Going beyond the magic wand – Taking responsibility

I believe in hypnosis. I think that I would be a pretty crap hypnotist if I didn’t, though I actually do suspect there are a number of practising ‘hypnotherapists’ who doubt the effectiveness of it (or themselves) on some level. However as much as I do believe in it as a process and a phenomenon, I also think that it isn’t as simple as a one size fits all approach.

Take regression to cause hypnosis. I know that there is a difference of opinion even between my fellow OMNI hypnosis instructors as to when and how it should be used (instead of a direct and compounding approach to suggestion work), though the thing we agree on is that when used correctly it is amazing in terms of the results that can be achieved. Unfortunately many have been convinced there are better approaches and I do actually agree that if you are not confident enough to do it, an alternative approach is probably a better choice until you have been taught correctly. I am in the camp that regression would not solve everything, despite its effectiveness and even go so far as saying that it can (though this isn’t applicable to OMNI) be misconstrued and used ineffectively.

It is a fine line we have to learn to walk as coach and therapist when telling a client that there is always a reason within them (the cornerstone of regression) as to why their presenting issue exists, without giving them false hope that a hypnotherapist can extract all problems like a rotten tooth, or that they do not have to take responsibility for any of their behaviours or attitude.

Taking personal responsibility can be worryingly overshadowed by a client’s interpretation that the hypnotherapist alone has the tools to correct the problem for them. To me it shows a naive understanding of what hypnosis is and what a hypnotist or coach does. The juxtaposition of seemingly taking great personal responsibility by booking an appointment but then expecting someone else to be the sole reason that appointment will or will not succeed is frustrating. To me these individuals are not taking personal responsibility if they have reached the conclusion that the problem is already beyond it.

These are the ‘bad magic wanders’ we encounter in our job. Instantly waving away any suggestion that they haven’t been necessarily going about things the right way and that the only reason things are going wrong is that there is some ‘subconscious’ reason beyond their control. Maybe there is, but it might not be what they think it is and it might also be aligned with a number of other issues they are stubbornly refusing to address because their ego or attitude is getting in the way.

They turn up for the magic wand because they have rationalised that they just need a subconscious thorn removed and therefore that is all that they are open to. Give them the magic wand in a form they are not prepared to accept and it’s as good as dismissed already.

These are the people who see taking responsibility as placing that responsibility on someone or something else. I see it all the time. The smoker who immediately dismisses the idea the five joints they intend to still have a day will still not make them a smoker (‘just do the hypnosis, that’s all I need’), the insomniac when asked if staring at their iPhone at one o’clock in the morning is helping (‘that doesn’t make a difference’), the stubborn husband when a new approach is suggested (‘I’ve tried everything, can you just tell her…’), the trader or gambler when the link between their ‘system’ and their ‘lack of profits’ is flagged (‘it’s not the system it’s something i’m doing I cannot put my finger on’) and so on and so forth. They have convinced themselves that the problem is not one of personal responsibility but something entirely beyond their control.

Maybe you can still help these people. But there is a bloody good chance that if you can’t get them to buy into the fact that they need to step back and take a look at the wider picture more clearly, then success may be limited.

Dave Elman (one of the most influential hypnotists of the 20th century) was very insistent with his subjects that if he encountered any resistance he would be unable to help them. When a client comes to see you with belief in ‘the magic wand’, it can be all the expectation you need to make powerful and lasting change with them, but if personal responsibility is absent or worse, the client becomes inflexible and defensive when certain situations are questioned, they need educating if they are to be open to it, or their expectations managed.

It comes with the territory, the locations I work and some of the clients that I see, that I will encounter very intelligent people with very blinkered beliefs from time to time. As a hypnotherapist and a coach I am open to using whatever it takes to get success for the client, but I do so by giving a client what they need and not necessarily what they always want. If they then do not accept what they sometimes need the results are going to be the same anyway. But my business is based on referrals and the bottom line of that is the rate of success I achieve.

In my experience a lack of personal responsibility equates to potential resistance on multiple levels, which in turn equates to limited success.

The wand is there to be waved for those that want and need it without resistance and in whatever form it comes in.

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©2016 Nick Ebdon & Advanced Hypnosis Training Ltd


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