The following interview, is excerpted from a forthcoming book, Masters of Hypnotherapy.
Norbert: Today, we have a very famous guest with us; Gil Boyne.
Gil and his approach to Hypnotherapy have become legendary in the profession. He has been practicing Hypnotherapy for more than 54 years (as of 2009) and has become a legend as one of the true pioneers of Contemporary Clinical Hypnotherapy.
He is essentially self-taught, for when he began his career in 1954, there were no hypnotherapy organizations or training programs available.
Boyne opened the first Hypnotherapy Training Institute in America in 1969, created the first registration and certification program for hypnotherapists, in 1980 he founded the first hypnotherapist organization with serious standards for training, the “American Council of Hypnotist Examiners” and in 1984 he created the first International Annual Hypnotherapy Conference for hypnotherapists. In 1967, he founded the first publishing company devoted exclusively to hypnotism/hypnotherapy books, Westwood Publishing Company. He was the first hypnotherapist/Instructor to create a series of hypnotherapy training videos and videotaped live therapy sessions.
Gil Boyne has written a major textbook, “Transforming Therapy” and several training manuals and has trained over 12,000 hypnotherapists worldwide. He has become a living legend in the hypnotherapy world and in April 2000 Gil Boyne was inducted into the International Hypnosis Hall of Fame. He received the special award, “Man of the Century.” For his contribution to the Humanistic Sciences, Gil has been awarded honorary doctoral degrees from four American Universities.
Norbert: Gil, I have attended your Master Class, and I was deeply impressed by the way you work with your clients. After almost forty years of training hypnotherapists, what is it that still motivates you to continue teaching trainings and seminars?
GB: I feel that I have a special passion for the work.
My uncle was a famous stage hypnotist and magician. When I was twelve years old, he came to my home and hypnotized both my mother and father, which made a vivid impression on my imagination. I began to search for literary references to hypnotherapy but there was very little to be found.
Hypnosis had been neglected because of Sigmund Freud’s failure to understand or utilize it properly. When he dismissed hypnosis and developed “free association”, it became a model for the psychoanalytic world and the belief developed that hypnosis was not a useful tool in therapy. It took the best part of the next century for hypnosis to be resurrected again. I believe that I played a significant role in that resurrection.
Norbert: What do you think is missing in Sigmund Freud’s theories?
GB: Freud developed the theory of the unconscious and created the concepts of “id, ego and superego”. The id is presented as a pool of primitive and destructive energy and we are told that we must spend our lives re-socializing that energy, else we will live in constant upheaval and turmoil. But, nowhere in Freud’s philosophy is there any mention of a creative intelligence within, which in my view, not only knows all the questions, but knows all of the answers as well. I call this, “our divine gift”.
Freud was an Atheist and a Marxist and had no interest in linking a spiritual nature to mankind. I believe that we are a creation that is given the power to create and as a creation, to recognize a creative source larger than ourselves and outside ourselves. This is not a religious philosophy, it is purely a spiritual philosophy that accepts and understands that there is an invisible world that can neither be defined nor dissected by scientific methods.
As hypnosis became more recognized in the psychotherapy profession, the trance was considered to be one of the psychotherapist’s tools. But, over the years, I had many clients who said they had been in psychotherapy, and had asked their therapist to hypnotize them. In many cases, they were told that hypnosis was not appropriate for them or that they were not ready for it or that it would be harmful to them and eventually they left the therapist and came to me or another hypnotherapist. I believe that this happens because psychotherapists are not trained in hypnotherapy.
Norbert: Do you think hypnosis and hypnotherapy can actually be harmful to a client?
GB: Milton Erickson performed over 800 experiments to see if the most responsive hypnotic subjects could accept and act upon suggestions to produce criminal, immoral, antisocial or self-destructive behaviors.
He reported that he was unable to motivate a single instance of harmful responses. If hypnosis were able to be used for harmful purposes, there would have been laws passed in many countries in the world, especially in the US and the UK, restricting the practice.
The reason hypnosis remains unregulated by law or license, is that there has never been a documented case of harm. Critics will point to the occasional cases of sexual charges against a hypnotherapist, but those do not occur because of hypnosis. Sexual interactions are common in any situation were there is a client/patient and a counselor, a priest, a minister, a rabbi, a psychologist, a psychiatrist. There is privacy, developed intimacy and a special bonding can occur. The greatest number of such charges occurs among licensed professional groups. But, since those are not initiated by hypnosis but the intimacy that develops in the relationship, we cannot say that sexual interactions are directly linked to the use of hypnosis.
Norbert: Are there people that should not be treated with hypnotherapy?
GB: Any one suffering with various forms of psychosis, mental aberrations, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other mental ailments should not be accepted as a client by a hypnotherapist unless they are licensed in the healing arts or psychotherapy professions. In my intake interview, questions are asked about the client’s medical history and psychological history and if they ever have been treated by a psychotherapist or a psychiatrist. When it is revealed that they have a history of a psychiatric ailment, they are referred to a licensed psychotherapist or psychiatrist for evaluation and possible referral back to the hypnotherapist.
Norbert: Your transforming therapy is incredibly fast and effective, could you describe your therapy model?
GB: When I first began in the work, my initial studies were based on the works of Freud. But, as I realized that almost the entire therapy world accepted the precepts of Freud and that the major concept in psychoanalysis was therapy of extended duration, I began to have misgivings.
For example, a beginning prognosis by a psychoanalyst might be, “I’ll see you four times a week for the first two years and then we’ll decide where we are going from there.” The famous author, producer and actor Woody Allen has been in psychoanalysis for a great number of years and to my knowledge still continues in it.
I believe that creating dependency is not what therapy is about.
I practice short-term therapy and the goal and purpose of it is to empower the client to recognize their own inner strengths and their own capacities.
An example comes to mind. I knew a man who was a minister and went on a trip to Africa and visited some African tribes. A tribal chief said to him, “Take these two girls to America and raise them as your children”. Since he was married and had no children, he made the necessary legal arrangements, brought the children to America, saw that they have a fine education, graduated with university degrees and they both are outstanding professionals in their fields today. To see these same children in the most primitive conditions in a village in the African bush, one could not have forecast the possibility of such a future. Or imagine that they had an innate intelligence that could be developed to that level. But, everyone has capabilities that they are unaware of. I feel as a therapist it is my job to help clients to discover the gifts, the talents and the natural capabilities that God and nature has bestowed upon them. Once a client begins to discover the resources they have within, they learn to draw upon them. I also teach each client self-hypnosis so that they can become free of the need to have to work with a therapist. However, many issues require a helper and cannot be dealt with by the individual alone.
Norbert: So the effects of short term therapy are not limited to a short time?
GB: No, once change begins, it is ongoing. We are all conditioned from childhood to a cynical disbelief in our own ability to use our own inner powers and gifts. We were told what we couldn’t do, what we shouldn’t do, what is inappropriate for us to do, what is forbidden for us to do and constantly experiencing criticism of what we are doing. However, we do find people of high creativity who had the opposite kind of upbringing. They were inspired when they were told what they were capable of doing, and being. They were inspired by positive input. Many of the gold medal and world-class athletes were raised by parents who developed and nurtured their aspirations in their chosen fields. For example, the Olympic gold medal figure skaters and gymnasts start their training at a very early age. The training is very expensive and time consuming and parents often sacrifice a great deal to help them develop their hopes and dreams.
This is quite different from the restricting and limiting beliefs and attributions that are put upon most children.
Norbert: You teach that Transforming therapy is a radical departure from traditional methods. What are the most important differences?
GB: First, I will tell you how I chose the name. As a Christian, I became greatly interested in the writings of healings in the Christian scriptures.
The Apostle Paul, said “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”.
To renew, means to make new again but the mind is new only at birth. How did all of the limiting, restrictive ideas get into the mind? We acquired them from external sources. Once these beliefs are accepted they are continually reinforced internally, “I have always been the world’s worst speller”.
To renew is to wipe the slate clean, to clear the mind of the restricting, inhibitory, frustrating beliefs and begin again. Then Paul went on to tell how long the process took. He said “be ye transformed in the twinkling of an eye”. That seems very radical but William James, the father of American psychology and professor at Harvard, said “all human beings resist change”. Because change means movement from what is familiar to something new and different which creates anxiety because of its newness. Wm. James also said, “We resist change until we reach a point of readiness for change” How do we get to readiness for change? The primary way is through mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering. When an individual decides they have suffered enough, they will reach out for change. They will begin to think about ways to initiate a process of change. Because we can’t experience change just by thinking about it or by talking about it or desiring it, we must take action and initiate a process of change. Once a person has truly reached this point, change can and does occur rapidly. However, not everyone who comes to the therapist is at the point of readiness for change, that’s the therapist’s role – to move them to that point of readiness.
Catholics may make a novena to the Blessed Virgin Mary to have an ailment healed. Many millions go to Lourdes, France, each year seeking cures and healing. Only seventy miracle cures have occurred at Lourdes, but many of those who went there and bathed in the water, report major changes in their life, even though their physical ailment was not completely cured.
The conditions at Lourdes for an ailment to be pronounced by the church as a miraculous cure are very extreme. It must be an organic condition, it must have a medical diagnosis and paperwork to document it , the treatment and cure must be spontaneous, the patient must have another medical evaluation and return after five years with the documents from their local doctors saying that the cure was permanent. In one famous case, an open wound in a man’s leg with five inches of leg bone missing, was closed up in an instant and the missing bone was restored as the person went into the water at Lourdes. There is no scientific explanation because it defies explanation. We say it is a mystery and much of healing remains of mystery because our body is a magnificent healing mechanism.
Is it that the body wears out regardless of circumstances, situations and environment or is it that external stresses act upon the capacity of the immune system to the heal the body?
Research has shown that the external stresses common to civilization seriously affect our ability to heal ourselves.
Norbert: Can you explain why some survivors of terminal diseases live much longer than others.
That is truly a mystery. In a recent TV documentary, eight long-term terminal cancer survivors were interviewed to see if there was a common factor in their survival and none was found. One survivor was a member of a religious group in West Virginia USA, which danced as they handled snakes They believe that because of spiritual energy, they can handle rattle snakes and not be bitten. Over a long period of years, there has been only a few that have been bitten and died. Since it is a regular ritual, practiced by many, it is quite extraordinary. One man who fervently believed in this religious ritual, said he believed it was his faith that cured his terminal cancer. Another man said it was his love for his wife that kept him alive. One woman said she wanted to live to see her grand-children grow up and graduate from high school. Some others go into remission by adopting new and unusual diets that have been created by alternative practitioners. Outside of conventional or traditional medicine. There is no common denominator that can be found in those who are survivors of terminal ailments.
Freud talked about the “will to live and the will to die” and I say some people are life affirming and some are life denying. In the therapy yesterday, a woman that I hypnotized came to realize her subconscious decision was that she wasn’t worthy to be alive. When people have those beliefs, their life is usually shorter than it might have been otherwise.
Norbert: You mentioned “readiness for change” as a primary factor in healing and creating change do you think there might be an external healing power?
GB: I think that healing must be stimulated from within the person. We don’t know what levels of mind or even what mind is, but we use many terms such as the unconscious mind, the subconscious mind, preconscious mind, conscious mind and other terms such as the id, ego, superego, parent, adult and child and more. What they really indicate is that a part of our processing and perception of our life is out of our conscious awareness most of the time. But, it is always operative in terms of energetic interaction internally and the energy it generates strongly influences our behavior.
Norbert: Do you believe that there is an internal intelligence in everyone that makes healing possible.
GB: Belief in an external power can activate the internal healing process, for example, the healing minister will use the word “faith”. Faith and belief are close synonyms and belief is a word that indicates concepts held in the mind but are subject to change. Faith indicates more of an unchangeable acceptance of belief, as in religious belief, patriotism and similar kinds of beliefs that withstand efforts to modify or challenge them. My research on Lourdes and similar healing shrines and healers, indicates that some people go simply because they want relief from their suffering or ailment and really have little or no faith. In one of the case studies of a cure at Lourdes, a man was taken there on a stretcher and he proclaimed himself to be an atheist. He did not want to go but he was taken against his will by his closest relatives. A great part of his body was paralyzed and as he was lowered into the water at Lourdes, he was cursing and swearing against God but he received a miraculous healing. Some have said, “the very fact of the intensity of his denials was the reverse side of the coin of his faith”. These are philosophical and theoretical concepts. I have spent years struggling with them, and now I say, “I know that I have developed methods, philosophy and structure that I use to get results and my research now is only the people I work with. I don’t regret the years I spent doing research, but I no longer consider myself a researcher, I consider myself a successful practitioner. I am one who does the work rather then studying to learn why it works.
Norbert: You stated that Transforming Therapy is not to be compared with Ericksonian approaches or NLP techniques. Why not ?
GB: Milton Erickson was the director of a mental institution and he learned to deal with the aberrations of the mind in special ways. Out of these experiences he began to teach the use of hypnosis to psychiatrists. In his later years he was confined to a wheel chair because of a physical nerve ailment. Because he was unable to be very active, he developed a great many indirect methods that did not require physical mobility, chiefly by the use of the voice, the language, the words, tonality and so on. But Ericksonian work is non-analytical in form as is Gestalt Therapy. NLP is a very skillfully developed approach which incorporates the principles of General Semantics, but I do not consider it to be a form of hypnotherapy. I believe that the principles and concepts about language as a tool and the correct usage and application of it, have been restructured and are now part of NLP. NLP practitioners do not use hypnosis in the manner that analytical hypnotherapists use it. Analytical means the development and use of methodology and strategies that reach into the emotional mind by provoking and intensifying feelings within the client. They can then be used as a bridge back to the reviving of earlier traumatic experiences or misunderstanding of experiences in the early years and a reeducation can occur in while they are in that state of mind. It means the client is able to analyze how they were influenced when they were a child by experiences and by their interpretation of familial concepts and the labels put on them.
Norbert: Gil, I’ve seen you working in such a loving way and caring way, yet some of your interventions appear to be very direct. Some people think your therapeutic approach is too direct and too confrontive.
GB: You use the words “some people” and when doing therapy I’m never concerned with “some people”. I’m concerned with only one person and that is the client. Judgment of my methods can only be made by witnessing the result which is the benefit that the client receives, the client’s recognition of it and their expression of gratitude to me. In 55 years I have never had a client say to me, “you’re too direct, you are too authoritarian, you’re too anything”. At the end, they are always grateful for the help they have received. Critics are not in the loop. The loop is between me and the client and the energy called commandment, so we can be one with life. The ability to give love and to accept love is a divine faculty.
During the therapy session you saw a woman who was very capable and did give out a great deal of love but when I challenged her and told her that she was unable to accept love she agreed that was her great problem. She even said that once she had made love with a man, she wanted him out of her bed and didn’t want him to spend the night with her. Obviously that’s not considerate of his desire beyond his passion to share intimacy by sleeping with her. That’s just one facet of not accepting love. She didn’t want the tender part, only the physical passion.
Norbert: Please tell me about your products and services and how people can get in touch with you.
GB: When I began in the work professionally in 1954 there was virtually no literature available. Just a paragraph or two in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and a few, old meaningless mail order books. Then, a few psychotherapists and physicians who were interested in hypnotherapy began to write books but they were written for their professional peers in an academic style.
In 1967 I decided I would publish books written by people who spoke to the average person without using psychological jargon or terminology. I planned to republish some classic books that were out of print and the first one I discovered has since become a masterwork. It was a forgotten classic! The current title is,“Hypnotherapy” by Dave Elman.
My company acquired the rights to it from Elman’s widow and has been marketing it for 25 years and it has become the best selling hypnotherapy book available today.
Then I began to write books and manuals and the electronic media came into the marketplace. I was the first to market hypnotic recordings on long-play records. Next came the cassette and now CD’s and the DVD’s. I began to create and market training films and live therapy sessions and the best work of other hypnotherapists. In addition, I became a distributor for other publishers who began to publish books on hypnosis. I set up my own distribution company and now bookstores order directly from us. As the company grew and the profession continues to expand, our sales keep growing larger. Now, we’re receiving orders daily from countries around the world. Our books have gone into several foreign language translations. Currently the Elman book is being translated into the Korean language,.
Norbert: Gil, thank you so much. This has been wonderful interview with so much valuable information. It has been a real pleasure to meet you.
GB: It’s been a pleasure for me as well. I hope that your use of the material, in whatever form, continues the spread of hypnotherapy My goal has always been to pass on knowledge and understanding of my beliefs about this amazing process which will eventually be recognized as the most powerful healing tool available on this planet.