When is a hippopotamus not a hippopotamus?
When it's a hypno-potamus!
This book is written for mental health professionals working with children who have an understanding of child development as well as previous training in hypnotherapy. Harry the Hypno-potamus is a collection of metaphorical stories that deal with a variety of physical and behavioural problems faced by children. Embedded in each story is a metaphor as well as hypnotherapeutic techniques that can be used as part of a comprehensive approach to the diagnosis and treatment of a host of disorders both physical and emotional. Reading the title story, 'Harry the Hypno-potamus' to a child is a wonderful way to introduce him or her to the idea of hypnosis as well as understanding the power of the child's imagination. The stories in the rest of the book (thirty-two in all) are all about different animals that live in the Ashland Zoo. Each animal is faced with a physical or emotional problem and learns specific hypnotherapeutic techniques and self-regulatory strategies to help master the problem.
For most children an altered state of consciousness is familiar, comfortable and quite easy to achieve. An integral part of child's play is imagining and pretending. Children not only explore but experience their surroundings. They want to engage with others and their environment, and are relentlessly curious about the how and why of objects, people, situations and themselves. Fantasy may be employed to change or avoid an unpleasant situation, gratify unmet needs, remember the past or invent the future.
Children want to be happy, healthy, comfortable and successful. When physical, mental or environmental conditions exist that interfere with the pursuit of these goals, maladaptive behaviours may develop consciously or unconsciously. When a therapeutic alliance develops with a clinician who is invested in helping the child experience success, comfort and health, hypnotherapy can be a very powerful tool. The hypnotherapeutic work enhances and strengthens the child's natural strivings toward exploration, social relationships, fantasy and creativity.
A clinician may wish to read one of the stories with a child or the hypnotherapist may find it more suitable to adapt the techniques to his own unique style. Some of the therapeutic interventions are very problem specific while others are more general and can be used for a variety of conditions. Because each child develops differently, not only the chronological age, but the developmental age of the child must be taken into account when using these stories. The clinician should consider the cognitive and perceptual skills of the child and adapt the induction, language and hypnotic techniques to the child's developmental level.