Counselling and Hypnotherapy - a comparison

Person Centred Counselling - Key assumptions

Perhaps the most important aspect of client centred counselling is the importance that is placed on the individual and the belief that each person has all the resources he/she needs to grow and change. It is assumed that each person is unique and essentially good and that is it because of social circumstances that a person moves away from a balanced inner growth.

A difference is being made between what is called the organismic self (what the person feels, the true centre of instincts, emotions, etc) and the idea that the person has of what he/she should be, the self concept. The greater the difference between these two aspects, i.e. the organismic self and the self concept, the greater the potential for emotional problems and conflicts. That difference is made bigger when "conditions of worth" are placed on a person who then feels that he/she has to be someone different in order to be accepted and receive love. That person cannot therefore accept their organismic self because of a fear that they would not meet other people expectations which might then lead to a situation where that person feels he/she is not going to be accepted by others.

The purpose of counselling is therefore to help that person regain an awareness of the organismic self, and learn to accept and value their inner processes. This is achieved when the therapist can provide a non-threatening environment where the client can explore those inner processes without fear of being judged. Therefore an important aspect of counselling is the relationship that exist between the client and the therapist, for, by accepting the clients responses, the therapist helps the client to learn to accept him/herself and thus helps him/her to gradually face feelings, emotions, or memories that may never have been acknowledged before, even less expressed to another person. The acceptance given by the therapist promotes a state of self acceptance by the client and a greater awareness of his/her inner experiences.

In order for the relationship to be totally beneficial to the client, the therapist must exhibit certain core conditions which can be summarised as follow:

"Unconditional positive regard" or U.P.R. which really means that the therapist must show respect and acceptance towards whatever is going on within the client.

"Congruence" which means that the therapist must show that he/she is in touch with his/her organismic self and thus what is being expressed to the client is a direct reflection of the internal feelings and thoughts of the therapist. It implies that the therapist is aware of his/her own inner experience.

"Empathy" which is the ability to experience the other personÂ?s frame of reference. Trying to place oneself in the other personÂ?s shoes. This implies that the therapist is completely aware of the communications given by the client not only at a verbal level, but also through his/her body language, facial expressions, etc.

The client must have the freedom to explore his/her own inner experiences in his/her own way and pace. Client Centred Counselling is not about telling the client what to do, but rather about creating a safe environment for the client to be able to explore his/her feelings in a supportive environment. Therefore the therapist must respect the clientÂ?s choices to progress in his/her own way, even if that means that the client chooses not to progress. But, although it is important for the client to be given that freedom, it is also important that the therapist helps the client become aware of what is happening, so that the client is given the opportunity to explore other choices if he/she chooses to.

To summarise this chapter, I would like to use the words of Carl Rodgers: "If the counsellor maintains this consistently client-centred attitude and if he occasionally conveys to the client something of his understanding, then he is doing what he can to give the client the experience of being deeply respected. Here, the confused, tentative and almost incoherent thinking of an individual who knows he has been evaluated as abnormal is really respected by being deemed well worth understanding." (1) This I feel, is the key to transformation.

Hypnotherapy - Key assumptions

Hypnotherapy is the use of a hypnotic state for a therapeutic purpose. But what is a hypnotic state? The experience of day-dreaming is a hypnotic state, being so totally absorbed in a book that the reader forgets about his/her environment and loses track of time is a hypnotic state. Because it is such a natural occurrence, everybody can by hypnotised and it is enough to simply turn the attention to the self and focus the awareness towards the inner world of the mind to induce that altered state of consciousness. Obviously, the depth of hypnosis will vary greatly depending on how it is induced, but any therapy which will direct the patient's attention to search for answers within him/her self, will tend to create a hypnotic state.

My own work has developed out of the teachings of people like Ernest L. Rossi and David Grove and I have also drawn on Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques and principles to construct my own way of conducting therapy.

I work on the principle that the personality is mainly created out of the experiences of life and that each event to which we react emotionally creates, or rather imprint, an aspect of our self which becomes more or less integrated with the rest of the mind. Those aspects which are the least integrated are "parts" of our self which we find difficult to accept, usually because there is a fear attached to them. Therefore we tend to repress those parts, ultimately creating a fragmentation of the personality into different ego states. The fear may stem from a belief that this aspect or ego state will not be accepted by others or society and therefore is better kept hidden or can also stem from a belief that the emotions contained in those aspects are so strong that they would simply overwhelm the whole personality and therefore make that person "lose control". The symptoms that a person experience, such as anxiety, depression, etcÂ? are the manifestation of that repressed part trying to "express" itself and/or the result of the emotional energy created by the act of repression and affecting the state of the person.

Helping a person to face those aspects, discover the parts, their purposes, can help that person accept each of those aspects or ego states and therefore lead to a reintegration of the personality through a realising that, although an aspect or ego state may have adopted a negative behaviour, there is no part of the personality which has for ultimate goal a negative purpose. The way it (the part) knows how to reach that goal may be negative and destructive, but what it ultimately hopes to achieve is positive. It doesnÂ?t in any way justify the behaviour, but to know that the goal is positive helps the person to accept the part and teach it a more constructive way to achieve its purpose.

It is assumed that a symptom acts as a doorway into the cause of the problem and that helping the client to become more aware of the symptom leads to an understanding of what created the problem, its source and of how to change the perception of the experience. It is also assumed that within each client is the key to a better health (mental and physical) and a knowing of the process required to reach that state of better health. The role of the therapist is to help the client uncover that knowing for him/herself, not to provide an explanation or the answers that the client is looking for. The therapist will therefore help the client concentrate on the here and now experience and, through that, move on to explore the source of that experience, i.e. the memory or perception of what has happened and of the feelings attached to that. This will help the client understand how he/she has learned to feel and behave a certain way and therefore create an opportunity for change. Accessing the source, means that the client can become the therapist of the ego state that is rooted in the past and help it grow and transform by giving it what it (the ego state) needs, i.e. respect, acceptance etc.

There is an unconscious knowing of what a state of health is. Left to its own devises, the unconscious mind will naturally try to reach state of balance and health. It is usually because of fear that the client will hinder that process, as the fear will create a rejection of an aspect of the personality and therefore bring about a state of fragmentation which can lead to confusion as the different aspects pull in different directions.

In a similar way to Client Centred Therapy, the hypnotherapist must be non-judgemental and able to respect the clientÂ?s inner experience, therefore making it easier for the client to explore his/her own ego states and, through acknowledgement and ultimately acceptance, reintegrate them in his/her psyche.

Comparison & implications

The basic principles adopted by the two therapies are identical. For example, the therapists in both Client Centred Counselling and Hypnotherapy (the way I use it) will need to respect the clientsÂ? states and show empathy as well as be congruent. They will both try to help the client become more aware of his/her inner state and understand him/her self better by creating a comfortable and safe environment conducive to the inner exploration of feelings and emotions.

The difference comes in the application of those principles. Where the Client Centred Therapist will follow the clientÂ?s own way of exploring his/her inner state, the hypnotherapist will be more directive in helping the client through the process of exploration. The hypnotherapist will help the client become more aware of the role he/she can play in the transformation and reintegration of the ego state and, in a way, help the client become his/her own therapist of the ego state.

It is my feeling that the counsellor will spend time with the person, helping the client to become aware of ego states and thus understand him/her self better. To that effect, as stated before, the counsellor will make full use of the core conditions and facilitate that exploration by the client. In hypnotherapy, it is my feeling that the focus is slightly moved from the therapist-client relationship to the person-ego state relationship. The client develops a relationship with their ego states and thus become more able to effect a transformation and reintegration. The therapist-client relationship is still important but shifts gradually, in the course of the therapy, to the relationship the client has with aspects of his/her personality.


I feel that the goals to be achieved as well as the beliefs and values of both therapies are identical and that therefore the two processes complement each other. It is only in the expression and utilisation of those assumptions and principles that the therapies will differ. I see Person Centred Counselling as a perfect way to lead the client into a deeper exploration of the inner experiences through hypnotherapy. Counselling will ease the client into a state where they are more prepared to work using hypnotherapy. Counselling can also help the client review the experience and help reintegrate it into their psyche by exploring how they feel about what has been discovered through hypnotherapy.



(1) Page 44 of "Client Centred Therapy" by Carl R Rogers
Constable and Company Limited Â? ISBN 0 09 453990 1


"Person-Centred Counselling in Action" by Dave Mearns and Brian Thorne
Sage Publications Ltd Â? ISBN 0 8039 8050 7

"Client Centred Therapy" by Carl R Rogers
Constable and Company Limited Â? ISBN 0 09 453990 1

"The Psychotherapy of Mind-Body Healing" by Ernest Lawrence Rossi
W.W. Norton & Company Inc. Â? ISBN 0 393 70168 9

"The Answer Within: A clinical Framework of Ericksonian Hypnotherapy" by Stephen R Lankton & Carol H. Lankton
Brunner/Mazel Â? ISBN 0 87630 320 3

"When Living Hurts, Directive for Treating Depression" by Michael D Yapko
Brunner/Mazel Â? ISBN 0 87630 485 4

"Rewriting the Soul, Multiple Personality and the Science of Memory" by Ian Hacking
Princeton University Press Â? ISBN 0 691 03642 X

"Core Transformation, Reaching the Wellspring Within" by Connirae Andreas & Tamara Andreas
Real People Press Â? ISBN 0 91226 32 X

"Reframing, Neuro-Linguistic-Programming and the Transformation of Meaning" By Richard Bandler & John Grinder
Real People Press Â? ISBN 0 911266 25 7

"Dissociation Experiences, Trauma & Hypnosis" by Johan Vanderlinden
Eburan Delft Â? ISBN 90 5166 343 9

"The Inner World of Choice" by Frances G Wickes
Coventure Ltd Â? ISBN 0 904576 66 3


Author: PB
Copyright © 2023 PB. All rights reserved

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