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Hypnotherapy demonstration session

People are often unsure what a hypnotherapy session is and what it might involve so while I was filming and helping at a British Hypnosis Research Master Practitioner Training at Roehampton University in August 2011 I took the opportunity to work with one of the students.

We actually started the session with Matthias working on me. Matthias is an inspirational man that wanted to learn Hypnotherapy despite being blind. He was initially concerned that he would not be able succeed as hypnosis requires a lot of observation and utilisation. There are clearly techniques Matthias can’t use but another important attribute of Hypnotherapy is being flexible and utilising what you do have and Matthias is excellent at this. Matthias wanted to inspire other people with limitations and we therefore decided to film a session where he worked on me. I am not an easy hypnosis subject as I am constantly working on myself in self-hypnosis and haven’t had much opportunity to be a subject of a good hypnotherapists. When I said “I was going to be a helpful subject” I think I was convincing myself! I have included that video at the end of the page in case you would like to see it. It might also explain a few peices of conversation in the session I did with Matthias.

When talking about what to do in the sessions Matthias had said he had thought of something he would like to work on me with and so when Matthias told me his sight had worsen a few years before I though lets see what Matthias can do for himself. My session lasts about 70 minutes and the first 25 minutes don’t involve trance. Because it was my idea as to what I wanted to work on I had to make sure Matthias was happy with. It would be highly unethical for me to just decide to work on his eyesight and not consider that he might perceive more advantages in his life by it remaining as it was. Once I was satisfied my idea meet with approval I went ahead and worked on it but I also gave many other ways for improvements to occur. I am not my client so I don’t know what is best for their overall health and well being. I can make suggestions but hypnotherapy is about creating opportunities for change and then seeing what happens.

Did I realistically expect to achieve anything from the session? I am no longer realistic. Being realistic held me back in my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 15 years as I say towards the end of the session. Being realistic is just another way of putting limits on something. My job is to create and release potential in people.I believe all positive thoughts have the potential of helping us so I would expect Matthias to make gains from the session. If he told me he his vision had improved after a few weeks I would not be surprised. The next day he did tell me how excited he was that he could see objects in his mind in greater detail and how that would help him in is work on Artificial Intelligence. This seemed a great short term outcome and I would be pleased with just that. I do believe however some changes take time for the unconscious mind to implement and I look forward to seeing what, if anything, Matthias tells me over time.

Blind People Can Still Make great Hypnotherapists!

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Conversation with a client working on a long term problem

Today I would like you share with you a conversation I had with a client. This client currently holds my record for the most sessions. I have had 7 sessions with them . I rarely get above 4 sessions with anyone so this is case is quite unusual for me. The client is a blind Swiss ME/CFS/PVFS (Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome) sufferer that also has sleep trouble.  I have been helping this client via Skype sessions and in general they have made good progress but so far sleep is still a problem.  I always ask my clients to ask me questions and today we have a text conversation which I feel is worth sharing.

Client: Hi Jon! How things with you? I am doing pretty good, being optimistic and curious about the future. You mentioned something interesting, namely, that Milton Erickson’s was often led into dead ends by his unconscious. But…. That isn’t a bad thing in itself and should not stop one from using intuition the way Erickson did?

Jon Hinchliffe: Absolutely not. This is why I have the analogy of the captain of the ship being the conscious and the unconscious being the rest of the ship. Sometimes the worker gets it wrong and need guidance from the manager as to how to proceed. Sometimes, of course, the captain gets it wrong and needs to trust his workers to get there. It is all give and take.

Client: Thanks for reminding me of that analogy of yours! I have been reading C.G. Jung – thinking I might get some inspiration as to how to steer and activate my unconscious mind in the direction I want it to work. Can’t however make much of Jung’s archetypes so far. I thought that there might be something like the ‘healer archetype’ in Jung. Haven’t found that however. Do you have any opinion on archetypes and if and how they could be used for the healing process?

Jon Hinchliffe: I have to say I don’t know what they are but given they are a man-made breaking down of us, I don’t really see them need for them. We are whole and the where we want to b is what I believe we should focus on. Do you think your unconscious might have a reason for not letting you sleep?

Client: I don’t see that my unconscious would have any reason not to let me sleep – except …. if is getting the wrong  orders from the captain…. But I must say that the captain has learned quite a bit in the past year. However, I still find it difficult to tap into my unconscious mind – I am sure it is happening but I am not consciously aware of it – and this is something I’d like to be consciously aware of – like the captain of a ship ought to consciously know what the crew is doing, thinking, and suggesting….

Jon Hinchliffe: How would a captain ever know what his crew are thinking? He can’t become them.

Client: Well, a captain has his officers that will inform him, give him advice, give him an idea of how the crew is doing and so forth….. Maybe I was thinking that the archetypes could function something like the officers of a ship to the captain of the ship…..

Jon Hinchliffe: You can’t consciously think like your unconscious and you can’t necessarily be aware of it. When I feel my unconscious has given me something, I am still thinking it consciously. How am I selecting the words I am typing or the words I when I speak?

The officers still have limited views. I prefer the idea of the whole being united and I have found nothing that has convinced me otherwise.

Client: Well, I get your point. However…. In some shamanistic traditions and other mind-based traditions as well, I guess one could argue that the unconscious becomes the mode in which the world – both inner and outer world – is experienced…. Is this thinking too far out your thinking?

Jon Hinchliffe: I only like the conscious and unconscious because I can kind of prove there is something that isn’t conscious but is still there. I still think of us a whole being working towards common goals

I might incorrectly try to argue that the conscious is how we notice and represent the inner. The crew send the messages (the feelings) but the captain is the one judging them.

Client: I just feel that the border between the conscious and unconscious mind might not be as sharp as you make it look with your analogy of a ship and its captain and crew. Maybe what you mean by ‘the conscious mind’ being the captain is more like a ‘meta-conscious mind’. This at least is how one could think of it when one grants that the line between conscious and unconscious mind is blurry. By the way, I have gotten this idea from neuroscience as well as from my own experience – dreams being a good example of the blurry line between conscious and unconscious.

However, I do like your concept of the mind as a whole working towards common goals.

Jon Hinchliffe: I agree the line is very blurry and this is why we have to remember we are a whole and why we have to remember I can’t talk without my unconscious selecting my words for me. I try and rationalise the conscious and unconscious mind but I have no real idea of how the unconscious mind “ticks” all can do is give it problems and ask it to help solve them. This is why I go with my flow in sessions rather than have a strict forced structure. As I am working I often note bits I want to include in the hypnosis session but once I am working unconsciously I can ignore my notes completely. My unconscious is aware of what I have thought but is suggesting other ideas to me. I am normally more happy with what I achieved that if I had stuck to my plan. If I still feel my ideas worth doing another time I will make a note to myself.

There are problems I have thrown to my unconscious for months and sometimes the answer comes from nowhere all by itself. I feel I am still being taught by my unconscious.

Perhaps my unconscious is still learning. I encourage everyone to look at all areas of life and see where the cross links come from. It is something I am constantly doing. Perhaps my unconscious is therefore learning to communicate with me consciously better. You have to remember it is less than 5 years ago I had no concept of my unconscious mind. During that time I have changed and improved so much. My understanding of the world is constantly developing.

Client: That is a fascinating point: That your unconscious is maybe learning how to communicate with you better. I do believe that learning happens all the time and the way that the unconscious mind implements what it has learned into our life remains opaque as whatever we act out is already given to us consciously. However, going back to the topic of dreams…. Dreams might be one of those areas where the conscious mind and the unconscious mind meet in a way that is observable to the self….. I have found over time that I there are subtle changes in which my dream world presents certain common themes to me – when those themes have to do with my recovery, I find that I now have more options to choose from within the dream – it used to be only two options: Escaping from the scene and waking up or trying to ‘disbelieve’ what is happening. These days, I find I have the power to attend to any issue that comes up in the dream and try to be creative about it. Maybe your hypnosis work is based on similar principles….

Jon Hinchliffe: I certainly think the way you describe dreams there is very like the way clients describe the trance they have just had. I am one of those people that is rarely aware of my own dreams so it is not an area I have played with. I would hope the older you get the more you discover that there are always so many choices about how we move forward. It is two-choice thinking that is the cause of so many of my clients coming to see me. So often both choices are both right and wrong depending on the perspective you are looking from. This is why I like to tell clients that as soon as I believe I know something I know I am almost certainly wrong. And even that statement can be wrong!

Jon Hinchliffe: There seems a good point to let you carry on thinking and focusing on your improved health. Trust your unconscious!

Client: I like  what you said about what you believe when you have come to believe something…smiley. It is almost a Quinean poing in philosophy: There are no analytical truths. You also seem to refer to what one could call ‘fluid intelligence’ as opposed to ‘rigid intelligence’, i.e. collecting data and thinking the data itself is objective….. If I understand you correctly, even the data must never be regarded as objective and written in stone. I also feel that the notion of the unconscious mind you use is closely linked to what I would call ‘intuition’. And I would say that most people trust their intuition as a default. Trusting their unconscious mind seems to be more daring and unsafe…. as most people will think of their unconscious mind as having this dark, destructive side.

Jon Hinchliffe:  When I ran my first half marathon after 15 years of ME/CFS/PVFS I felt that is would prove I didn’t have ME. I spent two years expecting this. I ran the half marathon and instantly realised all it meant was on that day I had ran a half marathon. It meant nothing more and trying to put my interpretation on it was wrong.

I agree with your description as intuition and I very much like the idea of fluid thinking. The dark destructive side is not something I accept. I think that is the result of Freud and the like. I think that was a way forward that appeared to work but I see no need for it and I think it is a cause of problems. If the unconscious is dark and bad how is that useful to mankind as a species? I have often spoken to clients after therapist have left them thinking there is a something blocking them etc. I have not yet been convinced this is the case. Just talking to the client has normally left them a different perspective on this point.

Client: Oh, now you just raised a fascinating point, i.e. that you are not convinced about the dark, destructive side of the mind. I think – completely neglecting Freud -, there are some good points in favour of the dark, destructive side of the mind…. I think this would make for a longer discussion and I am all for it. Would you like to discuss that at a later time?

[15:16:02] Jon Hinchliffe: We can or we can carry on now

Client: Sorry, Jon, would like to carry on but a friend came over. Will really like to discuss this with you!

Thank you, Jon, for this conversation! I would like to take this up at another time! I feel our little exchange had a positive impact on me! Cheers to both our unconscious minds. smiley

Jon Hinchliffe: Ok another time 🙂

Client: Great! Warmest wishes from Switzerland!

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Volunteers needed for research project – Now closed

Thank you to all the people that volunteered for my research project.

Do you have a negative feeling you would like to change?

Would you like to change that feeling for Free?

Can you spare 30 minutes in Braintree, Essex?

I am looking for volunteers to take part in some ethically approved research for my Clinical Hypnosis Degree. If you have a negative feeling you want to change please get in touch on 01857 600708!

The research is testing a technique that has already been known to help people with

  • guilt
  • work related issues
  • relationship issues
  • inability to sleep
  • phobias
  • even an allergic reaction
If you can think about a situation and notice the feeling you want to change you are suitable for the research.

Make the most of this opportunity before the research ends in April.

Participant information sheet
Participant consent form

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The Past – Is it useful?

Hypnosis is a powerful tool for helping receptive people move forward with issues. Often therapist’s work with the past trying to clear blockages, while this isn’t something I would rule out, this isn’t the way I tend to work. If you believe a problem is based in the past what can you do about it? You can’t go into the past and make it not happen. The key to change is the future and how you perceive events from the past. When you think about an event from the past what happens if you get a feeling you don’t want? Well the first thing to realise is that it is just a thought. That thought is made up of many components from the past. For instance

• You might not recall the whole situation.
• You might be remembering things incorrectly.
• You might only be recalling the bad parts of a situation and not the positives.

These things all skew your perceptions and your unconscious mind tries to protect you by warning you with signals i.e. Feelings or emotions.

I have strong techniques that neutralise these feelings while retaining any wisdom from a situation. But why stop there? If you have a bad feeling from the past why not choose what you want for the future? If you got scared by a Spider you might want to retain that feeling or you might find you are freer and happier to change that thought/the perceptions associated with it/the fear you have lived with it since then, into positive experiences such as being able to help someone you know and love be free of a fear of spiders. This would turn you from someone with a problem to someone with better self-esteem. Why you were frightened of spiders is totally irrelevant.

What happens if you have a problem that you believe has always been with you and you can’t identify any issues from the past? If you take the view there is something you have to dig for you are stuck until you find it. If you focus on current situations and what you want to start feeling in the future you are already in a stronger position to move to the future.
If you have an issue you want to move forward with get in touch with me on 01857 600708 and let us see how quickly you can move forward.

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Are colds inevitable? Should they be affecting Commonwealth Games stars?

“I came down with a bit of a tummy bug and had nothing to give today, I pretty much couldn’t stand up after my final

Fran Halsall, Day 3 of the Commonwealth Games.

I saw Fran talking about her Bronze medal achievement today and this got me wondering whether the English team have access to hypnotherapist. I have not allowed myself to get a full blown cold since New Year 2007/2008. Here is how I discovered this could happen.

Over the New Year period of 2007/2008 I went with Scouts to Kandersteg in Switzerland. I had only just started my training as a Hypnotherapist so I was still in my full blown stages of ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

We had arrived a time with lots of snow but it hadn’t snowed while we had been there. On a previous trip 18months before I had used my mobility scooter to get to a cable car. Then at the top got a horse and cart down to a lake called Oeschinensee.

Oeschinensee Lake Summer 2006

I had a morning where everyone was doing something too tiring for me so I had mentally pictured myself going to the lake and seeing it so frozen it was totally covered in snow and safe to walk on. Unfortunately around 2am the night before I woke up and was sick. I was gutted because, as I sat around not sure whether I would be sick again, I saw it had started to snow and it was snowing heavily. Not only would it be a good to see the lake I would now be able to see Kandersteg with fresh snow.

I was confident in what I was learning as hypnotherapist so I decided to focus on being well. I decided to see how I was at Breakfast. I ate breakfast but I was then sick again. I decided as long as I wasn’t sick after 9am I might still be OK to get up the mountain. I went back to sleep and woke up at 9am and was sick. How curious I thought.

I decided to go back to sleep and if I woke up before 11am I would perhaps see if I could get my mobility scooter down to the foot of the cable car. I woke at 11am on the dot. My interest was really spiked now. Two targets and I hit them both. How intriguing.

My mobility scooter made it to the cable car and since it was all downhill to the lake I decided to walk down to it knowing I would have to get back up but I would do it one way or another. It was probably a stupid thing to do but I made it despite feeling very tired and being desperate for the toilet. The difference between the two years was amazing so I was pleased to get to the lake.

Oeschinensee Lake Dec 2007

This whole experience got me thinking about colds. I knew now I had an ability to control how I felt. I also knew it is quite common for people to work and never get a cold and then go on holiday and relax and then get a cold. While this could be coincidence I think most people like this “can’t afford to be sick from work” so don’t accept being ill as an option. When on holiday all pressure is off and then they relax so far they are susceptible to viruses, especially if they are away from home.

I therefore set myself a challenge: Could I avoid having a cold for a year? The first couple of colds in the house were really easy to deal with. I noticed potential symptoms of a cold starting and immediately started focusing on be healthy. Normally for me it is in my throat I notice a cold first so I would focus on it becoming comfortable and normal.

On about the third cold I noticed it took me 2 days to feel totally normal but having the cold was almost irrelevant. I got the idea that perhaps I had the virus but that I was keeping it under control. (As I write this I feel this is perhaps something I need to challenge)

I easily made the year and have continued my game. One day I totally unexpectedly woke with a red raw chest. This was a major surprise as I had no inclination the night before and no time to send in the comfort. “Never mind” I thought, I will still not let it progress now I am aware of it. I got a very light cough and the next morning I went networking. There I saw what my cold could have been like. Nobody even realised I might have a cold my symptoms were so light.

One last bug that is worth mentioning was one that took me 5 days to clear. At the end of it my wife was diagnosed with Swine Flu. I think it highly possible I gave it to her as I had spent two days with someone that I feel gave me my “cold”. One of the key things of Swine Flu diagnosis was temperature. When I took mine out of curiosity it was very low. It was like my body was keeping me cooler so the virus was easier to handle. It does not matter to me if it was true. I kept well and that was the main thing.

The only side effect I notice of “not having a cold” is I can still be a little tired as mentally my unconscious is working harder.

And so back to swimming at the Commonwealth Games, I wonder what would have happened if Fran Halsall had been taught what I am doing. Perhaps she already has and perhaps that was why she could achieve her Bronze. If not I wonder if she could have primed her body to forget the infection for the duration of the races and therefore kept all of her performance.

Fran seemed philosophical about things

“I don’t know why I put myself through it sometimes. It’s frustrating more than anything, I know at my best I can swim a lot faster.

“But what can you do? I got in and gave it my best shot. I’ve got to be proud of it, really.”

She then had just 20 minutes’ rest before getting back in the pool for the semi-finals of the 100m butterfly where sadly she came fourth and missed qualifying for the final. Again I wonder how she focused herself in those 20 minutes. Perhaps she didn’t get chance with the press and the Bronze.

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Naming Illnesses/Conditions and the problems it causes

It looks like this will be the second of a trilogy, inspired by me taking a break from reading hypnosis books and switching to reading Ozzy Osbourne’s “I am Ozzy” autobiography. I have really enjoyed reading the book but I am still in hypnotherapist mode and there were occasional parts which I found really interesting.

In this article I would like to talk about naming illnesses and conditions and the effects it has on us. In the book “Ozzy” writes:

“The shrink said my dyslexia had given me a terrible insecurity complex, so I could not take rejection or failure or pressure of any sort which is why I was self medicating with booze.” Read the rest of this entry »

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