What is the difference between a fiction (story) book and a text book? Well, a fiction book engages the imagination, entertains and often has a sense of drama, whereas a text book aims to impart fact and transmit knowledge and usually offers a form of instruction in a particular topic or field of study.
A survey of the books on Amazon (UK) found over 1,000 books for ‘clinical hypnotherapy’, 2,000 books on ‘clinical hypnosis’, 3,000 books on the topic of ‘hypnotherapy’ and over 10,000 books on the topic of ‘hypnosis’. Yet, looking at some of the books arising from the ‘hypnosis’ search, many related just to hypnotherapy, rather than hypnosis generally. A key point when selecting your hypnotherapy book is to ensure that you are using a range of search terms to get the most relevant selection from which to choose. A selection of relevant hypnotherapy books can be found on the HypnoTC reading list.
Depending on which hypnotherapy books you choose, you might find they are not written in a format where you can sit down and read them from cover to cover in one sitting. Unlike fiction books, they have a different purpose (some of them can even be very ‘heavy going’). As such, to get the most from them, a different reading approach is helpful.
Before you start reading your hypnotherapy book…
A great thing to do before you start the actual reading process is take around 15 minutes (no more), and skim through the book to get an overview of what the book is about. Start with the title. It will give you the broadest of overviews. Then look at the table of contents. Hypnotherapy books (and other textbooks) tend to have a lot of detail, with sub headers, even multiple levels of headers. The way the book is organised will give you an idea about the overall style of the book and what you might expect. Next, read the introduction or any ‘preface’. This may be written by the author, or by someone else about the author and their work. Finally, read any information about the author that is included (either at the start or the end of the book), before having a quick skim through the contents of the book.
Whilst going through this ‘pre-reading’ process, consider your intention for reading this particular hypnotherapy book. What is your purpose? This will give you an indication of the necessary depth of reading.
Work chapter by chapter
The same ‘skimming’ process you have applied to the whole book, you can now use for each individual chapter. Work through one chapter at a time quickly. Remind yourself of the headers within the chapter and before reading the chapter, consider what you already know about the topics covered in the chapter. This gives you a context and a measure to which you can consider new information. The more you can apply new information and create links to pre-existing information, the easier it is to remember. For example, if you are reading about a new hypnotherapy technique and consider how you could use it for a client, you are bringing the information into your ‘everyday’ working knowledge. Consider the chapter as a whole and the flow that the sub-headers indicate. At this point, you might also look at any images, pictures, tables, graphs and charts.
Read the whole chapter
As you have already skimmed the chapter, you will know if there is an overview at the start and/or a conclusion at the end. If so, read these first and then again at the end. This gives you greater insight to the key concepts of the chapter. Pay attention to the first two sentences and the final sentence of each chapter, as these tend to be the most significant. If there are any terms used that are unfamiliar, look them up as you’re reading, rather than guessing. By guessing a word, you might be losing clarity about what it is the author is attempting to convey, thereby losing value. Generally, it will take longer to read a hypnotherapy book for learning than reading a book for enjoyment. If you encounter a particularly complex passage or section, then it can help to read it out loud. Another tip is to put the chapter into your own words in order for you to better connect with the meaning of it.
Question the contents
As you read through your hypnotherapy book, ask yourself questions to prompt deeper thought on the topics presented. You can do this with ‘How, What, When, Where, Who, Why’ questions. For example,
- How does this work? How would I use this?
- What significance is there for my work?
- When could I use or apply this?
- Where would I find out more about this?
- Who would benefit from this approach?
- Why would I use this?
By doing this, you will find more ways to link this new information to your pre-existing knowledge and experience, as well as ‘future pacing’ it (imagining yourself using this new information in real life).
Make notes as you go
There’s a common myth that you should never write in a book – whilst this is still true for borrowed books, for your own book, margin notes, highlighting and underlining can save valuable scanning time later on. As well as writing in the margins, you could also use a notepad to make more extensive notes and even stickers in order to mark important pages. Although it can be good to highlight or underline key text, avoid overusing this method. Otherwise it becomes a sea of highlighted text and loses emphasis. As you read through, the content may generate thoughts, comments, even questions as you start to relate it to what you already know or think. Also, it may remind you of books or other sources of information that are relevant.
Summarise and reflect
At the end of the chapter, you might like to write a factual summary of the chapter. This can be most effective as a bullet point list. Be concise and focused. Then, reflect on your thoughts, feelings and perceptions of the chapter and make a note of this as well, together with any considerations of applications to your own practice. By engaging in this exercise, you are effectively putting the chapter into your own words. This is a helpful way of integrating new knowledge on a deeper level.
Map the book
This is another helpful exercise in both learning the information from your hypnotherapy book, as well as being able to more easily find specific information at a later date. Create your own summary table of contents with key words to indicate what each sub-header or section relates to. In addition, consider your chapter summaries and create one complete book summary.
Restrict your time
Reading your hypnotherapy book should not be an exercise in stamina and endurance. Though tempting to ‘plough through it’, in fact, it can be more effective to pick a section and then spend 45 minutes on it, rather than force yourself to read continuously for 3+ hours. Quality of focus will lead to better absorption of knowledge. So, it might take a little longer to get to the end of the book, but you’ll certainly get a lot more from it by allowing yourself more time to focus and digest the information presented.
Revisit the book
Although you will pay attention to fine detail, you are reading information with a view to finding material to support your knowledge, skills or experience. A complex hypnotherapy book may not be fully digested in one reading. You might like to revisit your notes and then revisit the book, months or years later. As you evolve in your understanding, you will revisit the contents of the book with deeper insight and gain further understanding. You can read the same book as a novice hypnotherapist and then years later as an experienced hypnotherapist, and get a lot of different information from it, as your experience and knowledge is different at both points. Revisiting books months or years later can provide additional value and insight.
Share, discuss and explore
Finally, reading a hypnotherapy book by yourself can be an isolating process. At the end of it you will have your view and the view of the author. To get greater insight into the content and meaning of the material presented in the book, it can be good to discuss it with friends or your professional peers. Also, think about how you would explain the chapter or book to someone who hasn’t read the book. This is a great way to distil the book down to its key components.
If you’d like to check out a list of hypnotherapy books (and some that are directly related to the topic) that we think might be very helpful for both the beginner and experienced hypnotherapist, take a look at our recommended reading list. We hope that this blog on how to get the most out of hypnotherapy books has been helpful to you. If you have any questions about this topic or anything else for that matter, do please get in touch, because we’re always happy to help!
– written by Dr Kate Beaven-Marks