Brookside Center for Counseling and Hypnotherapy
Discourse on Trance and Healing
by Maurice Kouguell, Ph.D, BCETS.
Having learned how to hypnotize, you are now in possession of a most wonderful and powerful tool which needs to be treated and used with respect. Acknowledge and cherish your newly acquired technique. Pursue your professional development and growth by a never ending quest for new horizons. Further your own development in areas of altered states and pursue your curiosity by constantly furthering your knowledge of man. Immerse yourself in the pursuit of knowledge: knowledge which goes beyond doing. Allow yourself the joy and excitement of learning. Study with the very best. Find your temporary identity and then move on to a different professional level. Ask yourself if you would go for help with someone trained as you are or would you seek help from someone different and if so why?
Why not take a leap away from being limited by the technical aspects of hypnosis to seeing the practice of hypnosis as requiring the understanding of individual psychological needs. In his book Hypnosis - A Jungian Perspective, James Hall states "...The field of hypnotherapy is a collection of techniques in need of a unifying theory. Hypnosis remains a tradition embodying a large number of techniques, but one [which] lacks an intrinsic theoretical infrastructure of its own. It has seemed best therefore for a clinician practicing hypnosis to do so within the most comprehensive understanding of human psychology...Thus placed, hypnotherapy becomes a useful part of the treatment of the human psyche."
A man is born gentle and weak
At his death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death, they are withered and dry.
Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.(1)
My formal training was in clinical psychology, school psychology, family life and last, but not least, hypnosis, including various aspects of altered states, existential therapy, experiential therapy...and the list continues.
My training was along traditional lines. It included the diagnosis, prognosis and course of treatment. At the completion of the evaluation of the client and after having thoroughly "measured" the possible variables, one proceeded to a case conference which included a social worker and psychiatrist. So the person was seen from each of three perspectives. Each had a slice and now we were to put all the parts of the picture into one. It's important to remember that in the '50's the emphasis was on diagnosis.The above training was most valuable for it validated one's thinking skills and provided three different ways of looking at the client. All therapists were expert in metaphors, except they were referred to as "symbolic behavior."
Much of what I learned, in retrospect, cluttered my mind. I scored intelligence and personality tests with such expertise that I no longer needed a manual. At clinics, I demonstrated to graduate students the perfect administration of a battery of tests. I demonstrated for them (behind a one way mirror), how to take a history, how to conduct clinical interviews, how to administer intelligence tests, personality tests, vocational tests, etc. Yet, while I had mastered the necessary skills and had become a master technician, I felt isolated and frequently out of step.
Now, some twenty years later, I have become aware that my discontent had to do with the realization that my learning was essentially following linear thinking.
In their book on Existential Hypnotherapy, King and Citrenbaum state:
A master therapist, like a Zen master, has a beginner's mind: a mind empty of preconceptions and totally open to the experience of the person in front of him or her. Hearing patients tell their stories, watching them as they do so and feeling what it is like to be in the room with them enables the therapist to understand their reality and to plan better interventions, but only if the therapist's mind is clear enough to perceive accurately.
Of course, you cannot do so when expertise is limited to reaching for a script and hopefully matching the complaint of your client to it.
In his latest book Learning and Teaching Therapy, published in l996 by
the Guilford Press, Jay Haley writes "Most forms of therapy have their origin in
hypnosis ...even people who do not practice direct hypnosis can use training in hypnosis -
inducing skills...Hypnosis training teaches the use of metaphors in messages as well
as straightforward directives." While Haley, well known through his 19 books and his
work with Erickson, has high praise for hypnosis, he also expresses his concern for
therapists who are looking to be trained in clinical hypnosis. He states: "To
learn clinical hypnosis, one must watch a teacher hypnotize; one is then watched by the
teacher, who can guide one's action...This requires a setting where there are clients to
practice on. A seminar in which therapists hypnotize each other can teach
participants how to induce a trance, but it does not teach them how to change
The essence of any therapy requiring direct interpersonal contact between two human beings, presupposes a great degree of awareness of the fact that communication is affected by the mere presence and proximity of two human beings (or more in a group process). One must remain aware of the mutual effects clients and therapists have on each other. I wonder how many physicians recognize and differentiate in their patients the presence of the WHITE COAT SYNDROME as creating temporary high blood pressure. So, even without intervention, something is occurring, often because of a trace memory.
Today we also recognize the ever present continuous interaction/relationship of mind-body-spirit communication. We have acknowledged the existence of the connections and now we are beginning to know how to handle them.
Much of our training follows linear thinking. Most teaching methodologies follow this format because it is so much easier to prescribe the same approach to all students and trainees.
Steven Wolinsky in his book Quantum Consciousness, differentiates the core principles of Psychotherapy and Quantum Psychology in the following manner:
The gist of the principle is visually captured in the billiard ball metaphor in which the structure and movement of each billiard ball can be clearly defined and predicted. When billiard ball A is struck, it will move toward pocket A. This is a very orderly world. Isaac Newton, a genius and innovator of his time, described this reductionist view of the world; everything could be reduced to small units acting and reacting upon one another in a cause and effect measurable predictable pattern...For example, a client who comes to therapy complaining about his poor relationship with women is suggesting that some relationship with a woman (probably his mother), has caused the problem. ...In contrast, while most forms of therapy focus on helping the client become a whole person, Quantum Psychology expands this context of whole personhood to include the rest of the universe.
I was not taught or made aware of the importance of taking into account how each
specialist reacted subjectively with his own attitudes and backgrounds to the
client. Yet, there are several definite variables frequently omitted in most training
programs. As a matter of fact, there are many components left out which affect us and
have not been taken into consideration. In retrospect, there are some irreconcilable
orientations between institutional thinking and the individuality of each person within
In the pursuit of my continuous explorations, research and discovery of the world of trance work and altered states, I took three giant leaps.
1.Allowing myself to question traditional and institutional thinking and being open to other alternatives (I trained in Touch for Health, Brain Gym, NLP et al.).
2.Participating in training workshops conducted by Dr. Lewis B. Wolberg.
3. Workshops with Drs. Arny and Amy Mindell in Process Work. But none of
this could have happened without my awareness of being discontent.
Those three major experiences shared one basic thing: the concern was always about the individual. The techniques were to be mastered, but always remained subservient to the client.
I attended a 3-day workshop given by Drs.Arny and Amy Mindell. Arny was a physicist before becoming a Jungian analyst and Process Oriented therapist. Amy, a clinical psychologist, brings in her additional training as a dancer. They teach how to use symptoms and life threatening illnesses including fears, fantasies and pains as windows towards enlightenment. Arny is also known for his work in psychiatry and near death interventions. Amy has helped further with her contributions in the area of philosophy, dance and ethics.
(On a subjective note I was so happy that my wife had joined me for that amazing experience for I would have been unable to put into words the essence of that training and share with her the excitement created from the very first moment and that still continued weeks later.)
The Mindells gave a general introduction which illustrated their approach in relationship to Jungian analysis as well as Gestalt therapy. They introduced how Jung connected with dream work and they went on to discuss the connection between dreams and the body and extended their views of body symptoms and how they relate to world issues.
The workshop was described in the advertisement as follows:
Process work with body symptoms and disease is based on the idea that there is a flow of life and wisdom behind illness which can unfold by learning to follow body experiences. Symptoms are direct expression of the dreaming body. During the presentation Amy and Arny demonstrate how to work with symptoms in a holistic way, unraveling their meaning in a person's life. Deeper dimensions of those symptoms can be found in a comatose state and in near death experience.
During the workshop Arny and Amy worked with participants on unfolding their
individual dreaming processes during which time relationship and community process become
integrated. This process leads not only to the acknowledgment of the richness of one's
life, but also to healing.
The initial phases of the dream work are reminiscent of the process of Focusing. Starting with a meditating state or altered state of consciousness, one learns how not to be disturbed or get involved with anything that surfaces. One experiences becoming witness to whatever one is experiencing without judging it or trying to figure out what it represents. One observes and acknowledges...watching without analysis or interpretation, which leads in time to transformation.
I feel we need to adopt an approach which is comfortable to us as practitioners. A modality in which we believe at this time in our professional growth - thus we remain open to new insights. While I subscribe to tradition, I also see and feel the urgency of being aware of the dangers of being locked into it.
Dr.Wolberg left a legacy which became a tradition and went beyond his phenomenal knowledge. The same could be said of Milton Erikson as well as the Mindells or Gendlin, to name a few. What do they all have in common? Their greatness goes beyond their knowledge and deep respect of the client and includes a humbleness which reflects wisdom devoid of self aggrandizement. I am grateful and appreciative of the importance of tradition in the practice of psychology and I believe that any therapist in any health related profession needs to know how people function, what makes them behave in certain ways.We have preached that our therapies are client oriented...yet often they are technique oriented. What reminds us that there is a client in our office? How can we refer to client-oriented hypnotherapy when the same script is used for different clients who only share in common the stated reason for being in the hypnotist's office?
I hope my readers share my enthusiasm about learning. In analyzing the excitement derived from such experiences, I believe that there are two factors present: constantly discovering different approaches to viewing others and the self and understanding and relating to that experience.
1. Feng, Gia-Fu and English, Tao Te Ching: A New Translation, N.Y.Vintage 1972, v.76.
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