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“The bumper sticker would be: Trance Happens”

The questions came up at the ASCH workshop: When do you use hypnosis? When don’t you? If you do, when do you do a formal trance induction? etc.

Both in response to this and in general comments, several of the faculty made statements along the lines that if the client/patient has decided to seek out help from you, especially knowing what you do; comes in to your office; and sits down… They’re already in trance.

I feel I should take a pause here to quell any misconception of that statement. It doesn’t mean anything nefarious or magical has happened. The model of hypnosis currently in use sees hypnosis/trance as a natural ability all people – indeed, all mammals – have. It’s tied to intention, focus, concentration, expectation… and above all, it’s how we learn and grow. You can learn to access it deliberately and learn how to use it more effectively, for which you might visit a hypnosis-trained professional who can teach you, but you already “do” it. But I digress.

I understood the point the faculty were making; it made sense. But it wasn’t until Saturday of the workshop that it hit home for me what exactly they meant. Read the rest of this entry


“This is about investing…”

This [hypnosis training] is about investing in self-efficacy.

No deep thoughts on this (yet); just sharing a quick quote from last weekend that resonated with me, because I didn’t have time to write the post I meant to for today.

On beginning my ASCH journey

This past weekend, April 11-14, I had the extraordinary opportunity of participating in the “Basic Workshop: Fundamentals of Hypnosis” at the San Diego regional workshop sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH).

It's a long climb to certification, but I'll get there... (Westgate Hotel, San Diego - our workshop hosts)

It’s a long climb to certification, but I’ll get there… (Westgate Hotel, San Diego – our workshop hosts)

I learned from presentations by knowledgeable and personable faculty, practiced with a fantastic group to (finally) begin developing my skills in hypnosis, volunteered as the subject in a demonstration, and met some great colleagues from a range of mental and physical health care disciplines. On Sunday, one of my workshop-mates, a chiropractor named Dennis, related a story that I hope he won’t mind me sharing here, as best I can:

Dennis told our fellow Basic attendees how he’d been talking to the hotel staff setting up our breakfast when they indicated one of our meeting rooms and asked him, “Do you really understand what they’re talking about in there?” Dennis chuckled and told them he didn’t, not really, but then paused, thought, and said, “Well, it’s like this:

“There’s this scrawny, starving cat, pacing back and forth, looking for something to eat. Down a ways, in the wall, the cat sees a deep dark hole and goes to check it out when whhhht! – something runs by the hole on the other side of the wall. The cat, surprised, stops and watches, wondering if the movement is something edible. Whhhht! There it goes again. So the cat reaches a paw into the hole and blindly bats around, but isn’t able to find anything. Retreating a bit, the cat sits and waits.

Whhhht! And the cat’s stomach growls, reminding him how hungry he is. So the cat musters up his courage and sticks his head into the dark hole, then wriggles in his front paws and shoulders. When his eyes adjust – which never takes long for a cat, the dark being part of their native habitat – he sees no living prey, but there are some balls of cheese scattered around. This cat is so hungry, he takes a chance and licks at the cheese. Then nibbles it. Then eats it. And when all the cheese he can find is gone, the cat wriggles back out of the hole and goes on his way, satisfied.

“And I,” said Dennis, “am that cat.”

Now, I have to laugh – not because of Dennis’s story, but because as I’m composing this post, WordPress is parsing my words through some algorithm and suggesting possible accompanying images from their media gallery. One that caught my attention is just strident text: “Hypnosis can change your life”, which is absolutely true – but not only for the subject. I was leaving the workshop for the final time on Sunday afternoon, completely lost in thought as my feet retraced the now-familiar route between the hotel that had hosted us and the one that had housed me, and I noticed a difference in the quality of the light, in the feel of the air around me, in the way I was hearing my environment. And my mind tossed a thought into the path of my conscious attention: “There’s no turning back now!” I chuckled delightedly at that, knowing in that moment that although I’ve barely started this training journey, I’m already too far in the hole – too intrigued, too hungry for more, and definitely not satisfied by a few balls of cheese (although they made a great appetizer).

It was perhaps an hour later, on the freeway home, that it finally hit me how absurd that thought actually was. As I told a few people at the workshop – never failing to spark a mildly astonished expression – hypnosis (despite the inaccurate way I understood it at the time) has fascinated me since I was 6 or 7 years old. My understanding of the concept has naturally changed over the intervening years, but turning back? Never an option. I recognize now that I’ve always been on this road to learning hypnosis (and if you’ve read my About sections, you know I’ve done some study already); this weekend, by getting me to start finally practicing, just shifted everything into a higher gear.

I’m grateful that my road eventually led towards a career path that enables me to train with ASCH, because I felt at home this weekend. In their understanding and teaching of hypnosis, in their personalities and humor, in so many ways – I’ve found “my people”. So I’d like to send an enthusiastic THANK YOU to everyone who helped make this workshop the amazing experience it was for me:

  • Emma Leighton, ASCH’s admin superhero, who not only organized everything and kept us ducks in our rows, but astounded me by asking for the last name of each of the 70-some attendees as they checked in and, with just that, remembering their first names.
  • Dr. Laurence Sugarman, workshop director and a wonderfully engaging, funny, and approachable presenter (who also “let” me volunteer as his demo subject on Saturday; an experience I’ll remember a long time).
  • Norma and Phil Barretta, who graciously shared their combined years of experience and metaphor in a no-nonsense, entertaining manner.
  • “The three Davids”: Drs. Paperny, Patterson, and Wark, who each accepted the challenge of delivering too much knowledge in too little time.
  • An extra and special expression of gratitude for the faculty who guided my practice group’s experiential work and provided such excellent feedback: Delle Jacobs, Laurence Sugarman, Norma Barretta, and David Paperny.
  • And, of course, my practice groupmates, who all ventured through the hands-on work with me as we sometimes fell flat on our faces (but at least headed the right direction!): Lillian, Whitney, Gretchen, Vee, Joel, and Ken.

I’d like to write more posts about the workshop as I process the experience, but I’m also in the final two weeks of my graduate school program (no, I can’t believe it, either!), so have other work to do. Stay tuned and let’s see what happens.

O Bookworm, Where Art Thou?

Yesterday, September 6, was apparently Read a Book Day (or so I was informed by a ThinkGeek email).

My Books

So much to read… (Photo credit: Jennerally)

Which made me realize how much I miss reading. I was a voracious bookworm as a child and teen, capable of devouring 200 pages in perhaps 90 minutes. I lived at the public library (to be fair, it was a block from my house). Often, I had two or four books going at once, while able to keep the plots and characters straight. I might get a new book at school and read it while walking home that afternoon. I could read while watching TV or in any other noisy situation.

I don’t read anymore. Unless you count textbooks, psychology articles, tweets, blogs, emails, Facebook posts, class discussion boards… And, of course, the articles and training materials I edit. Read the rest of this entry

When Geekery and Hypnosis Collide

Fact: I am studying to become a Marriage and Family Therapist.
Fact: I love the unique way kids view the world and would like to work with them.
Fact: I believe hypnosis is the most useful therapeutic tool anyone can know or use.

Given all that, ever since Uncommon Knowledge started putting out their Children’s Series of hypnosis downloads, I have been collecting both the MP3s and scripts for each title, as a way of learning how to use hypnosis with my future child clients. And because listening to hypnosis is one of the more effective ways of learning its patterns and language, I listen to each of the children’s titles at least once. (Besides, even adults sometimes just need a comforting bedtime story!)

The latest title in the series, “Speak Up in Class”, aims to help children be more confident in the classroom, not worry about the possibility of being wrong, and be open to making mistakes from which they can learn and improve. All the child-aimed downloads consist of enjoyable and relaxing “dream stories” that your child can listen to at bedtime (or any other time). No mention of hypnosis is made, nor is the goal of the program overtly stated; rather, the story gently relates a solution via metaphor and parallels to reality. (Small plug: from now through March 26, 2012, the program and script for “Speak Up in Class” and all the new March downloads are 15% off for both free and paid site members.)

Fact: I am a geek.

Last night, I listened to “Speak Up in Class” for the first time as I was getting ready to drift off to sleep. The program opens with teaching the child listener “a very special, secret way of breathing” (AKA relaxation breathing), then moves on to describe a playground scene. So far, so good; I was settling in, enjoying the program. And then we met the protagonist of this particular dream story…

“…and there among all those children, a little red-headed girl called Amelia…”

"Amelia a name in a fairy tale."

" a name in a fairy tale."

Relaxation flew out the window as my geek mind made the inevitable connection (Doctor Who Series 5 and 6 spoiler warning for that link) and I started laughing, then laughed harder because it was Roger, one of Miss Pond’s fellow Scots, who had recorded the program.

Already that far gone, I’m sure my fellow Whovians can sympathize that I completely lost it later in the program on the phrase “silence fell in the classroom”. (If you don’t get it: help is here, with further spoilers.)

(…Sorry, Unk folks!)

My geek-infused amusement aside, “Speak Up in Class” is a great program that I hope will help many kids who feel uneasy sharing what they know (or are unsure they know) in the classroom.

Friday Funny: “Would I Lie to You” About Hypnotists?

I think it’s safe to say that David O’Doherty has never seen a hypnotist/hypnotherapist for any reason. Ever.

Code Name: Guided Visualization

Something’s bothered me most of my life.

There seems to be pervasive logophobia surrounding the word “hypnosis”.

I first noticed this in my preteens, while I was browsing relaxation tapes (yes, audio cassettes – kids, ask your parents) at the local bookstore. It suddenly struck me: “guided visualization” or “guided relaxation” are code phrases for “we’ve made a hypnosis tape, but we’re afraid no one will buy it if we call it that”. Read the rest of this entry

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