Hypnosis in Healthcare: A Christian Perspective
Christopher S. Baker
Oral Roberts University
Steven Lafevers, a certified counselor and hypnotherapist, presents the reader with an array of methods and techniques associated with hypnotherapy. The reading offers detailed step by step methods of induction and foundational principles with little to no jargon or erroneous claims. A full spectrum of life challenges are identified, with respective hypnotic prescriptions presented as cathartic tools of hope and healing. The founding fathers of hypnotherapy are identified herein, as are the concept of suggestion and self-hypnosis as a constant state. The Christian perspective is discussed, albeit briefly, leaving the reader oddly comfortable with the idea of incorporating said techniques in one’s toolbox of therapeutic techniques. Although thorough in its description of methods and foundations of hypnotherapy, formal training and practice is well advised. Any and all therapists may benefit from the emphasis upon the therapeutic relationship, agreeably an essential component in counseling even from the most conservative Christian perspective.
Hypnosis and Suggestion
The premise of hypnosis is a simple one, one of suggestion. The overwhelming theme presented by Lafevers is that of the power of suggestion, which is said to begin within the subconscious and subsequently affecting conscious cognition; furthermore his premise contends that we are already hypnotized, but unaware of it. The theoretical foundation is synonymous with the phenomenon of catharsis explored by Freud, however hypnosis is accredited to Franz Mesmer, an eighteenth century physician, and Dr. Milton Erickson is accredited as the father of modern Hypnosis. Freud chose to use free association as a sort of induction, whereas Erickson used telling stories, visualization techniques to initiate the process of hypnosis. Further, the concept of suggestion itself pre-dates acupuncture, medicine, herbal remedies and perhaps spiritual healings.
Correlation between suggestion and human behavior can be evidenced in both natural settings and experimental ones. Healthcare professionals have an advantage in this regard. Patients’ in a hospital emergency room are under the influence of suggestion before they arrive; the mere idea of going to the hospital to be treated for an injury is a positive stimulus response embedded in the subconscious. Upon arrival this stimulus response is reinforced by visual stimuli in the hospital: The stethoscope around the doctors neck and the white coat he is wearing, the almost perfect order and cleanliness of the operating room, the professional language and stealth-like behavior of the surgical team, the empathy and energy a team of physicians working together, and the aroma of a sterile room are some of the stimuli which act to support and induce suggestion. Perhaps the best known example of suggestion as hypnosis can be found in the placebo-effect in double-blind studies; often those receiving the placebo show improvement. And let one not forget the age old, let mom kiss it and make it all better, suggestion as further evidence of hypnosis. The Process of Induction
The induction method is less important than the therapist’s confidence in them and the client’s level of motivation for change. As long as the client is not mentally retarded, psychotic or under the influence of drugs, anyone can be hypnotized if the therapist and client adhere to a few basic principles. As long as you believe in what you are doing it doesn’t matter whether one uses a hypnotic spiral, a tub filled with water, a written script of carefully descriptive words that produce visualization and relaxation, flashing lights, or a kiss will make it better. Fixation and progressive relaxation are the most traditional forms of induction. Erickson deviated from these norms and introduced several new methods which includes metaphorical...
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