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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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client sexual attraction

Client Therapist Sexual Attraction

Client sexual attraction 

Hypnotherapy is a very intimate profession. Two people spend many hours talking about deeply personal things in a secluded, private location. It is inevitable that issues of client sexual attraction will arise. This is especially the case when the hypnotist is in control and is working with the other person's subconscious mind.

Issues of sexual attraction between clients and hypnotists have been around for as long as hypnosis has been around. Before Freud developed psychoanalysis, he was a hypnotist. One day the maid unexpectedly entered his office when he was hypnotizing a young female patient. It was reported that the patient had her breasts exposed. Freud claimed that she had come on to him while in trance. The exact circumstances will never be known, but he never used hypnosis again after that.

Research on client sexual attraction

There have been a few surveys looking at the issue of sexual attraction client interaction. It appears that about 4% of therapists of various sorts have admitted to having sexual contact with current or previous clients. Around a fifth of therapists reported that some of their clients had admitted to a sexual relationship with other therapists. About 40% of therapists said they had heard of other therapists getting into a sexual relationship with one or more clients.

Some research tried to predict the risk factors. Gay therapists were more likely to have sexual contact with their clients. Therapists who themselves had an affair with their supervisor in training were more likely. Therapists who spend the most time in a training or mentoring relationship were also more likely to stray with their own clients. However, the numbers surveyed were small, and you should not give too much reliance to these indicators. 

How to deal with client sexual attraction

Some of the therapists in the survey felt that client sexual attraction was not something to avoid. They took the view that both parties were adults and both parties got something out of it. More than one well-known hypnotherapist has said that it is good for the client. According to him, a sexual relationship was exactly what they needed.

However most therapists said that they avoided client sexual contact for ethical reasons. They believed that the therapist client relationship is always one of power. Therefore it is never acceptable for the therapist to take sexual advantage, no matter how willing the other party might be.

Most therapists also thought that if such a relationship by another therapist was to come to their notice, then they were duty-bound to report it to their professional Association.

The same considerations apply in the supervisor-student relationships.

What do you do about sexually attractive clients?

I personally have had many clients who I would happily have had a relationship with, if I wasn't their therapist. I have actually had two clients who hinted heavily that they were very interested in pursuing something outside the office. However, I believe that such a relationship is always inappropriate. So I just ignore these overtures. 

I have also heard of two local hypnotists who have pursued relationships with current clients. And I have had quite a few clients tell me that they came to me after refusing to go back to a different therapist who they described as "creepy".

What has your experience been?

Have you heard of sexual relationships in your area? What would you do if a client suggested a different type or relationship. 

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online therapist

The Online Therapist in your living room

The Online Therapist

No one knows what hypnotherapy future developments will be. But technology may be coming to a home very near you. Will we all soon have an online therapist?

Amazon, Google, Apple and other companies are offering voice activated connections to the Internet. These devices are on all the time. They listen out for commands. Once they get a command they can turn on the TV, close the curtains, start the dishwasher running, place a Skype call to your mom.

The technology depends upon artificial intelligence to work out, not just the words you said, but the meaning behind them. This might mean that you will never be able to talk to yourself aloud again.

How long will it be before you find yourself standing in the middle of the room saying aloud "what was that I came in here for?", and Alexa gives you a meaningful answer?

What are the odds that one day soon you will be sitting on yourself asking aloud "why can't I find someone to love?", and the automated therapist begins to answer you?

The online therapist – threat or opportunity?

Some people will see this as the most helpful advance in mental health for centuries. Some people will see it as the final arrival of Big Brother. And some people will see it as a splendid opportunity for their business.

These personal assistant devices are already in homes. They work fairly reliably. They connect to the deep Internet. You can ask for news, weather, TV schedules, reviews, tickets, whatever you want. You can also ask for help with your feelings. Because these devices connect you directly to the Internet they can connect you to pre-recorded hypnotherapy resources. These can be sound or video. They can also be questionnaires, flowcharts, checklists – almost anything.

It seems to me that there is a great market for good quality hypnotherapy libraries. These would be accessed online via the listening device. The listening device would actually use its artificial intelligence to choose what the appropriate therapy resource would be. The online therapist would be available 24 hours a day, in total confidence, at very low cost.

Perhaps in the distant future you can replace a flesh and blood therapist with the online artificial intelligence therapist. But in the meantime pre-recorded flexible material is perhaps something you should be thinking about.


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hypnosis client contracts

Hypnosis Client Contracts

Hypnosis Client Contracts

A therapist wrote to me:

I am looking for a 'model' or 'template' of a contract between therapist and client and can't seem to find one anywhere on the internet.
Have you any ideas where I might find this?

My reply was:

I don't use a contract. Never have, never will.

Hypnosis is about relationships

Hypnosis is intensely personal. A therapist who thinks he needs to be ready to sue his clients at any moment has something seriously wrong with his attitude. If you need a contract, the relationship has already failed, and it is always your fault.

In the therapy business the client holds all the aces. The client can lie to you, not turn up, not do what you ask - and there is nothing you can do about it. There is no practical way you can pursue a defaulter through the courts that won't cost you more in time than you get. It just leaves you looking desperate and unprofessional.
All the client has to do is to say that you were in some way deficient and you have no defence.

If the first thing a therapist does is to get the client to fill in a questionnaire and sign a legal disclaimer, full of penalties for non-payment, how likely is it that the relationship gets off to a warm friendly start?
A successful therapy business is based on trust, professionalism and referrals. All a contract does is specify in advance all the things that can go wrong. It tends to focus everyone's attention on the the wrong thing. 

Bad therapists try to tie clients into agreeing to some number of sessions and then sue them when they don't turn up. That never works.

What is the basis for Hypnosis Client Contracts?

I have no idea how many sessions will be needed or long it will take. You should plan on the basis that you will never see the client again. Aim to do everything you need to do in the first session. It is almost certainly going to be your only session. If it works they don't need to see you again, if it doesn't they don't want to see you again.

If all you do is write down stuff in the first session, they feel cheated. Do not take elaborate histories, that is just a waste of time. If you really listen to the client, listen to their body language, what their clothes are saying, listen to their attitude, their choice of words, you will get most of what you need to know in the first ninety seconds.
Then you keep asking questions until you define precisely what their problem is and how you are going to tackle it. Then you do the therapy.
My sessions take as long as they take, up to two hours.

What to focus on 

I keep comprehensive records of my sessions, but they are all about me. They are about what I thought and what I did and how it worked. More importantly, I note what might work better next time, and what I learned from this client. The only thing I have from the client is their name and email.

My advice is: forget about contracts, focus on building relationships.

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hypnotists today

Are hypnotists today better or worse?

Are hypnotists today better or worse?

I was talking with some students the other day. One of them asked why we don't have such giants of hypnosis these days such as Dave Elman and Milton Erickson. They were quite taken aback when I said that the hypnotists of today are actually better than Elman and Erickson. They were even more shocked when I said that neither of them were in fact the great figures they are reputed to be.

They are both long dead so they cannot defend themselves, but the evidence is fairly clear that Elman was a stage hypnotist and did almost no therapy and that Erickson's legendary skills, are just that, a legend. There are people alive today who knew both of them, and they certainly were not regarded as infallible therapists when they were alive.

What made them major figures was the books they wrote. These gave a basis for studying their techniques and tended to sideline all the other hypnotherapists working at the time who didn't write books. I am not denying both were good hypnotists, but the scale of adulation, almost awe, has gone too far. Read some hypnosis blogs and discussion lists and you might be forgiven for thinking both were the descendants of gods.

Hypnosis Hype

The reason for this adulation is not hard to find. If you are offering a training course, do you want to tell prospective students that you will be teaching them standard hypnosis techniques, or do you want to tell them that they will be learning the secrets of the most powerful hypnotist who ever lived?

Naturally you are going to puff up the so called Master Hypnotist, and the more you boost their magical powers the more your students will like it. And since your students won't know any different, they too will go out to the marketplace and tell everyone that they have been trained in the ways of the greatest hypnotic genius ever. And so it goes on. Each new class of hypnotic learners exaggerates even more, until the whole thing takes on a life of its own and the claims reach the level of absurdity.

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past life experience

Past Life Experience

Past Life Experience

People come for past life regression for many reasons. My client yesterday was driven by curiosity. He was over 70 years old and had always wanted to find out if he had a past life.

He went into trance quite easily. I got him to imagine that he was lying in a luxurious chair. I deepened him twice until he has lost contact with his body. When he was well into trance I suggested that he felt like floating. Then I put him into a boat drifting down the river. As he was floating down the river I told him that he was pass parts of his life.
I told him that he would see a scene from his life in childhood that had some special significance for him. It may or may not be something he remembered, but he would see and hear everything that was going on.

Setting up for past life regression

He described a scene that was outdoors with lots of people having fun on a sunny day. He was watching it from a distance and wanted to be a part of it. This established that he was able and willing to go back into his own memories.
I suggested that the boat was going further down the river. The river narrowed and turned into a tunnel. The boat was going down the tunnel,  dark and calm. I then suggested that he saw a light, or a vibration, or something else which was a guide to him. The guide took him to a place outside the tunnel for his first past life regression experience.

First Past Life Experience

He said he was in some place. I prompted him and he said it was indoors. There were chains. He was cold, there were other people there but he could not see them. He was dressed very poorly. It was very dim and the light might be coming from flames. I asked him why he was there and he said he was there for punishment. He said he was aged about 20 but did not know what the date was, or what year it was. I asked him how he felt and he said he felt depressed.  I asked him why he was shown that scene, what lesson it might have for him. He said that maybe it's because I can move and I'm not actually chained.

Second past life experience

I then told him to take a deep breath and come out of that place. I suggested that the boat was going deeper into the tunnel. The walls were coming in and the water was going faster and there were waves and there was a noise up ahead. Once again, I suggested a guide appeared who took him out of there. Then I suggested he was going to come to some high place. He told me that in that place there was sunshine,  the sky was blue, there was a green valley below. I asked him what was going on there. He said he was just there for the view.

I asked him what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to fly. I asked him what he called the place. He said it had no name. I asked him who he was. He said that he was a child. I asked them if it was a boy or a girl. He never answered. I asked him how he was dressed. He said he had bare feet. He then volunteered that there was bare rock all around. Then he repeated that he really wanted to fly from there.
I got him to take a deep breath to finish off that particular life.

Third past life experience

For his third life, I told him that he was in the boat and the tunnel was getting narrower and narrower and the boat was shrinking and he was shrinking until he had shrunk down to a point. I told him that this point was floating in space in the place between lives. I asked him what he could see, what he was experiencing. He said he was in a void. I pressed for more details but he only could say that there were planets there. He was floating around among the stars. I tried to find out who he was and what he was doing, but the only thing he told me was that he was young.

What past life regression is about

We talked about his experiences. I discussed with him my theory that all past life regression experiences are actually metaphors of the person's current life. We talked about his feeling of wanting to join in with other people playing, and he said that was exactly how he felt growing up. He was always on the edge of things, he never felt that he belonged with other kids. About the PLR experience with the chains, thinking about it, "it is really how I feel about my life".

He had a successful business but he really wanted to not be chained to it and retire. I asked him about the flying PLR experience. "I have had that dream before. It probably represents wanting to get away from everything."

I think this exercise sums up perfectly how the events and memories that come out and past life regression are actually metaphors for what the person is experiencing right now and their own life. It may be that they're just not willing to face them, so their mind allows them to address them indirectly.

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motivational speaking

Hypnosis better than Motivational Speaking?

I was asked "what can hypnosis do that motivational speaking will not give me?" My reply was that hypnosis will give you lasting and permanent results, whereas motivational speaking generally fades after a few weeks. Actually, if motivational talks worked, you would only have to go to one, and you would be set for life. And as has often been observed, if the speaker was so successful, why are they still trying to get money from the listeners?

Why do motivational seminars not last?

The structure of a motivational speaking event

To answer that question you have to look at the structure of a motivational speaking event. They all follow a fairly standard format.

  1. The speaker is introduced as someone wealthy, successful, happy, fulfilled.

The objective of this is to make the listener believe that they too can become wealthy, successful, happy, et cetera.

  1. The speaker then asks if the listeners also want to be wealthy, successful, happy, et cetera.

The listeners are encouraged to shout out and affirm that yes they too want to be wealthy and successful. This sets up a positive mindset in the listener. It also generates a group effect.

  1. Then the speaker tells some story about how they hit rock bottom financially and psychologically.

The purpose of this is to connect with the audience. To let them know that the speaker has actually been worse than they are.

  1. The speaker then explains how they accidentally found the answer to everything.

This makes the listeners think that they too could get out of their present situation. If they knew the answer, they too can be wealthy, successful, happy and so on. Which then raises the expectation in the listeners that they want to know what the answer is. Right now.

  1. The speaker then says the answer is some form of mental attitude. And then illustrates the point over and over with any number of videos, stories, and guest presenters.
  2. That is usually followed by some suggestion of 'secret' metaphysical powers that you can get by using the "secret answer".

Why motivational speaking fails

The object of this is to put the onus for success on the listener. It works only if the listener believes it. Any failure is therefore because the listener does not believe enough. It also makes the proposition untestable, and therefore not subject to the normal standards of proof.

  1. Various methods are promoted for achieving wealth, success, happiness, but they all involve goal setting.

The listeners are encouraged to set out their goals in detail.

  1. The combination of a clear goal plus the "secret answer" is promised to give success without effort. The message is "Just focus on your goal, and it will happen".
  2. The listeners leave highly motivated and ready to change their lives.
  3. The motivation fades over the next few days and weeks.

The listener is then ready to sign up for the next motivational speaking guru who comes along with a different "secret answer".

This formula is tried and tested, and virtually guaranteed to fail. Motivational speaking fails because although having a clear goal is good, it is not enough. Nothing happens without effort. If you don't change, your life won't change.

Why hypnosis works better

The reason that hypnosis sessions usually have a better outcome is because a personalised hypnotherapy session doesn't just motivate you. It also identifies the factors stopping you from having success. And a good hypnotist will build in suggestions for how to identify the things holding you back. And once identified, the hypnotist will enable your unconscious mind to find ways to overcome those things. That procedure has a much higher chance of success. That is why hypnosis is superior to motivational speaking.

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Feedback is wonderful

Feedback is wonderful

Feedback is wonderful. Sometimes I get the nicest emails:

Hi David,

I cannot continue studying your site, your words, your scripts, your material without expressing my profound gratitude to you for your generosity in sharing your wisdom. I am a new consulting hypnotist, certified with the National Guild of Hypnotists in the State of New Hampshire, USA.

Last night I gave a seminar at the local library and when an audience member asked me to help him overcome a lifetime habit of nail biting - I was aware that I needed ideas.

Your site and you are wonderful. I have created a shortcut to your material from my desktop and will be forever grateful to you for taking the time to help others in this wonderful field. If I make it to NZ I'm taking you out to dinner. if you make it to NH let me know - I owe you so much. As soon as I pay the rent and get a few bills paid I plan on ordering your books. Once again thank you from a grateful novice to a master Hypnotherapist. Have a wonderful day knowing that you have made a difference half a planet over.


Thoughts on feedback

Feedback is wonderful. It is a lonely business publishing a web site. You seldom know how your efforts are being received, so it is great to get feedback. I mostly write this blog to clarify my own thoughts. I was a university professor for much of my life. It is a strange fact that the best way to learn something is to teach it. The other strange fact of a life in university is that the best to find out what your think and what you think you know is to write about it. Errors in logic, faulty thinking and gaps appear all too obviously. 

So I write to find out what I think. Like all bloggers, I hope that this interests others. But you don't often get to know what other people think of it, so this email was a lovely surprise. 

Thank you Barbara.

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unqualified trained hypnotherapists

Unqualified Trained Hypnotherapists

Are there too many unqualified trained hypnotherapists? Students rely on hypnosis schools to teach them what they need. But are they missing out something important?

I was looking over the exam for my local hypnotherapy association and I decided I didn't like some of the questions. That got me thinking about what exactly should be in a professional hypnosis exam.

Basic Competence is OK

Obviously the person has to be able to put someone into trance. But should the candidate be able to demonstrate some minimum number of different inductions? It is hard to say exactly.

They also need to be able to demonstrate competence in dealing with the normal range of problems they are likely to be presented with - Smoking, Weight Loss, Phobias, Confidence etc.

It seems to me that Hypnosis schools do a reasonable job of teaching these things. But they actually do a poor job of teaching what not to do. I know of no hypnosis training school that teaches their students how to recognize the most common mental illnesses. I have seen any number of weekend certificate holders on discussion boards asking for advice. For example,  on how to deal with 'a client who has trouble staying in the present, who cannot concentrate and keeps going over and over the same thoughts'.  Or 'my client comes to see me wearing two sets of clothes'.  Another said  'my friend is always late for everything and needs two alarm clocks to waken up'. Anyone with a minimum of knowledge would recognize these as symptoms of common mental illnesses.

Avoiding knowledge

This lack of knowledge seems to be particularly prevalent in the USA. The trade protection legislation in the US has got hypnotherapists terrified of doing anything that could be interpreted as 'practicing medicine without a licence', even expressing an opinion. And yet refusing to recognize clear symptoms is just as bad. Using parts therapy or NLP on a client who has depression is pointless. It will be ineffective and therefore, in my view, unethical.

Recognize your limitations

Hypnotherapists do have to recognize their limitations. They are ethically bound to refer clients with organic issues to qualified medical personnel. But if they have never been taught the symptoms of say schizophrenia, paranoia or bipolar depression then they won't know it when they see it.  Therefore they won't know what their own limitations are.

There is nothing wrong with saying to a client 'you appear to have many of the symptoms of severe depression, and I think you should see your physician immediately'. Recognizing a common condition is not the same as doing diagnosis. Proper training is in the best interests of the client, and society in general.

In my view trainers need to make a point of teaching trainees when not to do hypnotherapy.

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hypnosis 100% success

Hypnosis 100% success

Who get hypnosis 100% success?

It was originally believed that anyone could be hypnotized, and then that only a few could be, and later most could be, and to today we are back to thinking that everyone can be. But how realistic is that? Who gets hypnosis 100% success rate?

The first issue has be - what do we mean by 'everybody'?

The original Stanford Hypnotizability Scales were mostly used on students. They sat student volunteers in a chair and played the same taped induction to all of them. Some were hypnotized, some fell asleep, some thought about their lunch... and from this it was concluded that only a third of people can be hypnotized. Not very good science in my view.

As far as hypnotherapists are concerned, it really doesn't matter whether the general public can be hypnotized or not. What is important is whether the people who come to our offices are getting hypnotized. The people who come into my office have self selected. They expect to get hypnotized, they are happy to be hypnotized, they have come precisely for that reason.

Can your clients be hypnotized?

The question then is 'Can the people who expect and want to be hypnotized, be hypnotized'? The Stanford type experiments insisted that every person be treated exactly the same, which is why the inductions were done in the same chair, in the same room, with the same taped message. In our offices we have no such restriction, so we should get 100% success.

And in fact I find that I do get almost 100% success. I certainly don't expect any client not to go into trance, and I test each one to be sure that they are actually in trance. It might take me several goes at it, and I might have to try several different styles of induction before I get a result, but hypnosis what they want, and hypnosis is what I try to give them.

Clients who can't be hypnotized

However there are a few clients who I just cannot get into trance. I am talking here about maybe two or three a year. With some of these I have tried for up to three hours, and still never got them into trance. The common factor seems to be a terrible deep seated anxiety. Some of them have depression, but most are just hyper anxious. They tell me that they can feel themselves going into trance, but then panic and snap back out of it again. Even with instant inductions such people go into trance for a fraction of time and then snap back into control.

At the moment, my strategy is to give such clients three CDs to listen to in their own time. By playing them over and over, at some point they drop their guard and the next thing they remember is my voice counting them out, and they realise that they actually were in trance. After that they can go into trance as easily as anyone else. But I would like to find a better way of getting to them, so that I can have that elusive 100% success.

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