Our 2nd in person HACP evening talk since the world shifted – Sally was greeted with 15 happy and enthusiastic faces.

Sally introduced us to hypnotherapy – therapy using various forms of hypnosis.  She checked in with her audience to see who else worked in the field or in a similar way, of which there were a few.  Sally acknowledges what she believes to be a vital requirement of having a counselling knowledge/training to support the client to identify their issue and prepare for hypnosis.

Sally gave us a brief overview of the beginnings of hypnotherapy.  Beginning in the 1700s with Franz Mesmer (where the word mesmerising stems from) – who used magnets to work with clients with hysteria.  Similar era saw The Marquis de Puysegir documenting the use of a deep relaxing trance (and first reference to ‘sleep’ state – which has been a cause of disagreement by not acknowledging that clients are lucid during a deep relaxed state).  Scottish Surgeon, James Braid, slightly later into the 1700s and early 1800s coined the term hypnotherapy.  James Esdaile introduced the use of hypnosis for surgery – in times before they had decent anaesthesia.  References to how hypnosis can be still used to this day in lieu of anaesthesia is readily available on the NHS website.

Freud used hypnosis prior to the introduction of Free Association, whilst Erickson in the following century developed his own style of ‘Ericksonian Hypnosis’ which was less suggestive.

We were invited in small groups, to discuss how we as practitioners address things when our clients are very stuck.

Sally gave some case studies of where several clients have shifted enormously – only needing a few sessions to shift life-long issues.  The topics addressed were varied and all clients reported very significant shifts that were life changing.

One of our members works very closely with Sally when a client has particular anxiety that needs ‘un-sticking’.  Other audience members who do EMDR reported similar shifts for their clients – some audience members working in collaboration with both hypnotherapy and EMDR practitioners to assist their clients more speedily and/or more specifically.

The demonstration Sally gave was very powerful – done using the rewind technique – which in layman’s terms (and to my understanding) a replaying forwards and backwards of events and/or fears that are concerning the client, as though it were playing on a tv in front of them.  At the beginning – Sally took her client into a deep relaxed state.

I observed the client physically twitchy (involuntarily) as they played their visual forwards and backward – though I think it was more during the backward (rewind) phase.

As this needs to be done after the client has been put into a deep trance-like state – using a soft gentle voice is required.  This in practice made it extremely difficult for those observing to hear the finer detail of what was being said.  This took away for many the experience of observation – for others they figured it out by watching.  We had a blind member in our audience so the deficit was greater for them.

The client (volunteer of the evening) immediately reported feeling light and her problem shifted to a 1 (out of 10 – 10 being very difficult) – Sally omitted to check the number at the start but volunteer I believe said it was around a 10 beforehand.  It was a profound shift.  ‘It’s just gone’…or words to that effect were uttered by the volunteer as they reflected on the process.

A very enjoyable and intriguing evening talk – thank you Sally.

Sinead Mitchell