Monday, 26 July 2010

Hypnotherapy for ADD Musicians

does hypnotherapy work?
i am a musician and i have and extremly bad case of ADD i cant focus enough to really play but i love music i was wondering could a hypnotherapist motivate me to keep me on track? i want advice from somone who has had a lot of expierience in the area not somone who just shouts it doesnt work. please and trhank you :)

My Answer:
Hi Hollan

The first thing to say is that the world is full of people who'd be great musicians if only they could stay on track. The vast majority of them do not have an ADD diagnosis. Being a musician requires a lot of hard work and discipline. It means hours of practice at your chosen instrument every day, and the sacrifices necessary to enable that.

Also, loving music doesn't make anyone a musician. Lots of people love music but that doesn't mean their brains are set up to be musicians.

My advice (as a highly experienced clinical hypnotist and father of a musician) is firstly go and ask your instrumental teacher whether they honestly think you have the potential to be a musician. I suggest you do this because if they say "No," there's no point paying a hypnotherapist to help you become one. If they say "Sure, yeah, of only you could focus," then it's possible (but certainly not guaranteed) that a hypnotist could help you with focus and concentration.

If you really want to be a musician, and you do have the aptitude, motivation should not be an issue, even with ADD.

Best wishes

Barry Thain
Clinical Hypnotist

Friday, 23 July 2010

Hypnotherapy Regulation (and Correspondence Courses)

From the Hypnosis Technique Exchange group on Yahoo!

Re: Distance Learning

How does one qualify to "certify" a student in hypnotherapy?

Dr Jane Fitch
Charlotte, NC


Dear Jane

I can only speak for the situation here in the UK.

No qualifications are really worth anything.

The basic model is a three phase training where passing the certificate qualifies you to pay for the diploma, and passing the diploma qualifies you to pay for the practitioner diploma. Thus the various certificates are really only evidence of ones ability to pay the course fees. Very few people ever fail.

The sanctioning bodies are usually reincarnations of the teaching bodies. Fundamentally it works like this:

Eric is made redundant and reads an advertisement telling him he can have a lucrative career and earn a shed-load of money working two days a week as a hypnotherapist. He submits himself to 'rigorous pre-acceptance scrutiny' and hands over his plastic.

A few weekends later he has a bunch of photocopied notes and a certificate as a hypnotherapist. Feeling good about himself (and wanting to do Smoking Cessation) he signs up for the diploma. A dozen weekends later he does an exam with questions like "Is nail biting a) just a habit, or 
b) a symptom of some underlying neurosis?"

During the 12 weekends he has had plenty of practical sessions where he has told people to close their eyes and that they are hypnotised, and they have closed their eyes. He now has a diploma in hypnotherapy. He has never, yet, hypnotised anyone but Eric believes he's cracked it. He gladly hands over the last of his redundancy money to do the practitioner course and starts thinking about office space.

Half a dozen weekends later he's a fully qualified practitioner with a lot of photocopied notes and three receipts; oops, I mean certificates. He still hasn't hypnotised anyone (but lots of people have closed their eyes for him).

Three months later he is nearly destitute having seen hardly any patients and those he has seen have a) all questioned whether they were really hypnotised and b) not come back.

Unable to make a living as a hypnotherapist (because he isn't) he realises he can do much better teaching hypnotherapy. He re-photocopies his training notes on his own letterhead, hires a school room for the weekend and sells 20 courses of four weekends at £250 each from The European Academy of Clinical Hypnosis (TEACH).

In order to validate his courses, he forms the World Office for Regulation of Therapeutic Hypnosis (WORTH) and, henceforth, all TEACH courses are WORTH approved.

But it's all smoke and mirrors.

Eric teaches the same stuff he didn't understand or couldn't do to an endless stream of other well-meaning people. Most of them fall by the wayside but one or two take their notes, re-copy them and - with the best will in the world, or not - dupe the next generation.

I saw a course advertised here recently. One day. £95. Gastric Band Hypnotherapy. At the end of the day attendees will receive a 'Certificate in Advanced Eating Disorders'. Aaaargh!

Hypnotherapy could seek statutory regulation whereby only hypnotherapists who had passed approved courses given by approved institutions could call themselves hypnotherapists, but the existing regulatory bodies (all WORTHs) preferred to pursue the path of voluntary regulation. Why? Because they are all WORTHs with their own little empires and their own income streams. Turkeys, Christmas &c.

And that's the scene for face to face training. Correspondence courses have all the same issues plus the problems of being correspondence courses.

Best wishes

Barry Thain


Hi Barry

That was so perfect!  LOL.. and so true!  thank you.


Friday, 9 July 2010

The (Flawed) Foundations of NLP

From Yahoo! Groups

Here’s a question for the Erickson/NLP aficionados. But first, a couple of brief passages from Transformations and Frogs to Princes.

Frogs to Princes

‘Now, what typically happens when you go to a seminar is that the leader will say "All you really need to do, in order to do what I do as a great communicator, is to pay attention to your guts." And that's true, if you happen to have the things in your guts that that leader does. My guess is you probably don't. You can have them there at the unconscious level, but I think that if you want to have the same intuitions as somebody like Erickson or Satir or Perls, you need to go through a training period to learn to have similar intuitions. Once you go through a conscious training period, you can have therapeutic intuitions that are as unconscious and systematic as your intuitions about language.’


‘Much of the material in this book is derived from Bandler and Grinder's careful and systematic observation of the work of Milton H. Erickson, M.D. Until his death in 1980, Erickson was widely con­sidered to be the world's greatest medical hypnotist. He was widely known for his successful and often "miraculous" work with "impossi­ble" clients, as well as for his extensive writings on hypnosis.

‘Several years ago I went to visit Milton Erickson at his home in Phoenix. After he described some of his remarkable work with clients, I asked him how he knew to use one approach with one client, when he had used an opposite approach with another client who apparently had the same kind of problem. He responded "You just trust your uncon­scious mind."

‘That approach to hypnosis works great if you have Milton Erickson's unconscious mind. But how is it possible to learn to automati­cally and unconsciously respond as effectively as Milton Erickson did—to have an unconscious mind like Erickson's? Grinder and Bandler's special genius is the ability to observe someone like Erickson and then describe in detail what Erickson does, what cues he responds to, and how it all fits together.’

Now, here’s the question.

How much time did Bandler and Grinder spend in careful and systematic observation of Erickson doing therapy?

If you don’t know, hazard a guess at how much time you think would be necessary to model an intuitive therapist sufficient that you could absorb their skills and be able to pass them on to others.

Best wishes


The fact is, Bandler and Grinder spent no time watching Milton Erickson do therapy. None! Erickson had retired before they arrived on the scene. Richard Bandler met Erickson just four times. Apparently they didn't get on. No 'rapport'. John Grinder spent maybe about ten days with Erickson over a couple of years, but that was all. They modelled Erickson doing workshops and seminars. That might be a great way to model a great workshop-giver but it is not, I suggest, a great way to model a therapist.

Incidentally, they modelled film of Fritz Perls in his California incarnation by which time he had become a pastiche of the typical white-bearded, Austro-Jewish psychotherapist, and was a long way from his Gestalt roots.

That said, Virginia Satir was alive and well and on the scene at the time.

Derren Brown Cheats

I suspect Derren Brown might be quite a good hypnotist, but I don’t know.

I suspect he and his crew might use hypnosis off-camera, but I don’t know.

I suspect Derren’s shows are really Paul Daniels wrapped up in a cloak of psychobabble, but I don’t know.

But Derren Brown cheats. That I do know.

Apart from anything else, he admits it. At least, he admitted it.

“It is a mixture of real stuff and not real stuff. Hopefully part of the fun is   working out where the real stuff ends and the cheating starts.”

That’s what he said in an interview with Jamy Ian Swiss, in June 2003, answering criticisms raised by Simon Singh.

Working out where the cheating starts might be fun, I’m sure, if two things applied.

1)     That the audience knew the game was to work out “Where the real stuff ends and the cheating starts.”
2)     That the whole darn show isn’t cheating from beginning to end.

Maybe Derren doesn’t always cheat, but sometimes he only cheats. Sometimes the show is no more than a fictional sketch, as was the case when he appeared to take a novice and make them an accomplished pianist, capable of performing Mozart’s Variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at the Wigmore Hall, in a matter of weeks.

I posted the following two messages to a Derren Brown discussion forum in 2007, in the days after the show aired.

Re: Trick Or Treat observations S01E04

The girl is a competent pianist.

DB (apparently) induced amnesia for her talent.

After an initial few duff notes during the performance her talent was restored and she played through some or all of Mozart's variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (iirc) very nicely.

Do we think he had consent to deprive her of her talent? If so, then is it any kind of big deal? If not, is our entertainment any kind of justification for denying someone their art for any length of time?

IMHO the girl was either complicit, or DB has deluded himself (and his audience) into thinking any person can be exploited to any extent with impunity so long as it makes for an OK TV show.

Seriously ... my son is a musician like the girl in the stunt. To deny him access to music and reduce him to 'beginner' would be an act of abject cruelty that no amount of air time or argument could ever justify.

"Oh well, it's all a jolly good laugh and no harm was done," is the moron's apologia. That being the case, I suspect the girl was complicit.

Throughout this Trick or Treat series I've been developing an uneasy feeling about the extent to which it is acceptable to exploit others so that DB can look good. And the line I've heard at the end of some of his previous shows, to the effect that everyone is checked over afterwards to make sure they are psychologically OK, is weak as Watney's.

I'm inclined to conclude, therefore, that no one is being exploited and it's all more of a sketch than a stunt.

But I might be wrong.

Best wishes


Re: Trick Or Treat observations S01E04

If some of the stuff we see in the shows was actually as we are encouraged to think it is, DB would risk of getting himself into some trouble. I don't think he wants to get into any trouble. I think he wants us to believe it's an edgy show when in fact it is harmless. No one is traumatized. No one is exploited except, perhaps, the audience.

The deceit in the pianist stunt was the suggestion *to the audience* that the pianist had been out of love with her art and that DB succeeded in reviving her passion.

Utter bollocks, as I think the following two internet entries indicate.

YSHANI PERINPANAYAGAM, born in 1983, began studying the piano at the age of four under Vladislava Bajic. At the age of 13, she gained entry to the junior department of the Royal College of Music to study piano, flute and composition and during her studies won both the Angela Bull and the Teresa Correno Memorial Prizes, the latter resulting in the main of a recital at the Bolivar Hall, Oxford Circus. In 2004, Yshani auditioned successfully for a place on exchange at the Prague Academy studying with the pianist Peter Toperczer and is now in her final year of study as a scholar at the senior department of the Royal College of Music under John Barstow. She has performed at venues such as St. Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, St. Paul's, Covent Garden and The Robin Howard Dance theatre located at The Place both as a soloist and with ensembles such as Sounds Positive and The Sarah Ings Ensemble. Yshani was a finalist in the RCM concerto competition in 2004 and has had a variety of competition successes at local festivals. In September, she will begin her studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, as a scholar, with Caroline Palmer.

Yshani Perinpanayagam (Sri Lanka / UK) Alongside her long-term interest in music, Yshani has danced for most of her life. While at school, she attained her RAD Grade 8 Ballet and ISTD Advanced I Modern while successfully tutoring herself to gain her Advanced II Tap and Associate qualification. During her final year at the Pamela Howard School of Dance, she was awarded the Senior Category and Musicality awards as well as the newly founded Choreography Prize. In 2002, Yshani was awarded a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music as a pianist. In the same year, having collaborated with its young choreographers as a composer, Yshani began work at the Young Place as an accompanist. It is here she came into contact with contemporary dance. Yshani is currently continuing her studies at postgraduate level at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama while working as a musician at London Contemporary Dance School and London Studio Centre. She further combines her love for both music and dance in outreach workshops including with the Philharmonia Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra Band both as an instrumentalist and movement leader. In 2007, five years after giving up dancing, Cloud Dance is making her realise how unfit she has become. She has recently joined Balletomane, a company performing ballet in the community for those not normally able to access it. Yshani is currently tied up with her end-of-term exams (and an ever- shifting performance on Derren Brown's 'Trick or Treat') but will rejoin us in the summer once that's all over.

NB - She was doing her end of term exams and ToT at the same time.

Best wishes


You see, Yshani was never out of love with talent; neither because of Derren Brown nor for any other reason. The show was a sketch. It was a work of fiction, a drama, and nothing else.

Neither the braystmichael nor the cloud-dance links work anymore, but they did at the time and their content was simply copied and pasted.

I hope neither Derren, nor his legal people object to this blog. After all, I am just having fun doing what he said; working out where the cheating starts.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Milton Erickson and The Holy Grail

From Yahoo! Groups

“I know it goes against the perceived wisdom, and is an heretical thought, but if Erickson cannot do Ericksonian hypnosis, what chance does anyone else stand?”

Forget perceived wisdom, how about common sense? No one is successful 100% of the time, even Ol' Miltie. I don't know this particular video, but I know when I was in class learning Erickson hypnosis, watching the videos tranced out most of the class.

Now if you want to criticize him, you can pick on that weird spanking thing he goes on about in one of his other videos, but it's plain silly to write someone off because of one bad session, or even more than one session. It's hard, if not nearly impossible, to make a client change who doesn't want to.

Remember that the big "E" didn't just use that slow grumbly induction, he also explored and pioneered rapid inductions, embedded commands, metaphors, storytelling, dissociation, and lots of other hypno-goodies that are now stock and trade.

Besides, so many people have been using "Eriksonian" so effectively for so many years that I have to ask where you've been all this time?



Hi Jeff

The most obvious thing about common sense is that it is a rare commodity indeed. Despite that, I'll try to apply some here.

I publish a DVD called Hypnotism for Hypnotherapists (this isn't spam so I won't provide a link). It's a demonstration of hypnotic phenomena. In it I use two volunteer hypnotees. One of them I knew was a good hypnotee. The other I had never met or communicated with before the session.

I used a known, good hypnotee for the demo because
a) I wasn't trying to prove I could hypnotise people, I was trying to show what could be done with hypnotism, and
b) if I used unknown subjects and the first one was a flop I'd have moved on to another, and another until I found a good hypnotee: the film of the flops would have never left the cutting room and the video would have shown me working with a good hypnotee.

Common sense dictates (doesn't it?) that you wouldn't publish a demonstration of hypnotic techniques and phenomena when the subject doesn't get hypnotised and the only phenomena on display are confusion and social compliance.

But that's what Erickson (or Haley or whoever was responsible for the Ruth video) did. So, using common sense still, it's hard to argue that Erickson and his colleagues thought it was rubbish.

I've attempted to substantiate my opinion that it is, indeed, rubbish by publishing a transcript and commentary here:

Ericksonian advocates can argue that my opinion is tosh. They can argue that they are amongst a select band of cognoscenti who really get Erickson and the rest of us don't know what we're talking about, but it would be much more interesting if they read the transcript and debated that. These discussions always seem to be more productive when people stick to the principles and eschew the personalities.

If your 'where have you been?' question is about my credentials; I've been around. I'm a full time clinical hypnotist and have been for many years. I work in private practice and with the National Health Service in the UK. I've posted thousands of hypno-related messages in various fora going all the way back to when Yahoo! Groups were Clubs.

I don't have a 'let's bring down Erickson' campaign going and so don't have this discussion very often, but the subject does interest me - so much so that I've spoken with Betty Erickson and Judith de Lozier about Erickson's relationship with Bandler and Grinder (Judith was John Grinder's girlfriend at the time and later his wife). I've even tried to track Ruth down.

And I've read a good chunk of the Erickson/NLP canon. Like most hypnotherapists (I guess), Erickson was introduced to me as the Grandfather of Modern Hypnotherapy, and spoken of in quasi-religious terms. I started reading him with awe and amazement. But I have a questioning mind and don't take much at face value. (I was so impressed in the famous Basketball experiment, for example, where the group that only visualized throwing hoops made most progress because 'they only visualized the success', that I tracked down the source. It wasn't conducted in Boston or Miami as is usually quoted, but in Australia. And the people who practised throwing hoops actually did better than the visualizers.)

I suspect that if one approaches Erickson expecting the Holy Grail, the Holy Grail is what you'll find. I have no doubt that lots of Ericksonian hypnotherapists have great success with their patients, but then lots of therapists of all sorts have successes, and all power to them.

The bottom line is, Erickson spent 32 minutes trying to get arm levitation with Ruth, failed, and then published the video as if it was a success. I have yet to read any reasonable justification for that.

I don't doubt Erickson was a good therapist, and he may have been a good hypnotist. All the stuff about 'successive approximations' and 'apposition of opposites' is not, I think, Erickson's fault. He just went with what he had in his gut. I think Ruth was a poor hypnotee and I don't suppose I could have hypnotised her either. But then, I wouldn't have published the video.

Best wishes


Milton Erickson - Is the Emperor Naked?

From Yahoo Groups!

In, "Bhadra"
I'm interested in learning more about Rapid Inductions and Ericksonian Conversational Hypnosis Techniques.

Hi Beth

If you look hard enough you might find a video on-line of Erickson working with
a girl called Ruth. The film lasts about 30 minutes during which time Erickson
uses just about every Ericksonian trick in the book, mostly in an attempt to
achieve some kind of automatism.

Two things about the film are surprising, in my opinion. Firstly, nothing works.
I know that sounds daft, but it's true. Secondly, Erickson seems to think it has
worked. After all, if he knew it was a flop, why publish it?

You can read my transcript here:

I know it goes against the perceived wisdom, and is an heretical thought, but if
Erickson cannot do Ericksonian hypnosis, what chance does anyone else stand?

For a rapid induction, try this

I don't mean to compare myself favourably with Milton Erickson, but I think I
manage in thirty-two seconds what he fails to achieve in 32 minutes.

Best wishes

Barry Thain
Clinical Hypnotist

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Hypnosis and States of Mind

From correspondence with an NCH member.

Hi Barry

What's your take on the state of mind of hypnosis? You give some snippets here and there, but it would be interesting to hear it directly.


Barry Thain July 1 at 5:11pm
I think I may have said somewhere that I have moved to view hypnosis as an act of communication rather than a state of mind. That act of communication can happen alongside several different states of mind.

Irrespective of what I do, some patients lose conscious awareness altogether, trip off and play with the pixies. Some report that their conscious mind observed what was going on but could not intervene. Some have fallen consciously asleep (so much so that their eyelids float open, each eye differently to the other) whilst continuing to communicate non-consciously, usually via IMRs. Some are wide awake and discussing existentialism but still react to suggestions (amnesia, hallucination, involuntary movement) automatically. And that's all before I intervene by doing anything to direct their state of mind.

And, of course, some stay wide awake and conscious the whole time because they aren't good hypnotees.

I don't think it's any easier to hypnotise relaxed people than anxious people. I don't think it is any harder to hypnotise analytical types than new-agey types. I don't think it makes any difference whether people 'believe' in hypnosis at all. In fact some of the best hypnotees I have worked with have been highly analytical, and sceptical to the point of cynical.

I think, therefore, that the 'state of mind' might be a bit of a red herring.

I think it's actually more to do with a state of brain. Some brains are great at being on the receiving end of hypnotism, and some aren't. I really do think there's an issue of neurological architecture involved and I guess that may also be true for the hypnotist.

Best wishes