The email said that he had a fear of flying. His previous hypnotist had informed him that this issue is “very easy to deal with using hypnosis.” And he wanted to know if I had helped people overcome this fear before. I replied, reassuring him, that I had experience working with this and many other fears. I then suggested we talk further by telephone.
Unfortunately, I never got to speak to this person.
His next email informed me that he had spoken to a psychotherapist who had informed him that regression therapy is “a very complicated therapy.” And “to be done well requires a well-trained psychotherapist.”
I don’t know if this fellow got his problem resolved. What I do know is that the information he was given by both the hypnotherapist and psychotherapist contained the following three myths.
- Fear of flying is an easy "fix."
- Only a well-trained psychotherapist can facilitate regression effectively.
- Regression hypnotherapy is a very complicated or dangerous therapy.
Myth #1: Fear of Flying is an easy fix.
Many hypnosis practitioners believe fear of flying is very easy to deal with using hypnosis. There was a time I thought so, too. But experience has taught me not to make such generalizations. The truth is – sometimes fear of flying is an easy fix.
Sometimes it’s NOT.
The fear is not the problem. Fear is a healthy response to the perception of threat. When the response doesn’t make sense to the conscious mind it becomes a problem.
If it seems irrational there must be something wrong with the person. That’s the self-diagnosis. And if the person sees a medical practitioner they stand a good chance of receiving a diagnosis to confirm their belief. That’s not helpful.
Feelings are not irrational. They do not come out of thin air. If there is nothing happening in a person’s present environment that poses a real threat then the fear is rooted in a past experience. So, there’s nothing wrong with them. It’s just that they learned to feel that fear. The question is why?
Myth #2: Only a well-trained psychotherapist can facilitate regression effectively.
What lies behind this assumption is the belief that, if done incorrectly, regression hypnosis can result in false memories. It’s a controversial issue.
I don’t disagree with the assertion that facilitating regression requires training and skill. As with any profession, some hypnotherapists are more skilled and experienced than others. But to suggest only a psychotherapist is equipped to do so is just bad information.
The truth is - I have patched up the aftermath of botched regression therapy facilitated by a “well-trained psychotherapist.” Regardless of what professional you belong to, before you do regression therapy you need to know what you’re doing. That requires advanced training in therapeutic hypnosis and considerable ongoing study.
If you have acquired advanced training in regression-to-cause hypnotherapy you need to know this. The psychology community is no better informed than the general public. They don’t know that there’s any distinction between you and the newly graduated hypnovice. It’s up to you to educate them about yourself and your credentials.
Myth #3: Regression therapy is a very complicated or dangerous therapy.
Unfortunately, our own profession endorses this view. “Regression hypnosis is dangerous. Be afraid. Be very afraid . . . ”
Let me just say this . . . Horse Hockey.
This is a problem not to be taken lightly. The National Guild of Hypnotism (NGH) doesn’t permit the use of the term “hypnotherapy.” In fact, in 2007 they changed the certification to “Consulting Hypnotist” in order to avoid the words “Certified” or “Clinical” and “therapist.”
Not only is this a display of lily-livered leadership. It perpetuates the myth that therapeutic hypnosis is somehow complicated and dangerous. The truth is, it’s not. People are complicated and sometimes dangerous.
The NGH code of ethics states, “Consulting Hypnotists help ordinary, everyday people with ordinary everyday problems using individual hypnotic techniques.” This ridiculously vague term does not define what, exactly, an “ordinary, everyday person” is, however. Or what constitutes an “ordinary everyday problem.”
Puh-leez. Helping ordinary, everyday people means having to deal with feelings and emotions. And ordinary everyday problems can have many interconnecting parts or aspects. The problem is that basic certification does not prepare a CH to deal with the reality of helping real people with real problems.
People are complex. As hypnosis practitioners we work with people. And the problems they bring to us are seldom simple. There’s really no such thing as an “easy fix.” There are clients who are ready to allow change to happen and clients who need help getting to a place of readiness. Therapeutic hypnosis works with both types of people. The time it takes to get a result really depends on the client.
The following is a not-so-simple case of flying that illustrates how important it is to focus on the client rather than the issue.
The Flight from Hell
Susan had not been to a doctor or received any diagnosis. She had not been labelled "mentally ill", and was not taking any medications. She didn’t smoke or drink. In fact, she was highly invested in living a healthy lifestyle. She just had this troublesome fear of flying that prevented her from getting on a plane so that she could visit her family.
So, I asked her when she thought the problem got started.
Every person with a “phobia” can remember the first time they felt that fear. Or so they think …. Susan recalled that she was a little nervous about the flight to Mexico. But after a few in-flight cocktails she was feeling just fine.
Then the plane hit some turbulence. We’re not talking about a little bump and shudder. This was terrifying, food-cart-hitting-the-ceiling, nails digging into the armchair, “PLEASE GOD MAKE IT STOP” kind of turbulence. The worst, according to the flight attendants, that any of them had ever experienced.
And it lasted the entire flight.
Regression to cause revealed that this harrowing flight was not the cause of Susan’s fear of flying.
What we discovered was that, 25 years earlier, Susan was taking her newborn daughter on a one-hour flight to visit relatives. It was a flight she had taken many times before and one that she enjoyed. This time, however, they ran into a little turbulence. Not much, mind you. But there was the usual crashing and banging as the plane shuddered and lurched it’s way through the bumpy pocket of air.
The baby, understandably, became upset.
While the flight attendants scurried about to batten things down, the new mom was doing her best to comfort a distraught child. The more the plane bumped and jostled, the more the baby cried.
Cries turned to screams. And soon the child was inconsolable.
Susan, a new mom, desperately needed help and was grateful to see the flight attendant making her way down the aisle toward her. But instead of offering assistance she crossly ordered Susan to “shut that baby up!” Susan, shocked, now took a look around the cabin of the plan.
What she saw terrified her.
Everyone on the plane was looking at her. Her interpretation of this was “everyone is angry with me.” There was nothing she could do to stop the baby from crying. She couldn’t get up. She couldn’t leave. There was nowhere to go.
She was stuck and feeling helpless in the face of a planeload of angry people. That's when she felt the first wave of panic. In that moment Susan's Mind did what it was designed to do. Her Subconscious Mind associated that fear with flying. Not just turbulence or airplanes, but the idea of flying became a threat.
From that moment on, just the thought of getting onto a plane would bring on the fear. It began as a mild nervousness whenever Susan began to think about taking a trip on a plane. She started to rationalize that it made more sense to drive rather than fly. She reasoned that she preferred to drive.
That’s the Conscious Mind stepping in to provide a much-needed sense of control. But thinking isn’t powerful enough to override an emotion. And putting a lid on her fear didn’t stop it from growing beneath the surface of consciousness.
Over time, it developed into a gnawing feeling of anxiety that she couldn’t quite shake. By the time she boarded the flight to Mexico Susan was primed. The extreme turbulence turned her anxiety to panic.
This was the SPE.
The SPE or Symptom Producing Event is a critical-mass event. It’s when the all internal pressure of accumulated, unresolved fear finally makes its way to the surface. When it explodes into conscious awareness, it overwhelms all conscious reason and control. But here's the thing . . . Susan's problem wasn’t a fear of flying, at all.
She wasn’t afraid of flying or airplanes or even turbulence. She was terrified of other people’s anger. That fear had deeper roots. The cause of that fear wasn’t coming out of that stressful flight where, as a new mom, she was feeling trapped and powerless. It was coming from childhood.
Susan had been born an “afterthought.” Her 12-year-older sibling resented the arrival of this new upstart who was getting all the attention. Newborn Susan was usurping her sister’s position as “baby” in the family system. And Karla didn’t hide her anger from her baby sister. She took to bullying Susan at an early age.
This was the cause of her "Fear of Flying".
Susan grew up in constant fear of her sister’s anger and disapproval. But what she wanted, more than anything, was Karla’s love and approval. What she needed was to feel safe.
It wasn’t until Susan was a young mother with a newborn baby of her own that her Subconscious Mind connected all the dots. The angry disapproval of her fellow passengers was a threat – just as Karla had been a threat in childhood.
Susan’s fear of flying presented her with an opportunity to resolve the insecurities that had haunted her most of her life. Through regression-to-cause hypnotherapy she discovered the underlying cause of her fear. And the intimidating sister she had been avoiding for over 50 years was soon transformed into a friend and ally.
I never got the opportunity to help the guy who emailed me.
I hope he was able to get complete resolution of the problem. No one should have to live with that fear for the rest of their life.
It turns out his psychotherapist was right about one thing. A phobia is not always an easy fix. Sometimes it can be a very complicated therapy. Where he was mistaken was in his supposition that only a psychotherapist is qualified to work with a phobia.
Any hypnosis practitioner with advanced training in regression-to-cause therapeutic hypnosis is prepared to work with similar cases. To get real and lasting results, all that’s required are the following five essential tools of hypnotherapy.
You need these 5 Tools.
- Age Regression
- Parts Work
- Forgiveness Therapy
- Direct and Auto-suggestion
If you don’t have these five tools go get them. Seriously. You need them. And for the following three very good reasons.
1. Hypnosis happens.
Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state. Ordinary, everyday people go in and out of hypnosis all the time. Basic certification teaches you how to induce this state for the purposes of creating change. But it does give you much beyond the fundamentals of suggestion and imagery techniques.
2. Regression happens.
Whether you like it or not clients are going to spontaneously regress. Often when you least expect it. So, you had best prepare yourself for it. Hypnosis gives access to the Subconscious level of Mind where all our memories and emotions are stored.
When you induce hypnosis, your clients can and often will regress. Do you know what to do when that happens?
Regression happens all the time with ordinary, everyday people. It’s called memory. And when it happens, it give you a path to resolving the ordinary, everyday problem they came to you for help with. Good news, right?
3. You want to make a living, right?
To make a living as a hypnosis practitioner you need more than a script. Hypnosis is often a person’s last port-of-call when they’re seeking resolution of a problem. This means that by the time they get to you they’re not dealing with a simple issue anymore. By then the problem has a long history of development. That can mean complexity.
Psychologists can actually help you to grow your regression hypnotherapy practice!
Many of the issues that people seek out the help of a healing practitioner for are emotional issues. They're rooted in unresolved events from the past. For example:
- Irrational fears and anxieties
- Behavioural habits
- Habitual negative thinking
- Low self-esteem
- Digestive problems
- Skin problems
Regression to cause hypnotherapy is a powerful technique for resolving uncomfortable memories and emotions, for good. But it is an advanced level of training that requires considerable knowledge and skill to facilitate.
Realize most psychologists trained in hypnosis have only a handful of hours in the classroom. At best, they have a rudimentary understanding of hypnotherapy. Most still think hypnotherapy is just relaxation and suggestion alone. That’s fine for surface issues. But when it comes to deeper, emotional issues like phobias, you need a deeper technique.
You simply cannot suggest away an emotion. When relaxation hypnosis fails psychotherapists will rely on cognitive tools like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). When that fails, the client is destined for medication.
When it comes to irrational fears you have a technology that allows you to go beyond mere coping strategies. You can get lasting results using regression hypnosis.
If you can confidently and competently facilitate regression-to-cause hypnosis you can locate and resolve the underlying problem - for good. Do that and you'll build a reputation for delivering real and lasting results.
You may even be surprised to discover that psychologists, and psychologists, (and people you have never met) will become a source of referrals - which will help you to grow your business.