A Reflection From Rick...
Rick with OJ from MTV during filming for a TV show in Trafalgar Square London. Image source: supplied.
My interest in hypnosis began when I was about 12. From then, it took me until 1992 to finally relinquish a very successful career in the automotive industry, study hypnosis, and become a hypnotherapist. So in 1992 I completed a 10 day Ericksonian Hypnosis course in Brisbane and I didn’t really learn much at all. I can remember watching a video of Milton Erickson performing an arm levitation and wondering to myself – how am I ever going to be able to do that? Then walking out at the end of the final training day proudly clutching my Certificate I said to one of my fellow students “When I teach this I’m going to teach it properly”. She looked at me with a quizzical expression and I wondered where those words had come from.
Determined to become successful, I’d already begun to study counselling months before hand and set up an office in Brisbane city from where to practice. My first stop on the way home from that final day of training was to an esoteric bookshop in the city where I bought a little book for $10, titled “The Secrets of Hypnotism.” I learned more about hypnosis from that little book than I learned in the $4000 training I’d undertaken, and 17 years later I’m still learning. The life of a successful hypnotist must be dedicated and passionate. If you want to be successful, is a never ending journey. Then I spent seven years busying myself in a full time private clinical practice and earned a good reputation as a hypnotherapist but my diary was constantly full, and my passion for the daily practice of therapy was beginning to dwindle, so in 1996 I started The Queensland Hypnosis Academy and lessened my time in clinical therapy as I began to train others in what I knew. At the beginning of my hypnosis career I was a dedicated Ericksonian practitioner and had little belief in the rapid hypnosis performed by so called stage hypnotists.
There wasn’t much information about rapid inductions available and it was more comfortable and easier to accept that rapid inductions and having people do things against their will was all nonsense, and that stage hypnotists were simply dealing with the gullible, or had an entourage of “Ring Ins” following them from show to show. Despite that self comforting belief I still had an interest in so called rapid inductions and eventually found a script demonstrating the mechanisms and gave the words for an instant induction. Eagerly I went through the process with a friend, he just stood there after I’d followed the instructions to a tee and asked me “What are you doing you idiot? His response helped to convince me that my first assumption must have been the correct one, and so I didn’t even consider rapid inductions again for about another year During my journey I developed an interest in old hypnosis books from the 17, 18, and 1900s. I have copies of James Braid’s and James Esdaile’s original works, a copy of Mesmer’s original dissertation, and many more written by other notables from the mostly forgotten past. As I collected and read historical volumes it became evident to me that there was plenty of merit in the old ways, more merit in fact than in the so called new ways, “new” meaning post 1950.
I now possess what may be the largest collection of old hypnosis books in the southern hemisphere, and it is in the old books where the fundamental truths about hypnosis are found. What most of the modern and academic literature and indeed hypnosis training fails to do is teach real inductions much beyond a progressive muscle relaxation and some visual imagery. This, in my opinion, has done little more than dis-empower hypnosis, watering it down into modalities such as NLP which profess to be hypnosis but are not hypnosis at all in the true sense of the meaning. There is a large collection of these valuable informative and rare books available as ebooks downloads on the website By trying to put hypnosis into an explainable framework, or treating it as an academic procedure the art has been significantly lost and believe me any true hypnotist will tell you that hypnosis is indeed an art. Of course there is also an academic aspect, but academia by necessity is evidence based and much of what happens during, or results from, hypnosis cannot be measured by academic means. Over the years I’ve heard a lot of nonsense such as it is just the power of the imagination; well you try getting a person suffering the agony of bone cancer to imagine it away. It’s also often said that we can’t make anybody do anything in hypnosis that they wouldn’t normally do, to me this means the individual saying it hasn’t been trained in proper hypnosis.
Hypnosis has been scientifically scrutinized to the point of tedium. There are more than 3000 high quality academic studies from some of the world’s most respected Universities; undertaken by some of the most respected scientific researchers of our time, and they all agree that hypnosis is proven, real, and beyond academic question. It is similar to electricity, we know it exists but science cannot explain exactly what it is. Anybody can learn to induce a trance to one degree or another, just as anybody can learn to sing. However it is the truly passionate individual who puts in the time and effort who becomes an exceptional hypnotist. You see, for all the scientific investigation that has made the existence of hypnosis beyond dispute there is just as much confusion and misunderstanding. It is passion patience and persistence that are going to make you an exceptional hypnotist.
Back in 1992 my trainer, was extremely NLP orientated. NLP is supposed to be the study of human excellence, he said to the entire class ‘Nobody in Australia ever got rich or too successful from being a hypnotist”. I thought to myself at the time, well somebody has to be the first then. Seventeen years later I know he was wrong on more than one level, firstly when you get good at what you do, you become rich in spirit from the help you bring to others and the self satisfaction of knowing that you are good at something. In 2001 I was invited to Perth Western Australia to conduct a training seminar, and while I was there I also had the privilege of conducting a hypnotic regression in Casuarina Maximum Security Prison for the defense lawyers who were trying to free Andrew Mallard who had been given a life sentence for the murder of Perth Jeweler Pamela Lawrence, and it was obvious to all and sundry except the dubious WA legal system that the man was innocent, even then it took another 8 years for the Australian High Court to overturn the guilty verdict. Due to the success of that 2001 seminar I was invited back again three months later to conduct another.
At that time the practice of hypnosis was being deregulated in all states of Australia under an agreement between the state governments and the federal government via a new National Competition Policy agreement. I had been involved in speeding up the de regulation process in Queensland and the Western Australian Psychologists board were none too happy when I arrived. What they probably perceived at the time was an upstart from Brisbane arriving on their turf and refusing to listen to their doctrine or bow to their empty threats. I suppose it was fighting their belief of owning hypnosis that made me dig my heels in and start an academy and continue training in Perth. All that is now past history and hypnosis is no longer subject to the draconian restrictions that it once was. Once there was a time I walked out of a classroom wondering what to do and exactly how to do it and I became one of Australia’s best and most successful international clinical hypnotists and hypnosis trainers.
I did this against all of the odds because I love what I do and I refused to lie down or walk away in the face of other people’s opinions or negativity. I know that anybody can achieve anything they want to in this life; but it takes passion, determination, patience, persistence, and damn hard work. Since its initial conception in Queensland in 1996, then in Western Australia in 2001. The academy has now trained more than 1200 students and expanded into the UK and the USA under the name of The International Academy of Hypnosis.
My work has taken me to New Zealand, the USA and the UK numerous times, and also Canada and Malaysia. I have appeared on countless national and international TV and radio shows and in more newspaper and magazine articles than I care to remember. I have produced and marketed a range of personal hypnotherapy CDs that have, since 2001, won multiple Gold and Platinum awards and sold more than half a million copies across the globe. Now the original Mind Motivations has grown to also include The Australian Academy of Hypnosis and my CD distribution company Resonanz Recordings International. I’ve hypnotized more than 18,000 individuals and conducted mass hypnosis events in London, Los Angeles and Australia with up to 1000 people in attendance. In August 2010 I conducted what is believed to be the largest media hypnosis ever conducted (more than 2 million people) with Ian Punnett on the George Noory Coast to Coast radio show. I’ve worked with some of Australia’s most successful corporations, and some of the world’s most elite Hollywood Actors and Celebrities and leading sports teams and athletes; including Race Car Drivers, Olympic Cyclists, Soccer Players, and world ranked Boxers and Martial Arts Champions, using exactly the same techniques and methodologies that you will learn as a student of the academy.
I consider myself as a researcher trainer and practitioner of the old and original ways of hypnosis. It’s so interesting that no matter how much we think we might know we never stop learning. In January 2009 during a radio interview in London I was asked “Out of all the things you have done with hypnosis what’s the most satisfying thing for you personally?” I have experienced, completed, and undertaken so much with hypnosis over the years that I had to give the question some deep but fast thought. My considered answer was. “It’s always a wonderful thing to help people with their issues and make forward progress so therapy has always been a satisfying, if at times draining part of my work. Teaching what I know to others is also very rewarding. But on a deeper and more personal level, in 2003 I was fortunate to find a 1922 translated copy of Anton Mesmer’s first published book titled “Mesmerism.” The little volume cost me a lot of money and I treasure it among my collection. It also sparked a burning interest in mesmerism and magnetism because investigation soon shows that it wasn’t all humbug and nonsense, but it wasn’t hypnosis as we now know it either. After waiting more than a decade, in 2009 I finally got to cross Lake Constance to visit the historic little village of Meersburg where Mesmer spent his last years.
I quickly found the old cemetery on MesmerstraBe and laid some flowers and a candle upon the monument of Mesmer’s well kempt grave. I suppose it was my “Pilgrimage to Mecca,” if you will. It was a surprisingly humbling and satisfying experience that defies words, which I’ll be the first to admit, is unusual for me. It is evident to me with my experience with the art that most hypnotists have forgotten their roots, and we should never forget where we or what we do came from.” Without Mesmerism perhaps modern hypnosis might never have existed, or hypnosis may never have become a therapeutic profession at all. Contrary to modern perceptions Mesmer by his own admission wasn’t even a hypnotist, in fact he disliked hypnosis and the “Somnambules” which is what hypnotists were called in his time, and he considered them as quacks and imposters. Mesmer was a magnetist and he was proud of it. He was also a Mystic whose life’s work brought to us what eventually became hypnosis. It was actually James Braid who developed what could be called traditional hypnosis. What I’ve discovered is that when you combine magnetism and traditional hypnosis together you can harness and project a power that Ericksonian hypnosis, NLP, and few other methodologies can come close to. To view a large assortment of photographs of Mesmer’s monument and Meersburg click on the Anton Mesmer icon on the lower LH side of the front page of the site. Fortunately I now have two excellent and talented trainers; Mr John Vernes and Mr Michael Werts, who have relieved the burden of too much work from my shoulders. These two gentlemen were both students of the academy who demonstrated the same passion commitment and dedication for the art that I needed to successfully foster and grow the academy into what it has become.
- Rick Collingwood