The Marvels of Hypnotism
My last Leeds Hypnotherapy Clinic blog on the marvels of hypnotism seems to have touched a tender nerve with one or two fellow practitioners.
I suggested that by encouraging the notion that hypnotherapy is some kind of magical art, we invite misunderstanding and that misunderstanding challenges integrity.
A fuller explanation of my reasoning might be helpful; there are therapists who feel that an aspect of alchemy is a vital ingredient in the potency of hypnosis.
And though I have some sympathy with that sentiment, I sense it is restricting.
Confidence in the ability of a practitioner is an important element of successful treatment, to be sure – after all we are dealing with science of the mind and behaviour. Props and a sense of authority can therefore be useful tools in efficacy – a truth that is apparent all around us in the wider world: uniforms that announce a certain licence; cars that boast prestige; advertising that promotes exclusivity – the list is endless.
To a greater or lesser degree we are all subject to image and this moulds our behaviour and beliefs. And while bridling belief is a powerful phenomenon, hijacking beliefs, as on occasions exercised by some political and/or religious leaders, is controlling.
There is an important distinction, here – it is the difference between assistance and abuse.
It is widely acknowledged that the mind is a powerful healer and the positive effects of placebo treatment have long been accepted. For such treatment to be constructive, securing the confidence of a patient or client is essential and so it is useful, perhaps vital, that the practitioner, whether a medical doctor, therapist or nurse commands a level of esteem. To this day you will see doctors in hospital wearing stethoscopes around their necks – they are a mark of competence, yet are an instrument invented in 1816 as a tool for auscultation and their use has long been usurped by ultrasound and MRI scanners. But people still associate the stethoscope with medical proficiency and are suitably reassured. The patient’s treatment will most likely involve cutting edge technology and powerful pharmacy yet the humble stethoscope remains an emblem of trust.
So where does clinical hypnotherapy fit into all this.
Well, I gladly acknowledge the benefits of what might be termed positive perception. I also acknowledge that adopting a level of “mystery” can work with some clients. At Leeds Hypnotherapy Clinic, we receive some clients who are convinced the therapist has extraordinary powers, and therefore they will benefit from an unquestioning faith in treatment. Such a technique can be used to address a wide range of conditions and the positive effects largely negate criticism.
Yet, in my experience, such action works well on only a percentage of clients.
At Leeds Hypnotherapy Clinic the preferred method of treatment is a personally adapted cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) designed by myself that is reinforced by clinical hypnosis.
We strip away the notion of ‘magical treatment’ and explain the client’s condition to him or her; in the vast majority of cases the client has misunderstood his or her condition.
In essence they have hypnotised themselves – and it is my job to “dehypnotise” them.
A common comment is: “Daniel, I think my problem is that I overthink matters and get obsessed and anxious.”
My response is: “No – you don’t think too much, you just think inaccurately.”
That ‘lightbulb’ moment
This might seem blunt, arrogant even, but as my explanation continues there is often a “lightbulb” moment when the client grasps the concept.
They recognise they have trapped themselves in a cycle of stress – and put simply, they have over time become anxious about being anxious.
They have harboured a fear of being afraid, to the extent in some cases that they have propagated within themselves what is termed panic disorder.
The hypnosis treatment that follows an adapted CBT integrates into the unconscious the clients newly-gained insight of their condition. It allows the client to draw on inner strength and comprehension whenever necessary in the future.
While this treatment demands skill on the part of the hypnotherapist, it is not magic.
It might be asked: “But how does the unconscious work?”
Ha. And so we arrive at the true mystery: while we are able to observe manifestations of unconscious and bring influence to bear, the profound workings of the mind remain largely unexplained by science.
As we strive to discover the secrets of the mind it becomes apparent there is still more to learn than we might ever have imagined.
And so the great mystery prevails.