You may recognise Steve Carey as the man at the helm of the Academy of Hypnotic Science – as he often has an ad on our inside front cover. I’m in awe of his apparent business prowess – and his ability with words too. As a person who appreciates words, I get a real kick out of his witty words when they pop into my inbox. He’s a genuinely nice guy too – always pleasant, kind and self-aware – and that’s different from the stereotypical business boss. So I started out by asking Steve what made him a successful entrepreneur.
He told me that it depends on my definition of success. “Not everyone able to make their fortune would want to do what I’m doing. I like to get well paid for what I do, but the primary motivation is about being able to look at myself in the mirror.” He has two criteria:
1. Is it ethical and does it add to the sum of human happiness?
2. Does it take advantage of talents that I’ve got?
So what are his talents?
Steve modestly replies that he knows what he’s not good at – detail and implementation – and has surrounded himself with people who are really good at these things. He explained how he’s a dreamer and looks at the bigger picture and imagines how things could be. While this is necessary to be successful, without the people who are going to make it happen in a detailed way, the dream would not be possible.
I’ve mentioned above that Steve is a self-aware guy. So I asked him if he was self-aware before he studied hypnotherapy.
“That’s very comparative. Compared with some people, then certainly, but only in a limited way, because what hypnotherapy helps us to think about is that most of the interesting stuff that goes on in our mental lives goes on beneath the surface, in the subconscious, and unless you understand the way the subconscious thinks, and unless you’ve got a model for how the conscious and the subconscious interact together, then you are not noticing all that stuff that goes on beneath the surface. You can pay a great deal of attention to what people say and miss most of what is really going on.”
I wanted to know if hypnotherapy is more all-encompassing than other models, and I just loved Steve’s answer: “I don’t know that it is, but it is more aware than many models that it is a model. Most models say, ‘This is the way things really are – they are not like that – they are like this.’ Hypnotherapy says that the model that you have determines your reality.”
We talked about suggestibility and then Steve said that hypnotherapy actually concentrates suggestibility and uses it for good. It gets someone to a highly suggestible state so that they are much more in a position where their views of the world can change – they are no longer quite so rigid, no longer quite so certain. “If you can develop uncertainty in someone, and a questing outlook, then you can drop in a meaning that will serve them much better than the one they are stuck with.”
I was surprised to hear that hypnotherapy develops uncertainty.
“Yes, I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. It was sharpened for me by Michael Yapko who was in Melbourne earlier this year and talking about the fact that it is a characteristic of just about every client that we see for hypnotherapy, that the client has a great deal of certainty that is not serving them well – I can’t stop smoking, I can’t lose weight, I know that I’m no good. Whatever form it may take, it’s an unhelpful form of certainty, and it becomes a constraint that you might wear as an armour against the world, but it actually ends up preventing you from moving into new areas.
“So one of the things that hypnotherapy does for them is to give them an experience quite unlike anything they’ve had before, and also to take the opportunity to develop in them the sense that not knowing the future, not knowing how things are going to turn out, is not such a bad thing after all. You can imagine that anyone on a journey is looking for a new path or destination – well that’s a difficult frame of mind to be in if you know you can’t do something. If you can’t do something like stopping smoking, then there’s a whole range of things you can’t do. If you believe you can’t do something, then you are likely to prove yourself right.”
Steve is so passionate about using hypnotherapy to help people that he was impressed some years ago by hearing women talking about the astounding difference between having their first baby prior to hypnotherapy and the second one with its advantage. “If hypnotherapy can do this for people then we ought to be able to help a whole lot of other people.” That’s been rolling around in his mind since then, and now he is the proud ‘father’ of a brand new course, one that he thinks is a world first – a Diploma of Hypnotherapy for Pregnancy and Childbirth. Yes, this is a government-accredited diploma course.
“We have turned women about to give birth into a medical case, and we’re more concerned about making sure that things don’t go wrong and in making her the subject – it is being done to her instead of her being in control. Hypnotherapy gives power back to the woman and crucially it gives her the ability to not be tense.
“I like to think of an orange – hold it in your hand and squeeze hard and at the same time let go – you quickly realise you cannot do both. If you are tense and the muscles are tight, you can’t let go. It seems that most women in the Western context are very tense at the very point at which they should be able to relax and to soften to release.”
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