Acting 'as if' - experimenting with the change you want to develop

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Shelley Cushway Dip, Cbh, Hyp

Acting 'as if' - experimenting with the change you want to develop

Posted by Shelley Cushway Dip, Cbh, Hyp 1174 Days Ago

Acting ‘as if’

As part of my work as a coach and therapist I regularly ask my clients to work hard during sessions and / or complete homework in between sessions.  This sometimes entails using their imagination in session, either in or out of hypnosis, to imagine being in a situation they wish to master, using specific skills, approaches, language etc.  Or between sessions as homework, actually putting themselves in that situation and experimenting with new ways of behaving, speaking, acting and so on.  Then gathering evidence of how that feels, reviewing success, technique, approach and performance, accepting failure as a learning experience and having another go.  And doing this until the new behaviour becomes more familiar, a confidence starts to emerge and eventually mastery is achieved so that becomes the new ‘automatic’ or natural way of being.

This approach is because I know that experimenting with new behaviours, either in the imagination or ‘in vivo’, that is in real life, is one of the most effective ways we learn.  And this isn’t just a belief I have, this is backed up by evidence and research (Lazarus, Ellis, Beck etc).   So, trying new ways of being, experimenting, testing for ourselves, are all easily obtained methods for us to change, grow, develop and ultimately flourish.  I often say to my clients become your own scientist, treat everything as an experiment, gather evidence, refine and go again………….

This all came into sharp focus for me this week at a Teacher Development day for the UK College of Hypnosis & Hypnotherapy.  I work with the college as a part time Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy teacher.  Mark Davis, the college principle, by way of developing our teaching delivery, had arranged for Ashlie Walker, MD of Actors Temple to attend and run a development session with us.   All teaching sessions at the college are recorded so students can revisit sections of the course syllabus and Ashlie had been given access, so she could review our individual styles.  I noted from my position of being able to see her laptop she appeared to have a LOT of notes on each of us!!!

She started the session with ‘acting’ style warm ups involving movement, pace changes, use of voice, face pulling and so on.  All partly fun and partly out of my comfort zone already – being the ‘funny one’ has never been my skill set.  We then brainstormed the qualities we would want to be see and be as a teacher.  Identifying such things as passionate, caring, inspirational, knowledgeable, playful and so on.

Then with the ever-present video camera filming us we each in turn stepped up to the middle of the room to teach a session to our peers.  The first run through was in our natural style, then after some warm and fuzzy feedback from our colleagues and some nicely focused, constructive and stretching feedback from Ashlie we went again.  Now to start ‘acting as if’.  Then more challenging feedback came with Ashlie encouraging us to be brave, take risks, be playful………. we continued ‘acting as if’ we had these stretching qualities.  In my session my colleagues were encouraged to be distracted, disruptive and demanding of my attention.  The purpose was for me to learn that I could drop my ever-present smile and encouraging demeanour and keep the focus on point, not get drawn in to side issues that detract from the core subject and the majority of students learning.   Some of my colleagues had great fun with this, Mark, our principle was particularly naughty.  But, and this is a big BUT, by the end of my session, much as I was dying to sit back in my place and emotionally exhausted I had learned a huge amount about what I can do and achieve.  How I can adapt and change my style and the benefits of doing that.  By ‘acting as if’ I had started to feel the change and see the results of that.

Ashlie was amazing, she coached us in an inspiring way and one that I hope I capture when working with my clients.  I renewed the respect I have for my clients, appreciating the fact that they have taken action to change things in their lives and are prepared to push themselves out of their comfort zones to do it.  And I reminded myself that sometimes the discomfort, stretch and fear are all things we can harness to push ourselves and attain more, and by being brave enough to ‘act as if’ we can start to embody those aspirations.

So, thank you Ashlie and thank you Mark for providing the platform, I am better for it.

If you would like to make the decision to do something different today and would like to explore how coaching could help you can contact me on or via