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Michael : I'm really delighted to be able to talk to you again, we're going to be talking about discussion on how somebody goes on the road to becoming a good hypnotist - and it's something in which I'm really interested in your views.
For our listeners benefits can I remind them that you're a full time hypnotist and NLP master practitioner an trainer, you are the developer of medical NLP where you’re involved with doctors, medical students and similar health professionals, you've written 'Magic in Practice; the art and science of language in health and healing' and also that you've edited with Richard Bandler his latest guide to Trance-Formation.
Just to complete the picture, is there anything else that you'd like to say about yourself?
Garner : No I think that more or less covers things.
Michael :Ok thank you for that.
A couple of very basic questions to start - in your opinion, what is a great hypnotist, and what are some of the reasons that someone might want to become a great hypnotist?
Garner : I would say that anybody that really wants to help people to get to where they really want to get with the least possible problems, and in the greatest possible speed - because I see hypnosis as not a magic wand or a band aid, but it is an accelerant and a means to installing information very quickly - and it amplifies their experience.
Freud apparently said at one point that it was hypnosis that was royal road to the unconscious, not - I forget what the other thing was - Dreams. He originally said that - and then he fell out of love with hypnosis.
But people that love a challenge, and above all people that love language. Someone who really loves language. I'm so tired of reading people's inductions that are so bog standard and really lack any flare or colour - that's what makes for a good hypnotist.
Michael : Now, you're answer went much wider than a traditional hypnotist, because you said anybody who wants to help people, or help people change - because you deal with doctors in the health service, is there anything specifically that you would add as to why doctors may want to get involved with this?
Garner : Absolutely. One of the things about hypnosis - it's such a wonderful phenomenon because nobody really knows what it is but every single person has an opinion of what it is. I think it's a naturally occurring state, most of us agree on that. My own definition is that it's a state of attention focus - narrowed focus - and heightened suggestibility.
Now among the things that can trigger this, apart from being relaxed and so forth, are things like fear and anxiety, uncertainty - and anybody who is in a state of distress and comes to you as some form of health professional for help, is likely to be in that state already. So they're going to be wide open to accidental states already, wide open to remarks such as '60% of people die from this condition' rather than '40% of people beat it.'
So I think it's very very important that people that are dealing with health problems are aware that the problem that they are dealing with is probably already there when they come to them.
Michael : To give a top level picture - in your view what are some of the differences between an average hypnotist and one that is really good, or even great?
Garner : A lot of people who set themselves up as hypnotists and hypnotherapy’s will actually be doing hypnosis to someone. Because of the ego position, and unfortunately it does tend to attract egos - people will want the status and the stature of what to do and how to fix their lives - where as a really great hypnotist, in my belief, enters into and builds upon a therapeutic relationship with the patient or client - and in fact they can be much more effective if they do that.
Michael : What do you actually mean by a therapeutic relationship in this context?
Garner : Well unless you get adherense - we cant use the word compliance anymore, apparently that's politically incorrect - So if we get concordance, and adherance from people - we need to have their cooperation. They need to be on board.
Now a lot of people that come for help spend a lot of time arguing to stay stuck the way they are, and that's simply because they've rehearsed that for a very long time. So we need to be able to enter into a relationship where the other person agrees to enter a relationship with you - Just because they've come for help doesn’t mean that they're ready to change, until you've got them around to that point of view.
And a therapeutic relationship is one where we acknowledge that the patient or client is at the very least as important as the practitioner.
Michael : Excellent. Now before we go into detail as to how you start off as a hypnotist - Do you have any views or cautions that are worth expressing up front either when being hypnotised, or in becoming a hypnotist? I wouldn't necessarily want to use the word 'danger' - Oh ok, let's use it - are there any dangers or cautions to give anybody thinking of becoming a hypnotist or becoming very involved in it?
Garner : Well I think the first thing that people need to understand - I don't think there are the traditional dangers that you used to read about in the tabloid press - but I do think - there's something that we call Trance Logic, which means that when something happens in an altered state, they're going to have to try to make that seem logical within the context of their experience.
So for example, if you are regressing someone to a state, which some people think is a great opportunity for some trauma, and the person comes through at the moment that they are revivifying that trauma, they are going, in all likelihood, incorporate you into that scenario. So if they had been beaten up by somebody, I think there is a likelihood that you would become attached to them as someone in that scenario.
So we need to know what happens inside a persons reality. That to me is a danger.
But subjective dangers - No. Because in many ways it's quite - I wouldn’t say difficult - but it's one of the challenges to take on board, what you're talking about in hypnosis. So if you come up with anything that runs counter to their beliefs or principles, they're going to tend to dismiss it.
Unless of course you have a way of accepting something as logical, but I think that's all the stuff of fiction to be honest.
So basically trust the person that you're working with. If you're being hypnotised make sure that the hypnotist is a good person, that they come with good recommendations - that they're well experienced.
And if you're hypnotizing people just be incredibly respectful and cautious to their world.
Michael : So lets go back to the main purpose of the conversation - if somebody wants to become a hypnotist, where do you suggest they start? Some of the first steps - and what kind of vision and direction could be useful for them?
Garner : Well I think that the very first step that they should take is to experience, to go into what we call trance, or to go into an altered state. I think that's really important that people have a really good foundation. Maybe it's a good idea for them to go to a very good and qualified hypnotist and have a number of sessions in which they experience what that is like. It would also be good if they were to experience those hypnotic phenomena that we talk about - thinks like amnesia and anaesthetic and arm catalepsy - and positive and negative hallucinations and so forth.
Because that subjective experience is something that we need to be able to identify what the person in front of us is going through.
The second thing is to get a good sound training. Which isn’t as easy as it sounds, because there are many people that fork out for situations where they kind of set themselves up. There is no one governing body in this country - So you need to go preferably, by word of mouth.
And in order to develop you need to be committed. You need to really be committed to developing your skills. For example, tonality. A lot of people that are involved in hypnosis have absolutely horrendous tonality, they sound like a buzz saw, which is hardly going to make you feel relaxed.
Learning to use you voice - and knowing when to use colour and movement in your voice and when to drop your voice - getting rhythm into your voice, that's a great one - and here's a great tip if anybody wants to develop it :
My suggestion is that if people are learning hypnosis, and are developing a script for example - now I don't think people should work by scripts - but develop a script so that you can use it for this exercise, and then pick half a dozen or more different kinds of music through classical to drum and bass to whatever you want to do - head banging stuff - and then deliver the trance to that particular music. It will develop huge flexibility in your voice, to change peoples states with the rate or the pace and the way in which you speak.
Michael : I like that. Moving on a bit - as far as a hypnotic intervention goes with a client - do you have a general top level structure of some things you'll start with, some things you'll end with and some things you'll do towards the middle?
Garner : Well I think in general - this is what I meant about developing or skills, or maybe I havent said it yet - but one of the things that we should develop as hypnotists is sensuary accuety. We need to be able to watch the person to see where they are, and to be able to amplify that state and lead them further to the state that we want them to go.
But if you wanted a kind of format to do that - because some people want a formal induction, other people don’t, and in fact there's some research out there that says that those people that expect to be hypnotised will have better results than those that you do it to indirectly.
If you wanted a format - One of my formats that I use if necessary - first of all I always begin with the 'just before' phrase, which is a way of reducing performance anxiety with people. I say it to them - 'Just before we begin, I just want to do a few things here.'
And what they do then is they relax - because we're not doing it all here, we're not doing all the change work - this is before, so they'll tend to relax. I usually tidy up with them the concept of time which infringes timeline work - but you'll often find that people with a long standing problem will have their representation of the past in front of them rather than behind them. So we need to tidy that up often.
Outcome and direction is hugely important. It sounds surprising but often people that have been stuck for a long time don't know how to feel better, they don’t know what it will be like. So we need to develop what their direction is, how they are going to be.
Then we can get to the business of removing the obstacles by whatever means that we want to use, and there are numerous approaches to that. Then we also - and this is hugely important - we need to get them to rehearse, mentally rehearse their new behaviour, whatever that is.
Something else - Please, please, please - any hypnotist that wants to make change in a person needs to bridge it out into the outside world - Because learning is state specific and normally people will make wonderful changes just sitting there in their chair in front of you, but they haven’t been told that they can take it outside - so it stays with you, in that context. This is the nature of how we learn things.
I don’t know if you've had a kid studying for an exam with music playing - a lot of kids seem to do that these days - they go into an exam -
Michael : And they need the music.
Garner : They need the music. So bridge it out - you can say 'And you can start to make these changes now, and take them out into the outside world'. You can walk them through what it would be like to do that.
So that would be kind of a format.
The other thing is in Trance-Formation, the book I edited with Richard - there are four trances. I took four of his trances and I deconstructed them. But it's a brilliant example of how a master steeds change, apparently in conversation, on the fly - because in the right hand column I'm breaking it down into what he's actually doing beneath the spoken words.
So that's also a kind of format. But finally I'd say - Do what feels comfortable with yourself. As long as you're hitting all of the marks, not telling the person what to do - because that's not going to fly, it really isn't - If you say to someone 'Eat less', if they want to lose weight for example - Like they've never heard that before!
Richard always says that it doesn't have to be true - the thing that you tell a person - it just has to be credible to the unconscious mind.
Michael : I've thought of this question, and I'm not actually sure what I meant by it - So I'll leave it open to your interpretation. What's the best way a hypnotist can get genuine feedback as to how their doing?
And second part of the question, which may be related - How can they stay inspired and motivated to keep on improving their skills?
Garner : What you talk about them getting feedback are you talking about within the actual consultation process, or in their general career?
Michael : I would let you answer it in any way that means anything to you.
Garner : The first part, regarding feedback in a consultation - That's about developing sensory acuity. You need to know what signs of developing trance are, you need to be familiar with what people look like when they're actually processing stuff inside, when change is taking place - and you respond to that.
Feedback as to how that person is developing in their career, I would suggest that they ask -Not in a way that implies that you need reassurance, but it's quite good to phone people up three months on, to see what they're doing. People enjoy that, they like that and it gives them a lot of reassurance. Or if there's anything that they have any doubts about, you can handle that in time.
And to be inspired and motivated. My feeling is that hypnosis is a little bit like the priesthood, that people shouldn’t go into it if they can possibly keep out of it.
The inspiration should be that you're working in this incredibly powerful technology, that you want to read as much as you possibly can, you want to write down other peoples trances - not because you want to be them, but because you want to learn more that happens.
I spent years and years, months and months trying to hypnotize my cats. I'd say stuff to them as they looked at me unblinkingly. Dogs you can hypnotize, cats will hypnotize you back.
Just keep doing it and that will generate it's own momentum. Plus there's no buzz greater than someone that actually gets a terrific change in their lives. But I think to be a good hypnotist, which is the theme of this talk, we should really back down on the old ego. Because there's a lot of people that get into it because they like the idea of changing peoples lives, being the hypnotist rather then doing hypnosis.
If somebody comes to you and says 'This happened, this happened, this happened.', give them credit for it. You want them to own the change. You want people to damp down on their own egos. Otherwise what happens is we get arrogance, we get that didactic authoritarian form of hypnosis, which really doesnt work very well.
Michael : That leads nicely onto the next question. How did you get to where you are in hypnosis and where do you hope to go to?
Garner : Well. A lot of what I've done in the past has been related to communications. I was a professional writer for a long time. and I've always been interested in what makes people tick - what makes them change, specifically, as opposed to what makes them stay stuck. So I spent a lot of time pursuing different things and hypnosis was one of them.
What hooked me was watching a demonstration once of this old guy, whose name escapes me at the moment - I've managed to replicate this, which impresses most of my students to no end - What he did was take a sterile needle, go into trance, or get someone else to put into trance - put it through their hand.
That's impressive enough, but some people can just grit their teeth and put a needle through the back of their hand - but then - and this is where he caught my attention - he said 'You've got three choices now - When I pull out the needle (actually there are four choices) - You can either have a drop of blood of the left hand side, a drop of blood on the right hand side, a drop of blood on either side, or you can have no blood at all.'
And the guy made the choice, and indeed exactly that happened. And I thought 'Whoa, this is something that I want to know more about!'
If people can actually effect something so - apparently - allegedly - out of our control as that. And I really did go on a number of trainings and courses, as much as I possibly could. And then through the kindness of medical friends of mine - because most of my referrals are from doctors - and the kindness of some strangers - I got referrals sent to me.
So if people want to develop their own career, my feeling also is that they should specialise. A lot of people do NLP courses, and then they hang out their shingles and cure everything including death - They'll have a list of twenty things that they do. That doesn’t actually create trust, and it doesn’t actually create anything that people buy into.
But if you're a specialist is this or that you'll fin that people will come to you and ask 'Oh by the way do you also do such and such' and you can go 'Yes.'
But the specialisation is what gets your name out there and gets the word of mouth going. And to me word of mouth is worth a million in advertisements. I've done all that over many years, I've done advertising and promotion and so forth, and actually I've got one client out of thousands of pounds of advertising. But all the rest has been through word of mouth.
So get yourself around - try not to do this promotion stuff. People often do things, like sending pamphlets out to their local GP's surgery - and every time there's a hypnosis course in town, every GP and every publisher gets about a thousand flyers from people that have suddenly qualified - and they know it.
The one thing that I believe will count more than anything is if the person focuses on getting a lot of experience in a field, a particular field that makes them experts in it.
Michael : Is there anything that you'd like to add to that specific topic that you've started on - If someone wanted to start off as a hypnotist, as a business.
Garner : I think they should set themselves up to work professionally. I would suggest avoiding pitching their fees too low thinking 'Oh I'll get more people in if I'm cheap' because people don't actually buy this service on the basis of price - and if you're selling it for fifty pence they're not going to trust it very much.
Free things - I'm not the kind of person that gives the first session free. I go straight in because I want people to change as of the first session. You want people to behave professionally. They need to be incredibly positive, in the sense that they must support the patient or clients.
Charge reasonable fees - Let me think if there's anything else. I think that's about it to be honest.
Ah here's something. A psychologist works on a Fifty minute hour thing - I've got these psychologist friends and I'd go around, and I'd open the door and there would be some weeping client walking out into the street, and I'd ask 'What do you do, do you hurt these people?' and they'd say 'No they had to leave just as they'd accessed some deep traumatic mterial.'
And I'd say 'And you just let them lose in the street? No wonder there are people dressed up as clowns at the top of a super market with an AK47 shooting people.
You cant turn someone out, so you need to give yourself a little bit of flexibility so that they start to roll with something, so they finish it. So time your sessions, so that it might be an hour or whatever, but if it spills over you should be prepared to do that.
Michael : That's excellent. So really to bring this conversation to a close - you've given lots of great stuff - if you had to sumarize what you thought was important about becoming a hypnotist in a couple of phrases - What would they be?
Garner : Be veracious in your learning - Just gobble up anything that you possibly can on the subject, and other subjects to because you'll be surprised how much you can cross-pollenize from other fields.
And here's another one - Become the kind that will do what you ask your clients to do before you ask them to do it. You should have that experience before you ask them to do that.
And the third thing - and this is remarkably lacking - is get as much experience on the subject as you can. Just because somebody has done the course doesn’t mean that they can hang up their shingle that they're going to be the best hypnotist or hypnotherapist in the world. Experience is basically what counts.
Michael : Now you've been good enough to share your experience over the past minutes - is there anything that you're doing now that you'd like to bring to our audiences attention, or anything that you'd like to plug?
Garner : Well, plugging's always good. We've mentioned Magic in Practice, which is designed for health professionals in all fields. That's available through Amazon. Trainings are available in all specialties - We're doing another one in Nottingham in November, and people can find out about that on one of two websites - and that's Home | Magic In Practice or Index
I think that's about it - Thank you very much Michael.
Michael : Thank you very much indeed for your time - I found it really really great.
You can read about Michael's NLP training workshops from his website.