HypnoTalks Questions & Answers with Axel Hombach & Dr John Butler – Episode 16

The Beginning of the Hypnotic Journey

The work a hypnotist and client do together can be described as a journey that they undertake together. As all journeys it has various stages or phases in which different aspects happen and are important.

In this second episode of the mini series on the hypnotic journey, Dr John Butler and Axel Hombach explore the beginning of the journey. They look at the first steps a hypnotist and a client take together, what they contain and how important they are.

Die Hypnotische Reise: Der Beginn

Die Arbeit, die ein Hypnotiseur und ein Klient gemeinsam leisten, kann als eine Reise beschrieben werden, die sie gemeinsam unternehmen. Wie alle Reisen hat sie verschiedene Abschnitte, Phasen, in denen verschiedene Aspekte auftreten und wichtig sind.

In dieser zweiten Folge der Miniserie über die hypnotische Reise erkunden Dr. John Butler und Axel Hombach den Beginn der Reise. Sie betrachten die ersten Schritte, die ein Hypnotiseur und sein Klient gemeinsam unternehmen, was diese Schritte enthalten und wie wichtig sie sind.

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Axel Hombach

When you work went with your clients, from the very beginning to the moment where you start the induction, the hypnotic induction, there are various steps that are very important so that you can make it a successful session for your client, and also for yourself. And here a lot of details are very important. That is exactly that we are going to talk about. Now in this, let’s call it, this phase 1, up to the hypnotic induction.

My name is Axel Hombach. I’m a hypnotist and trainer for self hypnosis in Cologne, Germany. I’m here in London with Dr John Butler, who is the director of the HTI, the Hypnotherapy Training International.

Hello John!

Dr John Bultler

Hello Axel, and hello to our listeners.

Axel Hombach

In our previous interview we talked broadly about the various steps in the hypnotic process, from the very beginning up to the point where we close our work with our client, where we come to an end, of maybe the session or maybe the work on a certain topic. now in this interview we are going more into detail what is important when we start the work with our client and so maybe the first question would be when does the work with our client start at all.

Dr John Bultler

Mm-hmm. well, you refer there to that earlier stage when we make contact with them which can be a very powerful positive influence right there and then, because we’re instilling hope, expectation, confidence in the client, that their problem is something hypnotherapy can help them with.

Now, you have that confidence. You come across as confident that you can help them. Confidence based on competence and genuine knowledge and skills and that you are able to work with them, that they feel they can trust you. There’s a level of rapport even there. So people get to believe in you, if you promote the therapy well and you express yourself well.

So, interviewing, in a sense, begins on the phone, maybe in that first step. But, let’s say now, you’ve done that with them, there’s some good hope and expectation in you and then your therapy approach, what you have to offer, and they’ve got that feeling you’re an authoritative person in the area you’re working. Now they come into the session with you. So, let’s take it from there. In that interview we have so many important things to do: In setting goals. As opposed to the client just wanting to get rid of things, which is the amputations as we call them, we’re looking at where they need to go, not what they’re trying to avoid, run away from only.

In that stage we’re starting to build a therapeutic relation, a therapeutic environment, for which we need the core conditions of therapy for it to be effective. Because it’s really the foundation for the future, for the rest of the session, where the programming or regression will be done, and for future sessions.

So, the three core traits, or the three core ingredients, let’s call them that for simplicity, that Rogers talked about – really they’ve been expanded into core elements of the therapeutic relationship – which – essentially from our point of view as therapists – we must learn. That and understand the core traits of the effective therapists.

Axel Hombach

Just in case that our listeners are not familiar with those three core traits. Maybe that didn’t show up in their training. Which would that be?

Dr John Bultler

Well, empathy, regard and warms when, we go to Rogers, back in the 50s began to delineate those, because he observed that in good therapy these were there, regardless of the form of therapy even, under different therapists, that for the therapy to progress the client had to have that feeling, that experience from the therapist and the therapeutic interaction. So it’s a powerful form of communication going on there with those ingredients in it.

The absolute core essentials. The 10 therapeutic traits. They need to be learned by therapists. That’s something we teach in depth in our course. Usually in our course 3 „Advanced Analytical Hypnotherapy“. We refer to them early in the training, but we must go into in some depth. So, these take time for therapists to develop. Because some therapists are very good in, let’s say, empathy, but finding confrontiveness very difficult, because they misunderstand it usually anyway. And then they feel intimidated by doing something that they feel the client may not like, sort of fearing the clients rejection.

So, without going into a lot of detail about that, those 10 core traits of the effective therapists are important.

Axel Hombach

just to clarify that for listeners the 10 core traits are not the same as the 3 core traits of Rogers the 10 core traits are a lot more detailed and have more dimensions of which you mentioned confrontive ’no siz probably the most it’s important but we are going into that in more detail in another podcast

Dr John Bultler

Absolutely, yeah, the original three were expanded to ten. There were seven added to it and each of them has gone into a lot of depth, in our training.

So, within that interview phase, there’re also all the skills you need for questioning. How to use questions effectively, open closed questions, powerful communication skills; the use of monologue, dialogue; the elicitation, in the military, in the law enforcement setting, in the old days were called interrogation, nowadays we tent to use the word elicitation. There’s so much information out there in the field of the elicitation that hypnotherapists need to know about. From verbal and nonverbal communication, how to observe and listen, and, as I say, how to use questions, how to use silence, how to listen to the answers for keywords, strange uncommon use of words in response to a question that reveal information about the underlying fixed ideas and primary emotional difficulties they’re experiencing. How to use certain words with the client that are the ones that are most likely to provoke an emotional resonance and emotional response that’s revealing about underlying fixed ideas. So there’s so much to learn there Axel.

As we continue now with that stage of the interview and the rapport building, there’s more skills involved in that than people think. It’s not just that the client likes you. They may like you but not believe you can really help them very much. So in that interview stage we talked a lot about uncovering. And what are we uncovering? Uncovering primary underlying emotion. There’s lots of emotions maybe there. We’re gonna pick on one of them that’s gonna be very important for regression work. And even, if we don’t move to regression, the underlying feelings and ideas attached to those feelings, the beliefs that drive the feelings, will be very important for us to know to develop the very best programming.

So, uncovering, there’s so many steps to it, and the therapeutic relationship allows the client to reveal. They trust you, they believe in you, so the defenses can come down to one degree or another and then, as I say, the use of questions and other skills, communication, and it’s verbal and nonverbal, as I often say, observation and listening. Observing is often more important than even what you’re doing with the listening, because in the nonverbal communication so much is being revealed.

Axel Hombach

You went into great detail on your last training that you gave last week the „Hypnotherapy Skills For Life Change“. Could you just say, maybe two or three sentence, why that is so important?

Dr John Bultler

And I will just add to that, that in the second course, the „Clinical Hypnotherapy“ and in „Advanced Analytical Hypnotherapy“ we need to go into it in more detail. Now, when you don’t do that part well, you’re missing so much information. Because this is an information gathering stage and it isn’t just about the filling in of another form, the intake form, you know, married, single, divorced, separated, children or no children, what they work at, religious beliefs, education levels, and so on, or, maybe about medication, medical questions. Those are things that need to be dealt with, but we’re talking about emotional information, which is incredibly important, because underneath that is the structure of ideas that create the unhealthy emotions. For example, a person with a belief that they’re not lovable or can’t do a particular thing well, or whatever it is, will generate emotions of frustration, sadness, anger. and so it’s like stripping away the layers of the onion. You must get to the feelings and then you must get to the underlying ideas. But if you don’t know how to get to the feelings, if you just say „Well, my theory is, it can all be done cognitively“, so I’m going to only ask cognitive based questions by looking for a cognitive ideas in the mind, negative automatic thoughts. Well, that’ll take you some distance, it doesn’t necessarily take you where they need to go. Where you and the client need to go. And so we have to have a much more comprehensive approach for the difficult problems in therapy.

So, we want to get the maximum benefit for our clients and not everybody will gel with you as a therapist as they might with somebody else. We have to allow for that. Remember, therapy is a two-person endeavor. You do your very best to be your very best therapist. At the same time you’re relying on the person to commit to the therapy, to take responsibility for many things in life, and so on and on.

To conclude though with the interview, this overview of the interview phase, we also have specific uncovering techniques, such as sentence completion, Gestalt dialogue which is a very very important aspect of good therapy, dialogue between different parts of the body, between different emotions, or an emotion and a body part, or between certain people through memories that are popping up in their mind. So the interview is very rich. It’s setting goals, it’s determining where the therapy needs to go, because when we have that, as I said earlier, in several other interviews, with inadequate formulation the presenting problem the therapist is groping in the dark, and relying largely on positive effects from suggestion, a little bit of placebo effects, which generate of course some value for a client. But that’s a far cry from really good therapy. They’ll be also giving bland suggestions, because they do bland at the subconscious level because they’re not really geared to what the client is experiencing subconsciously.

And that’s where we get the worst therapy, often based on online training, canned online training, where they download a series of scripts. And, you know, these generic scripts are often poorly written, but they’re not very deeply relevant to the client.

Axel Hombach

I know that from social media where in various groups now and then there pops up a question „has someone at script for this and that?“ Or, „how would you approach that? What script would you choose there?“

Dr John Bultler

Yeah. As you say, it’s so common to see it still. You’re downloading 20 scripts for five dollars, or whatever it is. I’m bedwetting, enuresis, nail-biting, or, smoking. Where the success comes from tailoring the suggestions to the subconscious energies. If you’re firing suggestions that don’t relate that the client’s real feelings about the smoking and their beliefs about it, you’re missing the target all the time. It’s just like missing the target with a bullet. On the other hand, you hit the emotional energies and beliefs, the fixed ideas, you’re doing great work at the subconscious level by comparison.

Axel Hombach

So, to condense it a little bit the interview phase is extremely important to know your client, …

So, to condense it a little bit, in the interview phase is extremely important to know your client, …

Dr John Bultler

Correct.

Axel Hombach

… and know the beliefs, the core believes and the core emotional states of your client, and from there to decide if you do mainly programming work or if you are going to have an analytical session with him. And if you go to the programming, what would probably be the best possible suggestions.

Dr John Bultler

Yes.

Axel Hombach

And then, if you are having an analytical session, where to go in the beginning of the analytical session. Because in the end, you don’t know where you come up with.

Dr John Bultler

Absolutely. That’s where that is happening. Those decisions have to be made. They’re called therapeutic choices. Sometimes it’s very obvious that the client goes in that direction you’re going with them. But it’s an interactive process. If you haven’t worked well with them, as, like you said, you haven’t been really connecting with them essentially, they’re not going to go very far with the therapy. At least not at a very deep level. So, we have to learn those very important aspects of becoming a therapist. In-depth training, proper training is needed for that. We have a 200 hour foundation as it were. It’s at a whole training. And then there’s specialist additional classes we sometimes run, smaller scale often in-depth training one or two day courses.

And so, therapy is a very in-depth process for long term effectiveness. And we’re touching on some of the key topics here. But I would also say that, well, let’s start with the therapist. The therapists very often are told this technique will change the person. That’s shows so untrue. Something Gil Boyne railed against time again. He said: „No, you’re the instrument of therapy“. You use tools to techniques, but you are not only a placebo or suggestion on legs, you are influencing their subconscious at every stage, with suggestion, waking hypnosis, when you know how to do it. you’re doing those with the client when you speak to them over the phone, when you’re there with a session with them, as you work with them, and it’s not something like „Oh I’m using covert hypnosis to control him“. That’s all very misguided ideas in many ways. Although one can be destructive in influencing people, of course, like some of these cults, you know, very destructive cults, that is. When you’re using good communication, you’re influencing, persuading, people, benevolently, to positive ideas about themselves, to empower themselves, to understand themselves, to help themselves set healthy goals, and achieve them.

So you can see how the communication skills are so vital for this. And hypnotherapist’s communication skills are a whole other level compared to the non hypnotherapy talk therapies.

Axel Hombach

Another aspect that you mention often in your classes is the readiness for change.

Dr John Bultler

Of course.

Axel Hombach

And, I believe this is another very important part of this phase one that we are talking about, and that also the client tests you if he can trust you.

Dr John Bultler

Yes.

Axel Hombach

You have to show your client that you are trustworthy, that he can do the journey with you.

Dr John Bultler

Yes, absolutely. Readiness for change. As we’re setting goals, you see, right away you are assessing their readiness for a change. Because, if you assume they’re ready for change, the goal is different. I mean, the overall goal will be the same, maybe stop smoking, but how you work to that goal, the steps in between, the sub goals, particularly if it’s over four or five sessions, is very different than if they you say, well, they’re back here, getting ready for change. Or maybe further back, so they’re struggling to get ready for change. They don’t believe they can achieve it or are worthy, they have a lot of fear of change, fear of the unknown. And so the therapist has to be aware of what they’re looking at, seeing what’s really there in the client, that the client is committing to change and is ready to give up secondary gains, alibis, and so on. The interview stage rather has to cover that properly, so that we know, like we say, what we’re really dealing with. Formulation of the presenting problem involves knowing about the readiness for change element. A client can come to you apparently determined to change, saying all the right things, but at a deeper level having a great fear of change, a great fear of success, fear of failure, or maybe it’s some other level wanting to sabotage the therapy for secondary gains.

Axel Hombach

And to hear that are so important the nonverbal listening skills.

That’s right.

Axel Hombach

And then you mentioned rapport some times, which is a part of the therapeutic relationship …

Dr John Bultler

Yes.

Axel Hombach

… that you have this trust basis that your client trusts you that you don’t run away, like all the others have done before that …

Dr John Bultler

Yes.

Axel Hombach

… and that you don’t do some kind of a cuddle therapy.

Dr John Bultler

You don’t end up just giving advice or a kind of a warped form of sympathy, a negative energy which disempowers them. I will actually say that, in my experience, much of what the client says, when you’re dealing with the deeper questioning, is contradicted by their nonverbal expression, to one degree or another.

Axel Hombach

And there the confrontiveness is, for example, very important, to confront your client with that.

Dr John Bultler

How to know how to do that. Milder, very soft confrontation, in certain ways, other times much more strong, in a way that’s always done therapeutically so the client will benefit greatly and will be grateful even for what you have done.

Axel Hombach

So then, you’ve had your interview phase. How it’s then progressing?

Dr John Bultler

We’re getting ready to the programming phase or we may be going to regression and analysis of the uncovered material. But that’s another story.

Axel Hombach

and we will cover that in the follow-up …

Dr John Bultler

Of course.

Axel Hombach

… podcast. Now you have the interview phase. And before you start with actual hypnosis, before you come there, are there other steps?

Dr John Bultler

Of course.

Axel Hombach

… have to be taken?

Dr John Bultler

The follow-on from that is the pre talk, often it is called.

Axel Hombach

What is the pre talk?

Dr John Bultler

Yeah. It’s preparation for hypnosis. Because hypnosis is such an incompletely understood phenomena. Even very misunderstood by many people, including some practitioners, in my view. They either haven’t read a lot, so they hold to some very outdated ideas, or, they’ve only read books which are very superficial. And, as we understand hypnosis, we can educate the client much more effectively about it. It’s not enough to read books, you’ve got to hypnotize hundreds of people in your therapeutic career for you to begin to understand individual reactions, see the wide range. And, as you’re doing it with people, and over that time you’re influencing yourself as you’re programming them. Therapists to one degree or another go into trance. You would have to be careful about that when you were doing the work with them, you also are programming yourself. And therapists‘ own development, personal growth and development, and their use of self-hypnosis. I can’t stress that enough. If you’re a therapist, or your trainer has not learned to use hypnosis effectively for themselves, I would be quite skeptical about their ability to help you as a client. You will only benefit largely through your own efforts, and the therapist is hardly even a catalyst. They’re largely working about a placebo level. In fact the lowest functioning therapists are detrimental to clients. Clients would get better without them, strange to say.

Axel Hombach

That is something that not many people like to hear.

Dr John Bultler

No, but that data has been around forever, for over 60 years. Well, it’s a fact. I believe, I’ve seen that in practice.

Now, the pre talk preparation does need to be thorough, explaining what hypnosis is, what it isn’t, about what suggestion is, and what suggestion isn’t. And you will be dispelling a lot of the fears, misconceptions on the way, and getting them ready to take responsibility and allow themselves to go into trance, and understanding it’s a natural phenomenon, and that everybody has the ability, some will go quicker and deeper than others, and that’s all okay, and it’s not critical, but that’s the depth of the level of the Trance for most purposes, in the general practice situation in hypnotherapy. And also they’ll be able to learn that hypnosis is much quicker because you’ve explained it very well.

Now, of course that paves the way then for the next step which is hypnotic suggestibility testing.

Axel Hombach

what are they for?

John

They’re called suggestibility tests. Better words are responsiveness testing or responsiveness training, because that’s what’s even more positive.

Axel Hombach

Because suggestibility is so often mixed up with gullibility.

Dr John Bultler

Gullibility and being weak.

Axel Hombach

You are so naive!

Dr John Bultler

Yeah, that’s right.

We really need to be moving away from this kind of language in hypnotherapy, but we still use it every so often, where you can substitute words like responsiveness testing, responsiveness training, and if the person is very young, you may be just saying imagination training. „When I use your imagination, I hope you develop it and use it“. So, they will allow the client to feel something other than authority communications going. They’ll begin to experience the hand rising, and they’re not just lifting it. So, that triggers in their mind to believe „oh, there is something powerful here, something interesting, different, something hypnotic“. Because the idea of non-voluntary and allowing something to happen without you consciously controlling it, is very much a core part of hypnotherapy.

It’s been said that those tests, that the person passes them well, allows us to believe, now they will be hypnotized very easily. But that’s not that simple. However, there is positive, shall we say, correlation there, that generally when they respond well with the test, they’re allowing themselves to relax, not to control it, not fight you. These are all beneficial for entering into trance. But then, as they go into trance things may come up that inhibit it. So, there’s not a simple correlation between those. It’s a very complex area anyway. But the tests are convincers for the client, it helps the feel that they’re really dealing with something other than just pure talk therapy here. Secondly, the therapist can see the level of responses to those suggestions anyway and can work now more effectively with suggestion and training with other suggestion. You can give them as part of their homework. So, the client learns a lot from using suggestibility tests, in some cases, because sometimes they’re very keen to master hypnosis. For which you have to learn those two areas very powerfully: Suggestion and trance.

Anyway, having got success with those suggestibility test, we really are ready now for the induction proper.

Axel Hombach

And that is going to be the content of our follow-up interview.

And, because we are now coming to an end of this part of the hypnotic journey, if you summarize it in two or three sentences before we then close and continue with the next interview.

Dr John Bultler

All right. Interviewing phase is giving and getting information at the conscious and emotional levels, building the therapy relation environment, setting the goals, pre-talk, preparation for hypnosis, suggestibility testing, plus all those elicitation and questioning skills. You’ve got a lot of information about where the client is stuck, and you’re now ready to begin giving them good programming, or the emotional energy is there and things are right, you can take them into regression and reprocessing of sensitizing or traumatic events.

Axel Hombach

Thank you so much John for your insights, for the details, and talk to you soon again.

Dr John Bultler

Thank you Axel and thanks to our listeners.

Axel Hombach

And to all of our listeners, if you have liked this episode, please give us a like, a friendly comment, subscribe to our channels and share this episode via email and on social media, and make sure to follow up with the next episodes. Please check out our home pages. You’ll find them linked on the home page of this podcast. With that said, I’m Axel Hombach online with Dr. John Butler. Have a great time, until next time.