On Saturday, I lectured at the Change Phenomena conference. Having got on the train at Bournemouth at 5.42am with 8 friends, colleagues and graduates/students of the school here, we found our way to the University of East London with real ease.
With more people in attendance this year than my previous visit to this conference, there was a very expectant atmosphere. Anthony Jacquin introduced everyone and orchestrated affairs on stage in his usual, highly agreeable and entertaining manner.
I was the first speaker of the day, and the title of my lecture was Evidence Based Hypnosis: The Importance of Progressing the field. I gave a handout that anyone can go and grab a copy of here at this website; it is a handout entitled Hypnotherapy as an Empirically Supported Treatment (EST) and shows a large number of important studies that we have to work with in this field.
I attempted to portray the field of evidence based practice as a non fascist regime. I did my best to make a potentially dry subject seem fun and enjoyable and touched on the Art vs Science debate too.
I was not lynched during the coffee breaks. I courted some controversy. I got some great feedback. All the speakers of the day then mentioned me and my presentation in their own, which I think and hope means that it struck a chord… Those that follow my work will be familiar with much of what I said and I’ll not repeat it any further right now, though I plan on adding some of this stuff to the platinum members area here on the website as a Camtasia presentation.
After me was Dr Steve Murray, a consultant cardiologist and his presentation entitled The Heart of the Matter: Understanding the role of the cardiovascular system in anxiety and how to treat it with cognitive hypnotherapy.
One of the things I really appreciated about this presentation was that the field of hypnosis has such people working in it, we need more people of this ilk and caliber promoting what we do. Steve gets great results with his work and demonstrated how he uses his respected position, credibility and authority to enhance the hypnotic process and showed some fascinating video clips of him at work.
After lunch was Norman Vaughton and his presentation entitled Profound Change through Ideodynamic Work. As a hypnotherapist of 30 years, having taught across the globe and a student/friend of the pioneering Ernest Rossi, many of my professional peers and friends within the field highly rate Norman and his work. He came with an impressive reputation that deserves much respect. He communicates beautifully and elegantly and was every bit as charismatic as I expected he would be. I loved the fact that he presented his work by doing some work with a delegate on stage and demonstrating a small sample of what he does. He had a playfulness and a sharp sense of humour that I found very likeable.
His approach to therapy probably collides with mine in some ways. I am unsure about whether what he does truly constitutes what I believe to be hypnosis, or what James Braid believed to be hypnosis. He also did an impression of a client suffering some pain and slipping from his chair which nearly had me running on to stage to assist him and call an ambulance, such was it’s vividness. He is clearly a very talented therapist with a lifetime of getting great results for his clients, so I will leave it there on a progressive note.
The next speaker was Maggie Howells and her presentation entitled Hypnosis for Birth. During Ant’s introduction for Maggie he spoke of his Grandmother, having given birth 7 times referring to the birth process as being like ‘shelling peas’ which had me in stitches. I really enjoyed Maggie’s presentation. She courted a bit of controversy of her own by stating the male-dominated audience that she felt women preferred women to work with for natal hypnotherapy, but did counter her own point by suggesting that most gynaecologists were male. She also charmed the audience with her use of the word ‘fiddlesticks’ on a couple of occasions and battled beautifully against some technical issues. There was a great deal that I learned from this presentation and it was marvellous to see how Maggie is developing this field and working with medical agencies to bring it much credibility.
Maggie and I went on a course with the same tutor over a decade ago and she also bears the scars of doing arm anaesthesia and the tutor using nappy pins to stick through our arms – a story that I think some people do not believe when I tell them.
The final speaker of the day was Alexander Hartmann and his presentation Peak Performances. He had a great presence, not just during his presentation but throughout the entire day and is full of energy and charm. He did a hypnosis demonstration with our very own Jon-Michael on stage.
He talked about how much he values the use of phenomena in the therapeutic context. He raised some interesting questions and again mentioned a couple of points that jolt with some of my own thoughts; I think it is good for us all to be challenged from time to time, it is healthy and it is how we make progress. Alex’s passion, talent and obvious love of what he does make him someone I really hope to cross paths with again in my life. He was incredibly entertaining and very warm and loveable.
Even though there were parts of the day that many people may have disagreed with or questioned, the tone of this event is such that despite being provocative at times, is incredibly respectful and absolutely free from logical fallacy that so often finds it’s way into hypnosis forums. People all getting on with a common vision for this field and a hope to further it and better it and continue to educate accordingly.
At the end of the day, all the speakers stepped back on to stage for a Q&A session.
The highlights included a very valid point by Freddy Jacquin about the likelihood of us ever finding a true singular ideology about hypnosis and the ramifications it may have for the field of professional hypnosis (I really look forward to welcoming him to Bournemouth in a couple of weeks: More information here at the Hub). Also, Norman Vaughton refuting the use of standardised scripts for treatments with the use of some sharp wit which I had to enjoy despite my advocacy of such standardisation. I did not get the name of the member of the audience who made me laugh (sorry I cannot quote you more directly!) by asking Alexander Hartmann about how he created ‘hair catalepsy’ which set the tone for the Q&A very nicely. We also had an orthopeadic surgeon in the audience who made some very interesting points about the use of hypnosis in the NHS which is a subject I hope gets debated much more.
It was brilliant to see so many friends and meet plenty of new people for the first time too. I want to mention Martin S Taylor, Jo Stammeijer, Freddy Jacquin, June Asprey, Melanie Allen, Peter Wright, Ian Horrocks, Craig Galvin, Harry Lucas, Karl Scott, Marcus Lewis, Diane Cecht, Owen McGinty, Timon Krause, Peter Bryant, Joe O’Sullivan, Ian Rowland and of course my friend, the one and only Gary Turner… and everyone else that I got the chance to speak to briefly and I wish I could have spent longer with you all.
My hat is off to Anthony Jacquin and Kev Sheldrake, the Head Hacking guys who created this conference. The overriding theme of the event is one where all comers to this field are welcomed warmly. No single perspective is championed above all others and everyone is made to feel at ease and at home. An open mind is championed and everything is done with a smile and a sense of playfulness that I love to be around. I cannot believe more people do not attend this event, I really don’t. I am sure that the more people who continue to spread the word of what a great event it is, will lead to it growing and developing. Ant and Kev are true, true gentlemen, they really are. They deserve all the plaudits they get for Change Phenomena. It is a marvellous event and a real homour to have been part of in some small way.
The Bournemouth gang had a train to catch and so we were unable to head out to the pub with the other delegates and speakers, but stopped at Waterloo for drinks and dinner before getting our train back. The dinner was a prime time to discuss the day and absorb what we had seen and experienced. There were many ensuing debates and opinions, but importantly, the overall feeling was that it was a thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile day.
You may have read my comments on the Hub about my lingering image from the journey home being that of Mark Chappell swigging from a wine bottle with severe hiccups in the first class carriage we were sat in.
On the journey to London we had discussed our anticipations for the day, we talked about our subject matter in depth, but as we journeyed home, our conversations were jovial and there were many belly laughs to accompany our homebound snack and goodies that we chomped our way through.
The day was exponentially more than these brief lines offer up, it was much more. I cannot really do justice to the event in a single entry with so much brevity in my account of the speakers, but I hope this gives a flavour of the event.
I have just read at the Change Phenomena facebook page that the date for next year is May the 17th, two speakers are already booked… I have already booked the day out in my diary and cannot wait to be a delegate for this one. I hope to see you there too.