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For over a quarter of a century I have taught how the subtle art of communication in the state of hypnosis complements a client’s journey into healing like no other psychotherapeutic approach I have come across. In reading Mirroring Hands, I am quite simply stunned at the depth, care, research, and complexity the authors have expertly and very generously provided through this book.

Richard Hill opens with a fabulous case study entitled “The Walk-In”, a story of a client who turns up on his doorstep, needing to be seen, and having already engaged with numerous other therapists to little effect. As I quickly immersed myself in this person’s story, I became transfixed and literally didn’t stop reading for hours! I found it a wonderful way of introducing the mirroring hands process.

One of the truly empowering aspects of the therapeutic relationship is when both client and therapist find themselves on a precipice of not knowing where they should point their combined focus in the therapeutic endeavour. Mirroring Hands will provide you at this most crucial of times with a refreshingly new way of grappling with what to do next, showing you how to powerfully open up an exploration of your client’s inner world and story.

It is indeed rare to be able to delve into the remarkable mind of Ernest Rossi, and it is an even more special and profound delight that this book enables you to do not only that, but also to gain additional insight into the innermost thoughts of the legend that is Milton Erickson. To see some of the most up-to-date brain research included here is an important leap in the quality of texts available to therapists. This information is indeed vital because in this process, clients go through more neurological changes than can be witnessed, or are realised.

The book offers readers a top-class education. At the same time, it is greatly comforting to also read Richard Hill’s words of encouragement to every practitioner to be their own best self. Using Ericksonian therapy is a powerful way of working, but as Hill reminds us, there will never be another Milton Erickson.

In Mirroring Hands, you will discover some of the finest recollections around the development of today’s well used hypnotherapeutic cues, such as the ideosensory—or ideodynamic—response, and how it developed in the early days. You are introduced to the notion of the quantum level of human experience, and why people have the problems they do. And you get to delve deeply into Erickson’s work first hand through Rossi’s tremendously generous gifts to Richard Hill via their discussions. Indeed, this book will provide you with a never-ending source of wisdom on your professional journey in the therapy room.

The book will challenge you, too; and it should. The only sure-fire way to improve as a therapist is to deepen your own understandings through engaging with the depth of learning that can be obtained in a book of this magnitude.
Complex systems, nonlinear systems, chaos theory, order and disorder, self-organisation: these are all concerns that are vital in deepening the therapist’s connection, at an intellectual level, of the processes their client is engaging in as they unveil their problems and challenges, and as the therapeutic process unfolds. Gaining this knowledge from Mirroring Hands will polish your awareness and offer you a clear philosophical grounding for your communications with clients.

The book gives a fresh look at the mind–brain relationship, the relationship of that with therapy, and that of the client–therapist connection. I particularly appreciate the notion presented of “therapeutic consciousness” and the therapist’s need to engage with this idea and unlock its power through the three steps presented.

The real powerhouse behind the change process—language—is presented in an intricate breakdown of how the “moulding” of words creates dynamic shifts in clients. Helping you to absorb this are practical diagrams so you can become familiar with the processes and ideas of mirroring hands. There is also an abundance of case examples of actual sessions, so you can see how the process works with real clients.

The foundations of mirroring hands are discussed, and how it relates to the body’s natural rhythmic states, which helps explicate the “natural” basis of the process. The book is grounded in well-respected theories of creativity, and it is helpful to see them referenced, as is the merging of the process with approaches such as person-centred therapy and cognitive–behavioural therapy. How to make use of your observations of client cues will help you to become more attuned to your clients’ communication patterns. Indeed, what you will learn in Mirroring Hands in terms of the complexity and power of communication will enrich your work greatly. Words can often be a poor conveyor of what is happening deep within us, and this book offers you a rich way of “hearing” more than your client is “saying”.

From my own philosophical leanings into the nature of being, it was wonderful to see a discussion of ideas around world view, and how an individual’s world view relates to their internal mindset. The stage-by-stage approach to the mirroring hands process, and the attention to detail, is worthy of praise in itself. The book really does do magnificent credit to Richard Hill’s documentation, and his dedication to uncovering the genius of Rossi and Erickson. He should be commended for this text, which will (and should) become a classic.

Mirroring Hands finishes with a stunning piece on the work of Milton Erickson and Leonard Ravitz on the hypnotic state, an exciting inclusion. The piece also demonstrates how to use mirroring hands to help yourself with some of your own life challenges.

This book obviously sets out to achieve a quite remarkable feat in its presentation of the mirroring hands process, and it doesn’t disappoint. It is indeed a tour de force.

One thing is sure—when you have read the book, you will never look at your hands, your client’s hands, or indeed anybody’s hands, in the same way again!

Dr. Tom Barber is the founder of Contemporary College of Therapeutic Studies, educator, psychotherapist, coach and author. He has written five books on subjects ranging from the process and workings of psychotherapy, the psychological improvement of pain, to methods that help personal development such as hypnosis, NLP, creative imagination, existentialism and transpersonal psychology.
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