Author Archives: Mike-Editor

Hypnosis and the Great Work of Transformation By Marilyn Gordon, BCH, CI

Published by:

Hypnosis and the Great Work of Transformation By Marilyn Gordon, BCH, CI

What Does Transformation Mean?

Transformation is a process of moving from darkness into light. It’s a darkness-into-light shift in consciousness that can happen at any moment. Through it you can make dynamic shifts in understanding to move pain, grief, anger, sadness, and trauma into new ways of being. Everything that has happened in life contains the seeds of dynamic transformation. Ultimately, you can move into the true essence of strength, love, healing, and positive redirection. There is emotional and physical healing as well as support for spiritual transformation.

It’s about first paying attention to the difficulties, experiencing how they feel or sound or what they look like, and then releasing and transforming them by making this connection with a more transcendent state of consciousness. This helps us to view our difficulties differently by shifting our level of awareness. There is truly a temple of healing that exists within. The healing process is a movement from darkness into light, from the unreal to the real, and from the deepest to the highest states of consciousness.

What are the Different Levels of Consciousness?

There are different levels of consciousness in every being, and we can work with them all in states of hypnosis.

The first of these levels, the conscious mind, is the thinking part of consciousness. Its job is to judge, be logical, evaluate and take in the facts of the world through its own interpretations. Too often it gets mired in these interpretations, when it appears that a rope it sees is a snake or when it thinks that everything must be judged. It’s the conscious mind, and we live here a great deal of the time. Through hypnosis, we can view the ways our minds are looking at events see if there’s a way to view them differently.

The next level is the subconscious mind, the data storage or filing system of consciousness. Everything that has happened to you is stored here and cataloged. This includes, losses, pain, habits, traumas, and it also includes subpersonalities like the inner child. You can put it on “search mode” and find out a lot about what’s going on. You don’t have to dwell in this area, and yet it holds its own fascination as the great search engine of the inner being. You can put it on “search mode” and find out the possible origins of current issues.

The unconscious mind stores records of all your karmas and patterns that you’ve brought to this lifetime, such as tendencies to feel “I’ll never be any good” or “I’m better than everyone.”

The energy field is your aura or electromagnetic field. Tapping the code of your energy field can create healing and great relief from pain and suffering.

The crown jewel of states of consciousness is the superconscious state. This is the remedy for all the issues and difficulties of life, the challenges from every other level. In the superconscious state or higher self, you find the Wise Mind, along with love, peace, light, forgiveness, bliss, healing and enlightenment. When we work with the Wise Mind, we tap into the vast pool of the superconscious healing system of the universe, for it is set up so that we can become enlightened and healed by recognizing its profound offerings to us.

What Are the Three Stages of Healing?

They are: Experience, Release, and Transform. The first phase of this healing work is allowing yourself to fully experience your experience, to come to know what’s inside. The second is to release the experience, and the third is to transform it.

As you move through the stages of “Experience, Release and Transform,” you first allow the full experience of the experience, to come to know what’s taking place within. Next, you’re able to release the experience, and then you can transform it.

The “Experience” Stage

Every experience of life has value. Paying close attention is the first step in the process of inner knowledge. It is a process of looking with an inner microscope or magnifying glass and just seeing what’s there. It’s about looking, for example, at current experiences that are taking place in the body – pains, constrictions, tingling, holding – whatever is happening in the moment. It’s also about looking at the mind and emotions – seeing whether there is sadness or rage or tightness or shame. It’s about looking even more deeply at the experience, possibly finding the roots. The roots may be in childhood, or they may go all the way back to the womb. Or they may go to another lifetime, or to a belief or a tendency of the mind. Even as you pay attention to the deep experience, transformation is taking place, for whatever you pay attention to naturally transforms.

The “Release” Stage

Sometimes release happens naturally as a direct result of “looking deeply” or “paying attention.” This second stage is a natural process. Clouds release raindrops when it’s time to let the rain come. Boils on the skin release foreign matter when it’s time to heal. Other times, we can assist in the release process by using techniques such as energy therapy (EFT), which taps away old traumas, fears, resentments, guilt, grief, shame, anger and emotional trauma, and there are other release processes which we’ve looked at in other articles and will talk about in more detail in future ones.

Release is a clearing out of consciousness. It’s like cleaning out closets and drawers, releasing old correspondence or outworn clothes. As these are discarded, you invite in a new level of life. You initiate an opening of a reality that had previously been either closed or unknown.

The “Transform” Stage

This third stage comes when there’s a readiness to shift consciousness to a new level, an opening to see with different eyes. Sometimes the transformation will lead to places suffused with light. Or a profound wisdom may come forth. You may find that deep compassion is flowing or that there is an upliftment into the experience of love.

Going through the three levels allows the process of transformation from the deepest places to the highest ones. One person found a lotus at the bottom of a murky pond. Another felt as if she were experiencing a birth process through a very dark tunnel and out into an experience of light.

We remember that healing is the work of a lifetime, that healing is a cyclic process. We know that in this process we continue to transform darkness into light and to experience love, compassion, forgiveness, wisdom, the ability to stand back and see with greater perspective, and the ability to know the great power of healing.

Some Questions You Can Ask to Assist in Transformation


“Whenever you’re ready, you can share with me what you’re experiencing. It may be a picture, a feeling, a thought or an impression.” (Ask questions to vivify the experience…” What’s happening now? Tell me about it. Where are you? How old are you? Is anyone else there? What do you feel in your body? Do you see anything? Tell me more.)


“Are you ready to release this now?”


“What does that part of you need? (Or how can you bring more love to this?)” -Or-
“What resources do you have within you that can help you with this?” -Or-
“What would your Wise Mind like to tell you about this?” -Or-
“What is this here to teach you?”
(Other transformational experiences: love, comfort, compassion, guidance, (inner healer, spiritual guide) forgiveness, wisdom, witness, soul lesson, light, reframing.

How a Man Transformed his Anger

One man named Dan found that he was constantly angry with his boss. He saw his boss as a petty tyrant. Dan stewed in his anger so much that he was developing a skin ailment. It was something akin to hives, which involved an eruption of redness, and which he knew was his anger externalized. He also knew that he’d have to make some changes in his perception, as this was starting to affect him in powerful ways. When his Wise Mind suggested to him that he look at his boss from an expanded point of view, he saw that his boss was still a child in many ways, bullying his way through life. He imagined his boss as a child, and he experienced that the boss had, himself, been bullied throughout his childhood. This relieved the man of a great deal of his anger. He simply moved back to see his boss more clearly. In stepping back, he was also able to view the panorama of the experience at work. He saw that this was a “setup” by the universe to get him to heal his own childhood and his own anger. He felt sorry for his boss. The emotions didn’t affect him any longer, as he moved into a space of the “observer.” From this, he soon found he didn’t need to be working with the boss any longer. He could move on in his life as he had moved on in his consciousness. He had made the giant leap from the darkness of his angry emotions to the light of his compassion.

How Another Man Began to Live Again

Jack, a man of 62, had decided he was a “loser.” He had gotten off the wheel of his own success fifteen years ago when he lost his position in a company, and he had put his foot on the brake of the rest of his life. He now did nothing. He decided that he no longer had any worth, and so his life stagnated. When he came to talk to me about this, he said he knew he wasn’t very good because his parents had told him this over and over. But Jack knew that the time was up for this pattern, and he was finally ready for a breakthrough. Among other things we worked on together, Jack traveled into the terrain of the Wise Mind. It helped him to understand that he didn’t have to listen to this old conditioning inside himself any longer. The Wise Mind told him to begin his life again immediately. Start by cleaning up his home step by step. Pay attention to himself inside as well, and he’d be given the instructions for the daily renewal of his life. Decide that if he ever berated himself again, he was to tell himself, “I don’t shop here anymore. I am healing myself now.” Miracles are continuing to happen in Jack’s life as he continues to tune into the frequency of the Wise Mind. He called this “better than medicine, and healthier, too.” A new sense of joy has entered Jack’s life, as he operates now from a more expanded understanding of his life.

The Trials of Life Become Transformational Experiences

In addition to perceptual shifts, you also find that there is an understanding of the life of the spirit in greater depth. As you move through darkness and into the light, you understand the trials of life as transformational experiences. This is felt emotionally, physically and spiritually. There is a lifting into lighter emotions, a lifting up spiritually so that the great source of great power that lives within is understood experientially. This is the nature of transformation. We are working, as you remember, with all levels of consciousness. All of these are the components of a healing system that moves you gracefully from darkness into light.
©2006 Marilyn Gordon, BCH, CI
1 (800) 398-0034

Medicine and Hypnosis: Hypnotherapy – Healing Emotionally and Physically from the Inside Out, By Linda Simmon, C.Ht

Published by:

Medicine and Hypnosis: Hypnotherapy – Healing Emotionally and Physically from the Inside Out, By Linda Simmon, C.Ht.

More and more doctors now realize that hypnosis is powerful medicine.   Why this is and how it happens is still something of a mystery, but science is proving that hypnosis can improve your health in amazing ways.  It can help relieve pain, make breathing easier for people with respiratory illnesses, aid with gastrointestinal ailments and relieve depression just to name a few.  The most astonishing evidence is coming from research on healing.

In a pilot study published in 1999, Harvard University psychologist Carol Ginandes, Ph.D., showed that hypnosis can help broken bones heal faster and, in a follow-up experiment published in 2000, Ginandes and her research team discovered that women who had breast reduction surgery recovered far more quickly after undergoing hypnosis.

It is speculated that hypnosis alters the levels of certain chemicals found in the brain that influence the nervous system, hormone production, and the immune system.  It appears that hypnosis effects how genes in cells express themselves, turning some functions on and others off.  Studies using brain scans and other imaging technology are providing explanations as to how and why hypnosis works in helping the body heal itself.

Hypnotherapy uses relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, imagery, visualization and positive suggestions.  Clients often say to me that they experience a feeling of peacefulness and euphoria yet are fully aware during a session.  This is similar to what is experienced during meditation.  As David Spiegel, director of the psychosocial treatment laboratory at Stanford University School of Medicine and coauthor of Trance & Treatment: Clinical Uses of Hypnosis (American Psychiatric Publishing) explains, there is “some overlap with meditation” however, “hypnosis focuses on the ability to do something for a specific purpose.”  And this is how hypnosis achieves its strength, by using positive statements and suggestions while a client is in a fully relaxed state.  This enables the client to more easily focus on past problematic patterns or behaviors and it is this ability to more easily focus that results in the desired change.  A sort of spring cleaning for the mind.  Working from the inside out, releasing negative thoughts, perceptions and behaviors and replacing them with the positive thoughts and suggestions that the client desires.

It is this technique of focusing and strengthening willpower that is responsible for hypnotherapy’s high success rate, particularly for clients who want to lose weight or quit smoking.  A University of Connecticut review of six weigh-loss studies found that 70 percent of study participants rated hypnosis better than cognitive therapy alone.

Arreed Barabasz, director of the laboratory of hypnosis research at Washington State University in Pullman and coauthor of Hypnotherapeutic Techniques (Brunner-Routledge) agrees.  The suggestions, however, must not emphasize what you are against, but rather stress the positive goals and imagery that you are seeking.  For the client who wishes to quit smoking, positive suggestions about their body and visualizing their lungs becoming clear and free of smoke as well as instilling images of the client happy, healthy and smoke free are the types of suggestions that are most effective.  When Barabasz tested this approach on 300 heavy smokers who had previously quit and relapsed, almost half stayed smoke-free 18 months after hypnotherapy – compared with 10 percent for the nicotine-replacement therapy alone.

Research has shown that cancer patients who receive hypnotherapy prior to or during chemotherapy sessions experience less nausea and vomiting than those going through chemotherapy without the aid of hypnosis.

The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, April 2000 discovered that hypnosis relieved pain in 75 percent of the people studied.

And this list goes on and on.

As more and more doctors and patients are beginning to recognize that mental states and emotional and physical well-being are connected, hypnosis continues to be used more frequently.  Hypnosis can help you to take back control of your health and your life and once you have taken back control, then the real fun can start, realizing all the possibilities available to you, all the directions you can go and finally realizing that your life is a journey not just a destination.  A journey that you can now control.

Linda Simmon, C.Ht.

Author bio:

After over 20 years of being a paralegal, Linda Simmon decided it was time to take a new direction with her life and is a graduate of The Hypnosis Motivation Institute, the first nationally accredited school for hypnotherapy in the United States.  For more information on Linda, her CD’s and downloadable mini-session as well as telephone or face to face sessions, visit

Self-hypnosis: Beyond the Chicago Paradigm, By Ronald Shone

Published by:

© Copyright protected

The study of self-hypnosis by Fromm and Khan gives some interesting insight into self- hypnosis and how it differs from heterohypnosis. Although the first study of its kind, it does indicate that we need to know much more. Self-hypnosis is a learned skill that can be improved over time. However, being taught self-hypnosis in therapy is not enough. The individual also needs guidance in utilising the trance state, self-therapy and utilising imagery.

Self-hypnosis: Beyond the Chicago Paradigm

Ronald Shone

I recently read with great interest Self-hypnosis: the Chicago Paradigm by Erika Fromm and Stephen Kahn (Fromm & Kahn, 1990) – which contains a number of chapters reprinting articles published elsewhere, plus some new material. It was more remarkable from my point of view because it was the first in-depth study of the subject I had come across. There is virtually nothing on self-hypnosis in the more learned journals, and as the authors point out, many consider the topic more or less the same as heterohypnosis. But as their book testifies, this is not so. In presenting their studies they draw on the diaries of the subjects they used – although much of their formal analysis is derived from the analysis of questionnaires.

What I present here is a comment on, a critique of, and a condensed longitudinal study of the topic based on my own experience. The longitudinal studies used in their analysis were based on a mere four weeks of using self-hypnosis. My own experience comes from utilising self-hypnosis intensively over a 25-year period. It is also based on my study of hypnosis and my training as a hypnotherapist. I am aware that one can always dispense with a single study on the grounds that it is not possible to generalise from the particular. My reply to that is that a longitudinal study over a 25-year period can, and does, give additional insight into the subject that adds to our understanding of self-hypnosis in particular, and the phenomenon of hypnosis in general. It has the added advantage that it not only draws on the experience of the person engaging in self-hypnosis, but draws on a knowledge of the subject matter which most subjects would not possess.

Heterohypnosis versus Self-hypnosis

Prior to 1970 the general belief was that self-hypnosis and heterohypnosis were basically the same, the only difference was who was inducing the trance state. Based on this belief, teaching self-hypnosis is to teach the individual trance induction and deepening. Fromm and her team came to question this.

The first consideration was the degree to which consciousness was split in the two types of trance. In heterohypnosis there is, besides the hypnotist, the experiencer and the part that is the observer. In other words, the individual’s consciousness splits into two. In the case of self-hypnosis, however, the individual must be the director (the hypnotist) the one being directed (the experiencer) and the observer. In other words, in self-hypnosis the individual’s consciousness splits into at least three. In their investigations, all subjects reported more splits in consciousness (what Fromm and Khan call “ego splits”) in self-hypnosis than in heterohypnosis. My own experience confirms this too. However, the same ability can be utilised in heterohypnosis, e.g. when utilising double dissociation. It appears to me that the split occurs ‘more naturally’ in self-hypnosis but has to be suggested in heterohypnosis.

My own view is that self-hypnosis is easier to achieve once heterohypnosis has been achieved. The reasons for this are: (a) knowing what to expect; (b) knowing/learning the body responses; (c) becoming comfortable with the experience; (d) taking advantage of post-hypnotic suggestion, and (e) removing doubts and uncertainties. My own experience, however, of teaching self-hypnosis is that individuals can induce and deepen a trance fairly readily, but then get stumped – often asking “what do I do now?” This is important. The next step is no longer self-hypnosis but more correctly self-therapy. The individual moves from being a hypnotist to being a therapist. But not all individuals know how to be a therapist, or even if they do, it does not mean that they will be a good therapist. Therapists go through long periods of training. Why should a clinician assume, then, that an individual they train in self-hypnosis will also be a good therapist? Clearly, guidance is required in the use of suggestions, imagery, metaphors, etc., depending on the problem or the use to which the self-hypnosis is to be put. Take the following example. Suppose self-hypnosis is to be used for improving concentration and examination performance. A knowledge of learning skills is called for – unless one believes simple direct suggestions like: “I am going to perform magnificently” will work! Where self-hypnosis is for a specific purpose, like pain, then the guidance can be specific, short and reasonably comprehensive. But it should not be forgotten that what the clinician is now instructing the client in is not self-hypnosis but self-therapy. These are quite different things.

In carrying out their investigation the authors raise doubt about the technique used in their pilot study: “Also, we wondered whether a single autohypnosis session was sufficient to enable a subject to experience and explore the really significant phenomena of self-hypnosis.” (p.31). I find this astonishing! Would anyone say from one session of golf or one session of tennis that an individual fully appreciated either? No. So why should they expect it of self-hypnosis. If self-hypnosis was innate and fixed, then this makes sense. If it is a skill that must be learnt, then it makes little sense. Hypnosis is a skill that not only can be learned but can be constantly improved. This was indeed found to be the case on a further study of six volunteers.

The authors report that subjects switch back and forth between Ego Activity and Ego Receptivity, i.e., actively deciding to focus on something as against letting things float into their awareness. This terminology, however, I find very value-laden. Furthermore, the study showed that Ego Receptivity was greater in self-hypnosis than in heterohypnosis. The problem here is disentangling what is going on. Ego Receptivity is highly correlated with vivid imagery, and vivid imagery was reported by the subjects to be much more prevalent in self-hypnosis than in heterohypnosis. They go as far as saying that “Ego Receptivity and Imagery are the most important aspects of self-hypnosis.” (p.25). One interpretation of this, however, is the limitation of the study. The subjects had no great purpose or focus for engaging in self-hypnosis. Quite naturally, then, subjects would concentrate on internal states, which utilised imagery and fantasy. In heterohypnosis part of their focus, part of their attention, would be directed at what the hypnotist was suggesting. Even so, it does indicate an important observation that in self-hypnosis imagery is crucial for achieving focused concentration, which is essential for the trance state.

Trance is a skill

Going into trance, deepening the trance, maintaining the trance and utilising the trance state are all skills. In heterohypnosis the hypnotist acts like a coach. They give instruction, encouragement and facilitate the trance process. In self-hypnosis the individual also takes on board the tasks performed by the coach. I can learn tennis by reading instructions and playing with others who know the game. I can join a club and be instructed by a coach on how best to play the game. The second route is more likely to lead me to play better. In either case, I am still the one who learns to play, and the standard I reach depends on a mixture of innate ability, practise and taking advantage of what the coach instructs me to do. Over time my skill improves, usually with many ups-and-downs. Now I could go to a club and play once a day for four weeks. My skill would improve, but I very much doubt that I would be a proficient player of tennis in such a time-period. Why, then, should researches expect so much from individuals engaging in self-hypnosis for an equally short period of time?

My comments should not be construed as saying we learn nothing from the present study, far from it. What it does imply is that we need to go beyond it. The study is an important one because it is the first of its kind. What, then do we learn from it? First, and as to be expected from any learned skill, it became easier over time. Certain aspects of the induction and deepening became automatic (almost like changing a gear). Once they had become automatic, the subjects could concentrate on the utilisation of the trance state itself. Furthermore, as time went on subjects found it easier to concentrate. As in meditation, this is a learned experience. Consciousness varies, and even more when in a relaxed state. In self-hypnosis the individual has to learn to keep focused. As the trance deepens this becomes more difficult. What needs to be emphasised, however, is that if concentration wavers, then don’t worry. Bring the thoughts back to what was being focused on before this happened.

As a corollary to this, the authors make an interesting observation on p.36. When engaging in self-hypnosis you can always give yourself enough time to carry out some suggestion. In heterohypnosis the client has often created an image while the therapist is trying to describe it. Furthermore, the image can often be at variance to what the therapist is describing, especially if it is quite explicit. In self-hypnosis this simply does not happen. The individual knows exactly what is wanted and creates it and knows when he or she has created it. For this reason I have found it necessary in heterohypnosis to utilise ideometer responses – “Nod your head when you have done such-and-such”. On one occasion when utilising a computer re-programming metaphor (basically achieving reframing), the subject took 10 minutes! He was, however, very actively engaged in debugging his programme throughout it all, as he informed me later.

Another feature discovered in the study was the loss of motivation to continue with self-hypnosis. But this is a common feature in all learning experiences. Sustaining motivation requires a high input of energy and a desire to achieve some goal. The only real goals of the volunteers were a curiosity and a desire for self-exploration. The lesson to be learned from this is that the individual must have a good reason for pursuing self-hypnosis. Pain is one of the greatest motivators. What individuals seem to want were new skills and knew areas to explore. Without these, boredom sets in. There needs to be a reason to utilise self-hypnosis, even if it is only for relaxation or the control of tension. The difficulty is that we often do not know the value of a new skill, nor do we know the many uses to which it can be put – neither of which can be achieved in four weeks. Only be acquiring this additional knowledge can a person engaging in self-hypnosis gain fully from it.

Over the many years of engaging in self-hypnosis I have found that my skills have changed and developed as I have become more knowledgeable about the subject. In the early period I tried, like the subjects in this study, simple exercises and simple explorations. Like them, I used it for problem solving and for self-exploration. Like them I became bored. What I discovered very early on was my limited acquaintance with imagery and image formation. Correcting this led to my book on Creative Visualization (Shone, 1984). In the study it was reported that individuals had greater and more vivid imagery. But as a hypnotherapist I have found individuals need some guidance on image formation and the utilisation of imagery. As an example see my earlier paper on Hypnosis and ME, (Shone, 1997). I will have more to say on imagery later.

The journal reports of the subjects indicate that they explored the trance phenomena by giving themselves tasks to do and establishing which were easy and which not. But the trance state is a dynamic process. On some occasions a task may be easy while on other occasions the same task may be difficult or simply not done. The longitudinal studies do not indicate sufficiently that even entering trance can vary across states; and that the quality of the trance state can vary. The authors do speculate that the depth of trance fluctuated much more during self-hypnosis than heterohypnosis and that this could be because of changes in arousal levels throughout the day. My experience is just so.

Ultradian rhythms and self-hypnosis

In this study subjects were not instructed to enter self-hypnosis at the same time of the day or to take note of the time. Consequently, nothing could be gleaned from these studies concerning changes in arousal levels and its impact on the trance state. Over many years I have frequently entered self-hypnosis in the morning and again after returning from work. The morning session immediately on awakening was not found to be effective. However, after breakfast and before going to work it was very effective. In fact, this would be around the first ultradium rhythm of the day (see Rossi, 1991; Rossi, Lippincott & Bessette, 1994 and 1995). The one on returning home after work often overlapped another. But interestingly, the two differed in quality and purpose. In terms of the authors’ distinctions, the morning session was Ego Active while the afternoon session was Ego Receptive. Very rarely was it the other way round.

It is now becoming documented that hemispherical dominance switches throughout the day. One manifestation of this is the dominant nostril in breathing! The 90-to 120-minute of the rest-active cycle, the ultradian rhythm, leads to much more vivid imagery during the rest phase of the cycle when self-hypnosis or heterohypnosis is engaged in. It is also possible that during the rest phase individuals are likely to loose consciousness more readily during heterohypnosis. If, as Rossi maintains, it is possible to tune oneself into the rest phase of the ultradium rhythm, then entering self-hypnosis during these periods, even for short periods of time, could be more beneficial than at other times, in which longer periods of self-hypnosis are undertaken. Or it may be that during the rest phase of the cycle Ego Receptivity is more prevalent and during the active phase more Ego Activity is prevalent. Far more research needs to be undertaken on hemispherical dominance and the ultradian rhythm and its relationship to the trance state

Imagery and self-hypnosis

A constantly reported feature of the subjects’ experiences was the greater use of imagery in self-hypnosis – the imagery being idiosyncratic, very rich and very vivid. Quantitatively, about three-quarters of the subjects reported a greater and more vivid imagery in self-hypnosis than in heterohypnosis. It also appeared that geometric shapes were more frequent in self-hypnosis. The report also indicated that levels of imagery production remained virtually the same over the four-week period. With regard to this last point, four weeks is simply not long enough to learn the skill of utilising imagery.

Images can be realistic or they can be unrealistic, they can metaphorical or symbolic, they can be empowering or not. Creative imagery is a skill. There is a basic and natural level of imagery that everyone can utilise. But to go beyond this requires some understanding of imagery formation and imagery utilisation. Hypnotherapists are well acquainted with basic imagery. I can say to a client relax or I can ask them to imagine that they are on a beach, lying in the warm sun just having had a swim… But as the subjects indicated, they can become bored. Images need to be varied, even when wanting to illicit the same response. This is as true in self-hypnosis as it is in heterohypnosis.

Good imagery utilises the subject’s own experiences. In heterohypnosis these experiences must be obtained either by direct questioning or by simply listening to the client. In self-hypnosis the individual knows what interests them, knows the type of fantasies that they like and can relate to. But even here, exploring new images can still be achieved and perfected. However, unless imagery is to be developed simply for its own sake, it needs to be directed at some purpose. There needs to be a goal or reason for the imagery in the first place. Consider the simple example of someone worried about examinations. The hypnotherapist can do a whole variety of procedures to help: direct suggestion, going through the examination in the mind’s eye, being given post-hypnotic suggestions about what they should do when they first go into the examination room and sit down, etc. But suppose you know that they are a great fan of Star Trek. In the case of self-hypnosis you would know this without having to illicit it. The point is, that with this knowledge it is possible to construct a very elaborate image that has the individual on the spaceship Enterprise, heading for a planet on which examinations are undertaken. On board, however, they go through all sorts of procedures to enhance their abilities and allow them to achieve their full potential. Such imagery can be as simple or elaborate as the individual needs. The point is that in self-hypnosis, the images can be as elaborate as the individual wants, and can be pursued for as long as the individual wants. But having said this, images of this type need to be practised. The self-hypnotist has to become proficient at creating images easily and quickly. I do not believe that imagery is a constant innate characteristic. Once this is accepted, then the logic is that imagery can be improved and utilised far more efficiently. One simple way forward is to learn a stock of images, try them and adapt them for your own purpose (see Denning & Phillips, 1993; Epstein, 1989; Fanning, 1988; Page, J.L., 1990, Page, M, 1990; Shone, 1984; Stanton, 1985; Wells, 1990). Like fairy stories, there are good fairy stories and there are ones not so good. Equally, there are good images and there are images that are not so good. But an image that is good for one person may not be for another. The Star Trek image is good for someone who likes Star Trek and is comfortable with science fiction, but for others a different image is called for.

In heterohypnosis it is the therapist who has to become proficient in the use of imagery. In the case of self-hypnosis, it is the individual himself or herself. Once again, then, we return to the point that individuals require guidance in the use of imagery if they are to take full advantage of it.


When teaching self-hypnosis to a client it is important to realise that a number of skills are required:

i) entering, deepening and maintaining the trance state

ii) utilising the trance state

iii) self-therapy

iv) utilising imagery

The first is often all that a client is given guidance in. But this is the easiest and (probably) the least important of the list – so long as the individual can enter self-hypnosis. Once the skill of entering and deepening self-hypnosis is achieved, which is not at all difficult for most people, then the real difficulty is utilising the trance state; knowing exactly how to engage in self-therapy and how to utilise imagery to its full advantage.


Denning, M. and Phillips, O. (1983) The LLewellyn Practical Guide to Creative Visualization, 2 edn. LLewellyn Publications.

Epstein, G. (1989) Healing Visualizations, Bantam Books.

Fanning, P. (1988) Visualization for Change , New harbinger Publications, Inc.

Fromm, E. and Kahn, S. (1990) Self-hypnosis. The Chicago Paradigm, New York: The Guildford Press.

Page, J.L. (1990) Applied Visualisation, Quantum.

Page, M. (1990) Visualization, The Aquarian Press.

Rossi, E.L. (1991) The 20-Minute Break, Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc.

Rossi, E.L., Lippincott, B.M. and Bessette, A. (1994) Ultradian Dynamics in Hypnotherapy – Part One. European Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 2, No.1, 10-20.

Rossi, E.L., Lippincott, B.M. and Bessette, A. (1995) Ultradian Dynamics in Hypnotherapy (Part 2). European Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 2, No.2, 6-14.

Shone, R. (1984) Creative Visualization, Wellingborough: Thorsons Publishers Limited.

Shone, R. (1997) Hypnosis and M.E. European Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 4, No.1, 35-39.

Stanton, H.E. (1985) The Fantasy Factor, Optima.

Wells, V. (1990) The Joy of Visualization, Chronicle Books.

Author profile:

Ronald Shone

© Copyright protected

Professional Abuse By Michael O’Sullivan

Published by:

What exactly is professional abuse? Everyone has their own opinions about what is and what is not acceptable behaviour. To keep matters simple it is probably best to begin with professional codes of ethics. For example how familiar are you with your own professional organisations code? If you are a member of more than one professional body are the different codes compatible? Does one organisation allow certain behaviour while another might prohibit it? Not important you think? Well, think again!

By voluntarily becoming a member of a professional body, you are also agreeing to abide by its code of ethics. By joining another you are in addition agreeing to abide by this second code as well, and so on. I have personally known several therapists who have been members of different organisations not realising or seeming to care that the different codes that they had agreed to abide by were contradictory. In one case membership of one organisation prohibited certain activities, which their member engaged in on a regular basis as a member of another.

Imagine a worst-case scenario – someone brings a complaint against a multimember therapist which is ultimately found to have no basis. But, because the complaint was filed with several organisations, and they all investigated it, several problems arise because the therapist was found to have been in breach of one organisations code of ethics by engaging in activities promoted by another. Ultimately the multimember therapist might be forced to surrender one membership – only to find that this fact is reportable to other organisations (most organisations make it a condition of membership that any disciplinary action against a member be reported at the earliest opportunity) – in turn triggering further investigations and possible actions. So without actually having acted contrary to the best interests of a client it is still possible to find oneself being sanctioned.

There was a time when certain organisations ‘threw together’ a code of ethics because everyone else had them. Today ethical codes are no longer something which are just ‘thrown together’ (there are still one or two exceptions). A reputable committee might spend months labouring over them in the search for a code that will promote best practice among its members and offer a good measure of protection and redress where necessary to members of the public.

This brings us to the next point that needs to be examined – best practice.

When a client, often made vulnerable through stress, distress or illness, seeks assistance from a therapist, they are in effect placing their trust in them. This then places the entire onus for ensuring that this trust is not abused with the therapist. Client’s have every right to expect that their chosen therapist will act professionally and objectively. Abuse in the real sense of the word happens the very moment that a therapist takes advantage of the trust placed in them. The moment that this happens the therapist is no longer acting in the best interests of the client. The moment that a therapist crosses this line they breach professional boundaries and exceed the normal limits of the professional relationship. Go back to your codes of ethics for a moment – it would be rare, I hope impossible, to find one that did not require a therapist to act in the best interests of a client.

There are six main areas where abuse can occur and statistics show that the majority of offenders are male. These areas are sexual, sexual orientation, racial, emotional, physical and financial.

Sexual abuse is not confined to sexual acts, it can also involve inappropriate questioning that is not relevant to the course of treatment, which the therapist indulges in out of personal curiosity (as opposed to professional necessity) or for personal gratification. I’m not sure that the two can be separated; both are an abuse of trust.

A person’s sexual orientation may be causing them confusion and this may be one reason for them to enter therapy in order to resolve some issues. This is far different from a gay client attending for smoking cessation therapy only to find the therapist becoming more focused on their sexual orientation and making an issue of it.

Racial abuse can be both direct and indirect, and can also be surprisingly discrete. A number of years ago a relationship between a supervisor and the therapist under supervision deteriorated when the supervisor learned that their supervisee was involved in a long term and stable inter-racial relationship. Nothing was ever said but a lot was communicated in other ways. Racism is not always a colour issue either – prejudices are frequently pervasive and often ill defined.

Emotional abuse comes in many guises. Avoidable breaches of confidentiality are an abuse. Sometimes confidentiality must be breached in the best interests of a client. If there is evidence that a client intends to harm themselves or someone else then it is unlikely that you would be acting against their best interests by involving appropriate outside agencies. However there is no excuse for discussing client’s private details outside of the therapeutic relationship unless as part of a supervised session where rules of confidentiality still apply. At a conference years ago, shortly after I had completed my first training course, I discovered the therapist I was undergoing a training analysis with pointing me out to a group of their friends and telling them that I was currently a client. Even inexperienced as I was at the time, the fact that someone, especially a practising therapist, could be so ignorant of the rules of confidentiality quite frankly stunned me. Being dominating or intimidating, critical of clients, manipulating clients into extending a course of treatment or with-holding treatment as ‘punishment’ are also behaviours which should be considered a breach of professional boundaries, and thus abuse.

Obviously striking, pushing or restraining a client are the most obvious forms of physical abuse. Clients are also physically abused when restrictions are placed on their movements, i.e. being prevented from leaving a session. No contact need necessarily take place – simply standing between the client and the door is enough. Shouting, raising your voice and gesticulating as a means of intimidation or coercion also count as physical abuse in that it can make a client fearful of assault and/or for their safety.

Clients can be taken advantage of financially in several ways. Deliberately delaying progress in sessions so that clients will have to attend additional sessions is one of the most blatant. It is also the most difficult to prove. Withdrawing therapy if a client can no longer afford to attend is seen by some as abuse. Equally I have spoken to many therapists who would disagree. Personally I would not withdraw support under these circumstances but others point out that they are professionals and have a right to expect to be paid for their efforts. This is a hard one indeed. At the very least the client should be referred on and an appropriate means of support should be found. The client should definitely not just be ‘dropped.’ On the other hand some therapists have agreed to provide therapy free of charge or at a reduced rate only to see their client driving away in a brand new sports car and show up at the next session wearing a Rolex and a fortune in jewellery. I would suggest though that this is rare – it has only happened to me once.

Lets not forget that organisations themselves can contribute to professional abuse. By failing to enforce their codes of ethics, not responding promptly to complaints and attempting to ignore or delay investigating complaints some organisations have caused as much if not more distress than the original incident or incidents in question. There have also been cases where promises have been given about the time that it will take to bring a complaint to resolution which, without explanation, have not been honoured.

The most damaging aspect of professional abuse of course are the affects on the client and those close to them. One bad experience can prevent clients from seeking further assistance and from benefiting from what could potentially be a life enhancing process. Not surprisingly clients emerging from an abusive professional relationship can do so with more problems than they had before seeking assistance.

As a therapist if you find yourself in any doubt about any aspect of your relationship with a client, consult your code of ethics initially and seek advise from your ethics officer or a member of the committee of your professional association as soon as possible. If in supervision discuss it with your supervisor as soon as possible. Be honest with them and listen to what thy have to say. It is acting in clients’ best interests to refer them on to another therapist if your interest in them becomes less than professional.


Prevention of Professional Abuse Network (POPAN) – 1 Wyvil Court, Wyvil Road, London SW8 2TG – 020 7622 6334 – –

POPAN provides help for people who have been abused by health or social care professionals. They also produce clear and user friendly literature on professional abuse, what to expect when a complaint is made (client), suggested reading lists, a guide to what to look for when going into therapy and a newsletter.

Women’s Support Project – 31Stockwell Street, Glasgow G1 4RZ – 0141 552 2221

Women’s Aid Federation England – PO Box 391, Bristol BS99 7WS – 0117 944 4411 or 0345 023468

Recommended Reading

1. Boundaries – by Anne Katherine. Defines and explains what healthy boundaries are, how to recognise if personal boundaries are being violated and how to protect against this
2. Out of Bounds, Sexual exploitation in Counselling and Therapy – by Janice Russell. Overview of the issue of sexual exploitation in counselling and therapy – includes research
3. At Personal Risk – by Marilyn Peterson. Examines boundary violations in professional/client relationships. Examples from law, medicine, religion, education and psychotherapy
4. Patients as Victims, sexual abuse in Psychotherapy and Counselling – Editor Derek Jehu. A collection of articles and research reports including information on ethics
5. Complaints and Grievances in Psychotherapy – by Fiona Palmer Barnes. Billed as a handbook of professional practice, covers confidentiality, complaints procedures, errors and malpractice, examples of ethical codes and sample letters
6. Sex in the Forbidden Zone, when men in power abuse women’s trust – Peter Rutter. Explains what is meant by the ‘Forbidden Zone’, explores the extent of the problem, why men abuse power and much more – highly recommended
7. Folie a Deux, an experience of one to one therapy – by Rosie Alexander. When things ‘go wrong’ in therapy, from the client’s point of view.

Mike is a highly experienced therapist, having first started using hypnosis in 1987 while in the military to improve sporting performance and endurance. Since returning to civilian life he ran a successful private practice for over 23 years before retiring from client work in 2011 to concentrate on research and education.Mike specialised in stress management with particular interest in traumatic stress syndromes.

Author profile:

MikeMike is a former director and founder of The Emergency Services Trauma Specialists, a charity providing education, training and services to the emergency services and their families following involvement in critical incidents. The charity came to a natural conclusion after many other organisations began offering those same services and a specialist charity was no longer deemed necessary. A resounding success story.

Mike currently holds the following professional memberships/awards among others:

Fellow of The National Council of Psychotherapists (NCP)
Fellow of The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH)
General Hypnotherapy Register (Registered Hypnotherapist)
NCP accredited supervisor (Professional Services)
And formerly:

Fellow of The International Association of Precision Therapists (IAPT) – Now closed
Co-Author of”The Hypnotherapy Resources & Careers Guide, a breakthrough publication when it first appeared helping potential hypnotherapists find their way into the profession
Former editor of “Fidelity” (Newsletter of The NCP)
Today Mike concentrates his efforts on providing quality distance learning courses at affordable prices as director of studies for The College of Integrated Therapies Ltd. His considerable experience adds value to these courses rarely found in this industry making our training courses unique

What Hypnosis Language Do You Speak? By Marilyn Gordo, BCH, CI

Published by:

“So think as if your every thought were to be etched in fire upon the sky. For so, in truth, it is. So speak as if the entire world were but a single ear intent on hearing what you say. And so, in truth, it is.”

Mikhail Naimy*

Language is so instinctual that we often don’t stop to think about it. And yet it is so powerful that it affects our lives to the very core. In hypnosis, this is particularly significant. Every hypnosis word we use has meaning. The words we choose and how we say them reveal our thoughts and our intentions and affect others profoundly. Hypnosis is a verbal art form, and it’s important for us to take a good look at our canvas.

It’s well known that when we describe something to a person in hypnosis, that description can become a deep suggestion: “Your hand is becoming very light, floating in the air like a balloon.” Other suggestions are powerful, “You feel very peaceful.” or “Your body is healing perfectly.” But this kind of well-known verbal skill is just the tip of the iceberg with hypnosis. Let’s dive even deeper. Let’s take a look at authoritarian vs. permissive language; at the use of negativities; at regional language differences; at the use of only visual language, and more.

The “I want you to…” Conundrum

It never ceases to amaze me how many practitioners use the words, “I want you to…” when asking their clients to take the next action. It’s truly an instinctive use of language, and yet it is very significant. It, in fact, tells the client, “I’m not really interested in what you want, but here’s what I want you to do. And I’m your boss, so here’s what I want from you.” The significance of this is that the practitioner and client have a relationship that says, “I know what’s good for you, and therefore, I have one up on you.” But there’s another truth that this point of view misses; it’s that our clients have real wisdom, that they often know what is good for them, and that they are worthy of great respect. Milton Erickson knew this deeply. He rescued the old authoritarian hypnosis from its own language – and from itself. So grew the popularity of such phrases as: “Just let yourself…” or “You may find that you want to…” or “If you would, just go ahead and…” Some clients and hypnotherapists rejoiced at this. Others paid little or no attention and kept on with “I want you to…” language. The upshot of this is that sometimes clients are treated with a paternalistic attitude that implies that the hypnotherapist is a demigod. So, if that is what floats your boat, there are then all kinds of practitioners with many variations of behavior. If you are one who uses authoritarian language and would like to see what a new way might be like, I’d like to suggest just becoming aware and trying on a new hat and a new way of using language – if you like.

Negative Language and Negative States

I was taken by surprise one day when I heard a very skilled and wonderful hypnotherapist use this suggestion: “When you feel your anxiety, just breathe deeply.” That sounds innocuous, but think about it. If we use a word like “anxiety” in our positive suggestions, it may make a client anxious. Not only that, it also implies that the client will keep on feeling the fearful state. So it might have worked better if this hypnotherapist would say, “Whenever you want to or need to, you can always breathe deeply.” This doesn’t bring up the negative states, and it offers a possible action just in case the client needs to do something for healing. And yet, I’ve heard many hypnotherapists who give such suggestions as, “You don’t feel so tired anymore.” Or “Your tumors are not so painful.” Well, in addition to using the word “not” – there’s also the very negative words and concomitant images that are evoked.

It’s a well-known fact that negative language can create negative states. My dear friend Dianne Kathryn Short, a marvelous hypnotherapist, created a list of commonly used phrases that can create unwanted manifestations:

>> “That eats my heart out.”
>> “I need a break.”
>> “That’s driving me crazy.”
>> “That’s to die for.”
>> “It makes me sick.”

So when you listen to what your clients are saying, you may find negative words or phrases that may be contributing to their current issues. Hopefully the words you, yourself, use will contribute to the process of healing instead.

What’s Your Neck of the Woods?

In my neck of the woods, the word “hypnotism” conjures up a vision of someone with a black cloak lined in red satin and a watch fob dangling from his fingers as he intones in an otherworldly voice, “Look into my hypnotic eye!” and implores his subject to go to sleep under his spell. In other geographical areas, the word “hypnotism” is the chosen or legal phrase, while the word “hypnotherapy” is forbidden. In my area, the word “hypnotherapy” is the chosen phrase, the one that distinguishes between Svengali and modern-day practitioners. This is understandably a regional difference. On World Hypnotism Day, one practitioner went on the radio. The interviewer kept calling it “World Hypnotherapy Day.” So we can see that regional differences are significant. There’s also no absolute “right” and “wrong.” There’s “appropriate” and “inappropriate.” There’s “legal” and “illegal” – but there’s no absolute authority that can tell us what is written in the annals of language. We may have our preferences, as I do with my attention on the words, “I want you to…” – but none of these expressions is “wrong.” Language is a changing part of the social fabric, and it shifts according to the times and places in which it’s spoken.

You May Not be Able to See It

It’s also good to remember that not all people are visual. Many hypnotherapists and others who do visualization assume that everyone has the ability to see things inside their minds. But as NLP so aptly taught us, only some people are visual. Others are auditory or kinesthetic or olfactory or whatever other sense is their dominant mode of experiencing.

This may sound rather basic, and yet how often do you hear an induction that starts out saying, “Just picture yourself on the beach on a beautiful day.” Not everyone can see that kind of picture. And not only that, some people don’t like the beach, so you’ve got two strikes against you if you go that route. One way to circumvent all of this is to use non-visual inductions – like counting or letters of the alphabet or progressive relaxation. Or you can ask the client to write the induction and tell you their preferences before you even go into trance. Or you can use visual pictures with non-visual language: “Just imagine yourself on a beach. You may see it or feel it or just know it’s there – any way that is best for you to experience it.”

The great Walter Sichort, master of the ultra-depth trance, once told me that he never used visual inductions because they made people think too much. He said that it was good to take people to more primitive parts of their brains, and so he used numbers and letters and, of course, his voice. It’s good to be sensitive to different peoples’ varying modes of experiencing life and to choose appropriate language.

Language and Linguistics

I used to be an English teacher. We studied the “doctrine of usage.” That meant that language is fluid and changeable because human beings use it and those human beings are always transforming and growing. In school, I also studied linguistics. Linguists often go around the world with their tape recorders asking people what kind of language they use. “Do you call it a ‘bag’ or a ‘sack’? Do you say ‘soda’ or ‘pop'”? We can ask hypnotherapists or hypnotists the same things. We can ask, “Do you say, ‘I want you to?’ Do you call it ‘hypnotism’?” We’re likely to get many varieties of answers. The best thing is to be aware of the many ways that practitioners speak, to listen and do our best to use language that does the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

A great teacher named Aivanhov** said, “Where does the power of a word come from? It doesn’t come from the spoken word itself, but from the energy, the quintessence with which it is impregnated. This quintessence is found in the aura of all beings.” So the more we are filled with energy, power and light, so too our words are worthy of being “etched in fire” across the sky for all to hear.

* Mikhail Naimy, The Book of Mirdad, Penguin Books, 1962
** Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov,, 2005

©2006 Marilyn Gordon, BCH, CI

Author profile:

Marilyn Gordon, BCH, CI
1 (800) 398-0034

Mind Over Menopause By Zoilita Grant MS. CCHt.

Published by:

Approximately 1,600,000 women enter menopause each year. Many of these women experience a variety of different uncomfortable symptoms. Even for those who are free of troubling symptoms, this is an important transition time that requires changes in attitudes that match the changes taking place within the body. All women need to be able to go through this transition feeling healthy in mind, body, spirit and emotions. Menopause is the end of menstruation. This is the time in life when women stop being able to produce children.

A woman’s period called Menses stops naturally (for most women) with the decline of monthly hormonal cycles between the ages of 40 and 60. It may stop earlier in life because of a woman’s illness or because of the surgical removal of the uterus or both ovaries. As the production of estrogen by the ovaries and pituitary gonad-stimulating hormones decreases, a woman’s ovulation and menstruation begin to slow down and eventually stop. Variations in the circulating levels of the hormones occur as the hormone levels decline. Hot flashes are the only general symptom of menopause that nearly every woman has. They can often be controlled with estrogen and progesterone but are seldom so bad as to need therapy. Hot flashes will stop in time without hormonal treatment. Occasionally, heavy irregular bleeding occurs at this time, usually linked to fiber like tumors or other uterine disorder.

The most common treatment for hot flashes and the other symptoms of Menopause has been hormone replacement therapy. However, recent research has found an increased risk of breast cancer in women receiving hormone replacement therapy. Because of this, many menopausal women and breast cancer survivors are deciding not to do hormone replacement therapy. Latest research has shown reduced rates of breast cancer. This is thought to relate to the fact that the use of hormone replacement therapy has gone down in the last few years. Many women are now looking for new ways of dealing with their symptoms. A variety of herbal replacements are being used with varying success. Other areas to explore are the use of yoga, mindfulness training, effective self talk and self-hypnosis.

Hypnosis can be very effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. Hypnosis is a mind-body intervention that is of significant benefit in treatment of hot flashes and other benefits may include reduced anxiety and improved sleep. Further, hypnosis may be a preferred treatment because of the few side effects and the preference of many women for a non-hormonal therapy. As you undoubtedly know, hypnosis is altered state of consciousness where it is possible to decrease the perception of an experience. This is very true with the symptoms of Menopause. We can also add suggestions that increase the client’s ability to cope with those symptoms. Remember that with hypnosis:

The client’s attention is more focused
They are more responsive more to suggestions
They are more open and less critical or disbelieving
The purpose of hypnosis as a technique for managing Menopause is to help the client manage their specific symptoms, emotions and physical well-being. What I have found personally to be the most beneficial to clients is teaching them self hypnosis and supportive self talk as well as counseling them about their beliefs and attitudes towards this time in their lives.

Author profile:

ZoilitaZoilita Grant MS. CCHt.
Colorado Coaching and Hypnotherapy Training Institute

When it comes to providing people with tools to improve their lives, Zoilita Grant MS CCHt. is truly a pioneer. As a nationally known psychotherapist and teacher, Zoilita has dedicated her life to helping people heal themselves. She works with clients to get to the roots of their issues so they may find happier, healthier lives. Zoilita uses five different styles of hypnosis. She is President of the Colorado Association of Psychotherapists and Director of the Colorado School of Counseling Hypnotherapy. Zoilita loves cats, practices yoga and has been meditating for 30 years. You can reach her at 303-776-6103

Stage Fright by Del Hunter Morrill, M.S, C.C.H

Published by:

There is an old saw that “speaking in front of others” is the second most terrifying thing a person has to do in his or her life. If it is the second, then what is the first? Some say death, and some say burning alive. What is it about performing that would make it almost as frightening as dying by fire?

For the majority of the population, it is hard to imagine standing in front of an audience without feeling one’s throat go dry, knees become weak and wobbly, and the stomach churn. Whether at work, in school or in a large performance hall, stage fright can take such a firm hold on people, that they can become temporarily immobilized and unable to respond. For many, the very thought of even having to offer their name in a group, or to make a brief announcement is so overwhelming that they will do anything possible to avoid being in such a situation. In many cases, performance fear can affect some people’s normal and necessary activities to such an extent that they are unable to succeed in the work they have been given to do.

The fact that the greater part of our population experiences being in front of a group, or having everyone’s eyes upon them, as terrifying, should not be surprising. After all, most of us have experienced the stress of having to perform “properly” from the time we entered school and had to correctly answer the teacher’s questions in front of all of our peers. Just the strain of having to “get it right,” suffering the responses of our teacher, or even our classmates, is often enough to make most people nervous about being “in front’ for the rest of their lives.

There are other causes of performance phobias that can stay with people for the rest of their lives:

? Repressed severe stress that can surface in the form of irrational fear, typical, for instance, of people on a job where there is a lot of pressure to succeed, or at home, where a family member tries hard to please.

? Another person’s reactions to having to perform before others may inadvertently serve as a role model.

? More than one negative experience many have built up fear to the point that just the anticipation of being in a performance situation can cause a phobic response.

? A seemingly unrelated issue may be involved, in which the inability to speak before the public without terror may be a symbol of the inability to speak up for oneself in other life situations.

? Continuous ridicule, depreciation, or dissatisfaction, especially by a parent, can lower a person’s self esteem to the point where they believe they have nothing worthwhile to say, or that whatever they say may be “wrong”. A painful emotional experience in the past can produce an unreasonable fear of the same or similar situation either at a conscious or subconscious level.

This leads us to the question of what to do about it. Telling oneself to simply “get over it” doesn’t work. And, for many people, just doing it more often does not lessen the fear. Such a fear can seem impossible to unlock, or even to understand. However, the competent hypnotherapist can help trace the majority of such performance phobias, and help the client release them forever.

Working at the subconscious level, where the fear has “hooked in”, is the most effective and quickest way to help a person through any fear, even if at a phobic stage. Hypnosis can do what will power alone cannot. Hypnosis can help a person achieve the relaxed, focused, and receptive state of mind that is necessary to change the negative programming that lies in the levels of the mind that we call the “unconscious” or “subconscious” self.

The problem with surmounting stage fright is that the conscious mind can come up with many justifications to support it. It can argue, however irrationally, that the fear is a real thing, and that one is quite powerless to change it. But hypnotherapy side steps that. In a sports metaphor, it is like a football player who makes an end-run around the other team’s guards in order to score a touchdown. The hypnotist makes an “end run’ around the conscious mind’s objections. By doing so, the client is more receptive to helpful suggestions and to accessing his or her own inner resources.

Often just giving suggestions that calms a person and encourages self confidence in performing situations is all it takes to help a conquer this fear. By “reprogramming” one’s subconscious mind, stage fright can be laid aside, and the client is freed to “step into the spotlight” with far more confidence. What you think becomes what you now can do, instead of what you did before.

Also, a trained hypnotherapist can act as a guide to help a person identify the specific event or person that caused the fear, and to sever its emotional ties. In a hypnotized stage of mind, the person confronts the fear, yet feels it now as a non-threatening experience. Once a “demon” is unmasked, it no longer has power.

Hypnosis is a remarkably effective tool for helping people conquer all kinds of fears and anxieties, not just stage fright. It can expose the root of one’s fear. The anxiety diminishes because the fear has been brought out of the dark of the past, into the light of the present. Releasing the fear and desensitizing one’s reactions brings the psyche back into balance. Once worked through in the subconscious mind, the conscious mind can take it and accept this new “memory.”

Author profile:

Del Hunter Morrill, M.S., Counseling Hypnotherapist Author of the GREAT ESCAPES script books and the NEW BEGINNINGS recording series

TRANSITIONS, a Center for Counseling & Hypnosis and home of New Beginnings Publishing Located in Tacoma, Washington USA
(253) 383-5757; (888) 663-5757 (toll free)

Overqualified or Over Stated? by Michael O’Sullivan

Published by:

A tongue in cheek look at our profession

The plethora of qualifications and designatory letters after many a hypnotherapists name can be a cause of some confusion to members of the public and indeed, other healthcare professionals.

Even should the reader know what the various letters mean, in some cases they may not mean what they imply! Some highly qualified therapists simply get by with their Dip Hyp and leave it at that.

For example, how many hypnotherapists are now called Doctor by virtue of a PHD? And is it a genuine PHD or a case of Pile it Higher and Deeper?

In any case, who decides whether a particular qualification is ‘real’ or not? Some non-traditional Universities are indeed truly excellent, and lets face it, few of us have the time or inclination to spend 3 to 5 years sitting in a classroom when we need to be out there earning a living.

I recently read that a Spiritualist had been on the receiving end of a complaint that they were misleading people by using an inappropriate qualification, a PHD of questionable origin.

The complainant argued their case that this was misleading because it gave the impression that the advertiser was more qualified than they actually were.

Give them their dues, the advertiser wrote a letter for publication in a trade newsletter, to apologise, and explained their part of the story.

The argument was settled amicably and the qualification was not to be used in any future advertising. In our own profession we’ve seen some people embarrassed when their claimed PhD’s were traced back to spurious organisations. That the lure of fast sales talk would lure a hypnotherapists, a master of language and persuasion after all, might be worth another paper all on its own. maybe the sellers of these degrees are master hypnotists???

According to my unfiltered email inbox on an average day I myself am apparently qualified for several University degrees. These are generally unspecified, however recently they included offers of two PhD’s and a doctorate in divinity. Of course as I’ve lived for so long, have had so many life experiences, am able to read my email and therefore presumably able to send payment, of course I ‘qualify’!!!

In the spring of 2005 I was in communication with a colleague, who during said discourse, told me that his title was now Doctor! I was asked to amend my records accordingly.

Being the inquisitive type, I did some research and found that although my colleague may well be ‘entitled’ (as in not breaking any laws) to the title by virtue of the PhD that he had ‘earned’, the source of the PhD did not inspire confidence.

The title was ‘awarded’ by a ‘University’ that awards degrees and PhD’s for ‘life experience’. It was one of those ‘institutions’ that spam offers around the Internet ad infinitum, and one whose emails I delete on a seemingly daily basis as discussed above. Otherwise know as a diploma mill, these ‘Universities’ sole criteria for awarding any of their qualifications is that the recipient be alive and capable of paying for it.

In short, it is the kind of PHD that each and every reader of this page, as long as the fees can be paid, can ‘earn’. Should the public consider that these kinds of qualifications are confidence inspiring and mean superior knowledge?

Well, they don’t inspire me in the slightest, and having been involved in this field for a fair number of years I do believe that I know what I’m talking about.

Maybe it’s a sad reflection on market forces?

A hypnotherapist across the road now has 17 series of initials after his name??? OH dear! Quick quick, where can I find another 3 to get ahead again??? With that mindset people will have to start printing letterheads in landscape format to get them all on!!!

In comparison a dear friend of mine has just been granted her PhD – after 4 years of hard study and a year writing a thesis which was then presented before the rigorous scrutiny of a board of examiners.

Suddenly that Internet offer is looking a bit more attractive!

In any case, the wrong questions are usually asked about qualifications.

Most authorities will tell you that you should always ask a hypnotherapist what their qualifications are before agreeing to being treated by one. Most professionals within the field probably agree with that one.

However, to most people a PhD after a persons name usually means something and speaks for itself. In too many cases, and sad to see, these can be meaningless letters bought to impress.

A PhD from Oxford or Cambridge can’t be compared to one from a degree mill.

As there is absolutely no proven link whatsoever between how someone trains to become a hypnotherapist and how effective they are at their work; asking what their qualifications are is not always quite the right question!

Might it not be much better to ask ‘what kind of person has the qualifications?’

If this sounds like splitting hairs, then go back and read that last bit again, the questions use similar words, but are asking entirely different questions?

What good to a client is it if an expensively and well qualified therapists is also inept and obtains poor results with clients?

In the same street you may find a very competent but on the face of it, poorly qualified therapist who through personality, life and personal experience and knowledge is probably the best person in the world to help someone with their particular problem?

So, how far do we want to go – in the early days everyone had their Dip Hyp and went about their business quite happily. Today we have master hypnotists, advanced hypnotherapists and now a whole profusion of PhD’s and so many more ‘job titles’ its hard to keep up.

Where will it all end?

Author profile:

MikeMike is a highly experienced therapist, having first started using hypnosis in 1987 while in the military to improve sporting performance and endurance. Since returning to civilian life he ran a successful private practice for over 23 years before retiring from client work in 2011 to concentrate on research and education.Mike specialised in stress management with particular interest in traumatic stress syndromes.

Mike is a former director and founder of The Emergency Services Trauma Specialists, a charity providing education, training and services to the emergency services and their families following involvement in critical incidents. The charity came to a natural conclusion after many other organisations began offering those same services and a specialist charity was no longer deemed necessary. A resounding success story.

Mike currently holds the following professional memberships/awards among others:

Fellow of The National Council of Psychotherapists (NCP)
Fellow of The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH)
General Hypnotherapy Register (Registered Hypnotherapist)
NCP accredited supervisor (Professional Services)
And formerly:

Fellow of The International Association of Precision Therapists (IAPT) – Now closed
Co-Author of”The Hypnotherapy Resources & Careers Guide, a breakthrough publication when it first appeared helping potential hypnotherapists find their way into the profession
Former editor of “Fidelity” (Newsletter of The NCP)
Today Mike concentrates his efforts on providing quality distance learning courses at affordable prices as director of studies for The College of Integrated Therapies Ltd. His considerable experience adds value to these courses rarely found in this industry making our training courses unique

Hypnotherapy, yoga and meditation, what’s the difference? by Alice Penion

Published by:

An idea that takes root in the subconscious mind has no capacity for reasoning and MUST be discharged in motor action – whether a good or a bad idea. Essentially every single word uttered to a subject in a hypnotic state such as those experienced in any meditative or relaxation yoga practices may result in uptake of post hypnotic suggestion and thus influence that individual’s actions. Therefore it’s of utmost importance that everything said or thought during any yogic practice should not only be thought out thoroughly beforehand but tailored to be only positive and beneficial.

To highlight the importance of the correct use of wordings in suggestion I’ll use an example not only from clinical hypnosis but self imposed diets restrictions we’ve mostly all tried at some point. If you relax/hypnotise (same thing) somebody and tell them (or yourself) “Don’t eat cake” the subconscious mind will without doubt invert the “suggestion” and that person will want to eat more cake than they’ve ever thought possible – and seemingly can’t get the thought of cake etc from their mind!

Instead however, if you use the suggestion “you are amazed at how unbelievably easy it is for you to choose the foods that will help you become and remain slim and healthy” the subconscious, being the simple thing it is, will consume the suggestion, internally digest (so to speak) and turn it into the desired response i.e. no desire to eat cake or other junk food – just good healthy stuff in the right amount etc.

In other words it’s important to think about what you want and not what you don’t want.

So what exactly is hypnosis?

. That blurry place between sleep and awake and any time in fact you are engrossed in an activity such as work, a hobby, long distance driving and of course Hatha yoga, meditation and relaxation practices – where external stimuli are mostly blocked out. A hypnotic “state” is just a feeling of being relaxed coupled with a heightened state of awareness all of which is brought about by suggestion or autosuggestion. In fact it’s often said there is no such thing as hypnosis – only suggestion.

So what’s the difference between hypnosis and meditation?

One definition of meditation is the absence of all thought and to just be. If a person is mulling over a problem during meditation, they are actually thinking and therefore no longer meditating in its truest sense.

Hypnosis on the other hand, is to have a specific thought and affect a desired outcome, i.e. stop smoking, lose weight, stress management, pain management etc. In hypnosis just as in guided meditation the hypnotist may take you down a path, but instead of just suggesting a stroll through beautiful scenery the hypnotist skilfully uses suggestion to achieve predetermined goals – reduce exam test nerves, stop nail biting, develop confidence etc.

So as you can see if someone is participating in a guided meditation, the guide is also suggesting everyone to see this, hear that and experience with as many senses as possible. Some people may smell the flowers, feel the breeze, even hear sounds in this internal picture whilst usually also deepening relaxation and lowering anxiety levels albeit short term. Clearly this is no different in concept from the hypnotists scripting bar the actual suggestions themselves and resultant behavioural change.

So, hypnosis is just another word for relaxation. It’s what you do or think about when you are in this state of relaxation that differentiates between meditation, hypnotherapy, day dreaming etc.

Both are an allowing process. No one can force you into hypnosis. Otherwise hypnotists would already rule the world by simply obtaining your bank account number for their financial benefit and have you run around like a chicken for their entertainment!

Similarly in guided meditation, no one can make you go down the paths and smell the flowers if you don’t want to.

Suggestions given in the hypnotic state that are against your personal code of conduct, morality etc will not be taken on board by the subconscious and thus will not be acted out. It’s an all too common misconception that hypnotists can “control” your mind. If only! Then my job as a hypnotherapist would be far far easier! Sadly it’s a common misconception, thanks to stage hypnotists, Kenny Craig and other TV misrepresentations of hypnosis. Stage hypnotists incidentally are just very adept at selecting the more outrageous wannabes from an audience whose very personality type is such that they are looking for any opportunity to be the star of the show, however “silly” they may be made to look. They do volunteer after all, don’t they?!

Both hypnosis and meditation can be used for the better good of the individual. You may quite simply need to decide which word sits more comfortably with you. If meditation is a more palatable word for you, then by all means meditate! However, if you need more guidance or the mere mention of the word meditation brings up thoughts of rigid discipline that sends you screaming into the night, then by all means go find a well qualified hypnotherapist.

Emotional release in yoga, massage, meditation and relaxation…

So what with the common experience of emotional release in yoga classes?

You may have experienced or seen people crying their heart out or experienced sudden deep feelings of sadness for example during yoga and meditation, or just as commonly on the treatment table during massage. Well essentially these situations all induce the relaxed and therefore natural hypnotic state which allows bubbles of emotion to break the surface. It’s a bit like with a fizzy drink you shake it a bit and the bubbles come up and pop as emotion and tears, but each and every time you shake that drink in the state of hypnosis those bubbles will be unstoppable. If you’ve experienced this it demonstrates just how close to the surface those emotions are within you. No doubt it’s usually a very conscious and exhausting effort for you to ordinarily keep all those bubbles held in the rest of the time. It isn’t just these specific activities where emotions bubble up but rather ANY time one is otherwise a little “relaxed”. There are many of us who just can’t stop, can’t get to sleep, can’t unwind, for if we let it go enough the jumping monkeys of the mind break out of their cage to wreak havoc in our otherwise ordered lives.

Really these experiences are a huge wake up call to go get help in the form of Pure Hypnoanalysis to excise those deeply rooted anxieties and free yourself from your problems for good. If you are a meditator (or in this case someone trying to meditate), or practice yoga but find your experience is more distressing than relaxing then you must also stop using mind wander meditation techniques that allow brooding and rumination upon your problems. For certain personality types this will actually increase your anxiety levels (in Ayurveda they’re known as Pitta types or anally obsessive in psychology speak).

It’s all about reading the signs.

In Pure Hypnoanalysis we go a hugely important stage further than meditation’s observing and experiencing feelings. We ask WHY there’s this blockage and leakage of emotions in the first place. Pure Hypnoanalysis offers a natural, gentle but effective way of stepping deeper into the psyche/subconscious to release the true root cause of the problem stemming from ones deepest bottled up emotions.

As long as these source emotions are bottled up, they will have effects in the form of anything from life disrupting phobias, fears, panicky feelings and bad habits to physical symptoms, negative behavioural patterns etc that are all seemingly within oneself but out of ones control. More on this below…

Here, even the most dedicated of yogi’s “wanting” to practice their Sadhana (dedicated spiritual exertions towards achieving enlightenment) will not be able to escape Emile Coue’s “Law of reversed effort” where the force of the Imagination is in direct ratio to the square of the Will.

Essentially where there is conflict between the Imagination and the Will, the Imagination wins hands down every time – so the more effort the Will puts in to oppose or command the Imagination the more the Will’s efforts are reversed and the exact opposite is compounded. So the more you sit and think “I am going to blank my mind, think of nothing and meditate” the more thoughts will flood in by the truck load! A lot has to be said for surrendering to the observing Ego state and detaching from the thoughts themselves via the reliable vehicle of self or induced hypnosis. Entering that very natural state of hypnosis by-passes the critical factor of the conscious mind, thus effecting negation of our daily distracting thought stream. This is the very basis of mindfulness meditation, chanting and other “one pointed focus” practices.

These are practices that quite literally bore the practitioner into a hypnotic/meditative state.

This law of reversed effort is also the explanation behind the phenomena of subjects in hypnosis/relaxation experiencing suggested physiological effects such as heavy or light limbs, heavy eyelids etc. Most Yoga Nidra practices (usually after deepening, internalising and body scan) utilise the reverse law with suggestions of developing first one sensation such as heat and then the opposite ice cold, pain/pleasure, heaviness/lightness etc.

Yoga Nidra and other ancient practices have been using the natural state of hypnosis therapeutically for thousands of years. Hypnosis in itself is not a particularly useful thing. It’s only when it’s coupled with positive suggestion that it becomes useful and therefore therapeutic. In Yoga Nidra this suggestion is your Sankalpa or a short positive affirmation or statement of intent. If you can’t think of one yourself then you can’t really go wrong with our man Emile Coue’s classic cover all for everyone…
”Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better and better”.

Pure Hypnoanalysis lays the path towards true peace of mind.

The other form of hypnotherapy known as Pure Hypnoanalysis works very differently from suggestion therapy. Instead of putting suggestions into the mind as with clinical hypnotherapy, seemingly conversely it removes the source of ones problems from the mind – permanently, safely and effectively. Its amazing results are most commonly life changing for those individuals with deep rooted anxiety related problems. So not only for the aforementioned yogi’s experiencing emotional uprisings but also anyone suffering from any of a plethora of anxiety symptoms. Those yogi’s outbursts will be without a shred of a doubt just the tip of the symptomatic iceberg of their emotional problems and those rising emotional bubbles are simply a call to action to address a deeper rooted problem that needs to be released with the assistance of a professional Pure Hypnoanalyst (located here:)

Pure Hypnoanalysis simply is THE most effective therapy available for the total resolution of anxiety, depression, phobias, fears, negative behavioural patterns, panic attacks and other psychological and emotional problems. Pure Hypnoanalysis is a powerful, specialised and highly developed form of analytical hypnotherapy that achieves amazing results by totally resolving the root cause of unconscious anxieties. This total resolution leads to life long liberation from symptoms – not just short term relief from the worst of the eruptions of that bottled up anxiety but complete and therefore life changing relief from the emotional baggage that has been lugged around for most of the sufferers life.

In fact as an insight into oneself Pure Hypnoanalysis has no rival.

If you are on a search for deeper Self Knowledge as most folk (let alone Yogi’s) are to some level or other, then you would do well to surrender yourself to the process of analysis. It doesn’t take years, or a great intellect but quite simply 8-12 weekly sessions of about an hour long each.

Pure Hypnoanalysis utilises this powerful natural phenomenon of hypnosis to allow the individual to swiftly and naturally locate the reasons they’re stuck in certain thought patterns, behaviours, reactions, or beliefs about themselves. Once the problem is found and cathartically “let go” the mind is then permanently freed from those troublesome paths of thought or unconscious forces that surround the thing that is inside yourself but out of your control and can once again realise its normal, natural, efficient and healthy quality of functioning.

Often people who come to Pure Hypnoanalysts have tried to deal with or manage their anxieties using many other coping mechanisms such as NLP, EFT, alcohol, drugs, counselling and other talking therapies to varying degrees of success. But they typically find that although they feel better for a while their problems return, or crop up in some other area of their life to trouble them further.

Even Yogic practices can be classed as coping mechanisms. I’m sure those of us who’ve been to a half decent yoga session have enjoyed the great feelings after class but they do wear off after a while and even with regular practice may not contain those persistent leaking emotions – in fact if not an engaging practice it may bring them on all the more in certain personality types. Yoga and the above mentioned coping mechanisms can calm frazzled nerves or anxiety for the short term and they certainly do have their place in the world but will never alone go deep enough to RESOLVE the deepest issues at their root source which is where your IAPH Hypnotherapist comes in.

The beauty of Pure Hypnoanalysis is reflected so tidily by Yoga’s twin sister Ayurevda (the ancient Indian health system), where the underlying principle is to tailor practices in order to achieve total alleviation of symptoms by dealing with problems from their root source as opposed to the temporary sticking plaster of continual symptom management. A salve is one thing one thing but complete relief from symptoms is the ideal that can be achieved with this amazing and unique therapy.

Enhance your meditation and whole life with hypnotherapy

Hypnosis is a wonderful, powerful tool to amongst other things locate the reasons why you’re stuck believing certain things about yourself. Once you find the source of the problem, you can let it go fully. Once you let it go, your mind is emptied from old negative qualities of thinking. Once you’ve done that your mind is clear and you can finally move into a quiet state of peace and meditation and connect with your True Self.

This is proven time and time again at the culmination of Pure Hypnoanalysis where the subconscious is finally free and untroubled by anxiety. The mind is just incredibly quiet, at peace and able to rest in a truly meditative state.

Author profile:

Alice Pinion BSc (Hon’s) DHyp MIAPH, IAYT is an IAPH therapist holding clinic in Cambridge, Hertfordshire and Essex

Alice is also a published author and internationally respected Yoga Teacher and Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist.

© Copyright 2009 Alice Pinion, all rights reserved

Hypnosis and fertility: how can hypnotherapy improve the IVF experience and increase the chances of success? By Sjanie Hugo BA, D.Hyp, PGD.Hyp, MBSCH GQHP

Published by:

Conception is defined as the union of a male sperm and a female ovum resulting in a zygote. Prior to the first pregnancy which resulted from in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in 1973 it was believed that human fertilisation must occur within the woman’s body. Although this pregnancy only lasted a few days, it wasn’t long before further experimentation resulted in the successful birth of Louise Brown in 1978.

Louise Brown has gone down in history as the first ever ‘test tube’ baby, signifying the beginning of reproductive endocrinology. Since her birth extensive research and further discoveries have meant that couples with fertility problems now have a variety of medical options available to them. Many couples, who may never have been able to have a baby, are now parents because of assisted reproductive technology (ART). And yet there are many others, who after countless attempts at a variety of interventions remain childless.

Unfortunately ART only offers people another option and isn’t necessarily the solution to fertility problems. When it comes to having a baby, there are no guarantees. With all the advancements in science, embryologists still can’t say who will and who won’t go home with a baby. The creation of life is wonderfully intriguing and mysterious, and I suspect the answers can’t be found under a microscope.

It isn’t hard to see how difficult having fertility problems can be. And with an ever increasing number of people choosing to try IVF(1), it seems that this struggle may have become compounded. IVF is a very time consuming, intense and demanding procedure. People put a lot of financial and emotional investment into it, and some believe that there happiness depends upon the successful outcome.

Irrespective of the outcome, going through a cycle of IVF is likely to have a negative effect physically, emotionally and psychologically. The impact of which is magnified by treatment failure. The demanding nature of the procedure can also affect people’s work and social life. The high financial cost of IVF is well known and with some couples choosing to do 3 or more cycles the financial burden can become heavy. It is also quite understandable that relationships may suffer sexually and emotionally under these kinds of stressful circumstances. Simply put, IVF can affect every aspect of life, and in the case of an unsuccessful outcome, people may be left feeling devastated, disappointed, exhausted, stressed and without hope.

In the time that I have worked with people undergoing IVF, I have heard repeatedly that hypnosis has made such a positive difference to their experience that they can’t believe anyone would go through IVF without it. Whilst some fertility units offer counselling to their patients, I think that the inclusion of hypnosis offers so much more than talking therapy alone.

Firstly, clients can be taught how to achieve a deep state of relaxation using hypnosis which will help to significantly reduce levels of stress. Secondly, hypnotherapy can be used to equip them with tools and inner resources which will help them to cope better and handle an unsuccessful outcome more easily. Thirdly, hypnosis can be used to help prepare mentally, emotionally and physically for IVF. This preparation can range from positive lifestyle changes, changing limiting beliefs to eliminating a needle phobia. And lastly, hypnosis can help to increase the chances of a successful outcome.

According to a study presented to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Berlin in July of 2004: hypnosis can effectively double the success of IVF treatments. The study was conducted by Professor Eliahu Levitas and his team at Soroka Hospital in Israel to determine if hypnosis could improve the success of the embryo transfers stage of IVF.

The study of 185 woman found that 28% of the women who were hypnotized for the IVF treatment became pregnant, compared to 14% of the women in the control group (2). Professor Levitas studied the effects of hypnosis for the IVF treatment and embryo transfer only, because prior studies that demonstrated the stress of the procedure created small contractions of the uterus that prevented the successful implantation of the fertilized egg. The professor indicated that tranquilizers had been used in prior studies, but nothing worked as well as hypnosis. “Performing embryo transfer under hypnosis may significantly contribute to an increased clinical pregnancy rate,” Professor Levitas told the conference in Berlin.

A few months ago, a young woman called Mary (3) came to see me for hypnotherapy because she was due to go for her fourth and final round of IVF treatment. She, like many others, had been diagnosed with unexplained infertility. Instead of giving up after trying naturally for 18 months, her and her husband decided to give IVF a go. After a year of unsuccessful fertility treatment she felt at an all time low. She spent some time telling me about what the last two and half years had been like for her and how it had left her feeling. She explained how trying to have a baby had become all consuming, and that without her attention the other areas of her life had begun to deteriorate. She had turned down work opportunities, social engagements, holidays and family gatherings all in an attempt to get pregnant or avoid the heartache of not being pregnant yet. She had changed her diet and entire lifestyle to include only things which she believed would help her to conceive. She spent hours every day on infertility chat rooms and seemed to know as much about infertility and medical treatments as a reproductive endocrinologist. Although her relationship with her husband was strong, he had finally drawn the line and said that he was only prepared to do one more cycle of IVF. He could see how much their attempts to get pregnant were affecting her, and he did not want the next 5 years of their life to be on hold while they continued trying.

Although terrified at the prospect of stopping, she knew that she could not go on like this for much longer. Her health and psychological wellbeing were suffering, and she felt she no longer had the energy to keep on struggling. Knowing that this was her last attempt at IVF, she decided to try hypnotherapy. She was hoping that hypnotherapy would help increase the chances of success, but also knew that she needed some help to cope with each stage of IVF, as well as the outcome.

Mary is a very typical example of the kind of IVF case that I hear. In a situation like this, I like to follow a simple six stage therapeutic framework:

  1. Outcome
  2. Balance
  3. Resolve
  4. Enhance
  5. Prepare
  6. Support

This framework has come to be known as the Fertile Body Method, and can be applied in varying ways to the treatment of any fertility case. Below I have illustrated how this method was used in Mary’s case to help bring about the changes that she wanted.

After hearing about Mary’s situation we began detailing what outcome she wanted from the hypnotherapy treatment. I used solution focused (4) questions get a detailed and specific goal for therapy. Through this process we identified significant markers along the path to this goal, as well as some of the resources she may need to get there.

Mary’s goal focused on wanting to feel ready mentally, emotionally and physically for the IVF treatment. We discussed in detail, what this would be like and how she would know she was prepared in the way she wanted to be. We identified some unhealthy beliefs that would need to change, as well as what she would need to be doing differently before and during this cycle. She then went on to describe how she would feel when all of this is happening.

Mary knew she would need inner strength to be able to come to terms with the possibility that it may not work, and greater perspective so that she could see how her life could be happy without her own children.

Once the outcome for therapy was clear, we began by looking at how we could restore balance to Mary’s life. This stage in the process is vital, and really needs to precede all other therapeutic intervention. This stage ensures that general wellbeing is restored and that the client is in a stable and resourceful state before continuing to address more complicated issues.

During this second stage we did some work together to help her give the different areas of her life the attention they needed. We created mini-goals to identify what changes she would like to make to her relationship, social life, work, hobbies and lifestyle. This immediately broadened her narrow baby focus to include the rest of her life. She began putting more energy and time into the areas of her life which gave her a sense of satisfaction and pleasure. I also taught her self-hypnosis so that she could enjoy some time each day in deep relaxation.

After a couple of weeks Mary felt that she was well underway to having a more well rounded life, and was already noticing the benefits of having made these changes. Now in a more stable and resourceful state it became much easier for her to access her inner resources which we worked together to develop and build.

Mary now felt ready to begin to address her fear of being childless and resolve some of the unhealthy beliefs she had about herself as an infertile woman. She believed she was a failure if she didn’t have a baby of her own, and that she had let everyone in her family down. She also believed that her life could not be worthwhile without children. All of these beliefs were contributing to her high levels of anxiety and preventing her from coming to terms with being childless.

With a combination of cognitive behavioural techniques and hypnosis, Mary was able to overcome her fear and begin to see how she was worthwhile irrespective of whether she had children or not. I also asked her to create a picture collage of how she would like her life to be like if she did not have children. During this process she began to think about what some of the benefits of not having children might be and was able to see how she could be happy without children. This brought her such a sense of relief and she explained that she felt as if a weight had been lifted.

I created a tailor made self hypnosis CD with specific guided visualisations designed to help enhance fertility. The CD contained visualisations for the different stages of IVF: stimulation, embryo transfer and implantation.

We spent our second last session together focusing on helping her to feel ready and prepared for the IVF treatment which was due to start within the next couple of weeks.

I also taught her some self help tools which would help her to feel more in control throughout the treatment.

Mary used the self help tools and self hypnosis CD throughout her IVF treatment and booked her last appointment with me after she had heard the results of treatment. To her absolute disappoint, the IVF treatment failed. When I saw her for our session together I was so inspired by the courage and strength that she showed. Despite being very disappointed that the treatment had not worked, she felt she was able to handle it because she knew that it no longer meant the end of her world. She also told me that the treatment had gone really well and she had felt the best she had ever felt. She knew that she had done everything she could and it was now time for her and her husband to focus on building their life together. Because the outcome of the IVF had been unsuccessful the focus of the session was to support Mary through this time of grief and moving on. She came to see me after that for one more session to help support her to maintain some of the positive changes that she had made in her life and to continue to build a happy and fulfilling life for her and her husband.

When I received a phone call from Mary 3 months later to say that she had conceived naturally and was pregnant, I was shocked but not surprised. The work we had done together had helped Mary to make many changes to her life, and above all else had helped her to let go of the anxiety and fear that she had about being childless. How and why she conceived will forever remain a mystery.  However the transformative journey that Mary undertook in an attempt to become a mother, will have a long lasting effect on her and her family’s future. It may even be that it was a very necessary part of her unique preparation for parenthood.

Time and time again I have witnessed the wonderful effects of hypnotherapy on couples undergoing IVF treatment. I feel very passionate about the benefits of hypnotherapy becoming available to more people with fertility problems and would love to see it offered as a standard part of IVF treatment.

I welcome your comments and would love to hear about other therapist’s experience of hypnotherapy and IVF.


In vitro
fertilisation (IVF) is a process by which egg cells are fertilsed by sperm outside the woman’s womb, in vitro. IVF is a major treatment in infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process involves hormonally controlling the ovulatory process, removing ova (eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a fluid medium. The fertilised egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient’s uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy.

Levitas , E. et al 2006 ‘Impact of hypnosis during embryo transfer on the outcome of in vitro fertilization–embryo transfer: a case-control study .’ Fertility and Sterility  Volume 85, Issue 5, Pages 1404 -1408

The name of this client has been changed to protect her identity

Solution focused therapy (SFT)  is a talking therapy that focuses on what clients want to achieve through therapy rather than on the problem that made them seek help. The specific steps involved in its practice, are attributed to husband and wife Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg and their team at the Brief Family Therapy Family Centre in Milwaukee, USA

Author profile:

Sjanie Hugo (BA, D.Hyp, PGD.Hyp, MBSCH, GQHP) is a clinical hypnotherapist specialising in fertility and related issues. She works privately and as part of an integrative medical team at the renowned Zita West Fertility Clinic in Central London. During her years in practice, Sjanie has successfully treated many couples with fertility problems.

Sjanie developed the Fertile Body Method which is a unique approach to treating fertility problems using hypnosis. The Fertile Body Method training for therapists is being taught throughout Europe and continues to grow in popularity every year. It is now considered to be the training course of choice for therapists wishing to specialise in fertility problems.

Sjanie is currently writing a comprehensive textbook about hypnotherapy and fertility, which will be available in 2009. This book will be the first of its kind and will include a detailed description of the Fertile Body Method: a six stage approach to increased fertility.

Sjanie is an international lecturer at the London College of Clinical Hypnosis (LCCH) and a guest therapist and workshop leader on the Chrysallis Health Detox Retreats.
Copyright Sjanie Hugo 2008 – all rights reserved

Seo wordpress plugin by