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Harry the Hypno-potamus: Metaphorical Tales for the Treatment of Children

by Linda Thomson, PhD., M.S.N., C.P.N.P.

INLPA JP Book Review Harry Hypno

Crown House Publishing Limited, Copyright 2005

Reviewed by Judith E. Pearson, Ph.D.

Hypnosis is about learning what you didn't know you knew and control what you didn't know you could…using your mind…daydreaming on purpose…thinking to help yourself…learning how to work to control your mind…Linda Thomson, Ph.D.

Meet Harry the Hypno-potamus who lives at the Ashland Zoo. Harry likes hypnosis! The zoo veterinarian, Dr. Dan, taught Harry self-hypnosis, when Harry was worried about getting an immunization. Dr. Dan told Harry how to use his imagination to keep his thoughts in his "favorite place" so that he hardly noticed the needle pinch. Harry even used hypnosis to reduce the pain from a toothache and to calm his anxiety about moving to a new home.

Harry has many friends and neighbors at the zoo, and Dr. Dan takes care of all of them. Dr. Dan teaches the animals to use their imaginations to solve a wide variety of emotional problems, overcome bad habits, and feel better when they are sick. Dabney the Gorilla, for example, was afraid of sleeping in the dark. So, with Dr. Dan's help, Dabney visualized walking through a mountain forest, feeling calm and happy. Then he learned deep breathing to relax, and imagined himself sleeping comfortably in his enclosure with his gorilla friends. Now Dabney is no longer afraid of the dark.

Dr. Dan helped Handel the Tapir reduce his pain from a leg injury. Wark the Cockatoo used hypnosis to overcome his nervousness so that he could sing beautifully for zoo visitors. All the zoo animals enjoy hypnosis!

Furthermore, you will enjoy this innovative and entertaining book by Dr. Linda Thomson. Harry the Hypno-potamus is both serious and whimsical, written for children and for child-health professionals who appreciate hypnotic and metaphoric approaches to working with children. The book addresses childhood emotional, behavioral, and health-related problems such as fear, anger, habit disorders, pain, diabetes, asthma, enuresis, and leukemia.


The book opens with a clinical section for pediatric professionals and mental health practitioners on the utility of therapeutic metaphors for children. There is also a handout section that can be copied and given to parents, providing information about the value of hypnosis as part of a treatment plan for a sick or troubled child.

The remainder of the book is the fun part---metaphors about the zoo animals who solve their problems with hypnosis---under the guidance of Dr. Dan and his veterinarian team. The stories introduce children to hypnosis and the power of the imagination to transcend limitations and think in new ways.

The animal characters are named after for people who taught or inspired the author in the use of hypnosis with children. The book is her tribute to her mentors. The stories are engaging and entertaining. The illustrations by Kids Book Design are charming and colorful.

Clinicians are advised to read the stories to children, using the stories as hypnotic scripts, and adapting each story to the needs and developmental level of the child. Each tale contains embedded therapeutic communication about relaxation and happy thoughts. The stories engage a child's talent for playful fantasy and pretending.

Thomson writes that "When the child is fully immersed in the story, his personal internal negative dialog may be suppressed and new possibilities flourish." She reminds her readers that metaphors engage the right hemisphere of the brain-the creative brain-fostering a communication between the conscious mind and the unconscious mind; linking emotion, symbols, and life experience, expanding consciousness and exposing new possibilities and perspectives. Moreover, metaphors are non-threatening and can reframe a child's problem and encourage the child to develop novel ways to overcome a limitation.

The Author

Linda Thomson is a nurse-practitioner who has 30 years of experience in family and pediatric practice. She received her training in hypnosis via the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis, the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis and the International Society of Hypnosis. She is an Approved Consultant in Clinical Hypnosis and has used hypnotic metaphors in her practice for many years. A major focus of her life's work is to change the attitudes of health care professionals regarding clinical hypnosis and promote wider acceptance of hypnotherapy interventions.


Harry the Hypno-potamus is obviously a labor of love. It is a must-have for the library of any therapist or health care professional who seeks innovative ways to work with small children. It is a delightful frolic in the hypnotic effects of fantasy and imagination.

To purchase Harry the Hypno-potamus, contact:

Crown House Publishing Ltd.
Editorial/Marketing Offices
4 Berkeley St. Norwalk, CT 06850 USA
Phone: 203-852-9504
Fax: 203-852-9619

In the UK:
Crown House Publishing Ltd.
Crown Building
Bancyfelin, Carmarthen, Wales
SA33 5ND, UK Email: Phone: 44-0-1267-211-345