Why being a solution focused hypnotherapist the key to my success

The class of CPHT Kent 2018

Let me tell you my story. Way back in 2012 I qualified with a diploma in hypnotherapy and counselling skills, from an unregulated school of hypnotherapy, run by someone who claimed to have had a successful hypnotherapy practice.

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t loved the course, it was fascinating and I learned all sorts of exciting, but sometimes nerve-wracking therapeutic interventions. I learn’t a little psychology, some basic counselling skills, how to cope with severe abreactions (that’s snot and tears to you and me). However, I was consistently worried about what the right intervention would be to treat the client and wondered how effective the treatment was long-term, but was told that was normal, not to worry and I would figure it out as I got more experience.

Consequently, despite working very hard and continuing training whenever I could, it took me over two years to really get my practice to a point where it could support me and my daughter, and during that time I was stressed, exhausted and constantly wondering if it wouldn’t just be easier to get a job.  You see, my course missed out something that every therapist must have – a repeatable process for treating a client.  All I had when I graduated were lots of interventions and a certificate.

It all felt a bit ‘smoke and mirrors’ and, what annoyed me most, was that I couldn’t explain, in anything other than vague metaphorical terms, exactly what was happening in my client’s minds to make the difference…even when the results were brilliant!

One day, I was complaining about it to hypnotherapist colleague and  friend, Gary Johannes, who seemed to get near miraculous results and a stream of gushing testimonials from clients, saying how he had been instrumental in helping them change their lives forever.  I don’t know what came over me, but I uttered the now infamous (in CPHT St Albans at least) words “You do the worst hypnosis but you get the best results!”

I actually cringe when I read that, but at the same time I knew nothing different; I was taught that the hypnotist held the power and had to be exceptionally skilled, being able to ‘make’ their ‘subjects’ perform all sorts of phenomena and I had to ‘prove’ hypnosis worked.  My friend on the other hand seemed to simply read a few language patterns (in my arrogance I questioned whether it was even hypnosis) and miracles occurred.  Of course what I didn’t know about was the rock solid, results driven, scientifically supported therapy that encased this gentle, therapeutic trance that supports the brain in finding the best solutions.

Gary forgave my rudeness, because he knew why and how he got those results and proceeded to tell me about the brain and exactly how he helped his clients get over anxiety, depression, trauma, addictions and more, with a thing called Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.  I was skeptical, but kept thinking about his testimonials which had inspired me so much.

A year or so later, as I was still working very hard and reading a lot, Gary was asked by CPHT Principal David Newton if he would like to start a CPHT training school in Peterborough.  I jumped at the chance to enrol on the first CPHT Peterborough course, particularly as I would be trained by someone I admired greatly. I very quickly began to see how empowering the therapy was for clients, but also how energising it was for me, both of which were completely new concepts. In my original training I was used to my clients going through boxes and boxes of tissues and me struggling to find a good work life balance.

Suddenly, as I began to switch my practice over to the solution focused approach, working with clients no longer seemed like work, it became a vocation, something that gave me a spring in my step and had me telling anyone who would listen about this amazing therapy that could help resolve the past without delving into it.

But that’s not the end of the story.  As my practice grew I continued to see friends, colleagues and some of the people who trained at that first school either retrain or simply stop doing therapy altogether.  It made me sad and angry, particularly as some of them were amazing therapists who had spent their time and money to then abandon something they were good at, which should have been a successful career vocation.

I wanted to help them.  At first I mentored other therapists but quickly realised I could only help them so much, because I was just helping them fix exactly the same problems I had encountered at the start.  I knew the problem was not them, but the way they worked. There was only one thing for it – start a CPHT in Kent.  So we did. Gary and I launched CPHT Kent in January 2018.

Our first class graduated in October and I’m loving the stories they are already telling me about how they are enjoying building their practices.  It is exciting to watch because it is important work they are doing. For me, the better prepared they are, the better supported they are, the better trained they are, the more people they help.  Mission accomplished.

Kent was such a success that we decided to launch CPHT St Albans in 2019, which brings my story up to date…but are you ready for the next chapter of your story to begin?

This post was written by Ali Hollands.  Ali is a multi-award winning clinical hypnotherapist with Inspired To Change in Maidstone.  Ali gained her first hypnotherapy diploma in 2012 and extended her training with a diploma in Solution Focused Hypnotherapy in 2015 with Gary Johannes, head of CPHT Peterborough, Kent, St Albans, Essex, Northampton and Birmingham.

Ali is a practicing Solution Focused Hypnotherapist and senior lecturer for CPHT St Albans, Kent and Essex. As well as this she is writing a book about how to set up in business and in practice, for newly qualified hypnotherapists.  Ali’s passion is in improving performance and enjoyment of life, for her clients and students.  Ali believes that life and work should be fun and fascinating and you can follow Ali on Instagram  and Facebook

Brain Scanners for Hypnotherapy Training


brain scanner on hypnotherapy studentCPHT strive to be at the cutting edge of available research and technology, looking for innovative ways to give the most clinical evidence to students about why solution focused hypnotherapy has such a significant and lasting effect on clients.  It’s that ‘backed up by the latest research and findings in science’ that attracts so many students and we know that your future clients will often say it is why they chose you over another hypnotherapist. We live in a world where we are beginning to be able to prove why things work, which is why we take on that responsibility as your training school.

One of the biggest challenge’s hypnotherapist have had historically is being able to explain, how and why hypnotherapy actually works.  Clients are curious as to what’s happening to them, sometimes a little nervous. Which is why we are so excited to be able to offer CPHT Kent students access to a very special piece of equipment, the Emotiv brain scanning device, so that our students can see, in glorious technicolor, what happens in the human brain when we use trance, which parts of the brain react and how trance is enhanced by the solution focused approach to therapy, when combined together.

As far as we know, CPHT is the only hypnotherapy training school to bring such advanced and innovativebrain scanner on hypnotherapy student technology into the classroom, although we hope other schools will start to use this device too; it is the first time students on a hypnotherapy training course can see what they will be doing to someone’s brain when they use trance, and how beneficial it is for the brain. Students who have seen the brain scanner in action say it took away any doubt they had about the learning they were about to embark upon and it gave them more confidence when offering trance and therapy, even from the first weekend of training.

This is a new addition to training from 2018, because CPHT Kent believe, as do all CPHT hypnotherapytraining schools, that a deeper understanding of exactly how hypnosis works improves the confidence of practitioners, which will improve client results. With this exciting piece of equipment, you can tell clients what’s going on before during and after trance.  It is possible CPHT trained hypnotherapists may be the only hypnotherapists who, with total certainty, having seen it for themselves, will be able to do that.

If you want to be at the cutting edge of hypnotherapy, make a real difference to the clients and have a successful career in hypnotherapy, this could be the right Course for you.  To find out about the next hypnotherapy diploma course run by CPHT St Albans call  07780 592625 or click this link to send us an application form today. 

Gary Johannes is an experienced psychotherapist and practicing Senior Solution Focused Hypnotherapist.  He is director of Inspired To Change Associates a clinical mental health services provider with clinics around the country, specialising in the Solution Focused Hypnotherapy approach. He qualified at CPHT Bristol in 2012, under the tutelage of David Newton, head of the CPHT schools and the originator of using Solution Focused techniques in hypnotherapy.

Gary is a Hypnotherapy Supervisor and Senior Lecturer for CPHT Peterborough, Birmingham and Nottingham, which gives him access to the latest neuroscientific research and findings, almost as soon as they are released.  He is an authorised Mental Health First aid Trainer and speaker on Mental Health Awareness.  Gary’s passion lies in enabling people to overcome their limiting beliefs and be the most successful version of themselves.

What is Solution Focused Hypnotherapy?

I am often asked the question ‘What is Solution Focused Hypnotherapy?’

Well, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH) is a model of excellence that uses interventions that are effective. It will use the very best procedures that science and research prescribe. In reality though its core philosophy is very much based on the work of Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg and the basic tenets of SFBT.

The origins of hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy, and SFH is no exception, has a history of being associated with many forms of therapeutic practice. Often, but not always, this can be a force for good. What follows could be described as the foundation philosophies on which SFH is built. Dr James Braid (1795-1860), who could be thought of as the inventor of modern hypnotism, successfully created a blueprint that could be described as the original hypnotherapy model.

“He was best known in the medical world from his theory and practice of hypnotism, as distinguished from Mesmerism, a system of treatment he applied in certain diseases with great effect.” (Obituary. The Lancet 1860)

Braid’s influence and success was very much a result of his empirical and scientific approach. In effect he said that the clinical progress should be verified by research and related to the latest understanding of psychology. He attributed the success of trance to ordinary psychological or physiological factors such as focused attention, expectation, motivation and endeavour. SFH is very much based on Braid’s basic premise that mental focus on imagery and language mediates the physical and psychological effects of dominant ideas.

It would have appeared sensible to consolidate the work done by Braid and to capitalise on what worked. This was not to be the case. In late Victorian and post Victorian times ‘wackiness’ once more sabotaged the credible scientific clinical practice. Even worse, in the late 19th and most of the 20th Century the pseudo-scientific ‘hi-jacked’ hypnotherapy and kept it in a state, often a delusional state of stagnation.

Fortunately, as Robertson says in the ‘Complete Writings of James Braid “The Father of Hypnotherapy in the 21st Century”, “Braid’s ‘Common Sense’ and empirical orientation have become fashionable once again”‘.

How Milton Erickson brought hypnotherapy back from the brink

Hypnotherapy was partially rescued from post-Victorian ‘quackery’ and later from Freudian ‘analytical’ theory by psychiatrist, Milton H Erickson. He practised as a hypnotherapist from the 1940’s until his death in the early 1980’s. Erickson’s ideas reached far beyond hypnotic technique. He posed radical ideas regarding the role of therapist and the competency of clients. Milton Erickson was convinced that everyone has a reservoir of wisdom and competency and emphasised the importance of accessing client’s resources and strengths. Major interest in his work gathered momentum in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Erickson’s success and creativity spawned a variety of approaches. There was in particular great interest in one of his primary approaches entailing first learning the problem pattern and then prescribing a small change in the pattern.

Steve de Shazer’s first contact with psychotherapy happened when he read ‘Strategies of Psychotherapy’, the ideas and work of Erickson by Jay Haley. It has been said that this book coupled with the work of the Mental Research Institute (MRI) in Paolo Alto, formed the foundations for what would later be called Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT).

What makes SFBT different?

The basic tenets of SFBT are well known and are different in many ways from traditional forms of treatment. It is a competency based model and the focus is on the clients’ desired future rather than on past problems or current conflicts. It assumes that no problems happen all the time, there are exceptions and that small changes can lead to large increments of change. The setting of specific, concrete and realistic goals is an important component. In SFBT it is the client that sets the goals. Once formulated the therapist will use a number of specific responding and questioning techniques to assist the client construct the steps that may be required to reach the ‘preferred future’. Solution Focused Hypnotherapists note Steve de Shazer’s often repeated assertion that solution work is “the same whatever problem the client brings”.

How understanding the brain has helped the solution focused approach

In the 1990’s modern technology led to what some have referred to as a sequel of the Copernican revolution. MRI, PET and CAT scans can photograph the brain. Electronic microscopes, the nuclear tagging of living human molecules and other biochemical investigative techniques, enable scientists to have an ever increasing understanding of how the brain works. With at least 500 therapeutic methods, all proffering special theories, techniques and philosophies, psychotherapy could be described as bordering on dysfunctional. The neuroscientific revolution beginning in the 1990’s and progressing with ever increasing vigour into the 21st Century has begun to give the field uncharacteristic coherence. Certainly the days when therapists could make things up have gone.

“For future generations of therapists training will certainly change” says Mary Sykes Wylie and Richard Simon, (Discoveries from Black Box 2002), “Curricula will have to face the accumulation of knowledge coming from neuroscientists… having an understanding of such clinical relevant areas of knowledge as neural networks and brain structures”.

David Newton is the founder of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy and the original Clifton Practice Hypnotherapy Training  (CPHT) School in Bristol.  David retired from practice in 2018 after over 4 decades in practice and teaching.  CPHT has, at the last count 20 schools across the UK and beyond and is recognised as the gold standard in hypnotherapy education in the UK.  At CPHT Kent, we recognise him as one of the leading lights in modern hypnotherapy.