I know that the subject of hypnotherapy has been, is and will continue to be debated and there are many areas where black and white/right or wrong options don’t and cannot apply, but I continue to be amazed at how many hypnotherapists seem to want to avoid having their clients express feelings and emotions.
I am not sure if it is the typical ‘british’ desire not to confront such tricky states or if therapists, skilled in the art of suggestion therapy alone, are simply not aware of how important it is to assist their clients in processing troublesome, repressed experience(s).
Attending a Hypnotherapy Associataion conference a number of years ago I remember Igor Ledochowski asking the participants whether, if it were possible to assist the client to process repressed emotion without actually visiting the source of the problem, we would agree that this would be a far more respectful approach than having the client visit the root cause of their issue. My answer would, undoubtedly, be ‘yes’. However, I do not believe that any amount of suggestion therapy, with or without NLP techinques, Ericksonian language, IMDR, tapping or any other such interventions can bring about anything except temporary change unless the originating source has already been resolved in some way and the undesired behaviour/habit is ’empty’.
To help clients bring about permanent change, the root cause of the problem requires to be ‘depotentiated’. The skilful therapist does not require to know the details of the initial incident. Their role is simply to support the client in expressing the repressed and associated emotion such anger, fear, anxiety, bewilderment, embarrassment, guilt (the list goes on – and a source may involve more than one).
This may involve an cathartic outpouring known as an abreaction but sometimes the client simply has a moment of clarity. Whatever happens the therapist’s job is to allow the client time to view the incident with the benefit of hindsight (how often do we have that luxury?) and to assess its relevance to their current situation. In practically all instances the client realises they can let go of the ‘template’ underpinning their unwanted behaviour and with that self enlightenment is the end result, and change happens as a matter of course.
I would not recommend anyone utilise this approach without formal hypnoanalytical training in managing such a session and also not in a first or even second session. However I would also not recommend that a ‘therapist’ practise hypnotherapy ata ll unless they are fully assured of how to deal with an abreaction as these can occur spontaneously in hypnosis.
The danger does not lie in assisting the client to confront their emotions – it lies in not dealing with those emotions if raised.