Rob Kelly's Forensic and Investigative Memory Enhancing Techniques (FIMET) bring a unique and very effective approach to the area of forensic hypnosis. His approach is very different to that of traditional Forensic Hypnosis. FIMET sessions elicit as much accurate information from the client as possible, in addition to allowing them to resolve any negative emotions surrounding an experience or event.
Traditional Forensic Hypnosis
There have been a significant number of famous cases in the last century where hypnosis has been successfully used to elicit critical details about events. There have, however, also, been many reported in which the information recalled was distorted or highly inaccurate. This has led to some confusion and doubt surrounding the effectiveness of forensic hypnosis.
Traditionally, Forensic Hypnosis was conducted by employing various 'fishing', 'pinpoint regression' and 'timeline' type of techniques - where the therapist/interviewer would direct the client back (whilst they are in a hypnotic state) to a specific experience, in an attempt to 'help' him/her to recall detailed information about the experience. The therapist or interviewer would then tend to lead the session in the direction he/she (quite possibly wrongly) felt was most beneficial to the investigation or therapy. Preconceived ideas on the therapist/interviewer's part about what occurred, along with inappropriate suggestions, may well have impacted upon the hypnotised person's recall of the event.
In addition, the view held by many that hypnosis itself is somehow 'magical' and has special memory enhancing properties may well have contributed to its use in a misguided and inappropriate manner.
A recent review (2009) in the Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling by Graham Wagstaff states:
"...it seems somewhat ironical that one of the most significant features of public stereotypes of hypnosis, the belief that it has 'special properties', has perhaps been the main cause of its downfall as a forensic tool, and the scepticism with which hypnotically elicited testimony is now received by researchers and legal professionals in the courtroom, i.e. the belief that hypnosis has a special capacity to enhance memory seems to have played a major part in producing the memory errors and false confidence effects now associated with hypnosis."
Using the traditional forensic hypnosis techniques has, in a significant number of cases, been unsuccessful or even detrimental. In the worst case scenario, these traditional techniques can produce highly distorted information. Even in many cases where the material recalled is largely accurate, it is likely that some potentially important information will have been missed. In addition to this, a traditional forensic hypnosis session conducted in this manner is unlikely to really help a victim of (or witness to) a traumatic event in getting over the experience and processing the emotional trauma, in the most effective manner.
Quite understandably, there have been a number of valid concerns regarding the use of hypnosis in obtaining information from witnesses and victims of crime. In the UK in December 1986 Thames Valley Police secured the services of a non-forensic-trained hypnotherapist to help them elicit further detail from a witness in a significant criminal case. The techniques used by the therapist made the judge doubt the validity of the (enhanced?) witness statement. The five defendants were released, the case was thrown out, and Thames Valley Police were severely critisised for using a non-forensic-aware hypnotist, and ruining an important case.
The Home Office Guidelines Regarding the Use Of Hypnosis
Subsequent to the above case the UK Home Office issued guidelines regarding the use of hypnosis for investigative purposes. These guidelines state:
"4. Under section 78 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 the court has a discretion to exclude evidence if, having regard to all the circumstances, including the circumstances in which the evidence was obtained, it appears to the court that admitting the evidence would have such an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings that the court ought not to admit it. As evidence obtained from a witness who had been hypnotised cannot properly be tested in cross-examination, there must be a serious risk that the courts would rule it inadmissible under section 78.
5. It would be prudent, therefore, to assume that any confession obtained by hypnosis will not be admissible in evidence and any potential witness who is hypnotised will not be permitted to testify."
The Home Office guidelines are indeed only guidelines and do not completely prohibit the use of investigative hypnosis. The guidelines, however, do caution against its use and it seems probable that most post-hypnotic testimony will not be admitted in a Criminal Court of Law. As a result, in our sessions, we don't actually use hypnosis now, when we conduct forensic interviews where the information may need to be used in court (see FIMET below). There are no regulations or guidelines regarding the admission of post-hypnotic testimony in a Civil Court.
So Why Use Forensic Hypnosis At All?
Despite the negative reputation that forensic and investigative hypnosis has gained, there are a number of studies that have concluded that it can be successfully used to enhance recall. For example, a study by Geiselman, Fisher, Mackinnon, and Holland (1985) comparing a Hypnosis Interview and a Cognitive Interview (CI) with a Standard Police Interview, suggested that the both the Hypnosis Interview and CI produced an average of approximately 30% more correct information compared to the Standard Interview condition with no associated increase in the number of errors.
Wagstaff's 2009 review, also, evaluates aspects of hypnotic procedures such as relaxation and eye-closure, which may contribute to increased recall. These factors may help to block out distractions and increase focus. Something that it is extremely important to consider is that many factors can and do affect how memory is recalled and most memory is subject to a degree of distortion, regardless of whether or not it is recalled under hypnosis.
It has been proven that the use of hypnosis per se does not contribute to either increases or decreases in quantity and accuracy of information recalled. Instead it is factors such as the use of suggestion, direction or leading questions along with factors internal to the witness that impact upon recall.
A FIMET Session
Rob Kelly's 'FIMET' techniques bring a unique and highly effective approach to Forensic Hypnosis due to Robs extensive experience in developing Pure Hypnoanalysis.
Rob and his associates have, also, conducted a huge amount of research into memory and how to enhance recall without inadvertently creating distortions and inaccuracies.
Rob's techniques are collectively known as forensic and investigative memory-enhancing techniques (FIMET). These techniques may or may not include the use of hypnosis depending on whether or not it is appropriate to do so.
We do use hypnosis on many occasions, as it is a very straightforward way of enabling a client to relax, feel safe and focus solely on reporting everything that comes to mind. On other occasions, however, we specifically don't use hypnosis because of the negative view that British Criminal Courts have upon testimony revealed under the influence of hypnosis. Here we would instead use some relaxation techniques (which have the same benefits of allowing a client to feel calm, safe and focused).
Prior to a session it would always be discussed with a client as to whether or not he/she may wish to use the resulting information in a Criminal Court. The techniques used are not in any way suggestive or directive. They merely enable a client to recall an event by creating a safe and non-judgmental atmosphere in conjunction with using proven memory enhancing and psychotherapeutic techniques.
These memory-enhancing techniques include several that are commonly used in the Cognitive Interview (CI) and Enhanced Cognitive Interview (ECI) processes. The CI and ECI are interviewing techniques designed to enhance memory in cooperative interviewees (usually witnesses and victims of crime, but in some cases suspects) and to extract as much accurate information as possible.
Fisher and Geiselman developed the CI and ECI in the USA in the 1980s. The CI/ECI is now in widespread use throughout the world and has largely replaced the more familiar 'interrogations' that the majority of Police Forces used previously in the UK.
A FIMET consultation aims to help clients to elicit as much information as possible surrounding an incident, when this information may be used in a police investigation and/or legal proceedings, without inadvertently creating memory distortions or inaccuracies. Perhaps even more importantly, a FIMET session can provide the very best way for clients to process and move on from a traumatic incident(s).
The FIMET that we use fully take into account the UK Home Office Guidelines as well as those issued by the Crown Prosecution Service. An audio recording of a forensic session is conducted from start to finish so that a complete record of the information recovered is secured.
A FIMET Consultation is ideal for helping people who have:
(a) experienced some form of traumatic incident(s) and are struggling to process it, or are suffering in some way as a consequence of it
(b) experienced some form of traumatic incident(s), and have poor memory recall (or none at all) about the experience(s)
(c) experienced some form of traumatic incident(s), have poor memory recall (or none at all) about the experience(s) and where the information gathered about the experience(s) may be used in Civil or Criminal legal proceedings
“The content of the
course was excellent and has certainly provided me with the
confidence and skills to practice Forensic Hypnosis”
“Thank you so much for giving me back my life. After the rape I never thought I would ever be able to feel ‘normal’ again. Thank you so much”
“Thanks for presenting an amazing seminar - it was really inspiring”
“It was important for me to know the missing pieces of information to explain my physical symptoms but also to understand and process the recurring image”
“...this experience (a single fimet session) has enabled me to trigger and process the trauma, to make sense of the night and importantly to release suppressed fears and emotions attached to the night in order to begin to come to terms with the trauma, to fully recover and live a fulfilling life without reminders from trapped memory or nightmares”
“an outstanding training seminar Rob – superb”
“...throughout the police interviews, the counseling and the CBT, I was never given the opportunity to ‘process’ the memory – in order to release and resolve it. Am now moving on with my life..”
“It has been a life-changing experience – an epiphany – I shall be eternally grateful for... Not least because I can now move on and face the future with confidence, but also because I can remember my past without sadness and shame”