“Why did and do you pursue Hypnoanalysis?”, I was recently asked. That’s a good question for a seventy-five-year-old male clinician. I feel incredibly fortunate to still pursue a meaningful and productive practice with active service in AAMH at the national level and Marriage and Family Therapy at the state or divisional level. My professional life includes overlapping periods of 40 years parish ministry, 35 years clinical and licensed family therapy plus 13 years of private practice in Family Therapy and Hypnoanalysis (HA). My introduction to HA occurred during six years of observing the work and results of the late and longtime effective HA Analyst, George Adkins, Physician’s Assistant and a member of my parish.
His clients “got better” and “stayed better.” They included persons suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and chronically disrupted relationships among other issues. Those six years, along with his treatment of someone near and dear to me, created a personal openness to accompany him to an “eye-opening” 2002 AAMH Annual (working) Conference in Boulder Colorado.
During an American Academy of Medical Hypnoanalysts (AAMH) annual conference, one meets a significant number of seasoned veterans joined by first-time curious, open, and varied medical and mental health professionals. Fresh lectures and discussions complement an active ten session treatment of a client, never-before exposed to this modality. Because I had seen the impact upon lives through the work of Adkins in the community and parish and was myself, a trained Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I was able to immediately incorporate elementary pieces of HA’s theory and interventions into my practice. This was done slowly, surely, ethically, and with informed consent, “back home”, so to speak.
I, soon, entered a 240-hours direct supervision residency, with a training analyst, thus increasing my comfort and skills with regressions, reframing, and re-education. (AAMH speaks of 7 “R’s”).
Hypnoanalysis reshapes presupposition about the kinds of problems clients bring. It develops a new vocabulary that complements the DSM-V and its predecessors. It speaks of an “initial sensitizing event” (ISE), a symptom Producing event” (SPE) and the symptom intensifying event (SIE) defined in a “Triple Allergenic Theory.” It focuses on a client’s “core thoughts” with attention paid to the sensitive connection between cognition and effect. In this, we find parallels to cognitive therapists and their emphasis on “core thoughts.” It assumes that many conflicts and much suffering are born out of past experiences which are triggered by “something” in the present, bringing perhaps an unconscious “regression” to an earlier “age-state” in which a “core thought” and powerful feeling were created, connected and maintained.
Hypnoanalysis uses a sequence of tools to get at, modify or replace core change to hypnoanalysis thoughts and feelings. This includes:
- a thorough client history,
- a word association exercise while the client is in an “altered state, and
- a dream analysis, and a series of regressions where the client “revisits”, under hypnosis, past events, often traumatic, where healing and life-changing interventions can occur “accompanied” and guided by qualified, experienced and trained help.
I have appreciated the opportunity and years of being a Marriage and Family Therapist genuinely. Building on those years and through new relationships and annual working conferences, AAMH and hypnoanalysis have added exciting new interventions and demands to my work.
Again, I must confess, that it’s overwhelmingly humbling at seventy-five years of age to find one’s services still in demand. The effectiveness of this modality and the collegial and client relationships provide meanings and energy to continue beyond the average years of practice. I acknowledge the good fortune in having health that allows continued clinical work plus family and professional relationships from which a voice or voices may sensitively emerge with the timely suggestion, “ You must close the clinical door.” I delight in the thought that you, the reader, may seriously explore adding this effective modality to your eclectic practice.
John B. Hart, D.Min. LMFT, AAMH Training Analyst located in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Please click here to learn more.