Fixing a Spider Phobia the Entertaining Way
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 15:50, June 26 2014.

Stage hypnotists like Paul McKenna and Derren Brown can have a big advantage over a clinical hypnotherapist – an audience!  Derren Brown described this advantage saying “the bigger the audience the bigger the effect”.  An audience puts pressure on the “subject” because if the “trick” fails the “subject” looks bad.  The same effect occurs if “therapy” has an audience – the therapy is more likely to work and work spectacularly.  I am rarely in a position to exploit this advantage: one time was when I ran a phobia day at Chessington World of Adventures and another is detailed below.

The Client

My client is an employee at our local gym.  Rachael agreed to be the subject of an article in the gym newsletter.  Rachael is a well respected and liked member of the staff.  With her history of playing top class rugby, Rachael is not the sort of person one would expect to be frightened of anything.  However, prior to her treatment Rachael had a spider phobia!

No Surprises

An audience makes ones client more focussed and more willing to change but one still has to adhere to a very important principle: if one wants to teach someone not to be frightened one has to do it without making them frightened!  Throughout the process, therefore, Rachael stayed in control – there were no surprises and her consent was obtained for each step forward.

What Rachael Said

 “I went to see Stephen about my fear of spiders.  On my arrival he made me feel very welcome and comfortable.  He explained how the session works and what I should expect during this session...

“Stephen got me to do a couple of exercises… this involved visualisation, movement, and imagination. I found this strange as I was seeing a spider but knew that there wasn’t one there… but I still acted as if it was real. Hard to explain really!!!  I felt very relaxed. Stephen kept making sure I was happy all through the session.

“Stephen brought out a toy spider which I was ok with (after all it was just a toy), then he brought out some dead spiders which were covered up and placed at the other side of the room from me. I had to build myself up to go and unwrap the jar of dead spiders, unscrew the lid and pour them on my hands (If you know me you would know that I would’ve ran out the room at the thought of it)… Then he brought out another jar, this was the real deal; he placed it at the other end of the room and again I had to walk up toit, unwrap it, take a look at the live spider running around the jar, then, if I felt happy, undo the lid [and] tip the jar over onto the palm of my hand… I cannot tell you how overwhelmed and happy I was that I was holding the spider...

 “I can still pick spiders up now (Fantastic!!! and my partner is extremely pleased as she doesn’t like them), the session has also helped me with my fear of heights as I can now climb a ladder up to my attic which I couldn’t do before.

 “I can definitely say that I would recommend this kind of therapy and I can’t thank Stephen enough for getting me to control my fear.”

If you would like to see Rachael with her spider click here.

Good Hypnotherapy Stops Nail Biting
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 13:18, June 5 2014.

People come for hypnotherapy with many different expectations.  Some of these expectations can be completely unrealistic.  It can be difficult to help someone who expects that they will be put into some altered state for the entirety of the session and wake at the end with no conscious memory of what has happened but with a problem that has existed for years miraculously gone!

In sales I learnt one must “give the customer what they want”.  If someone comes for hypnotherapy then they want hypnosis – even if they do not know what that is!  I was told in training “hypnotise your client every session”.  What my teacher was actually saying was use “formal hypnosis”.  Formal hypnosis is where one tells ones client that they are going to be hypnotised and then takes them through a formal “induction” – that way they recognise they have got what they came for.  The truth is that hypnotherapy starts the moment the hypnotherapist meets or speaks to their client. 

Here is an example of hypnotherapy that may confuse some practicing hypnotherapists because it does not fit with what they believe or have been taught.  Some may claim that I was not utilising hypnosis.  To them I ask that they might consider what I was using and if not hypnosis what made what I did so effective.

An Example of Good Hypnotherapy

My client came to stop her nail biting.  After years of biting her nails, her nails and the skin around her nails were in a bad state.  She was a very talkative lady and it was a little difficult to “get a word in edgeways”.  I noticed that, for whatever reason, my client had entered hypnosis.  I found that it did not take many words to change her train of thought.  The changes in her mood were easy to observe. Just by directing her thinking, I made her superimpose the feelings she had that made her bite with positive feelings that encouraged her to satisfy her real need (whatever that was).  For those familiar with NLP, what I did may be called SWISH but probably not the way SWISH has ever been taught in any training session.

I tested it twice and realised that she was unlikely to ever bite her nails again.  At this point my client had no idea of what I had done.  I was 45 minutes into the session and as far as my client was concerned we had just talked.  I followed my teacher’s rule and I made a big thing about now hypnotising her, did a quick induction, said a few relaxing words and ended the session.

She returned for two more sessions to address another issue but her nail biting had stopped and when I followed up a few weeks later she not only was not biting her nails but she had almost forgotten that she ever had.  The fact that she had stopped was also confirmed by the mutual friend who had recommended my services to her.

A very important part of being a hypnotherapist is being able to work with how ones client presents.  It would be nice to be able to help everyone in one session but the reality is it normally takes one to four.  Good hypnotherapy is not following a recipe which is why it can be difficult to design an experiment to research its effectiveness. 

Welcome to My Hypnotherapy Blog
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 10:49, June 1 2014.

Being a consultant IT Project Manager and Business Analyst may have given me work in many different companies and taken me to many different countries but there was always something missing.  This is probably true of every job I had prior to 2002. 

Things changed in 2002.  In 2002 I became a full time Hypnotherapist and Life Coach.  I can honestly say that Hypnotherapy is the only job that I have truly enjoyed and I think that is because I have a deep interest that goes beyond the day to day practice of it.

Deriving my sole income from giving therapy full time apparently puts me in a minority group.  I have heard the majority of practicing hypnotherapists described as “pocket money hypnotherapists”, with estimates of 75% of hypnotherapists falling into this category.  At some point I will expand on the issues this creates for the “profession” of hypnotherapy but not now.

Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy

Although frequently misunderstood and misrepresented, hypnosis is probably the most useful and powerful way we have of utilising our minds. It is also a mode of operation that we frequently use without even realising it.  Hypnotherapy is the utilisation of hypnosis in therapy but the confusion surrounding the nature of hypnosis renders this definition almost meaningless.  In an attempt to explain how a therapeutic effect is obtained, hypnotherapists frequently use metaphors (models or stories that are representative or symbolic of something) but then add to the confusion by presenting them as literal (which is a little like saying that the Brothers Grimm were documenting history and not writing fairy stories!).

Fortunately, it is not all bad news as there are a lot of hypnotherapists out there doing some really good work in a very difficult market but the “profession” of hypnotherapy can be described as being in a mess.  Hypnotherapy should be the most highly regarded and utilised of the “talking” therapies but the “mess” it is in has resulted in it not receiving the recognition it should.  I have spoken out about some of the issues I raise in this blog and some changes have been made but politics is not my field. 

In this blog I intend to share some of my experiences and put forward my understanding of certain issues regarding the practice of hypnotherapy.  Some people will agree with what I say some may disagree but with hundreds of hours of training and thousands of client facing hours experience I think my opinions have at least some value.  The intention of my blog is to make people think.  Whether you agree or disagree, if you think seriously about the concepts I present, then my intention has been met.