Key theories which influence my practice of hypnotherapy
The key psychological theories which influence my practice are person-centred (humanistic) and integrative which were the cornerstones of my training as a counsellor. However, my undergraduate and post-graduate research focused on the transpersonal paradigm which still informs and influences my practice today, especially the Jungian concept of the personal and collective unconscious which I see as central to an understanding of hypnotherapy and how the unconscious works.
As the majority of my clients are referred to me through Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) which aim to get the client back to work as soon as possible, I work to a brief/solution-focused therapy model. Therefore, solution focused hypnotherapy is an ideal combination of a very practical and pragmatic approach with an in-depth application and understanding of current neuroscience.
As some of my clients have had previous experience of therapy via the NHS or private practice, quite a few have had some experience of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and their responses to it varies from client to client. The CBT emphasis on challenging negative thinking is central to the solution-focused hypnotherapy approach which underlines the fact that anxiety is caused by the negative thinking of the primitive or emotional brain.
Whilst a person-centred purist probably would not consider using CBT or SFT techniques and strategies in their practice, I have found them invaluable, especially in conjunction with the Rogerian core conditions of empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard, which I feel are vital in building the rapport and trust so essential to effective hypnotherapy.
This rapport and trust is vital if the therapist is going to be successful in leading the client into a trance. This is a marked difference in the permissive as opposed to the traditional directive approach in hypnotherapy. In this respect, there are similarities with the person-centred approach in that Erickson recognised the value of the client's perspective, and allowing them to reach their own solutions.
This resonates with the humanistic concept of the actualising tendency of Carl Rogers as well as Maslow's hierarchy of needs which has self actualisation as the highest stage, followed by esteem needs, belonging needs, safety needs, and at the base level, physiological needs. Maslow used the concept of homeostasis to explain his model, explaining that a deficit at any of these levels would create the need to satisfy that particular level.
Although Maslow generally viewed progression through these levels as a developmental sequence, he acknowledged that in cases where survival feels threatened, a person may regress or fixate on a lower level. In terms of solution-focused hypnotherapy, this would be moving from the intellectual mind in to the emotional or primitive brain. Whilst the above brief comparisons of key psychological theories may appear to be disparate elements, they unite holistically in the SFH model.
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About Graham Ollerenshaw
BSc (Hons) degree in psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU)
MSc in psychology and counselling at MMU
Diploma in counselling, Stockport College
Certificate in education, Stockport College
BACP (Accred) No. 522759
Certificate in supervision, The Manchester Institute for Psychotherapy
Diploma in solution focused hypnotherapy