Hypnotherapy Consultation

Here are some recollections from my hypnotherapy training: 

I’ve just come back from another hypnotherapy diploma training weekend and, as always, I feel drained but also very positive and up-beat. This weekends training covered quite a lot and I’ll summarise each topic we discussed.

Initial Consultations

When you meet a client or talk with them on the phone for the first time it’s imperative that you build rapport. The client has to feel completely comfortable in the environment and with the therapist. This doesn’t mean that you have to pander to their every whim and be sycophantic. The client must respect you too.

Part of the course stipulates that we have to create an initial consultation questionnaire. On this questionnaire there are the apparently mundane administrative questions like name, address and telephone number etc. Then there are questions which may seem a little out-of-place; like the clients Doctors details and seemingly spiritual questions like: If I had a magic wand to wave, what could I do for you?

This initial questioning phase is very important because you are not only finding out about the issue which has bought the client to you but you are finding out about the client themselves. You ask them whether they have come to you of their own accord which informs you of how motivated they are to resolving their issues; if someone has been ‘told’ to come and sort out their 40-a-day smoking habit and their body language is negative (e.g. hunched shoulders and generally slouching) you know that they’re commitment to change and attitude needs to be worked on first.

It’s very easy at this consultation stage of therapy to simply ask the questions written in front of you and not interract fully with the client. During our practice session I’ve found it very useful to see the questionnaire as a guide rather than a rigid format for the session. My advice would be to ask the questions and then follow on conversationally using the clients responses. Follow their lead; generally people love to talk about themselves and it will boost your rapport with the client if you’re showing a genuine interest in what they’re saying. You’ll be interested in your client if you ask questions based on their specific responses and you’ll be digging deeper into their own personal psychology if you follow a natural conversational path rather than being academic about your questioning.

There is a caveat of which you should be aware of: if you’re dealing with a client who’s academic in nature and very analytical they may not respond well to this approach. They may require a more formal, scientific and structured approach to therapy and questioning. This you will have to become sensitive to when you’re initially finding out about your client. This is why there are some seemingly trivial questions on the questionnaire about what the client does for a living and if they enjoy what they do. Such questions don’t seem like they’re remotely related to the issue the client has come to you about but they are imperative to you as a therapist in helping you devise your therapeutic approach to helping them overcome it.

Some, if not most, clients will have an opinion on hypnotherapy and hypnotic trance states. I describe a trance state as being detached from conscious thought; for a brief period you are completely absorbed and focussed leaving your unconscious open to suggestion. Always explain to the client that the trance state is completely natural and something that we all experience, to differing degrees, everyday.

As stated previously always follow your clients lead and if they believe that hypnosis is induced by having a watch dangled in front of their eyes then look for a way of using this (even allegorically) in your induction.

Some clients may have been hypnotised before (be it for hypnotherapy or stage hypnosis) and it’s important to find out if this was a positive or negative experience for them. If the previous hypnotic experience was a positive one ask the client what methods the hypnotist/hypnotherapist used to induce the trance and use the same in your induction. This will have two benefits; you’ll help make the client feel more comfortable by introducing familiarity and you’ll make the induction portion quicker leaving more time for the therapeutic section of the trance.

As alluded to earlier it’s important to arrange your own body language to show that you’re interested in what the client is telling you. It’s also important that you take in what the clients body language is telling you. During one of our training sessions, in which the client came to therapy to stop chewing her nails, I picked up on the fact that that she also picked at her fingers and nails whilst she spoke. When I mentioned this too her she was unnaware that she was doing it. This impressed upon the client that I was paying attention to her by more than just listening.

Although not strictly thought of as the therapeutic segment of hypnotherapy it’s a cathartic process the client is going through and they should already feel better for having had the opportunity to talk to someone. You should explain that you, as a therapist, has a duty of care to ensure the client leaves you feeling better than when the walked in. If you’ve built some rapport and shown a genuine interest in your client you should achieve this within the initial consultation session.

We also covered some techniques and scripts used to get rid of self-sabotage scenarios. I’ll talk more on this later…

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