When hearing the word hypnotise, most of you will think of the likes of Darren Brown and Paul McKenna, clicking their fingers and putting audience members into a trance on stage. As amusing as these performances may be, when it comes to hypnotherapy it’s an entirely different story. As I begin speaking to clinical hypnotherapist David Samson, the sheer power of his work quickly dawns on me. This is a man that uses the power of self hypnosis every day to help people come over the most crippling phobias, stress and anxiety. With 13 years of experience under his belt, we speak first thing before his day’s hectic schedule of clients and appointments. Humble, ardent and intelligent, David tells me ‘it’s a passion, a real passion knowing that you are able to change people’s lives.’ Leaving me intrigued and in awe of his work, if you’ve ever questioned the power of the sub-conscious mind, read on.
So David, what sparked your interest in hypnotherapy?
I’ve always been interested in psychology and especially the hypnotherapy side of working with the human brain. I used to be the director of a casino many years ago and was studying psychology at the time as a hobby. I was fascinated by these people who would come in and lose huge amounts of money and I wanted to know what it was that made them gamble. This fed in nicely with what I am doing now, where I specialise in helping people with addictions and phobias.
What qualifications did you need to get your job?
I got a diploma in anatomy and physiology, but you do not need to have any specific qualifications, the most important thing you need to have is good people skills.
Can you give us a brief idea of how hypnotherapy works?
The human brain is divided into two sections, the conscious and the subconscious – it’s about 10% conscious and 90% subconscious. Psychotherapists deal with the conscious part of the brain, hypnotherapists deal with the subconscious. Through various techniques you are able to access previously hidden memories, particularly pre six year old childhood memories. By accessing those memories whilst somebody is in hypnosis they re-experience whatever they felt at the time. If there is an instance where something scared a three year old child, the 42 year old sat in front of me would feel that fear again. But the 42 year old will put the correct interpretation on it and realise it wasn’t that scary, allowing them as adults to fix their hidden fears. When an adult is scared it isn’t the intelligent adult that’s scared, it’s the child within them.
Are some people easier to hypnotise than others?
There is a small amount of people that cannot be hypnotised and for that reason I’m a great believer in self hypnosis. I teach all of my patients how to hypnotise themselves, and I can honestly say I’ve never had patient who hasn’t been able to do it. People resist hypnosis because they have a fear of being out of control, but if the hypnotherapist assures them by doing self hypnosis they will remain completely in control, there will be no problems.
How easy is it to hypnotise yourself?
Very easy – you do it every day. When you are driving home late at night, you are not 100% conscious, you’re in a semi state of trance, especially on a road that you know very well. Or you are listening to the TV and someone is saying ‘Jane we’re going to be late’, you kind of hear them but you don’t really hear them. It’s a very naturally occurring phenomenon.
What is the best part of your job, what is it that makes you want to go to work every morning?
It’s a passion, it’s knowing that you are able to change people’s lives. Hypnosis is the last port of call; people never go to see a hypnotherapist first because it’s regarded as weird and unusual. People try psychotherapy first, they try CBT, by the time they come to see me they have tried everything. Being able to make the change people are desperate for is so fulfilling.
What’s the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is being able to successfully communicate with somebody – to get their belief structure in place. I lecture to other psychotherapists and I say to them the most important thing you have to do is establish a rapport with your patients, you have to very quickly build their belief structure in the process.
Looking back at your career, what has been your biggest success story?
Oh goodness, there are quite a few. This guy came to see me as a 17 year old, his father was a surgeon who had died of brain cancer and he desperately wanted to follow in his footsteps, but he had a fear of blood. He wanted to go to medical school so came to see me, and we fixed his fear. He then took a gap year working in an A and E unit in San Paolo in Brazil, dealing with gunshot wounds. He’s now working as a surgeon, specialising in the treatment of trauma victims. So I guess by me helping him, ultimately he will save a lot of other lives and I helped him follow his dreams.
That’s a brilliant story – I’m a bit taken aback! What do you think are the most important skills for a hypnotherapist to have?
You have to have people skills, it’s not a question of passing exams, it’s about knowing how to deal with people. How to interact, to stay calm at all times whatever happens when the person is in hypnosis. Sometimes people get very distressed if they uncover a memory that’s pretty scary, so the ultimate asset you have is the ability to stay calm whatever the situation.
When somebody is in a hypnotised state they are very sensitive; imagine you are listening to the radio and the disk jockey makes a mistake. There’s a two second silence as he tried to get his thoughts together – those two seconds are a very long time and you are immediately thinking what’s wrong? It’s similar when someone is in hypnosis – if you hesitate, if there’s any doubt in the patient’s mind that you know what you’re doing, you are in trouble.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to follow in your footsteps?
They have to have a passion – I get up every morning and the passion has not dulled in the 13 years that I’ve been doing this. You have to want to be able to help people. It’s hard not to get emotionally involved with patients; we’re human beings and sometimes it’s difficult when they are acting like that scared three year old child. You have to be someone who is cool, calm and confident, and have very good people skills.
Finally, do you practise what you preach and use hypnotism yourself?
I do – I use self hypnosis techniques on myself and would recommend it to anybody.
Thank you David!
To find out more about David’s work, have a look at his website. If he has inspired you to find out more, take a look at some of the hypnotherapy courses listed on our site. With plenty of full time, part time and online options available, it’s never too late to try something new.