Being an experienced hypnotherapist comes with many highs and the occasional low. But a decade in, I can confidently state that helping people is one of the best jobs in the world…
This week was a milestone week for me as I celebrated 10 years as a full-time clinical hypnotherapist. During that time, I have treated more than 5000 therapy sessions. And I feel that my understanding of hypnotherapy has improved with every single session.
As with all therapists, the day I met my first ever client was nerve-racking. But when that landmark first session went well and was quickly followed by success in sessions two and three, I started to feel like I really was helping people.
And that is an incredibly enjoyable and gratifying feeling which continues to this day.
Reflecting on my 10-year career in hypnotherapy, I took a moment this week to think of the most important lessons I have learnt. There were seven of them. And I believe that they are well worth reading if you are looking for an experienced hypnotherapist or want to know more about the process.
1) You’re able to work at your best when you have a clear clinical focus and specialisation
I am frequently amazed by restaurant menus where the chef appears to know how to make 150 different dishes really well. This seems impossible given the expertise needed to be able to create meals from completely different cuisines that are consistently good.
And so, looking back, it was perhaps no surprise that I decided to specialise quite early on. I wanted to be able to offer the very best service to clients with a specific set of problems.
These problems turned out almost exclusively to be anxiety-related. Most of my clients over the past 10 years have come to see me for concerns in which anxiety played a large part.
That includes a fear of public speaking, a specific phobia, lack of self-confidence, or post-traumatic stress. By leaning on many years of experience in treating people with anxiety-related issues, today I feel confident that I can help when a new client gets in touch..
2/ Observing and assisting change will always be amazing
If I ever feared at the start of this career path that my passion for helping people would ever wane, I’m happy to report that I was misguided. I enjoy helping people today as much as when I began. Seeing them leave an appointment feeling happier and more confident about the world is incredibly rewarding.
Just today, I worked with a man who was hoping to quit smoking after 14 years. Less than 25 minutes into the session, the thought of a lighting up a cigarette was actually starting to make him vomit. He had turned something he craved into something he no longer wanted – and was delighted. Results like this are common and keep me highly motivated. I now mentor a few therapists and I always say to them that if they ever lose the buzz of seeing someone change, then that’s the time they should stop being a therapist.
3/ Only work with people you believe you can help
Earlier in my career, I was keen to work with everyone. I didn’t understand at that point the importance of connecting with the client. Today, this is a critical component. I simply will not work with someone if I don’t feel we have a good connection.
Many years ago, I may been more inclined to continue with treatment even if I didn’t feel like the client and I were an especially good fit. But experience has shown me that the best results occur when I feel that the client is fully engaged. And that we are well suited to each other. I do that through having an initial 10-20min consultation with potential clients on the phone.
4/ Know your limits
Treating people using hypnotherapy can be incredibly demanding. As well as the pre-session work, the actual hypnotherapy itself requires my complete concentration and total commitment. Where once I used to treat 15 clients a week, today I have reduced that to just 10.
Given that online hypnotherapy sessions are now the norm, my commuting time has been virtually eradicated. However, I did not use these extra hours to book in more patients. I did just the opposite. I reduced my number of available sessions, allowing myself space to focus and breathe.
5/ There is a big difference between hypnotherapy theory and hypnotherapy reality
During the initial 1,000 hours of training I undertook to become a hypnotherapist, I was on a very steep learning curve. And there is no doubt that during this time I learned a lot.
But the realities of putting what you have learnt into practice contrast quite dramatically with the theory. And if I’m being honest, the reality can at times be challenging. You are never fully prepared in training sessions for the sad or disturbing things that you may hear from clients during a hypnotherapy session.
These things stay with you. Becoming a hypnotherapist is not something anyone should take lightly. So when choosing a hypnotherapist to treat your problem, look at their reviews and make sure they seem well up for the job.
6) An experienced hypnotherapist has to embrace change
In the decade since I started as a hypnotherapist, the world has changed. So too has clinical hypnotherapy. Back in 2012, the industry was quite formal and stuffy. You were expected to behave in a certain way and face-to-face consultations were the norm. Rather weirdly, I was once told that you shouldn’t even shake someone’s hand. I thought that was nonsense. Some hypnotherapeutic interventions are similar. However, in the last decade, the revolutionary new Havening technique has been created. It’s a game changer and it’s a technique that I’ve used with every client since 2014. Whereas before training it would take me up to 2hrs to help someone with a phobia, I remember trying the technique the next day with someone who had a fear of flying. I thought I’d try this new technique and if it didn’t work, then so be it. But, what happened was that from start to finish, this person was without symptom in less than 10mins. I was and am staggered to this day at its ability to help clients overcome anxiety, trauma, phobias and manage their negative emotions.
Then everything changed during the Covid pandemic. This is especially true when it comes to client expectations. Today, clients want fast, online solutions. And they understand that they can be treated just as effectively at home as they can in person – and they are happy to do so.
Online hypnotherapy sessions are just one example of how rapidly hypnotherapy has changed.
7) Accept that failure does happen
Therapists want to be successful 100% of the time. If your therapist cares about you and his or her profession, then they will give their all to try and help you to achieve your goals. But 100% is unrealistic.
Roger Callahan, the founder of Thought Field Therapy/Tapping (Tapping being a self-help option that involves tapping certain meridian points), puts it like this:
“Show me the therapist with a 100% record and I’ll show you a therapist who doesn’t see that many clients.”
Whatever line of work you are in, occasional failure can and will happen. I try and mitigate this by offering all new clients a free consultation to make sure that we’re a good fit for each other. But 100% success should never be expected – nor guaranteed.
And if things don’t go exactly as I’d hoped during a session, I have made it my business to learn from what happened and adjust accordingly.