A shortfall of knowledge
Nearly everyone knows about hypnosis, but sadly, all too often our knowledge and experience is informed by stage hypnosis. Whilst stage hypnosis is “real”, it does not reflect the likely experience for most people because the stage hypnotist only selects that small percentage of people who go very deeply and naturally into deep hypnotic states.
However we all go randomly into hypnosis for a number of hours every day e.g. as we fall asleep, as we wake up, driving routes we are very familiar with, day dreaming etc. Therefore the issue, is not whether we can go into hypnosis, but whether we can gain control of the natural ability, for hypnosis, that we all possess.
We have seen or heard of shows which appear to defy our logic e.g. a person eats an onion convinced that it is an apple. A part of us is in awe of the power that the stage hypnotist appears to wield and a part of us is scared of the perceived loss of control. Despite this conflict a part of us is intrigued and amused.
I went with a number of friends last year to see Derren Brown’s show which incorporated aspects of stage hypnosis. At the end of the show I was shocked by the level of uncertainty and fear that had been generated amongst my friends. After explaining to them how the effects were achieved, there was still a reluctance to accept it was technique rather than a supernatural experience!

Client Motivation
When individuals have tried medication and various “talking therapies” which seek a conscious resolution to their problems and the feelings that blight their life remain, it is then that many people seek the perceived “miraculous” change that hypnosis, based on their knowledge, appears to offer.
The “miracle cure” broadly does not exist, but hypnosis can offer fast and effective treatment for a wide range of issues, where there are subconscious issues that need to be resolved because of their impact on our daily life. e.g. if your childhood was fear filled, it is likely that the repercussions will still impinge on your adult life.
After a few sessions, clients usually realise that there are techniques I want them to learn and use to help themselves, and that I have no magic wand which I wave and say “hey presto,” and they are fixed!
Despite the attraction of hypnosis, I find that most clients arrive with some level of fear. The critical task, for me, at the first session is to deal with this fear so that an individual can let go of their worry and start to focus on the process of re-gaining control of the presenting problem. Yesterday, I saw a new client who possesses the best natural ability for hypnosis that I have encountered for some time. When I tried to work with her, the feelings of low self worth and her focus on “I can’t do this,” began to adversely impact on the session. After reassurance, perseverance and encouragement, she suddenly understood the ability she has and the joy on her face told its own story.
Empowerment
At a demonstration, in London recently, I worked with a woman with a great natural ability for hypnosis. Afterwards she said how shocked she was that she had gone into hypnosis, because she had seen two hypnotists who had told her she could not do hypnosis! This is a terrible indictment of our profession.
The critical tasks during these early stages is building confidence, developing trust and teaching a person how to use their own mind. When we meet people who say “I went to a hypnotist and it didn’t work” or they say “He or she told me that I was not susceptible to hypnosis;” it is usually because these critical tasks have been neglected or ignored. Everyone can go into hypnosis. Yes, you did read that correctly. The few people, who I have worked with, who were nearly phobic of hypnosis also responded very well to this approach.
The only difficult group, is the extremely small percentage of people, who need a lot of additional time to understand what is needed for them to control their own hypnosis. In these instances the cost of the time needed to accomplish it may be more than the person is willing to pay. When the determination to succeed can be financed, anyone can be taught to access excellent hypnosis.
When you teach clients to use their mind more effectively their natural ability, whatever the level at the start, is immensely enhanced by the end of their programme of treatment. A re-occurring outcome is that clients enjoy the experience and use the valuable skills they learn to enhance their lives.

The Work
We all understand, that the massive oak tree we see regularly started life off as a small acorn and this is the perfect metaphor generally for the large problems that blight our life.
At the end of another demonstration, the Chair of the group approached me and said, that she had had a fear of heights since she was a seven year old when she had been taken up to the tower at Ely cathedral. I asked, why she had decided to hold on to this fear now that she was no longer on the tower and no longer a child. It is clear that there is something incomplete about the analysis and conclusion promoted by this individual. The work of the hypnotist is to discover what drives the illogical belief and unwanted behaviour.
It is unlikely that Ely cathedral is the “acorn” that is responsible for the fear of heights. It is more likely that it is a remembered occasion when the fear arose. The origins are generally in an earlier event or perhaps an aspect of Ely cathedral that has been consigned to our subconscious memory in the same way that when we try and recall the events of a couple of days ago, our conscious memory has “forgotten” it already. When you discover the “acorn” (origins) of the event using hypnosis, there is an opportunity to resolve the child’s perception of the event and the incorrect or unhelpful feelings that may have been established. This is exactly the same as a very common experience we all have had when we revisited a place we have not visited since childhood i.e. in our memory the trees, or walls etc are big or tall, but when we see them again they are much smaller. Consequently we have to reappraise the memory.
I must stress that it is so extremely rare for hypnosis to find a hidden traumatic memory, that you can almost discount it. Those people with traumatic memories will always either know it or have real grounds for believing they exist already.
During the hurricane of 1987, the tree that sustained the greatest destruction was the mighty oak tree. A common fallacy, is that the more restrictions we impose on our problem, the more strength we gain and the better the control we will achieve. In nature, it is clear that not only is strength important, but so is flexibility. Therefore the more flexibility a person has, the greater capacity he/she has to use their strength and adapt to changing situations/problems. E.g. medication, staying indoors, stopping even moderate intake of alcohol etc does not stop panic attacks. Discovering the origins of the behaviour, learning to use self hypnosis techniques, breathing more effectively, maintaining your focus, living the life you want etc can give you the strength and flexibility to overcome this problem.

Old Wives Tales
The hypnotist will take control of you.
I would ask you to consider, given the winter we have just had, if we could, would we spend the season here or would we accumulate our wealth and flee permanently to a tropical beach? I intend staying in practice! Hypnosis is a partnership between the client and hypnotist with the aim of the hypnotist assisting the client regain the freedom to lead the life they desire.
It takes a long time to change.
Generally, I work to a twelve week programme of treatment to address the majority of issues that I specialise in. This appears to be a reasonably common format. However there are times when the problems are so complex that considerably longer is needed, but there are also times when less than twelve are needed. E.g. the woman who had being “stuck” in the bereavement process for over 20 years, found she was free of it after 40 minutes.

At the start of the process, it is important to try to give an indication of how long the programme of treatment needs to be and if it needs to be amended this needs to be discussed as soon as possible.
I’m often asked how often the sessions should be. Ideally, the sessions should be weekly, but every fortnight will also achieve excellent results. However, where the gaps between sessions are longer, I usually find that clients lose motivation, and the money spent has been wasted. The one week gap is necessary to allow the subconscious mind to assimilate the changes that are facilitated at the sessions.
It does not last.
If the full programme is completed and all aspects are addressed, hypnosis provides a means to achieve change which will last the remainder of your life. The clients who remain in touch via the infrequent email, report “the six stone remains off,” “the income generated by the business beats long term Incapacity Benefit,” “l feel so positive, I’ve just started a second business,” “I feel so happy about my life now” etc
Session One
The key components are addressing any fears you may have, understanding your desired outcomes, exploring the history of the problem, explanation of hypnosis and hypnotic relaxation. Much of this is facilitated, by the detailed questionnaire that you will have been asked to complete prior to the session.
It is important, that you feel comfortable with the skills you acquire before we move on to more complex techniques. Throughout our lives our progress has been guided by the skill and attainment we possess. Generally skiers do not go from the Nursery slopes to Black runs, because they need the learning and experience that is gained via Blue and Red runs. It is exactly the same with hypnosis, even if, the progress is somewhat swifter.
All clients receive a CD of the main areas covered at the first two sessions. The purpose is to ensure the person practices entering hypnosis ever day, gets used to the feeling, controls their own hypnosis and that the suggestions assist the subconscious mind “gear up” to the changes that will be facilitated in the sessions.
Part 2 to follow…

David Owen