It used to be the case that clinicians (psychologists in particular) frowned on the idea that hypnosis could safely be used as a technique for depressed clients. The age of neuro-plasticity and research has changed that reticence and former stance. Hypnosis is not new. It has been around the block a few times and each time it has come back to test and challenge the current waters, it has found favour in various quarters, and been made adaptive or maladaptive to suit the psychological approach of the day. Witness hypnosis and birth. Witness western mindfulness, or rather mindfulness using hypnotic techniques or is it the other way around? Or does it matter as long as the principles and approach work and it delivers the desired result?
Clinicians’s main concern with hypnosis or rather hypnotic interventions was that there was no prescribed measurable outcome, regarding how hypnosis was delivered, received by the client and ending in a predictable and measurable result. Of course there were the various prescribed inductions, deepeners and scripts that hypnotists could use in a formulaic approach, which won heavy criticism from outside of the hypnotic profession, and for good reason! There were the different hypnotic camps from Eriksonian, PSH (private subconscious healing), permissive/indirect, cognitive-behavioural to directive styles that further confused people, both within the different camps, and from the psychotherapeutic world looking in, that didn’t understand its method of application and adaptability, and in particular its measure of safety. Not surprisingly, that pervading confusion in the broader psychotherapeutic world, did not further the use of hypnosis in its application to depressive clients in particular.
Psychotherapy has now reached a plateau point (since its advent years of Freud and Jung at the turn of the century), which allows those within the various professions that make up the broader psychotherapeutic world, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, psychoanalysts and psychotherapists, to assess how much good they have provided to those in need. Have they done a good job? Have they helped people sufficiently as based on the foundational premise of the profession. Has it been enough, good enough in fact, and if not – what will help it to improve and be better at delivering better services and therefore better outcomes for clients?
Every profession needs to change and grow, adapt to the changing needs of the world and to be ever relevant to its population. Hypnosis has also undergone many changes and metamorphises as it too seeks to be more relevant and effective in its uses. It is this ongoing metamorphosis of how hypnosis can be delivered and in the flexibility of its content, that makes it an exciting technique to use, wherever you sit on the professional spectrum or in the community.
New training programmes, such as Dr Michael Yapko‘s ‘cognitive-behavioural and strategic approach’ have been very timely and aimed at psychologists in particular in having a fresh look at hypnosis from ‘one’ within their profession, and upgrading hypnosis in the minds of other professionals as well. Hypnosis is not about adhering to a script (although it can be), but more about understanding the client in their distress and what stops them from fixing the problem. Hypnosis is a flexible medium that allows the client to go into their mind in a relatively relaxed manner and access suitable resources to give both client and clinician insight into the problem at hand, and also a means to fix it. Once the seed is planted of a new possibility, the mind then agitates towards a cognisant outcome.