x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Hypnotism soothes workforce

Big firms including HSBC are investing millions of dirhams in a therapy aimed at cheering up their staff.

David Crane, a British hypnotist, has found a niche among companies in Dubai.
David Crane, a British hypnotist, has found a niche among companies in Dubai.

DUBAI // Hypnotism might not seem like the first thing a world-class company would consider when faced with an increasingly stressed workforce and a high staff turnover, but big firms including HSBC, Panasonic, Visa and Mashreq Bank are investing millions of dirhams in a therapy aimed at cheering up their staff. David Crane, a hypnotherapist, spotted the niche in the market when he began corporate sessions five years ago.

"It's all about motivating people to make the best out of themselves. It's about making more of yourself within an employment framework," he said. His philosophy for helping professionals was to teach them that they must "treat yourself like a business". At sessions for anywhere between 20 and 500 people, Mr Crane aims to get across the message that life is of our own making. "Most spiritual leaders teach you to find your own path within a framework," he said. "I have to teach people to work within their own paradigms."

There were, he said, two problems facing employers in the emirate: disillusionment and getting to the root of the high levels of employee turnover, which can be as high as a third of a company's employees each year. "With the visa situation here, people tend to stay in jobs which they would otherwise leave," he said. "Many people feel very disillusioned, much more than in other countries." His sessions, he said, "make the workforce more motivated and increase the financial productivity of the companies".

During the sessions, Mr Crane attempts to hypnotise the entire room into a "dream experience" in which they imagine themselves in a successful, happy situation such as the "perfect day at work". "It's about showing people that these positive things can be a reality. It's all about attracting positivity. If you imagine positive situations, you attract them in your life," he said. Each session is tailor-made according to the group but there are certain key elements to his "self-improvement" training.

Groups have focussed on a range of issues, such as stress management, sales techniques and presentation and communication skills. Some events include team-building games and problem-solving, designed to challenge conventional ways of thinking and working. He has a set of 10 rules that include teaching people that, ultimately, life is their own responsibility."Many people are scared of doing anything for the fear of making mistakes or failing," he said. "The person who knows you and cares more about you than anyone, is you.

"I try to teach people that failure doesn't in fact exist as a concept. It's about how you deal with it and react to these situations. The hope is that eventually you get it right." He feels that, for the workforce in Dubai, this kind of life support and coaching is more vital than in other parts of the world. "Many people come here alone, without their friends or family, so with no real support network like you'd have back home," he said.

One British expatriate, Helen Rogerson, a PR executive, went to see Mr Crane in a one-on-one session after the break-up of her engagement. She had lost her confidence and it was affecting all areas of her life, including her work. "David stopped me crying which was the biggest hindrance in my day-to-day life," she said. "It was such an upheaval and was really unexpected so it knocked me back. We did the dream experience, whereby David put me into a relaxed state and I was able to think more clearly. I didn't have any preconceptions about it before I went, I was just desperate to find some help."

After three sessions, each an hour long, she began to feel better about her life, she said. "David showed me that there is always another way to look at things. It helped to focus my emotions, rationalise the situation and generally relax me and get me back to normal." Next for Mr Crane are a series of group sessions for people who want to stop smoking, control road rage and lose weight. "I'll be arranging some big group events to tackle some of the issues which are prevalent here in Dubai," he said.

"Most of my focus is now on the corporate sessions so I don't get much time to work with people in these more recreational areas any more." @Email:mswan@thenational.ae