There have been times over the years when I have given my hypnotherapy clients a great big hug. When appropriate, I have hugged them. Sometimes to congratulate them, sometimes to greet them, sometimes to bid them farewell, and then there have been those that have been to offer comfort.

It is ground that needs to be trodden carefully because there are numerous professional considerations and there are clients for whom it is inappropriate to hug, and situations, scenarios and types of client issues where it makes hugging inappropriate too. However, the kind of relationship I like to develop with those I work with is one where we get to hug on occasion. I have no issue saying that. It creates such a marvelous connection.

Heck, when a member of my class in Iceland shared something personal about his experience of hypnosis with me, even though I’d only met him the day before, I wanted to hug him, so I did just that, and someone caught it on camera….

That sort of comfort found in accepting one another, leaving inhibition behind and offering a hug is something that seems to be increasingly rare in life and certainly in therapy. Many forms of therapy are taught and framed in ways that giving a patient or a client a hug is just not the done thing. I understand that it is not always appropriate, and consider that to be a shame.

Maybe we need to enrol the services of a hugger for whom it is universally ok to hug – a pet dog. Yes, it’s ok for us to hug the ultimate being (a dog) when it comes to acceptance and warm, loving comfort. This is not just a flight of fancy, there are real therapeutic gains to be had according to many.

If you go to a hospice, a hospital, specialist schools and a variety of other establishments, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll encounter or find out how to encounter a therapy dog that you can go and have an unconditionally accepting, warm, loving hug with. They are pretty common today – and if you need a training or dietary guide for your pet pal, feel free to learn more about your dog’s dietary needs from these resources.

Learn more about embracing affection:
Using Self-Hypnosis to Enjoy the Scientific Benefits of Loving Kindness

Audio hypnosis session:
Motherly Love

Back in the 1960’s, child psychologist Boris Levinson introduced the notion of dogs offering a therapeutic effect. Gevinson gave a presentation at an annual psychology conference, and shared what he considered to be breakthrough. He found that when his dog – Jingles – was in the room during therapy sessions with a child he was working with at the time, he made more progress with his client. As a result, he began bringing his dog into other sessions with children who struggled to communicate. The presence of the therapy dog seemed to make things easier.

Levinson’s presentation was not received all that well initially, however, at the time, a bunch of new biographies were being published about prominent psychotherapist  Sigmund Freud. These highlighted the fact that Freud often had his pet dog, Jofi, with him during his sessions with patients. Freud even noted that his patients, children in particular, were much more inclined to talk more openly when Jofi was present. Hopefully Jofi was not neutered, because then he really would have had the penis envy that was dear to Freud’s work…..

In 1969, Levinson wrote a book titled “Pet-Oriented Child Psychotherapy”, which made him one of the original advocates of animal-assisted therapy. Today people can swim with dolphins, ride horses, hug cows and pet dogs as a means of therapy. And if using this approach and having babies at home, make sure you pick the best baby monitor.

Yet I have seen that my professional peers who have their pets presents, in particular dogs, just value being able to give them a hug. They are able to feel comforted and receive some warmth and acceptance, even if the therapist cannot or will not do so. Even seeing the dog being relaxed in the office or the hallway outside of the office can have a soothing effect according to many of my peers who have dogs.

So maybe that is what hypnotherapists need to boost their effectiveness, a canine partner in crime to help things along, and to offer our clients a hug whenever they want one…. I grew up with dogs in my house, I’m off to hatch a plan to convince my wife that we should get one…. I wonder if I’ll be able to claim dog food as a business expense?