Monthly Archives: January 2011

Let me tell you a story…

If you watched the first Leader’s Debate between the three British main party leaders, before the election last year, you may have noticed how often they used lines like: “I was in my constituency last week, talking to a group of ……, and one of them told me about….” This story-telling technique is known in therapeutic circles as metaphor.
Therapeutic metaphor is a form of suggestion through the use of stories or anecdotes. These can be examples from life, real or imaginary former clients, literature, folk tales or mythology and they seem to speak directly to the unconscious mind.

Take The Lord of the Rings, for example. This long and complex novel incorporates many of Jung’s archetypal elements. Firstly, of course, the book describes the eternal battle between Good and Evil, Light and Dark, the Ego and the Shadow. Frodo is the Hero, who must make a long journey and overcome many obstacles to attain his Quest and conquer evil. Gandalf combines two archetypes, the Magician and the Wise Old Man. He fulfils the same role as Merlin, Mr Spock and Obi Wan Kenobe – a powerful yet vulnerable wise counsellor. Early in the book Gandalf is dragged into an abyss and assumed to be dead, but he reappears later with increased power as Gandalf the White, a clear “death and resurrection” theme. He replaces the evil Saruman the White as head of the wizards’ order; Saruman has been corrupted by the power that he formerly held. All of these elements can be regarded as metaphors for life.

Founder of modern hypnotherapy Milton Erickson was well known for his use of “teaching tales”. These were stories about his own life and previous clients – possibly real, possibly fictional – in which his clients could find their own meanings. I often use life experiences as metaphors for my clients. I may tell smokers, for example, that my father was forced to give up smoking after his heart attack – but it was the lung cancer that finally killed him. I also like to find out about a client’s work and outside interests, as these can often provide useful metaphors.

Metaphors may contain loops, referring back to the beginning of the story. Although metaphors were very noticeable in the first Leaders’ Debate, I don’t remember any in the second – I wonder why?

Press Release – new national standard for hypnotherapy

A North London based hypnotherapist has become one of the first in the country to achieve a new national standard of excellence for his therapy.

Barry Cooper has been registered by the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), the UK regulator for complementary healthcare.

The recognition places him at the forefront of a national drive to provide a benchmark for standards and safety for the public. Practitioners registered with the CNHC meet national occupational standards and abide by a rigorous code of conduct, performance and ethics.

Mr Cooper said: “Achieving registration is not only great news for me and my clients, but a vital step for hypnotherapy.”

“This is the time of year when many people are struggling to keep up their new year resolutions. The most popular uses for hypnotherapy are around stress and anxiety conditions, fears, confidence and addictive behaviours such as smoking.”

Hypnotherapy is one of 11 disciplines now recognised by the CNHC. Members of the public can search the CNHC register to find practitioners in their local area. More than 40,000 searches were carried out last year.

By providing a verification of standards, the CNHC allows GPs, hospitals, private healthcare providers and insurance companies to refer patients to hypnotherapy practitioners or to make hypnotherapy more readily available in health centres, clinics, doctors’ surgeries and hospitals.

The Element of Surprise

My former life as a tax adviser was frequently frustrating but rarely dull. The reason was that any plans I had for a particular day were often defenestrated (i.e. thrown out of the window) by a telephone call or visit from either a client or a partner wanting something done immediately. My favourite (not) were the partners who would turn up at 4 pm and say “I’ve promised Mr So and So that he’ll get his tax return first thing in the morning.” Thinks: “Fine for you to make the promise – you don’t have to do the work.”

Now I’ve put all that behind me, dei gratia, I still get the odd surprise in my work as a self-employed hypnotherapist. Very occasionally, I take a call from a prospective client who desperately needs my help straight away – a sudden attack of nerves before a presentation, perhaps, or fear about an upcoming flight. Another kind of surprise came from a client in Greece wanting a telephone session. But the most usual type of surprise comes from a client who turns up in my consulting room with an issue that I wasn’t expecting.

Generally, when I take a booking, I ask the client how he would like me to help him. Some give me a great deal of information at that stage, most give a brief overview and a few are so reticent – or perhaps they are calling from work – that they don’t want to give any details over the phone. Then they arrive and it quickly becomes clear that the issue they told me about isn’t what we need to work on. Or there’s the client who comes for a particular issue in session 1, then says he has other issues too – so when he comes back for session 2 I don’t know whether we’re going to be working on reinforcing what we’ve already covered or something entirely different.

Happily, my original hypnotherapy tutor was adamant that we shouldn’t use pre-prepared scripts and trained us to work completely cold with our practice clients. We wouldn’t even have any idea what issues they would bring to the session. That was about nine  years ago, and I have since picked up a number of new techniques that can be adapted for most situations, such as Emotional Freedom Technique and Archetypal Parts Imagery. It can often be tricky to make an instant decision on which of the possible techniques to use, but all of my client sessions start with a pre-talk to find out what the client needs and there are usually clues there which will guide me on which way to go.

There is one more kind of surprise in my work – the client who fails to show up altogether. There are several possible reasons for that – but I’ll save them for a future blog.

DIY Past Life Regression?

The Christos Experiment

The Christos Experiment is a technique popularised, but not apparently invented, by Australian author Gerald Glaskin. He wrote three books on the technique, beginning with Windows of the Mind. Although Glaskin’s experiments were framed as past life investigations, later writers have tended to regard the experience as an altered state of consciousness somewhere between an out-of-the-body experience and a waking lucid dream. The subject remains conscious throughout the experiment and is encouraged to describe his experiences.

The technique requires no special training but three people are needed:

  • The Subject (S);

  • Experimenter 1 (E1) – who guides S through the experience, and

  • Experimenter 2 (E2) – who massages S’s feet and is also available to take notes for the experiment.

S lies down comfortably on his back with his shoes removed. E2 massages S’s feet and ankles, quite firmly, while E1 takes his head and rubs his forehead vigorously for several minutes with the soft part of his clenched fist until S feels his head buzz and hum and he starts to feel slightly disorientated. His feet may tingle and his body may feel light or as though it’s changing shape.

Once this stage has been reached, S is asked by E1 to imagine his feet stretching out and his legs becoming longer by just a few centimetres. When he says he has done this he is instructed to let them go back to normal and do the same with his head, stretching it out beyond its normal position. Then, alternating between head and feet, the distance is gradually increased until he can stretch both out to 60 cm or more.

E1 then asks him to imagine stretching out both at once, and then to swell up, filling the room like a huge balloon. It may take up to 15 minutes to reach this stage.

S is now asked to imagine he is outside his own front door and describe everything he can see in detail and in colour, including the door, walls and surrounding scenery.

He is then instructed to rise above the house until he can see across the surrounding countryside or city. It is important to how him that the experience is under his control, so he should be asked to change it from day to night and back again. He is then asked to fly off, land wherever he wishes and describe all that he can see. E1 may ask non-leading questions to find out everything that is going on.

As the subject never loses consciousness, and remains aware of his physical surroundings, the experience normally ends spontaneously – he will just announce that he’s back and clearly remember everything. A few minutes rest should be enough to get him feeling fully back to normal.


What is Past Life Therapy?

Past Life Therapy, or Regression, is a safe, effective form of therapy which has many benefits. My approach is professional and non-judgemental. As a qualified specialist I can help you explore your memories in a safe, supported environment. Whatever your beliefs, we can work together from the point of view that it’s not important whether the past lives that we find together are “real” or not; any past life experiences are generated from information in your unconscious mind, but how that information entered your unconscious may be regarded as an open question. As the contents of your unconscious have a powerful effect on your life exploring that information is always useful. Even if you don’t need “therapy”, PLT can help you in other ways, such as discovering your life purpose, finding the origins of your interests or exploring present relationships.

The session itself begins with a brief chat about what you’re looking for and for me to answer any questions before we begin. You’ll then be deeply relaxed – you do not lose control or consciousness – and your unconscious mind will be invited to take you wherever (and whenever) it feels you need to go.

You’ll be aware of your surroundings in my consulting room as well as those in whatever past life you visit. You’ll be able to talk to me, to describe what’s happening, if you wish. The past life may not be a pleasant one, but you can always choose not to go through an unpleasant experience if you wish – you will stay in control.

Don’t expect anything exciting – not everyone has been someone famous in a past life! Past life experiences can seem quite dull, but there will always be a useful lesson you can learn.

For many specific issues, such as those listed on the “Benefits” page of my website, other therapeutic techniques may be faster and more effective, but PLT is highly effective for a deeper exploration of who you are or analysing and healing more complex life problems.