I’ve sat on many hypnotherapy forums over the years watching clashes break out from wounded souls who think their peers are criticising them or who themselves, feel that their approaches are better than their peers’.  And in my opinion, this all boils down to a puritanism or misguided loyalty to one or another style or technique.  Misguided because all paths towards greater personal development are in and of themselves valid.  What is really being fought about on these forums isn’t techniques or styles.  It’s the brittle nature of the therapists’ personal boundaries and damaged selves – which paradoxically indicates that some more personal development wouldn’t go amiss.

So if I now unpick the concept ‘loyalty’ what happens when we develop a loyalty to a mentor, a style or approach?  Loyalty contains the notion of indebtedness: I am loyal to you because of what you’ve done for me – perhaps a hypnotherapist themselves experienced a huge breakthrough from a particular style or approach.  It can also imply love, or a faith in another person’s judgement – perhaps even a reverence or fear that to stray from the ‘mentor’ is a dangerous prospect to contemplate.  It’s almost reminiscent of the piece of research conducted by Naomi Eisenberger at UCLA into the fear of rejection, one of the conclusions of which was that to stray from the collective is to risk death or harm. 

The need for belonging

The need to identify as belonging to a group was also ably expounded by Maslow many decades ago in his theory of our hierarchy of needs.  He argued of course, that we need to feel a sense of belonging in order to develop our full potential.  However, ultimately, Maslow described the state of life that we are all capable of striving for as almost transcendent to all our lower strata needs.  He called it Self Actualisation: ie: to be truly awakened is to not fear rejection from the collective: to be truly awakened is to embrace differences, to act in the here and now, to be unconventional, original and accepting of ourselves and others.  

It would seem self actualised people do not feel threatened by other people’s challenging opinions.  Or at least if they are, they understand how to negotiate their own emotions and not project them onto others.  Taking it one step further, self actualised people are people who understand the interconnectedness of all beings and their link with their own higher selves: buddhism calls it our buddhahood.  There is no room for puritanism in people who perceive the nature of human existence.

Have you become a puritan?

Puritanism in Hypnotherapy, I contend, means that practitioners are still not yet matured as therapists: defending their own fears and anxieties about straying from the collective/mentor/approach/style – whichever it is they have developed a loyalty to becomes central.  This may well mean that they’re not getting as much out of their hypnotherapy practice as they could do because old fears are standing in the way.  And let’s be honest, people don’t get as much out of their lives because of old fears and anxieties getting in the way.  If hypnotherapists want to be in the vanguard of personal development, there is still alot left for the hypnotherapy movement to learn about itself.

You’ll notice I’m subtly suggesting that I have the right way and everyone else is wrong!  Well, perhaps you can look at it like that.  However, I’ve had many hypnotherapists pass through my school and what they learn does not detract from their own unique styles: I still have past life regressionists with me, analysts, and regression analysts who still use their approaches….they just do it much more insightfully and with more empathy and awareness of their own issues and how they can side step them, or even use them, to get the best out of their clients.  To really experience what I’m talking about you need to come on my one day intensive on the 15th July.  I’ll show you how I can help you develop your practices,  how you can learn to relax, do some personal development work, AND translate everything you learn to be useful to your clients.  Join me and ‘get down there’! http://theopenmindtherapist.com/events/intensive-read-your-client/

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