Douglas Flemons

The Tao of Hypnotherapy

A person experiencing trance is able to "do something without doing it." An event of some significance happens - an arm levitates, a sensation develops or dis-integrates, a pain or fear shifts in quality, location, or intensity-but the person has no sense of personal agency in the event's unfolding. Such spontaneous non-volitional change, the hallmark of hypnosis and hypnotherapy, resonates with both the Taoist idea of wei wu wei - to do without doing; to act without acting - and Zen's commitment to non-dualism. As Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch of Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism, said, "As long as there is a dualistic way of looking at things, there is no emancipation."

Centuries before we started experimenting with trances and therapy, Taoist philosophers and Zen teachers were describing the limitations of dualistic thinking and using meditation as a means for transforming suffering and changing people's minds. Their insights and innovations can alter how you approach trance work and how you think about and invite the freedom (emancipation) afforded by therapeutic change. For instance, what would happen to your practice of hypnosis if you no longer thought of it as something you did to your clients? What if you didn't have to try to hypnotize them, attempting to induce a trance so as to render them sufficiently suggestible for you to proceed with your interventions? What if you simply focused on facilitating a body-mind rapprochement and on inviting extemporaneous shifts in the dualistic schisms that maintain symptoms? In this workshop, we will explore Taoist and Zen insights that can inspire a re-Oriented look at hypnosis and hypnotherapy.

Douglas Flemons, Ph.D. is Professor of Family Therapy at Nova Southeastern University, where he provides live supervision of family therapy cases and teaches courses on hypnosis, meditation, and brief therapy; systemic theory (focused on the work of Gregory Bateson); and sex therapy. He is also Co-Director, with his wife and colleague, Dr. Shelley Green, of Context Consultants ( in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From 2002-2010, he developed and directed two psychotherapy clinics founded on brief-therapy principles.

Dr. Flemons has been practicing tai chi and other forms of meditation since 1979 and has been practicing hypnotherapy since 1985. He is the author of books on hypnosis and therapy (Of One Mind); family therapy and Eastern philosophy (Completing Distinctions); composition (Writing Between the Lines); and suicide assessment (the forthcoming co-authored Therapeutic Suicide Assessment). He is also co-editor (with Dr. Green) of a book on brief sex therapy (Quickies). Dr. Flemons presents nationally and internationally on hypnosis, psychotherapy, sexuality, suicide, and other topics. Once a year in Florida he offers a 50-hour (7-day) intensive hypnosis training.