Colloquio di selezione del personale: definizione e significato

marzo 20th, 2014 | Posted by Igor Vitale in Psicologia del Lavoro

Definizione e importanza del colloquio nel processo di selezione

Colloquio, intervista e selezione del personale

 

Valeria Bafera

 

selezionedelpersonaleEsistono diverse tecniche di colloquio e intervista che da sempre trovano un vasto campo di applicazione nel contesto aziendale, così come esistono diverse attività umane e professionali che implicano scambi relazionali e caratterizzano il lavoro post industriale. Per esempio abbiamo il colloquio di valutazione e sviluppo del potenziale, quello di orientamento, quello professionale, il colloquio di coaching, ecc. (Zucchi, 2004). Tuttavia il focus della nostra attenzione, ai fini del presente lavoro, riguarderà il colloquio di selezione.

É necessario, inoltre, prima di procedere, apportare una precisazione terminologica: in questo elaborato si useranno i termini “intervista” e “colloquio” come sinonimi: alcuni autori come Trentini (1989c), suggeriscono di differenziare l’uso dei due termini secondo il criterio motivazionale dei partecipanti; per cui sarà opportuno parlare di “colloquio” qualora entrambi abbiano richiesto e ottenuto il contatto, mentre se solo uno dei due è chiamato all’incontro per qualsiasi motivo, è più opportuno utilizzare il termine “intervista”.

Castiello D’Antonio (1989) scrive che, in genere, in sede di selezione del personale, è il candidato ad essere invitato dall’azienda a sostenere un colloquio, che non ha richiesto, ai fini dell’assunzione nell’impresa; si tratta di un fatto strumentale cui non è possibile sottrarsi, si riferisce ad una motivazione estrinseca e, pertanto, è più opportuno parlare di intervista. Tuttavia, nel caso specifico dell’intervista di selezione non è sempre definibile quale sia per l’intervistato il suo orientamento motivazionale, che può variare tra motivazione estrinseca ed intrinseca (Argentero, 2001). Perciò, seguendo anche gli studi consultati ai fini di questo lavoro, si è scelto di utilizzare in modo analogo i due termini.

Ciò premesso, occorre definire cos’è un colloquio-intervista di selezione; anche in questo caso, risalire all’etimologia della parola potrebbe esserci utile per una corretta definizione. Il termine “colloquio”, deriva dal latino “cŭm e lŏqui” e significa parlare con, conversare, dialogare con due o più persone su fatti di una certa importanza.

Molti autori hanno dato diverse definizioni del termine, che mettono in risalto certi aspetti piuttosto che altri. Per esempio Trentini (1989c) lo definisce come mezzo di diagnosi e d’intervento che implica e comprende un’interrogazione e un rapporto e si declina sempre sulla base di queste due componenti: l’interrogazione, (esplicita o implicita) diretta a conoscere determinati aspetti presenti o passati della vita del soggetto e a trarre una conoscenza del suo comportamento; il rapporto (anch’esso esplicito o implicito) diretto allo scopo di avere un contatto interpersonale con l’interlocutore che implichi o meno una diagnosi conoscitiva dichiarata o sottintesa e un cambiamento del suo modo di essere.

Una definizione che individua nel colloquio soprattutto uno strumento di conoscenza dell’altro, elemento presente anche nel caso della selezione. Tuttavia, l’intervista di selezione presenta precise caratteristiche che la rendono differente da quelle condotte in altri ambiti. A questo proposito ci sembra opportuno definirla secondo quanto scritto da Argentero (2001): l’intervista di selezione consiste in uno scambio di informazioni faccia a faccia tra un rappresentante dell’organizzazione ed un candidato, con la principale finalità organizzativa di valutare i possibili candidati per una certa mansione e di scegliere la persona o le persone più adatte a svolgerla nel modo ottimale.

E ancora secondo Zerilli (1975), il colloquio pone in essere un processo di comunicazione a due vie: esso consta, infatti, di due o più soggetti, i quali si scambiano determinate informazioni (contenuto del colloquio) opportunamente codificate (cioè espresse mediante parole, gesti, espressioni del viso), attraverso una serie di mezzi (tecnica dell’intervista).35

Il colloquio di selezione rientra tra i metodi di valutazione del candidato all’interno del processo di selezione anzi, ne occupa un posto preminente dato il maggior utilizzo rispetto ad altri metodi; anche se una corretta metodologia di valutazione richiederebbe l’uso congiunto dei vari strumenti di selezione. In ogni caso, se alcuni tendono ad omettere l’utilizzo di certi strumenti, non c’è azienda di qualsiasi genere in cui l’assunzione non sia preceduta da un colloquio con il candidato. Le ragioni di questa popolarità sono molteplici, a seconda anche del punto di vista dei partecipanti (intervistatore e candidato); esse possono essere così riassunte (Anderson e Shackleton, 1993):

a. l’intervista consente al selezionatore, nonché all’organizzazione di formulare una valutazione globale del candidato circa i suoi aspetti di personalità, atteggiamenti, le sue capacità relazionali;

b. per il candidato, essa è un momento per conoscere meglio i futuri compiti lavorativi, ma soprattutto per valutare l’azienda nel suo complesso (disponibilità verso i dipendenti, cultura organizzativa, modalità produttiva e operativa dell’azienda);

c. è un modo per entrare in contatto diretto con le esperienze di persone diverse ed estranee;

d. porta, per tutti i partecipanti, al formarsi dell’impressione dell’altro, a interrogarsi, a scambiarsi informazioni, a pervenire rapidamente ad una conclusione circa il reciproco interesse, secondo una reale inter-vista.

e. entrambi i partecipanti al colloquio (siano essi selezionatori o candidati) preferiscono credere a ciò che “vedono con i loro occhi” piuttosto che affidarsi ad altri sistemi di valutazione (in questo senso è importante l’ausilio della comunicazione non verbale);

f. infine, attraverso l’intervista l’azienda trasmette all’esterno la propria immagine.

Volendo stilare un profilo storico sull’intervista di selezione, i primi contributi scientifici sull’argomento in questione risalgono intorno agli anni ’20 e ricalcavano soprattutto le interviste cui erano sottoposti i soldati. In questo periodo si iniziò a verificare la validità dell’intervista di selezione; per esempio Putney (1947) confrontò i soggetti di una scuola tecnica scelti a caso con quelli selezionati in base a un’intervista, verificando che buona parte dei candidati selezionati attraverso l’intervista, riuscì ad ultimare con successo il corso rispetto a quelli selezionati a caso. Nella prima metà del secolo si svilupparono, poi, indagini sulla personalità dei candidati esaminati, fino ad arrivare agli anni ’70-’80 in cui questo tipo di studi si indirizza maggiormente verso l’esame di determinati fattori che influenzano le valutazioni dell’intervistatore, quali: effetti del contatto visivo, la postura del candidato, la distanza interpersonale, ecc. (l’ultimo capitolo si focalizzerà ad approfondire questi aspetti). Infine, nell’ultima parte del secolo, la ricerca evidenzia la validità di un’intervista sempre più strutturata, ponendo attenzione anche alle strategie del candidato per influenzare l’intervistatore e, viceversa, a quelle messe in atto dall’intervistatore per ricercare ed elaborare informazioni (Eder, Kacmar e Ferris, 1989).

Secondo alcuni autori, come Rollo (2012), è nel colloquio che si gioca il processo di selezione, infatti, solo alla fine di esso si perviene a un giudizio di valore che permette la scelta di quella persona piuttosto che dell’altra. Esso conserva un valore insostituibile nel quadro della procedura di selezione poiché consente un contatto umano, personale, tra il candidato e il selezionatore (o anche il datore di lavoro, qualora fosse presente o svolgesse lui l’intero processo) e permette di apprezzare certi fattori squisitamente legati ad un rapporto interumano.

Sulla base di numerosi studi emerge che il 90% delle procedure di selezione in diversi Paesi e in diverse aziende (piccole, medie e grandi), include l’intervista, nonostante si tratti di una metodologia piuttosto costosa e impegnativa. Il suo successo come strumento di selezione presso le organizzazioni, tra l’altro, è dovuta al fatto che si presenta come un processo naturale, il quale apparentemente non richiede skills specialistiche, dunque può essere condotta da selezionatori non professionali. Questo può risultare il punto cruciale sulla validità di codesto strumento: errori e distorsioni riscontrate nelle interviste sono, infatti, da imputare in parte alla natura dello strumento, in parte all’influenza di elementi distorsivi sulla valutazione prodotta dall’intervistatore (come abbiamo potuto analizzare nel paragrafo § 3.4). Tuttavia, se progettata accuratamente e utilizzata correttamente, l’intervista di selezione ha un’elevata capacità di prevedere la performance lavorativa, comparabile alla validità dei test di abilità e logico-cognitivi (Minelli, 2007)

Hypnosis and pain management

Hypnosis can help control pain for women with Metastatic Breast Cancer
Research: Hypnosis can help control pain for women with Metastatic Breast Cancer

Hypnosis can help alleviate the pain and suffering experienced by women being treated for breast cancer, according to a study of 124 women with metastatic breast cancer by a University of Buffalo, School of Social Work, associate professor, Lisa D. Butler.

Researchers recorded levels of pain at four-month intervals for a year. Women who were assigned to the treatment group received group psychotherapy, as well as instruction and practice in hypnosis to moderate their pain symptoms. They reported “significantly less increase in the intensity of pain and suffering over time,” compared with a control group, who did not receive the group psychotherapy and hypnosis intervention.

“The results of this study suggest that the experience of pain and suffering for patients with metastatic breast cancer can be successfully reduced with an intervention that includes hypnosis in a group therapy setting,” according to Butler. “These results augment the growing literature supporting the use of hypnosis as an adjunctive treatment for medical patients experiencing pain.” The study was published last year in an issue of the American Psychological Association journal Health Psychology.

The researchers also found that, within the treatment group, those patients who could be hypnotized more easily — a group the researchers said demonstrated “high hypnotisability” — reported greater benefits from hypnosis. These patients used hypnosis more overall, including outside of the group sessions, and in some cases used it to address other symptoms related to their cancer.

“These results suggest that although hypnosis is not at present standard practice for treating a wide range of symptoms that trouble cancer patients, it is worth examining that potential,” Butler says. “Together, these findings suggest that there may be a number of benefits to the use of hypnosis in cancer care including, but not necessarily limited to, its more traditional application for pain control.”

Butler joined the UB faculty in January 2009, after doing research at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. She was hired at UB to strengthen the university’s research focus on “extreme events” as part of the UB 2020 strategic planning initiative. She recently published a nationally recognized study on how some people living through an extremely traumatic event — including the 9/11 terrorist attacks — have the ability to recover or even grow in personal and interpersonal functioning.

Reference: Science Daily 26th February, 2010.

Hypnosis and depression (1)

Hypnosis and Depression – Bruni Brewin
Hypnosis and Depression

The Beyond Blue National Advertising Campaign (1) states that, “On average, one in five Australians will experience depression at some point in their lifetime. Around one million adults and 100,000 young people live with depression each year and that postnatal depression affects 14 per cent of new mothers.”

Depression is currently the leading cause of non-fatal disability in Australia, but only 3 per cent of the population identifies it as a major health problem. Depression and anxiety can be as serious, debilitating and life-threatening as a physical illness – yet less than half of those experiencing depression seek help. Depression is not a normal part of ageing.

The Black Dog Institute (2) states that signs of a depressed mood may include, insomnia, weight issues, emotions such as pessimism, anger, irritability and anxiety. Emotions can vary throughout the day, for example, feeling worse in the morning and better as the day goes along. Some people with depression find it more and more difficult to experience enjoyment, or look forward to anything with pleasure. Hobbies and interests drop off. They are less able to tolerate aches and pains and may have a host of new ailments. Their sex life can change and be absent or reduced. They have poor concentration and memory, and may feel it doesn’t seem worth the effort to do anything. Often their friendships drop off due to the lack of energy to maintain contact.The sufferer may be preoccupied with feelings of guilt, worthlessness or death, and may attempt suicide.

Alcohol abuse may lead to violence and even murder. Often the problem is not diagnosed, and the sufferer is told to “pull himself together”, further compounding feelings of isolation and guilt. Depression can happen to all of us at some time in our lives, and providing these feelings go away they do not present a serious problem. But if the feelings persist for most of the day for over two weeks duration, and interfere with our ability to cope and manage things both at home or at work, it is therefore suggested that we get a check-up by a skilled professional. There could also be other medical reasons that cause these symptoms therefore it warrants that we should always check things out, even when we think that we can manage.

The Black Dog Institute(3) states that there are three broadly different types of depression, each with their own features and causes: Melancholic depression, Non-melancholic depression and Psychotic depression.

A possible fourth type of depression is: Atypical depression. They advise that knowing that there are different types of depression is important because each type responds best to different treatments.

Melancholic depression is the classic form of biological depression.  It is a relatively uncommon type of depression that affects only 1-2 per cent of Western populations.

Non-melancholic depression essentially means that it has to do with psychological causes, and is very often linked to stressful events in a person’s life and is the most common of the three types of depression. It affects one in four women and one in six men in the Western world over their lifetime.

Psychotic depression is a less common type of depression than either melancholic or non-melancholic depression. It may come with psychotic symptoms of either delusions or hallucinations, and strong guilt feelings.

Atypical depression is a name that has been given to symptoms of depression that contrast with the usual characteristics of non-melancholic depression. For example, rather than experiencing appetite loss the person instead experiences appetite increase; and sleepiness rather than insomnia. Someone with atypical depression is also likely to have a personality style of interpersonal hypersensitivity (that is, expecting that others will not like or approve of them).

The Black Dog Institute(3) states that depression can also be sub-typed into ‘unipolar’ and ‘bipolar’ depressions. Unipolar depression is the name given when only depressive episodes are experienced. Bipolar depression refers to having highs as well as depressive episodes in between. In the case of Bipolar depression, the type of depression could be any of the above four types, however it is most likely to be of a melancholic or psychotic type.

DepressioNet(4) suggests that the theory that depression is either ‘reactive’ or ‘endogenous’ in origin is losing support and that it is now more commonly believed that both environment and genetic history play a part. ‘Reactive’ depression is the term used for depression thought to be caused by a specific event or circumstance, such as relationship problems or loss of someone you love either through death or the end of a relationship, losing or changing jobs, or anything else that you find traumatic. This doesn’t refer to grief, which is normal and healthy and temporary, but to depression, which lasts well past the time that you would expect to start recovering from grief, and is therefore unhealthy.

Whereas ‘Endogenous’ depression is the term given to depression that has no obvious cause – that is, was not brought on by a specific life event or circumstance, but rather appears to come from nowhere. However both are related to chemical changes in the brain, but differ in terms of ‘which came first – i.e. did the depression come first, making life’s problems seem far greater than they are, or did life’s problems bring on the depression?

DepressioNet(4) suggests that ‘Postnatal’ Depression is actually more common than many people realise and occurs in about 80 per cent of women after childbirth (higher than stated in the beyondblue National Advertising Campaign (1)).  The feeling of the ‘baby blues’ often passes within two days, but if it continues then this is what is known as postnatal depression. It usually occurs within the first 12 months of having a baby, often within the first few weeks or months. The severity of the depression can range from very mild and almost non-existent, to very severe and long-term and tends to be most common after the first pregnancy.  On the other hand some women can experience depression during pregnancy, this is called antenatal depression.

The Emory University Health Sciences Center (5) released results of the study, led by Andrew Miller, MD, and Christine Heim, PhD, of Emory’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, that has shown evidence to suggest that the inflammatory response to stress may be greater in depressed people. The findings suggest that increased inflammatory responses to stress in depressed patients may be a link between depression and other diseases, including heart disease, as well as contributing to depression itself. People in the study who suffered from depression also had higher rates of early life stressful experiences. “We have found that this kind of personal life history may make people more likely to develop major depression and is actually common in depressed patients,” stated Heim.

The results of a study by Johns Hopkins Phd; and James B. Potash, M.D. (6)   showed that siblings, parents or children of people diagnosed with chronic major depression before the age of 31 have a 2-to-1 chance of also having the disorder. Moreover, first-degree relatives of patients diagnosed with chronic major depression before the age of 13 have a 6-to-1 chance of having it. However they caution that the results also could point to environmental factors, such as loss of a parent at an early age or physical and/or sexual abuse.

While findings by Lifespan (7) revealed that in addition to higher levels of depression, anxiety and suicidality, patients with shape/weight preoccupations such as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), eating disorders (ED) (such as bulimia or anorexia), expressed higher levels of dissociation (a coping style characterized by blocking out emotions), sexual preoccupation/distress, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suggesting that such concerns may be related to the experience of past physical or sexual abuse.

Rachel Carlyle from Saga Health Magazine UK (8) reports on some alternative treatments stating that since the late 1980s scientists have claimed that a shortage of the brain chemical serotonin is the cause. A whole generation of “wonder” drugs, such as Prozac and Seroxat, was based the principle of boosting serotonin. These SSRIs were much less toxic than previous antidepressant drugs, and quickly became the treatment of choice for everything from mild anxiety to suicidal depression. She says that GPs in the UK currently issue 19 million prescriptions a year for 3.5 million patients. But there are now concerns that too many people – particularly those with only mild depression – are on SSRIs. (Eight out of 10 GPs admitted they were probably handing out more SSRIs than they should, and there have been reports of patients becoming dependent on them). Carlyle also reported that two Government agencies recently instructed doctors to stop prescribing them for mild depression and offer alternative treatments instead, such as counselling or exercise. Those with more severe depression should still get SSRIs but combined with advice on non-drug treatments.

Among the best-proven alternative treatments is exercise. One American study even found that three brisk, thirty minute sessions of running, cycling or swimming each week produced better results than an SSRI drug. It’s thought to be because the chemicals, which determine mood -adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine, are all produced during exercise.

Dr. Edward Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University (11)  believes the herb St John’s Wort offers the best alternative treatment for depression. He stated that in Germany, where it is a prescription drug, it outsold Prozac four to one until research showed that it reacted badly with several prescription drugs, such as anti-coagulants, and stopped them working. “That aside, 30 clinical trials have shown St John’s Wort extracts were extremely effective in reducing symptoms,” It was found that among those patients suffering mild to moderate depression, St John’s Wort was significantly superior to its synthetic competitors and caused no more side-effects than a placebo.” However, there is a caution against cheap supplements that don’t contain a standardised extract; a dose of 900mg-1,800mg was used in most trials. Ernst has also investigated other complementary therapies such as acupuncture (for which there are 12 studies, showing mixed results), and encouraging data on massage, music therapy, relaxation techniques and yoga, but none of them has such strong evidence as St John’s Wort.

On the other hand,  (8) Professor Basant Puri at the Imperial College School of Medicine,  (8)  in London is convinced at least part of the answer lies in an omega-3 fatty acid called EPA, which occurs naturally in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and fresh tuna. Four studies have since backed up Puri’s work, and it has been established that people with depression have low levels of EPA in the brain-cell membrane, slowing brain activity and causing depressive symptoms. He uses a dose of 2g per day for most patients, and advises a supplement, which screens out another, harmful, fatty acid called DHA. Puri stated, “It is such a simple treatment, with no side effects, and effective for mild and moderate depression as well as severe cases”.

Then again the UK Government’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence recommends the “talking therapies” like counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for mild depression. Research has repeatedly shown that they are more effective than drugs, yet there is a chronic shortage of practitioners and long waiting lists.

Where as leading psychologist Dorothy Rowe(8)  states that there is no evidence that a chemical imbalance causes depression, calling it “biobabble”. “Antidepressants can relieve the pain of being depressed in some people for some of the time. They don’t cure depression,” she maintains. Rowe is a firm believer in talk. “The way out of the prison of depression is to realise that you are not that bad, unacceptable person you thought you were and that we don’t live in a world where good people are rewarded and bad people punished. Most people work this out for themselves, but sometimes it helps to talk things over with someone, a good friend or a good therapist or counsellor.”

While Dr Michael Yapko(9), a clinical psychologist and marriage and family therapist based in California, suggests that hypnotherapy can be used to treat depression. Yapko is internationally recognised for his work in depression and outcome-focused psychotherapy and hypnotherapy, and has had a special interest spanning nearly a quarter century in the intricacies of brief therapy, the clinical applications of directive methods, and in training therapists to treat the disorder of major depression. He has, for the last thirty years, specialized in the treatment of depression with hypnotherapy.

Hypnotherapy has been directly influenced by the current push for empirically supported treatments, and in recent years substantial high-quality research has assessed the effectiveness of hypnotherapy and its contribution to improving therapeutic outcome.  Yapko stated that “Hypnosis offers a way to conceptualise how human beings construct their individual realities, and how to interact more effectively with others; in clinical hypnosis hypnotic processes are employed as agents of effective communication and change. Our knowledge of depression has greatly improved in recent years, firmly establishing the essential role of psychotherapy in treatment. Whenever psychotherapy is indicated, so are specific identifiable patterns of hypnotic influence, since the two are fundamentally inseparable.”

Dr Linda Edwards,(4)  in her article on Hypnotherapy and Somatic Hypnotherapy, also states the benefits of hypnotherapy as being a powerful tool for accessing the subconscious. Edwards states that the subconscious is a non-ordinary state of consciousness and that the human psyche is far more amenable to positive change, healing or beneficial reprogramming when we are in an hypnotic state compared to when we are in our usual beta state of consciousness (our thinking mode). Edwards recommends the work of psychiatrist Dr Stanislav Grof who has written numerous books and research articles on the healing power of non-ordinary states of consciousness. Dr Edwards states there is documented evidence that hypnotherapy compares very favourably with the most popular forms of therapy. Her comments are supported by Dr Alfred A Barrios,(12) who has reported the following success rates:

Hypnotherapy 93% recovery after 6 sessions (about 1.5 months)Behaviour Therapy      72% recovery after 22 sessions (about 6 months)       Psychotherapy 38% recovery after 600 sessions (about 11.5 months)

Conclusions:

Around one million adults and 100,000 young people live with depression each year, and depression is currently the leading cause of non-fatal disability in Australia. There are different types of depression. Some of these go unrecognised and/or undiagnosed and can lead to compounding the symptoms of a person’s depressive problem. Depression is related to chemical imbalances in the brain, and it is claimed that a shortage of the brain chemical serotonin is the cause. Since then, SSRIs that are based on the principle of boosting serotonin became the treatment of choice for everything from mild anxiety to suicidal depression, which is supported by the issue of 19 million prescriptions a year for 3.5 million patients.

Melancholic depression, is said to be the most common of all depressions, and is related to events in a person life. Results show that siblings, parents or children of people diagnosed with chronic major depression before the age of 31 have a greater chance of having it. The researchers caution that the results also could point to environmental factors, such as loss of a parent at an early age or physical and sexual abuse.

Chemicals, which determine mood -adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine, are produced during exercise and this has shown exercise to be amongst the best-proven alternative treatments. St John’s Wort was found to be significantly superior to its synthetic competitors and caused no more side effects than a placebo. Whilst research studies showed the herbal medicine St John’s Wort as the best alternative medical treatment for depression, one research did show that it reacted badly with several prescription drugs, such as anti-coagulants. It has also been established that people with depression have low levels of EPA (omega-3 fatty acid) in the brain-cell membrane cause depressive symptoms, and by replacing these it was found to be beneficial to both mild and severe types of depression with no adverse side effects.

There is evidence that some medicines whether herbal or prescribed to treat other conditions could react detrimentally with each other or could give rise to depression. Opinion suggests that whilst antidepressants can relieve the pain of being depressed, they don’t cure depression.

Complementary therapies such as massage, music therapy, relaxation techniques and yoga are showing encouraging data, although some, such as acupuncture, are showing mixed results. A number of health establishments recommend counseling and cognitive behavioural therapy for some depression as research has repeatedly shown that they are more effective than drugs. In recent years substantial high-quality research has assessed treatment of depression with clinical hypnosis contributing to improving therapeutic outcome.

Bruni Brewin is the president emeritus of the Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association. She has a thriving practice in Chipping Norton, NSW.
 
References:
(1) The beyond blue National Advertising Campaign www.beyondblue.org.au, cited Sept.7, 2006,
(2) Black Dog Institute; 2005, Fact Sheet FS01.01, “Symptoms of depression”
(3) Black Dog Institute; 2005, Fact Sheet FS02.01, “Types of depression”
(4) Edwards L. (MD); ‘What is depression?’ DepressioNet:  www.depresionet.com.au, cited Sept.7, 2006
(5) Emory University Health Science Center, “Depressed patients Experience Excessive Inflamation During Stressful Situations” www.sciencedaily.com, cited Sept.7, 2006,
(6) Hopkins J. (Phd); & Potash, J.B. (M.D) John Hopkins Medical Institutions,  “Chronic Form of Depression Runs in Families”, www.sciencedaily.com, cited Sept.11, 2006,
(7) Lifespan, “Negative Body Image Related to Depression, Anxiety and Suicidality” www.sciencedaily.com, cited June 6,2006,
(8) Carlyle R “Depression: taming the black dog”, reports on some alternative treatmentswww.saga.co.uk/health, cited Sept.7, 2006
(9) Yapko M Phd; 2004 Depression News, Clinical hypnosis can be used to treat depression; www.depresionet.com.au, cited Sept.7, 2006 Dr. Yapko, was chosen to write the sections on Treating Depression and Brief Therapy for the Encyclopaedia Britannica Medical and Health Annuals.
(10) Edwards L, ‘Hypnotherapy and Somatic Hypnotherapy’ DepressioNet: www.depresionet.com.au, cited Sept.7, 2006
(11)  Edward Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at Exeter Univesity www.saga.co.uk/health, cited Sept.7, 2006
(12) Barrios, A.A. (MD) Psychotherapy, 7(1) (the psychotherapy journal of the American Psychiatric Association)

Hypnosis and depression (2)

Hypnosis and Depression – Leon Cowen

Depression has been called many names; ‘black dog’ and ‘black hole’ are just two. But for those suffering with the condition, no terminology adequately denotes the true dimension. In some cases additions to medication are indicated. Research data has indicated that psychotherapy, especially augmented by hypnosis, may be a better choice for depressed individuals” (Kirsch, 2005). Kirsch quoting Hollon, Shelton and Loosen’s 1991 research, indicates that psychotherapy is as effective as medication and its effects may be longer lasting.

Hypnosis has been quoted as a potential intervention in conditions which are associated with reactive depression. Conditions such as cancer, pain, anxiety, panic attacks have had hypnosis linked as an adjunct to successful interventions. Hypnosis has been associated as a Mind-Body Intervention (Mamtani and Cimino, 2002), an intervention in panic attacks (Tsao and Craske, 2003), and mood elevation by (Gruzelier, 2002).

Kirsch summarises “there is a strong therapeutic response to antidepressant medication. But the response to placebo is almost as strong” and “psychotherapy, especially in a hypnotic context, might be considered as a first choice treatment for depression.”

The side effects of hypnosis are relaxation, enhanced sleep and clearer cognitive functioning, Considering this, hypnosis could be considered as a component of team care model for the treatment of depression.

For more information on how hypnotherapy can help you contact the Australian Hypnotherapists Association Free Advisory Line on 1800 067 557. The Advisory Line is a free service to the general public.

Leon Cowen is Executive Director, Academy of Applied Hypnosis.
References:
Gruzelier, J. H. (2002) A Review of the Impact of Hypnosis, Relaxation, Guided Imagery and Individual Differences on Aspects of Immunity and Health. Stress, 5, 147–163.
Kirsch, I. (2005) Medication and Suggestion in the Treatment of Depression. Contemporary Hypnosis,22, 59-66.
Mamtani, R. & Cimino, A. (2002) A primer of complementary and alternative medicine and its relevance in the treatment of mental health problems. Psychiatric Quarterly, 73, 367-381.
Tsao, J. C. I. & Craske, M. G. (2003) Reactivity to imagery and nocturnal panic attacks. Depression & Anxiety. , 18, 205-13.

Hypnosis goes to the heart

Hypnosis Goes Straight To The Heart of the Problem – Bruni Brewin

Probably the best way that I can allow people to gain an understanding of the capabilities of Clinical Hypnotherapy is for them to read the below article that was published in a magazine called ‘Natural Bloom” in 2004 , which is about one of the Clients that came to see me.  Will, (not his real name) and I wished each other a Merry Xmas in December  2007 and I am pleased to report that all is well with him still.  As with every therapy, it is the combination of level of training of the therapist, rapport, general life skills and interaction between client and therapist that develops the outcomes in therapy. This story started when the client, who I’ll call “Will”, came to see me about a problem with his heart.

Will’s story

Will’s heartbeat fluctuated from 30 beats per minute to 200 beats per minute. (A normal range is somewhere between 70-80 beats per minute.) His doctors had strongly advised him that he should have both a cardiac restrictor and a pacemaker inserted into his chest to control his arrhythmia because sometimes only the top half of his heart did the work, while at other times only the bottom part of his heart worked. However Will was a bit reluctant to do this…

Will’s cardiologist also suggested he needed to do more exercise so he started with gentle exercise and increased it slowly until he was able to do quite a lot of bike riding along with some other cross training such as walking and weights. After further questioning from his cardiologist Will also become aware that his eating habits were not helping his problems either – he used to skip breakfast and eat too much at night – so he changed his eating habits and followed his cardiologist’s diet to the letter.

However after a number of visits to the hospital when his heart had again been beating 200 beats a minute, Will’s cardiologist told him that “It was all in his head.” Well, in Will’s book that meant there was only one person that could deal with this type of problem, and that was a hypnotherapist. Hence his visit to me.

Will’s initial concerns

During his first session with me Will explained he had a couple of concerns:

  • that someone (me, as the hypnotherapist) might have total control over his mind, and
  • that he could not be hypnotised.

However, Will felt completely at ease when I told him that it was not really possible for me to have complete control over his mind, and anyway I had no intention of doing any such thing. Just to reassure him, I mentioned that if I said anything that was against his ethics, his belief system, or his religious beliefs, his subconscious mind would simply ignore me.

His second concern was the result of another occasion when someone had attempted to hypnotise him, but he did not feel it had worked. So, could I give him some sort of proof that he was hypnotized? I did a simple susceptibility test by suggesting that as my hand was going down his right arm that it would feel heavy and at the same time, the left arm would become lighter and lighter. Both of which happened, and no further convincing was necessary.

Will’s belief system

During his first visit Will explained that he had had a heart attack but that the blockage had been cleared with angioplasty treatment. Although this proved to be successful, it was after that, that the arrhythmia started and that that now made him a candidate for a stroke. He explained that as a preventative measure he now took tablets to thin the blood and to prevent it from clotting, however this had resulted in some unpleasant side effects.

Will explained, “When you have a heart attack you have to deeply consider why you had it. Bad luck doesn’t come into the equation. Let’s be honest, there has to be a reason. Hereditary factors could be part of it, but is a long way from being the sole answer. Saturated fat in my diet, smoking and lack of exercise were possible other contributing factors”.

Between the hospital visit and coming to see me, and to get a better idea of his problem, Will studied up on electro-physiology and the result of catheter ablation. He learnt all about the hearts electrical circuiting. Then during one of our hypnosis sessions Will believed that the subconscious was showing him that his heart’s electrical circuit was going haywire. This led him to further research, which then led him to believe that there were two things wrong with the electrical circuit of his heart – suprentricular tachycardia and an atria flutter.

The suprentricular tachycardia he felt was easy because he was able to control that after just one session. The atria flutter he explained he found much harder to get rid of because it interfered with many circuits. He felt that these two were the problem because, in hypnosis when he concentrated on the electrical circuits in his heart, that was what he felt. (It is important to state here, that whatever the client feels, that is what is dealt with. Whether it is accurate or not, that is their reality for the purpose of hypnotherapy.)

Will surmised that; when the heart beats faster it goes into red alert like you have just done a very exerting exercise, or you are having something life threatening happening to you. This made self-hypnosis a tough job for concentration because that anxiety attack would not go away until he had changed the electrical circuit.

Breathing

During our first session Will found out that his breathing was very radical. He also found that he was bouncing his breath on the way in as well as on the way out. (When he breathed in, his breath would stop suddenly, then start again and the same would happen when he breathed out.) He also found it difficult to correct this, because a strong feeling of anxiety would come over him. This was due to a strong feeling when he breathed in that he needed to quickly breath out again. And when he breathed out, a strong feeling of anxiety came over him because he was scared he would not be able to breathe in fast enough.

So to counteract this I asked Will to work on breathing like an opera singer. This technique involves breathing in through the nose gently and taking the breath into the stomach (bypassing the chest), and then only when the stomach is full of air, continuing to gently breathe in until the chest is also full up, thus changing the dynamics of breathing. When the body was full of breath, he would gently release this by breathing out of his mouth, tightening the stomach muscles to release the air from the stomach and then continuing to release from the chest area. By practicing this during self-hypnosis at home between sessions, Will was able to get a gentle easy rhythm going.

Will saw this as a start to getting his heart to go on another electrical circuit that did not have that extra beat in it. However Will felt that he had to still check his breathing on a regular basis. He checked it for being slow, smooth and continuous as well as deep enough. He noted that as a rule his arrhythmia normally happened at a set time. We also instructed his subconscious to check his breathing whilst sleeping and to wake him up sufficiently to get his breathing back in order should that become necessary.

Self hypnosis or self talking

When the heart was beating in good rhythm Will repeatedly said to himself, “This is the electrical circuit I need to be on”. Then he would try to concentrate on the feeling of the electrical circuit in his heart. At other times when he felt the heart going out of rhythm, he would tell himself, “Find another circuit” and he would keep repeating this slowly until the heart found a good circuit to follow. Then he would say to himself, “That’s good, that is where you should be”.

Will felt that checking the breathing was something that requires 24/7 attention, to make sure these bad habits didn’t come creeping back. Will noted that by using self-talk and talking slowly and calmly (during self hypnosis) telling himself that everything was all right, and that there was no threat, he managed to calm the breathing down. At other times just telling himself to change the circuit and repeating that instruction, and then thanking the subconscious for the good job done seemed to work as well. He would remind it to repair that bad circuit. He then coupled that with thinking of something like the clouds floating by, or other things that he found calming and peaceful to his mind. This all helped to stop the red alert and feelings of anxiety.

Therapies used
  • Tracking – going back in time to the first time a particular emotion or feeling came into being, then working with this to a point where negative feelings no longer hold anxiety and can be filed in the mind as not important.
  • Ideo-motor questioning – using finger levitation for some of the work that is best done in trance at a deeper level without involving the conscious part of the mind.
  • Anchoring, Reframing, and Metaphors were also used.
  • Additionally some trauma release therapies were used. Such as Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) (Shapiro 1995), Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) (Gerbode, 1989) and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) (Craig & Fowley 1995).

Whilst all these individual therapies are valid in their own right without formal hypnosis, it is my observation and knowledge over the past 16 years, that when carried out during hypnosis they work much faster and get right to the crux of the matter, taking substantially less time to release trapped emotions.

Of course, the most important part of all therapies, is knowledge, caring, empathy and a good rapport with your client.

In summary

Let’s summarise Will’s problems here:

  • Heart attack, then arrhythmia.
    Cure: Get rid of saturated fat from the diet. Stop smoking. Do gentle exercises and build on these.
  • Heart beating too fast.
    Cure: Self hypnosis and slow deep breathing for 5 minutes, if still a problem take a tablet for slowing the heart.
  • Heart beating too slow (shallow breathing).
    Cure: Self hypnosis and deep breathing.
  • Bouncing breath or stopping before completely out.
    Cure: Self-hypnosis and controlled deep breathing. Go for repetition rather than trying for too much control, otherwise anxiety will take over.
  • The heart going excessively too fast or too slow can cause clotting (stroke).
    Cure: Take ½ asprin or warfin (under the direction of his doctor).
  • Panicky subconscious.
    Cure: Self hypnosis together with controlled breathing and concentrating on something, which is peaceful to you.
  • Post trauma
    Cure: Saw a hypnotherapist to get him through it.

Will acknowledged that the cures that he used are by no means the answer for everyone, although it has been the answer for him and also for some other people suffering from similar problems.

It is now 12 years since Will had his heart attack, but he still keeps in regular contact. He has no pacemaker, no cardiac restrictor and only occasionally relies on medication such as a ¼ – ½ of an aspirin when he feels the need for a bit of extra help. He still takes some warfin (as directed by his doctor). He feels that he has his arrhythmia problem 95% under control and he no longer suffers from anxiety attacks. Will continually states to whomever will listen that he is more than happy with his outcome and prognosis for the future.

 
Bruni Brewin is the president emeritus of the Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association. She has a thriving practice in Chipping Norton, NSW.

What’s new about hypnosis?

What’s New About Hypnosis – Bruni Brewin

Looking back through history, we can see that hypnosis has been in use for thousands of years. Back in 1400 BC Hypocrites was the first to record that there was a mind-body connection. Hypnosis’s use can still be seen in some primitive peoples’ religious and healing ceremonies. These ceremonies show us that the rhythmic chanting, the repetitive beating of drums, and the sparks rising from fires, all give village shaman, witchdoctors or priests the appearance of having magical and/or mystical powers. The village shaman, witchdoctors or priests are able to work miracles through what we today call  ‘the power of suggestion in the trance state’. It was Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer who, in the late 18th century, brought hypnosis and hypnotherapy to the modern western world.

Sleep Temple or Dream Therapy?

Hypnosis used to be called ‘suggestion therapy’ and can be traced back over 4000 years to ancient Egypt to the Egyptian priest, Imhotep. The ancient Egyptians used to heal people in what they called “Sleep or Dream Temples.” Inscriptions on the walls of these temples tell of miraculous cures. In these Sleep or Dream Temples, sick people were put into a trance like state, where under the influence hypnosis and through religious rituals, it was suggested that healing by the gods would take place. Then through this power of suggestion, the priests were able to appear to cast out bad spirits from the mind and body of the sick.

Even in Greece, in the 4th and 5th centuries BC, Sleep or Dream Temples were renowned as places of great healing and were dedicated to the healing god Æsclepius. Again, healing would take place whilst the person was in a deep trance like state. This trance state would come about by the priest using various forms of chanting. A person could be kept in this trance state for up to three days. During this time the priests by using the power of suggestion would help the person, to obtain a cure for their illness. The sole healing power of the mind cured them.
On the other hand, the ancient Hebrews also used chanting, as well as breathing exercises and fixation on the Hebrew letters that spelled their word for God, to induce a state of what we would, today, call self-hypnosis. Then again, people such as fire-walkers, or even priests that use the religious practices of “the laying on of hands” to make people faint onto the floor, all use the power of suggestion and expectation or auto-hypnosis to bring about an altered state of consciousness.

The Romans also adopted the use of healing sleep/Incubation Temples. The Romans dedicated their Sleep Temples to their god Apollo.  Relics of Roman Sleep Temples can be found throughout what used to be seen as the Roman Empire. Even today people are able to see the remains of Roman Sleep Temples in some parts of Britain.

Science Is Starting To Alter It’s Opinion

For many even though it is not true, the belief that hypnosis means being under someone else’s control, still persists. This is why, even today, many people will still exhaust all forms of conventional means for the treatment of trauma, anxiety and phobia, as well as stress induced physical problems and addictions before they turn to the possibilities that hypnosis or hypnotherapy by a properly trained Hypnotherapist can offer.

However science is beginning catch up with ancient knowledge. A UK study has just been completed where scientists were able to measure the brain waves of people before during and after being in a hypnotic trance. The narrow band of theta and alpha activity was recorded over anterior and posterior sites in both high and low hypnotically susceptible subjects. The subjects in hypnosis accessed the “7 Hz alpha” frequency, not the “3 Hz theta” (sleep) frequency. These results indicated that, whereas the theta indexes relaxation, alpha indexes the hypnotic experience of susceptibility.

There are also a number of recent studies that have shown that patients in hypnosis have experienced far less pain during treatments. The studies showed that the experience of pain is subjective and that a number of the brain’s regions are associated with the experience of pain and that people can’t feel pain at the 7 Hz alpha levels. The study also provided evidence that hypnosis allows the dissociation of the prefrontal cortex from other neural functions. Suggesting that hypnosis can interfere with those regions of the brain that allow people to feel pain.
On the other hand in a hospital study, in the UK, of 250 unselected patients suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), tests showed that after only 12 sessions of hypnotherapy there was an 80% overall improvement in both the patients’ physical and psychological symptoms. A follow-up some 12 months later, showed that the patients retained the benefits provided by their hypnotherapy treatment. The hospital concluded that hypnotherapy was the most cost effective way of treating IBS and now has a team of Hypnotherapists who, along with the doctors, deal with the IBS patients at the hospital.

Thus these studies are showing through modern techniques and scientific based evidence the potential benefits of hypnosis, something that Clinical Hypnotherapists in countries all over the world have known for thousands of years.

Closer To Home

In my own practice, an interesting example of the benefits of hypnotherapy can be seen in a patient who after suffering a heart attack and angioplasty treatment was then afflicted with arrhythmia, causing his heartbeat to fluctuate between 30 beats per minute to 200 beats per minute. The client had strongly been advised that he should have both a pacemaker and a cardiac restrictor placed in his chest to control his heartbeat. However not wishing to go through another life threatening operation he decided to see if hypnosis could help. Through a number of sessions of hypnosis, learning to take control of his breathing, releasing past trauma and following the diet and exercise changes, plus the taking of a minimal amount of medication recommended by his doctor, today the patient feels that he has his heart problem 95% under control without the assistance of any medical devices needed. That was 8 years ago and he is still going strong.
The Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association is the oldest hypnotherapy association in Australia and its members has been helping clients since 1949. Hippocrates hit the nail on the head when he called this mind-body connection, “Vis medicatrix natural” (The healing power of nature).

Bruni Brewin is the president emeritus of the Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association. She has a thriving practice in Chipping Norton, NSW.
 
This article was submitted to the “Art of Healing” Magazine
 
References
Williams JD, Gruzelier JH. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2001 Jul,49(3):185-206
Croft RJ, Williams JD, Haenschel C, Gruzelier JH. Int J Psychophysiol. 2002
Gosline A. Nov;46(2):101-8, NewScientist.com;9-10-4
Liossi C, Hatira P. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 1999 Apr;47(2):104-16
Liossi C, Hatira P. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2003 Jan;51(1):4-28
Mateo A. Spanish Society of Clinical Hypnosis
Gonsalkorale WM, Houghon LA, Whorell PJ. American Jnl of Gastroenterology, Vol..97, No.4, 2002

Hypnosis and Smoking

Using Hypnosis To Quit Smoking

The Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association (AHA) has received approval for listing on the Quitline database to assist people through the use of hypnosis to help stop their addiction to smoking.  For information of a Hypnotherapist in your area that may be able to assist you to stop smoking, call the Free Advisory Line 1800 067 557.

For more information use the links below:

  • Quitline 13 1848  Quitline is completely confidential. Anyone who is experiencing a smoking addiction problem, or who knows of someone who needs to quit smoking can ring Quitline.
  • Cancer Council 13 1129
  • A Hypnotherapist 1800 067 557
The “Hyp-No-Smoke” release program

“The intention of this smoking release program is to
get to a state where it won’t occur to you to smoke.”

A recent UK study indicated that most people, who smoke cigarettes, wish to quit the habit. This has resulted in the Australian government sponsoring advertisements to encourage people to stop smoking and reduce their chances of getting lung cancer.

But did you know, that smoking affects much more than just your lungs?  A good site for you to have a look at to gain further information on this is:

   The University of Sydney Tobacco Control Supersite

Can you stop smoking?

However with the increasing number of people wanting to quit smoking there is now also an increasing number of ways being offered to help them to achieve this. These include Nicotine Replacement, Acupuncture, and even Group Therapy, just to mention a few.  All in all there are many different ways, both using conventional medicine and complementary therapy to help people to quit the smoking habit. One of the most successful of these is hypnotherapy.

Hypnotherapy is different.  Nicotine addiction is not the main problem in stopping smoking. Nicotine can be out of your system in as little as three to four days, whilst other chemicals (about 4,000 in all) may take another four or five days.  With this in mind, one might ask why it is that people can give up smoking for one, two or maybe three months and then drift back to cigarettes.  The reason is simply that they have never overcome the Psychological habit of being a smoker.  The habit is lodged in the subconscious mind so that there is a constant desire for a cigarette.  It is the nagging desire that this habit creates which will gradually wear the ex-smoker down, until in a moment of stress or weakness they give in and light that first cigarette.

Hypnosis helps

Hypnotherapy is designed to overcome the Psychological addiction. Hypnosis allows the habit of being a smoker to be replaced with the habit of being a non-smoker.  Hypnosis will strengthen the desire and motivation of the person to stop smoking in exactly the same way that Hypnosis is used by sportspeople to increase their motivation and performance.

Why not take advantage of this to give up your Smoking habit now? Once you have made the decision, you will have already gone through the hardest part of quitting. Hypnotherapy is one of the most successful and easiest ways to give up the smoking habit.

IT DOES NOT MATTER – How heavily you smoke… how long you have smoked… or how often you have unsuccessfully tried to stop.

IT DOES MATTER – That you have a strong desire to break the habit… that it must be your own decision to stop smoking.

Members of The Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association have been helping people to stop smoking for over 57 years.  If you are serious about quitting, you can safely use this proven method.

Please contact the AHA FREE ADVISORY LINE 1800 067 557 to arrange an appointment with your nearest practitioner, and see how Hypnotherapy can work for you.

New Scientist Magazine

In 1992 New Scientist Magazine published the results of an extensive clinical study on the most effective smoking cessation methods. Frank Schmidt and research student Chockalingam Viswesvaran of the University of Iowa carried out a meta-analysis, statistically combining the results of more than 600 studies covering almost 72,000 people from America, Scandinavia and elsewhere …

It shows single session hypnosis increased a smoker’s success chance by 1000% from 6% to 60%.

Success rates for different smoking cessation methods

  • 60% – Single session Hypnosis
  • 24% – Acupuncture
  • 10% – Nicotine Replacement Therapy
  • 6% – Willpower alone

Proving that hypnosis is the most effective way of giving up smoking, according to the largest ever scientific comparison of ways of breaking the habit. Willpower, it turns out, counts for very little.

Source: New Scientist,  October 1992, Vol 136.
Cigarette Smoke and Children
Summary of an article by Quitline.

A baby living with people who smoke inside their house and/or car will end up inhaling passive smoke. Inhaling this passive smoke will be the equivalent to the baby having smoked 80 cigarettes by the time of her/his first birthday! Children who are exposed to passive smoke are more likely to develop asthma and have more frequent asthma attacks; have poorer lung function and slower lung growth; have more ear, nose, throat and chest infections; and young babies are more at risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (cot death).

Passive smoke is the smoke breathed out by a smoker and from the end of a lit cigarette. It may be invisible but it contains more dangerous chemicals than the smoke inhaled by the smoker. In particular it affects young children because their lungs are smaller and more delicate.  Passive smoke contains: nicotine (the addictive drug in cigarettes ); tar (which coats the inside of lungs, making it harder to breathe) and the same gas that comes from car exhausts (so the heart needs to work harder).  Therefore you, as the parent, needs to realise that the chemicals in passive smoke can make your child sick.

Trichotillomania and Hypnotherapy

Trichotillomania and Hypnotherapy – Mia Lack

There is a split in the medical world as to whether trichotillomania (TTM) is an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or an impulse-control disorder and as such is a form of “nervous” illness. Another view is that it’s entirely a behavioural disorder learnt as a reaction to prolonged stress. However, whatever it is classified as, about 2% of the population know it causes them a great deal of embarrassment, discomfort and distress.

TTM involves recurrent hair pulling, resulting in a noticeable loss of hair. It includes compulsive and habitual pulling of eye lashes, eye brows, head hair, and pubic hair. Tension before the act and feelings of pleasure immediately thereafter are typical affect conditions. The obvious hair loss results in increased anxiety and often may lead to an avoidance of social situations and even intimate relationships. Reduced self-esteem is also a factor. Hypnotherapy is now seen as a valid clinical intervention for TTM treatment.

The occurrence of TTM is unknown, but seems to affect more women than men; with only about 1 in 10 trichsters being male. The average age people start hairpulling is 12 years old. The most common triggers are stress, boredom and anxiety. If the client is still at school check for bullying problems etc.

Too many doctors ignore young TTM sufferers as they frequently believe that they will eventually outgrow it. However, if they do not, the problem will last well into their adult years and waiting to see if the young person will outgrow it may prevent the individual from receiving adequate treatment during the period when it may be best and easiest to resolve.

TTM often tends to affect very intelligent and sensitive young people, and while it is a disorder, the behaviour itself may even be a reaction to boredom, due to that high intelligence. Even though TTM is believed to be a genetic disorder, the probability of a person with TTM having a child with the disorder, is still very small. Sensitivity issues are more likely to be passed on than the actual TTM behaviour.

While hair pulling and eyelash pulling is frequently believed to be either ADHD or an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) there are important differences between TTM and OCD. The term trichotillomania was formally incorporated into DSM-III (Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) in 1987. It is still classified as an impulse-control disorder much like pyromania, and kleptomania. If the client has been diagnosed as having ADHD and TTM, this could be an example of the doctor not understanding the complexities of TTM and its attention related problems.

Considering the conditions when TTM occurs may be the key to truly understanding hair pulling and designing hypnotherapeutic interventions. Hair pulling often occurs in sedentary and contemplative situations while the client is sitting or lying down and absorbed in thought or concentrating on other tasks. Therefore, their acting out is often out of their awareness or in only partial awareness. Also, tension, boredom, anger, depression, frustration, indecision, lethargy, and fatigue states are also frequently occurring.

TTM is a learned behaviour that is programmed into the client’s brain during a period in their life when s/he does not have sufficient neo-cortical resources to understand and deal with threats. Therefore, it is somewhat of a defensive reaction that is programmed (i.e. habituated). Should the client not grow out of it, the resulting neural networks become so strong that they tend to resist any type of intervention.

The psychotherapeutic treatment of TTM needs to address empowerment, self-efficacy, the development of dissociative awareness, and habit replacement. Essentially, the client needs to develop the belief that they can change, awareness of hair pulling incidents, and replace their self-image and habitual behaviour. The re-focusing of their mind can help the neural networks associated with the problem to wither and strengthen new pathways.

Hypnotherapy is uniquely suited as an intervention for the treatment of TTM. This is for two primary reasons. First, the essential nature of hypnosis is to bypass resistance to change. This is often referred to as a bypass of pattern resistance, a bypass of the critical faculty, or splitting the symptoms from the cause. However, the primary fact here is that once a TTM sufferer becomes an adult, the associated neural patterns are extremely strong and, like any entrenched patterns, they will resist any efforts to change.

The second benefit of the therapeutic use of hypnosis is that it has the ability to create alternate neural pathways. Post hypnotic suggestions that a hair pulling incident will trigger a dissociated awareness are extremely helpful, as the client will automatically become aware and potentially able to find alternate behaviours. Additionally, hypnosis can be used to install new behaviours, to establish and reinforce the client’s belief that they have the power to alter affect responses, and to establish a more empowering self-image. The most beneficial therapy for clients with TTM is SOLUTION based, as research has shown clients rarely benefit from regression or past based therapies. Guided imagery, direct and indirect suggestions, parallel communication, and humour are among the variety of techniques available to a competent hypnotherapist.

With the use of hypnotherapy, it is important for the hypnotherapist to realise that treatment is not a short-term solution. A TTM hypnotherapy protocol should include several weekly or bi-weekly sessions with the hypnotherapist. These sessions should sequentially focus on self-empowerment, dissociative awareness, establishing alternate responses, and reinforcing new self-imagery. These sessions should be aided by having the client listen daily to self-hypnosis CDs that either focus on the specific topic of the previous visit or a multi-topic CD, which is specifically designed to address TTM.

TTM is a very resistant mental pathology. Symptom-based treatment alone is ineffective in the long-run. However many hypnotherapists have found that, especially for adult clients, to equate hair pulling with something negative, like nausea so that when the client feels the urge to pull out their hair, the negative feeling of nausea will help them to avoid it. While at the same time using a solution-based hypnotherapy treatment to attack the underlying entrenched patterns and thus attempt to establish alternate ones.

On the other hand trichotillomania comes in many stages of severity and it may be that symptom transference is initially needed. Here the patient is hypnotised and the ‘part’ causing the obsession is negotiated with and, for example, pulling hair from the scalp is traded down for pulling hair from the arm or leg, etc. It might even be possible to transfer the hair pulling ‘off site’ onto a doll / wig/ or piece of material.

Regardless of the techniques used the number of sessions required may vary depending upon the client’s particular situation and severity. Sometimes just 1 or 2 sessions are enough, however, sometimes a short course of treatment is required lasting maybe 2 – 5 sessions. The client should also be taught self hypnosis to practice between visits.

In conclusion although there are many psychotherapeutic avenues that may show significantly positive results, hypnotherapy appears to be the best and most successful.

Hypnosis and Gambling (2)

How Hypnosis Helps With Gambling Issues

The Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association (AHA) has received approval for listing on the G-Line database to assist people through the use of hypnosis to help their addiction to Gambling.  For information of a Clinical Hypnotherapist in your area that may be able to assist you, call the Free Advisory Line 1800 067 557.

Confidentiality

AHA Members treat with confidence any personal information about clients, whether obtained directly or by inference.  This applies to all verbal, written or recorded material produced as a result of the relationship.  All records, whether written or any other form, are protected with the strictest of confidence, (unless the law requires it to be otherwise).

G-Line Key Resources – Fast Finder

G-Line is completely confidential and operates in a variety of community languages including Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, Macedonian, Croatian and Vietnamese. Anyone who is experiencing a gambling problem, or who knows of someone who is in need of G-line please ring 1800 633 635.

For more information use the links below:
  • The Department of Gaming and Racing
  • IPART
  • The Casino Community Benefit Fund
  • To talk to someone about gambling problems you, or someone close to you, may be having: Call  G-line (NSW) counselling service – 1800 633 635
  • To find a hypnotherapist in your area phone – 1800 067 557
  • To make a complaint about inappropriate or irresponsible practices you believe a gambling operator has engaged in, contact the Department of Gaming and Racing on (02) 9995 0300 orinfo@dgr.nsw.gov.au (GPO Box 7060, Sydney NSW 2001

Members of The Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association have been helping people to stop gambling for over 57 years.  If you are serious about seeking help for gambling, you can safely use this proven method.

Please contact the AHA FREE ADVISORY LINE 1800 067 557 to arrange an appointment with your nearest practitioner, and see how Hypnotherapy can work for you.

Hypnosis and Gambling

Hypnosis and Gambling – Bruni Brewin
It is often said that Australians will gamble on anything…

What is gambling?  ”Staking money on uncertain events driven by chance. The major forms are wagering (racing and sports) and gaming (casinos, gaming machines, keno and lotteries).”

The term “Problem Gambling” includes, but is not limited to, the condition known as “Pathological”, or “Compulsive” Gambling, a progressive addiction characterized by increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.

People around the world have been gambling for many hundreds of years and it has been part of Australian culture since European settlement.

For most Australians gambling is an enjoyable form of entertainment. Gamblers come from all walks of life and sections of the community. For most people it is an enjoyable pastime that does not cause any difficulties because people are able to control their behaviour and are prepared to spend and lose what they can realistically afford.  For a small proportion, however, gambling has negative social consequences.  For every person who has a problem with gambling it has been estimated that another five people are affected.

The frequency of a person’s gambling does not determine whether or not they have a gambling problem. Even though the problem gambler may only go on periodic gambling binges, the emotional and financial consequences will still be evident in the gambler’s life, including the effects on the family.

Although no substance is ingested, the problem gambler gets the same effect from gambling as someone else might get from taking a tranquilizer or having a drink. The gambling alters the person’s mood and the gambler keeps repeating the behavior attempting to achieve that same effect. But just as tolerance develops to drugs or alcohol, the gambler finds that it takes more and more of the gambling experience to achieve the same emotional effect as before. This creates an increased craving for the activity and the gambler finds they have less and less ability to resist as the craving grows in intensity and frequency.

Some of the reasons for gambling may include; a way to escape bad feelings, eg anxiety, loneliness, depression, sadness and grief; a way to cope with feelings of stress; to relieve boredom; to feel accepted in a group; to cope with unhappy relationships or a way out to solve all their problems.

New figures released on Tuesday 14th February 2006 from the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates on the component of gambling within the overall retail sector of the economy.

The bureau said between December 2003 and the December 2005 quarter, gambling net proceeds grew 22.1 per cent to almost $2 billion. Turnover through hotels and licensed clubs was up 12.1 per cent to more than $4.8 billion.

Gambling now accounts for 40 per cent of total turnover in the nation’s pubs and licensed clubs.  Gambling proceeds grew 4.5 per cent in the December quarter alone, and followed growth rates of more than five per cent in two of the previous three quarters.

NSW is still the nation’s gambling epicentre. Seven per cent of total retail turnover in the premier state is attributable to gambling.

Gambling accounts for 3.2 per cent of retail turnover in Queensland, 3.1 per cent in the ACT, 2.9 per cent in South Australia, 1.8 per cent in Victoria, 1.4 per cent in the Northern Territory and less than one per cent in Tasmania and Western Australia.

Many of us have entered a Melbourne Cup sweep (when the whole country seems to stand still for a horse race) or taken part in ‘footy pools’ during the football season, or lottery tickets in general.

It’s been said that Australians will bet on anything – even two flies crawling up a wall. Yearly, as part of the celebration of our National ANZAC day, hundreds of people around the country openly play the illegal game of two up.  Today, we are able to play it on the internet.

The Internet will change gambling as we know it.  Personal computers will become virtual casinos and digital television could transform living rooms into gambling venues.  There is little doubt that while less than 1 per cent of Australians are gambling online now, the number will increase – and so will the amount being gambled.  For example, Canbet, an online wagering site operating out of Canberra, has reported that its turnover increased from $14.2m in 1996 to $47m in 1998-99.  Lasseters Online, Australia’s first licensed online casino, reports that it is making a profit of $1m per month.  The turnover for its first year of operations was $78m.

The National Crime Authority (NCA) advised that online gambling provides criminals with the means to launder money. The Committee recognised the need to ensure that existing resources in the fight against money laundering are adapted to meet the challenges posed by online gambling.  Australians are able to access overseas-based online gambling sites with the click of a mouse. In fact, the majority of Internet gambling sites are located offshore. Most are found in the Caribbean, which offers operators favourable taxation rates and lax regulatory standards.

Whilst helping a gambler to get back on track suggest that they pay their bills, rent, mortgage and buy food etc before deciding to gamble; only gamble with their own money; plan their gambling before they leave the house, for example set limits on the amounts of time and money they will spend; keep a weekly record of their wins and losses; do not take an ATM card to access extra money; arrange other activities for some of the times they would normally go to gamble.

Some helpful ideas that have worked for others have been to always eat before gambling, as this will help to think more clearly; reduce intake of caffeine if not sleeping well; not to drink alcoholic drinks while gambling; tell someone who cares if they are feeling stressed, unhappy or upset; don’t feel ashamed about getting help from a professional who has a good understanding of gambling and the problems that may come with it.

If assisting a spouse of a problem gambler, in order to stay safe they may need to think about arranging separate bank accounts; cancel joint credit cards; get legal advice about protecting their share of joint assets, like the house; pay the bills themselves or arrange automatic bank transfers; talk about their worries over with a trusted friend; and be aware of their own stress and the effects the situation may be having on their children.

There is some evidence to suggest that children of parent(s) who have a problem with gambling are at a greater risk to using alcohol, drugs or gambling at an earlier age than other children.

More immediate problems for children come from the financial hardship experienced causing a lack of money for items like food, clothing, family outings, activities and school excursions.  They may feel the loss for a parent who is always away gambling for long periods, the loss of security and loss of trust may become an issue.  This may cause a withdrawal of the child from making friends at school, a loss of confidence, feeling guilty or ashamed about their parent’s behaviour and not wanting to bring other school children to their home.

As with every other problem, people who gamble are responsible for their behaviour and are the ones that will decide if they want help to change their behaviour.  It doesn’t matter how long they have gambled or how many other things they have tried unsuccessfully to stop the gambling habit.  It does matter that it is their decision to want to change if therapy is to be successful.

Bruni Brewin is the president emeritus of the Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association. She has a thriving practice in Chipping Norton, NSW.

Hypnosis, Brain Power and Change

Brain Power and Change – Bruni Brewin

Scientists tell us that our brain is made up of 100 billion nerve cells called neurons.  A nerve impulse is a wave of electrical activity that passes from one end of a neuron to the other.  Neurons communicate with each other at special junctions called synapses.  The signal may be directly transferred at electrical synapses or, if there is no physical link between adjacent neurons, the signal is carried across the gap by chemicals called neurotransmitters. Each cell is connected to around 10,000 others that all communicate with each other. It is estimated that the total number of connections in your brain is about 1000 trillion.

Researchers claim that the brain is an electrochemical organ, and that our brain generates enough electrical power to light a flashlight bulb. Mind Researcher and Personal Achievement Coach, Dr. Jill Ammon-Wexler says, “Whilst that doesn’t seem like much power, and whilst a 5-watt light bulb won’t light the inside of a refrigerator, a focused 5-watt laser would easily burn right through the metal door of that same refrigerator”.

When thinking about the above, it makes me think that it could be likened to our state of  ‘Desire’.  If our desire is weak, we would hardly generate enough electrical power to stimulate our neurons into action to achieve that desire.  But, if our desire is strong, the electrical power is so focused, that like that laser, it can power through all that is required to obtain our desired result.

Whilst history has shown that people have known for thousands of years that the brain is able to be influenced to alter bodily reactions and functions, it was not until the 1950’s that scientists were able to scientifically prove this through biofeedback experiments.   Today we know almost everyone is capable of learning to control their brain waves, and people are able to access states of relaxation, creativity, productivity, stress management, and emotional expression.  The brainwave state during hypnosis or self-hypnosis is the major facilitator to these states. And whilst EEG machines can now show us that different parts of our brain light up to different stimulus, how the brain decides to organize these happenings is still largely a mystery.

When it comes down to people making the changes that they desire, we know that sometimes there are stoppers that prevent them from doing so.  One of those stoppers is the power of their ‘belief system’ or another name for that might be ‘past programming’.  Another is their ‘Automatic Negative Thoughts’  (ANT’s).  One of the most powerful ways that a person can overcome their ANT’s is to override the stimulus of negative thoughts by replacing them with Positive Thoughts.    Not an easy thing for anyone to do, you would no doubt agree.  However, in the state of hypnosis with assistance from a well-trained Hypnotherapist, we know there are techniques that are able to facilitate these changes.

Loren Parks from Psychological Research Foundation, Inc. says, “That no matter how you look at it, SUGGESTION is the necessary element to healing. Getting the subconscious to ACCEPT the suggestion is the problem.”

Parks says one of his frequent admonitions during therapy is. “I want you, the person you are today to be in charge of yourself, not the little girl/boy within you. So when I clap my hands (squeeze your hand, shoulder or whatever) and say DISCONNECT! It will disconnect you completely from that younger girl (woman)/boy (man) within you and YOU will be in charge of your own emotions.”

He reminds us that the subconscious mind is child-like and non-reasoning and that the mind can respond to commands from an outsider (such as parent, teacher or hypnotherapist) much more readily than it responds to commands we give ourselves. For example when, as a child, it is given a command with a defined “trigger” it is much more likely to be accepted. “Here, Mommy’ll kiss it and make it better.” This is exactly the way parents trigger change!   (When I do this, then that will happen.)

Then when we become adults, Parks cites as examples of suggestions: the ritual of prayer, rituals by witch doctors or shamans and other religious rituals such as the ritual of exorcism, the ritual of the laying on of hands, the ritual of  “psychic surgery”, the ritual of chants and others.  In Park’s view, the basic element in all these rituals is “suggestion.”   Put another way, they all reprogram the person’s subconscious mind and it is this trigger that the hypnotherapist can also access to help their client change an undesired behaviour or belief.

Bruni Brewin is the president emeritus of the Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association. She has a thriving practice in Chipping Norton, NSW.

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