To the experts in hypnosis, there is no more puzzling question. Therapists want to empower people, but too often do the opposite quite unintentionally when they tell clients their problem must be “biochemical” or “genetic,” despite lots of contradictory evidence for this view. In the age of psychopharmacology, clinicians are often more inclined to prescribe drugs than teach new skills. And, realistically, therapists develop a style and a theoretical orientation that comes to define their clinical practice. So, learning new approaches outside their current comfort zone holds no appeal for many.
But, perhaps the biggest obstacle to hypnosis becoming a well-developed skill in each clinician’s repertoire are the outdated, myth-based views of hypnosis.
Hypnosis has a strange history, replete with scare stories and controversies that have lingered in too many professionals’ minds. That is terribly unfortunate, of course, since both they and their clients are missing out on the use of a practical and effective treatment tool.
What’s interesting, though, is how the clinical world is already moving in the direction of hypnosis rather than away from it. Almost overnight, it seems, techniques like “mindfulness,” “focusing,” “guided imagery,” “mind-body healing,” and the like, are skyrocketing in popularity (and, for those who want scientific evidence, their worth is regularly being empirically validated in a variety of ways). It’s about time! All of these techniques, and many others, are undeniably hypnotically based in their use of focusing and suggestive methods to achieve their aims. The literature of hypnosis can provide deeper insights into how and why such methods are valuable in therapeutic practice, literally identifying their mechanisms of action and clinical utility. If you want to understand more about the nature of unconscious processes and how they become accessible and amenable to therapeutic influence, then studying the literature of hypnosis makes good sense.