Why train to become a hypnotherapist?

Holly Stone and Brian Noon, Senior Lecturers for CPHT Surrey

We all have different reasons to enrol on a hypnotherapy training course.  CPHT Guildford lecturers Holly and Brian both trained with CPHT ; Holly in Guildford and Brian  in Peterborough. Both had their own reasons and now run successful private practices from their respective homes as well as teaching and supporting other therapists.

When we are interviewing prospective candidates, we are keen to hear their reason for applying for the course.  Invariably the primary factor is to help people.  The applicant may have experienced hypnotherapy in the past and found it extremely beneficial.  It may be that they have a family member or close friend who is struggling with anxiety or depression and they want to be able to help.

Often it’s because they have reached a point in their life when they have choices.  They may be returning to the work place after bringing up a family and want something with flexible hours.  Perhaps they have taken early retirement or have been made redundant and want a fresh start. It may be that the day job isn’t fulfilling enough and they want to make a difference. Sometimes they are looking for extra skills to compliment their existing counselling or other therapy skills.

Whatever the reason, training to become a hypnotherapist is a great choice. First there is the benefit you will gain from learning about how the brain works and why we suffer from anxiety disorders.  Few of us are ‘baggage-free’ and we find that students receive therapy by osmosis, simply by attending the course and enjoying the mutual support of their peers. This current COVID crisis has highlighted this more than ever. Students have befitted from the training both on personal level and through the ability to start to help others from day one of the course.

Learning about different personality types often helps enormously with students’ relationships at home and at work.  Finding out about the link between our thoughts and physical symptoms such as IBS, pain and insomnia can be a life-changer too.  Although, personal wellbeing is not usually the main driver in coming on the course, it’s a welcome side effect.

Over and above the benefits the students themselves experience, they quickly begin to see beneficial changes in their volunteer clients. Each month we ask the students to share their case studies and that can be a very emotional experience, hearing how they have helped a client overcome debilitating anxiety, or find the motivation to leave the house for the first time in years, or have the confidence to apply for a new job.

With so many celebrities turning to hypnotherapy to help with anything from morning sickness to stage fright, it is becoming much more accepted as a credible approach. Potential clients are far less likely to fear they’ll be squawking like a chicken or be under the therapist’s control. The current crisis that we are facing will also have an impact; highlighting needle phobias, PTSD and increased anxiety. All things that a trained therapist can help with.

And there is more and more scientific evidence of the mind-body connection, so we find that clients are increasingly steered towards approaches such as hypnotherapy when no physical reason for their symptom can be identified.

So if you are looking for a new direction, and want a career that is flexible, credible and extremely rewarding, consider training to become a hypnotherapist.  It’s the best thing we’ve ever done.

If you think you can…

American industrialist, and founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford famously said: “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

In other words, “attitude is everything”. If you go into a project thinking it will be difficult then the chances are you will make heavy weather of it. If, on the other hand, you enter the project with curiosity and a willingness to explore possibilities, you increase your chances of success and in all likelihood will enjoy the process.

As hypnotherapists we spend our working hours helping our clients identify what they want to achieve and, crucially, what small step they can take towards achieving their goal. As course lecturers, we extend this principal to our students, helping them to develop their skills in a structured way, encouraging them to consolidate their knowledge and perfect their techniques between course weekends.

Being Solution Focused means we help our clients and students adopt a positive attitude. Focusing on what is possible and achievable, rather than analysing perceived problems.

As a result our therapy sessions and course weekends are positively oriented, uplifting and fun. It’s not unusual for other people within earshot to comment on the amount of laughter emanating from our consulting or training rooms.

Our students embrace the Solution Focused approach and, as well as gaining technical skills, often find they cope better with life, absorbing the positivity from the classroom and from their therapy sessions with their own volunteer clients.

As with anything worth doing, qualifying as a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist requires hard work and focus. Fortunately, as the focus is entirely positive, our students rise to the challenge with a ‘can do’ attitude that would undoubtedly impress Henry Ford.

Who do you want to be?

One of the factors that attracts students to our courses is the fact that scientific research backs up the methodology that we teach.  We integrate the latest findings in neuroscience and brain-based therapy into all the course material, demonstrating why it’s important to interact with clients in a certain way, why we structure sessions the way that we do, the relevance and importance of using solution focused techniques and the impact of trance.

And for those students hungry for more in-depth knowledge we deliver two intense sessions exclusively focusing on the neuroscience that informs our approach.

We explain how we are able to help our clients overcome lifelong difficulties caused through unhelpful habits of thought or behaviour, and we show why no client is ever too old to change.

We learn that with 86 billion neurons in our brain, each of which can have thousands of connections, it is absolutely possible to rewire your brain. You just need to know how. And that’s what we teach our students, so that they in turn can teach their clients.

Our students are encouraged to share their knowledge with their clients, so that they can understand the importance of making the effort required to change, focusing on positive outcomes repeatedly until positive thinking becomes an unconscious habit. During the ten month course, the students get plenty of practice in employing the solution focused techniques that will encourage that positive change.

Of course, it would be difficult to attend such a course, with its emphasis on positivity without feeling the impact yourself. As lecturers we enjoy seeing our students develop and we’ve got used to hearing that they are finding themselves better able to cope with the issues in their own lives, and are enjoying working towards their own preferred futures.

With an estimated 1,000 trillion synaptic connections in our brains, the possibilities are endless.

Wow! What a year it has been.

Back in January we were planning to deliver our first Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma (HPD) course on behalf of the Clifton Practice Hypnotherapy Training (CPHT) national training body. We’d scheduled to start on February 14, only realising later the significance of the date. Fortunately, all the students turned up and we were off.

We’d had a last minute change of venue and were delighted to have found the wonderful Castle Street Clinic in central Guildford. It’s ideal for running therapy courses – there’s a sizeable training room and plenty of therapy rooms that we can use when the students practise their skills. Practising in a true-to-life environment is enormously beneficial. Oh, and we bought a batch of more comfortable chairs at the students’ request.

The students were simply brilliant and quickly learnt the principles of the Solution Focused approach. Each month it was clear they were becoming more and more skilled and were soon making a real difference in their volunteer clients’ lives. We welcomed guest speakers Nicola Griffiths (Marketing), Glenn Catley (Sports Motivation) and Lucy Gilroy (a recent graduate sharing her experience of setting up as a practitioner). CPHT Founder David Newton also visited from Bristol to share his incredible knowledge and enthusiasm.

Glenn Catley and GU1 students
Glenn Catley and GU1 students

All too soon the group graduated in November and are already practising Solution Focused Hypnotherapy in and around Surrey. Meanwhile, we launched the second HPD course in September and those students, too, are doing fabulously. Hard to believe they are almost half-way through their Diploma already. We had to buy a second batch of chairs to accommodate the increased numbers.

GU2 Students 2
GU2 Students on their first weekend.

2016 promises to be as busy as ever. Course GU2 will graduate in June and our third course is due to start in February. We’ve had so many enquiries we’re probably going to need another batch of chairs.

Bring it on!

 

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy

I am often asked the question ‘What is Solution Focused Hypnotherapy?’

Well, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH) is a model of excellence that uses interventions that are effective. It will use the very best procedures that science and research prescribe. In reality though its core philosophy is very much based on the work of Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg and the basic tenets of SFBT.

Hypnotherapy, and SFH is no exception, has a history of being associated with many forms of therapeutic practice. Often, but not always, this can be a force for good. What follows could be described as the foundation philosophies on which SFH is built. Dr James Braid (1795-1860), who could be thought of as the inventor of modern hypnotism, successfully created a blueprint that could be described as the original hypnotherapy model.

“He was best known in the medical world from his theory and practice of hypnotism, as distinguished from Mesmerism, a system of treatment he applied in certain diseases with great effect.” (Obituary. The Lancet 1860)

Braid’s influence and success was very much a result of his empirical and scientific approach. In effect he said that the clinical progress should be verified by research and related to the latest understanding of psychology. He attributed the success of trance to ordinary psychological or physiological factors such as focused attention, expectation, motivation and endeavour. SFH is very much based on Braid’s basic premise that mental focus on imagery and language mediates the physical and psychological effects of dominant ideas.

It would have appeared sensible to consolidate the work done by Braid and to capitalise on what worked. This was not to be the case. In late Victorian and post Victorian times ‘wackiness’ once more sabotaged the credible scientific clinical practice. Even worse, in the late 19th and most of the 20th Century the pseudo-scientific ‘hi-jacked’ hypnotherapy and kept it in a state, often a delusional state of stagnation.

Fortunately, as Robertson says in the ‘Complete Writings of James Braid “The Father of Hypnotherapy in the 21st Century”, “Braid’s ‘Common Sense’ and empirical orientation have become fashionable once again”‘.

Hypnotherapy was partially rescued from post-Victorian ‘quackery’ and later from Freudian ‘analytical’ theory by psychiatrist, Milton H Erickson. He practised as a hypnotherapist from the 1940’s until his death in the early 1980’s. Erickson’s ideas reached far beyond hypnotic technique. He posed radical ideas regarding the role of therapist and the competency of clients. Milton Erickson was convinced that everyone has a reservoir of wisdom and competency and emphasised the importance of accessing client’s resources and strengths. Major interest in his work gathered momentum in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Erickson’s success and creativity spawned a variety of approaches. There was in particular great interest in one of his primary approaches entailing first learning the problem pattern and then prescribing a small change in the pattern.

Steve de Shazer’s first contact with psychotherapy happened when he read ‘Strategies of Psychotherapy’, the ideas and work of Erickson by Jay Haley. It has been said that this book coupled with the work of the Mental Research Institute (MRI) in Paolo Alto, formed the foundations for what would later be called Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT).

The basic tenets of SFBT are well known and are different in many ways from traditional forms of treatment. It is a competency based model and the focus is on the clients’ desired future rather than on past problems or current conflicts. It assumes that no problems happen all the time, there are exceptions and that small changes can lead to large increments of change. The setting of specific, concrete and realistic goals is an important component. In SFBT it is the client that sets the goals. Once formulated the therapist will use a number of specific responding and questioning techniques to assist the client construct the steps that may be required to reach the ‘preferred future’. Solution Focused Hypnotherapists note Steve de Shazer’s often repeated assertion that solution work is “the same whatever problem the client brings”.

In the 1990’s modern technology led to what some have referred to as a sequel of the Copernican revolution. MRI, PET and CAT scans can photograph the brain. Electronic microscopes, the nuclear tagging of living human molecules and other biochemical investigative techniques, enable scientists to have an ever increasing understanding of how the brain works. With at least 500 therapeutic methods, all proffering special theories, techniques and philosophies, psychotherapy could be described as bordering on dysfunctional. The neuroscientific revolution beginning in the 1990’s and progressing with ever increasing vigour into the 21st Century has begun to give the field uncharacteristic coherence. Certainly the days when therapists could make things up have gone.

“For future generations of therapists training will certainly change” says Mary Sykes Wylie and Richard Simon, (Discoveries from Black Box 2002), “Curricula will have to face the accumulation of knowledge coming from neuroscientists… having an understanding of such clinical relevant areas of knowledge as neural networks and brain structures”.