Written by Dr Kate Beaven-Marks
Are there any benefits in having hypnotherapy, or any other talking therapy, whilst you are studying to become a hypnotherapist? How about if you are learning to be an entertainment (street/stage hypnotist)? The answer to both questions is yes, and this blog explores how personal therapy can become a beneficial tool in your own development.
Getting hypnotherapy as a hypnosis student
Many students training on well-structured hypnotherapy courses and ethically and professionally designed stage or street hypnosis courses will sail through their training, secure, comfortable and having received personal benefit and development as well as having gained a recognised qualification (such as the NGH Hypnotherapy certificate). For some students, they may be going into their training with personal challenges in their past or present, or some challenges may arise during training (life happens!). It can be helpful therefore to understand how hypnotherapy and other talking therapies can help.
For entertainment hypnosis students, there usually isn’t any opportunity to engage in personal therapy as part of the course; it is out of context with the training being engaged in. For hypnotherapy students, it is an option. However, bringing significant personal issues into a class therapy activity isn’t necessarily ideal. Firstly, there are issues of timing, in that you might have a behavioural issue, yet you are studying regression in class. Secondly, there are issues of completion. Most courses will run to a schedule and timetable, so that all necessary elements on the lesson plan are completed. This means that you may not have time to fully work through a significant personal issue during the allocated practical time. Thirdly, there are student relationships and rapport to consider. If it is an intense personal issue, you may not wish to share that with someone you will continue to see on your course. As such, it can be more effective to seek help outside of the class setting.
Reasons for getting hypnotherapy
Some talking therapies, such as psychotherapy, require a therapist to engage in personal therapy during their training. The thought being that individuals will develop greater self-awareness, increase emotional resilience, boost communication skills and enable therapists to relate better to their clients. Trainee hypnotherapists and those learning entertainment hypnosis (street/stage) are not legally obligated to have their own therapy during their training. Yet there can be many benefits which can not only alleviate issues that may distract the student from their studies, but, when carried out effectively, could add another dimension to the student’s knowledge and awareness of the therapy process.
Learning hypnosis, whether hypnotherapy or entertainment can bring up issues that you may not have been aware of, or had forgotten, whether during a hypnotherapy practical or even when formulating entertainment hypnosis routines.
As a hypnotherapist, during the training process you are likely to be working with fellow students, practicing the techniques and using your own life experiences and challenges within that work. This may mean that a student could share something that you find it difficult to process or find traumatic (vicarious trauma).
Over the duration of the course, it is natural for problems to arise, merely as a result of everyday life, such as within your family, relationships and work. However, just because you are on a therapy training course, doesn’t mean that you will automatically know exactly the right technique and be able to take an objective approach towards resolving the issue and finding an appropriate solution. Working with an experienced hypnotherapist in these situations can be a much better solution than trying to ‘muddle through’ and sort a problem yourself, before you’re fully qualified and experienced at dealing with such issues.
As a hypnotherapy trainee you are likely to be working with clients as you learn appropriate methods, techniques and approaches. The nature of therapy can also mean that trainee therapists can be exposed to emotional distress from time to time, which can result in them taking on some of that disturbance themselves until they learn and develop good self-care. In addition, some clients’ issues may ‘push buttons’ for a therapist. Whilst in many jobs, decompression can occur by going home and talking about your day, with the need for client confidentiality (this includes fellow students), you can hardly tell your partner all about your clients’ personal issues and your thoughts and feelings relating to them. As you cannot really talk to colleagues about this either, it can add to feelings of isolation. However, supervision is really useful here. You can talk with your supervisor about your clients (anonymised) and discuss stressful and difficult aspects and any effect on you.
Rarely is supervision considered by trainee entertainment hypnotists, yet guidance from an experienced hypnotist, whether labelled as ‘supervision’ or ‘mentoring’, can help address any concerns, issues or worries that the student may not wish to raise during their studies. That’s why our own mentoring services are available for all hypnotists, and not just for hypnotherapists.
Benefits of support and hypnotherapy
Although your supervisor (or, ‘mentor’) is a good resource for talking about client issues and finding ways to address these, sometimes peer support can be just what you need. Rather than the more objective approach of a supervisor, sometimes a bit of empathy over a cuppa, talking with a therapist from a similar background can be helpful.
You might also join a related peer-support group online, such as our Hypnotic Learners Facebook Group. It’s a great, quick way to get support from thousands of hypnotists all over the world, and even to arrange online practice sessions with your peers.
Benefits of hypnotherapy
By engaging in therapy in the modality that you are studying, you are not having to spend time learning how to be a client. You will understand the facts about how hypnotherapy works and won’t hold on to the myths and misconceptions that can arise. However, there is a risk of the ‘student mind’ entering into the therapy process, with the student keeping an aspect of themselves in observer mode, hoping to learn how to do what the therapist is doing, rather than fully engaging in the therapy process itself.
One of the significant advantages of hypnotherapy though, is that it is widely applicable. It is possible to address many of the different areas that other talking therapies can deal with. Furthermore, hypnotherapy can integrate and synthesise the most relevant aspects of many different therapy approaches within the same session. For example, a typical hypnotherapy session can have aspects of counselling (discussion), cognitive work (thoughts and beliefs), psychodynamic therapy (insight generation) and mindfulness. This is not common in other talking therapies, which tend to stick to a primary therapy modality.
Engaging in another type of talking therapy
Depending on your needs, there are a wide range of talking therapies available. One advantage of seeking therapy with any of these is that you may gain a broader understanding of one specific therapy; which can then add to your own hypnotherapy knowledge and understanding.
Counselling is one of the most commonly considered talking therapies. Typically, it is conducted over 6-12 sessions. The counsellor will help you explore your thoughts about your specific circumstances. This may be helpful if, during your training, your personal situation changes, such as relationship or work issues.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) also tends to occur over 6-12 sessions and the focus will commonly be on addressing current situations, such as anxiety or phobias, rather than deeply exploring your childhood or past events. Unlike counselling, there are a number of CBT resources available for self-care, such as workbooks and computer courses.
In contrast to counselling and CBT’s focus on the client’s present experience, psychodynamic therapy tends to concentrate more on your past and how that impacts on how you live your life now, with the aim to gain more self-awareness, which can then lead to change.
As well as these three approaches, you also have mindfulness-based therapies; which can help you learn how to deal with thoughts and feelings without being overwhelmed by them. This can be particularly helpful with stress and there are ‘Mindfulness-based stress reduction’ (MBSR) courses which can include a range of techniques alongside mind-body activities and mindful meditation, such as yoga. Another popular mindfulness-based therapy is mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) which blends together cognitive therapy approaches with breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques, including mindful meditation.
Most therapy is conducted on an individual therapy and client basis. However, depending on what your particular needs, others may benefit from or need to be included. Group therapy is a useful alternative to individual therapy when someone wishes to seek support from others with similar issues or goals and benefit from collective discussion and advice. Relationship therapy, also known as couples therapy or relationship counselling, can help those in any type of relationship, not just marriage or intimate relationships. This tends to be more effective when both parties in the relationship are present, so that an open discussion about the relationship challenges and solutions can occur. Family therapy can be useful where there is a family member with a significant problem that is having a negative impact on other family members. This may be at any age from childhood and adolescence through to seniors and can address relationship dynamics with a view to enhancing communication within the family structure.
Knowing when to engage in hypnotherapy
As mentioned at the start of this blog, many students will pass through their training without any undue disturbance. However, self-awareness is key. It is a good habit for the future to check in with yourself regularly and notice what is normal for you. If anything changes, then it is worth addresses it before it becomes a bigger issue. This can develop good practice for the future, when working as a successful professional hypnotherapist or comedy hypnotist.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this blog on engaging in hypnotherapy as a hypnosis student, and if you have any more questions about this topic, or anything else for that matter, do please get in touch, because we’re always happy to help!
– written by Dr Kate Beaven-Marks