Recently whilst talking to a group of fellow hypnotherapists at a peer supervision meeting, I was amazed at how few of the hypnotherapists had been taught the value of tasking their clients in between hypnotherapy sessions… I take it as a given that it is part of what we do and teach my students accordingly…

I then became increasingly aware of how few hypnotherapists ever teach self-hypnosis skills to their hypnotherapy clients in order to help bolster their efficacy with hypnosis and enhance what is being done in the sessions together. So I went and asked lots of hypnotherapists on a popular forum, and very few of them taught their clients self-hypnosis skills and even fewer actually had spent much time in the state of hypnosis, let alone practice self-hypnosis regularly themselves.

I find this staggering.

Self-hypnosis, in my humble opinion, ought to be used extensively in modern hypnotherapy and many of my successful, professional peers believe it is an essential skill to be taught to the client during hypnotherapy to develop responsiveness to the therapy and to consolidate and enhance the therapeutic process.

It can take the form either of hypnosis carried out by means of a learned routine, or by listening to a recording, or revisiting a previous process developed in a hypnotherapy session.

Referred to a great deal in other elements of my work, the man who coined the term hypnosis, James Braid, says this about self-hypnosis:

My first experiments on this point [i.e., self-hypnosis] were instituted in the presence of some friends on the 1st May, 1843, and following days. I believe they were the first experiments of the kind which had ever been tried, and they have succeeded in every case in which I have so operated.

I have a very old copy of the book ‘Autosuggestion’ by Émile Coué who was without doubt one of the most influential figures in the subsequent development of self-hypnosis. His method of “conscious autosuggestion” became an internationally-renowned self-help system at the start of the 20th century. Although Coué distanced himself from the concept of “hypnosis”, he sometimes referred to what he was doing as self-hypnosis.

One of the earliest academic journal articles on self-hypnosis, ‘Three techniques of autohypnosis’, was published by the hypnotherapist and early behaviour therapist Andrew Salter in 1941.

His technique of self-hypnosis was developed over the space of two years during which he tested the methods with just over 200 subjects. Salter described methods of teaching self-hypnosis by,

1. Autohypnosis by post-hypnotic suggestion.

2. Autohypnosis by memorised trance instructions. (Scripted suggestions.)

3. Fractional autohypnosis. (Part learning.)

Most derivations of self-hypnosis training still stem from these early ideas.

I have long camped on the side of those believing that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. It is not actually a process that the hypnotists ‘does’ to another individual, it is something that the hypnotist facilitates and offers up a framework for the individual to follow.

As such, a client can be shown how to use similar strategies to those used in the session just by doing it themselves and without the therapist themselves being there. I would say that these need to be simpler processes and strategies rather than the more complex processes conducted by a therapist in a therapy session.

I actually have a professionally recorded audio session that I give to my clients and can be found on the homepage of my website, that runs them through a process to access the state of hypnosis for themselves. The recording takes them in to hypnosis and gives them a repeatable ‘anchor’ that they use to access the same state over and over without the need for the audio recording once they have practiced enough.

I’d state that in any hypnosis session involving the client, a simple instruction that they are able to reproduce the same effects and state for themselves when in a state of hypnosis and then offering them up an anchor or a way of accessing the state for themselves is very easy. Why don’t more hypnotherapists do this?

Then following such a session, the client is then run through the process you took them through in great detail to ensure they understand the process and the theory behind it. Then while together, the client can practice and practice until they have been trained to enter hypnosis for themselves.

As such,  while receptive in a hypnotherapy session with the hypnotist, their competency can be reinforced with positive suggestions to enhance their belief that they are doing it well – which enhances their belief and ability when away from the hypnotist.

Other simple self-hypnosis processes that people can teach are the likes of the Betty Erickson self-hypnosis process… It is known as the Betty Erickson technique as she devised it to take yourself into hypnosis… You can read a step-by-step guide to using this technique here on this website.

For those less adventurous, or not got the depth and breadth of knowledge of the various techiques of self-hypnosis (I offer up many in my book on the subject)… Then using progressive relaxation to induce a receptive state and then perhaps teaching a basic deepening technique (i.e. moving down stairs) which could also lead to going to a ‘special place’ using the imagination. It has been demonstrated that simply spending time in a state of relaxation and self-hypnosis is beneficial therapeutically for a wide range of presenting issues in hypnotherapy.

I believe that teaching self-hypnosis should be done whenever considered suitable to enhance the process of hypnotherapy, which is surely what you want with virtually every client, no?

For those interested in learning self-hypnosis and those wanting to discover methods of how to teach others to use self-hypnosis… Have a look at the set of new dates I have for my one day self-hypnosis seminars being run across the UK over the next year… You’ll be pleased you did, and they are very inexpensive.

Ok, that is me done blogging for the week… Big night tonight… Come on England!!

You’ll hear from me again on Monday.