Why Not Just Run Away?
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 10:43, June 28 2017.

Last summer I went on a visit to Longleat Safari Park.  It was a great day out.  One of the displays of animals was a colony of tamarins and marmosets.  Their home was in the middle of a wooded area and made to look like a South American Aztec temple.  There were tree branches and thick ropes for them to climb and run around.  What was striking was that there were no bars or cage enclosing them and the ropes hung over and around the pathway.  There was, not surprisingly, a member of staff on duty there all the time.  The obvious question we asked of them was “why don’t they just run away?”

Ever Felt Like Running Away?

Do you ever feel like just turning your back on everything and running away?  Sometimes that does seem like the best solution and sometimes people do just that.  In 1976 the first series of a very popular situation comedy, the Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin staring the late Leonard Rossiter was shown on TV.  The series, based on a novel written by David Nobbs, followed the life of Reginald Perrin (Rossiter), who, fed up with everything about his life, faked his own death by leaving his clothes on the beach and disappeared.  When I was a child a friend of the family pre-empted the series by leaving his clothes on the beach and disappearing.  Everyone feared he was dead – his wife (with a small baby), his friends, family and everyone at the church where he was a member.  Then out of the blue there was a call to his church minister from France.  The friend told the minister that he could not remember anything about the previous two weeks (his period of disappearance) or how he got to France but needed help to get home.  Everyone was happy that he had returned and nobody ever questioned him about this “odd” occurrence.  His wife maybe had a few words to say in private but what issues there may have been were obviously resolved and everything returned to normal.  He, like Reginald Perrin, felt the need to return home.

Are We The Same As A Tamarin Or Marmoset?

Why do more people not just up and leave and why having made the decision to leave do people return?  The tamarins and marmosets stay put because they are fiercely territorial.  They have their home and they stay were things are familiar, where they have friends and family.  They stay with what they have spent time and effort creating and they find any change deeply upsetting.  Unlike the tamarins and marmosets, our “familiar” can sometimes be regarded as both a sanctuary and a prison.

I had one gentleman come to see me for hypnotherapy to address his feelings of entrapment that he experienced having started a family.  All of a sudden there were others to think about and he was no longer “free” to live the “single life” he had come to enjoy.  For him, his home had become his prison.

How Do We Deal With The Desire To Run Away?

So what do we do when we are confronted by that desire to run away and “leave our clothing on the beach”?  The first thing to remember is that our lives are not static, they are constantly changing.  There will be times when we do not like the life we are living – we might feel constrained or frustrated by our responsibilities (family, work etc.) or our situation (income, location, education, gender etc.).  If there is someone we can talk to about it that sometimes helps.  Sometimes just holding tight and believing things will change is all that is required.  Sometimes one has to work from within the situation to see if one can give oneself some manoeuvrability, to relieve the pressure sufficiently to restore balance again.  Sometimes one has to bite the bullet and take action – have that conversation, look for a new job, move home or whatever is required to resolve the situation.  If you truly are at the point where you are willing to walk away with nothing, you have nothing to lose from confronting the problem head on.

The Grass Is Always Greener

It may seem that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence but, in reality, if we run from a problem, it invariably follows us.  The realisation of this is, possibly, why people who have run away often return.

Hypnotic Inductions – Why the Obsession?
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 10:22, May 11 2017.

If one is a hypnotherapist, one has to be able to hypnotise someone.  When I had my initial hypnotherapy training, we were taught a number of different hypnotic inductions (ways to hypnotise people).  We were taught slow inductions like progressive relaxation or the silent induction and rapid inductions like the “Zonk” and the “hand shake interrupt”.  It is great fun to use these techniques and when I first started out I used to use some of them sometimes.  The point was made, however, that “anything” can be used as a hypnotic induction and, although at the time, I did not understand what our instructor meant, as my experience grew, I realised that this is indeed the case.

How Does One Hypnotise Someone?

To the general pubic the process of hypnosis is swathed in mystery but in truth it is supremely easy to hypnotise someone and everyone can be hypnotised (take no notice of anybody who claims otherwise).

All hypnosis is actually self-hypnosis.  It is particularly easy to hypnotise someone as part of a hypnotherapy session because they have already prepared themselves to be hypnotised.

The “Obsession” with Hypnotic Inductions

When people first started using hypnosis in the therapeutic process, hypnotic induction took a long time.  The patient would be told to do something like looking at a candle flame and the hypnotist would check back every now and then to check for hypnotic phenomena to see whether they had entered hypnosis.  An induction may have taken up to an hour or more.

The American, Dave Elman, who practiced in the 40’s and 50’s, changed all that because he saw the potential for all doctors and dentist to use hypnosis.  Elman reasoned that if an induction took longer than 60 seconds it was of no use to a doctor or dentist.  It was him who proposed that it was not the hypnotist doing the hypnotising but the patient and developed a number of inductions along that theory.  Elman was in a position to prove his theory because he lectured doctors and dentists and as part of a lecture would use a 60 second induction and then get a dentist to perform something like root canal treatment on the patient with no additional anaesthesia.

I have my favourite inductions but whenever there is a hypnotherapy conference there is frequently a speaker on hypnotic inductions – particularly “rapid” inductions.

The Value of Experience

I wonder sometimes who the intended audience might be for a lecture on hypnotic inductions. After one has been practicing as a hypnotherapist for a while, one realises that for many people who come to a hypnotherapist for help, the only induction required is to say “now, close your eyes and relax”.  That is pretty clever when one considers that to be hypnotised one does not have to close one’s eyes or be relaxed!  A certain amount of preparation is required to achieve this but the skill, ultimately, is in the hypnotised and not the hypnotiser.

Who is the Audience?

An experienced hypnotherapist is not interested in different ways to hypnotise but in different ways to help their client change perspective.  Hypnosis on its own does not achieve a great deal and an experienced hypnotherapist already has all the skills they need to help someone into hypnosis.

Ultimately, a lecture on hypnotic inductions cannot be intended to appeal to experienced hypnotherapists but to those who are just starting out. If hypnotherapists continue to “come and go” with the rapidity I have seen over the years, there will always be an eager audience for these lectures.

Trapped in Hypnosis
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 15:34, March 28 2017.

A client recently told me of an experience a friend of hers had with hypnotherapy that was a classic situation where a concept I call “The Gift” would have come in handy.

The concept of “The Gift” is simple and can best be illustrated by something that most of us have experienced.  Have you ever greeted a friend whose response did not seem right?  Something in the tone of their voice or expression told you that something was wrong.  The “something” that is different gives us information that we might follow up on with a more specific question about their wellbeing.

Subconscious Communication

To understand the sense that something is wrong, it is helpful to use a model of the mind that is fairly standard among hypnotherapists.  This is just a model and not fact but it serves to explain in a simple way how the mind seems to work.  At the top level, we have the conscious mind which are the thoughts that we are aware of and below that is the subconscious mind that holds our feelings, instincts and memories.  The feeling we get that tells us all is not right with our friend is a communication from our subconscious.  We might also call it instinct or gut reaction. 

Trapped in Hypnosis

Communications from ones subconscious do not stop just because one is hypnotised.  The experience my client told me about was of a particularly powerful communication from someone’s subconscious that was received and ignored.  The friend’s daughter had apparently become trapped in hypnosis.

Despite popular belief, exploited by the stage hypnotist, hypnosis is a process under the control of the person being hypnotised, not the hypnotist - it is, therefore, impossible to become trapped in hypnosis.  The friend’s daughter had felt unable to open her eyes at the end of the hypnosis and when the hypnotherapist did not handle the situation particularly well, the young lady had panicked.   

What Really Happened?

Eye locking is a “hypnotic phenomena” and appears on most scales of hypnotic depth.  I use eye locking frequently as part of a hypnotic induction.  Experiencing the feeling of difficulty opening one’s eyes after a session of hypnosis has about the same seriousness as not wanting to get up when the alarm goes off!  However, the extent to which the young lady had reacted could be described as abnormal and therefore she experienced what is termed as an “abreaction”.

Using “The Gift”

Anything that a person may feel whilst hypnotised that can be described as an interruption – like not being able to open their eyes at the end of the hypnotic session, might be regarded as an attempt by the subconscious to communicate something.  If the subconscious feels it necessary to intervene and effectively say “hold on a minute, I have something to say” then that is a real gift and should be responded to appropriately.

The hypnotherapist, even though they apparently had many years of experience, did not know how to handle his client’s inability to open her eyes and not only missed out on a valuable subconscious comment (a gift) but also succeeded in instilling a fear of hypnosis in to at least two people.

Communicating with the Subconscious

There is an interesting colloquialism: “I was in two minds about it”.  This occurs when one’s logic (conscious mind) says one thing but one’s feelings (subconscious mind) says the opposite.  Creating a dialogue between a client’s “conscious” and “subconscious” minds can sometimes bring clarity to a client’s problem.  If this communication occurs spontaneously, it truly is a gift and any decent hypnotherapist should know how to exploit this to the greater benefit of their client.

When is a Scam not a Scam?
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 11:34, December 5 2016.

Good hypnotherapists are always on the lookout for ways to improve their practice. This comes from a genuine desire to help people.

New Training Course

I saw a training course recently, not in hypnotherapy but I think it may appeal to many therapists.  The person running the course is a qualified medical doctor (not just someone with a PhD who thinks that using the title Dr gives them additional prestige) and seems sincere.  You may have heard of him and if not him, you will have heard of his celebrity friends in the music industry.

This therapy is based on the flow of a type of energy – compared to the Qi (chi) of Chinese medicine .  He says that this energy flows within and between all matter whether living or inanimate.  The theory is that illness is caused when this flow of energy is interrupted.  Initially he used magnets to remove these blockages and this was so effective that some of his patients were thrown into convulsions as a precursor to recovery.  He later realised that the magnets were not needed to remove these blockages and has developed other, less dramatic techniques to redirect and control these flows.

Documented Effectiveness

There are practitioners of this therapy in many countries of the world.  In the UK this therapy has been used effectively to replace chemical anaesthesia and there is a scientific journal where practitioners can share research and exchange ideas.

If you feel that this is a training course that you would like to attend, there is one small problem – you have missed the registration date by over two hundred years.

The Sting

Nobody likes to feel that they have been tricked, conned, scammed or swindled.  In the classic 1973 film “The Sting”, starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, a film about how two men set out to con a rich banker, it was stated that the best sting (con or scam) is where the person being stung never knows that they have been stung.

The course described would have been run by Anton Mesmer (1734 -1815).  The term “mesmerised” comes from the work of Mesmer.  The terms “mesmerised” and “hypnotised” are now used synonymously but Mesmer was no hypnotist although investigation of his work by the Scottish surgeon James Braid lead to an understanding of hypnotism.  It was James Braid that coined the term “hypnosis” to describe the mental state that he observed.

The History

Mesmer used the term “animal magnetism” to describe a fluid that he believed flowed in every living organism.  It was contemporaries of Mesmer that compared it to the energy of Chinese medicine.  Mesmer had the finest medical training of that time but mesmerism never received acceptance by conventional medicine or science and its scientific journal was one created by the mesmerists themselves. Born in Austria, Mesmer was friendly with the musicians Gluck, Haydyn and Wolfgang Mozart.  A scandal, resulting from his absolute belief in animal magnetism, caused him to move from Austria to Paris where he became a bit of a celebrity.  This drew the attention of King Louis XVI who established a team of five scientists from the Royal Academy of Sciences to investigate the existence of animal magnetism.  The team included the famous chemist Antoine Lavoisier and the American Ambassador Benjamin Franklin.  This team proved conclusively that there was no such thing as animal magnetism and it, therefore, did not flow between or through every living organism and Mesmer’s theory that illness was caused by blockages in its flow was disproved.

The disproving of Mesmer’s theories finished Mesmer.  Mesmer moved away from Paris and very little is known of him after that time.

Are We Missing Something Valuable?

But what of mesmerism?  One cannot discount the fact that mesmerism was used effectively in a number of clinical operations to induce anaesthesia and Mesmer undoubtedly helped some people.  On this basis, one might argue that mesmerism is a valuable therapy.  On the other hand, one must realise that mesmerism only worked in those circumstances where Mesmer’s ceremonies induced the hypnotic state – at all other times his patients were paying for nothing more than an expensive show – they were being deceived.  The deception proliferated by Mesmer and his followers conned vulnerable people and people seeking training, out of their money – they were sold a lie.  Personal belief and the observation that sometimes mesmerism was helpful, trapped people in a theory that was fantasy and therefore, prevented the discovery of something far more effective - hypnosis.

Jumping to the Wrong Conclusions

It is extremely easy to jump to the wrong conclusions when one observes a positive outcome.  Richard Bandler (the cocreator of Neuro-linguistic Programming, NLP), in the process of developing NLP, imitated (referred to as modelling) the practice of Fritz Pearls the developer of Gestalt therapy.  Pearls was recognised as being an incredibly effective therapist but Richard Bandler actually became more effective at what Pearls did than Pearls himself.  The difference was caused by Pearls’ theory of how his therapy worked.  His theory was incorrect and it influenced how he worked and therefore made him less effective.  Bandler had no such restriction because he did not know why what he did worked.  It was John Grinder (the other cocreator of NLP) who ultimately worked out what was actually happening – but that is another story.

Was Mesmer a Charlatan?

A scam is deliberate deception but Mesmer’s deception was, most likely, not intentional.  He was a highly educated and respected doctor.  Mesmer had the skill to test for the existence of animal magnetism but chose to believe that it existed because of the change he saw some people experience.  From all accounts, he was sincere in his beliefs.  Unfortunately, sincerity is not, and never has been, an indication of truth.

A Crouch is Not a Squat
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 10:55, October 11 2016.

I cannot claim to be an athlete or have much skill at sport but I have over the years engaged in various athletic activities.  I have been a member of various clubs and have been an active member of our local gym for years.

Consequently, I am no stranger to sit ups, lunges, star jumps, Russian twists, squats and press-ups (to mention a few).  There are usually multiple ways of performing the same exercise and I can probably demonstrate over half a dozen different ways of performing a press-up alone.

Competing with a Superhero

A few months ago I watched a video on Youtube that was doing the rounds.  It concerned a challenge that a young man (probably 15 or 16 years old) had made to a character at a theme park in America.  The character was some superhero that I had never heard of but the man playing the part had a good body that filled out the costume without any need for padding.  The young man challenged him to a press-up competition.  The person filming focussed on the “superhero” who drew gasps from the assembled audience when the competition began – he had seemingly completed more than half a dozen press-ups in the time it took the young man to complete one.  The “superhero” then switched to one armed press-ups at a similar speed – drawing yet another gasp from the audience.  The only problem was that the “superhero” was not doing full press-ups whereas the young man was.  There is a huge difference between doing a press-up and slightly bending one’s arms.  The young man – with a straight body – was “kissing” the ground.  The “superhero” was lowering his body no more than a few inches – even less when he switched to one arm press-ups.

Superhero Bow Your Head in Shame

The “superhero” had made the same mistake that many people make when they increase the speed of an exercise: they do it at the expense of performing it correctly.  The problem with doing this is that one fails to actually work the muscles that the exercise is intended to target.  Despite his condescending looks towards the youth which said, “this is how it’s done, kid!” and his muscular physique, that “superhero” would probably have failed miserably to complete even a couple of full press-ups. 

How Does One Define a Squat

The young man who made the challenge made the mistake of not defining what constitutes a press-up before the competition commenced, which brings us to the topic of this blog.  A squat starts when the thighs are parallel with the ground and is anywhere below that point.  A crouch is any point above where a squat begins.  Whether performing push-ups or squats, they both tend to become more shallow the more tired the performer becomes.

Crouch or Squat, Does it Really Matter?

In many exercise classes I have attended where squats have been required, I have seen people doing crouches.  There may be many reasons for this.  Crouches are easier to perform than squats (particularly if one has a loaded barbell across one’s shoulders) so the person may be being kind to their knees, they may have some physical limitation that prevents them performing squats, they may be new to the class and not developed sufficient strength in their legs to perform a proper squat, they may not know what constitutes a squat or they may just be fooling themselves (like the “superhero”).  Whether one performs a full squat or a crouch is irrelevant if one is getting the exercise that one desires and it is generally better to be doing some regular exercise than to be doing nothing at all.  The only time it becomes an issue is if those squats form part of a competition.

How is This Relevant to Hypnotherapy or Life Coaching?

As a Hypnotherapist and Life Coach . I use many different techniques to assist my clients to make change (the process is not scripted – unless the Hypnotherapy or Life Coaching is delivered by someone with incomplete training) .  It is normal that my client may find some of the exercises more difficult than others.  Sometimes I have a client who feels they are not performing an exercise as well as they should and they become discouraged.  To use the analogy above – they feel they are doing a crouch and not a squat.  The truth is that whether one is in an exercise class or in therapy the only requirement is that one does ones best.  Unless one is in competition, one’s best is always good enough!

Life Coaching for Weight Loss
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 15:49, August 26 2016.

I have been a full time Hypnotherapist and Life Coach in Guildford since 2002 in that period, I have helped many people address weight problems but always using hypnotherapy and not specifically as a Life Coach.

Why is Life Coaching an Inappropriate Intervention?

The basis of Life Coaching is establishing where one wants to be and devising a plan to get there, so one would think that losing weight would fit nicely into that format.  I have seen many Life Coaches advertising weight loss as one of their offerings but one must consider the tools that a Life Coach has to work with to understand why it is not an appropriate thing to address for a Life Coach.

I Have Tried That Already!

Someone who seeks help for weight loss will already have tried diets and exercise but this will be the main focus of a Life Coach.  The person may be encouraged to set a goal for weight loss and a goal for exercise but these are not only what that person had tried and failed at but they are also things that are questionable when it comes to ongoing weight management.

What Does, “I want to lose weight” Mean?

When someone says they want to lose weight, what they usually mean is that they want their weight to be stable at a lower weight than they are currently.  Most dieters will tell you that diets do not work in achieving long term weight control and one might argue that dieting makes you fat. Exercise generally increases ones appetite and makes one eat more – consuming more Calories than the exercise burns off.

You are Overweight because You Eat and/or Drink Too Much! 

There are medical conditions that make one put on weight but generally, a person is overweight because they consume more than their body requires.  It seems logical to say that the solution is to either eat less or burn more off in exercise but achieving that is not as easy as it sounds.  When applied to a living being one has to account for physiological and psychological factors – things that diets rarely account for.  The physiological and psychological factors are (if your diet actually achieves weight loss) what cause one to put on weight as soon as one stops the diet.

How Does One Learn to Control Ones Eating?

The body has a mechanism that naturally controls one’s weight and I teach people how to access that control mechanism.  Once one has accessed this control mechanism (I call it stomach awareness), one eats less even though one enjoys food more (this is what my clients tell me).  Stomach awareness can be taught using life coaching but the clue to learning to control ones eating in the long term is to understand that the reason why someone over eats is frequently tied up in their emotions.  It is easy for a person to relate to this concept when they are able to trace their weight problem back to a single comment made about their weight (not an uncommon experience).  It is somewhat harder to understand that being overweight may provide (for example) feelings of protection, safety, being a good parent or faithful spouse.  Hypnotherapy for weight control addresses the emotions that get in the way of ongoing weight management.

The Subconscious Will Always Win

Being overweight does not make one safer, a better parent or a more faithful spouse but if subconsciously one believes it does, then it does not matter what one does to lose weight, one will fail!  It does not matter how much encouragement a Life Coach may give to help one achieve one’s weight loss goals, if the goal is for long term weight control and underlying emotions are not addressed, their client will ultimately fail.  Sadly, if weight loss is achieved during coaching, the client will blame the weight gain experienced after coaching as their own fault and not the fault of the Life Coach not doing an effective job!

Greed and Peanuts
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 11:40, March 11 2016.

You have probably done the same: you are invited to dinner with friends and during the pre dinner drinks a dish of peanuts attracts your attention.  You take a few, then a few more, then a few more and before you know it you have “overdosed” on peanuts!  Is that greed?

Greedy Lady?

One day I purchased a rather indulgent brioche which was layered through with an almond paste.  At the checkout I was served by a rather overweight lady who commented that she could not buy this particular item because she would eat it all in one sitting.  I told her that the solution was to put the brioche in a cupboard and only take one slice to the table at a time, replacing the remaining loaf back in the cupboard.  This is a technique that is scientifically proven to reduce the quantity of any food one eats (cutting the loaf into single slices and deep freezing each one separately would work even better).  Her response was telling “I could not do that because I would know where it is and know that I would get bored of doing that so I would take it all with me to the table”.  Is this behaviour greed?

Are You Greedy?

Aimlessly eating peanuts at a party may be considered to be slightly different to consciously ensuring that a whole loaf of brioche is within easy reach but each of these behaviours could be said to be an example of greed – it all comes down to intent and awareness.  The intent may be obvious – enjoyment of something that tastes nice.  Eating a few peanuts too many or a whole brioche, as single incidents, will not normally have any long term consequences but doing it every day will.  We all know the consequence of constantly over eating is getting fat.  A definition of greed might be: to gratify the desire to experience something whilst ignoring the negative consequence of that action.    

I frequently hear my weight loss clients say things like “I cannot have just one piece of chocolate – I have to eat the whole bar!”  The chocolate is really just the tip of the iceberg (the part they can identify).  This usually indicates a general behaviour of self indulgence.  An excuse of “I cannot stop eating”, really means “I will satisfy my need for self gratification and ignore the consequences”.  This is greed.

Have You Lost Contact With Your Stomach?

We all enjoy eating things that taste nice but for most people the consumption of a whole brioche loaf layered through with almond paste would make them feel ill and would not be something remembered as enjoyable.  Something kicks in telling one that enjoyment has stopped and one stops eating.  People with a weight problem quite frequently have lost the ability to recognise when their body is telling them they have eaten too much and they become trapped in a cycle of excess.

Stop Trying to Lose, Start Controlling

Most people talk about “losing weight” but a short period of restricting ones eating does not resolve a cycle of excess.  One has to take control of ones weight and to control ones weight one must break the cycle of excess and learn to listen to ones body again.  Control also requires learning to understand the emotions that cause one to overeat (e.g. why the lady at the checkout would take a loaf of brioche to the table knowing she would eat it all).  Using hypnotherapy to learn how to control ones weight is not magic and requires some effort but those who come to me for hypnotherapy to control weight usually tell me that the process I take them through enables them to enjoy food more but eat less of it.  Breaking the cycle of excess enables ones body to find its healthy level.

Homeopathy and the NHS - again!
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 10:42, November 18 2015.

I thought it had all been decided years ago and the NHS would no longer be wasting our money by spending it on homeopathy but I was wrong – here it is again – “Homeopathy on prescription could be banned from NHS”!  The scientific research indicates that homeopathy has no effect other than placebo.  Placebo can account for up to 40% of any therapeutic effect which is pretty significant but any scientific research carried out on a drug must take this into account and prove any claimed effect is due to the drug and not placebo.  There are laws, rules and regulations that are in place to protect us from people who might extort money from us by deception.  Ask yourself if you would prefer to pay £10 for a medicine that will probably cure you or £10 for one that will probably not cure you but if you believe strongly enough it might.

The Power of Placebo

I heard a comment from the British Homeopathy Association saying that homeopathy can have “profound effects”.  Let’s face it, if you have 100 people suffering from a complaint and 40 of them see an improvement in their condition as a result of treatment, that is pretty profound but that would only be within the limits of placebo and scientifically speaking, substituting Smarties for the administered remedy would produce the same effect (and be cheaper).  When one takes into consideration things like self selection and spontaneous remission, even that 40% recovery rate might be exceeded.  When we see someone apparently get well after receiving treatment from an alternative therapist, it is extremely difficult not to accredit their “recovery” to the alternative therapy but in reality, with most alternative therapies, it is more likely to be due to the person’s own immune system and nothing to do with the treatment administered.

Appearing to Work is Not the Same as Working 

Homeopaths claim scientific research to prove that homeopathy works but it is not regarded as sufficiently robust by the majority of science to be considered relevant.  Much of the research into hypnotherapy is also not considered significant but that is because it is extremely difficult to design what is referred to as a “double blind” experiment for hypnotherapy.  A double blind experiment for hypnotherapy would be one where neither the person being treated nor the person administering the treatment knew whether hypnosis was being used or not.  This is, however, a difficulty that does not exist for homeopathy.

Personal Opinion Has Little Value in Science

There are so many different types of complementary and alternative therapies available and each of them claim they are effective.  It is difficult to determine the truth, especially if one is faced with someone who has a strong or fervent belief as to the efficacy of a particular therapy (a belief that may or may not be justified).  Although it is so often used to justify a particular treatment, the comment “it cured me” is, in reality, meaningless as all it means is that the person “got better” during the period they were receiving therapy or shortly after and not that the therapy actually did anything.  One either allows oneself to be tossed and turned with each emerging wonder therapy or default to science.

Why Has Homeopathy Been Called Witchcraft?

Fortunately, people are now more informed about the true nature of hypnosis ; it was always an uninformed comment to claim that hypnosis is in any way an unnatural or occult practice.  It is probably also a little unfair to say “homeopathy is witchcraft” but this comment has been made more than once.  Unfortunately, homeopathy has left itself open to such comments by claiming things like when preparing a homeopathic remedy, it has to be stirred to work but stirring in the wrong direction will stop it working.    

Make Therapies (Including Hypnosis) Prove Themselves Scientifically

Hypnosis has sufficient respect within the medical profession for there to be a Royal Society of Medicine Hypnosis Section (there is no homeopathy section).  Hypnosis is also being increasingly used within medicine and dentistry to assist in treatment and care but is currently only very rarely available on the NHS.  Despite what is currently happening with homeopathy there does seem to be a movement to offer more alternative therapies within the NHS.  Although I feel there should be more use of hypnosis (strictly speaking a complementary therapy not an alternative one), I also believe that only those therapies that pass strict scientific evaluation should be offered by the NHS because without it the quality of our medical treatment will ultimately suffer. 

The Vape Debate
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 17:19, September 21 2015.

The rise in the use of e-cigarettes was inevitable. E-cigarettes were supposedly developed as a “safe” delivery system for nicotine under the belief that the need to smoke is a need for nicotine. This “reason” for the development of e-cigarettes is questionable and safety of this delivery system prompted a request from the World Health Organisation to ban e-cigarettes.

I have been helping smokers to stop smoking since 2002 and I provide a stop smoking service in Guildford and Woking. The reasons why someone smokes are complex but the role of chemical addiction is questionable. We are always told that nicotine is “highly addictive” but it does not behave how one would expect a highly addictive substance to behave. If one were to repeatedly inject heroin into someone they would become addicted to heroin and start to crave it. Nicotine is supposed to be more addictive than heroin but prior to the smoking ban, non-smokers were constantly enveloped in a shroud of cigarette smoke in the work place, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, public transport etc. etc. and I never heard of any non-smoker who claimed enjoyment of that or craved returning to a smoky atmosphere from which they had just escaped.

What is Addiction?

Chemical addiction is a process whereby an external chemical becomes incorporated into one of the body’s normal chemical reactions. One could say that the more readily the body does this, the more addictive the chemical can be described as being. In this respect, nicotine could be described as being more addictive than heroin – but there again so could salt or sugar. It is, however, not how addictive a chemical is that is the problem but the effect of not getting the chemical after the body starts to expect it – the withdrawal.

When one considers that the majority of smokers roll over and go back to sleep (or go for a pee) when they wake in the night, one might conclude that withdrawal symptoms from nicotine, if there are any, are not significant enough to wake one up. By comparison, the withdrawal symptoms from heroin will deprive the addict of sleep and can kill; yet there exists a belief (normally in smokers) that it is harder to give up heroin than to stop smoking.

If the reason why smokers smoke was due to nicotine alone there would not be questions over effectiveness of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).

Can e-Cigarettes Help One Stop Smoking?

There is an indication that “Vaping”, e-cigarettes may help people quit smoking but only when the e-cigarette does not look like a conventional cigarette. The research indicates that image is a component in the complex explanation of why people smoke or continue to smoke and my experience is that the more a smoker links their image to smoking, the harder they will find it to quit. Unfortunately, what the research did not indicate is whether those that stopped smoking using e-cigarettes were then trapped in a habit of “vaping”.

Why do Smokers Smoke?

Some clues as to why a smoker smokes and has difficulty stopping is in what they find most enjoyable about smoking. Generally it is not the taste, the smell or anything else about smoking but the activities they engage in while smoking. The smoking ban made it difficult for smokers to engage in many of the social activities they associated with smoking (much to the enhancement of the non-smoking majority’s social lives). As a “safe” means of taking nicotine, e-cigarettes are promoted as something that can be used in places where smoking is illegal. The reality is, however, that many people find the atmosphere created by those using e-cigarettes unacceptable and they are being banned from the premises of many businesses and the use of e-cigarettes in public places will become illegal in Wales in 2017.

Hooked on Nicotine Replacement?

I have assisted many people to break habits and my experience is that it is harder to quit a habit involving a nicotine replacement product than it is to stop smoking. My “stop vaping” service in Guildford to help people to break the habit of using e-Cigarettes differs significantly from my “stop smoking” service to take into consideration this observation.

My concern with e-cigarettes is that society will go through the same torturous process as it did with smoking – aggressive marketing (the big names in cigarette production are also manufacturing e-cigarettes); governments will delay taking action because of an ongoing “are they safe, are they dangerous” debate (just as with cigarettes) and this technological toy will enslave generations of immature image conscious young people to a habit that is harder to break than tobacco, providing more revenue to a heartless industry that has already knowingly killed millions of people.

Abreaction Via Skype
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 15:14, August 31 2015.

It comes as a surprise to some people to discover that they sometimes get emotional when visiting a hypnotherapist and as people rarely visit a hypnotherapist because everything in their life is perfect, the emotions they experience can be unpleasant (and sometimes extreme). All therapy can be simplistically described as learning to think differently. The use of hypnosis is one of the most effective ways to do this and if the emotions are unpleasant the best way to deal with them is in small chunks. When someone comes to me with a problem, rather than making them dwell on that problem and the negative emotion that creates, I see my role as replacing those negative emotions with positive ones like empowerment, confidence, pride and achievement. Unfortunately, there are many hypnotherapists who believe it is their responsibility to find something in the past that will distress their client and make them experience extreme unpleasant emotion. They call this “abreaction” and go by the belief that “there is no change without abreaction”.

Does feeling worse help you feel better?

This theory is incorrect on two counts. Firstly, forcing someone to experience negative emotion is just reinforcing that emotion. This can be illustrated by the example of a person with a fear of being beaten up joining a self defence class to address that fear. It is unlikely that this person would continue the classes if, in their first lesson, they got beaten up! If, however, they have a gradual introduction to violence they will become more competent at addressing it and lose much of the fear they held (the process is called desensitisation).

Are you abnormal for feeling upset?

Secondly, the “abreaction” theory suggests that current problems are the result of abnormal emotions that have to be purged before normality can be regained. This would imply that one is abnormal for experiencing issues like, for example, a phobia, a weight problem or difficulty sleeping. One can find any problem distressing if one is forced to dwell on it and feeling emotional as a result can in no way be described as experiencing something abnormal.

Abreaction is responding abnormally

Anyone who has ever done any computer programming will be familiar with something called an “abend”. An abend is something that happens when a computer program fails unexpectedly and is an abbreviation of the term “abnormal end”. If a program contained code to terminate a program in response to a recognised error, this would not classified as an abend but a normal end. The term “abreaction” is an abbreviation of “abnormal reaction”. If your butcher burst into uncontrollable laughter or chased you from their shop with a meat cleaver in response to your politely asking for a pound of pork sausages, that would be an abnormal reaction.

Should abreaction concern you as a client?

Abreactions in the therapeutic environment are fairly rare. When one experiences an abreaction it is usually quite mild and occurs for only a brief period of time. The most common abreaction probably being “getting the giggles” and feeling that the room is spinning is probably the next most common. An abreaction can be pleasant (e.g. giggles) or unpleasant (e.g. room spinning). One theory as to why abreactions occur is that one has unaddressed emotion that escapes when ones mind relaxes during hypnosis. Abreactions in stage hypnosis are a completely different matter. When a stage hypnosis performance “goes wrong” it is usually because one of the volunteers has abreacted to hypnosis. One of my objections to the use of hypnosis on stage is that the hypnotist is too remote to assist one of their volunteers if an adverse abreaction occurs. The amount of legislation surrounding stage hypnosis and the difficulty of getting insurance tends to support my view.

Abreactions are by definition unpredictable and can, extremely rarely, be alarming for both the client and therapist but fortunately, in the therapy room extreme abreaction is very unlikely because of the hypnotherapist’s proximity to their client, the level of control over how the hypnotherapist interacts with their client and the environment in which the therapy session is conducted.

Your Hypnotherapist Should be There for You

Many hypnotherapists seem to think that it is morally and professionally ethical to conduct hypnotherapy sessions without having any physical proximity to their client, no control over their environment and very little ability to manage a severe abreaction, were it to occur. It may be suitable for a “chat” or something like Life Coaching but the possibility of severe abreaction is one of the reasons why communication through technology like Skype is not an appropriate way to conduct a hypnotherapy session. A hypnotherapist who uses Skype may justify its use with the comment “I have never had a problem” but this is burying ones head in the sand. If we extend the same attitude to something like rail or air travel one can see how foolish it becomes. The rail and air companies strive to have “fail safe” systems because they have discovered, through terrible experience, that “if it can happen, eventually it will happen”.

Is Your Hypnotherapist following Best “Skype” Practice?

Back in 2012 I raised the issue with the General Hypnotherapy Register (the professional body of which I am a member and probably the largest registrant of hypnotherapists in the country) and as a result they added another section to the GHR code of ethics (see GHR code of ethics numbers 32 – 40)

If you are considering having hypnotherapy via Skype (or similar communication method) you may like to check with your hypnotherapist how they are complying with the requirements stated in this code.

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