One of the ways in which we like to distinguish the type of work we do with clients is by describing it as Hypnosis Assisted Psychotherapy (HAP).
Borrowing from the world of psychedelic-assisted therapy*, which we have benefited from tremendously, using this type of terminology comes with several advantages and can quickly help you understand what is being done during a session.
We have often said that hypnosis is the closest thing to a drug trip without using drugs, and this makes the analogy all the more appropriate.
Here are some elements that come to mind when we describe Hypnosis Assisted Psychotherapy :
- The work is deep – we expect to achieve significant change and move past things that may have been keeping us stuck for years (the way ketamine is used for therapy-resistant depression)
- You enter an altered state of consciousness – we deliberately want to take our mind to a very different place, which allows us to experience our problems from a fresh, healing perspective.
- Sessions are longer – psychedelic-assisted therapy can last for hours (I once had a trip with a guide that lasted 12 hours, longer than he expected. Ketamine, while shorter, is still a few hours at a time. There’s an understanding that deep work takes time, and this gets planned and accounted for in advance.
- The therapist stands by while you go inward – the exact opposite of just lying there while a hypnotist fixes you, here you actually do the bulk of the work and the hypnotherapist stand by to support and guide you on a journey through your own mind.
- This is still psychotherapy – many of the tools and processes the hypnotherapist guides you through in a session are founded on traditional therapeutic modalities and schools of thought: Existential, Eriksonian, Gestalt, IFS. It can also involve regression hypnosis, which has its own empirical academic backing. As such, we approach it with the same rigor and professionalism that you would a therapy session. This is not a healer recalibrating your energy over the phone (we’re not saying that doesn’t work, we’re saying this isn’t it) and it isn’t a series of scripts you listen to over a pair of headphones.
- It is brief – when tackling a specific issue, we often expect to reach a resolution in the course of a single trip, or several trips. Ketamine treatments often last for one month, with bi-weekly sessions. After that, you’re expected to have significantly reduced symptoms. Similarly here, our goal is to find quick relief by going deeper, faster. (It’s also worth noting that just as one might choose to take longer breaks between psychedelic trips, hypnotherapy “trips” can also be intense enough that they require a longer recovery time)
- It’s not for everyone – you need to be ready for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, and you need to be ready for hypnosis-assisted therapy. Clients often spend several sessions just discussing their psychedelic trip in advance and preparing for it with their therapist. Similarly, we find that clients often work best when they’ve already done a certain amount of therapy or introspection regarding their challenges or trauma, and are now ready to dive deeper to really get to the root of the issue and heal it from the inside out.
We’re excited about this concept, as we think it very elegantly segues from a popular topic in the discourse today, to one that is far less spoken about. Hypnosis is far more accessible, legal, safe, and less intimidating, and would allow many more people to tap into the healing powers of “the closest thing to a drug trip”.
* I’d include ketamine-assisted therapy in here as well, even if it’s not classically a psychedelic. One could argue that neither is MDMA, and yet it can be one of the most healing drugs to consume in a therapeutic context.