April 30th, 2013
What is “therapy”? The word comes from the Greek word “therapeuein” which has a variety of meanings, as Greek words usually do! The basic meaning is “to serve” or “to assist”. In other words – to help.
Orthodox medical therapies seek to cure or to heal. Complementary therapies are usually cautious of making any such claims, largely because they tend to treat psychological rather than physical conditions. Complementary therapy seeks to help, to assist in a movement towards a better condition and away from whatever constitutes the presenting issue.
This is a noble aspiration. Yet as the years go by I’m increasingly convinced that there is a role for hypnosis outside of the therapy room. These thoughts were prompted both by a talk which I was invited to give at Central Sussex College (formerly Crawley College) to a young group of would-be nurses, teachers, therapists and social workers and also by a conversation I had with a colleague about the use and teaching of self-hypnosis.
The young student group were particularly interested in the nature of the therapist / client relationship. To what extent is the client him/herself responsible for the achievement of the therapeutic goal? What does a hypnotherapist do with a client who needs to give up smoking (or lose weight, or whatever) but who actually doesn’t want to? The simple answer is that a therapist of whatever type can do very little with a totally recalcitrant client. But such clients are fortunately few in number. Most clients are prepared to meet the therapist at least halfway. But is halfway enough? How much responsibility is a given client prepared to accept? If we teach our clients self-hypnosis, how likely is it that those clients will actually use it?
I had a long chat with a colleague who was actually rather anti self-hypnosis. He said that either clients won’t use the techniques you teach them, in which case teaching the techniques is a waste of time, or they will use them too effectively and no longer require the services of the therapist, in which case we lose money!
It is certainly true that some clients will not use the techniques we teach them. They will often say that they haven’t had time. But it only takes about fifteen minutes. Or that they’ve forgotten what to do. So, give me a ring or email me! Such clients like the idea of change but don’t really want to go through the process of actually changing. Lots of smokers want to be non-smokers but don’t want to go through the actual process of giving up and therefore look askance at a technique which might actually help them make the dreaded leap. But is it really the case that self-hypnosis is bad for business?
I am certain that this is not the case. Self-hypnosis is therapy in the true sense of the term – it assists, it is a helping hand. And it offers vast opportunities beyond the confines of the therapy room. For anyone can benefit from it. You don’t have to have an issue. You don’t need to have anything bothering you or any habit you need to break. But self-hypnosis is best learned under the guidance of someone with experience of hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Trying to “do it yourself” from the instructions in a book can be frustrating and confusing.
When I was in my teens – some while ago now! – I developed a tendency towards blushing whenever I felt the least bit self-conscious. The more that this annoyed me the more it seemed to happen. By chance, I found a tiny book on self-hypnosis in a second-hand bookshop – price 50 pence. I read it, followed the instructions and did what it said. I did this for five days, at the end of which I was bitterly disappointed. Surely I hadn’t been in hypnosis? I hadn’t “gone under”. Nothing had happened. I threw the book against the wall and thought no more about it.
I don’t know how much time had passed – weeks, months maybe – before it dawned on me that I no longer blushed. To this day it almost never happens.
This is one of the reasons why guidance is so important when learning self-hypnosis. But is seems to me that the possibilities offered by self-hypnosis are almost endless and have scarcely begun to be explored. Far from avoiding self-hypnosis I’m using it more and more – to help my clients and to help myself!