Forensic Hypnosis

Forensic Hypnosis is the use of the science of hypnosis in civil and criminal investigation where hypnosis is the instrument used to elicit information or evidence. Hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness where the mind is in a condition of amplified receptivity to suggestion and the senses are at an acute level of receptivity. The degree or level of hypnosis varies from very light to very deep and usually include relaxation, a feeling of well being and increased sensitivity to ones environment.

What is a Forensic Hypnotist or Hypno-Investigator?

Is an investigator who is trained in investigation techniques and hypnosis or hypnotherapy and utilizes these skills to gather facts, information or evidence pertaining to, or that may be, or later become the subject of legal proceedings, prosecution, civil process, internal disciplinary procedure or ethics inquiry.

What is the court’s view of hypnotically refreshed recall?

Hypnosis and other techniques or modalities which are considered to be hypnotic are governed by a definitive set of rules or protocols that the court will consider before such evidence is admitted into Court. The use of hypnosis to enhance memory is reflected in R v Jenkyns (1993) 32 NSWLR 712 and in R v Tillott (1995) 38 NSWLR 1, in the latter the Court of Criminal Appeal considered that hypnosis and associated techniques could present risks of suggestibility, confabulation, pseudo memory, an unjustified increase in witness confidence, and possible falsity. The Court has laid down a specific set of rules that should be followed to safe guard the evidentiary process of hypnosis. As a result, prosecution disclosure is required of any material in the prosecutions possession concerning the circumstances in which a memory has been recovered: R v CPK NSWCCA 21 June 1995.

The acceptance of Forensic Hypnosis may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some tribunals, Commissions and boards of inquiry may have specific exceptions to the hearsay rule which in turn may impact on the acceptance of hypnotically induced evidence. Courts may have a very different attitude to therapeutic hypnotherapy in cases where an accused or person under sentence is undergoing therapy or counseling therefore hypnotherapists are advised to seek qualified legal advice before utilizing Forensic Hypnosis in particular circumstances. Forensic-investigative hypnosis is a highly specialized application, which requires specific knowledge, skills, and experience coupled with the application of strict procedures to protect the integrity of its use. A qualified Forensic Hypnotist can evaluate and determine whether hypnosis should be used in a particular civil, criminal or tribunal matter.

What is the difference between Therapeutic & Investigative Hypnosis?

Investigative Forensic Hypnosis Function Therapeutic Clinical Hypnosis Function
Objective Subjective
Historical truth Narrative truth
Emotionally neutral Emotionally oriented
Goal is no change Goal is change
Suggestions undesirable Suggestions required
Leading questions avoided Leading questions required
Video taping required Recording considered intrusive
Rules of Evidence Hypnotherapeutic techniques
Methodology is constant unorthodox procedures are not used Various therapeutic modalities may be employed
The intention is that the evidence may be used in court Nil intention that the procedure will be used in court
Procedures governed by case law Procedures governed by professional association rules
Practitioners need not be members of a professional association Practitioners should be members of a professional association
Fees non claimable except through application at court Fees can be claimable with private health funds
Practitioner experienced in therapeutic investigation/legal process Practitioner experienced in therapeutic process
Practitioners should be registered Practitioners should be registered
Confidentiality Confidentiality

While there are a number of differences and indeed similarities between the application of investigative and therapeutic hypnosis, the wellbeing of the client, patient care and the doctrine of “to do no harm” will always apply. As least one professional association (the Council for Clinical Hypnotherapy) has strict rules governing Forensic Hypnosis as well as strong ethics procedures governing professional members.

Therapeutic Hypnosis

Hypnosis as the key vehicle used by the therapist to maximize healing potential for the patient. The patient/therapist professional relationship is an important factor in the maintenance of a positive outcome for all parties. The hypnotherapist may combine and alter techniques and may, incorporate a variety of modalities. The therapist may need a number of visits with the patient to overcome resistance, induce a desired change or outcome and to give direction within the patient’s therapeutic needs.

Forensic or Investigative Hypnosis

The purpose of using Investigative Hypnosis is to refresh memory. In the forensic application, hypnosis is applied to recover the client’s memory and applied in accordance with legal protocols established through case law and to meet the rules of evidence. The forensic hypnosis session in Australia will generally be conducted in private and recorded by both audio and visual means. Special protocols will apply in cases where the client is a child.

What is the objective of the Investigative Forensic Session?

Investigative and Forensic Hypnosis has the aim of eliciting as much information as possible by refreshing the subject’s memory. The Forensic Hypnosis session is not intended and generally should not be used for therapeutic purposes such as overcoming trauma, resolving issues, phobias or a medical condition. The Forensic Hypnotist will utilize non leading questioning techniques to elicit information. The Forensic Hypnotist should be expected to be trained in the techniques of delivering non leading questions as well as the rules of evidence, investigative procedures and the use of accepted and non threatening induction and hypnosis techniques.
The transparency, integrity and maintenance of an ethical approach to the Forensic Hypnosis process is imperative. The correct approach within a therapeutic hypnotherapy session may very well be the most incorrect method to adopt for Forensic work. The result of which may render the session inadmissible. The process of de-hypnotizing must be done with the same professional care irrespective of the procedures.

What is an initial Interview?

The initial interview is important as it sets the scene to developing good rapport. The Forensic Hypnotist is able to evaluate the witness/victim or client and at the same time providing the client with details of the process, technique and the breadth of the investigation or analysis. The client will need to provide informed consent at this stage. The client should already have provided a pre-hypnosis statement to a third party before the Forensic Hypnosis begins this will generally have been conducted by an investigator, solicitor or police or other law enforcement official before the forensic hypnosis session.
In Australia this statement will often be made available to the Forensic Hypnotist before the hypnosis session. Some Forensic Hypnotists may only require a cursory description of the events, time date and place of the incident. In the USA and other countries the Forensic Hypnotist may have no more information than, client details, the date of the incident or offence, and the type of incident or offence. Much of what is sought to achieve is dependent on the laws governing hypnosis, the directions or wishes of the court and the nature and wishes of the sponsoring client or Government agency. In the case of corporate security or Intelligence organizations, case law, Court requirements and other protocols may have no influence on the Investigative Forensic Hypnosis procedure. Quite simply the agency or organization may only want information to allow for further investigation and inquiries to take place. In some cases the need for secrecy or discretion is such that the forensic session and the attendant circumstances may never become the subject of legal proceedings.

What induction and deepening techniques should be used?

A trained and experienced Forensic Hypnotist will adopt tried and true methods of induction and deepening techniques. The professional evaluation of the subject’s needs and any known or personal issues will dictate the induction method or scenario used. Deepening techniques which are the least intrusive will generally be used. Generally permissive techniques are utilized although circumstances may require the Hypnotist to occasionally use authoritarian techniques particularly where there is a need to maintain the wellbeing of the client.

What is the debriefing or post hypnotic phase?

After a Forensic Hypnosis session questions may be posed to the client including their physical state, their feelings and interpretation of the session and the process undertaken, whether there are any unresolved issues and the general wellbeing of the client. Instructions may be given to the client to report to the investigator or law enforcement official or solicitor. The Forensic Hypnotist will answer all the questions put by the client but will be very conscious of need for probity and discretion so as not to lead the client or interpret the information elicited during the session. The Hypnotist in a Forensic session will generally not disclose to the client information such as the level of hypnosis achieved, the hypnotisablity or otherwise of the client or statement as to good bad or otherwise of the session.

In the case where the a client feels the need for counseling or psychotherapy then the Forensic Hypnotist may refer the client to an appropriate therapist, having due regard to the integrity of the Forensic session or indeed any future forensic work.

How can therapeutic and forensic hypnosis combine?

  • Court room phobia
  • Witness box phobia
  • Advocacy fears
  • Stress
  • Victim fear of confronting perpetrators
  • Memory enhancement
  • Overcoming forgetting evidence and facts

With issues such as courtroom phobia, witness box phobia and fear of public speaking, victim fear in confronting the perpetrator of an attack in court, advocacy fears for lawyers in court and stress and fear of cross examination. Therapeutic hypnosis delivered within the spirit of legal protocols and case law provisions relating to hypnosis, is an extremely effective method of overcoming these problematic psychological issues. In many instances the therapist will use other non hypnotic methods and modalities to overcome these psychological issues. It is important that the forensic hypnotherapist is qualified and sufficiently experienced in therapeutic and forensic hypnosis so that the highest quality of service is presented to the client with due regard to legal precedence, protocols and legislative provisions. The forensic hypnotherapist should be experienced and hold formal qualification in the process of investigation and needs to be acquainted with the rules of evidence, court procedure, and civil process.

Rebecca Ramos
Rebecca Ramos
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Georgia Brodrick
Georgia Brodrick
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Maria Natale
Maria Natale
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Life Vision Counselling
Life Vision Counselling
Alfred is a very experienced hypnotherapist. Our professional business association spans more than 12 years. Over those years I have referred many clients to him for anxiety, depression, quitting smoking or addictions and for weight management. Those clients have all commented on Alfreds calm and soothing approach and relayed the experience was enjoyable. I highly recommend Alfred for all your hypnotherapy needs.
Nenad Stanojevic
Nenad Stanojevic
Alpha Hypnotics.I saw Mr. Alfred Podhorodecki about issues which I had been trying to deal with unsuccessfully for some time. Alfred displayed empathy and understanding and through his skill and professional approach I was able to bring about many positive changes within myself. Since then, I have excelled.The things that hampered, and limited me, no longer do so.I am grateful to Mr. Alfred Podhorodecki, for his experience, skills, talents in Clinical Hypnotherapy and the many things he taught me to enhance my life.
jo ross-jackson
jo ross-jackson
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