The dust has just about settled following this year’s Change Phenomena conference. One of the things I had always enjoyed about my previous year’s lecturing at this event is the diversity which exists within it.
That diversity tends to polarise factions and sections of the hypnosis field whereas this conference celebrates it and it brings people together. I have made lifelong friends with many people who I have vehemently disagreed with on a professional level as a result of this conference.
Part of me wants to say that this was the best ever Change Phenomena, but that would be doing a disservice to those involved in all the previous events, which have always been excellent. What I will say is that the 2014 Change Phenomena was one where I laughed uncontrollably, was moved deeply, learnt a great deal and as a day, it will stand out throughout the remainder of my professional career as one of the most memorable.
Myself and some guys that have trained with and continue to contribute to my school met up and travelled together to the event. It did mean I had to get up just after 5am. The time of day is one whereby even the sounds of bare feet tip-toeing around the house sounds like thunder and lightning occurring as you fear waking the children up while making a coffee that will fuel the long day ahead.
We arrived in plenty of time and the journey whizzed past due to some engaging conversation. Having got set up for the day, the technical guys headed up by Kev Sheldrake of the Head Hacking team helped me to fine tune the settings for my lecture, Anthony introduced me briefly and I stepped on as compere and first presenter of the day.
My lecture was based upon a presentation I gave to a number of high-profile NHS directors as a means of showing them how hypnotherapy fitted in with much of what they already approved as a psychological treatment.
CBT is used a great deal within the NHS and showing those directors evidence of how hypnotherapy advances it’s (CBT’s) efficacy and showing how CBT is predated greatly by the field of behavioural and cognitive hypnotherapy, and how CBT has many of it’s influences drawn from the field of hypnotherapy…. and how the two make such great bedfellows, was the initial part of my lecture.
I went on to offer up the full re-conceptualisation of hypnosis according to this model and how it conflicts with some very populist other approaches (Ericksonian indirect methodologies in particular). I offered up a lot of research – meta-analysies, replicated studies, peer reviewed, quality evidence, as is my bent. It was an academic start to the day, but there was much light at the end of the tunnel for those coming for entertainment.
Thereafter I stepped into compere mode (modelling Ted Bovis of Hi-De-Hi fame) for the rest of the day. Next up, I was introducing the mighty figure that is Mark Tyrrell. A real world leader of the hypnosis downloads market place as well as in many other ways. He presented on using hypnotherapy to help with depression.
It was an excellent presentation, with great factual material, solid theory and evidence underpinning
it throughout and he managed to have me googling papers about dreams… Yes dreams. It was a far cry from dream interpretation of the Freudian pseudoscientific ilk, but offered up a strong case for how they can help understanding and treatment of depression, influenced by the Human Givens approach.
The information about reducing rumination was delivered in a way that was fresh and upon discussing this with Anthony Jacquin in one of the intervals, Anthony said this, as he has also done on the Change Phenomena Facebook page:
“In my opinion the rumination piece and it’s link to REM sleep is the missing piece in the depression puzzle. It is easily addressed and in some leads to immediate relief and a better chance of getting basic needs met.”
It was a very valuable presentation for everyone, but in particular those qualified hypnotherapists in the audience. Mark really knew his stuff, as you’d expect of someone with his reputation. It was a real pleasure to meet him in person for the first time, him and his business partner Roger Elliott really offer up a template of how to run an effective business, underpinned with strong ethics and they represent themselves and this field wonderfully well.
Right at the beginning of his presentation, Mark referred to being thrown out of the cubs when he was 9 years old and following my lecture slide of me with my super cub award, he referred to us as “good cub, bad cub” which gave me my first belly laugh of the day. You gotta love people who can be witty without planning it.
Next up to present was Felix Economakis. I really enjoyed this presentation and found Felix to be very likeable. He clearly has a very different model of hypnosis and how it works than I have, and the protocols that he has great success with are all applications that don’t tend to fit with how I work. This was actually a good thing for me, to challenge how I work and look at alternatives that were getting amazing results.
I found the presentation to offer a strong case for the application of hypnosis for breast augmentation. I thought I’d echo a Facebook comment that my friend and purveyor of excellence Gary Turner wrote:
“Being lectured on hypnotic boobs enhancements at Change Phenomena the National Hypnosis Conference.
Don’t snigger – the process is quite possible – and actually has far reaching medical applications…”
It does indeed have far-reaching medical applications, and I found Felix’s case a real compelling one.
One of the other reasons I enjoyed the presence of Felix so much is that he was able to take much of the flak that I thought I’d get for ripping on Erickson in my own lecture. During the Q&A at the end, the science and methodology of his approach was questioned, and a female in the audience was keen to review the ethics and ethos of this application and to look at it from a female perspective.
Upon discussing the issues she raised with my own female colleagues at dinner later on, I got the impression that the views were not wholly representative of all the women present on the day. However, this does not mean her thoughts are to be discarded. Some very valid points were made and I think if other hypnotherapists plan on using this application of hypnosis, then there’ll need to be some real ethical and scientific consideration as well as looking at the finer sensitivities.
I thought it was incredibly brave for someone with Felix’s reputation and profile to go on record with this presentation, I really love that he did that. Very often, the world is a frightening place for pioneers, and he stood tall. He is also an incredibly lovely man who is warm, kind and is a shining light bringing his psychologist status into our field which is short on credible professionals of the more conventionally-academically-qualified-variety.
Also, the lover of teenage boy humour in me laughed giddily at the abbreviated name of his programme – Breast augmentation programme = ‘BAPs’ offered up my second big belly laugh of the day.
I got the chance to speak to the next presenter throughout the day leading up to his presentation. Christopher Green is someone you just want to talk to and ideally take everywhere with you for the rest of your life. I was able to see him warming up, setting up his sound levels and singing in the intervals, it was some spectacle and very humbling to watch someone with such talent perform. Heck, he even tolerated me asking him about how he got his ginger hair looking so lovely and subsequently equipped me with enough boldness to consider growing my own thinning ginger hair… I grabbed a selfie with him as he readied himself for his performance during the break….
These snippets I had witnessed earlier in the day really did not show any of the real magnificence of what came after I had welcomed him to the stage.
He sang hypnosis, he sang hypnosis history as we imagined being in a turn of the century music hall entertained with a cockney twang and jovial manner, he engaged the imaginations of the audience, he got them involved. We blew up balloons (this was a nod to the old black and white movie clip you may have seen, where a mesmerist takes an audience through a number of tests), we danced with them, we gazed into them and made ourselves feel good, we played, sang, danced and cast off our inhibitions.
He gave an incredibly fresh and innovative approach to stage hypnosis and offered us a snippet of his stage hypnosis show which is 100% sung. Those on stage reacted and responded in a way that any good stage hypnotist would be proud of.
Upon being made artist in residence at The British Library, Chris originally went in search of ‘the singing hypnotist’ assuming there must have been one. He discovered many interesting characters along the way but no mesmerising singer, hence his alter ego was born. The ‘hypnotising song’ that he sang on Saturday was a first for this act, for those paying close attention to what he did, we saw that it started with instructions of hypnotic skills to respond to and build upon throughout…. the participants tapped fingers, moved to instruction/ suggestions to feel, as if, then pure suggestion was delivered telling the participants “your body will sway.” As it developed, the audience witnessed the birth of The Singing Hypnotist.
More than this, I felt connected to the Singing Hypnotist. He bore his vulnerability and sung about it. He sung about control, he sung inductions and deepeners… Most importantly, he sung beautifully. I genuinely felt moved by one of the songs and got all dewy-eyed. How utterly marvelous that someone had taken what we do and turned it into something so delightful, exciting and gorgeous.
It is virtually impossible to describe with any degree of accuracy what and how he does what he does, but I plan on taking Katie to go and see one of his shows and will do what I can to see if we can bring him here to Bournemouth to do something for our community.
Being such a blokey bloke as I clearly am, I have not told many men that I thought they are beautiful, but that is precisely what I told Christopher Green. Need I say more?
Following the tea time afternoon where the sandwiches made their appearance and we fought over jaffa cakes, expectation was brimming as we began winding down and relaxing in anticipation of the final presentation of the day. Kev Sheldrake and I had conceived an ongoing narrative throughout the day whereby we had informed everyone of the travel progress of Kockov.
What can I say, he exploded onto stage. I laughed uncontrollably and my face hurt at times.
Kockov framed his performance wonderfully with reference to MK Ultras, George Estabrook’s notions of military hypnosis and uses of it in his native (now exiled from) Russia. The manner he has was such that he could get away with saying pretty much anything and hilarity ensued.
There is so much to say about this performance that again, I cannot do justice to in a media-friendly soundbite here on my blog.
His hypnosis inductions were a chloroform approach, an injection (which had a belt tied around the arm with the other end in the ‘subject’s’ teeth as he found a vein, hahahahaha) and a carotid hold that resembled a Jack Bauer interrogation move knocking out a victim quietly. He was so funny and so entertaining that the effects (mentalism/magic/stage hypnosis, shooting guns) which would be the highlight of any other show received equal rounds of applause to the sheer direct responses to the gags and brazen attitude of Kockov throughout. The entire place was energised massively and we were all rolling around in our chairs.
Kockov’s introductory recordings were direct quotes from MKUltra and George Estabrooks. His inductions using (faux) chloroform, injection and carotid grip are all direct references to things that are indeed in the literature.
Kockov’s creator, Jasper Blakeley then went on to demonstrate how he comes to be so good. During the Q&A, he picked up on the structures of a number of facets of previous presentations that day, illustrated and identified how they employed comedy and what made them effective and showed that he is so much more than a mullet, leather trousers and scythe-like sense of humour… The day ended in rapturous applause.
On top of all this, I got to hang out and cross paths (albeit briefly in some cases) with so many brilliant people who frequent this field.
The force for unbridled good and positivity that is Tim Cummins was there. He got the speakers at ease and made them feel great about themselves, he welcomed the delegates in and countinued to give his passion and love to everyone as he always does. How can one man give so much? Here I am grabbing a selfie with him and Anthony in one of the breaks….
Gary Turner, my friend and leading peer, continued to ask the best questions, offer his distinct brand of enthusiasm that is so characteristic of him and continued to share all he knows and researches to those wise enough to receive it. He also handed Marcus Lewis his own arse in an arm-wrestling demonstration during lunch…
James Tripp usually makes me nervous with all the stuff he knows; he offered me praise and I got to speak to him about my chosen subject which is thrilling for me. He even tolerated my ridicule about his cardigan that he had given to someone in need…. And Sandra, stunning in all red, it was so good to see you again.
I got to meet Andy Barrett in real-life for the first time, what a lovely bloke, I got to see Craig Galvin once again who is such a warm ongoing contributor to this field, I got to see Diane Cecht again and caught up on the train and during the day (such a lovely lady) and then Joe Sullivan, the ever giving tweeter Peter Wright, as well as Joe Stameijer who talked all things PhD review with me… There was Marcus, Jonas and the rest of the Head Hacking team who are fully jovial throughout… There was Joe O’Sullivan, Peter Bryant, Pearse Culkin, June Asprey, Ian Horrocks, Rob Watkins, Gordon Brown and loads of others that I met, chatted with, offered some small talk to but wanted to chat to for longer…. Ah heck…. My friends Helen, Lucy, Steve and Carlos was there and as well as supporting me very generously, they kept my feet on the ground by ensuring I knew about the stain on my white shirt and other home truths…. This was a place filled with friendship, respect and love for one another and our shared love of the hypnosis field.
Hats must again be doffed to Anthony Jacquin and Kev Sheldrake for creating this melting pot of all things hypnosis, a paradise for a hypnosis geek such as myself; a conference with a manner and attitude that I have not encountered anywhere else in this field. They (Ant and Kev) are something else.
Plus… I got a Change Phenomena T-Shirt…. Yesss! *Punches air*
I feel honoured to have been involved. More people need to get to this event. The DVDs give just a taste of what actually goes on, the effort invested getting there is greatly, greatly rewarded.
To everyone who was there, thank you for making it what it was, I really appreciate you all.