Continuing a new series of interviews with Atkinson-Ball hypnotherapists
Hugh was a reporter and then a teacher before he discovered the fulfilment of being a hypnotherapist. He’s had a hypnotherapy practice in Essex for more than 20 years now, and is happily making a living entirely from that. Hugh is a major support to newly qualified Atkinson-Ball therapists, sharing the benefit of his skills and experience.
“While I think most people get into hypnotherapy through having hypnotherapy and realising its value, my route was a little different,” says Hugh. “In a ‘previous life’ as a trainee reporter, I met a hypnotist. This kindled the idea in me as to how powerful hypnosis/hypnotherapy could be for therapy. I never forgot that experience, and, although my work took me in different directions for a number of years, there simply came a time when I decided I had to find out more about it, and how I could use it to help people who may have issues that needed sorting in their lives.
“The catalyst was my disillusionment with my work in special education. I felt the obvious way forward as a teacher would be to look to a headship, but felt I could not do that because I could not go with much of the politics behind teaching, and would never want to perpetuate a system that – deep down – I could not go along with. Don’t get me wrong, I loved teaching pupils with challenging behaviour and special needs – and believe I was a good teacher – and watched in awe at the effort and dedication that went into the work from others in the profession. It was the wider political pressures on the profession that were not for me. I still wanted to help people. But I suppose I wanted to just cut out the middle man, and do it my way.”
What other training or life experience helps you in being a hypnotherapist?
“There is no substitute for a certain amount of life experience in becoming a hypnotherapist. I do not believe it is a life choice that can be made early in life. It needs to kind of evolve into your raison d’etre so to speak. It certainly did for me. By the time I went full-time I had been the product of a boarding school education – which taught me quite a lot about loneliness, emotional deprivation, standing on your own two feet from an early age, and the effects of bullying – and had qualified in journalism, social work, and special education. While I always felt that I had not quite found my direction in life in any of these situations – and felt quite uncomfortable inside about this – in retrospect I feel they were all extremely helpful in giving me the platform to do the work I now love.”
What do you enjoy about being a hypnotherapist?
“Everything. I do not see it as a job. I see it as a life style. Every day is different. There are no Monday morning blues in this work. You meet interesting people, and learn from them every day. They might need a little help at this particular point in their lives from a sympathetic and well trained objective outsider, and, if your role as hypnotherapist can help them along the road, well what more can you want?”
What else would you like to say about hypnotherapy?
“How much time do you have? Hypnotherapy done properly is a fast, effective, psychotherapeutic method for change. Its real strength is that it works at the level of our very primitive, super powerful subconscious minds, where our emotional difficulties are buried, but still driving our feelings, habits and behaviours outside of our conscious awareness. Other talking therapies work at the much weaker level of the logical, more developmentally modern, conscious mind. Conscious effort cannot compete with the emotional power established – often in the first seven years of life, but perhaps by later trauma – at the level of the subconscious. So, while conscious will power can often lead to positive change in the short term, it is not nearly as effective as hypnotherapy in creating change that will last – at the level of beliefs, feelings, indeed the maximisation of our unconscious resources.
“After a couple of false starts I was really lucky to be introduced to the Atkinson-Ball College of Hypnotherapy and Hypnohealing in 1994. The Atkinson-Ball way prides itself on fast, ‘no-nonsense’ therapy. We like the clients in and out of therapy and on their way in life as soon as possible. Based on the model of Dave Elman – a stage hypnotist originally – the ability to get to the root of the problem can be ‘pinpoint’; meaning that there is no need to get involved with ‘red herrings’ that might not be relevant to the client’s well being.
“I followed my Atkinson-Ball training with the privilege of working with the founder of NLP, Richard Bandler. While not wishing to go into too much detail here NLP can be broadly described as ‘strategies for excellence’. I see my work as being primarily and essentially based on Atkinson-Ball hypnotherapy techniques combined with NLP strategies, as and when appropriate. I believe it to be a highly effective combination. I have delved into other methods of working as I believe anyone wishing to develop should, but have not found anything as effective as the above to help clients achieve the results they want for themselves.
“Hypnotherapy can be applied to assist with overcoming problems that go with just about any ailment. It is not a panacea for all ills, of course – nor is medicine, surgery, counselling or anything else – but I evaluate my work with a written questionnaire to all my clients some weeks after therapy, and the feedback has always encouraged me as to the effectiveness of these methods.”
What disadvantages are there to being a hypnotherapist?
“For me – none. It is my way of life. I don’t see retirement as an option. I would be bereft. As long as I have health, it has to be part of my life. Of course, it is not for everyone. It is a ‘helping people’ profession. You have to be at ease with people and to be able to gain rapport. It can be tiring – what meaningful occupation isn’t when done with passion – but I have never felt ‘burn out’. I believe this is because, in the main, you generally see positive results, comparatively quickly, and that feels good. If I did not feel hypnotherapy yielded positive results I would soon look elsewhere. The Corporation that encompasses hypnotherapists trained through the Atkinson-Ball College – The Corporation of Advanced Hypnotherapy – sees itself as a ‘family’ and support is there for every therapist who might need it at any time.
“People ask can you make enough to live on through hypnotherapy. Well, you are never likely to be a millionaire. Sometimes it can be safer to try and align your work with another means of income to make ends meet. I originally combined hypnotherapy with part-time teaching, but now make a satisfactory living through hypnotherapy alone. Indeed, I have more work than I can immediately cope with. I tend to think of my clients first, and have found that the money generally takes care of itself.
“I see my work with clients as a triad of progression. (1) Suggestion to help them relax and feel more positive. (2) Hypno-analysis to identify and move on from any emotional blockages holding them back. (3) Cultivating the maximum beliefs and resources from within them to move forward from there.”
Has hypnotherapy changed you in any way?
“Hypnotherapy has given me fulfilment. I was never unhappy per se in my previous occupations, but always felt there was something missing. I could not give all of myself – there were things to do with the systems I worked in that got in the way. Now – I feel with the benefit of good training and experience – there is just me and the client. We work together for an agreed outcome. It’s that simple. No middle man. Don’t misunderstand me, as a hypnotherapist I work within the strict code of ethics laid down by the Corporation of Advanced Hypnotherapy, and if they are broken there will be consequences. But the relationship of one to one has great appeal to me. Greg Forde, President of the Corporation, has always said ‘learn the structure and then put your own personality into it’. That’s what I try to do with every client.”
What have you learnt from your clients?
“You learn from everyone. Everyone is different. Every day is a bit like taking part in several TV dramas, although much more interesting and real. Everyone’s story is different and generally captivating. While hypnotherapists are taught to protect themselves from taking too much out of themselves in their role as therapists, the roller coaster of life is there in all its rawness to celebrate as well as to hopefully nudge onwards with therapy. I suppose that the most important thing I have learnt from my clients is that people are actually so resourceful. Some of my clients have been to hell and back, and still they keep going. Sometimes we all need a little bit of help along the way. A really good hypnotherapist has had plenty of hypnotherapy, and that is very much part of the practical teaching of the Atkinson-Ball College – be introduced to it, experience it, then apply it. All stages are vital.”
Would you want to do anything else?
“No. Honestly not.”
What would you say to anyone becoming a hypnotherapist?
“Engage with passion. Have fun. Do not be afraid to make mistakes, and enjoy learning from them. Choose a good training school. I believe I was unbelievably privileged to work with the Atkinson-Ball College and later Richard Bandler. Do not be afraid – in fact make it a must – to seek advice/support from your fellow therapists and school of training as often as you need it. If you go with the above you can be sure that your clients will be in good hands – yours.”
A last word …
“It does sadden me that hypnotherapy cannot yet be obtained on the NHS. I believe many people do not realise the length and breadth of difficulties that can be helped though hypnotherapy. A considerable number of GPs have heard of the success that hypnotherapy can have via my clients. Indeed I have had a number of GPs undergo hypnotherapy through me, while others have sent me members of their families. I believe some GPs are wary of sending clients to hypnotherapists, because it is not free at the point of delivery. I fully understand this. But one day perhaps…..”
Hugh Clover is based at Stratford St Mary just off the A12 between Ipswich and Colchester. He is Director of Studies and a Regional Supervisor for the Atkinson-Ball College.