Monday, October 2, 2017


How many people will you meet in a day, in a year, or in a lifetime?  With how many people are you currently acquainted? Of those acquaintances how many are meaningful and dear to you?

Englishman, Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary anthropologist has provided some numbers to these questions.  The number of people near and dear to us in our inner circle is from three to five.  The number of people who matter significantly but are just outside our sacred inner circle is 15. The number of people we see regularly, at our workplace and at routine places elsewhere is 50.  The number of people we randomly recognize on the street or in a mall or other haunts is 150.   

The number of people we are connected with on Twitter or Facebook doesn’t count.

Cap-a-pie anyone can judge a person in just one glance.  As shallow as this seems, making such a wide assessment based on such a narrow experience can be remarkably accurate.  In psychology these kinds of assessments are referred to as thin-sliced.

When initially introduced to someone you will likely notice the person’s facial expression first, be it a smile or a frown, bug eyed or bleary eyed.  You’ll notice, too, the person’s body posture, noticeably slouched or stiff or casually relaxed.  Of course there may be the gesture of a handshake, be it firm or fish or fist bump, and then you’ll notice whether the hands hardened and calloused, or soft and shapely. 

No doubt you’ll take note of the person’s garb.  Is he wearing old and worn or madras and mod?  Or maybe this person is nattily attired?  Perhaps this person sports her own signature style.

And last the shoes.  Are they shiny or scruffy?

There is a general attractiveness.  Is this person you are meeting for the very first time presenting as physically fit or fat?  Is this person a mesomorph, an ectomorph, or an endomorph?

Is this person’s hair clean and soft or unkempt and gnarly?  Is the hair coiffured or combed over.

It helps to listen.  Is this person verbose or laconic?  Is this person erudite or a troglodyte?

Saying all of this, when you initially meet someone you never really know who exactly you’re meeting.

In my favorite abecedarian fashion, I’ll offer some types of people you could meet at any given time.  You will meet the aggressive and the aloof, the belligerent and the boring, the cantankerous and the cruel, the deceitful, the domineering, the finicky, the foolhardy, the greedy and the grumpy, and so on.

Or, of course, you will also meet the aged and the adventurous, the bright and the benevolent, the compassionate, the courageous, the diligent, the daring, the empathetic and exuberant, the frank and the friendly, the generous and the gregarious and so on.

Just know that even from those you rebuff, everyone you will ever meet has the potential down the road to be more enhanced than their present condition.

You could be meeting a rock band like the Beatles, who were rejected by 3 different record companies before they signed and became famous.  You could be meeting a future comedian like Jim Carrey, who, on his first stand-up attempt in Toronto at Yuk Yuk’s, was booed off the stage.  You could be meeting a J.K. Rowling, who was on welfare when her book, Harry Potter, after being rejected 12 times, finally came into print.

Maybe you’ll meet a Stephen King, whose first novel, Carrie, was rejected 30 times; or a Walt Disney type, who was fired by his editor for “lacking imagination.”  Or it could be that you’ll meet a Colonel Sanders, who at age 62 and with only $105 in his pocket was pitching his chicken recipes to restaurants.

Remember to not be purblind.  Maybe you’ll meet a future Vincent Van Gogh, who sold only one of his original paintings during his lifetime.  Maybe you’ll meet another Robert Pirsig, whose book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, was rejected 121 times by publishers!

You just never know.  We are all of us savants in some sort of way.

And we all have the ability to thin-slice with authority. Though admittedly sometimes it is difficult to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, you just never really know that person you are meeting.  Next time you meet a new someone, keep in mind your thin-slice could very well be a thick and personal psychological analysis.

As a didge busker I never slice (too busy blowin' in the wind); as a guitar busker I am thin-slicing all of the day (thrumming and chatting and chatting and thrumming); as a portrait busker (an ever intrusive vis-a-vis chit-chat) I tend to thicken the slices.

Most of us are thin-slicing the people we meet.  However, if we are ever soliciting friendship, looking for another to join our inner circle, to thin-slice will not suffice.  But if generally judging betwixt people good and people evil, we don’t need to think twice – 
it’s alright to thin-slice.

Thursday, September 21, 2017


Everyone in the psychology business knows about Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) and his five-tier Hierarchy of Needs.  In Maslow’s triangle of five there were the basic first and second, Physiological and Safety needs, followed by the psychological third and fourth, Love and Esteem needs, capped with the last and fifth self-fulfillment need of Self-Actualization. 

Maslow later modified his motivational theory to an eight tier pyramid.  At the base of the triangle and working upward, he kept the Physiological Needs (food and shelter), kept the need of Safety (law and order), kept Love (relationships and affection), kept Esteem (confidence and swagger), then added Cognitive needs (knowledge and meaning), added Aesthetic needs (beauty and balance), of course kept Self-Actualization (personal growth and self-fulfillment), and at the apex added the last and eighth need, TRANSCENDENCE (helping others to self-actualize).

Transcendence most agree, means one’s life journey has been fulfilled and then that empirical wisdom shared with others.  Transcendence, I’m guessing, is a sharing most selfless.

Now applying Maslow’s hierarchy to busking, I’ll specifically describe my journey as a busker.  (And I must confess that I HATE the journey metaphor but … it does seem verily cemented into our erudite group think lingo.)

I began as a guitar busker, graduated to the didge, and now I’m doing portrait sketching.  As far as my busking I’ve morphed to self-actualization, though have not yet transcended.  (I’m not yet helping others self-actualize.)

I shall explain my busker alterities.

Guitar busking.  Lots of people refer to guitar buskers as just another beggar with a guitar.  Though I’ve always fancied myself as the quintessential Bobby Dylan wannabee busker, I do acknowledge that this beggar notion of such buskers doth oft prevail. 

But so what -- I love guitar busking.  Guitar busking for me has become a perfunctory love.  I can thrum and visit and visit and thrum.  I can skip a beat or keep a beat and keep on chatting with my consumers. 

More importantly, I think I represent the stereotype a-stranger-comes-to-town drifter.  And I love my delusional thinking that everyone regards me with some romantic notion, that I represent fun and freedom and all Americana things in between.

Even if I am a beggar with a guitar, my guitar gives me swagger.

Didgeridoo busking.  Even though the didgeridoo is an Aussie construct, whenever I’m in the presence of a didge busker I get a cerebral connotation.  To me, didge buskers look like thinkers; in fact, impress as Eastern thinker personas.  It could be the colorful costumes; it could be the earthy drones; it could be the combination of both.  The mystique of the didgeridoo seems somewhat eerie, yet ever soothing.  Doo’ers always take me philosophically adrift, complete with erotic thoughts on exotic shores.  To me, a didge busker is a cultivated busker.

Portrait busking.   Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but MY PENCIL NEVER LIES.  My 15 minute scribbles of graphic depict not only physical traits, but reveal also the psychological traits of my character clients.  As my other forms of busking, I am ever delusional, thinking that projective psychology is always in play.  Not-so-strangely, projective psychology makes the portrait busking magical.

And so to summarize my busking personas, guitar busking projects my AMERICANA self, didge busking projects my CEREBRAL self, and portrait busking projects my MAGIC self.

‘Tis true, ‘tis true that one cannot philosophize on an empty stomach.  But once our stomachs are filled and we’ve met our deficiency needs moving up Maslow’s triangle, including even Transcendence, then our philosophical chit chat is ripe for … EXISTENTIAL DREAD.

Existential dread is the trauma of non-being.  Non-being is not being here anymore.  Knowing that we will die prompts the existential dread … the purpose or non-purpose of life.   For those of us experiencing existential dread, the point of our lives is meaningless until some subjective meaning is contrived and attached.

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) said that when refusing to face up to being non-being (pun intended), a person is acting in bad faith.  Persons who refuse to acknowledge their non-being selves are living out lives that are unauthentic and unfulfilling; whereas, persons who face up to their non-being can be rewarded with a sense of calm and freedom. 

But Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) had stated that most people do not want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility. 

We are the big-brained species on the planet.  We believe we are center of the universe.  We create our realities.  We contrive a meaning to how our world flows for us.  We believe we own our world and our world destiny.  We believe that each of us is unique and have free will.

Now back to Freud. 

Though we generally know all of this to be true, Freud believed we do not really want free will because we do not really want responsibility.  It’s complicated but makes perfect sense to me.

Now back to Maslow.

Existential Dread is disturbing and so people tend to avoid that type of thinking, never mind that dread is not a motivator for moving upward on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs triangle.  Accordingly, I am thinking for the Existentialist crush, the constructs on Maslow’s triangle would, for the most part, be unauthentic.  Moral codes and values, customs and habits, religions and traditions, are just simply crafted and populist coping methods for existential dread.  Everything Maslow mentions as motivators could simply represent the delusional driving forces constructed by those refusing to acknowledge their non-being futures; all of this being from the existentialist point of non-being, of course.  And then, if existential dread did take a position in Maslow's pyramid, it would surely have to be a the top.  Ironically then, a person intellectually rising to such height would have the introspect to realize that all the needs listed below would be constructions for naught, and what mattered most were only the biological and physiological needs at the base.  Those persons ascending to the top of Maslow's pyramid of needs, essentially, would find their life meaning by climbing to re-discover the bottom. 

If Maslow was to revise his Hierarchy of Needs yet again, surely Existential Dread he would publish atop his 9-tier pyramid. 



Marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week:

Interesting.  I moved some files the other day and HAMID KARZAI, former president of Afghanistan,  appeared.  I had drawn him for a biography a friend of my son's was writing.

My best friend, COLBY WILLIAMS gets boarded in his NHL debut last night!

Awesome huh!  He's livin' the dream and lovin' it!

Monday, September 4, 2017


Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her; but once they are in hand,
he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.
~ Voltaire (1694 – 1778)

This blog entry is about HYPNOTHERAPY from my point of view and practice, of course.  As you read, you’ll notice that I’ve attempted to express Hypnotherapy in a context that is pragmatic to other traditional forms of therapy and even, at times, to English literature.

This blog entry is also about my pencil portraiture (a fancy name for sketching people’s faces).  I’ve always loved the expression, Chaucerian Parade, and so today I’ve decided to re-label this regular section as MY CHAUCERIAN PORTRAIT PARADE.

To begin I’ll give the skinny on the client-centred therapies for which I’m empirically proficient. When I say proficient, I’m expressing that I’ve delivered each of these therapies in both academic and professional practice.  Here is a dance-card (pun intended) description for each:

  • Reality Therapy (RT) was my first academic study and it served me well.  RT got me into guidance, got me into private practice, got me my Master’s degree in Educational Psychology.  During my past and present years as a professional high school guidance counsellor with Regina Public Schools, RT has always been my go-to model.  (Reality Therapy and Choice Theory are from the same hand-books written by William Glasser.)

Counselor guidelines: Who are you? What do you want? What are you been doing about it? Is doing what you’re doing working for you?  (Of course it is not … because if it were working … YOU WOULDN’T BE HERE.)

  • Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) was my first pragmatic system when I did contract work.  One agency for which I did contract work, Catholic Family Services, insisted that I follow this model.

SFBT is characterized by the rather hypnotic Miracle Question (MQ).  You wake up one morning and YOUR PROBLEM IS GONE … How would you know?  Describe your imaginary problem-free day …. How would your life be if it were perfect? … And so when you wake up tomorrow morning behave exactly as if your world was perfect and everyone around you is responding according to your perfect world picture.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is another model employed at another counseling agency, Ehrlo Counselling Services, for which I did contract work.

CBT is a behavior therapy purportedly combined with simultaneous reflection and introspection.

All of the aforementioned therapies are considered behavioral therapies, action-oriented and monitored by the therapist/counselor so to speak. Hypnotherapy, too, is action-oriented, but entirely client driven, and not necessarily monitored by the therapist.  Therapist monitoring is always dependent on following sessions.  Hypnotherapy, typically, takes fewer sessions than other therapies.

Hypnotherapy is now my favorite.  Hypnotherapy is therapist suggested imagery creating for the client surreal experiences to be re-enacted immediately thereafter.

Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy

Hypnosis is a natural brainwave state in which you have been many times.  Whenever you have experienced extreme emotions while reading a book or watching a movie, or whenever you daydream at home or at work, or when you are drowsy just before falling asleep, and whenever you have been glued to the television, are all just some rather ordinary examples that are very similar to natural brainwave state of hypnosis

When a subject enters an altered state of consciousness through meditation, the focus is on oneself.  When a subject enters an altered state of consciousness through hypnosis, the client is open to receiving suggestion from the therapist.  The motive for most meditations is to focus on oneself; whereas, the focus on hypnosis is to take action outside of yourself.

During sleep a person will not hear conversations.  During hypnosis a person will hear the therapist’s voice. During sleep a person has no ability to concentrate; whereas, during hypnosis a person has an extremely high ability to concentrate.

HYPNOSIS is a technique used in HYPNOTHERAPY


HYPNOTHERAPY is a form of Hypnosis used for therapeutic purposes. 
HYPNOTHERAPY is relaxing and enjoyable. 
HYPNOTHERAPY can help clients overcome certain phobias and other emotional problems. HYPNOTHERAPY IS A STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS.


The conventional wisdom suggests:
“The conscious mind determines the actions, the unconscious mind determines the reactions; and the reactions are just as important as the actions” (American theologian, E. Stanley Jones, 1884-1973).

The conscious mind is the one that most people associate with who you are, the one where most people live day-to-day. The conscious mind is where you are at in the present moment. But by no means is this where ALL the action takes place.

It is generally agreed that we have three minds, the conscious mind, the subconscious (per-conscious) mind, and the unconscious mind.

People, generally, seek HYPNOTHERAPY to help them change some present and undesirable behavior patterns in their lives; eating less and quitting smoking, and getting a good night sleep, are just some popular examples.

I believe in the power of HYPNOTHERAPY, and I’m reasonably comfortable with the academic distinctions between the conscious mind and the unconscious mind, and that hypnosis could be an altered state of consciousness.

However ... 
I believe HYPNOTHERAPY to be a state of crisp and clear consciousness.

And this state of crisp and clear consciousness is brought about by hypnotic induction.  The hypnotist will SUGGEST – the subject will COMPLY, and this is hypnotic induction.

Any exchange between the hypnotist and subject, has been defined as hypnotic induction; induction being a synonym for a session. Every hypnotic induction, no matter the method, that interaction between practitioner and client always involves the social process of having the client take on the role of hypnotic subject.  Always, the hypnotic subject is a willing participant, taking on the role of which involves a willing suspension of disbelief of the client’s limitations.

For more than 200 years since Mesmer proposed his animal magnetism theory, hypnosis has struggled for scientific credibility (See The Trouble With Hypnosis, K. Harary, March 1st, 1992).

Hypnosis, it seems, begets an altered state of mind that eludes current means of measurement.  (The key word is measurement, a word NOT used in qualitative theory.)  Hypnosis is a qualitative/subjective state, such as love and joy and hate and pain are for the most part, subjective, therefore qualitative.  Such abstract states are exceedingly difficult to measure through quantitative means.

This I know:  A successful hypnotherapy session has more to do with eloquent and descriptively thick language, than with hypnotic protocol.  Creating a picture state of mind, a metaphor so to speak, is the basic strategy of hypnosis. A metaphor is a figure of speech that identifies something as being the same as some unrelated thing for rhetorical effect, thus highlighting the similarities between the two. For a person afraid of flying, the hypnotic metaphorical suggestion could be a comparison to riding in a car.   For pain, the metaphorical suggestion could be the expressions of warmth and pressure.  For fear of public speaking, the suggested metaphor could be for the subject to imagine, rather than banquet guests, addressing a group of new slow pitch ball buddies.  Even the idea of hypnotic age regression is a metaphor.  Nobody really regresses to an earlier age; memories are not literal, they are imagined.  Nobody actually re-lives any moment suggested.

And this, too, I know:  For hypnotherapy to work, hypnosis has to create for the client, an alternative history; one that is thick and vivid enough to positively distort into a healthier history yet to come. 

This is my self-described ALTERNATE HISTORY HYPNOTHERAPY (AHH).  This is what you get when you seek hypnotherapy from me, an opportunity to create your own future history.

In the ethos of Reality Therapy mixed with ALTERNATE HISTORY HYPNOTHERAPY …


Alternate History (AH) is a genre of speculation fiction which alters historical events and sets stories within worlds created by those changes.  The only rule required of writing a successful alternate history is that the changes must be reasonable and the outcomes plausible (John Farrier, January 2014).   

ALTERNATE HISTORY HYPNOTHERAPY (AHH) is my positive application of the new story-line the client wishes to enact.  For example, a client wanting to quit smoking will, through AHH, will adopt a partially new lifestyle that does not include smoking.  Every human being has the trait of suggestibility.  It is the client who holds this important factor to be hypnotized; it is the client who wants to quit smoking or wants to get thin or wants a good night sleep.  Everyone has the tendency to respond sometimes to suggestions.  Under hypnosis, this tendency is artificially increased by the technique of the hypnotherapist.  The power of suggestion and the tendency to respond to that suggestion is what hypnotherapy is all about.  SUGGESTION IS EVERYTHING.

SUGGESTION IS EVERYTHING.  Hypnosis is not sleep.  Hypnosis is a state of trance.  Hypnosis is a state of increased suggestibility.  Hypnosis is a mix of prescribed suggestion and auto-suggestion.  Hypnosis is a form of automatism; it is the perfect state of automaticity.

ALTERNATE HISTORY HYPNOTHERAPY (AHH) will always work provided the following client-therapist conditions are met:
The client has to be candid about the current state of dysfunctional affairs.  The client has to tell it like it really is.  If the client is smoking two packs of cigarettes a day or drinking a case of beer every day, or howling all night at the moon; all of this and even more has to be disclosed to the therapist.  Failing to acknowledge and admit exactly what conduct is troublesome for the client means only failure for the hypnotherapy results.

Clients have to reckon with the facts that their acts do not have just singular consequences.  Every dysfunctional act is in concert and discordance with those people surrounding them.  Whether they are family members, workmates, or playmates, their dysfunctional actions have caused enough personal concern and social embarrassment to lead them to hypnotherapy.

Clients have to realize that once they’ve altered their current actions to create their new history that other actions, too, will change.  For example, a client who quits smoking will inevitably quit coughing and could end up running marathons.  Clients who quit drinking will inevitably meet teetotallers and java maestros who prefer coffee shops over pubs.  Clients who lose a few pounds may decide to become fitness fanatics or even fitness instructors.

Clients who cease their problem afflictions may, too, be delusional, expecting their entire lives to change in the most positive regards.  Clients who conquer negative addictions by latching on to behaviors regarded as more positive, will without a doubt  experience a positive part-time change, but this part-time change may or may not attribute to their whole-life happiness. One does get more attractive (literally and metaphorically) through successful hypnotherapy but … the entire world will not be donning sunglasses to adjust to the glow.  Rising from the hoi-polloi and transforming to the highfalutin will not happen suddenly.

Clients need to create for themselves histories that are detailed explicitly.  These new histories need to go where the alternate history realistically supports, not necessarily where the client wants them to go.  For example, clients who are in constant tipple need to quit drinking completely, not just cut back or sip socially.  I say this because when a client who is always drunk finally comes to hypnotherapy for help, the new history will not allow that client to be part-time drinking.  Clients who are prone to alcohol addiction need to create realistic, not romantic and delusional, non-drinking scenarios. 

Clients participants of AHH need to understand outcomes that are positive and plausible.  Human beings have a built-in elasticity factor.  Any connections and movements toward an old habit will always result in resuming to a former self or state.   Hypnotherapy is client-therapist collaboration.  It is up to the therapist to guide and help the client create the new historical path onto which the client wants to set foot.  Here is the outline of my typical hypnotherapy session with a client:

  • CONCERN: (This is the reason why the client is seeking hypnotherapy.)


 (I employ a variety of inductions, all of which to solicit client relaxation.)




In closing, I would be amiss not to mention Mindfulness.  Mindfulness seems the current counsellor flavor, lining all the Western book shelves and written about in literally hundreds of psychology blogs.

Mindfulness is to practice that Zen-like non-judgemental awareness of the richness of the present moment.  Mindfulness is the practice that makes us pause and reflect, to gain a certain distance and perspective of our present conditions.
Hypnotherapy would be especially helpful to those clients who frequently and/or continually experience racing thoughts, an appeal even to those who are now subscribing to Mindfulness. Hypnotherapy is the employment practice of focus, focus, focus.
And that’s that!