Charles Burbridge, PhD, ABPH (2005):
I decided to prepare for the Diplomate in Clinical Hypnosis because I wanted to find deeper intellectual support for my work, know more about the theoretical and research roots of hypnosis; be a better clinician; and speak directly to these roots in response to questions as I continued to teach for ASCH.
I decided that I would take a year to read the recommended texts, survey the research literature, and set up a case report. It turned out to be the best year of my intellectual life since graduate school, the absolute best! I saved the written report until I had a reasonably thorough understanding of the theory and research, and by the time I did it, it seemed quite natural to me to anchor the case formulation and treatment plan directly to the authors that I had read. I used an outline that my mentor suggested, and the report just flowed from there.
Along the way, I also learned a very important lesson, perhaps the lesson: how to articulate the "scientist-practitioner" perspective. It seems to boil down to taking a higher-order position on a question or issue, slowing down one’s thinking, articulating that position first in a concise and simple way, then elaborating it, using references and examples. For me, this process creates a framework-for-thought, that itself pulls up the material that needs to be thought about and elaborated. This is how a Diplomate thinks. I had not grasped this prior to final preparation for the exam,
The exam itself turned out to be a collegial conversation about my knowledge of hypnosis in reference to my work as evidenced in the case report. The committee members were interested in me and my development as a psychologist-doing-hypnosis. They were also, thorough, supportive, patient, and helpful. I was being examined by the best of my teachers. It was a good experience.
Another recent successful candidate offered the following:
Beginning about 18 months ago I playfully talked with several colleagues about studying for the ABPH examination. The basis for urge wasn’t clear to me and I continued to dismiss the idea as a fanciful notion. But, just as we encourage our clients to pay attention to aspects of experience that continue to recur, the urge to pursue the ABPH continued to re-assert itself. I opted to treat the urge as something that had informational value for me, even if I didn’t fully comprehend the urge at the time. I selected a mentor who actively and sensitively guided me through a process that has been personally rewarding and professionally transforming.
With the benefit of hindsight, I can now summarize the impact on me and the potential advantage of this course of study for anyone considering following a similar path. Studying for the examination involved a process similar to completing a jig-saw puzzle. First, I assembled a frame of reference regarding historical and current views of the nature of hypnosis, which then enabled me to fill in the content (i.e. current research trends, clinical applications, enduring controversies). Preparation of a case report became the means through which I could articulate what I’d learned through my study. Most importantly, the process of study shaped how I now practice hypnosis. The greatest impact involves actively integrating awareness of my internal experience, my observation of, and sensitivity to the patient’s internal experience, and how an hypnotically informed relationship between us impacts the patient’s presenting concerns. Hypnosis ceases to be a powerful “technique” and becomes a powerful experiential interactive framework through which ideas, interventions, and perspectives on health and healing become readily accessible by virtue of having studied hypnosis in depth and in detail.
The examination itself is a fitting climax to the study experience. The examination committee members were collegial and invested in my personal and professional growth as a psychologist who uses hypnosis in his work. The result of the process goes well beyond the metric of passing the examination. The ABPH is a wonderful means of reinvigorating your clinical practice by investing in your professional growth. I highly recommend it.