Photograph of Rae Jenson Bill O"Hanlon and John Lawrence

Celebrate your Weirdness

I have been lucky enough to train with some great names in hypnotherapy, Michael Yapko (at least three times), the late Gil Boyne and the legendary Ormond McGill amongst others. They all passed  great wisdom and techniques on to me that served me well in my 18 years of practice. However one course I attended in Newcastle, England, sticks out in my mind. I had the distinct privilege of attending Bill O'Hanlon's "Geography of Possibilities Workshop" course way back in 2010. Bill is a very gifted trainer and practitioner of Neo-Ericksonian Hypnotherapy and one of a select band of privileged therapists able to train with Erickson personally. Dr Milton H Erickson is probably the most famous hypnotherapist in the world. A poor student at the time, Bill couldn't really afford to train with the great Dr Milton H Erickson. So Erickson cut him a deal. Milton was by then wheel chair bound with a very extensive desert garden to tend to in his home at Phoenix, Arizona. Bill agreed to be his temporary gardener in part payment as he trained with the great Erickson. There is little doubt as well as learning at the feet of "the man" during his formal training, Bill gained unique access to Erickson. Much insight and wisdom was learned in the relaxed and informal setting of the garden. This is where Bill had the opportunity to approach the great Erickson and gain therapy nuggets that no other student could access. I personally recommend Bill O'Hanlon's books and media to all my students as he has a very deep understanding of the techniques and wisdom of Erickson.

As a trainer Bill is one of the most genuine, unassuming individuals you are likely to meet in the field. During my training with him he broached the subject of clients who just like the rest of us have unique habits or mannerisms that serve them well at one level, but others in their circle might find unsettling. Behaviour modification is a goal of therapy, but some harmless mannerisms or behaviours marked these people out as individuals (yes a little quirky or odd by some subjective standards - but hey, who is to say?). Anyway Bill realised that some clients reneged against changing these mannerisms, which objectively, hurt no one. Instead suggesting rather than modify them to the unwarranted desires of others around them, they not only keep them, but celebrate them as well.

So when I encounter clients who tell me others think they are a bit strange or weird (and remember that can be as harmless as practising Buddhism, being a vegetarian or having a unique hobby or pastime) I just commend Bill's therapeutic approach to them...Celebrate your Weirdness!

Personally I find these individuals colourful, they brighten up a rather monochrome and uniform world for me. If I had to choose between boring and predictable or a little weird I know what peg I would hang my coat on, but hey I am a hypnotherapist and we all know how weird they are.

So until the next time, go placidly and celebrate your weirdness, be it big or small.

Yours therapeutically,


Photograph of Rae Jenson Bill O"Hanlon and John Lawrence
Photograph of Rae Jenson Bill O"Hanlon and John Lawrence at Bill's Course in London

Resilience Talk

Rae and I attended a talk at Linlithgow Primary School last night (5/02/18). The talk examined how early intervention work with children classed as vulnerable, can make them a whole lot more resilient to the stresses of adulthood in later life. A diverse range of teachers, parents, Police, Local Authority employees and interested public were in attendance. It was a subject close to our hearts and one we have been teaching our students for years. There is strong empirical evidence linking our early childhood experiences of an adverse nature to later social and health outcomes. Both physical and mental health are compromised leading to compensatory behaviours later in adult life. In crude terms the bad cards people are dealt in early life through physical, or emotional challenges tends to link in to their adult health.  A lack of love and support in early life will often be reflected in low adult self esteem and this in turn  will bring about certain adult tendencies. This leads certain people in to making poor life choices later such as addictive behaviours.  All done mostly unconsciously in an effort to deal with the unresolved early life challenges.

The main theme was the need for early intervention in childhood with quality social, medical and emotional support for those children classed as vulnerable. The realisation that there is potential for huge savings in cost and time in solving these complex issues at a young age especially to a present day society plagued by adult ills, is of course just common sense. However the leap from common sense to common practice will take some political clout to achieve. The Scottish Government are broadly supportive on resilience but there is much work by everyone to make this vision happen.

We are strong advocates of “Sleep Talk” (look it up on the Internet) parent led self hypnosis for insecure children overseen by specially trained therapists to help resolve a whole range of childhood anxieties. It is a team effort between parent/s and therapist to secure the best outcome for the child. I personally have been using it with parents and young children for some 16 years. I know it works, the parents know it works and if you know how hypnosis and suggestion therapy works you will know this too.

For either good or ill our parents are most likely to be the most influential hypnotists we will encounter in our life.

Telling your young child that “mummy loves you, daddy loves you, (sister/brother, grand parents, even family pets) loves you” every night as they drop off to sleep is so simple yet amazingly powerful.

Put it this way,  you are presumably an adult reading this, so give this some consideration. If someone had put the effort in to that simple little process during your formative years, just how safe, confident and assured do you think that would have made your childhood? The developing human mind (we are all vulnerable as children) simply cannot get enough reassurance.

Luckily our brains are fairly plastic and good therapy is one way to resolve the unhealthy influence of early adverse childhood experience.

What ever happened can be re-worked through the power of hypnosis a modality designed to deal with all that bad stuff in the past and lurking there in the unconscious part of the mind. What’s not to like? Even as an adult there is nothing wrong with silently repeating this mantra of safety and acceptance.

Hang on though, I hear you say what if my mummy and daddy didn’t love me and even harmed me! Well thankfully the unconscious mind is no respecter of reality/history, nor is it very rational (try telling a flying phobic that statistically flying is very safe). It simply will not rationalise that fact until through hypnosis it eventually concedes it is safe to fly. Similarly re-writing or over-writing your own personal history in a consistent and repetitive way in hypnosis is something the mind likes to do. It is not interested in the past so much as the novel and new helpful suggestions coming it’s way and of course the warm feelings it brings. Does that sound too good to be true? Well listen the next time you sit down to watch a Batman or Superman movie with the kids and you end up with that nice “warm, all is well with the world feeling”  be aware you have been, albeit temporarily, hypnotised in to a changed state.

You do the same thing in your daydreams. Come on admit it, how many of you have spent sometime thinking of your imaginary lottery win in your mind, including that delicious farewell to your boss?

Thought so, you see this hypnosis business really isn’t that mysterious at all. We are all hypnotised and we can all hypnotise ourselves in to helpful or unhelpful trances. As I often tell my students a good hypnotherapist just alters a person’s bad or unhelpful everyday trances in to something far more useful and helpful to the self.

In fact the American therapist and writer Stephen Wolinsky once wrote a book on that very subject and he was a very clever man.

So until next time stay loose folks and watch your own trances, they may not be serving you well.

Yours therapeutically,