Hypnotherapists tend to sit in a camp of some kind with regards to their approach and their hypnotic style. At some stage the hypnotherapist may have considered whether they preferred being direct or indirect, more positive or negative or provocative. They may have considered working with the content of presenting issues or just looking at the process as favoured by varying approaches. They may also have considered being more authoritative or permissive with regards to the delivery of their suggestions within hypnotherapy sessions.

Many hypnotherapists just become the kind of therapist that they were taught to be by their hypnotherapy trainer and adopt that style.

The issue I have with taking any style, is that choosing a style is a bit self-indulgent. It is thinking of me, me, me and not considering the client.

The way we approach a client and their presenting issues ought to be influenced by the kind of person they are and the way they respond and react to a certain hypnotic style or approach. It should not be that a hypnotherapist simply applies some rigid formula to each and every client that they see.

I’d prefer to encounter more hypnotherapists who embrace the notion of having fluency in lots of (if not all) styles and approaches to hypnotherapy and then use whatever they believe to be of the greatest benefit to the client.

Something that I find myself often embroiled in discussions with fellow hypnotherapists is the notion of thinking hypnotherapy and applications of hypnosis are science or art, and finding a balance.

In 1997 Covino wrote that therapy is more art than science and will remain so as long as therapy remains the interpersonal process that it is – due to the subjective nature of the interactions of the unique individuals within the therapeutic relationship. Many hypnotherapists advocate this position.

Yet many evidence based hypnotherapists have shown through a growing body of research within the field that when certain processes are applied in similar fashion, certain results prevail regardless of the therapist’s artistry.

I choose to land on the side that strives to have empirical evidence supporting what we do, yet have many good friends who argue that more efficacy data won’t help us to be better humans within our clinical work and prefer to strive to be better artists than being able to employ strategies supported by research. I often argue back that this could be seen as irresponsible and also that it is often the therapists congruence and belief in their abilities enhancing placebo and a variety of other things that could be getting them the results with strategies that have no evidence supporting it.

Such debates prove quite divisive in the field of hypnotherapy. They occur and re-occur.

That said, if any hypnotherapist has a range and depth of knowledge and skills, with a degree of flexibility and a client centred approach, is that not being artistic? Am I not using some artistry?

If someone is capable of making informed decisions about how and when to use direct approaches or indirect approaches, permissive or authoritative language, being process or content focused (and so on) then is that not artistry? Informed, intelligent artistry at that?

I think the division can sometimes help us to be informed and keep examining the way we do things, but it also serves for some to  dig their heels in and defend their style and their approach and refuse to be flexible enough to understand anything else.

Some might think it sitting on the fence, but I’d prefer to think of it as being eclectic in my approach to being a hypnotherapist… And here is a picture of a fine looking fence for me to go and sit on…