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Scripts and Strategies in Hypnotherapy: The Complete Works

Roger P. Allen, Dp., Hyp., PsyV.

Book Review Pierson Scripts ans Stragegies

Scripts and Strategies in Hypnotherapy: The Complete Works

By Roger P. Allen, Dp., Hyp., PsyV.

Crown House Publishing Ltd., Wales, U.K.

Copyright 2004

Reviewed by Judith E. Pearson, Ph.D.

Hypnotherapists and NLP practitioners working in clinical settings will find something of value in Roger Allen's Scripts and Strategies in Hypnotherapy. This book contains hypnosis scripts and metaphors for working with clients who want pain management, confidence building, smoking cessation, and weight control-and much more. The 2004 edition of Scripts and Strategies in Hypnotherapy is an expanded version of Allen's earlier work by the same title (1997, Anglo American Book Company). It is easier to use than the previous version because now the scripts are grouped around therapeutic themes.

The book gets off to rather weak start with the introductory material. However, once into the hypnosis scripts and applications, which make up perhaps 90% of the content, the reading is worthwhile and highly instructive. Allen states that the purpose of his book is to give therapists "much of that which is necessary to begin therapeutic practice using the medium of hypnosis." While the book accomplishes this objective to some extent, readers will do well to look elsewhere for the history, theory, rationale, supportive research, and ethics of using hypnosis as an adjunct to psychotherapy.

Allen begins by telling his readers that hypnosis as "an altered state of awareness that will allow access to the subconscious, having reduced the critical analytical interference of the conscious rationalizing process." Following that, his comments about the subconscious mind are vague, confusing and contradictory, and he never really defines what the subconscious mind is, what its functions are, why it helps to access the subconscious mind, and how to know when the client is actually in trance, or to what degree.

A minor problem I found was that the text is inconsistent in describing the direction of counting in hypnosis. Sometimes Allen advises counting forward (1-2-3-4-5) to deepen trance, and sometimes counting backwards (5-4-3-2-1) to deepen trance. Likewise, some of his examples show counting forward to reorient the client to full alertness, and sometimes counting backward for the same purpose. I advise readers to choose one direction (forward or backward) for deepening and then count in the opposite direction for reorienting. Doing otherwise may serve to confuse the client and could, conceivably, result in an incomplete reorientation or one that occurs more slowly than is necessary.

Having said that, I can now tell you that this is a book I will use in my practice and will recommend to other practitioners. The scripts begin with a variety of trance inductions, many of which rely on tried and true hypnotic methods such as eye closure, arm levitation, the arm-drop, and progressive relaxation. From there, the text moves into deepening methods, mainly counting and guided imagery, with which seasoned hypnotherapists are quite familiar. These two sections of the book are especially useful for beginning hypnotherapists, or those who want a good grounding in traditional methods of induction and deepening.

The next few chapters offer scripts grouped around applications of clinical hypnosis such as habit control, weight control, reducing fear and anxiety, building confidence and self-esteem, healing and pain management, sexual issues, loss and bereavement, and smoking cessation. These are the applications that make up the bulk of a hypnotherapist's daily work.

The section on smoking cessation is the most comprehensive. Here, Allen takes his readers through a step-by-step process for working with smokers, discussing how he screens clients during the initial phone call, how he conducts the office interview, the rationale for his methods, how to educate the client as to the health risks of smoking, and how to format the therapy session. He then offers several pages of scripts and suggestions which can be combined and/or modified to meet the needs of each client.

Allen concludes the book with chapters on therapeutic strategies and NLP interventions that supplement the scripts. These include procedures for obtaining ideomotor responses, anchoring resourceful states, six-step reframing, parts therapy, working with client timelines, methods for regression and past-life recall, amnesia and recovered memories, metaphor, and the use of hypnosis for performance improvement. He adds wise cautions about the use of hypnosis as entertainment.

Roger Allen is a practicing hypnotherapist in the U.K. In creating Scripts and Strategies in Hypnotherapy, he has drawn from the work of Milton H. Erickson, Richard Bandler, John Grinder, David Elman, William O'Hanlon, Michael Yapko, Ron Havens, and many other respected authors and practitioners in the field of hypnotherapy. His scripts make good use of hypnotic language patterns, metaphor, symbolism and analogy.

A Word About Using Scripts

When I work with scripts, I am not at all shy about holding the book open on my lap and reading directly from it. My clients don't seem to mind and none have ever questioned my reading from a script. Sometimes I audiotape the session, giving the tape to the client to take home for repetition and reinforcement. Allen mentions doing the same in his practice.

I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Allen when he advises his readers to modify and customize hypnotherapy scripts according to each client's personality, sensitivities, cultural background, and presenting issues. Obviously, in order to do that, the therapist should conduct a thorough clinical interview with each client, before initiating hypnosis, NLP, or any therapeutic intervention, for that matter.

When I work with scripts, I begin before the client arrives for the hypnotherapy session. I search through my reference materials until I find a script I think will be appropriate. Then I read over the script with my clinical interview notes at hand. I make notations on yellow Post-it notes where I want to modify the script for that particular client, and place the notes right on the margins of the book pages. When my client arrives, I am ready to conduct the session. Before beginning hypnosis, I ask each client if there are any particular reminders, affirmations, instructions, or meaningful suggestions he or she would like to have included in the hypnotherapy session. After evaluating the ecological soundness of the client's recommendations, I add those recommendations to the script wherever I think they fit in.

Practitioners who obtain this book will frequently use it as a desk reference, pulling it off the shelf when faced with the task of coming up with something appropriate to say in a hypnotherapy session that may last anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes. Allen writes that scripts are "not a magic formula which, incanted in the special circumstance of hypnotic trance, will instantly turn lead into gold." The scripts provide the words; the therapist builds the therapeutic relationship, based on empathy, rapport, and respect for the client, while drawing from a knowledge base of what works for changing human thinking and behavior.

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To purchase Scripts and Strategies in Hypnotherapy in U.S. and Canada contact:

Crown House Publishing

P.O. Box 2223

Williston, VT 05495-2223, USA

Tel: 877-925-1213, Fax: 802-864-7626

Email: info@CHPUS.com

Web site: www.CHPUS.com

In the U.K. and the rest of the world contact:

The Anglo-American Book Company, Ltd.

Crown Buildings, Bancyfelin, Carmarthen, Wales, SA33 5ND

Tel: +44 (0)1267-211880/21886, Fax: +44 (0)1267-211882

Email: books@anglo-american.co.uk

Web site: www.anglo-american.co.uk