When did you last learn something for you? Sure, you might go on courses that are required for your job, where you must attend and maybe even participate, yet there is more to effective learning than simply just being in a learning environment. This blog will show you how to get the most out of any hypnosis training, whether in-person, online or even books.
Prepare to start…
Know what you know and what you want
Before you start to learn hypnosis, or develop your knowledge if you already know stuff, it is good to work out what you already know, so you have a starting point. You can then think about what you want to be able to do, and what you will need to learn in order to be able to do it. For example, if you know nothing about hypnosis and want to become a hypnotherapist specialising in alleviating phobias, your training will likely take a different route to someone who already knows a little about hypnosis and wants to learn how to have fun hypnotising their friends at the pub on a Friday evening. Of course, you might want to learn both of these options, and more, which is fine, you can! Simply choose a starting point and branch out from there. It can be good to define your desired learning in terms of a SMART goal (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely), this makes your quest for knowledge more tangible and focused.
Next, consider how you learn best. Do you get the best results working on your own, at a pace you are in control of? Perhaps you need the stimulation of learning with others, or having set expectations, deadlines or tests? This is a great time to be honest with yourself. You might prefer to sit at the back of a class and ‘absorb’ knowledge without having to actually practice it, yet maybe you know that when you do practice, you get a much stronger development of skill. Or, you might like to go to a lecture and listen to someone talk, yet know if you watch an online training video and actively take notes you’ll get a much better grasp of the material and remember more.
With your learning goals and preferred learning style in mind, it is now a good time to create a learning plan (whether in your head or written down), which will help you think about a timescale for your learning, a financial budget, and any challenges or barriers (e.g. can’t travel to courses as have childcare commitments, etc.). As well as logistical challenges, this may be a good time to think about any personal barriers. Are you shy? Do you have weak computer skills? Do you have limiting beliefs about your ability to learn or remember? Taking an objective approach can be remarkably beneficial to your self-esteem. It may be that you then go on to address any barriers to your progress, such as joining a computer skills course, finding a good childminder or saving a little money each week to invest in a good quality course.
You might also address any emotional or psychological issues, and hypnotherapy is a great option for this! Not only do you get the therapy benefits, but you will also get added insight into how an experienced practitioner uses hypnosis to help people make positive changes. You could even learn self-hypnosis, and help yourself overcome any personal issues that are holding you back!
Consider routes to knowledge
At this point it’s time to consider what options you have to achieve your learning goals. We are going to explore some of them here. Which methods are best? Well, the short answer is, the method that suits you the most. Whichever learning route you choose, it can be helpful to check out the recommendations, reviews and testimonials of other people who have used the same route. Although they won’t learn and develop in exactly the same way as you do, they can give some valuable insight into what they experienced and got from that training or information source. On this topic, in whichever way you choose to learn, do remember to leave a review or give feedback to help other learners with their selections.
A good place to start learning is by reading around a topic. Perhaps reading a ‘general’ book first and then one more focused in your preferred niche/topic area (if you have one). There are millions of books and websites to choose from and it can be challenging to make an informed choice if you are new to the world of hypnosis. Reading lists can offer a solution as, generally, people knowledgeable in the field compile them. Have a look at the hypnotherapy reading list on our sister companies website as a starting point. However, consider there are a couple of potential disadvantages with books. Firstly, they may be a little (or a lot dated). Once written then they tend not to be updated very often. Also, it can require a lot of words to describe something (and you have to engage a fair amount of imagination in order to ‘get it’), whereas, if you watched a demonstration (either on a video or in person), it might actually be a lot easier to understand.
Books and text-based information are a great source of knowledge and facts. However, for practical skills, as mentioned above, you may need to be able to watch a demonstration, so that you can see exactly how something is done. Rarely will you need to replicate it exactly (as you will allow for your own style and personality), but it forms a great starting point, and you’ll quickly get an idea of what you need to do in order to get the same results. Just imagine what it would have been like to try to drive a car, just from reading a book… The book will have given you valuable knowledge to support the skill of driving, yet watching and then practicing is the key to developing the physical skill and habit. There are lots of free hypnosis videos on YouTube. However, one disadvantage of taking a ‘piecemeal’ approach to your learning is that you can end up with massive gaps in your knowledge or skills. This is where online courses can help…
Well-designed online courses can offer the best of both books and videos. They will often have some ‘talk to camera’ elements providing key information, together with demonstrations of the hypnosis approaches and skills that you’re learning, whilst being supported by a thorough course manual. Online hypnosis course manuals will often provide guideline scripts or outlines for techniques and additional material to develop your knowledge beyond the video course itself. Online courses may provide everything required in order to meet your learning needs, or they can form an excellent starting point or means of topping up your knowledge and skills (e.g. as a flexible route to professional development). Also, another benefit of online training is that you can do it from the comfort of your own home, or anywhere, for that matter!
Live (in-person) training
There are many hypnosis workshops and courses out there, on various different topics, whether broad, such as ‘learning hypnotherapy’ or more focused in a particular area, such as ‘rapid inductions‘ or ‘self-hypnosis‘. In fact, there are so many different courses for learning about hypnosis, how can you make the right choice? Do you go by price? Location? Handy parking? Well, by focusing on content and quality of teaching you are likely to get the most from your investment. Recommendations, reviews and testimonials (again) are helpful here. Also, if there are any taster days or ‘come and meet us’ events, it can be good to go along and meet the tutors and see how you like their style and approach before committing to join a course. This is a great time to ask questions as well (and see how they respond!).
Perhaps you have already engaged in some training. However, you might want feedback on your use of techniques and approaches. There are several options you could consider. Initially, you might video your performance and evaluate it yourself, however that has limitations (in that you may be biased). A better option is to engage in some live 1-2-1 mentoring/supervision, to get individual ‘face-to-face’ training with a more experienced hypnotist. By doing this, it means that you can demonstrate your skills, get direct feedback, make appropriate changes and try doing it differently, as directed. This mentoring process is a fantastic way to laser focus your hypnosis skills and knowledge and get top quality practice.
Getting the most from live (in-person) training
Rather than simply arrive on the day and sit there in a class or workshop, expecting information and skills to be absorbed without any effort on your part, there is much you can do to optimise your live learning experience.
It might seem overly simply to say ‘pay attention’, yet how often do you focus and stay present for long periods in your daily life? It is natural for our mind to wander, yet when it does, we miss out on possibly valuable information. Also, people are much more likely to remember information when paying attention than whilst distracted. If you do find your thoughts drifting, refocus as quickly as you can. If you haven’t been in a formal learning setting for a while, it can be good to practice ‘being present’ and remaining focused. One way of doing this is to watch a television programme with all of your attention (no eating, drinking, Facebook or emails). You might also use this as an opportunity to develop a note-taking method that works for you.
There are many different methods for taking good study notes. Some people attempt to write down every word. If this is what you need, it might be better to audio record the tutor (with their permission) so you can pay attention and engage in class. Then, you can take notes when you listen back to the recording. Even if you type up a complete transcript of the recording, that is a lot of information, so distilling it down into useful key points will help more with retention. Other people take bullet notes and make use of headers and sub-headers to keep linear notes well organised. You might even highlight or underline key words. Another popular method is to create a ‘mind-map’ for each new topic, with what is essentially a bullet-list of information about each topic, all together on one single page. Here’s a very colourful example of a mind map (the topic of this mind map is ‘mind maps’):
Finally, in whatever way you take notes, a great way to reinforce your learning is to revisit your notes a few days later and further summarise them. You will likely think about your notes in a slightly different way, and engage with them differently, which creates a stronger memory of each topic you engage with.
As well as possibly audio recording a ‘lecture’ or taking written notes, if the session uses any visual media (e.g. demonstration, PowerPoint, video), then ask if you can take pictures. These can be a superb way of prompting and reinforcing your memory of what you have seen. For PowerPoint presentations it certainly saves having to spend time writing down the slide’s content!
Each tutor will have their own preference for dealing with questions, such as ‘as they arise’ or ‘wait until the end of each section’. If you have a question and have to wait, make a note of it, so you remember to ask and remember the context of the question. Ask your question succinctly and listen carefully to the answer. Asking questions is a great way of engaging with the taught material and gaining a more individual understanding of the content.
Even if you are quiet or shy by nature, the more you actively engage in a class or workshop, the more you will be generating stronger memories of that time. Also, the more often that you do engage, the easier it will become for you to do so in future classes and workshops. As well as during a class, the more you engage with the content afterwards, and the more varied the methods of engaging, the stronger your retention and the more depth of understanding you will gain. Talking to others about what to know and engaging in discussions are both good ways of accessing what you know. Sometimes, you will only find out what you know, when someone asks you a question that you can then answer!
One way of engaging is to express an opinion, e.g. rather than ask an opinion, share how you might view something, as this can spark an interesting discussion or debate. Be prepared to accept that others may also express their opinions and they may not be identical or compatible to yours. Avoid getting into judgemental or defensive responses.
Engaging little and often is better for building strong memories, rather than one desperate lengthy over-night ‘cramming session’ just before you need to use the information. Become aware of when you learn best, e.g. first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, in the evening, and make use of these times. Also, give yourself periods of time away from learning. You will come back to it with a fresher and more eager mind. If you find yourself developing any limiting beliefs, address them!
Practice is SO important
Engaging with theoretical learning by making connections and associations helps you develop a map of knowledge. Adding practice to that map develops a powerful resource. If you have limited opportunities to practice on other people, practice with yourself and use your imagination to consider how it might be different if you were using that approach with someone who might respond differently. As your knowledge and skills grow, do your best to work with as many different people as possible.
Enhancing your learning: Know what suits you
There is much that you can do to optimise your learning. A lot of it comes from great preparation, good selection of learning sources, and then positive engagement during the learning process. However, there is still more that you can do.
Have a positive study environment
Some people need absolute silence to study and learn, others do better in a noisier environment, whether that is music or chat or general background sounds. In addition, some people find they do better whether they have a defined study area, with all their stuff easily accessible and neatly laid out, whilst others are happy to learn whenever or wherever they have an opportunity to do so. Rather than consider one way or another as right or wrong, think carefully about what your preferences are and do your best to accommodate them. Better to have less time in your ideal environment than hours attempting to study and just getting frustrated.
Learning solo or group?
Learning can be a solitary venture, yet it doesn’t have to be. With easy access to the internet, students can meet in online forums from all around the world with no lengthy and costly travel to consider! It can really add to your understanding to talk with others who are on a similar learning path, so whether it is a specific training provider’s online group, or a more general Facebook group on your chosen topic, becoming part of suitable forums will help you learn. On that topic, please feel free to join our ‘Hypnotic Learners’ Facebook group if you haven’t already, in order to chat with a whole bunch of like-minded individuals from all over the world!
If you prefer to meet your fellow students and colleagues in person, then perhaps seek out (or even start) a study group. Meeting up and discussing what you are learning not only helps develop your knowledge and understanding, there may be opportunities to practice your skills as well!
A final thought…
Whatever it is that you’re learning, hypnosis or otherwise, you are not expected to know everything right at the start. If you need help working out what would be the best route for you, speak with others who have already learned what you want to know. Find out how they got to where they are and then decide if their route might work for you as well. There’s no harm in asking, and in fact, you’re likely to save a lot of time by getting pointed in the right direction early on in your learning process. We hope you’ve enjoyed this blog on how to practice hypnosis and find volunteers . 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