Developmental Hypnosis

The Philosophy and Principles of Developmental Hypnosis has a history which is parallel with the start and development of Integrated Mental Training (IMT). IMT as a concept started 1969 after 10 years of research, which had shown that:

  1. Hypnosis was primarily a “self-hypnotic state”, where the longterm effects were better if the instructions (induction) was given trough a recording or by the subject him/herself compared with a physically present “hypnotizer”.
  2. Hypnosis was shown to be a natural alternative state of consciousness which most people experienced daily but was called with different names.
  3. In Sport the flow state was shown to be a hypnotic state with selective and changed perception (enlargement of the important stimuli etc.), timedistortion (slow motion In speed sports etc), increase of focus and concentration (both a more intense awareness in a smaller number of stimuli in a smaller area or an automatic selection of important stimuli in a wider area,  dissociation from disturbances (also pain and fatigue), alternative systems of control (for instance control by imges instead of voluntary effort), selective and sometimes even total amnesia etc.
  4. Training became the most important model for change.

IMT is longterm method for change

As IMT was developed in close cooperation with it was based a “developmental” model instead of a clinical one. The goal was “Excellence” (in Sport, Peforming Arts, Work, School, Health) and the problem focused model which was (and still is) the common model for applied hypnosis was replaced with a solution focused model. The emphasize was moved from the past to the future and the interest for the past was changed from crisis to resources.

So far developmental hypnosis has mostly been a part of integrated Mental Training and in order to avoid the old misconceptions about hypnosis among the general audience as well as amon experts, hypnosis in IMT has been called “mental relaxation” and the “hypnotic state” has been operationally defined as the “inner mental room”.

However, now when clinical (negative or problem directed) psychology start to be replaced by “positive psychology” and when many therapist start to learn coaching, it is time to introduce the term “developmental hypnosis” also in the clinical and the therapeutic fields.

Let me quote one clinical psychologist who have been working with “clinical hypnosis” during many years. “After I learned mental training my professional (and private) life has changed dramatically to the better. I have the same patients as before but I have changed my way of working. Instead of digging in the problems I turn and focus as quickly as possible to the solutions and to the patient´s future. The focus on the patient´resources and strengths instead of weaknesses has made the atmosphere much more optimistic and joyful. Before I was often tired and a little depressed fter a day of work, today I can even feel more energetic after 8 hours of working”.

Let us make two simple drawings showing the different models

The first one is based on a still very common definition of health as “absence of illness/sickness” (the 0-health model) and the second model on WHO:s definition: “Optimal physical, psychological and social wellbeing” (Excellent Health)

To integrate the “developmental model” in the societies for professional hypnosis will have many consequences both in the way of working and in the interpretation of the statues. One common rule for membership is for instance: Hypnosis should only be used of someone who besides knowledge and practice of hypnosis is expert in the field where hypnosis is applied. As hypnosis so far has been a method for “treatment” the membership has been narrowed to MD:s, psychologists, dentists and therapists and people affiliated with these groups.

If the same principle is applied to “Developmental hypnosis” the experts will be trainers, coaches, teachers etc. If we then also include self-hypnosis and include the modern coaching philosophy that everone have the best answers to their life enhancement, then self-hypnosis ought to be taught to everyone. This in combination with Hilgards “developmental theory of hypnosis” could mean that self-hypnosis should be taught to every kid as early as possible in order to maintain the hypnotic skills that children seem to have right from the beginning of Life.