What do you do when you meet a client with strong paranormal beliefs? My policy has always been to accept the client's beliefs as real and valid and work with them. For example, a client might come to me to me and say that they believe that their current problems are because of what they did in a past life. In that case I'm quite willing to accept their beliefs. And even tell them that I agree with the belief. I will then go on with past life regression. My job is to help to identify whatever is bothering them, in a way that is acceptable to them.
A client who wants to find a lost object is entitled to get help if they believe that hypnosis will reveal its location. A client who believes that they have lost memories and want to recover them should not be prevented by my personal beliefs.
Similarly, a client might tell me that they have a close and personal relationship with Jesus. And Jesus is telling them what to do. As long as it's not a danger to anyone else, I am happy to work within any psychological framework.
What is a delusion?
It seems to me that a great deal of what is presented to therapists as "delusions" are simply a metaphoric way of speaking about normal, real things. If someone tells me that they feel that they have a spiritual guide, I have no problem accepting that is being just a way of talking about intuition. The fact that this particular spiritual guide appears as an Indian chief, I don't think that changes the basic situation. If people tell me they get messages from the "other side", again I am happy to interpret this as their understanding of the messages from their own unconscious mind. An over rigid insistence on scientific, logical thinking can often get in the way of good therapy.
What is acceptable?
This is not to say that psychosis is not real. People do have schizophrenia, and paranoia, and all the other mental disorders that humans are subject to. I do not believe that joining people in their psychoses is going to help them at all. We all have to recognize our own limitations of competence. We should refer on as soon as we feel that there is something outside our own approved skill set.
I once had a client tell me that he was hearing voices. These voices were telling him to kill his girlfriend. In that instance I immediately stopped the session and referred him to a psychiatrist.
So I accept that other people do have paranormal beliefs. And I believe it is not up to me to decide what they should or should not believe. There is a very broad spectrum of what is acceptable in human thought and behavior. We owe it to our clients to work with whatever they bring to us.
He is highly regarded in the hypnotherapy community. He is Vice President of the New Zealand Association of Professional Hypnotherapists (NZAPH).
He is regularly consulted for advice by other hypnotherapists around the world. He is known for the quality of his published scripts. He presents at international conferences and has published on hypnosis and advanced hypnotherapy.
He lives in Wellington New Zealand with his wife Trish and a cat called Parsnip.