Bob Neill; Hypnotherapy Pioneer

Bob Neill was born in Aylesford, Kent, in 1929 and was interested in hypnosis from a young age. In 1943, when he was fourteen years old, he saw a hypnotist in a stage show and decided that he, too, would try his hand at hypnosis. Finding willing subjects among his peers at Maidstone Technical High School for Boys was no problem and, to his delight, Bob’s attempts at hypnotising his classmates were very successful. His efforts were not so popular with the teachers, however, especially when it was felt that they resulted in some disruption in the classroom.

Bob continued to practice hypnosis, however, and gradually developed his own technique. In 1950, when he was in the Royal Engineers, thanks to being called up for National Service, once again he found willing subjects among his peers but this time his efforts were appreciated by sappers and officers alike, particularly when Bob showcased his skills in the form of stage hypnosis. He was, at this point, also aware of the potential of hypnosis as a therapy and helped a number of his peers to stop smoking, and make other changes, as a result.

By the time Bob completed his National Service, he had established himself as a hypnotist but was only able to put his skills into effect occasionally, as it would be some time before hypnotherapy would be as widely recognised and accepted as it is today. Throughout the nineteen sixties, Bob continued his work as an engineer but he also practised as a hypnotherapist in his spare time. By the nineteen seventies, word had spread and Bob prepared a room in his home in St Luke’s Road, Maidstone, Kent, to be the base for his full-time hypnotherapy practice.

Bob’s popularity as a hypnotherapist continued to grow and he was sought after to give talks and demonstrations, as well as continuing to see clients on a full-time basis. In spite of the rising popularity of hypnotherapy at this time, it was still regarded by some as a strange and mystical pastime. In fact, when Bob arrived to give a talk to a group, on one occasion, he was amused to have been greeted by the chairman of the organisation concerned, who admitted to having expected a mystical figure in a long black cloak, rather than the somewhat ‘ordinary’ man who had arrived to give the talk.

As the potential of hypnotherapy gradually became apparent, demand for Bob’s technique, in which he always aimed for complete success in one session, was increasing and, in an effort to meet the demand, he began to teach his technique to others who, themselves, became practising hypnotherapists. His students included members of the medical profession who could appreciate the potential benefits to their patients. He also produced a wide range of audio cassettes of hypnotherapy sessions, which proved very popular among those who wanted to experience his technique first hand, but were unable to see him in person. Subsequently, his cassettes were replaced by CDs, which proved just as popular.

By the nineteen nineties, demand had increased to such an extent that Bob decided to write a book, “Practical Hypnotherapy”, that would include guides that aspiring hypnotherapists could use for a range of situations, the most popular being, ‘stopping smoking’, ‘weight loss’ and ‘building confidence’. Although Bob never actually used a script, himself, when working with a client, he appreciated that scripts might be useful as a guide for aspiring hypnotherapists to work from as their confidence grew. He was proved right and demand for his first book gave rise to requests for an even wider range of scripts, which meant that “Practical Hypnotherapy Book 2” was published shortly afterwards.

Always innovative, Bob’s was one of the first small businesses to have a website and, just to put this into perspective, domain names and the internet at that time, were still a fairly alien concept, even to large established companies, so much so that The Sun newspaper’s domain name at the time was “”. Generally speaking, there was still a long way to go before websites, such as Bob Neill’s were as readily available as they are today.

Bob continued to practice hypnotherapy right up to when he passed away in 2006. His contribution to hypnotherapy, and the fact that it is so widely accepted today, cannot be understated. It is a legacy of which he would have been very proud.

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