TOP stage hypnotist Paul McKenna is passing on the secrets of his trade by offering courses at the largest hypnosis training company in the world.
The courses at the McKenna Breen Centre in London are said to improve the way in which secret agents, top businesspeople or teachers work. Nearly 5,000 people enrol each year.
Paul McKenna believes the skills are particularly useful in the classroom. He says the training is as much about personal development and improving self-confidence as a tool for use in business.
Harnessing the power of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) - of which hypnosis forms a part - students can study to become hypnotherapists, or work as motivators in industry or even to take to the stage. Most blue-chip companies use NLP practitioners to boost performance.
McKenna, who made his name with the award-winning television series, The Hypnotic World of Paul McKenna, plays down the showbiz side. "We are trying to get away from the stage image of the man dressed in black, with a goatee beard, looking mysterious," he says.
He wants NLP to be regarded as a science, a valuable tool to help people improve at work, particularly through focusing on communication skills.
He believes that former American president Bill Clinton had such a high approval rate because he enhanced his appeal and charisma through NLP.
Paul McKenna says he has used NLP to turn someone who could not paint into an accomplished artist. Alternatively, it can be used to improve existing skills such as a professional golfer's putting stroke.
"I recently worked with a leading musician who was blocked," says McKenna. "After writing a string of hit songs, he couldn't write. Using the techniques, I worked through with him the way he had written his hit songs and then, using hypnosis, got him to go through those again. Soon he was back writing."
The man who has sold more than a million tapes helping people to stop smoking, lose weight, sleep better and deal with stress and lack of confidence boasts private clients such as Daryl Hannah, Robbie Williams, Sarah Ferguson, Ronan Keating, David Bowie and Geri Halliwell.
Sports people who have worked with McKenna and gained positive benefits include golfer Nick Faldo, footballer Andy Cole, rugby player Dan Luger and tennis star Greg Rusedski.
The college he has helped to establish runs courses lasting between seven and 10 days. A course called "Change your life in seven days" costs pound;699.
The basic trainers' course teaches the principles of NLP, helps to improve self-confidence and communication skills. After this course, such methods as curing people of phobias can be tackled. "It's relatively simple," says McKenna.
McKenna believes that NLP is being taken more seriously now while his stage work is showing a larger audience that it does work.
Those who complete courses at the McKenna Breen Centre are awarded certificates. But the industry is unregulated, so people need to be careful when they are choosing courses.
"This is not dangerous and it is not brain-washing because there is no message to sell and no cult being put forward," says Paul McKenna. "NLP empowers people to be better at what they do or gives them the means to do something else if they wish."