Tim Brunson DCH

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Foundations of Clinical Hypnosis: From Theory to Practice



A Review by Judith Pearson, PhD, LPC

When I first picked up Foundations of Clinical Hypnosis, by Edwin Yager, I did not feel enthusiastic. First, the title sounds like the dry, dull textbooks I waded through as an undergrad. Second, as a hypnotherapist of 20 years, I thought I'd find the subject matter too basic. I am happy to say I was wrong on both counts. Yager's book provides stimulating reading. It is written in a straightforward way and holds basic information for beginners, as well as innovative methods for seasoned practitioners.

Yager covers much of what many would consider "standard fare" for books about hypnosis: hypnosis-related terminology, hypnotic phenomena, hypnotic language, the risks of hypnosis, common applications, and hypnotic tools and methods. He gives a decent review of the research on hypnosis for memory enhancement, touching on the controversial topics of confabulation and false memory. I especially liked his chapter on brief inductions. He also addresses two topics seldom found in books or journals on hypnosis: 1) Hypnosis during sleep and 2) hypnotic language in giving informed consent in medical settings (with guest author, Stephen Bierman).

The author differentiates two basic approaches to hypnotherapy: direct suggestion and hypnoanalysis. He writes that direct suggestion aims for the alleviation of symptoms, while hypnoanalysis, on the other hand, goes to the root cause of symptoms. Hypnoanalysis regresses the client to a seminal event and allows the client to reframe the meaning of that event. Yager advocates hypnoanalysis when the client is "resistant" (i.e., non-responsive) to direct suggestion. He notes that the seminal event should be viewed in a dissociated manner to avoid abreaction and re-traumatizing the client. He also writes that knowledge of the event is not enough; the client must also derive a belief change or a new cognition, such as "you survived that." I found this discussion extremely helpful as a guide in selecting hypnotic interventions and strategies.

Yager is an adherent of Dave Elman, who defined hypnosis as "bypassing the critical factor," to communicate with the unconscious mind. Yager states that "all clinicians use hypnosis, knowingly or unknowingly," because the clinician-patient relationship is structured with three factors that increase the client's suggestibility; 1) the clinician is regarded as an authority, 2) the client is often in confusion or emotional distress, and 3) the client expects the clinician to do something to alleviate the confusion or distress. Thus, we have the perfect formula for hypnosis (authority, emotion, and expectation).

Yager's chapter on Subliminal Therapy, by itself, makes this book worthwhile reading. Subliminal Therapy is a protocol for communicating with the unconscious mind to review memories, extract relevant data, relate cause and effect, derive solutions, and execute decisions. This communication is accomplished via a pendulum, ideomotor signals, visualization, or having the client report on subjectively perceived physical sensations. While no formal induction is required, clients often go into trance during this process.

Yager has chosen the unusual name of Centrum (also the commercial name of a multi-vitamin) to indicate the part of the mind with which the therapist communicates. He characterizes Centrum as a part of the client's consciousness that is wise and helpful--a part that can communicate with all other parts of consciousness. Astute readers will note that Subliminal Therapy draws from Ego State Therapy and the "parts model" of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Yager gives ample description, a flow chart, and a case transcript to show how to conduct Subliminal Therapy; the instructions to give, the questions to ask, and how to work with the information received.

Foundations of Clinical Hypnosis concludes with brief discussions of various applications of clinical hypnosis, and the considerations unique to each. These include the commonplace, such as smoking cessation, weight loss, insomnia, and pain management, as well as the atypical: asthma treatment, childbirth, breast enlargement, wart removal, stuttering, and ocular correction.

Among his other achievements, Robert Yager, Ph.D. is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and a Staff Psychologist of the UCSD Medical Group. He is certified as a Consultant in Hypnosis by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. He also maintains a private practice in San Diego, California.

I recommend his book to other hypnotherapists because it makes for an excellent desk reference. I also recommend it as an introductory textbook for those in hypnosis training programs. _______

Judith E. Pearson, Ph.D. is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Master Practitioner/Trainer in NLP. She is Executive Director of the National Board of Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists and has a private practice in Springfield, VA. She has published The Weight, Hypnotherapy and You Weight Reduction Program: An NLP and Hypnotherapy Practitioner's Manual and has recently released a hypnosis CD entitled Discover Your Learning Genius. Her website is www.engagethepower.com.

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