I recently came across a video from a former therapist named Daniel Mackler, who had a private practice for almost 10 years before quitting and turning to film-making.
Mackler is quite critical about many aspects of therapy, and in this video he critiques psychotherapy in general. I resonate with a lot of what he has to say, both from observations of the world of therapy and my experiences in it, as well as my own personal preferences.
I found that many points that he makes fit well within Navya Hypnosis’ approach through Hypnosis Assisted Healing. In this article, I’ll attempt to present his main points and dive into the areas that I align with, or diverge from, his world view, while hopefully further clarifying parts of the Hypnosis Assisted Healing philosophy.
[It’s worth noting that Mackler’s critique of psychotherapy as being too rigid and authoritative, can ironically be applied to his video as well. Ultimately there are many different views about psychology, the human condition, and what it means to heal or grow as a person. I resonated with a lot of Mackler’s points, and at the same time conceded that others might see all of this very differently]
From here on, I’ll write these points as if they are my own, even if in many cases they are a paraphrasing of Mackler’s ideas as expressed in this video:
The Therapist as an Educator
It is important to think of the therapeutic process as an educational one. Beyond just the topic you happen to be exploring while in your session, is the valuable lesson that you’re learning hands-on, in an applied manner: how to do therapy on yourself, how to practice self-therapy.
We have a principle in hypnosis that states that “all hypnosis is self hypnosis”, meaning that all suggestions need to pass through the filter of your own mind to see if it aligns with you. You can extend a similar view to therapy in general – all therapy should be self-therapy, where you learn skills from your therapist and then apply them to your life, during, between, and after your therapy sessions.
At Navya, a key goal, one that we strive to convey from the very first session is these core educational components: how to relax, how to quickly alter your state of mind, how to find resilience in tough situations, how to navigate difficult emotions and internal resistance with greater compassion and emotional intelligence. We always frame ourselves as a short-term experience aimed at giving you tools you can take with you throughout life.
The best clients are the ones who bring their hypnosis experiences into their daily lives – pondering their insights, journaling about their findings, thinking ahead about what they’ll share in their next session. One client told me of a time she used the techniques we’d been practising to calm a friend down who was having a panic attack. I couldn’t have been more proud.
Idea: i find myself able to do a lot of self-therapy, but still appreciate having others be a sounding board. That is, I don’t rely heavily on what they say, as much as them just listening and reflecting back to me. This has allowed me to work a lot with coaches, who are far more affordable and have a lot less training, but still can do an excellent job of creating a “container” within which to explore and express myself. In some ways, our hypnosis work at Navya can be thought of as a similar process, where we serve as coaches and facilitators of your own journey, and it’s not our expertise that is coming in to play for most of the session.
Therapists as Artists and Healers
As much as psychology, and even psychiatry, strives to present itself as a science, the truth is that therapists take the role of artists and healers far more than scientists. We often don’t even know what it is about medications that make them work, just that they do, and finding the right medications for people’s emotional needs is often a game of trial and error. There are multiple schools of therapy, some more effective than others, and none of them apply to all cases.
If a therapist is more about being an artist and healer, it follows that therapy is not something you can just learn in school, something you can become an expert in. And, as long as therapy training programs aren’t screening people for their innate therapy talents, and are still trying to create experts, the result is you end up with a lot of therapists who are not very good.
With Hypnosis Assisted Healing we recognize this, and put you at the forefront of the experience. We don’t claim to be experts, and we put you in the driver’s seat, while taking the role of a navigator who helps you feel safe and helps you get unstuck when you need to. At Navya, the practical training of the practitioners stands atop the facilitator’s personality. We pick people with diverse life experiences, people open to unconventional world views. Everything is built atop the therapist’s personality, and still, it’s crucial that we not be seen as the experts, but simply as facilitators.
So much of what I bring to my work with others I got from my own personal growth journey, the best way to learn a therapeutic modality is to experience it as a client (I strive to have a hypnosis assisted healing session at least once a month).
Go to the Root of the Trauma
So much of therapy, regardless of the presenting issue, will end up rooted in childhood trauma, and it’s important to respect the deep origins of often seemingly innocuous issues. To focus too much on the here and now, to the exclusion of the past, can be a disservice to the client’s healing, their understanding of how their past influenced them, and the sensemaking that comes from making peace with their past. (This is a criticism of CBT, and it’s over-emphasis on the practical, cognitive aspects of the human psyche)
At Navya, we welcome this psycho-dynamic exploration of our inner motivations, although we do first move from the emotions experienced in the here and now, and then into the past when it feels relevant to do so. This sets us apart from a lot of hypnosis practitioners, who take a more cognitive behavioral approach to their therapy as well. Ultimately this can partially be a matter of personal preference, and we find that our approach tends to approach deep thinking and feeling people who do prefer to understand the “why” behind who they are.
How to find a good therapist
There are several approaches you can take when searching for a therapist ,or a therapy modality for that matter. The first one is to trust your instincts. At Navya, we preach this constantly – trust yourself to know what is right for you. This extends in the session, as far as trusting what your subconscious is telling you, or knowing if a technique is right for you. It extends outside as well, to knowing if and when another session would be good for you. And it extends to our practitioners as well, trusting our own intuition as facilitators is the single most important technique we teach in training.
Sometimes trusting yourself can be difficult, especially if you’ve experienced trauma in the past. You may have had to repress big parts of yourself, and your feelings about things, to get through the day. Society may have invalidated things you were feeling. And as a result it might feel difficult to know what it is that you’re feeling, or to trust it when you identify it. At Navya we will always support your intuition, including if it tells you that you’re not a good fit for this specific modality.
Some additional recommendations:
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions – you can ask the therapist any question you’d like. The best therapists are personable and human, not aloof or in an ivory tower.
- Therapists should be likable – the best therapists are the ones you like as an individual. Chemistry is a key part of your therapeutic experience, and if you get along with a therapist personally, that is a crucial first step.
- Altruistic – therapists should be into it for the desire to help others, with money being a secondary goal for their survival. Mackler claims that the best therapists he’d met were also the cheapest, this was a fascinating observation.
- Look for humility and vulnerability – a good therapist should be willing to admit when they are wrong, be willing to share about parts of their own life, and to cry alongside you at times. A therapist who “leaves their work at work” is probably not engaging with you with the depth that you need.
Diagnoses are not critical
Therapy diagnoses can be helpful frameworks with which to understand yourself, help group together groups of symptoms into a coherent whole. But getting too fixated on them, whether it’s a title you already have, or wanting to get your therapist to diagnose you, can often be a distraction or a handicap. Psychological diagnoses are often very subjective – different practitioners can have different diagnoses of the same situation, and the DSM is regularly changing and redefining its criteria based on both new research as well as politics.
At Navya, we don’t diagnose. We help you understand who you are more deeply, and make sense of your own internal world. Many hypnotists claim to only treat “everyday people for everyday problems”, which is at once deeply true, and deeply laughable. Every person in the world has problems that thousands of others share with them – and even our everyday problems have roots in our childhood trauma. Deciding who to treat and how not to treat purely based on whether they have been given a specific diagnosis, or whether you use a specific diagnoses in your language when you treat them, is often a decidedly arbitrary decision.