Category Archives: Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy Diploma – Module Three

We did it!

Three months ago, a motley crew of seven strangers started training to become hypnotherapists.  We were excited, apprehensive, and unsure quite what to expect. On Wednesday April 5th, seven friends reluctantly went our separate ways, proudly clutching our Diploma certificates.

It’s been quite a journey.

I was quite late setting off for Aviemore this time, arriving just after 5.30pm but I wasn’t too surprised to find I was the first one there.  I’d bumped into Andy and Lisamarie buying up food stocks in case of a zombie apocalypse topping up their alcohol supplies in Tesco and I knew Marta was waiting for Matthew to pick her up from Inverness airport.

I didn’t have long to wait, however, before they all arrived and we sat down to our first evening meal of this module, washed down with copious amounts of rosé wine.  We sat up talking well into the night (and possibly also the next morning) excited to be nearing the end of our training.

Saturday was devoted to reviewing the case studies we had carried out since our last module.  Again there were some amazing stories of positive change that had been brought about by my fellow students.  This time, however, I felt able to take a pride in my own achievements, another sign that my depression was no longer in control of my mind.  Matthew also took the opportunity to make us aware of a recent article in New Scientist, the main message of which he summarised as “hypnosis isn’t bollocks”.  He may have been preaching to the converted somewhat on the subject of hypnosis and its non-bollocksness – I lean towards the view that people who have paid a not inconsiderable sum of money to learn about a subject are more likely than most to believe there might be something in it.  However, it was reassuring to have that belief confirmed by such an august journal.

Saturday was also my birthday.  I’d accidentally let this slip in a reply to a Facebook comment asking me how I was going to spend it and my fellow students had eagerly picked up on this as an excuse for a celebration.  I was surprised to receive cards and presents, and Jan even served cupcakes with candles in them at lunchtime.

We’d planned to go out in 70s fancy dress, and earlier in the week I’d ordered my Bjorn from ABBA costume.  Unfortunately I was too mean to pay £8.00 for a Bjorn wig so ended up paying £20.00 for in Claire’s Accessories for a  long blonde one which a neighbour kindly cut and styled for me.  On the plus side this allowed me to cross shopping at Claire’s Accessories off my bucket list.  (I don’t actually have a bucket list – if I did, I’m pretty sure shopping at Claire’s Accessories wouldn’t be on it).

We were a motley crew that night – I doubt the Italian restaurant in Aviemore had ever seen anything quite like it.  We had three quarters of ABBA – Marina as Agnetha, Andy as Benny, and me as Bjorn.  Frida clearly had a prior engagement.  Gillian and Marta were 70s hippy chicks with a bit of a Fleetwood Mac vibe, while Lisamarie in a huge Afro christened herself Gloryhole Gaynor.  I think Lisamarie may have been a drag queen in a previous life.  John contented himself with wearing a cowboy hat and striking a 70s pose.  I should perhaps clarify – the cowboy hat wasn’t all he was wearing.

A good time was had by all and there were some thick heads and heavy eyelids when we got back to work the following morning.  The difficulty inherent in studying hypnotherapy is that you get hypnotised a lot.  That may not sound like a huge problem but when you’ve experienced it few times it becomes very easy to slip into trance.  All it takes is a couple of words from the right person and away you go.  Add that to the effects of a late night and watching a hypnotherapy demonstration can only end one way.  I don’t think a single one of us experienced the whole of Sunday’s training sessions in quite the way Matthew intended.

Somehow we managed to learn something about Ericksonian approaches to hypnotherapy.  Milton Erickson was an American psychiatrist who used his own very personal style of hypnotherapy, involving storytelling and metaphor to great effect.  This had a certain resonance with me – I often use metaphors and similes in conversation which I strongly suspect make no sense outside my own head.

In the afternoon we were introduced to the RESOLVE model of therapy developed by a New Zealander called Richard Bolstad.  This is an approach to psychotherapy which uses NLP techniques to great effect in the treatment of mental health problems.  Although we could only skim the surface of the subject, this was something I found very interesting and intend to read up about.

That evening we had a real treat – Marina had invited us to her croft for a delicious meal of roast lamb.  I have no idea how she managed to cook this while simultaneously attending the course – I can only assume she has a team of elves who attend to her life while she is doing other things.  Either that or she is supremely organised.

We arrived to the sound of bagpipes being played beautifully by her 12 year-old son Kyle, who also plays four or five other instruments and can basically pick anything up and get a tune out of it.  Once inside the house we met Donald, Marina’s husband, who clearly has the patience of a saint, her beautiful little daughter Isla, and twin boys Jimmy and Murdo.  I think we all fell a little in love with the younger ones and were in awe of Kyle’s talent and ability to engage with a group of weird adults within minutes of meeting them.  Marina’s children were beautifully behaved and a real credit to her.  Donald was quite good too.

After dinner we sampled some of Marina’s gin collection and were introduced to the game Cards Against Humanity.  I’d heard of this but had no idea what it involved.  Sadly, although I know it was a lot of fun I have no clear memory of it so still don’t know what it involves.  Blame the gin.

By Monday morning we were becoming increasingly aware that our time together would soon be over.  We watched a video of Richard Bandler, one of the founders of NLP, working with a schizophrenic patient.  This was made some years ago, and the fashions of the time rendered it unintentionally hilarious, but Bandler showed an impressive ability to quickly produce beneficial changes to the patient’s response to difficult situations.

Later, Matthew did some work with Marta, who had a fear of learning to drive as a result of a car accident when she was a child.  It was fascinating to see her become upset as she relived the accident under hypnosis, then relax as Matthew helped her to let go of the distressing feelings.  He also showed us a video of him working with a mountaineer who was being held back by the trauma of accidents in which he had seen friends killed.  If we had any doubts about the power of hypnotherapy to produce positive change, they were quickly being swept away.

Tuesday was the last full day of the course and to describe it as packed would be an understatement.  After touching on the subjects of mindfulness and hypnosis in healing, Matthew spent some time talking about past life regression.

This is a subject the majority of, if not all, hypnotherapy schools teach, generally with the caveat that they are expressing no opinion on the reality of past lives.  This may sound like fudging the issue, but Matthew’s approach is that regression should be carried out in order to find the root cause of a present problem which can then be laid to rest, rather than simply to satisfy curiosity about past lives.  From this perspective it doesn’t matter if the past life experience is real or, as I tend to believe, a story created by the unconscious mind to explain the reason behind difficulties in “this life”.

We tried an exercise in regression, initially going back to our earliest memories, then going through a door to a past life.  This was where it got really interesting – I went back to 1896 at the end of my life.  I was blind, I was dying, and it was fine – there was nothing to fear.  Was this a genuine past life experience?  Did my unconscious mind create it?  Or did I consciously make it up in order to explain my difficulties with visualisation while also assuaging any fears I might have about death?  Maybe it doesn’t matter.

After a break, Matthew showed us a video of himself working to help Rogan, a student on one of his courses, overcome the psychological effects of a brain injury, with a follow-up video where the two of them discussed the results of this therapy.  Even without Rogan’s own description of the positive change he had experienced, it was clear from his demeanour that hypnotherapy had benefitted him immensely.

This was followed by a short session on Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).  This is probably best described as a form of psychological acupressure which works by clearing blockages int he body’s energy system.  It may sound like the worst kind of New Age mumbo-jumbo (Wikipedia dismisses it as a “psuedoscience”) but it seems to work, to the extent that it has been adopted by many therapists in the field of PTSD.  I read about it several years ago and thought it might help with my depression but was put off by the perceived difficulty of learning the procedure.  It’s actually surprisingly easy when you’re shown how to do it – after a couple of sessions it just becomes second nature.  And I’m pleased to report that it does seem to have a beneficial effect on my mood.

Finally on Tuesday, Jan gave us some information on joining the General Hypnotherapy Register, getting insurance and business development.  It felt like a long day but a very worthwhile one.

This being the last night of the module, we of course went to the Cairn at Carrbridge for a celebration meal.  Unfortunately it was very busy so the only table available was in a back room away from the atmosphere of the bar.  This took away some of the fun we had previously had there.  To make matters worse, the only rosé wine they had was Zinfandel.  Lisamarie and I have standards – they may be low but Zinfandel is way beneath them.  Once Marina and Gillian went home the rest of us decided to head back to Motivation Manor, stopping off to replenish our wine stocks at Tesco.

We sat up talking until far too late then crawled up to our beds.

We were a subdued group on the Wednesday morning – tired, hung over, and aware that we would soon be saying goodbye.  Matthew added to the things Jan had said about business development, advised us on pricing and premises, then handed out our certificates.  We had a group hug,Jan took a photograph of us and that was it.  The end.

Those of us who didn’t have to rush off went into Aviemore for coffee and more chat before reluctantly, and with much hugging and promising to keep in touch, finally going our separate ways.

I used to watch programmes like The Great British Bake-off and be a little cynical when the contestants claimed to have made friends for life, suspecting that was said for the cameras and they would actually have forgotten each other’s names within a week.  Now I know differently – I understand the power of an intense life-enhancing experience to form bonds between people who have only known each other for a short time.  Motivation’s first class of 2017 has a WhatsApp group on which we are all in regular contact, sometimes sharing success stories or asking for advice, at others having stupid conversations about ducks that no-one else would understand and I have no intention of explaining.

I enrolled on the course to learn hypnotherapy.  I came away with new friends and a new outlook on life.  I think that represents pretty good value for money.


Hypnotherapy Diploma Module 2

I was really looking forward to Module 2 of my hypnotherapy training course.  I’d had a great time on the first Module, met some great people, and learned a lot.  I’d been practising my skills with reasonable success and was starting to learn what did and didn’t work and to develop my own style.  I wanted to know more.

So it was with great anticipation and excitement that I set off on the first Friday morning in March, full of Monster Energy Drink, satnav set for Motivation Training near Aviemore.  Iain had decided to stay at home this time, so I was making the journey on my own, accompanied only by Ken Bruce on Radio 2 and a selection of CDs for when the Jeremy Vine show got too much for me (some of his phone callers give me exploding head syndrome).

The Monster Energy Drink turned out to be something of an error of judgement.  An hour into my journey I was desperate for the loo, and with no idea of how far it was to the next one was forced to pull off the Edinburgh City by-pass and relieve myself against the car (something I never, ever do) in what I suspect was a dogging car park.  Fortunately, 10.30 in the morning is apparently not peak time for dogging.

Bladder successfully emptied, I carried on to Aviemore, with a short coffee stop at Kinross services, arriving at about 2.00pm.  Having advised Jan at Motivation Training that I’d be there around 4.00pm, I had a couple of hours to kill in Aviemore.  I wandered up and down the main street, mooched around the small branch of Waterstone’s, then realised I’d forgotten about lunch so went into the famous Mountain Café.  This is an institution in Aviemore and it’s rare to get in without queuing but I was lucky.  Not being particularly hungry, I ordered a cheese sandwich (or “piece” as they describe it on the menu – somehow I find the self-conscious Scottishness of this a bit off-putting but that’s probably just me).

This was something of a mistake.  Stupidly, I expected neat little triangles made from thinly-sliced bread, maybe even with the crusts cut off.  A few crisps on the side.  A little salad garnish – you know the sort of thing I mean.  What I got was something the size of a small house – two thick slices of bread (about half a loaf in total) enclosing a filling of cheese, salad, mayonnaise, chilli sauce and probably the odd missing child.  All this with no cutlery and the tiniest of napkins.  I would have liked to ask for a knife so I could cut it into smaller pieces (no pun intended) but not wanting to seem like a soft Southern Jessie I struggled manfully and left needing a shower.

Soon afterwards I arrived at Motivation Training, to find that I was the first student to arrive.  This allowed me an hour on my own to unpack and enjoy one of life’s greatest pleasures – a little lie down.  Unfortunately, at this precise moment an old adversary returned to my life, one I thought I’d just about escaped from forever.  Hello Depression – will you be staying long?

The full story of my battle with depression will have to wait for another blog post but it’s enough for me to say here that I’ve had depressive tendencies for most of my life and was floored by an incapacitating attack about 20 years ago.  Since then, with the aid of medication and support from various sources, other than a couple of relapses I’ve been able to keep my mood in a range somewhere between fine and a-bit-miserable-for-no-apparent-reason-but-still-able-to-function.  I fell through the bottom of that range shortly before John and Lisamarie arrived.*

I employed my cloaking technique – fixed smile, slightly brittle good humour, exaggerated gestures to compensate for the fact that my body feels like it’s closing in on itself.  This can fool most people for a while, but it’s exhausting for me.  However, it got me through dinner the first evening, during which Marta and Andy arrived, and with the help of a little rosé wine and the pleasure of being back in such lovely company I managed to push the depression away for a few hours.

The following morning, Marina and Gillian, the two non-resident students, arrived and Matthew welcomed us back.  Most of the first day was spent discussing the volunteer clients we had seen since Module One.  Matthew was quick to stress that there was no element of competition here – a simple relaxation session was just as valid as curing a long-term problem.  I tried to convince myself of this as Andy described the amazing work he had been doing with terminal cancer patients, John told us how he’d relieved a friend’s fear of being a passenger in a car, Gillian of how she’d cured a chocoholic.  Everyone seemed to have achieved miraculous results.

And what had I done?  Reminded someone of her ability to cope with life’s problems, encouraged my sister to stop and think before automatically accepting the offer of a glass of wine, totally failed to hypnotise my brother.  But not to worry – it’s not a competition.

Of course most of the others also shared stories of things that hadn’t gone so well.  John had phoned Matthew for advice after his first attempt at curing his friend’s fear had only limited success.  Gillian’s chocoholic needed a second session and a change of approach to bring about lasting change.  Andy had an unsuccessful session quite early on.  But my mind wasn’t having any of that – they were all wonderful and I should have been sitting in the corner wearing a dunce’s cap.  I can look back now and recognise that my own results were actually pretty impressive (apart from the failure with my brother) but I wasn’t thinking that way at the time.

The day ended with us practising hypnotic inductions on each other.  I worked with Andy again with Marta making up a group of three.

In the evening, the five of us staying in the house sat up and talked, the conversation oiled with more rosé wine.  Jan had clearly decided we were determined to behave like toddlers on a Haribo high and didn’t bother trying to send us to bed.

Most of the tuition in this Module was related to NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming).   I’ve blogged previously about the difficulties I had reading NLP for Dummies.  Matthew’s approach was to demystify the subject by explaining the jargon but using it as little as possible, and this certainly helped me to make sense of it.  Unfortunately, I was struggling to concentrate so I’m not sure that all of it went in, but combined with further reading I managed to make sense of it all.

For the uninitiated, I will try here to give a brief idea of what NLP is.  This is easier said than done, and I find myself having to use jargon and then explain it.  In a nutshell, NLP involves changing the submodalities of a remembered experience in order to change the clients feelings about that experience and thus bring about beneficial change for the future.  Crystal clear eh?  I’ll try to make it easier to understand.

Imagine a time when you were really happy, relaxed and confident.  Picture the scene.  In creating a visual image, you are employing the visual modality.  The qualities of that image – whether it’s in black and white or colour, large or small, flat or 3D, still or moving – are its submodalities.  Still with me?  Good.  Now if you magnify that image, brighten the colours, bring it closer, make it more lifelike etc your emotional response will be different from if you make it tiny, washed out, far away and flat.  By manipulating the submodalities of an unpleasant memory, for example, it’s possible to reduce or eliminate its negative impact on the present and future.  It may sound a bit bonkers and far too simple but it works.

Unfortunately, I have great difficulties with visualisation.  I think that internally I may in fact be severely sight-impaired.  If I try to picture myself, for example, in a situation that has caused me distress in the past, I might manage to create a vague image of one element of the scene but not to clearly see the entire scene in full colour.  And if I try to manipulate that image, the likelihood is it will just disappear altogether.  NLP does, in fact, recognise that not all of us process information visually; some of us display a preference for auditory processing, while others have a kinaesthetic leaning, processing their memories through the feelings they create.  However, all NLP techniques seem to start from the premise that we can all create beautiful vibrant pictures in our heads.

So my difficulty is that although I have no doubt that these techniques work, I struggle to experience them myself.  This obviously reduces my confidence in my ability to use them with clients.   Of course I must actually be able to visualise, otherwise I would be unable to make any sense of the world.  When we see an apple, for example, we compare what we have in front of us with the catalogue of images we have in our brain, taking a fraction of a millisecond to identify this object as an apple.  We’re visualising all the time without being aware of it; if I can identify an apple I have the ability to visualise a memory, I just have to develop it.  So eventually, if I work at it, I should be able to resolve this problem.

Over the course of the next few days we learned to apply these techniques in order to achieve a wide variety of results – to develop new behaviours, to remove the negative impact of unpleasant memories, to cure phobias and to minimise the effects of traumatic experiences.  We were able to practise some of these – while most of us could think of different ways we would like to behave or unpleasant memories we would prefer to exorcise, phobias and traumas were less common (and perhaps too personal to use in the context of a training exercise).

Light relief was created by Andy, who produced Donald Trump masks for us all.  Having created a distraction, we held them to our faces while Matthew’s back was turned and waited for the tirade of expletives when he found himself face-to-face with seven Donalds.  We were not disappointed.

One evening John took those of us staying at the house on a scenic drive around the area.  The highlight of this was spotting the Indian restaurant in Aviemore which we decided we would go to the following night.

During our evening meal the wine made another welcome appearance.  Lisamarie and I tried to give a heartrending performance of the song “I Know Him So Well”, only slightly hampered by the fact she didn’t know the words.  I, of course, know this song backwards but elected to sing it in the more traditional forward version.  I then gave a solo rendition of a song recorded years ago by the Irish singer Mary Coughlan, entitled “The Country Fair Dance”.

John and Andy gamely took on the roles of Porcupine Paul and Fearsome Fred Ford, while Lisamarie made a delightfully coquettish Pamela Pearl.  So what if we all seemed a bit bonkers – we were having fun and I was putting nasty depression back in its box for a while.  We were late to bed that night!

All too soon Tuesday evening came around – time for our second visit to the Cairn at Carr Bridge.  This was another evening of fun, laughter and too much wine.  Having managed to find “I Know Him So Well” on the jukebox, Gillian and I performed a word-perfect rendition, with Lisamarie helpfully contributing backing oooohs.  Marina filmed this and posted it on Facebook.  I used to like Marina.

The following morning, with thick heads, we tried to make sense of Matthew’s end of module test (sorry, quiz).  We sat around a table and tried to answer questions we could barely read, let alone understand.  I employed my crafty technique of writing completely illegibly so Matthew would just assume I was right.  It worked for Module 1 so it was definitely worth another try.

With much hugging and promising to keep in touch (aided by our new WhatsApp group) we set off for home, ready to put our new skills into practice.


*I’ve tried to find somewhere in the main body of this post to include this bit, but it just seemed to interrupt the flow, so I’ve added it as a footnote.

It’s very often said that depression makes people selfish and there is some truth in this.  In the depths of despair anything that makes you feel better seems like fair game – other people’s feelings can cease to matter as you desperately try to lift your own.  I know that in the past I have, at times, been viciously angry with people, not necessarily because they deserved it but because expressing anger felt so much better than staying locked inside myself.  I don’t do that any more.

Instead, I do guilt.  Guilt that I’m being such a wet blanket and threatening to infect other people with my misery.  Guilt that I don’t have the wherewithal to just shake myself out of it.  Guilt that I can sometimes have a good time while still claiming to be depressed.  And most of all, guilt that I’m depressed when other people have things so much worse.

Knowing what I do about some of my friends on the course, depression seems to me like the ultimate in self-indulgence.  I have no business being depressed.  And being far too self-analytical, living too much in my head, I then ask myself, is it self-indulgent to accuse myself of self-indulgence?

So I remind myself that it’s down to my faulty brain chemistry.  That I don’t choose to feel like this.  That many years ago, during one of my worst attacks, I told myself that amputation of a limb would be an acceptable price to pay for the depression to go away.

It’s not self-indulgence.  It’s just the way I am.  I’ve been kind to myself and it has passed – I feel much better now.

And one day I will beat it.

Hypnotherapy Diploma Module One – The training

On a Saturday morning in January, I gathered with the four of my classmates I’d met the previous day for breakfast.  As we looked out at the snow-covered Highland scenery I think we were all feeling a degree of apprehension.  As we drank our tea and ate our cereal, we were joined by the two non-resident students, Gillian, a Human Resources Manager from Inverness, and Marina, a colonic hydrotherapist (gulp!) from just around the corner but working in Inverness.  Our group was complete.

At 9.00am we drifted through to the training room and Matthew began his introduction to the course by explaining his own background, telling us how he met Jan and how the two of them came to be running a Hypnotherapy training school in the wilds of Scotland.  He also warned us about his two major idiosyncrasies – his tendency to rant about his pet subjects and his liberal use of expletives.  Matthew turned out to be one of those people who is practically unable to exhale without swearing but manages to do it with such charm and humour as to be completely inoffensive.

The day then got properly underway, setting a pattern for the rest of our stay – the morning devoted to theory, practical demonstrations and videos of Matthew at work, then lunch followed by the opportunity for us to practise the techniques we’d been shown.  We worked in pairs for this; as I was sitting next to Andy we agreed to work together and quickly developed a good rapport, finding ourselves comfortable in being honest about what worked well and what less well, and able to bounce ideas off each other.  At various points during the course Matthew suggested that we should change partners.  None of us did!

In the evenings, the five of us staying in the house sat up drinking wine, chatting and laughing until Jan came through to send us to bed.

As time went on we found ourselves becoming increasingly confident in our ability to induce hypnotic trance and to use this in order to bring about change in people’s lives.  it almost felt as if Matthew had been covertly hypnotising us and implanting confidence in our unconscious minds.  While we have a lot more to learn, this first module certainly gave us a good grounding in the basics of hypnotherapy.

On the last night of the course, the seven of us went for a meal at the Cairn Hotel in Carrbridge.  Along with the excellent food we allowed ourselves a small sweet sherry each.  A couple of the regulars thanked us on their way out for providing such great entertainment.  I don’t know what they were talking about!

The following morning, feeling much better than we deserved to (apart from Marta, who wanted to die), we were delighted to be presented with what Matthew referred to as “a quiz” and was quick to reassure us was not a test.  I think he was lying.  There was much scratching of heads and frantic reference to our course manuals as we tried to answer the taxing questions.  We all hurriedly scribbled down what we hoped bore some resemblance to the correct responses and handed our efforts in for marking.  The results will be waiting for us when we get back.

All that remained was for us to be given our assignment to complete, and for Matthew to talk us through the reading list.  The assignment was to conduct three hypnotherapy sessions with family members or friends and to write these up for discussion at the start of the next module.  We were also required to read one book from the reading list.

Excited at the prospect of trying out our new skills, we took our leave of Motivation Training in a frenzy of hugs and handshakes before starting our journeys back to reality.

Hypnotherapy Diploma Module One – Arrival

So it’s actually called Accredited Diploma in Hypnotherapy, Practitioner and Master Practitioner of NLP and NLP Life Coaching.  If you want me to blog about it don’t expect me to call it that.  Life’s too short.

Iain and the dogs were staying in Aviemore, a couple of miles from the course venue, for the duration so we’d driven up the previous day and I’d stayed overnight in the cottage that was to be their temporary home.  On the way up, the snow the weatherman had promised put in an appearance, and by the time we reached our lunch stop at House of Bruar, the overpriced shopping outlet luxury designer shopping experience in Perthshire, it had formed a thick white covering.  The dogs loved this, running, jumping and rolling like puppies

The following day, we had a walk around Aviemore while the snow continued to fall, after which I said my fond farewells to Iain and the dogs and set off, with some degree of anxiety,  for Avingormack, home of Motivation Training.

Motivation Training is run by Canadian-born Matthew Ferguson – public school educated, former follower of the hippy trail, reformed City Trader – who provides the Training, and his wife Jan who provides the Motivation in the form of food.  It was Jan who greeted me on arrival.  I have thought long and hard about how to describe her and the best I can come up with is like Mary Poppins but without the friendly chimney sweep with the bad Cockney accent.  Or the singing.  Or the animated dancing penguins.  (Younger readers may prefer to think of Nanny McPhee without the warty nose).

Seriously, Jan sometimes really did seem like a nanny trying to control a brood of unruly children.  Which sort of makes Matthew the equivalent of Mr Banks (or whatever Colin Firth’s character was called in Nanny McPhee) which only works if there’s a secret X-rated version in which Mr Banks swears a lot (and I mean a lot) and rants about Donald Trump at every possible opportunity.  I don’t think this version of Mary Poppins exists, but please feel free to correct me if you know otherwise.

Anyway, by the end of our stay I think we were all a little bit in love with Jan.  My fondest memory is of seeing her walk past the window with a snow shovel in one hand and a teapot in the other.  I have no idea what she intended to do with them but she clearly had a plan.

Of the eight people signed up for the course, five of us were staying in the house, two lived nearby and were therefore travelling from home each day, and one had been forced to cancel as a result of illness.  Over the next couple of hours, I met the other four residents – Marta, a Polish beautician from London, Lisamarie, a former psychiatric nurse from Glasgow, Andy, a business coach who spent a large part of his life in Australia and New Zealand but now lives in Kent, and John, also from Glasgow, also a trained psychiatric nurse, who had the misfortune of being my room-mate.  I don’t intend to say too much about the people I met on the course – we shared a lot of quite personal information which I don’t think it would be appropriate to publish in a blog.  If any of you are reading this and would like me to correct or remove anything, please let me know and I will be happy to oblige.  Apart from the bit about Matthew swearing a lot – I’m not removing that.

We had our evening meal together, chatted about what had brought us to the course, then drifted off to bed, either exhausted after our journeys or, as in my case, wanting to be fresh for the challenges of the next few days.

I thought it was about hypnotherapy?

For a blog called “The Would-Be Hypnotherapist” there has been pretty limited mention of hypnotherapy thus far.  For this I apologise.  What can I say?  I got distracted.

At some time over the past year I should have told you about my research into hypnotherapy courses and my decision-making process in choosing one.  I didn’t do that so let’s cut to the chase.

Like the majority of complementary therapies, hypnotherapy does not have the benefit of a single legally-recognised regulatory body.  As a result, it can be difficult to assess the quality of a training institution – some of them even set up their own registers of practitioners.  However, most trustworthy hypnotherapists are registered with either the General Hypnotherapy Register or the National Council for Hypnotherapy.

With this in mind, I set about looking at a number of courses and finally settled on the Advanced Diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy and NLP Life Coaching from Motivation Training.  If you’re interested, you can read much more about the course here.

This takes place in a fairly isolated spot near Boat of Garten, Inverness-shire over three periods of five days.  Tomorrow morning, Iain, two Labradors and I will be setting off for Aviemore where I will stay overnight before proceeding to the course venue on Friday.  Iain and the Labradors will stay in Aviemore and have a lovely relaxing break while I am picking up basic skills in hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming.

This, of course, depends on our ability to make the journey to Aviemore, given that it is snowing there, the Forth Road Bridge has been closed all day, and the state of the A9 is currently causing concern.  I have asked myself why anyone would think it was a good idea to run a training course in that area in the middle of January but I don’t have any answers.

Anyway, I will update you, God-willing, on my return.

Why does there always have to be a reason?

Regular readers (and I now have five, some of whom aren’t even related to me) might be wondering when I’m going to get around to blogging about hypnotherapy. Either that or change the name of my blog. Well the time has come and the name’s not changing.

It’s not that I’ve been deliberately avoiding the subject, just that I’ve kept being sidetracked by other things I wanted to say. And if I’m honest, I have been sort of avoiding it because of the big elephant-in-the-room question, “Why do you want to be a hypnotherapist?”. I suspect this question may reveal another elephant in the room, then another, until I can’t move for elephants. Be that as it may, it’s a question I really do have to try to answer, not least because if I apply for a course it’s probably something I’ll be asked.

So lets tackle elephant number one.  Why do I want to be a hypnotherapist? And right on cue, in walks another elephant. This one appears to be wearing a tee-shirt with the slogan “Do you REALLY want to be a hypnotherapist?”. Yes Mr Elephant, I do – can I get back to your friend now? He was here first.

The second elephant is still here, looking at me. I think he wants something, but I don’t know what. Maybe if I throw him a bun …

Okay, so complete the sentence “I want to be a hypnotherapist because …” in an apt an amusing manner using twelve words or less.

I want to be a hypnotherapist because it looks interesting, I could use it to help people and I feel the need for a new challenge in my life. That sounds lame, even to me, as well as inviting two more elephants into the room – I’ll leave it to you to design their tee-shirts. It also vastly exceeds the word limit but I could probably cut it down.

I want to be a hypnotherapist because I originally wanted to be a psychotherapist but the training takes forever. This is partially true, in that I did start out by looking at psychotherapy training and realised I really didn’t want to commit to a course of that length. However, hypnotherapy isn’t a second-best option for me – while looking for information on psychotherapy training I came across a lot of hypnotherapy courses and soon found myself investigating them with increasing interest.

The second elephant has just left the room – I think I’ve given him what he wanted.

I want to be a hypnotherapist because I’ve always kind of fancied it and I find some of the stuff Derren Brown does on TV fascinating (even though that’s closer to stage hypnosis which I don’t approve of and he claims he’s not really using hypnosis or NLP or anything like that). And I’ve read of couple of Paul McKenna’s books and I know most serious hypnotherapists think he’s an egomaniac who’s in danger of bringing them into disrepute but he does seem to get results.

I really can’t say that at an interview with the UK College of Hypnosis and Psychotherapy. Can I?

I want to be a hypnotherapist because … it’s complicated and I can’t even explain it satisfactorily to myself. It’s tied in with my need to help people and make everybody happy because maybe then I’ll stop feeling guilty about heaven knows what. So it’s linked in with my own psychological issues but at least I recognise it and can admit it. And it does look interesting and I think I’d be good at it.

I think the elephants liked that answer. I’d ask them but they’ve gone.