I had just purchased some fresh baked, still warm focaccia bread with sun dried tomatoes and olives plus a fruit and vegetable drink and was heading back to work when the young woman I had seen a couple of hours previously noticed me and came to give me a hug and say thanks. She had been unable to eat vegetables for the last 18 years and had just tested the hypnosis we had done by eating and enjoying peppers for the first time.
It was last summer, and for the fifth time I had the privilege of working in the Healing Field at the iconic Glastonbury festival in the UK. Glastonbury has developed from an almost free gathering of about 1500 hippies in 1970 to the largest festival with the most sought after tickets in the country. Every year it sells out before the line up is even announced.
What is The Healing Field Glastonbury Festival?
The Healing Field, with its collection of therapists and esoteric healers holds a unique place in the heart of the Festival and has done so since the very beginning. The ethos is that no-one who needs healing is turned away even if they have no money or do not want to pay. There are no fees as such; payment is by donation, however this is by no means obligatory.
Therapies and treatments range from virtually any kind of massage, e.g. deep tissue Swedish massage, shiatsu, and Indian head massage to chiropractic and osteopath treatments to cranial sacral therapy and Reiki to counselling, tarot, palm reading and many more.
What strikes me as odd is that I am, as far as anyone can remember, the only hypnotist who has ever worked in the Field. The reason apparently was that the organisers did not believe that hypnosis could be done quickly enough to be effectively nor that it could be done under a gazebo in full view of passersby. I badgered them for a few years before they finally relented and accepted my application.
So, I guess you might be wondering what can a hypnotist expect to do in a field in the summer in Somerset? Well the basic thing is to be able to hypnotise your subject quickly, often with an audience and usually with external noise. Some people come to me just for the experience of being hypnotised. They have never had it before and so I can help them understand what it feels like, how it works and how useful it could be.
Then there are those who wander past, stop, come back, look at the sign and start the conversation….. “How does it work…. Is it safe?… Will you make me do something I don’t want to do?…. Could it stop me smoking?… Make me a better bowls player?…… Help me to sleep?…. Help me to cut down my drinking?…. Feel less anxious?…. Break my addiction to potato chips?…. Get over a relationship breakdown?… Help me to eat vegetables?” .. .. “Stop me binge eating and vomiting?”…. And so on. All of these are actual requests and there have been many others over the years.
Whilst I don’t have the time for a full case history (I sometimes get it anyway without asking) I always find out if they are on medication, are having or have had treatment for psychological or emotional issues, how healthy they are, whether they are a user of recreational drugs or a heavy drinker. If they are high or have had a lot of alcohol I suggest they come back when they are straight. If they have a significant mental illness I will not treat them.
It is important also important to manage expectations and that while results can be very effective and fast this is likely to be a one-off session, in a field in Somerset, sometimes in glorious sunshine and sometimes in the pouring rain. Therefore there may be a limit as to what can be achieved in the time.
So, given that one doesn’t really have too much time, how do I work?
My normal approach is to employ the Dave Elman process of induction. I use Elman because it is reliable, allows me a degree of flexibility and of course it is very fast which is important in the context of where I am working. It gives the client a positive experience and, being so quick allows me more time for therapy. Festival goers do not want to spend hours with me so Elman is the perfect start point.
Once I have achieved hypnosis I use a variety of therapeutic techniques including direct and post hypnotic suggestion, parts dissociation therapy, future progression and wise old person etc.
The results? Now and again I receive emails or Facebook messages weeks or months later thanking me and I like to think that in some small way I am helping to promote the use of hypnotism as therapy to a wider audience who may go home and look for practitioners in their own area.
Oh, and of course I get to see some great bands too!