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Transcripts of Selected Group Discussions on CYC-Net

Since it's founding in 1997, the CYC-Net discussion group has been asked thousands of questions. These questions often generate many replies from people in all spheres of the Child and Youth Care profession and contain personal experiences, viewpoints, as well as recommended resources.

Below are some of the threads of discussions on varying Child and Youth Care related topics.

Questions and Responses have been reproduced verbatim.

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Informal use of hypnosis?

Hi everyone,

I recently started training in hypnotherapy, and our trainer (Dr Kobus Maree) spoke about the “informal use of hypnosis”. Now there are many misconceptions about hypnotherapy, and I don’t want to get into that per se. I found it very interesting that Dr Maree says that educators actually need some training in the use of hypnosis, because it is something they do anyway, without being aware of it. Hypnosis is in fact a very natural state, and hypnotherapists just use the client’s natural hypnotic abilities to aid in the therapeutic process. Especially metaphors and stories are used very often in this regard. When a teacher tells a story in a skillfull way that captures the attention and imagination of the learners listening, are they not actually entering a light trance? And they would then be more receptive to the “message” embedded in the story. Now I am wondering to what extent child care workers make use of “informal” hypnosis? Anything a worker does really, that interrupts a child normal pattern, and introduces an altered state of consciousness, is really a form of hypnosis, is it not? So when child care workers use metaphors and stories in their everyday interactions with children to “give the child a message” in a somewhat disguised form, would that not be “informal” hypnosis? I mean when you really think about it – you tell a child a story or anecdote to bring across some message, while you actually want the child to “hear” the message subconsciously. Because you know if you come out straight and just say it, you may encounter resistance, lose rapport and the message will be rejected in that format. Can you think of ways that child care workers make use of “informal hypnosis”? I would be very interested in your thoughts about this.

Kind regards everyone,

Werner van der Westhuizen
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Hi Werner,

Thanks for your comments.

I do agree you with that hypnosis is misunderstood by the general public and its seen as something 'magical'. I've spent some time studying both Transpersonal Art Therapy and Transpersonal Counselling (Diploma's). In this course – hypnosis is referred to as SEEL – State Enhanced Exploration and Learning. In a 'very small' nut shell – as therapists we can facilitate relaxed states in our clients – just like you would do if you went to a meditation class. There are many ways to do this and many people do this at home, use CD's, gentle movement and yoga. When the client is in this state, exploration can begin. In a relaxed (altered) state we have access to resources that are not available to us when we are busy and task focussed (ie at work, or at home busy with chores etc) – i.e. reaching into our subconscious material is much easier in an altered state. And how this happens is often random, illogical – this is our creative, irrational side, there is no order here.

The thing I would like to add is that knowing this we need to be very clear of our intentions – are we seeking therapeutic outcomes and are we trained or equipped to deal with a repressed memory if it comes up when working in this way?

So be informed, be prepared and I'm very interested and enthusiastic about people accessing their own tools for healing.

Have a great day,

Deanna Rohrsheim
South Australia

Hi Deanna,

I absolutely love the term SEEL – State Enhanced Exploration and Learning – its the first time I've heard that and it is so much more accurate than the term hypnosis, which carries a very negative connotation for many people as "unscientific" and magical.

I think it is important that all practitioners know their scope of practice and remain within it, and I don't think hypnosis – as in the formal use of hypnosis – is necessarily something that child care workers should be practicing. I do think however there so much to learn there. Hypnotherapy is essentially for me just a very advanced form of communication. There are so many concepts for that overlap with child care work (hope I'm not the only one who notices that), that I was just wondering how aware child care workers are of the extent to which they use "hypnotic" communication. Because to some extent everybody does – its really just the skill level that is different.

A very useful concept in Ericksonian hypnotherapy is that of utilisation, and I think that is actually so relevent to child care work, because it is something that child care workers – especially the "really good ones", also use. Utilisation is essentially taking whatever the client brings into the therapeutic relationship, and whatever is in the environment at the time, and utilising it for the benefit of the therapeutic relationship. While this has a specific meaning in hypnotherapy, it reminds me very much of working "in the moment" and finding "teachable moments".

I think the term "hypnosis" may actually elicit resistance in some practitioners, because of its many historical and mythical associations. But the "informal use of hypnosis" – the everyday use – for which I do not have a better term right now – is something that all helping professionals do. They may just not be aware of it. And so I am still wondering – to what extent do child care workers use interventions that have a similar effect? Interventions that alter the child's "state", or interrupt the child's current active "pattern"? What are the interventions or skills child care workers use (and they will be very individualised) that capture a child's attention and imagination? That shift a child's thinking or emotional state? That "bypasses" active resistance and gets a child to want to participate? That gives the child a "message" on a more symbolic or metaphorical level – the kind of food for thought that kicks in a later later?

I am sure there are many creative skills and methods that child care workers use, things you may not necessarily find in the books – real "practice knowledge" – and I was hoping some would share some of their secrets with the rest of us? How about it?

Werner van der Westhuizen

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