It has taken all my strength… It has taken all my powers of self-discipline… It has taken a lot of hardcore internal dialogue to dissuade myself from joining the debate about the Pope’s visit to the UK…In a depserate bid not to turn my blog into random rants about things that are nothing to do with my field… And boy I wanted to shout it from the rafters… That I cannot understand why the modern world tolerates the promotion of condom-less sex in nations where AIDS is rife, their stance on homosexuality and women in the Church is from the dark ages and I could go on and on when it comes to the child abuse scandals where cover-ups are being covered up by ‘men of God’ living in the oppulence of the higher echelons of the Roman Catholic church…

But I resisted doing that 😉

And instead, I wanted to find some good in it all.

Over the weekend just gone by, many Christians throughout the UK got together and prayed. One of the functions of the mass gatherings was to encourage people to reflect on their misdeeds performed against God and others, with the aim of subsequently improving one’s future actions. I like this thought… What’s more it has some pertienence to us hypnotherapists.

You see, this focus on self-reflection serves a very important psychological function, and Christians are not alone in such a focus on the self in the service of self-improvement. Part of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (and other groups that follow similar step traditions) is that alcoholics take a personal moral inventory of their resentments and perceived character defects to become better people. Similarly, philosophical and religious orientations that emphasise mindfulness (e.g., Buddhist meditation) encourage individuals to become aware of their feelings and mental contents rather than to bury them and ignore them.

It is important to mention here that I am not referring to self-absorption. Quality self-focus is about one having an accurate view of the self for the sake of self-understanding. As hypnotherapists, we need to look at ourselves and our work from a neutral viewpoint, in order to chart what we are doing without allowing any biases, thoughts and ideas to interfere.

The relevancy of reflective practice in hypnotherapy is that all hypnotherapists ought to be engaging in it and have a system set up in order to benefit from it. Teachers have to do it, nurses have to do it, many other formalised schools of psychotherapy have to do it… Yet I encounter many, many hypnotherapists who do not even know what the term means!

2016 Update/Amendment to this article: Any hypnotherapist reading this, my own reflective practice forms are very similar to the Gibbs cyclical model, the Johns model of reflective practice and have undertones of Kolb’s cycle of experiential learning (all can be accessed by googling) and all my students get copies of all of these protocols – I used to offer to email anyone on my forms if you read this but I got too many requests by email to be able to keep offering as much. You should go and have a word with your tutor and ask for copies of his/her forms and also asked why you were not provided with as much. (Update ends)

Importantly, reflective practice is whereby you objectively observe how, why and what you did with your hypnotherapy client. In the same way that you’d expect to gain from supervision… You examine your rationale behind the choices you made for that client and consider other options, aiming to get better, be insightful about your actions and also examine your thoughts, emotions and other cognitions throughout, as well as examining the actions you took and the responses to it all.

Self-reflection; it is essential for hypnotherapists looking to really stay on top of their game… And I snuck in a quick dig at the Pope visit… Man, that felt good!  😉