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Valentine's Day hypnosis script

Valentine’s Day hypnosis

Valentine's Day is coming up soon. I began to think of ways that I could use hypnosis to celebrate Valentines. That got me thinking about what it is that we really do with hypnosis? 

Most hypnotherapy is about getting people to change. Self-help books are all about changing myself. It's all about giving me more confidence, more courage, more self belief. It's all about me, me, me. Essentially hypnotherapy is selfishness. If it involves other people at all, it is about how to stop them affecting you negatively. It's about how to learn to deal with social situations. Or dealing with bullying. There is a saying in therapy, that you cannot change other people, you can only change yourself.

A special Valentine's Day hypnosis script

Well, I thought, why can't I change someone else? Why can't I use hypnosis to make someone else feel good about themselves? Why can't I use hypnosis to deliver a really good news message? Is there any reason why hypnosis can't be directed purely at making someone else feel good. Why can't I use hypnosis to tell her that I don't want her to change. I want her to stay exactly the way she is.

So for this Valentine's Day I am going to write a new kind of hypnosis script. I am going to write a new script that will tell someone else how much they are loved and wanted. I am going to write a script that will burn into their subconscious the  message that she is important, and valuable, and special, and wonderful. And I love her.

I am going to use every hypnotic technique I know to give someone else a fabulous ego boost that will last forever. I guess I am tired of always using hypnosis to deal with illnesses and problems. Doctors complained that the only ever get to meet people who are ill. I feel much the same. It will be really great to completely change my focus, and concentrate on getting across warmth and positivity. Just because I can.

 I'm already thinking up metaphors, visualisations and wordings that will let her know exactly how I feel. I don't think the sort of thing is ever been done before. I am really looking forward to this.

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Hypnosis marketing

Hypnosis marketing – packaging or contents?

I was looking at some really slick hypnosis marketing recently on the Internet. It is a hypnosis based service to stop smoking. It looks very professionally done and is franchised through many local hypnotists. The benefits to the hypnotist are obvious. A small local hypnotist is able to on-sell a professionally made stop smoking service. And presumably they get a commission from hosting the advert or recommending it to their clients.

I have no doubt that it works for some people. I have no doubt that doing it this way is much cheaper than going to a professional hypnotherapist. And it is a good thing that smokers are able to get some cut-price help.

What I do wonder about however, is whether the marketing gets more thought than the therapy. This particular service offers a ten step program. The smoker downloads ten audio hypnosis recordings and listens to them over a period of weeks.

Why a ten step program? Why not six or eleven or some other number? What is so special about ten?

It seems to me highly unlikely that purely by chance stopping smoking requires ten separate stages. Or ten separate things to address. And yet, it is very common for all sorts of therapies to be packaged in this way. I think it is much more likely that the people selling such therapy packages are looking for something catchy to use in their marketing. The number of steps has absolutely nothing to do with what is needed to produce the result.

To me, this suggests that the therapy is being twisted to fit the marketing, and not the other way round. If the therapy actually requires six steps or nine steps or some other number, then the package must contain unnecessary padding. Or the actual requirements are being thinned out and possibly are less effective.

I am always suspicious of any over-neat package of anything to do with human psychology. Human beings just don’t fit into nice square boxes.

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boredom

Boredom and creativity, or not

Recent research has suggested that boredom is something you need to go through before you can be creative. Yet everywhere I look people are doing everything they can to avoid it. Last week I was managing a series of presentations at the University.
The presenters were all new and inexperienced so I wanted to make sure that the audience was paying attention to them. I told everyone to shut their laptops and focus on the presenter. Everyone duly shut their laptops, except for one student who had to be forcibly assisted.
When the presentations got underway, I noticed about 1/3 of the students were actually now using their cell phones under the desk. Other students were showing withdrawal symptoms. It would seem that almost everyone nowadays seeks to be constantly stimulated. They appeared to be almost terrified of having one moment of boredom.

Research into boredom

In one recent study researchers asked their subject to do something either boring or something interesting. Then they asked the subjects to do something creative. One group copied numbers out of the telephone book and the other group watched a television show. Both groups were then asked to think up something creative to do with cups. The boredom group came up with more and better creative things to do with the cups.

In a second test subjects came up with more answers to an associative word test after they'd been forced to watch a boring screensaver for a while.
It has been known for centuries that being bored leads to daydreaming. And daydreaming leads to creativity. So how it works is not a mystery.

The scientist are now asking themselves that if everyone is overstimulated and never gets bored, what will happen to the nation's creativity?

For therapists the question is quite different. Most of our clients keep themselves constantly busy, have the TV on all the time, or listen to headphones in bed in order to avoid what happens to them when they're not stimulated. In that case what they get is fears and anxieties coming out. They don't get creativity, they get frightened.

Perhaps psychologists will begin to look into that?

Continuous improvement in therapy diagram

I was doing some work for an upcoming talk when I came across this diagram. It is used in project quality management. It is a standard flowchart for designing continuous improvement. There are hundreds of examples of things like this. What I found particularly interesting is that if you look at it from the point of view of personal therapy, it is the basis for almost all therapeutic interventions.

 

Continuous improvement in therapy

The diagram starts off by asking "where are we today?" in comparison with where we want to be, or where we think we should be. You are then asked to visualize where you want to be. The next question is "how do we get there?". This gets the client to think about what has to be done to move in the direction of the desired state. The client is then invited to visualize exactly what the desired state will look like, and how they will feel, when it is achieved. This is the basis of most NLP therapy and the modelling of excellence.

The next stage is Gap Analysis. "Where are we now are versus where we want to be?". This determines the size of the problem. It naturally leads to an analysis of what has to be done to close the gap. From that, the gap can be broken down into smaller pieces and each tackled individually. Then the question is "what do we need to tackle first?". The various issues can be prioritised. You then focus your attention on those key features that will have the biggest impact.

Continuous Improvement Action Plan

Once you know what has to be done, in what sequence, you can begin to work on an action plan. For each action plan the client can decide whether they personally have enough resources, or whether they need help from other people. The client then lays out in detail everything that they have to do personally, and everything that they need to ask other people to do.

The action plan gets started, and then the client measures progress is that with the expected progress. If it isn't working, then they go back and change the action plan. The action cycle continues: measure the outcome, the back to the plan, to a new action, measure the outcome and check whether it is achieving the desired outcome. When all the planned actions have been finished, it is time to reassess the situation. At that point the therapist and the client discuss where they are compared with where they want to be. And the whole cycle starts again.

They say that there is nothing new under the sun. The things that we therapist do to try to improve people's lives are in no way unique. And certainly, looking at the therapy process from the perspective of quality management gives an interesting way of reassessing what we do.

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Smoking blindness

Smoking blindness

My local health district has proudly announced a new smoke-free effort to help people to cut down smoking. It is the result of years of planning and the combined efforts of seven area health boards. The initiative is "employing expert staff dedicated to helping people across the regions to become Smokefree".

The new service offers face-to-face coaching and 24-hour phone support. "The quick coaches will support you through a six-week program and provide free nicotine patches, lozenges and/or gum."
The service is embracing all the latest in technology. As well as weekly face-to-face meetings, they are using texting, videoing, Skyping, and emails to keep constantly in touch with the smokers. And it costs nothing. People wanting to quit get any combination of nicotine replacement therapy patches, nicotine gum, and lozenges free and unlimited.
The government has said publicly that it intends to make the whole country smoke-free by 2025. This initiative is part of that policy. And I applaud anything that is being done to help people stop smoking.

Smoking Blindness

However, this looks like another case of smoking blindness. Everything in this new initiative is based on a model of smoking which regards smoking as a purely physical or biomedical affliction. This reflects the widespread view in medicine that smoking is the result of physical addiction. If you believe that smoking is the result of addiction to tobacco then of course the correct response is to help eliminate the addiction. This is done with pharmaceuticals and encouragement. In my view this is just official smoking blindness.

It is surprising to me that this entire multimillion dollar initiative seems to give no weight at all to the psychological side of smoking. Hypnotherapy is very successful at stopping smoking. It does not use pharmaceuticals, and does not offer ongoing multiweek support. This is because you don't need them.

Smoking is at least as much about the psychology of the smoker as it is about the physical side. In fact I believe that smoking is almost entirely a psychological issue. It is rather disheartening to see yet another instance of smoking blindness by the medical profession. I wish the initiative well, but I really think that they are working on a flawed model.

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brain scans

Are brain scans about to revolutionise hypnosis?

Brain scans are establishing if there is a link between suggestibility and the tendency to be easily hypnotised. Everyone is suggestive. If we were not suggestible the entire advertising industry would grind to a halt. The science of advertising has been the subject of intense psychological research almost since the beginning of advertising. Advertisers now know all the tips and techniques for getting and keeping your attention.  The aim is of course, to persuade you to buy their products. But on the way researchers have learned a great deal about suggestion, and flow, and states of mind.

Previous studies have been hampered by a lack of direct hard data. Knowing whether an advert worked or not has mostly been a matter of statistics and inferences. But no scientists can actually watch the brain at work as it is exposed to different stimuli.
Psychology researchers are now expanding their studies beyond advertising exposure and into the area of hypnosis. The driver behind this is quite surprising. Advances in neuroimaging (brain scans) is allowing scientists to look directly into the living brain. This means that scientists can tell which parts of the brain are being activated at any particular moment.
The importance of this is that finally, you can tell whether someone is actually hypnotised, or is faking it. And the result is that there is not absolutely no doubt that hypnosis is a real state that can be seen as a distinct configuration in the brain.

This means that almost everything that is known or believed about hypnosis must be reassessed. All the research published in the 20th century was really based on anecdote and theory and supposition. Live brain scans mean we now have the opportunity to study hypnosis objectively. It is now possible to measure the exact effect of different wordings and different techniques. 

This means that for the first time controlled experiments can be made that will establish exactly what works and what doesn't, and why. This new approach to research may end up revolutionising hypnotherapy. Maybe hypnosis will finally turn into a hard science.

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client refunds

Should you give client refunds?

I got this email about client refunds:

I just want your opinion re this situation that came up today
Group session of 6 for smoking cessation.
45 mins later got a message that it hadn’t worked and it was my fault because I didn’t do stage hypnosis induction etc. she could have done the session herself.
So I replied answering her points. Now she has come back wanting her money back.  Paid 1/2 price as it was a group session and I travelled about an hour to get to the venue.
She was told it was a group session but she complained that there were others there.
Given her strong belief in what she thought I should be doing and saying and clearly not following my suggestions and her complete denial that it worked within 45 mins would you offer a refund? 
Your thoughts please.

 

My attitude to client refunds:

You get customers like this. Everyone does. You cannot avoid them.

You do your best and they throw it back in your face. Unfortunately, that is just the business we are in. We deal with people with mental health problems, and they do not act rationally.

If it was me, I would give her the money back immediately.

Life is too short to let these people upset you. There is nothing you can do. In our business the clients hold all the aces. When it comes to a dispute the client will always win. Even if you succeed in not refunding her payment, she will gleefully spend the next 10 years telling everyone who will listen what a crap hypnotist you are, and how she was right all along and you just could not help her.

You don’t need that kind of publicity. Refund her money and write it off to experience. Send her a nice little note saying you are sorry that it didn’t work out for her and you hope that she will find someone who can help her.

She has probably been to every health professional in the area and dismissed them all as useless. You were just the next in line. It doesn’t mean anything. And she is not worth spending time on.

All you can do is think back to see if you can identify any indicators that you can use to identify this kind of person in the future. And refuse to deal with them.

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Fear of dentists

Fear of dentists

A client phoned me and asked if I was able to help overcome a fear of dentists. This client has totally rotten teeth but just cannot bring himself to go near a dentist. Fear of dentists is basically a simple phobia. Phobias are created when something dramatic happens to you, that makes you experience a deep and sudden fear.

Your unconscious mind creates a powerful association between the event and that fear. And forever thereafter your unconscious mind does everything possible to keep you away from that situation, or anything that is similar to that situation. If it means that your unconscious gives you a terrifying fear of dentists, then that keeps you away from them, and your unconscious mind has done what it should do – it has kept you safe.

I have dealt successfully with many people with the fear of dentists. It is usually not a needle phobia, it is a generalised fear of being near a dentist at all. When I questioned the client about the origin of this fear in every case it can be traced back to a specific time in childhood. For some reason, the client was taken to the dentist and got spooked. The child did not want some stranger poking round his mouth, sticking needles in, giving him pain, whatever. The child just wanted to get out of there and go home with his mother.

The origin of the phobia

What actually happened next was that the child is forcibly restrained, held down and operated on. The result was a child who is frightened of a strange situation, by strange people, and a link to pain and the knowledge that he can't get away. It is the "can't get away" part which is most important. The phobia is a combination of feeling trapped and knowing that you are going to get hurt. Your mind knows that this is going to happen, and so does everything possible to stop you getting into that situation again.

It is no different from a fear of public speaking. Fear of public speaking can usually be traced back to an incident at school. The child was suddenly asked to say something, said what they thought was right, and then got humiliated by the teacher. The humiliation was totally unexpected, and undeserved, and every other member of the class laughed at them. It's the same combination of pain, unexpected, and being unable to get out of the situation.

The way to deal with the fear of dentists is to go back to the source. Using regression, or other techniques, you get the client to experience the fear in your chair. Then you lead the client through the situation again. But this time you allow the client to feel that they are in charge, that they can control it, that they decide what happens.
When you do that you get rid of the unconscious association and allow the client to react naturally and rationally. The phobia is then instantly cured.

Nothing to it really, when you know how to deal with it.

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Prevent heart attacks

Prevent heart attacks with hypnosis

Recent research  suggests that hypnosis has a role to play as a front line treatment to prevent heart attacks. Doctors have known for a long time that stress is associated with increased risk of heart attack. However there was only a correlation, and no direct proof that stress caused heart attacks. It was just as likely that the factors that lead to heart attacks also lead to stress.

Two new studies show that stress actually has a direct effect on the brain. The brain responds as if to a threat. It orders the body to produce new white cells. The increased blood cells then cause inflammation in the walls of the blood vessels. And this leads to narrowing of the arteries and  a higher chance of being blocked by blood clots. Blockages lead to heart attacks, angina and strokes. According to the study, this is the first time that a direct link between stress and cardiovascular disease has been proved.

Using hypnosis to prevent heart attacks

What the study shows is that stress is just as important as diet and smoking. Hypnotherapists have an excellent record on stopping people smoking, and also help people to lose weight. These two outcomes both reduce the risk of heart problems. It seems that we can now play another role in keeping people healthy.

Hypnosis and relaxation therapy are very good ways of reducing stress. It now appears that teaching our clients how to relax, or how to go into self hypnosis, can have direct effects on their cardiovascular health.

This is something that hypnotherapists should develop. Perhaps we should emphasis stress reduction in advertising and when talking to clients. Perhaps one day we will have clients coming to hypnosis as the treatment of choice  to deal with their general feelings of stress.

 

Source:

Tawakol, A., et al.  (2017) Relation between resting amygdalar activity and cardiovascular events: a longitudinal and cohort study. The Lancet

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Initial consultation

Is the initial consultation a scam?

Do you need to spend an hour with your client before you can start doing hypnosis? Or is insisting on an initial consultation a scam?
Many hypnotherapists make an initial consultation part of their business model. Their treatment plan consists of the initial meeting, and then one or more sessions of hypnosis. Clients sometimes refuse to go along with this, and often feel that the initial consultation, is a con, a waste of their time and money.

Those therapists who use an initial paid consultation put forward the arguments:
a) hypnosis is more successful when it is aimed at a precise and specific target. They say that without an extensive consultation you cannot identify exactly what the problem is. Until you know exactly what is wanted and what is causing it, you cannot fix it.
b) the initial meeting build rapport. The better the connection between the client and the therapist, the better the outcome is likely to be.
c) sometimes the client needs to talk to someone, to get their feelings out in the open, to know that somebody cares. Hearing themselves describe their problems sometimes helps them to put their problems into perspective.

I can see that there are merits in these arguments.

Analysing the arguments for an initial consultation

But do you actually need a whole hour to find out what the client's problem is?
If the client wants to stop nail biting, what else is there to know?

It seems to me that a competent therapist should be able to nail down exactly what the issue is within 15 minutes so. That leaves plenty of time to do some actual therapy. And if not, at least learn enough to be able to suggest some different type of therapy based on what was learned.
I suspect that the desire to know about the specific target is actually an outcome of NLP training. NLP practitioners try to know exactly how you do the behaviour, exactly what you feel when you do the behaviour, exactly how you will feel when you have stopped doing the behaviour. Without knowing this you cannot really apply NLP principles and expect to have much success. If your practice is based on NLP, and I think you need to be upfront with the client and explain that this is part of the process. It is a little deceiving to call it a consultation when you are really exploring whether they can identify feelings and not.

The second reason given is about building rapport. This is another principle of NLP. Having rapport is good, but not essential, in my view. If rapport was essential, then recorded CDs would never work. If you never meet the client, the person listening to the CD, then you cannot possibly have rapport. And yet CDs do work.

The third reason, that the client needs to talk to someone is perfectly valid. But if you're actually offering counselling, then you should tell the client that it is a counselling session, and do proper counselling.

My experience with initial consultation

When I first started doing hypnosis professionally, I had just come out of a training school. As part of the training I was taught basically NLP with a bit of hypnosis. The basic instruction was to get a client and then invite them to come to your office to discuss what it is you might do in some future session. I actually started off offering hypnosis sessions for free. And I quickly discovered, even if it was free, clients hated spending the first session without either getting hypnotised, or getting some explicit therapy. I therefore quickly adopted the strategy of finding out what the client wanted, agreeing what we would be able to do, and getting on with it. Over time I was able to work out ways of finding exactly what I needed to do in just a few minutes, or extending the session, at my cost, until I did know exactly what the problem was and felt confident I could fix it.

As far as I'm concerned, I am not prepared to waste the client's time, or more importantly, their money, just to indulge my own need to have a plan. Hypnotherapy involves a great deal of uncertainty. The therapist needs to be prepared to let things develop organically. I often start a client into hypnosis when I really don't have a clear idea of where it's going, and just allow my unconscious mind to interact with their unconscious mind until something new and powerful emerges. This process has never let me down.

If you think that for your own comfort you need an hour from every client, then I suppose if the client is willing to waste an hour and get nothing done, then that's okay. But I really don't think you should be charging for it.

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