Hypnotherapists soon get used to the fact that clients have certain preconceptions about the whole business of hypnotherapy. Even when they don’t say it, you suspect they might be thinking something like: “will he make me cluck like a chicken?” or “will he get me to sing like Barbra Streisand?”. Sometimes people ask me those questions outright. I usually say that I charge extra for such services! But then I take some pains to explain that hypnotherapy isn’t really some species of conjuring trick, that hypnosis is a serious therapeutic tool and that therapy is a serious business – a partnership between client and therapist which aims at getting the client where he or she wishes to be. Read the rest of this entry »

In the section of his book, Hidden Depths: The Story of Hypnosis devoted to Ancient Greece and Rome, Robin Waterfield briefly discusses one of the major literary masterpieces of Classical Greece. According to Waterfield, the Bacchae of Euripides is a work which is often mentioned in books which deal with the history of hypnosis. Perhaps, then, it merits a little more space than the brief paragraph which Waterfield gives it.

The Bacchae of Euripides is one of the most powerful, compelling and shocking dramas ever created, whether in the Ancient World or anywhere else. In the brief discussion which follows I will avoid giving away the ending. Read the rest of this entry »

I have a soft spot for Crawley. I visit Crawley quite often. But I have to say that Crawley station isn’t my idea of paradise. I was on the platform. My train was late. I seemed to be travelling on a day when all trains had received special instructions not to stop at Crawley! But my eye was attracted to a big billboard advert, which got me thinking… Read the rest of this entry »

I don’t consider myself to be a hoarder. So maybe it is because of the sort of work I do – as a therapist and a teacher – than every drawer in my study is full of papers, essays, articles, magazines and written material of every description. I was trying to clear some of this out the other day when I came across a very interesting short article about hypnosis and hypnotherapy which appeared in the Lancet in 1999 – Hypnosis Makes Headway in the Clinic by Marilynn Larkin (The Lancet. vol 353. January 30th 1999). My reaction to this article was optimism – and frustration. This is what the article said: Read the rest of this entry »

Happy No Smoking Day everyone. If there are any smokers out there in the Horsham, Crawley, Guildford, West Sussex or Surrey area, you know what to do…

On ITV’s Daybreak program this morning, Dr. Hilary Jones was busy promoting No Smoking Day for all it was worth. He mentioned some of the usual quitting aids – patches, inhalators, gum etc. He mentioned CBT (CBT for smoking? That would be a bit expensive, wouldn’t it?). He mentioned hypnotherapy – as well he might, for hypnotherapy’s track record in this area is pretty impressive.

But as soon as he mentioned the word “hypnotherapy” – well, he just had to say it didn’t he: “Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, not round the eyes but in the eyes…” Thank you Little Britain! Thanks a lot Matt Lucas! What have I ever done to you? When those sketches were first broadcast I, like most other hypnotherapists, had to go through a couple of months of purgatory. “Look into my eyes” etc. Yes, very funny. But after a couple of weeks the humour does wear off a bit…

But afterwards I couldn’t help wondering how many prospective clients make the same association – hypnotherapy and “look into my eyes”. And I wondered how many were put off by it. Surely some are. Many years ago I was arranging a small loan in a bank. The person dealing with me had done all the usual training in how to handle customers and the General Public. Lots of straight eye contact. Until I told her what I did for a living. No more eye contact after that!

So – lets lay a few myths to rest.

A hypnotherapist does not look people in the eye and by some magic power take over their minds. I don’t know of any hypnotherapist who uses induction methods involving eye contact.

Induction by eye contact works by holding a person’s gaze. If the eyes are kept still they start to tire. If the hypnotist is reeling off suggestions about the eyes getting tired and heavy then the subject will accept the suggestions as true and may even think that the hypnotist is causing the heaviness of the eyes. Eye closure may be achieved in that way. Or with more suggestible people eye closure is not even necessary. If the gaze is held, the attention can be controlled.

All very powerful and impressive. But here in the real world things aren’t quite so simple. I have experimented with eye contact techniques – but only with willing colleagues, never with clients. I found that two things would typically happen – either one or both of us would get the giggles, thus making further serious work impossible, or I would start going into hypnosis myself.

Eye contact is incredibly powerful – but, in my opinion, almost impossible to employ usefully in a therapeutic context. Eye contact can be threatening or intrusive. Karate is my sport. You are supposed to look your opponent straight in the eye. Unless I know the person quite well I find that very hard to do. I look at their nose or their mouth, rarely straight in the eye. And it is not because I feel that they are threatening me or I them. It just somehow seems intrusive – almost rude.

So – let’s forget all about eye contact and send Mr. Lucas on his merry way! And never let it get in the way of giving up smoking!

Give up smoking now. Contact me today.

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