnosis is often accused of being a form of brainwashing. The accusation is that hypnotists put innocent people into a hypnotic state and plant anything they want into their mind. I feel the reality is a bit more worrying. When I was first training in hypnosis, I believed what I was told, and the trainer pretty much believed in hypnosis totally. He had an endless fund of stories about how this person or that person had been cured miraculously by hypnosis. None of this was ever backed up by any evidence.

I think that this is repeated in most hypnosis training schools. Students are told that they are about to get the keys to a toolbox that will cure anything. In some cases they are told that traditional medicine has reached its limits and the world is waiting for all these new students to spread out and fix what medicine can't.

No wonder doctors and scientists tend to reject everything to do with hypnosis when ludicrous beliefs like these are put forward in all seriousness.

What do you think?

Which side of the debate are you on? Can hypnosis cure everything? Should we be much more realistic about what we can and cannot do, and leave the physical ailments to the doctors?

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