You should never meet your heroes in case they disappoint

I was at a hypnotherapy conference #NCH last week eager to hear the thoughts of a couple of psychology and hypnosis heavyweights distributing pearls of wisdom to a reverent mass.

Michael Yapko is, perhaps the leading clinical hypnotherapist in the world, his published works are mammoth and have the status of biblical texts to those learning and using hypnosis. It was one of those casual presentations, disarmingly engaging, just as it felt like a cosy fireside chat, the all in this together bonhomie of fellow professionals, until he went and spoiled it by questioning the very existence of hypnotherapy.

Beyond our shores the idea of hypnotherapy is alien, there is only hypnosis. Yapko brought into doubt the whole edifice of the profession. I describe it as a talking therapy, “I talk, and just like other talking therapies, you choose what to do with that.” Yapko took it a stage further and said hypnosis is only the transmitter of the message not the actual therapy. It is the content of what is said that is the therapy and so any form of talking therapy can be contained within the process.

Despite challenging the British cultural idea of hypnotherapy I was still pretty much close to his ideas and theories, until he went and completely challenged my notion of what was possible with acute depression and how quickly it can be effectively treated.

I have worked with depressed clients within rehab for well over a decade and I have seen complete recovery from depression, a life transformed after years of depressive conditions and an end to a life of medication, misery and pain. However this process typically took around 6 – 12 months of intensive hard work. Yapko has spent the last two decades seeking to have an effective response within 4 sessions of therapy. 4 hours of hypnosis combined with CBT. Two hundred and Forty Minutes, but he would expect to be using hypnosis as the first session instead of focusing on the initial assessment.

Perhaps we should all meet our heroes; it is the things which they say which challenges the older generation that inspires us most. Even when we are part of that older generation

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