Hypnotherapy and NLP explained

Will I bark like a Dog?

When I first trained as a Hypnotherapist, I came across the following quotes from Dr. William Wesley Cook MD which initially inspired and shocked me and eventually influenced my approach to Hypnosis, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Coaching. Writing about hypnosis he said that:

“It enters into our everyday life and confers advantages that cannot be acquired through any other medium.”
“Scientists regard it as a natural power, for ages kept dormant, but apparently destined to perform an active part in the welfare and development of future generations.”

“…a natural endowment possessed by practically everyone and capable of being developed by all who will devote to its study the patience and energy always so necessary for the development of natural talents.”

“What was held up for ridicule is now regarded as a dignified science. What was attributed to evil machinations is now regarded as one of the greatest blessings to the human race.”

The shocking aspect is that this was written in 1904, and over a century later, the benefits that he envisioned have not happened and still the most common perception of hypnosis, based on the work of Stage Hypnotists, is that you can be “made” to bark like a dog. Incidentally I have never found an incidence of any Stage Hypnotist including this in his or her act!

The words people use are very useful in developing an understanding of what has gone wrong. The core phrases that come up most often are “put me under” and “put me to sleep”. Despite my protestations that I am neither an undertaker or a vet, theses ideas persist because of an idea that somehow it is similar to administering a full anaesthetic, entering a deep sleep or you are rendered comatose.

The origins of this perception can be traced back again to Stage Hypnosis, where the Hypnotist actively seeks out the best candidates for hypnosis, by a series of tests prior to the show or early on in the show, so that he or she can best demonstrate the power of hypnosis.

It is assumed by the audience that the Hypnotist has a special power, whereas the reality is somewhat different. The power always rests with the person in hypnosis; it is their natural ability that allows them to go so deeply into hypnosis. However if they are asked to do something outside their comfort zone or against their morals or ethics they will refuse and usually it will be marked by their withdrawal from hypnosis.

Susceptibility is the most cited reason that only some people can benefit from hypnosis. A common inference is that if you are “thick” too, this will really help you! The reality is that the more intelligent you are the easier hypnosis is. The truth is that we all go into hypnosis every day for substantial periods of time. The most common experiences are day dreaming, driving, falling asleep/waking up and any other time during the day when we are on “auto pilot”.

Some of you may be thinking, is he serious about driving? I would ask you to think back to journeys you undertake regularly and the times you arrive with little or no real recollection of the journey. Sometimes, you may even need to check the car! Hypnosis is a state of relaxation in which you are very aware of what is going on, and you are always in complete control.

What is Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is an effective and speedy technique to gain access to the sub-conscious mind giving you the ability to help change programming and conditioning, thereby bringing rapid and permanent change. You are not asleep and you will remember the session, since this facilitates change to occur. It is completely safe and in my experience once people understand it, it is extremely pleasurable.

Treatment with hypnosis enables you to change effortlessly by gaining understanding of the origins of your current situation. It promotes good health by assisting you break free of any destructive thought or behaviour patterns.

My Approach:

As human beings we possess all of the resources that we need to lead happy and successful lives. Unfortunately during the course of our lives, experiences and events can trigger involuntary emotional responses and unwanted behaviour which hamper the use of these resources.

When involuntary emotional responses do occur e.g. a panic attack, we become pre-occupied with seeking a logical explanation for our responses. The resulting over reliance on the logical part of our brain to solve or manage the emotional responses ensures we neglect the intuitive and imaginative sub conscious part of our brain, which stores the memory that causes the unwanted response.

Consequently we often find ourselves feeling angry, frustrated, powerless, etc because our logic is unable to stop the unwanted behaviour. The sub conscious part of the brain stores memories and controls certain “auto pilot” actions e.g. heart rate, pulse, metabolism, breathing etc, manages our emotions, formulates productive habits, and the occasional “bad” habit, provides motivation and is the centre of our immense imagination.

The central theme of my work with an individual is to identify and resolve the emotion, which triggers the unwanted behaviour and to restore harmony between these two parts of the brain. I work in partnership with individuals to discover the cause of their problem, determine strategies to overcome the impact of the problem and assist people to regain control.

What is Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)?

NLP is like an “owner’s manual” for the brain. It provides a means, through a series of techniques to manage and change your thoughts, moods, feelings, communication and behaviour.

A significant percentage of clients will immediately derive a huge benefit from NLP; however there is a sizeable percentage where the benefit will only be short lived. Sadly, I see people all too often who say; “I’ve come for a top up because it worked for about three months last time.” This does not represent “working”. In my opinion for it truly “to work” the problem needs to have been eradicated or the client has full control again.

The main cause appears to be around a simple but vital philosophical point; namely do you need to identify and treat the cause or can you simply change the impact. Whilst there are persuasive arguments for both approaches, I tend to fuse hypnosis and NLP approaches because I find the results more beneficial for the client. I also notice a degree of resistance from clients to fix a long standing problem in a matter of a couple of sessions, which NLP Practitioners all too frequently highlight in their marketing.

Choosing a Hypnotherapist

We have never, perhaps, had so many gifted and knowledgeable therapists using such a wide variety of useful techniques to facilitate change, but still the acceptance of these techniques appears as distant as when Dr Wesley Cook made his observations.

I wonder how many of you would engage a plumber or builder purely based on price. We would generally like a personal recommendation or at least see examples of the tradesperson’s work. However when it comes to hypnotherapy I am regularly asked on the phone or via email for my price. It is clear that price is the only criterion that the perspective client is deploying.

I find it extremely scary that people trust their mental health to someone on this basis. It is imperative that you understand the approach the hypnotherapist will take in terms of addressing your problem and using hypnosis, you talk to him or her to determine whether you can work together and get some idea of how long it may take.

I would urge you to avoid getting locked into any kind of treatment contract e.g. paying for five or ten sessions at the start. It is my belief that a good hypnotherapist retains clients by the relationship they build with the client and the outcomes they achieve together.

We are all capable of undertaking a wide variety of work using hypnosis, however many of us have particular expertise gained by experience and/or training. You need to determine whether your perspective hypnotherapist has this experience. You need to talk to him or her and decide do they really understand what you are saying? At that first contact, I always spend time deciding whether I have the skills and approach that the client needs.

What has gone wrong with hypnotherapy?

In a recent edition of the BBC (North East & Cumbria) presenter Chris Jackson, succeeded in registering his pet cat George as a hypnotherapist with three industry bodies. At the heart of the problem is how do you know that your hypnotist has received high quality training and that he or she conforms to appropriate ethical and professional standards?

In recent years the Prince of Wales’s Foundation For Integrated Health expressed the view that a “Single voluntary self-regulatory bodies should be established for the Complementary and Alternative Medicine professions most widely practised in the United Kingdom and these bodies should have a single independent body funded by registration fees and a Governing Council made up of a balance between professional and lay members.”

The House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology Report on CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine), went further stating that “with a unified Register of Members, patients and members of the public would then have a single, reliable point of reference for standards, and would be protected against the risk of poorly-trained practitioners and have redress for poor service.”

The UK Confederation of Hypnotherapy Organisations (UKCHO) and The Working Group for Hypnotherapy Regulation (WGHR) have jointly formed the Hypnotherapy Regulatory Forum and now recognise each other’s National Register of Hypnotherapists.

The links for these registers are www.hypnotherapyregulation.co.uk and www.ukcho.co.uk

Both organisations are umbrella organisations for hypnotherapy practitioners in the United Kingdom. Their aim is to promote the professional regulation of hypnotherapy within the United Kingdom. The aim of regulation is to set standards of ethics and training which ensure that all hypnotherapy practitioners are safe and competent to practice, thus fulfilling the primary criterion of professional regulation – protecting the public. They have done this by establishing a code of conduct, ethics and practice, setting national occupational standards and a common curriculum for hypnotherapy training.

It is clear that this work represents a major step forward for potential clients seeking the services of a hypnotherapist. However, there remain major obstacles to the acceptance of this incredible tool for change. I have run a number of training sessions for General Practitioners (GPs) and I am still shocked by the level of ignorance that still exists regarding the use and practice of hypnotherapy and NLP.

The ignorance ranges from an unwillingness to listen to a justifiable, until recently, lack of knowledge regarding the central issue of how do you know which professional organisations represent the competent practitioners. There has been for a number of years a web based register, www.nhsdirectory.org, which was intended to give GPs this information. Like so many things in the public sector it has suffered from a lack of “joined up thinking” and consequently few Health Centres and GPs have heard of it!

The NHS Register of Complementary and Alternative Practitioners states that although the NHS is beginning to offer complementary therapies “it does not necessarily mean that all doctors are willing to prescribe complementary medicine, at the end of the day the decision to prescribe is still a matter for clinical judgement of your GP, and even if they are willing, not all Primary Care Trusts (PCT’s) presently have funding provisions dedicated to complementary medicine. In some cases, this is simply a question of lack of resources and, in other cases; it is a question of an unwillingness on the part of the Primary Care Trust to provide complementary therapy.”

The site goes on to advise that “any member of the public who is encountering difficulties in obtaining complementary therapy via the NHS and who would like to bring this problem to the notice of their Primary Care Trust, should write to the Patient Advice and Liaison Co-ordinator (PAL) at the Primary Care Trust.” In my experience, when you do approach the PCT, there is a distinct lack of interest.

What is a good hypnotherapist?

A common problem that I encounter is what constitutes a good hypnotherapist. There are hypnotherapists who only use only use hypnosis to give clients acceptable suggestions and others who attempt to teach clients relaxation which can be used to manage the situations they find difficult to deal with.

The number of hypnotherapists, who avoid hypnotic regression to the initial event so that the issue can be resolved, is frankly outrageous. The most charitable answer is that they lack the skills, but I suspect it may be because they find it painful work to undertake.

It is imperative that you find a hypnotherapist that can, if necessary, regress you to the initial cause of the problem and assist you to develop new strategies to deal with situations. A good relationship, based on mutual trust empowers the client and enables both parties to work in partnership to achieve the desired change.

A reoccurring issue with NLP is whether the practitioner knows or has even been taught that it has hypnosis at its core. I vividly recall the mother who wanted her daughter to come to me for treatment using NLP. During the discussion, assuming her daughter was under eighteen, I informed her I would need her written consent for the hypnosis to comply with legislation.

She informed me that she had attended a two day NLP training course with two famous individuals and that hypnosis had never been mentioned. NLP was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder who based their work on a number of individuals, but at its core is the work of Milton Erickson, who is arguably the greatest hypnotist ever.

Hypnotherapy now

It is now really time that we all understood that hypnosis is a safe and very effective way to achieve change relatively quickly and for that change to be long lasting.

I was recently approached by a potential client, aged in her thirties, who was depressed and had suffered from anxiety related issues, since she had been abused as a child. Confident that I could assist her based on my experience of these areas I arranged to see her.

A few days before the session, she rang me to say she had seen her doctor, who had informed her not to try hypnosis and he had changed her medication. Whilst she wanted to try hypnosis, she was too frightened to go against the advice of her doctor.

It is time that we all realised that we can complement each other and rather than seeing the other party as an alternative or perceiving it as a threat, we need to remember the outcome we all striving towards. I wonder how many more years she needs to suffer, deprived of the opportunity to try other ways to resolve her long lasting problems.

hypnotherapy baldock hertfordshireAbout The Author

David Owen is the owner of New Steps (www.newsteps.co.uk), and regularly works in London, Hertfordshire, and Bedfordshire.

He specialises in Anxiety, Stress, & Panic Attacks, Trauma, Depression, Business & Performance Coaching, Psychosomatic issues, Sexual problems and Sport Hypnosis.

David works with individuals and groups and regularly gives demonstrations and presentations on hypnosis. He runs a Hypnotherapy and NLP professional Training course which is validated by the General Hypnotherapy Standards Council (GHR).

Find out more about David’s work by visiting his GoToSee profile page here


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