Empathy and Hypnotherapy

By Rodney Inns

Ok does empathy have a place in hypnotherapy?

The fast answer is no it has no place at all. Lets begin with a definition of empathy. "Empathy- the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another." Dictionary.com

I'd like to clarify the definition above a little it says, "the intellectual identification with another person" Well even doing this is going to set off a person to dig through their own experiences, then imagine what it'd be like to be another person having those experiences. You cannot do this with out making the sensations and feelings that person may be feeling so I disagree with this particular part of the definition.

So to be empathic we need to feel what the other person feels to genuinely understand them, to empathize with them. Well this is perilous as a hypnotherapist my clients usually come with a lot of complaint, one thing that's important in all this is they're customarily in really painful emotional states. After all , that is what has prompted them to come and see me for hypnotherapy in the first place.

Some of the emotional states that can make up the state of clients is anxiety, depression, anger, fear, loneliness etc It is mostly a mixture of these feelings they're often at extremely intense levels. So lets go down the track of empathising! If we do that we must feel what they feel and when we do that how well do you think we are going to be ready to help them? For instance some people I have seen are on the border of a panic attack! Do you really think that's a good state to be in to help some one?

In the past I have had clients who have impacted my state where it has begun to become a problem with me, to the point that I won't do my job properly because when you feel badly enough you tend to go inside to cope with it. The emotion essentially distracts you and puts you in a state where your judgement is skewed.

For instance you can pay attention to 7 +- 2 pieces of info per second consciously, you may be aware of 11 million pieces of info per second subconsciously. So what happens is you use all of your capacity for helping the client with coping with your anxiety fear for example. Its like you are on a freeway in peak hour traffic, it is choked fender to fender so you can't do anything just traveling hardly at 5 kmph. The other side is you're calm and relaxed its like their is very few cars of the free way and you can zoom around at 100 kmph. So you've got a heap of mental resources to use to concentrate on the customer, what they assert, what they do body language etc. So that you can work out the most effective way to aid them.

Also when you're in a state of fear you have a tendency to process things differently, you also pay attention to different things, while you are in a state of being calm and relaxed you may process things absolutely differently again also concentrating on different things and coming to different conclusions and judgements. So when you are relaxed and chilled you are much more likely to see what's essentially their in front of you and not skewed by fear.

So when referring to empathy with a client it is a no no!! You need to keep your self in a state where you can do your job, to the best of your ability while protecting your self from feeling shit and moving into these negative states. I have met other health practitioners who do this and then complain they feel depressed and anxious etc all the time, they can not understand why! It is straightforward they empathise with several clients each day they work going into the negative states of the clients and over time this builds up because they're in these negative states so frequently while working while at home and so on.

Now to digress a bit I am sure you have talked to some one, buddy, relation and they dump all their shit on you! Then you feel like shit they have also done this several times to the point at which you are starting to avoid this person. Everyone knows some one like this that causes us to avoid or spend as little time in their company as possible. Why because they simply make you feel bad, so I would also advocate that you never do this to people you know like pals, family etc because you'll make them feel bad, I'd also have a tendency to change the topic if others try and do this with you protect yourself by all means. Yes I know this is a traditional way folks connect and begin to know each other gaining trust,. Nevertheless it comes at a cost and their are alternative routes to connect with folk than doing this so limit this behavior as much as is possible.

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