For this blog episode I was able to do an interview with Georg Stuby, an Amsterdam-based certified Music Therapist, Hypnotist, and Coach, originally from Switzerland. Following his passion for music, he has performed around the world from the deserts of Burning Man to the fields of Glastonbury. Today, he still releases his own productions and is occasionally on the road as a DJ.
However his focus has shifted to the intersection of music and mental well-being. Furthermore, he is a psychedelic facilitator for an organization that offers guided psilocybin experiences. As a multi-instrumentalist, his approach to guidance in ceremony includes an integration of music and hypnosis. In addition, he is in the midst of completing his master’s degree in psychology, specialising in the psychedelic experience.
After a serious event in Georg’s life, it was clear for him: he must pursue a profession with which he can help other people. With his original training as a Sound Engineer and his curiosity for Coaching, he first got into Music Coaching, which he still provides today. There he not only gives technical know-how, but also supports his clients in mastering their own creative process. Nowadays, he does not only coach musicians but also motivates artists and creative minds who are stuck with projects, or need help to come out of their comfort zone and present themselves to their audience in their full light.
Definitions of therapies
Let’s first take a closer look at the individual therapy methods and then how Georg utilizes them in an interdisciplinary way to provide the optimal therapy for each patient. Literature defines them as follows:
- Music Therapy: Music therapy is the clinical treatment with music to achieve individual goals with patients. This can treat a wide range of health problems, such as high blood pressure, memory loss, muscle pain but also non-medical problems such as social deficits, low motivation, no joy in life and much more. In therapy, one does not necessarily have to be musical oneself. Methods such as listening to songs, playing instruments, singing, or even composing songs are often used.
«Imagination is tapping into the subconscious in a form of open play. That is why art or music therapy, which encourages a person to take up brushes and paint or an instrument, and just express themselves, is so powerful.» – Phil ‘Philosofree’ Cheney, author of multiple books including «Energizing Your Life», «Brion» and «Freya»
- Hypnosis: Clinical Hypnotherapy is a form of deep relaxation that involves both the mind and the body. On this journey one is usually accompanied by a certified therapist using verbal cues or images. The aim is to increase the ability to concentrate, allowing one to go deeper into thoughts and eventually make sustainable changes for life.
Effectively summarized by the Cleveland Clinic, hypnosis can be used to treat many psychological and physical problems. Besides stress and anxiety, it can also be used to counteract phobias and panic attacks, as well as to treat post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). Hypnosis therapy can also treat physical problems such as insomnia, hot flashes during menopause, asthma and a variety of other pains.
- Coaching: Coaching has its origins in the world of sports and arts. In these areas coaches support their clients, sometimes called coachees, to develop certain skills to a higher level. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership.
Georg’s approach to coaching is rooted in “Transformational Coaching.” In this modality, sometimes also referred to as “Deep Coaching”, the focus is not primarily on thinking and doing. Transformational coaches focus on the Being of their clients. They believe that our thoughts, personalities, and stories are just the surface of human beings. Often they call those levels the “small self” or “ego”. Beyond this “small self” lies the “big self”, often referred to as “divine oneness” or “the light within”. Therefore Transformational Coaching is congeneric to Transpersonal Psychology. However Transformational Coaches do not only focus on the transpersonal and spiritual realms, but also on the personal shadow and the importance of making it conscious. Through this, a balance between letting go of what holds clients back and what moves them forward is achieved. (Vanderpool L., 2019, “A Shift In Being” p. 103).
Typically Coaches are not advisers and do not give suggestions to their clients without being asked for them. Most coaches believe in the self-competence of their clients and support them in finding their own answers. This happens through active listening and asking open, solution-oriented questions. Through this process, the inner resources are made conscious and accessible to the clients. In this light, coaching supports self-healing.
Furthermore, coaching and therapy have to be distinguished. A key distinction is that coaching is not based on a psychological dysfunction and diagnosis. However, the lines between coaching and therapy are blurry, especially when a coach is hired by a private person.
During a coaching process, former unconscious material can come up and may need integration. Depending on the skills of the coach it can be necessary to get a therapist involved.
Georgy Stuby explains why these therapies complement each other well:
Which skills/educations are required?
- Musical talent (with improvisation skills)
- Emotional strength and resistance
- Creativity and great imagination
- Create a pleasant environment for the client
- Approaching every client individually
- Mature, thoughtful, and self-reflected
Education path (Germany): In contrast to other countries, the term music therapist is not yet legally protected in Germany. Therefore, there are still no state-regulated educational regulations. More info about the current situation in Germany.
- Good communication skills
- Analyzing a situation and the ability to solve problems
- Good interpretation skills
- Knowledge about sound and its use as a hypnosis technique
- The skill of building a relationship of trust with a stranger
Education path (Germany): With hypnosis, the case is a little more complicated. According to the law in Germany, only persons who have a license to practice medicine are allowed to practice medical hypnosis (treatment of mental or physical illnesses). These are doctors, psychotherapists, and alternative practitioners. However, anyone who practices non-healing hypnosis (e.g. for purpose of relaxation or to increase self-confidence) may legally call themselves a hypnotist. Violation of the methods of application is severely punished. More info about the current situation in Germany.
- Good listening skills and showing curiosity
- Good empathy to understand emotions, gestures and words of a client
- Good reflective ability including post-processing of each case
- The ability to ask the right questions to move the client in the right direction
- The ability to give sustainable feedback to the client without judging them
Education path (Germany): The term coach is also not (yet) legally protected in Germany, as there is still no standardized education for it. Anyone can therefore call themselves a coach. More info about the current situation in Germany.
The ethical problem with non-standardized education
Non-protected professional titles mean many potential providers of services, and thus many dubious offers. The problem with the whole thing: even the unserious offers can look very promising at first glance, and most people can’t tell a good therapist from a bad one. Georg Stuby elaborates further:
What if there was a standardized education?
If there were a standardized training process, this could displace dubious offers, but this would bring other disadvantages. Someone would have to determine what will be part of the official learning content, and that is a subjective matter. Georg takes another look at the hypothesis.
Music therapy meets guided psilocybin trips
Georg Stuby also works for Spinoza, an organization that offers guided psychedelic trips in the area of Amsterdam. For this purpose, he often uses elements of music therapy to guide people who are under the influence of the psychedelic compound Psilocybin.
Psilocybin is the halunzigenic substance found in certain mushrooms across Europe, The United States and Latin America.
Even so the work with psychedelics can create profound and life changing shifts, it is not suited for everybody. Exclusion criteria for taking part in psychedelic ceremonies are health restrictions, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, psychosis, psychosis in the nuclear family, ongoing depression without the safety of ongoing therapy and ongoing use of medication such as psychotropics.
As described by Medical News Today, psilocybin works by activating serotonin receptors in our brains after consumption. The effects of these magic mushrooms can vary greatly from person to person. The effect therefore depends on the dosage, previous consumptions, the body weight, but also on the mental state and the expectations of the user. Furthermore, the chemical composition of each mushroom is different, as it is a natural product. Therefore, the potency may also depend on the origin, species, or harvest time.
In the ceremonies Georg and other guides at Spinoza work with already existing pieces of music, whereby the aim is to steer the journey in a certain direction. These can be recorded or also played live, for example with guitar and voice. On the other hand, silence can also be a very valuable tool. Last but not least, he often works with singing bowls, which produce certain calming frequencies.
Also in the integration process music played a key role: Participants can express their emotions and experiences with the help of instruments that are in the room.
Many forms of therapy, one overall approach:
For Georg, all methods are merely means for a deeper purpose. The goal remains the same: Diving into and partnering with the subconscious of a person, co-creating profound insights and altering their level of consciousness in a sustainable way. That is why he always uses the tools case-specifically and also depending on the day.
In Georg‘s experience many therapy methods often have the disadvantage that they do not address certain aspects, such as spirituality, although this is a very important part of our existence. Classical psychotherapy can be a good approach, but it is often not enough to support people in these ever faster changing times. This is why alternative ways of therapy have to be developed. Most people who are not experts in the field find themselves in a jungle of information and possibilities. Therefore, a very important part is to create more transparency for the patients in the future.