How did Hypnotherapy develop?
Updated: Jan 26
The approach I use as a hypnotherapist is developed from Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT).
It is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on solutions that the client wishes to achieve, their desired outcome - utilising their own strengths and resources. It does not delve deep into the problem. It keeps the client’s thoughts positive and enables them to reach a state where the issue is resolved, or no longer disruptive in their life.
SFBT evolved in the latter part of the 20th century to include the use of hypnosis, but hypnosis has its roots back in ancient times when a ‘shaman’ or ‘medicine man’ of the village would act as a healer. They would use trance to journey into a state of non-ordinary awareness, to access hidden forces to be harnessed for healing. The clients we see today are essentially making that journey themselves, making the parallels striking.
Here are a few key figures in the development of hypnosis and hypnotherapy, and there’s not a dull, ordinary name in this list!
Franz Anton Mesmer (born in 1734) was a German doctor who believed that applying magnets and swallowing an iron solution would dramatically “cure” patients!
Father Gassner (b. 1727) a Catholic priest who once lowered the pulse rate of a woman for two and a half minutes to a point where doctors pronounced her medically dead, then revived her – it was seen as a great miracle!
Marquis Chastenet de Puyseger (b. 1751) proclaimed that he ‘magnetised’ an elm tree, which many people visited and were ‘cured’.
James Braid (b. 1795) was a Scottish surgeon, who coined the phrase “hypnosis” from the Greek word “hypnos” meaning ‘sleep’. He tried to change the name when he discovered that the hypnotic state could be induced when a patient was awake - but it was too late, the original name stuck!
James Esdaile (b. 1808) was Scottish doctor, who experimented (in a time before chloroform was available) with hypnosis for surgery in India – ranging from minor operations to major operations, including amputation! Apparently the Indian culture of the time in accepting the occult gave him the ability to produce fantastic results.
Ambroise-Auguste Liébeault (b. 1823) and Hippolyte Bernheim (b. 1840) were French doctors who correctly identified that hypnosis was created by psychological forces, and were not a product of physical or supernatural forces. They claimed an amazing 85% success rate with their methods!
Sigmund Freud (b. 1856) was an Austrian neurologist. His hypnotic induction technique was apparently poor, so he tried free association in the waking state. He coined a new term for waking analysis which he called “psychoanalysis”.
Emile Coue (b. 1857) was a French psychologist and pharmacist, who introduced a mantra-like conscious autosuggestion: "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better". It supposes that the client has great powers of imagination, and that the client has the power to heal themselves, healing is not delivered by the physician – core values that are a key part of our solution focused hypnotherapy practice.
During World War II a lack of doctors and anaesthetic forced a re-appraisal of hypnosis as a medical aid. It made surgery without anaesthesia possible, promoted quicker recovery times, and helped soldiers overcome trauma.
Dave Elman (b. 1900) – was an American radio host, comedian, and songwriter, and important figure in the field of hypnosis. He brought hypnosis to medicine, and made it respectable. He developed a rapid induction method to trance in medicine and dentistry, a method on which stage hypnotism is based!
Dr Milton Erickson (1901 – 1980) – was a charismatic and talented American Psychiatrist and Clinical Hypnotherapist. He opposed Freud’s view that the unconscious mind was a place of dark motivations and hostilities that must be brought to light, interpreted by the therapist and tamed by the client’s ego. Instead Erickson believed his clients could utilise their unconscious as a positive force to help in the healing process and lead to change. The foundations for the SFBT Model originated and evolved from his life’s work, he is considered to be the forefather of modern hypnosis and good therapeutic practice today, a real VIP!
John Grinder (b.1940) & Richard Bandler (b.1950) developed Neuro Linguistic Programming in the mid 1970’s in California – techniques that programme the mind using language. Solution focused hypnotherapy recognises the importance of language in its therapeutic context, and uses similar styles of language during the trance.
Steve de Shazer (b. 1940) and Insoo Kim Berg (b. 1938), were American psychologists and therapists who coined the phrase ‘Solution Focused Brief Therapy’. Individuals learn to focus on what they can do, rather than what they can’t, which allows them to find solutions and make positive changes more quickly.
Hypnosis has had many forms and mutations over the centuries. Modern medicine is beginning to recognise the value and benefits of hypnotherapy in a clinical setting, to help overcome trauma, phobias, anxiety and depression.
Hypnotherapy is certainly no longer associated with ‘black magic’ or occultism. The ‘hypnotist’ with secret powers has now become a ‘hypnotherapist’ with learned skills, underpinned by scientific knowledge and continual research. The discipline has measurable results, rigorous training schools, and several reputable governing bodies with a strict code of conduct, to ensure professional standards and methods are upheld.
So you can be absolutely sure that, should you enter into my office for a session, we will be working together, shining a light on your goals and unlocking your motivation to achieve them, in a pleasant, enjoyable way. And no, you won’t leave clucking like a chicken!
If you’d like to find out more, or to book a free initial consultation - please call or text me on 07966 243876 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking forward to hearing from you!