Paul Durbin
Christian Minister and Hypnotist
February 4, 1936 - February 17, 2012

Many in the world of hypnosis were deeply saddened at the loss of Paul early in February 2012.  I hope that this interview that I had carried out with him remains a small testament to the many contributions he made to bringing a deeper understanding of hypnosis to practitioners and clients alike.

paul durbin, christian hypnosis, religion and hypnosis, mind body spirit hypnosis, hypnotherapy
I am very pleased to introduce you to the Rev. Paul Durbin in this interview. Paul has successfully used Hypnosis in his careers as Chaplain (Brigadier General) in the United States Army and during his work as Director of Pastoral Care and Clinical Hypnotherapy at the Methodist Hospital in New Orleans. He is well known to many in the world of Hypnosis through his presentations at Hypnosis conferences, the books he has authored and the many articles and other resources that he continues to make available on his large and interesting Hypnosis web site. Paul is widely recognized for his contributions to the Hypnosis Profession being the recipient of over 25 awards for his writing and work in general. These awards include a "Life Time Achievement Award" from the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners and several "Pen and Quill" awards for his books, the latest being for his most recent work, "Hypnotherapy for Mind, Body and Spirit." Hello Rev. Durbin and thank you for sharing your time with us today. Please take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers and tell them about your excellent hypnosis website.

PD: I am a United Methodist Minister, Chaplain (Brigadier General) United States Army: Retired 1989 Director of Pastoral Care & Clinical Hypnotherapy: Methodist Hospital (closed since Katrina in 2005), New Orleans, LA: Retired 2001 Director of Clinical Hypnotherapy: MHSF, Affiliated with Methodist Hospital: Retired June 30, 2005. I am married to Bobbie “Kimball” Durbin and we have been married for over 51 years. We have two sons, Tim and Scott. Tim is a computer repairman and a stand-in for movies and TV. Scott is a member of the “Imagination Movers” who are on Disney TV 8:30am M-F and 9am Sa-Su. I guess he learned something from his dad. For the Imagination Movers solves problems using their imagination. They write their own songs and music.

We have three wonderful grand children, Jonathan, Tim’s son in his 20s and Scott’s children Brewster Paul, 8 and Amelia 7. They are the joy of my life. I am very proud of my website which has over 100 articles on hypnosis and related subjects by myself and others. There are many of the protocols that I used while I was active as a hypnotherapist such as Pain Management, Childbirth Hypnosis, Cancer Counseling Protocol and others. Thank you Rev. Durbin. Now tell us if you will, how long have you been a hypnotherapist?

PD: Methodist Hospital had a policy that they would pay for furthering our worth to the hospital, they would pay for the education needed. I applied for education in hypnotherapy and it was accepted.

I have been a certified hypnotherapist since 1982 integrating hypnosis into my duties in Pastoral Care and developed it into the first hospital Department of Clinical Hypnosis in the Nation. And what was it that first got you interested in using hypnosis in your vocation of a Christian minister?

PD: I first became interested in hypnosis while participating in the Clinical Pastors Education (CPE) Program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. We had an "Introduction to Hypnosis" seminar led by our CPE supervisor, Chaplain Carl Ray Stephens. Following that seminar I bought a book written by Frank Caprio and Joseph Berger titled, Helping Yourself With Hypnosis. I put that unread book in my bookcase and forgot about it.

Though I had enjoyed the seminar, I did not follow-up until three years later. I first used hypnosis (which I called "Suggestion Therapy") in 1975 while a Chaplain at the Burn Center at Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

The hypnosis was first used with Robert, a sixteen year old, who had burns over thirty percent of his body. I began by asking Robert to close his eyes and to become as comfortable as possible. I then went through a progressive relaxation procedure with him.

As he was from Florida and enjoyed the beach and swimming, I suggested that he imagine himself on his favorite beach. He could lie down on a warm blanket and feel the warm blanket under him. He could feel the warm rays of the sun as they covered his body. He could mentally get up and go into the warm waters of the ocean. He could feel the warm waters as he went into the ocean. It was warm and comfortable. (After the first 48 hours, patients who have been burned often feel cold and the use of the word "warm" can be very comforting.) He could swim and enjoy the feeling of the warm water. When he was tired, he could return to the blanket, lie down and go to sleep.

He learned to do this exercise for himself (self hypnosis) whenever he needed to do so. These metal exercises helped him to reduce pain and go through some normally very painful experiences with little or no discomfort. I used it often but called it “Suggestive Therapy” as I had so little training in hypnotherapy at the time.

In the later part of 1981, I finally read the Caprio/Burger book and I was hooked so applied for hypnotherapy training which lead to my certification and use at Methodist Hospital. I know that you are now officially retired but can you briefly describe the role hypnotherapy played in your work as a Chaplain in the U.S. army and as Director of Pastoral Care and Clinical Hypnotherapy a the Methodist Hospital in New Orleans?

PD: After a short time, the majority of physicians at Methodist Hospital saw the worth of hypnotherapy. The majority of my inpatient hypnosis work was with pain management, stress management, health issues, emotional issues and stop smoking.

I only worked with inpatient if I had a referral from the physician and it was charted on the patient’s chart. The majority of outpatients was stop smoking, weight control, stress management, health issues and emotional issues. I know that the foundation of your hypnosis work is based on a concept you refer to as the "Human Trinity." Could you please expand a little more on what you mean by the term?

PD: The foundation for my work in hypnotherapy is based upon what I refer to as the human trinity, thus Human Trinity Hypnotherapy. Whether you are a Christian or not, you would probably know what I meant if I referred to the Holy Trinity: God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I also believe in the human trinity. Each of us is a trinity within himself or herself. I am a trinity, you are a trinity. We are made up of body, mind, and spirit. We are physical, emotional and spiritual beings.

These three aspects of our being are so different and yet so integrated that one part of the human trinity can not be affected without having some effect on the other two. If you have a physical problem, it affects you emotionally and spiritually.

That does not mean that if you are sick physically, you are also sick emotionally and spiritually but that they are affected. A person with an illness may grow emotionally and spiritually as a result of the illness. It may be for good or bad but all three are affected.

If you have an emotional problem, it affects you physically and spiritually. If you have a spiritual problem, if affects you physically and emotionally. Hypnotherapy helps people function better on all three levels. As a Christian Minister I am sure you have been asked the question. "Why would someone of religious faith need hypnosis? How would or do you answer this kind of suggestion?

PD: Each one here comes with his/her own history: religiously, personally, and professionally. I come to you as a Christian Minister who looks upon hypnosis as a valuable tool of counseling.

Coming from a religious profession and having worked in a church related hospital, I was often asked, "Why does one of religious faith need hypnosis?" or "How can you use hypnosis? Isn't there a conflict between religious faith and hypnosis?" I believe that these questions can be responded to by referring to the statement of Jesus in John 10:10, "I am come that they may have life and have it more abundantly." Hypnosis is one of the gifts of God which help people experience the "more abundant life." I note that one of the heroes mentioned on your web site is Dr. Maltz. I have benefitted from reading his work. Can you share with us what casts him as a hero in your view?

PD: Dr. Maxwell Maltz was a world famous plastic surgeon who discovered the incredible power of a person's self-image for good or bad. Over the years, he realized that people's real problems were not their outward physical appearance, but their inner self-image. Following this discovery, he wrote several books using his term, "Psycho-Cybernetics".

Over 49 years ago, I purchased his book titled, Psycho-Cybernetics. I admit that the title was not that impressive for I had no idea what "Psyco-Cybernetics" meant. I bought the book based upon its table of contents. Though the title was unimpressive, the content of that book and others by Dr. Maltz has had a profound influence on my life and therapy.

A person's self-image is a blueprint for his/her life and the person follows that blueprint (good or bad) until the blueprint (self-image) is changed.

Dr. Maltz emphasizes the point that one cannot begin to properly develop new personality patterns until one becomes dehypnotized from negative input. The dehypnosis comes with hypnosis using different suggestions.

Much hypnosis comes without a formal indication. It is not an exaggeration to say that we are more or less hypnotized whenever we uncritically accept an idea or statement as true.

I found that using clinical hypnotherapy, I could help people release those negative suggestions of the past and live a better life. I also helped people use self-hypnosis to can give him/herself audible or mental suggestions for the reprogramming of the mind. Progressive relaxation allows a person to reach a hypnotic state where she can change her self-image and thereby change her life. You have provided us with many excellent books recommendations on your website. If you had to pick just one of them to recommend which would it be and what makes you choose this one in particular?

PD: I will exclude the three books that I have written which, of course, I would natural recommend and if I may pick two books that have had the most influence in my work as a hypnotherapist.

1. Frank Caprio & Joseph Berger: Helping Yourself with Self-hypnosis: As mentioned earlier, this was the first hypnosis book that I ever read and it was a catalyst for my study and eventual certification as a hypnotherapist.

2. John Kappas: Professional Hypnotism Manual: I took the Hypnosis Motivation Institute’s Video Home Study Course years ago and the text for that course was his book, Professional Hypnosis Manual.

I owe much of my success professional and personally as a therapist was based upon what I learned about communicating with others from that book. His explanation of direct and indirect suggestibility helped me in the way I worked with clients and in my personal relationships.

If I may share a personal experience. My suggestibility is slightly on the direct side while my wife Bobbie of over 51 years has a very high direct suggestibility. She acts on what she hears and doesn’t look for the implications. When we have a high in either direct or indirect suggestibility, we tend to speak opposite to how we respond to suggestions. Bobbie hears direct and speaks indirect.

Bobbie likes the room temperature warmer than I do. She may say "Does it seem cold to you?" For many years, I would say, "No." and in a short time she would be angry at me and I would not know why. I would say "What is the matter?" and she would respond, "Nothing!" You seem to be upset about something. What is the matter?" "You know." "No, I do not know." After we went through that exercise for a while, she would say, "I asked you to turn up the air conditioning and you didn’t do it."

"Well, I finally learned that Bobbie’s questions were really requests. Now when she says, "Does it seem cold to you?" I respond, "No, but would you like for the air conditioning to be turned down." Or I say, "No, but can I get you a quilt so you can be warmer?"

Understanding a person’s suggestibility can help your therapeutic work and your private life as it did mine.

His presentation of “Human Sexuality” has also been very helpful. To the best of my knowledge, but books are still in print. Have you experienced any personal benefits from using hypnosis for yourself that you would care to share with our readers?

PD: I have used self-hypnosis since I read the book by Capria/Burger. I use it for relaxation, stress reduction, changing habits, pain management, improving self-confidence, speech/preaching/writing/workshop/seminar preparation and other for other issues.

In 1986, the National Guard was awarded the position of National Guard Assistant to the Chief of Chaplains of the Army with rank of Brigadier General. I was one on several State Chaplains before the promotion board.

I would go into self hypnosis and imagine/visualize the Chief of Chaplains pinning the Stars on my Uniform. I was putting my mind in a success mode and I was selected to be the first Brigadier General from the National Guard in the history of our nation. In addition to all the in-depth hypnosis information that you have generously made available on your web site you also have a current hypnosis book in publication: "Hypnotherapy for Body Mind and Spirit. Could you tell us a little bit about the book and how someone can obtain a copy?

PD: Hypnotherapy in the Twenty-First Century will develop into a major player in the health care and counseling fields.

Increasing numbers of hospitals, wellness centers, counseling centers and churches are offering hypnotherapy as an important counseling tool.

In the Twenty-First Century, it is important to remember that human beings are made up of body, mind, and spirit. With this in mind I wrote Hypnotherapy for Body, Mind and Spirit.

The book has six sections:

  • Section One: Human Trinity Hypnotherapy,
  • Section Two: Pioneers in Psychiatry,
  • Section Three: Hypnotherapy for Health and Happiness,
  • Section Four: Hypnotherapy For Stress Management,
  • Section Five: Enhancing Hypnotherapy, and
  • Section Six: Avoiding Pitfalls.
This book is written for the general public, the beginning hypnotherapist and seasoned professional.

I hope that this book will motivate those in the health care professions, counseling professions, and religious professions to further study and use hypnosis. I envision it being used as a text book and a resource book for hypnotherapist and students. As Hypnotists we are only too aware of there being many myths about the subject among the Public. What has been the most frequent misunderstanding about the subject that you have encounter with clients or the public over the years Rev. Durbin?

PD: This list is not in order of frequency, but I believe are the most frequently misunderstood.

A hypnotized person is unconscious or asleep. False. A hypnotized person does not pass out or become unconscious.

A person may not come out of the hypnotic trance. False. There is not a case in recorded history in which a person failed to come out of hypnosis. In some cases, a person may become so relaxed that he will fall into a natural, normal, restful sleep. If so, he will awaken naturally at a later time.

The hypnotized person is so completely under the hypnotist's control that he will obey any suggestion. Another way to say this is “One Can be Hypnotized to Say or Do Something Against One's Will or Engage in Anti-Social Behavior” False. Although this is a favorite theme in fiction writers, TV and movie plots, it is not true in reality. All hypnosis turns out to be self-hypnosis for a person will respond to the suggestion of the hypnotist only if he wants to do so. A person will not do anything under hypnosis that is against his principles or moral standards.

Only weak-minded people can be hypnotized. False. Contrary to popular belief, the more intelligent and imaginative the person, the easier it is to be hypnotized.

Hypnosis is anti-religious. False. Hypnosis is neither anti-religious nor pro-religious. It can be used for good or bad depending on the hypnotist and the subject. With a few exception, most religious groups accept the proper ethical use of hypnosis for helping people.

If you get rid of one symptom by hypnosis another symptom will take it's place. False. Though there may be a few illustrations of symptom replacement, most experts on hypnosis agree that this not normally true. Dr. Milton Erickson was asked one time if a symptom is removed, is it replaced by another one. His answer went something like this, “If a person has a headache and takes an aspirin and the pain goes away, is it replaced by pain in another area?

ask-the-hypnotist.comAs we both know, hypnosis as a healing and helping modality has existed for hundreds of years now. However, it is more widely known and more accepted in some areas more than others. How would you rate the state of public acceptance of hypnosis/hypnotherapy in during your years at the Hospital in New Orleans?

PD: I was extremely blessed to have started my hypnotherapy career in New Orleans. The staff of the hospital and community were very receptive to my use of hypnotherapy.

In the early days, some physicians were hesitant to refer their patients to me. I recall on one occasion, a patient who had had a heart attack asked if I would work with him on stress management and relaxation.

I asked him to have his doctor send me a consult. His doctor, who had been with the hospital since it opened told him that hypnosis was hocus-pocus.

A few week later, his younger associate had a judge who was suffering tremendously and in his final days. The younger doctor referred his patient to me. The man lived about 3 more weeks with very little pain.

Shortly, the older doctor referred his patient to me and from then on, many other physicians referred their patients to me. I even conducted CEU “Introduction to Hypnotherapy seminars and Childbirth Hypnosis seminars to the physicians on staff.

A few patients refused hypnosis when I received a physician referral but they were few and far between. A few Pentecostals would say, “May I call my pastor to see if it OK?” (Remember that I was at Methodist for six years before, I began to do any hypnotherapy. I had a good reputation in the community.) Of all those who called their pastor, the pastors responded something like, “If Chaplain Durbin is the hypnotherapist go ahead and be helped.” Rev. Durbin: based on your experience, what do you see as the future of hypnotism or hypnotherapy in America?

PD: Hypnotherapy is where the chiropractors were a few years ago. Now they are consider an considered an acceptable from of care.

Hypnotherapy will be widely accepted in just few years. It is being accept by the National Institute of Health as a valuable complimentary therapy to the medical profession.

Though hypnosis is not a magic cure for all our problems, it can be a powerful tool to assist us in our individual lives. For those of us who are pastors, counselors, doctors; hypnosis can be used to help those who come to us for counseling. If we can progress beyond the misconceptions and begin to use hypnosis appropriately we will see improvement in our life styles and in those we counsel.

Through the proper use of hypnosis: we can give up and let go of depressing thoughts of the past so that they no longer control our life today. We can give up and let go of beliefs that limit us and hold us in bondage. We can let go of thoughts that circumstances or conditions control how we believe.

Whether you call it hypnosis, suggestive therapy, relaxation therapy, guided imagery, or visualization, we all have the God given ability to use our subconscious mind to live the abundant life.

We can help others to free themselves from the bondage and captivity of pain, unwanted habits, and unhealthy stress through hypnotherapy. Jesus said that He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) Hypnosis combining body, mind, and spirit with faith helps one to a more abundant life. And someone who has and does present at many Hypnosis training events, what advice would you give to someone who is interested in developing a new career as a hypnotist in America?

PD: I believe that if you want to help people live a better life that one should consider a career in hypnotherapy. I can say it has been a very satisfying portion of my ministry and I am thankful to God for opening the door of hypnotherapy for me at Methodist Hospital.

For those who are studying hypnosis, for the novice and the long time professional, never stop your learning process. Even though I am retired, I still read everything I can about hypnosis from books, the library, hypnosis conferences and the internet.

The internet is a very valuable source of information. Whatever you want information, just google it. For example, I need information on abreaction with hypnosis. I just go to google or any other search engine and type in “hypnosis abreaction” and up comes a wealth of information. Thank you Rev. Durbin. Is there anything else that you would like to expand upon or add that we have not covered?

PD: I would like to add for those who oppose hypnosis on religious grounds, I remind them of the words of Jon Baptist Van Helmont, "Hypnosis is a universal agent...and is a paradox only to those who are disposed to ridicule everything, who ascribe to the influence of Satan all phenomena which they cannot explain."

I have enjoyed this interview and the opportunity to share with your readers one of the passions of my life: hypnotherapy. And thank you very much Paul, it has been very interesting and you have been generous with your time.

To find our more about all the many hypnosis resources Rev. Durbin has made freely available visit his web site at

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