Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Future series of posts on the social psycholopgy of hypnotherapy

Well, its been a long time since I wrote anything for this blog.  But for some time I have been musing on various psychological aspects of hypnotherapy.  I thought I had given up writing books on psychology but maybe another one has been gestating! So, what I thought I would do, over a series of brief posts is outline some of my thoughts and ideas about the social psychology bases of hypnotherapy (no big surprise  coming from an erstwhile university Professor of Psychology!).  I am rather amazed that I haven't seen much on this sort of theme written by hypnotherapists (there is, for example, quite a bit of similar analysis from counselling psychologists on their discipline).  Perhaps one reason is that a great many hypnotherapists are not trained to a particularly high level in psychology - especially the systematic, research based discipline as taught in universities - and they are more concerned with issues in professional practice.

So, as a taster, in my series of blogs I intend to look at issues such as (but not necessarily in this order) expectancy and demand effects; social comparison theory; attribution processes; impression formation and schemata; biases in social cognition; heuristic processing; attitudes and persuasion; expectancy value models; social skills and patterns of communication; cognitive and social problem solving approaches to therapy; the client-therapist relationship; patterns of communication.  This isn't meant to be an exclusive list - just a flavour of what to expect!   Watch this space for the first installment!


Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Self image and the effectiveness of therapy

Well, after reading a friend's blog I have been reminded that it is some time since I did one myself!  As an ex-academic psychologist I do have a tendency to spend a lot of time musing on the vagaries of human nature.  Most recently I have been pondering the role of self-image (and associated self-esteem and confidence) in hypnotherapy.  Although this is a very complicated issue, here are a few of my thoughts.  There is certainly a well established research literature on how self-esteem can influence our attributional style - in particular how we perceive causality in our world.  This is turn can affect our personal and social motivation and relationships.  Following this line of thinking, suggestions of change to clients may vary in effectiveness at least in part depending on the individuals self-image and attributional style.  In part this does suggest the need for individually tailored sessions and one size definitely not not fit all! Also, although I always tended to include something on esteem and image enhancement in all my hypnotherapy sessions, I am increasing convinced that this should be a central issue, even though it may  not be the presenting issue, for many clients.  And, of course, the ability to see beyond presenting symptoms is the real mark of the skilled therapist!  

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Finding a hypnotherapist

I have been a professional psychologist teaching and researching at British universities for over thirty years and, to get me out of my ivory tower, have also had a parallel small counselling and hypnotherapy practice.  However I have recently decided to devote all my time to my hypnotherapy practice, and my experiences are what have prompted this blog.  Read on!

Until that decision I had happily trundled along getting clients by word of mouth and personal recommendation.  Now that I am expanding my practice, I am a little more interested in what the other hypnotherapists near me are advertising and offering.  They are certainly a varied bunch, but it’s become very evident that a couple names keep cropping up.  To me, they don’t stand out to any greater extent than that they have really got the marketing side of things sorted out!  Looking at the various websites, it really struck me that it must be very difficult for an individual seeking hypnotherapy to decide who to choose.  You might have thought qualifications and professional recognition might be good criteria for thinning out the pack, but it’s not going to be that simple!

Let’s take qualifications first.  Undoubtedly a high level of relevant, recognised training is desirable.  I understand degrees etc. (as a Professor of Psychology, and after teaching at Universities for so many years, I should!) but, surprisingly, they are not that common.  So the long list of letters after some therapist’s names can be confusing.  Even after a google search you (like me) may still be none the wiser.  Don’t feel bad about it, I am in the profession and there are many of them that I don’t recognise!

So, what about professional accreditation as a guide?  There are accrediting bodies.  But note the plural in the preceding sentence.  There is no statutory regulation of hypnotherapists and no single regulatory body.  Among the crowd of accrediting bodies there are some are commercial organisations, some are not-for-profit.  Some of these organisations are widely accepted and respected (such as the General Hypnotherapy Register), but in theory there is nothing to stop anyone starting their own accrediting body.  And, of course, the lay person seeking hypnotherapy is most likely not aware of all these issues.

So with the issues over qualifications and registration, how do people choose their hypnotherapist?  Personal recommendation is certainly an excellent route.  Failing that, I personally would tend to beware of too much advertising hype.  Many web sites do seem to promise the earth and its worth asking yourself whether these promises are realistic.  For example, can any form of therapy ever genuinely claim to have a 100% success rate (presumably they mean for all problems, with all people, all the time)?  Although research evidence suggests that hypnotherapy can be a very effective form of therapy it does not (rather inconveniently) support the contention that it is ‘100% effective’.  I would carefully read any guarantees that may accompany that assertion!  Most competent hypnotherapists could meaningfully offer a guarantee to hypnotise you, but guaranteeing outcomes is another matter.