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improve hypnotherapy

Simplest way to improve Hypnotherapy?

A simple way to Improve Hypnotherapy?

What is the easiest way to improve your hypnotherapy results? I asked this in a discussion recently.  The group agreed the simplest way to improve hypnotherapy was avoid talking too much.

We all do it. We are supposed to find out what the client really needs so we can plan the session. But the therapist's enthusiasm often results in talking instead of listening.

True, hypnosis is one of the talking therapies.  You are supposed to talk. But talking therapies are based on getting the client to talk, not the therapist. Counselling is about making the client feel heard and understood. Psychoanalysis is about allowing the client to talk about their thoughts by free associating. Clean language is about removing the therapist from the conversation as far as possible. Therapists desperately want to help. But they are human too. Therapists get nervous and flustered. So the tendency is to jabber on. It is very tempting to talk about what you think instead of listening to what your client thinks.

Silence improves hypnotherapy

Asking the right question is a key skill. Listening to the answer is a more important skill. Sometimes saying too much is the wrong thing. Silences can tell you a lot. But too often the therapist jumps in because they don't like the silence, and feel that have to be doing something. Although some therapists feel uncomfortable with silence, silence is a very effective technique to allow the client to collect their thoughts. And if it goes on too long, the right thing to do is to ask 'and what are you experiencing now?' and let the client tell you what is going in their mind.

Rule 1. Don't be the next person to speak after you ask a question. When you ask a question, and the client does not answer immediately, the silence can be deafening. Many therapists feel uncomfortable with prolonged silences. They panic, thinking that the question was badly worded, or the client has and understood it. So they say "What I mean is…" and either answer the question themselves or dilute the power of the original question.

Rule 2. After a brief reply to an open-ended question, wait a few seconds before saying anything. Very often, this will prompt your client to expand on the question, to tell you things that were being held back, to open up about their worries and reservations. Clients are also uncomfortable with silences. They will usually blurt out something that they were keeping back just to fill the silence. This technique can be very useful, but don't turn it into an interrogation method.

Rule 3. Allow some silence after you have delivered  bad news. When the therapist has to deliver some bad news, sometimes it is the therapist who feels nervous, and talks too much. If you have to tell a client for example, "you have depression", it is better to say nothing more and give the client time to process this information.

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multiple personality disorder

Multiple Personality Disorder

The origin of multiple personality disorder

This week I have been reading an extraordinary book about another extraordinary book - "Sybil". Sybil was about a young woman who had been so horribly abused in childhood that she escaped into fantasy. She created sixteen different personalities, most of whom knew nothing of the other personalities. Sybil could do things in one personality and be completely unaware of having done it when she was being dominated by another personality. This was the origin of  Multiple Personality Disorder.

Sybil sold six million copies, and was turned into a successful film. On the way it created the entire industry of finding and wrestling with multiple personalities. Therapists all over the world discovered that their clients too had multiple personalities, and some made stellar careers from studying multiple personalities. Multiple personality became firmly fixed in the public mind. Dissociative Identity disorder became a standard psychiatric term.

It turns out that Sybil was a complete fabrication designed simply to make money from a gullible public. The book was written by an unscrupulous therapist and  a sensationalist journalist. It set out to shock and titillate in order to sell the maximum number of books.

Repressed memories don't exist either

Multiple Personality Disorder has been totally discredited. But the history of psychotherapy is filled with disorders that don't exist, and that say more about the therapist than about their clients. Everyone accepts the reality of repressed memories. Except that there is no evidence for anyone anywhere ever having repressed anything. I have had people challenge me on that statement, but none have ever been able to point to any concrete evidence of repressed memories, other than stories.

The same thing happened with the whole recovered memories of sexual abuse in the 1980's. Thousands of therapists discovered that their clients had been horrifically sexually abused in childhood and had forgotten all about it for fifteen or twenty years. Except that it never happened. Hundreds of innocent men went to jail for imaginary offences.

The same sort of thing surfaced briefly about demonic possession, until rational people demanded that the sanity of the therapists be measured. Then the whole thing gradually went away. Until a few years ago, homosexuality was listed as a psychiatric disorder.

And there is the Alien Abduction thing. How anyone can take these stories seriously is beyond my comprehension.

 But then, given that millions people contact fortune tellers, believe in spirit guides and go to shows where mediums contact the dead for them, perhaps these things will always be with us. 

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palliative past life regression

Palliative past life regression and terminal care

I recently had a client who booked me for a past life regression session. I am always happy to do these because I am fascinated by what the mind brings up. A lot of my clients are totally convinced that they lived one or more past lives. Strangely enough, it is in the middle of run of PLR requests.  I find that I tend to get a bunch of PLR clients close together. Then it may be a few months with none, followed by another bunch. I have done many past lives but it never occurred to me that it could be used for palliative past life regression.

This client asked me to listen to an online radio broadcast that he thought I should hear in order to be able to do the type of Past life regression he wanted. The broadcast covered all the normal stuff. It all seemed fairly run-of-the-mill and not particularly noteworthy. However, the speaker is an MD, a qualified surgeon specialising in cancer. He said that he has had great success working with patients who are terminally ill. He works with those patients, hypnotises them, and takes them back to one or more past lives.

Palliative past life regression

This has had an amazing effect on a lot of  patients who have only a few weeks or months to live. It puts their own imminent death into context. Knowing that they have had a past life allows them to reframe their impending death as simply a one step in an endless cycle. They cease to fear death and just accept it as an inevitable part of a much larger process.

I think this is a wonderful use of hypnosis. Whether you believe in past lives or not, giving comfort to the dying in a very direct and vivid way has to be worthwhile.

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strategically significant customers

Strategically significant customers

Clients who change your business

There are many ways of marketing hypnosis services. However marketing theory has identified what are known as Strategically Significant customers. All marketing should be focused on strategically significant customers first. To count as strategic a client needs to satisfy one or more of three requirements:

  1. Customers with high life-time values (i.e. customers who will use the service many times in the long term). For a hypnotherapy practice this type of customer is actually quite rare. If you do your job properly they should not be coming back repeatedly!
  2. Customers who serve as benchmarks for other customers. These are very valuable to the working hypnotherapist since these are the customers who tell their friends, and their friends' friends, and are willing to give testimonials and be references for wavering customers.
  3.  Customers who inspire change in the supplier.

These are actually the most valuable type of customer. These are clients who are willing to let you follow up. They will often tell you what they think worked well, and what did not work so well. The best type of customer is someone who is demanding and unreasonable and wants more than you are prepared to give.

That kind of customer is what forces you to improve your service, to learn more, to make changes in your product, and generally keeps you from getting complacent. Complacent providers get replaced by proactive providers.

You should follow up after every session, and keep records how your client decided to use you, and not some other service.

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experts never fail

Seems experts never fail?

It seems that experts never fail. Over the summer holidays I have had the time to look at some hypnosis videos, mostly on Youtube. (I fear I am getting addicted to Youtube. Is there a name for that?) I didn't have any particular plan, just following links from one site to another and watching whatever was recommended as the next video.

More fame less evidence

What struck me after several hours of video watching was that the more famous the hypnotist the less likely they were to actually test their client for hypnosis. It seemed to me that the one thing they all had in common was total self admiration. Every one of them was so ready to believe in their own techniques that it never occurred to them that it might not actually have worked.

There was pushing and swaying and fast talking and slow talking, but every one of them told the client to close their eyes. And as long as the client's eyes were closed they kept on at whatever they wanted to do. It seemed that having your eyes closed is taken as positive proof that trance has been induced and that the client is taking it all in.

So where's the proof?

It was made even more obvious to me to see that many of the subjects were clearly not in trance, but neither the subject nor the audience felt brave enough to challenge the instructor. These instructors charge a lot of money for these training sessions, yet if it wasn't for the credulous participants who don't know any better, most of them would be out of a job.

Next time you have a travelling showman come round your way, challenge him to demonstrate the signs of hypnotic response to prove the client is in trance. Would make for a much more interesting demo than most of the ones I have been watching.

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hypnosis videos

How true are hypnosis videos?

How true are hypnosis videos?

During this break I have had time to explore some of the hypnosis videos that I would not normally get round to viewing. You always learn more that just the surface story, don't you? Most of the videos were of teaching seminars located in various hotel rooms, but some were introduced as being in the hypnotist's home, often with family members and pets in the frame.

What I thought was really interesting was the contrast between what was being said, and the results, as evidenced by the quality of the homes on show. In every case the 'world famous' hypnotist was telling the viewer how to become a top hypnotist. In many cases how to become successful in life. But the background showed clearly that the hypnotist in the video was not successful. He was in fact living in a rather ordinary home with none of the symbols of success expected of a 'world famous' seminar leader.

Show me the money

You have to wonder exactly how effective the product they are selling is. As usual, there was no proof of any kind offered, other than unsubstantiated stories about someone somewhere who made miraculous recoveries or became global business leaders. And thinking about it, if these trainers and gurus were actually any good, why would they not have made all the money they possibly need and retired? Why do they have to keep pumping out videos?

I remember speaking to Andrew Newton, a UK stage hypnotist who travels the world about whether you can make a living in hypnosis. He said, and he has been in the business for thirty years, that the only people who made any money out of hypnosis in the UK was himself and Paul McKenna. I think the same sort of truth applies in other countries. Ninety eight percent of stage hypnotists spend their time night after night doing a two hour show at a school hall or the back room of some bar in a minor town to an audience of between twenty and a hundred before spending the day travelling on to the next town and doing it all again. I don't envy them their lifestyle.

Maybe we should ask every hypno guru to show us the money before giving them any of ours?

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Hypnosis Sexual Health Scripts

Hypnotherapy suggested research topics

Hypnotherapy suggested research topics could include a wide range of possible targets. The hypnotherapy business is a strange one. It has almost no barriers to entry. You can go on a weekend certification course and happily set yourself up as hypnotherapist on Monday. You can then set up your website. Nobody will be able to tell that you have no experience. Does it make a difference?

Does your advertising determine your success?

You can decide your style is New Age, or Spiritual, or Clinical or DNA-reprogramming, or anything else. On social media you can tell everyone that you are the most successful hypnotist of all time. To an extent, this might not be a bad thing. Belief in the process is a major part of success in hypnotherapy. So building yourself up in the client's mind may be exactly what is wanted. Does your advertising attract a particular type of client? Or are clients only interested in hypnotherapy, and really don't care what type of therapist they will see?

Does what the therapist looks like make a difference?

However, at some point, reality has to meet the hype. I know of several hypnotists who offer weight loss treatments while being themselves grossly overweight.  And hypnotists who smoke but offer stop smoking therapy. You have to wonder what effect this obvious contradiction between "what I say and what I do" has on the client. It would be interesting to see some research on how clients react to actually meeting the therapist. Does the difference between what is advertised and what you get make a difference?

Do client expectations make a difference?

Another interesting research topic to investigate: exactly what is it that clients expect when they go to a hypnotherapist? If a client strongly expects some particular approach, and doesn't get it, what effect does that have on the success rate? Should the therapist have a standard approach to everyone? Or should the therapist attempt to match the client's expectations, no matter how strange they are?

Does the venue make a difference?

We have to meet the client somewhere (Skype excluded of course). I have a professional office but I used to work from home. Many hypnotherapists work in temporary set ups.

I wonder what difference the venue makes to the overall success rate? Do clients respond better if they are hypnotized somewhere that looks like a doctor's office? Or do they do better in a relaxed family surrounding? It's actually quite important. I might be spending all this money on rent for no good reason. People working from home might be scaring off potential referrals.

There would seem to be a lot of scope for research here.

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stage hypnosis show

Is a stage hypnosis show good for hypnosis?

This weekend I went to see a stage hypnosis show. I always enjoy these. They take me out of my comfort zone. It forces me to think about how I hypnotize people, and what I could be doing differently.

The show got off to a bad start because it started twenty minutes late but by the end everyone had a good time.

Chooseing volunteers for the stage hypnosis show

He started the audience participation with an NLP type point-and-turn- and-then-see-if -you-can-turn-further-by-imagining-you-can demo. Then a hand clasp suggestion test. Oddly enough he did not select the most hypnotizable from among these - he sat everyone down and asked for volunteers. And there were plenty. The seats on stage filled up very quickly. He then did a progressive relaxation on the volunteers. I tried to go along with the induction to see if I would go into trance but I found the music he used too loud and distracting.

But it clearly worked on the volunteers. Many were obviously zonked, but a few I had my doubts about. What was interesting to me is that like all the stage hypnotists I have seen, he did not do any testing or confirmation.

He ran a very loud show and the stunts were very vigorous. So vigorous that I observed that many of the volunteers shook themselves right out of trace. He kept them working away at various things although it was obvious to me that some were clearly not in trance. And yet, when they sat down and he counted 3-2-1 and told them they were back in trace, they all seemed to be so. So, do I need to do just that with my clients? I am still puzzling about how some of the volunteers were doing really out there stuff but still unquestionably in trance.

What you can learn from a stage hypnosis show

Maybe I should have a go at running a show of my own sometime. It certainly doesn't look particularly difficult. I know one well known stage hypnotist who started off in a band, but wasn't too good at it so changed from playing guitar to booking other acts and made a living at that. Later he branched out to booking other types of act, including hypnosis shows. He used to watch the hypnotist he booked because he enjoyed it. And then, one night the hypnotist did not show up. Instead of cancelling the show, my friend took to the stage himself and did what he remembered of the routines. He had never hypnotized anybody up to then, and now he was hypnotizing a whole room! He never looked back and built a new career for himself.

A lot people think that stage hypnosis is bad for the hypnotherapy industry and put the wrong idea into people's heads. I disagree. When it done well it lets the public see a real hypnotist and experience hypnosis for themselves. I think it mostly gives a positive image of hypnosis.

Overall it was a fun night and very professionally done. My wife loves these things. And, to top it off, we won first prize in the raffle! Over $400 worth of services from local businesses. I love hypnosis!

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Technology assisted hypnosis

Technology assisted Hypnosis

Hypnosis in the digital age

As of next month, I will be hosting a monthly online meeting of all hypnotherapist members in the New Zealand Association of professional hypnotherapists. We will be discussing cases, problems, and upcoming events. The online meeting can also be used for one-to-one or group sessions as professional supervision.

I will be using a software called Zoom. This is completely free and allows me to run a meeting with any number of people. The software works on all types of computers and even on cell phones and telephones. It is a great example of what technology can do. It also got me thinking about how else I can use technology in my hypnosis practice.

Standard technology assisted hypnosis

Most therapists will be familiar with Skype. I have used Skype for many years and I have hypnotised a client in the Middle East over the Internet. I treated him for sexual problems. Online was the only way to do it, because there is absolutely no such service in the Middle East.

However, there are many other technologies that I could be using. Compared with other types of businesses, hypnotherapy uses very little in the way of digital technology. Of course, everyone uses computers, and the Internet, and email. I have an online booking system which interfaces to my email system. This makes booking and reminders very easy. I also use a service to handle orders and downloads of the scripts I sell.

But in my office, dealing directly with clients face-to-face, there really is very little difference between me and what was happening in a hypnotherapist's office 100 years ago. In fact, a hypnotist from that time would most likely have more technology than I use. A client at that time would expect to see a rotating spiral machine, a lantern with multicoloured lights, and an assortment of pendulums.

Useful and not so useful technology

There are some biofeedback machines that are used in hypnosis. There are facemasks that emit pinpoints of different coloured light that our said to induce hypnosis. Some hypnotherapists use brain wave scanners to monitor what is going on in the client's brain. Personally, I'm not convinced that these are particularly useful. However, the people who use them seem to like them.

One thing my Victorian counterpart would not have had is digital music. Many therapists play background music in their office. I suppose that counts as technology.

The most useful new technology may well be a computer tablet, like the iPad. Tablets can display, record, and communicate.
The tablets can be used to show video clips to the client if you need to make a point or allay any fears pre-talk.

Display The tablet screens are big enough to be able to read without effort. The tablet is light enough to hold while you are doing a hypnosis session. This means that you can call up any script on the screen. You can have hundreds of scripts and metaphors at your finger tips in full color. And you don't have the problem of the noise of rustling paper, or the danger of actually dropping all the sheets.

Recording You can also use the tablet to record the whole session in audio so that you can go over the details again later. Many hypnotherapists give the client a copy to take away and listen to again.

Communicate You can also make appointments right there and then, using the calendar function; make reminders to yourself during the session; and connect to payments systems.

The latest technology assisted hypnosis

I have been experimenting with the newest technology: Voice Recognition. I recalled the whole session on the Recorder function on my cell phone. (I used to use a specialist dictation machine, but that is no longer necessary). Then, when I start the actual hypnosis part of the session, I put on my headset. This has a built-in microphone and earphones. It is a noise reducing, wireless gaming headset.

It interfaces directly to Word on my computer. And as I speak the NaturallySpeaking software converts my speech into typed words. The recognition and accuracy is better than 98%. I have had to learn to speak more clearly, and to speak a bit more loudly, but having done that it is just like typing my sessions straight into the computer. I still have to edit it and tidy it up, but that is a very minor thing compared with the problems I used to have in transcribing my sessions.

I believe that we are just at the beginning of voice recognition software development. I think that as time goes on the software will get better and more powerful. I also firmly believe that this technology is a game changer. It will not be too long before everyone can speak into their cell phone and have there words transcribed into text. And then, have that text transcribed into any language they want to.
The next step then is to have the computer turn the text back into speech. In any language you want.

The possibilities are fascinating.

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Archimedes spiral induction

Archimedes spiral induction

Hypnosis is associated in the public's mind with two things: a swinging watch, and a rotating spiral. The hypnotic spiral is actually called an Archimedes spiral. Whether it actually has any connection to Archimedes is unknown. 

It is also known as Plateau's spiral, after the Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau (1801–1883.) Plateau published a description of its use in 1878. The spiral is generally mounted on a card about 15 cm in diameter, with a little motor behind it that causes it to rotate slowly. The original spiral, in the mid-19th century, was driven by a sort of windmill affair, by the hot air given off by a spirit lamp.

Archimedes spiral induction

The Archimedes spiral induction is quite  effective. It is caused by a physical effect called a "spiral motion after-effect". After staring at the spiral for a while, if you look at something stationary, it appears that the stationary object is actually turning. If you look at the hypnotist's face, it appears to expand or contract, depending on the direction the spiral was turning.

The Archimedes spiral induction uses this optical illusion to put people into trance. The hypnotist tells the person that what they are seeing is their mind taking them into trance. The hypnotist suggests that every time the face expands and contracts the person will go deeper into trance. The effect is quite strong, so the suggestions are easily believed. The listener cannot deny what they are seeing. Therefore the suggestion that "this means that you are going into trance" is accepted by the unconscious mind. Most people will sink into trance immediately.

The Archimedes spiral was an immensely popular scientific toy in the mid-19th century. This is probably why it was picked up by hypnotists. The spiral, and other mechanical aids, has fallen out of use. Those objects were associated with the "direct command" style of authoritarian hypnosis. That style has largely been replaced by more permissive styles of hypnosis.



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