Alchemical Hypnotherapy The Revolution in Hypnosis for Psychotherapy
The subject of has become a controversial one in the 1990's. Nowadays, both the advocates and critics of psychotherapy are challenging consumers to question the value of the practice of psychotherapy for their own lives.
"Therapy drains off the energy needed to change our political and economic system", says James Hillman in a recent article in New Age Journal. Hillman claims we should be spending our creative energies healing this endangered planet and society rather than indulging in emotional self-absorption. Hillman doesn't limit his criticisms to traditional psychoanalysis, which has often been accused of analyzing problems without solving them. Hillman targets the burgeoning 12-step recovery movement, and even the "inner child" orientated therapies, as a waste of personal feelings and energy, and insists, instead, that we should be directing these feelings toward social and planetary healing.
For others, therapy is an essential part of the solution to the problems that plague our society: addictions, violence, depression, co-dependency. John Bradshaw has joined his voice to many others in claiming that in this time of increasing personal stress and disintegrating family systems, therapy is a vital aspect of planetary healing. If we cannot heal our own pain, he is asking, how can we heal the planet?
A number of professional psychotherapists are suggesting not that therapy is wrong or wasteful, but that we must learn to do it differently. Anne Wilson Shaeff, in her most recent book, Beyond Therapy, Beyond Science, decries the role of the psychotherapist as a co-dependent who helps clients adjust to an addicted society. In her powerful testament to the failure of modern psychotherapy, she states: "We have been trained to...use our training and knowledge to control and manipulate clients in order to get them to do, see, or feel what we, with our greater knowledge and understanding, know is good for them. This is what co-dependents do." (Beyond Therapy, p. 194)
Throughout this country, people are questioning the effectiveness, the cost and the essential value of therapy. Now, a new answer to their dilemma is beginning to emerge.
One of the biggest complaints that most people have with therapy is how slow and expensive it is. It can often take months and years to see results with traditional psychotherapy. This has resulted recently in the development of the new field of the healing arts called "hypnotherapy".
Hypnotherapy is based on the premise that many clients want to solve behavior problems without being diagnosed as having a "disorder" and being treated by committing to a long-term, expensive relationship with a therapist. Hypnotherapy focuses less upon the relationship between client and therapist, or the treatment of mental and emotional disorders, and more upon the power of hypnosis to effect rapid behavior change. Critics, however, maintain that the behavior changes thus produced, by failing to address underlying psychological or emotional issues, may not be lasting. Sometimes, for example, one addictive behavior is eliminated, only to be replaced by another.
In the rolling hill country of Northern California's Redwood Empire, a quiet revolution is happening in the business of therapy and hypnosis, a revolution that is likely to permanently alter our definition of what therapy is and how it works. "Alchemical Hypnotherapy" utilizes a new model of what therapy can be, by suggesting that under hypnosis, "Inner Guides", powerful internal resources of healing, nurturance and wisdom can be directly contacted within the subconscious mind of every client. These Inner resources can be empowered to direct the course of therapy themselves. A trained Alchemical Hypnotherapist helps the client to establish a daily routine of meditation and therapeutic communication between him/herself and these Inner resources, which becomes the primary source of the clients' healing.
The advantages of such a radical new model of therapy are obvious. Instead of spending one or two hours a week with a therapist (at rates sometimes exceeding $100 per hour), a client can spend up to eight hours a day with a wise and loving inner therapist, free. These Inner Guides usually know what directions our lives need to take better than any external therapist. This inner guidance releases the therapist and client from a potentially dysfunctional, co-dependent pattern of relationship and empowers clients to heal their own lives. Furthermore, Inner Guides assist clients in making the behavioral changes achieved in therapy more permanent by providing ongoing support. And finally, the Inner Guides motivate us not simply to change our feelings, but to change the social and planetary environment through direct action, as the stories of numerous inspired, moral and political leaders can attest. (Martin Luther King, Jr., Bill W., Ghandi, etc.)
Alchemical Hypnotherapy is based on the practices of the ancient Alchemists, whose inner guide processes include what we now describe as the inner child, the inner mate (anima/animus) and the higher self, among others. These original alchemists were forced to disguise their essentially spiritual process as chemistry - the search for the secret of turning lead into gold - in order to avoid the persecution of the Catholic Church. The first modern psychologist to explore this ancient science was Dr. Carl Jung, who discovered in the ancient Alchemical writings validation for the theory of "Archetypes" that he was then developing. It is Jung's theories of archetypes, based on these ancient Alchemical writings, that provide the essential philosophical framework for the modern technology of Alchemical Hypnotherapy.
This modern synthesis of inner guide work and hypnosis called Alchemical Hypnotherapy is a melting pot of hypnosis, Gestalt, Jungian, and primal therapies, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, psychosynthesis and inner child work and has been created by David Quigley, a hypnotherapist and teacher based in Santa Rosa, California. David is a humorous and dynamic lecturer whose dramatic public style is complemented by a disarming quality of honesty, vulnerability and warmth. David is a graduate in comparative religion from Duke University and is trained in many modes of hypnosis and psychotherapy. But he credits many of his therapeutic discoveries to the profound personal journey that his own guides have led him through over the last twenty-five years. The sharing of his own story of recovery and healing creates an air of excitement and trust that is inspiring for any student or client who hears his story.Unlike many new age gurus, channelers and psychics, David exhibits a fresh dose of skepticism about spiritual work and the whole "new age" phenomenon. As he says in a lecture:
"You can take your weight-loss client all the way to nirvana, but it isn't worth a hill of beans unless you can give them this same experience of bliss every time they open the refrigerator door."
A former mathematician and agnostic, David understands that practical improvements in our daily lives are the ultimate proof of whether inner guides are "real" or a delusion of our avaricious egos. He explains:
"I begin with the client's presenting problem and whatever physical, emotional and spiritual pattern underlies that problem. And I test every so-called "guide" we meet on the inner journey to make sure that the guide can help us to solve that problem now. Then we check it out in a week or two to see if improvement is happening. I encourage skepticism in my clients. We need to ask questions, challenge contradictions and seek results. This helps ease their fears that therapy will be a lengthy, costly and unpredictable investment. This also helps break down for my clients the tendency to regard all inner experiences with guides as somehow sacred, mysterious and inscrutable. Guide work is real and practical. It is not only a spiritual discipline but a technology of self-healing."
David sees Alchemy as a new answer to the spiritual yearnings of our modern culture, a culture that is spiritually adrift in an age of declining religious and social values.
As David says:
"Most traditional religious dogmas were constructed centuries ago in ages of superstition, patriarchal and feudal political systems, and a profound ignorance of the psychological sciences. These dogmas are no longer relevant to many citizens of our global and technological culture. We are told to put aside our reason and simply 'believe'. But what most Americans were willing to believe a hundred years ago in order to be saved simply isn't acceptable anymore, leaving a deep vacuum in America's spiritual life.
The modern science of psychology has been called upon to fill this void within the human psyche. However, the modern science of psychology, by often neglecting the essentially spiritual nature of humankind, has, it seems to me, thrown the baby of our spiritual needs out with the bath water of timeworn religious dogmas. In fact, by emphasizing behavioral pathologies and medical treatment procedures, (for example, drugs, behavior modification and psychoanalysis) many psychologists tend to ignore the healing power of mystical experience and union with the higher self. 'Psychology', Latin for 'science of the soul', has lost its original purpose for many and been reduced to a mechanistic study of behavior aptly titled 'the behavioral science'."
Nowadays, of course, with the development of "transpersonal psychology", psychology may well be returning to its roots as the "science of the soul". A recent article in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, however, gives us a chilling reminder of how far the psychological world has to go: Fewer than 50 percent of the licensed psychotherapists in their survey had received any training in the spiritual or religious dimensions of counseling.
Hypnotherapy is a promising new discipline within the healing arts which tends to focus, unlike psychology, on short-term behavior change, largely through the subtle use of language and suggestion and the charismatic power of the hypnotist, combined with the power and effectiveness of the hypnotic state to facilitate rapid change. Although hypnotherapy is a separate profession with its own authorized training programs, certification and procedures, it is often regarded as a secondary specialization of other licensed professionals (i.e., doctors, psychologists, etc.). This erroneous perception has created a continuing challenge for such organizations as the American Council of Hypnotists Examiners, which for 20 years has fought for the preservation of Hypnotherapy as a legal profession and which is the parent organization for the many schools currently teaching Alchemical Hypnotherapy.
Although it is a widely respected school of hypnotherapy, Alchemical work differs from other hypnosis technologies in its synthesis of spiritual and psychological perspectives. An Alchemical Hypnotherapist simply uses hypnosis to facilitate a client's personal journey into their inner world to find the ultimate teachers, guides and therapist...the ones who live inside themselves. The Alchemist can then help his/her client test the validity and powers of these new inner guides and establish the tools and techniques for communicating with these inner healers in their daily lives. An important aspect of the work is to find and rescue the wounded child of the past and create for that child a new, loving family in the inner world. There are many other guides Alchemists are trained to contact, including those specifically skilled in making a living, finding a love relationship and achieving our spiritual purpose.