A title making some readers curious and others rather suspicious stimulated me to find out what kind of method the author would introduce. First chapters on background and concepts, where the specificity of the method is pointed out, couldn't convince me that it really was something -˜new'. Working with subliminal therapy reminds of ego-state therapy or other uncovering methods commonly used in hypnosis, and I see it as -˜old wine in new bags', the author exhausting himself in finding evidence for the specificity.
To work with ST therapists need to accept the four assumptions on which it's based and educate clients about them: intelligent, subconscious capability exists, subconscious domain can communicate with the conscious mind, subconscious domain consists of subsystems (parts) which may function autonomously, and -œthere is a -˜higher intelligence', an entity that is not well defined, which I have named the Centrum- (p 17) In ST conscious involvement in therapy can be minimized, and therapeutic work is done by the Centrum.
All exploratory questions are addressed to -˜Centrum', being the part that communicates with therapist, and with other inner parts. Answers appear as words written on a chalkboard, an imagined computer screen, or as ideo-motor responses. Style used by the author sounds rather persuasive, to the point, not letting digress the client. -œAny time I preface a question with the name -œCentrum-, the next word I hope to hear from you will be words that are written on the chalkboard, as opposed to what you might think should be written there. I cannot see your chalkboard and if you fill in a blank or change an answer we will go down the wrong road, wasting my time and your money- (p 38)
In the Process of ST, communication is established with Centrum, by posing questions as for example -œCentrum, are you aware of your conscious concern about this problem- -œ Centrum are you willing to cooperate-¦?- -œCentrum, do you have the ability to look at memories of events that have happened in the past? -œ-œCentrum, do you have the ability to communicate with other parts of the mind?- (p.40)
Questions follow a logical decision- tree format: Flow Charts, available in Appendix A, are very useful to make therapists familiar with the method and to continue the process where it risks to get stuck. It gives proof of the author's personal experience with the method and the development he gave it since 1974, more than enough to assess possible obstacles for the process. The method allows the author to work on a problem, without knowing the (full) content, and even more surprising -œthe patient may not be consciously aware of the mental processes engaged or of the factors and influences addressed-¦- (p. 21)
The book is logically constructed and an excellent didactic tool where the process of subliminal therapy is clearly outlined, as it defines roles of therapist and clients, how to do the psycho-education, how to deal with resistance.
Clinical examples as the complete transcription of the session with Barbara (p 62-99), also available on a DVD clearly illustrates de process. After having client read and having explained the method, he teaches the client self-hypnosis and introduces the ST with a hypnotic induction and deepening, making use of direct suggestions as -˜when centrum wrote on the chalkboard, you can't erase it'. Questions are addressed to the centrum as -˜Are you willing to cooperate?' -˜Do you have the ability to access memories of events-¦?' -˜I ask that you conduct an investigation-¦.into the roots of the anxiety' -˜Centrum, identify those parts of your mind that are causing you to feel anxious' (p. 74) -˜Select one of those parts-¦.' -˜Find out from the part what it believes-¦' -˜-¦Centrum-¦educate that part-¦'persuade that part to your way of thinking' (p.75)
As convincing or motivating for wider use of his method, you find an extra chapter VII -˜Research and the Efficacy of Subliminal Therapy'. (p.169) Evaluations were done since 1977 with different research methods, and let him come up with a very optimistic conclusion as a result of the study of efficacy of ST -œaccording to personal research data overall effect size of 2.11 showing it being significantly more efficacious than CBT and EMDR in terms of effectiveness, and efficiency as well-. (p. 178)
After reading, studying the book seasoned psychotherapists can feel ready to do the work, provided they have the experience in working with hypnosis and -” or ego-state therapy and - or other exploratory and treatment methods.
An important merit of the work is to re-validate the earlier teachings on ego-state therapy which are rephrased, renamed (talking about parts), put in another context with emphasis on -˜Centrum' and addressing all questions to Centrum, the therapeutic work done on a subliminal level without interference of consciousness.
The writing style sounds like a teaching seminar, summing up guidelines or principles. Case reports are given by complete transcripts of sessions. Because of this, the reading of the entire book sometimes is rather boring. Selecting parts of the sessions to illustrate or highlight some aspects could contribute to a more easy-going-reading.
One could question if it's an advantage to circumvent or avoid the concept -˜hypnosis' in the title? Why now feeling like doing a one-man's therapy, lonely in experiencing a disconnection from the larger hypnosis community, organizing specific ST trainings? Or is it rather on purpose, he finds an entry or invitation to learn hypnosis by offering it in a different concept? Or is he offering -˜old wine in new bags', further worked out by a personal and logically constructed style?
The title might attract people with interest in the field of -˜subliminal therapy'. Subtitle -˜using the Mind to Heal could reach out more people interested in mind-body interactions and sound more convincing for the professionals working with hypnosis.