There are still loads of those hypnotists and hypnotherapists out there who seem a bit ego-maniacal and believe that they wield hypnosis upon their underlings and subjects. They have this hypnotic power that their hypnotic subjects surrender to.

Hmmm… I am not dramatic enough and do not look good in a cape to accept this notion, if I am honest. I prefer to lift up the shroud of mysticism and all mighty powerful hypnotist, and not treat those being hypnotised with so little respect. Plus, the Svengali had far too much facial hair for my liking!

Several people in the field of hypnosis and hypnotherapy, whose work I truly love, have asked: is all hypnosis self-hypnosis?

They believe that the power is with the client. The person who is guided into hypnosis.

In fact, in 2006, the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH) stated in print that the hypnotist will “induct a client into a self-hypnotic state.” Several other hypnosis associations have followed in a similar vein.

In 1985 book by Lynn and Garske entitled Contemporary Psychotherapies, in a chapter titled hypnosuggestive procedures as catalysts for psychotherapies,  Theodor Barber contended that most hypnosuggestive procedures can be truthfully defined as self-hypnosis. Additionally, work by Orne and McConkey in 1981 (Toward convergent inquiry into self-hypnosis, International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis)  and Sanders in 1991 (Clinical Self-Hypnosis: The Power of Words and Images)  state the same.

Parts therapy and regression proponent Roy Hunter and his mentor Charles Tebbetts stated the same – that hypnosis is self-hypnosis. In fact, in Roy Hunters book The Art Of Hypnotherapy, he states that Tebbetts, whilst still alive, began every hypnosis session with the statement “all hypnosis is self-hypnosis.” You see, I do agree with regression therapists on some things!

Others who believed the same:

– The founder of the American Board of Hypnotherapy held that same opinion as stated in The Wizard Within by Krasner in 1990 (published by ABH Press).

– In 1995, in his book Essentials of Hypnosis, Michael Yapko suggested that whatever power the hypnotherapist has, is acquired from the client and of course, can be terminated by the client.

– As far back as 1965, in Hypnosis Induction Technics, Tietelbaum stated that if a hypnotist attempts to be too far up his own arse  powerful, then the client may lose rapport and reject suggestions given.

Really, it is the guys in the 19th century, born out of Mesmerism and the dark ages, that created the notions of hypnosis ‘being done to‘ another individual (I wrote about Mesmerism here). Imagine if that were the case? How comfortable would you be about hypnotists being set loose on the world? Surely they’d take over, wouldn’t they? Well, the less scrupulous ones at any rate.

Ultimately, the person being hypnotised is responsible for generating the suggestion inside their own mind, creates the relevant imagery to go with it, and combines it all with their own experience and behaviours in response.

One of the benefits of such a theory and approach to hypnosis, is that it does lend itself wonderfully well to the hypnotherapy client then using hypnosis techniques at home and can be taught a number of techniques to add to those done in the hypnotherapy session and subsequently built upon. This is made difficult if the person being hypnotised believes that they can only enter hypnosis if the caped, all powerful hypnotist needs to be around to induce it.

This was of explaining hypnosis to hypnotherapy clients is also very useful because it helps to bypass resistance and fear associated with the notion of being under the control of another person. It also defies the notion created by Svengali proponents that you need to be somehow weak-willed to be controlled by the hypnotist.

The vast majority of hypnotherapists teach their clients to use self-hypnosis skills to enhance the efficacy of the hypnosis throughout the hypnotherapy. By practicing self-hypnosis, the client can enhance the collaborative nature of successful therapy. They become an active agent in the process rather than a passive recipient. The hypnotherapist becomes a facilitator rather than a dictator.

Of course, there are as many theories on this as there are hypnotists and hypnotherapists. I think it important to utilise the theory that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis because it empowers the hypnotherapy client, allays fears, puts them in control, creates a collaborative approach and seems to be more client-centred. All of which I prefer.