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Doing Hypnotherapy Using Suggestion, Age Regression and Other Insight Techniques

Note: 5-PATH® was developed as a result of thousands of hours of work with hypnosis and hypnotherapy clients and the integration of techniques taught by some of the master teachers in the profession of hypnotism, including but not limited to Harry Arons, Charles Tebbetts, Gerald F. Kein, Gil Boyne and others. In addition, the field of psychology and some of its greats influenced the development of the 5-PATH® process, including Franz Anton Mesmer's Animal Magnetism, Dr. Ivan Petrovich Pavlov's Classical Conditioning, Dr. Fritz Perls' Gestalt Therapy, Aaron Beck's Cognitive Therapy and others. This systematic process has been used by the many hypnosis professionals who have worked at the Banyan Hypnosis Center, as well as other 5-PATH® certified professionals around the world. 5-PATH® continues to evolve as a system with the continued experience and input of these hypnosis professionals around the world.

Calvin D. Banyan, MA, BCH, CI

What Hypnosis Is and What It is Not

I have heard many different definitions of what hypnosis really is. Thus far, I have found them all unsatisfactory, at least from a therapists point of view. First of all, hypnosis is not, merely a trance state, although, hypnosis does exist as a focused state of concentration, and trance may be a part of it.

Also, because and individual is in hypnosis does not mean that client is operating under the will of the hypnotist/hypnotherapist, although, the client in hypnosis is highly suggestible, and may feel a desire to conform to the demands of the situation, such as participate in the therapeutic alliance and work toward the therapeutic goals.

Hypnosis is not placebo, but the client has had his or her critical faculties altered. This can lead to all of the know effects of placebo. It is well documented that many physiological changes can occur because of simply hypnotic suggestions, such as blistering, and healing of warts.

Hypnosis is not relaxation, nor is it dependent on the client's ability to relax. Good hypnotic techniques do not depend on relaxation, although most inductions and deepening techniques, urge the client to go "deeper" into relaxation. It appears that the process of the therapist guiding the client into a state of relaxation, sets up the process of selective attention (a requirement of hypnosis). This selective attention can then be further encouraged in the clients mind and emotions by a properly trained hypnotist/therapist.

So then what is hypnosis? Hypnosis is simply a mental state in which he or she is susceptible to suggestion, period. It does not matter whether the individual is lying down with eyes closed or standing in front of a person in authority (i.e., a physician, clergy, or parent). If this person is in a state of high susceptibility to the suggestions, comments, or ideas presented, he or she is in hypnosis, and profound and lasting changes in expectations and beliefs can occur instantly. This can be accomplished by formally sitting in a client/therapist situation, where the therapist uses a hypnotic induction technique, or by a parent or other authoritarian figure making a powerful statement while a child is experiencing a highly emotional state.

Another acceptable definition of hypnosis consists of two parts. Hypnosis is, the bypass of the critical faculties of the conscious mind (suggestibility), and the establishment of acceptable selective thinking (the process of working toward suggestibility). I first heard this definition from Gerald Kein, one of the very best trainers of hypnotherapists. This is how the United States Government defines hypnosis.

Two Major Kinds of Hypnosis

To better understand hypnosis, allow me to break it down into two broad categories of hypnosis, waking hypnosis, and formal hypnosis. First I must caution the reader, these are artificial categories, because in both general categories, the person in hypnosis, is merely in a state of heightened suggestibility. The main difference between the two categories of hypnosis is the situation and/or intent. Allow me to explain.

The first category, Awaking hypnosis," could just as well be called natural hypnosis. That is right, hypnosis is a naturally occurring state of mind that we humans seemed to easily be able to enter into spontaneously. One common experience of natural hypnosis occurs when an individual is simply Aday dreaming" or is otherwise so focused in a mental process, like thinking about something, or planning something out, that he or she becomes less aware of other things that may be going on around them. Have you ever said, AEarth to _____... Come in.... Earth to ____", filling in the blank space with the name of your daydreaming friend? If you have, you have seen someone in a naturally occurring hypnotic state, sometimes called a trance.

This naturally occurring hypnosis is very valuable in planning and organizing your thoughts and feelings. Most importantly, solutions and plans developed in this altered state of awareness can be quite compelling. We often talk about wanting to fulfill our dreams. This inner desire rarely comes from the dreams that we experience at night, and most often forget each morning. No. The motivating and creative dreams that we talk about that compel us to work toward them are the dreams that we experience during the day, especially if we suggest to ourselves that they are attainable. Daydreaming is a naturally occurring form of self-hypnosis.

The fact that hypnosis is a naturally occurring state of mind, is very important. All healthy adults, without being aware of it, have entered into a hypnotic state literally thousands of times. Let me give you some more examples of this naturally occurring state of hypnosis. You have been in hypnosis if:

  1. you have ever enjoyed a good novel
  2. you have enjoyed a good movie
  3. you have ever engaged in a fantasy
  4. you have ever had a story read to you as a child or as an adult
  5. you have ever used your imagination.
  6. you missed that turn on the freeway because you were lost in thought.

Hypnosis is here to stay. It would be quite simply impossible to eliminate it. It is a natural and necessary part of being a human being. It is a normal cognitive function that we cannot turn off. However, the vast majority of people aren't aware of this simple truth.

This ignorance may be dangerous in one special case of waking/natural hypnosis. Because people are suggestible when they are in the mental state we call hypnosis, and because it can occur when you are not ware that you are in the state, suggestions can be implanted subconsciously, by yourself or others, and be totally undefended. “Undefended" is the important concept here.

When you enter into a state of formal hypnosis, that is, using a hypnotist or hypnotherapist to guide you into the state, you are aware that you may be going into the hypnotic state, and because of this, you are able to reject any unwanted suggestions. When you are in formal hypnosis, the conscious mind takes on a new function that seems to screen out unwanted hypnotic suggestions. Acceptable suggestions are allowed to pass right on through to the subconscious mind. (From this point on I will simply use the term hypnotherapist or therapist, rather than hypnotist, unless a differentiation is required.)

Hypnotherapy

So then what is hypnotherapy? Well, obviously hypnotherapy is a therapeutic modality, or process that utilizes the major attribute of hypnosis, suggestibility. Therapy can simply be defined as any process that moves and individual toward health. Hypnosis as a form of therapy can be used for both medical reasons and for psychotherapy. In medicine it can be used to create anesthesia, or to call upon the bodies own healing power, such as removing warts by hypnotic suggestion. In psychotherapy it is used as a psychological tool where the enhanced suggestibility of the client makes him or her responsive to direct suggestions (mere statements by the therapist meant to induce a movement toward mental health, such as “you are going to notice that your mood is improving”) or as an excellent form of uncovery therapy, and insight therapy.

Hypnosis used as a therapeutic intervention has been fully established when all of the following criteria have met in the mind of the client: 1) the client trusts the therapist and feels that he or she is qualified to do the work, 2) the client does not fear hypnosis, and 3) the client is willing to follow directions and suggestions from the therapist (so that conscious and subconscious emotions, thoughts, and memories may be examined and changed, through venting them, reexperiencing them, analyzing them, and changing perspective regarding them, because of new insights, coming from either the client or the therapist).

Today hypnotherapy is a fast and effective way to change habits, by affecting both the conscious and unconscious aspects of the feeling or behavior. Hypnotherapy is able to affect the three major components of a behavior, the physical, cognitive and emotional.

Today's hypnotherapist has a wide variety of therapeutic techniques to select from and combine together. These different modes of hypnotherapy can be broken down into two general categories, active and passive.

Passive Hypnotherapies, Direct Suggestion and Guided Visualization

The common characteristic of a passive hypnotherapy is that the client generally remains in the role of being guided by the therapist, experiencing what the therapist suggests. Here the therapist uses the client’s ability to be affected by suggestion to create images, thoughts and sensations for the client, which are intended to guide the client toward health. A typical example of this kind of therapy can be as simple as the therapist telling the client that he or she will be less hungry in the future, or experience a lessoning desire for cigarettes. Then, depending on the relationship between the client and the therapist, and the client's suggestibility, as well as other factors, like the desire on the client's part to experience these changes, the suggestions can have the desired affect.

Direct suggestion, the simple suggestion by the therapist, to the client, of a particular change can be immensely powerful. This is well documented, and was the mainstay of hypnosis and hypnotherapy for most of its history. This was the operating factor in mesmerism. Mesmer was able to create profound and sometimes lasting changes in the people whom he worked with, merely through the suggestion that his “animal magnetism” was able to make the changes that they wanted to make.

Another profound example of how direct suggestion alone, given the proper state of hypnosis (usually somnambulism, hypnotic coma, or Ultra Depth), one is able to produce complete states of anesthesia for individuals in hypnosis. This kind of hypnosis has been used in battle fields and hospitals around the world for over a hundred years.

Some of the most important factors that improve direct suggestion are: 1) the client must trust that the therapist is competent and will not in anyway take advantage of him/her, 2) the client must want to make the change, 3) the client must be willing to follow the instructions of the therapist, and thus be able to go into hypnosis. Of course, these things must be true anytime that a client and therapist decide to use hypnosis as a therapy. In addition, compounding of suggestion tends to strengthen it, and so does hypnotic practice (the client is directed to imagine being in the situation where the direct suggestion is to be used.)

Direct suggestion is responsible for helping many people make significant changes in their lives such as habit breaking (i.e., smoking, nail biting, over eating, bedwetting, lip licking, etc.).

Active Hypnotherapies, Regression, Role Playing, and Other Insight Therapies

Active therapies such as Aregression to cause," and other uncovery and insight therapies are really the most potent of hypnotherapies, used either alone, or together with direct suggestion. A well trained hypnotherapist will be able to utilize all of the above as is appropriate to each individual's therapeutic need, often weaving insight, uncovery and direct suggestion modalities together in an artistic and effective way. This individual is truly a AMaster Hypnotherapist."

Uncovery and Other Insight Hypnotherapies These are overlapping therapies than can be generally divided from one another. Generally, uncovery therapies are related to the revealing “lost” information from the past, and insight therapies are related to gaining a better understanding of one's self or situation (past or present).

Regression therapy is one of the most powerful tools that the hypnotherapist has at his or her disposal. Regression therapy is usually used to allow the client to become aware of a past situation, though or emotion that has become buried and forgotten, but still affects who they are and how she relate to herself and others. These early experience seem to affect her entire view of the world and her place in it.

On one level, just becoming aware of the past can be therapeutic. When one becomes more aware of the past, the client is then able to process it with the adult's understanding, effectively knowing then what he or she knows now. This act alone, can be life changing. It is usually an Aa-ha!" experience, where things begin to fit together.

For example, I used this age regression technique on a client who wanted to lose weight. She regressed to a time in childhood, found herself visiting with her uncle, who took her to a cafe, where they each had a wonderful time eating pie and just visiting. That moment was a very special day in the little girl's life. She came from a large family, and one-to-one attention was rare. But that afternoon, so many years ago, sweets became associated with the kind of love and attention that she so craved. Thus began a life, filled with sweet snacks, and an ongoing, never ending vain attempt to recreate the love and attention she receive from her uncle in that little cafe with a piece of pie. Uncovering that memory was a significant part of her regaining her control over food.

Uncovering a past event, also allows the client to let go of emotions that are no longer useful, emotions that may have been suppressed, or experienced as a child because of a child's lack of understanding of the overall situation.

Sometimes the hypnotherapist will have the opportunity to work with a stutterer. This is the classic example of an individual who may have been forced to stifle his or her feelings. When regressing an individual to the first experience of stuttering, we often find a child that was forced to stifle a strong emotion, that would normally be expressed as a cry. And example of this can be found in Dave Elman's book, Hypnotherapy, where a man who had stuttered for 40 years, was released from that debilitating pattern by becoming aware of a time that his father did not allow him to cry after he drowned some chicks, that he had mistaken for ducklings, when he was only about three years old. Then during the session he was encouraged to cry that long ago stifled cry, which in turn broke the cycle. The transformation was remarkable.

This brings us to one of the most powerful tools of the hypnotherapist who is trained in age regression work, that is abreaction. Abreaction is the expression of strong emotions. In the example of the stuttering man above, he was lead into an abreaction by Dave Elman, and allowed to cry the cry that the child needed to express. Abreaction seems to have many benefits for the client.

Benefits of abreaction include the release of old emotions, intensification of trance, providing a feeling for the client that they have communicated their feelings when the abreaction is directed at the source of the emotions during hypnotherapy, and adds power and impact to subsequent direct suggestion work done during the same session.

Sometimes it is appropriate to use abreaction as a primary modality. Many therapists use repetitive abreactions to discharge feelings associated with a highly emotional event. In this use of abreaction, the event is relived repeatedly until all of the emotion has been drained out of the event. After the emotion has been drained from the event, the client is then able to look at the circumstances surrounding the event in a detached and more objective way, perhaps making in more likely that the client will be able to better understand and gain insight into the motivation of others that may have cause the emotional trauma, thus facilitating other work such as forgiveness work, which often leads to an emotional healing for the individual.

Abreaction work is often used in non-regression hypnotherapy. A very good example of this is a therapy that has been borrowed from the gestalt branch of psychology. In this example a client in hypnosis is directed to imagine a room, which has two chairs, one for the client and one for another person, who has hurt them in the past. The therapist then encourages the client to enter into a dialog with the offending person. The therapist encourages the client to experience the emotions associated with the painful experiences of the past with that person. So, then uncovering a past memory is not the only kind of insight therapy available to the hypnotherapist.

Universal Therapy, Regression, Forgiveness, Mediation

I teach and promote the use of an almost universal approach to doing hypnotherapy. The development of this approach was strongly influenced by the teachings of Gerald Kein, Gil Boyne, Charles Tebbetts, and Harry Arons. It is called Five Phase Advanced Transformational Hypnosis, or 5-PATH® for short. In this approach we utilize all of the techniques that I have described above and more. And, it is more than just the incorporation of these powerful techniques that makes 5-PATH® universally effective, it is also the order in which they are applied. Basically 5-PATH® process proceeds like this.

Direct Suggestion Phase

The first phase of the work consists of a pre-talk where fears and misconceptions regarding hypnosis are removed. This is followed up by a pre-hypnosis interview, where the client reveals the history of the problem and discusses what she thinks is causing it. During this time the client-therapist relationship is developed and goals are set. Then an agreement is made to use hypnosis. During this first session, the client guided into a state of hypnosis (usually somnambulism), the level of hypnosis is tested, and the client will then experience convincers as well as receiving suggestions for the change that she came into make. Then a post-hypnotic interview is conducted where the experience is discussed and any further questions are answered.

Age Regression Phase

The second phase of the work involves using age regression techniques to uncover events related to the problem. There are two kinds of events. First there is the Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE). This is where the problem first started. Then there are the Subsequent Sensitizing Events (SSE), these continue to reinforce and perhaps increase the problem. After these events and situations have been uncovered, they can be reexamined. The therapist and adult can bring their wisdom and insight to the reexamination of these events. In order to do this, the client is regressed to before the problem existed (B-ISE). This child/client is then informed about what is about to happen and given all of the information that she requires to get through it without having the problem develop (and perhaps even benefit from going through the experience). This insight is then reinforced by progressing forward through each of the subsequent events that were uncovered in the age regression. Because of this experience, the client’s subconscious mind goes into a state of reorganization, where she looks at the events of her life differently, some standing beliefs are re-evaluated and perhaps modified or even rejected. At this time the client is highly suggestible. She is now more suggestible, and exceptionally ready to accept any suggestions that are in line with the insights that she has just experienced. The therapist takes great advantage by giving suggestions directly for the changes that she wants to make during these final minutes of the session.

Forgiveness of Others

The third phase of 5-PATH® consists of releasing old patterns by forgiving the individuals that hurt the client most. Because Age Regression went before this phase, the therapist and client have new insight into the problem and who, other than the client may have contributed to it. Here forgiveness techniques are used to help the client move past old feelings of guilt and different kinds of programming that may have resulted because of the hurt experienced at the hands of another. This phase is also ended with the application of direct suggestions, which are in line with the insights and changes that were brought about during this phase. These suggestions are to be consistent with the changes that the client came into achieve, and reinforce the insights gained in the process.

Forgiveness of Self

The forth phase is directed at helping the client to remove erroneous beliefs about herself which are generating feelings and emotions that are negatively affecting her life. The main emotion that is relieved in this process is guilt or self-directed anger, which can lead to all kinds of self-destructive and self-limiting behaviors. This change greatly encourages the release of old behaviors that are associated with these beliefs and consequent emotions. Again this phase is concluded with direct suggestion.

Parts Mediation Therapy

Usually, the problem will have been completely solved, and new behaviors will have been established after completing the first four phases of the work. The problem has been removed because the cause of the problem has been removed. However, when a condition has remained in place for some significant time, (and most of my clients have been dealing with their problem for years) secondary gain issues may have come into play. Where secondary gain arise are when, the problem has come to be reinforced by conditions in her environment. Perhaps she has identified with others that have the same problem and letting go of the problem would cause her to lose something significant such as her identity or circle of friends (like when someone changes her lifestyle significantly by quitting smoking or drinking). In some cases getting well means that you have to become more independent or even return to work. In this phase of 5-PATH® we deal with these issues using a mediation approach. In hypnosis the client is encouraged to become aware of this internal conflict (part of her desires to change, and yet another part does not want to change). The therapist then uses mediation techniques (i.e., working toward a win-win solution that focuses on satisfying needs and issues rather than on old solutions) to find new behaviors that bring about the change without giving up more than the client is willing to give up in order to get well. And, then the suggestions for success are again given before the end of the session.

In addition to this process the client may be encourage to learn self-hypnosis or the 7-Path System of Self-Hypnosis™. The 7th Path System of Self-Hypnosis™ is designed to reinforce the insights made during the 5-PATH® process. The 7th Path™ can also be used independently of the 5-PATH® system, or 5-PATH® can be used if the practitioner of 7th Path wishes to move faster than she is able to do using 7th Path™ alone.

This has been a very short discussion of hypnotherapy and the 5-PATH® and 7th Path™ systems. If you would like more information about 5-PATH® and training available please contact our office or email us through the link on our web site.

© 1998 Calvin D. Banyan, The Hypnosis Center, Inc.All Rights Reserved.© 1998 Calvin D. Banyan, The Hypnosis Center, Inc. All Rights Reserved.