Robert Speigel has over 45 years experience as psychotherapist, clinical hypnotherapist, author, teacher, and research scientist. He is a visionary inventor, holding three United States patents for bio-behavioral medical technology, and served as a two-time Principal Investigator for the National Institutes of Health. His research proved the efficacy of his targeted medical hypnosis technology.
Rob holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in experimental psychology from Wright State University (1970) and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan (1973). He is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers, a Board Certified Diplomate of the National Association of Social Workers, and a Washington State Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. In addition to their private practice, Rob is a Certified Personal Transformation Intensive Trainer conducting intensive trauma recovery programs for clients interested in reaching the deepest level of recovery possible.
Why I dedicate my career to the study and practice of hypnotherapy
There are crystal clear moments that define one’s destiny. In the summer of 1960, as an 11 year old boy, my oldest brother and his friend were participating in a study at Wright Patterson Air Force Base testing human factors for extended weightlessness. They were taught self hypnosis and post-hypnotic suggestion as a mechanism to ameliorate physical stress and emotional fear. For fun one warm Saturday afternoon, the two of them had me stretch out on a table in the garage, asked me to relax and drift into a deep state of rest.
I waited for the “trance” to take effect sending me into a blissful state of unconsciousness. I remembered everything they said, but my expected trip into trance never happened. I was sure hypnosis did not work. As instructed during the hypnosis, I awoke from my sleep precisely at 3:00 AM, and was immediately wide awake. I immediately realized I was in complete control of my actions and could choose to go back to sleep if I wished. Instead, I put on my clothes as I was asked to, walked calmly down the stairs and out the back door to that same garage, got out my trusted bike, jumped on, and in the darkness, took exactly one trip clockwise around our city block.
I was unaware of my brother and his friend nervously observing from his bedroom above. I returned about 10 minutes later, put the bike away, returned to my bedroom, took off my clothes and went back to sleep immediately. I awoke the next morning feeling great, and remembered everything I had done. I was aware that I had performed precisely the suggestions they had made, but wondered if I simply was trying to please my big brother and his friend. For whatever reason, I felt compelled to do as they had suggested.
The question that still haunts me over 50 years later is what it was that awakened me to look at a clock that was pointed precisely at 3:00 AM.
In 1972, a man named John Wolf was a guest lecturer for a clinical practice class I attended in graduate school. As we all pulled out our notebooks and pencils, he asked us to push back our chairs and lie flat on the floor. He instructed us in a precise fashion to alternately tense and relax certain muscles in our body. His voice was calm and soothing. After a few moments I was experiencing a level of relaxation I had never known. I heard him say something about floating and felt my body lose contact with the floor.
My conscious mind knew that gravity still worked; I just didn’t care to acknowledge it. Then I heard him say “3, 2, 1, eyes open and wide awake” and I was back in the room. I felt great! He asked us to estimate how much time had elapsed, and I figured about 10 minutes. We had been lying there for over 30. He then taught us about “autogenic” training – using relaxation training, visualization, and guided imagery for self-directed healing. The skeptic in me was dubious.
In 1974, as a 25 year old beginning psychotherapist in a rural hospital and mental health center near Dayton Ohio, an 18 year old patient was referred to me by his surgeon. The young man’s doctor wanted me to help him deal with the emotional aspects of having a full colostomy due to his colitis ravaged lower intestine and bowel. The surgery was scheduled for the following week. The young man was devastated to think that he would be wearing an excrement bag his entire adult life. I asked his doctor if the surgery could be delayed for six weeks so the patient could be better prepared. I could not bear to tell his doctor the truth. My fear that practicing something as unproven as hypnosis and autogenics would result in failure, and I would be laughed out of the hospital. Six weeks later, the young man showed no evidence of colitis, and the surgery was cancelled. I was astounded and frightened by the results of my own treatment. The surgeon simply noted that the colitis had resolved on its own.
In 1984 a nurse came to me to help with a difficult divorce from an abusive husband. About a year after the divorce she was back in my office suffering from a cancerous thyroid, most likely the result of radiation treatment for severe acne she received as a teenager. She showed evidence of cancer in her lymph nodes and stomach cavity.
The oncologists removed half of her thyroid followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The outlook was bleak, and I was afraid to raise her expectations. We began targeted medical hypnosis training. She visualized her immune system as piranha fish devouring the cancerous cells. About three months later, she called one day to report that the piranha of her imagery had spontaneously changed to beautiful tropical salt water fish and she knew she was recovering. Five years later, she was still free of cancer.
I have used targeted medical hypnosis in my psychotherapy practice for over 45 years with literally thousands of patients. A few were lost to either the ravages of their disease or iatrogenic (medical treatment) causes. The scientist in me is totally convinced it works, and the 11 year old is still in awe of its power.