Department of Family Therapy Dissertations and Applied Clinical Projects

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Family Therapy


Douglas G. Flemons

Committee Member

Shelley K. Green

Committee Member

James Hibel


Although clinical hypnosis has been studied in a variety of ways, most of the research has focused on individual and evidence-based approaches; few have examined relational or systemic models. Influenced by Milton Erickson’s hypnosis methods and Gregory Bateson’s systemic concepts, relational hypnotherapists value the importance of both the intra- and interpersonal context in the treatment of problems, accentuating the significance of the mind and body connection (or relationship) in inviting non-volitional therapeutic change. The author of this research explored how Douglas Flemons, the developer of relational hypnosis, facilitated an enduring non-volitional shift with a client, “Grace,” who desired to have a baby but could not see or talk about blood, needles, or medical procedures without fainting. Using context-enriched conversation analysis (CECA), the author embraced his theoretical understanding of relational hypnosis as a guide to examine multiple sources of data, which included selected audio-recorded excerpts from Douglas and Grace’s hypnotherapeutic sessions; Grace’s descriptions of change in her email correspondence with Douglas; and Douglas’s case notes. Although there were a total of eight sessions, the author’s analysis revealed that the most influential and significant moments occurred during the first two sessions. Douglas’s initial interventions, or as he would say, intraventions, laid the foundation for a shift in Grace’s identity, which helped her embrace a variety of resourceful skills and attributes to overcome her problem. The author also discussed the clinical and research implications for relational hypnosis, brief and family therapy, and psychotherapy in general.