The 7 main differences between in-person and online hypnotherapy
If you’ve been wondering about online therapy for some time, how it works and whether or not it will be effective in solving your problems, this article will help make up your mind.
The fact is that online therapy is here to stay. Even though there is cause for optimism that some sort of normality will return after the pandemic, there is no doubt that the way counselling and hypnotherapy is delivered has undergone a seismic shift.
Since the lockdown, up to 80% of my therapy sessions are now done on Zoom or Doxy.me. I suspect this will continue post Covid.
In this article I’d like to focus on one of the key questions you might have if you’re wondering about online hypnotherapy:
“What are the differences between in-person and online sessions?”
You might be wondering if hypnosis can even be done online.
Let me reassure you right from the off…
Any competent hypnotherapist should be adaptable and skilled enough to deliver good quality therapy in-person and online.
But there definitely are differences between the two.
Let's find out what they are.
How face-to-face and online hypnotherapy is different
My clients are telling me they get the same benefits from online sessions as they would from seeing me in-person.
This is backed by scientific research that shows online therapy is as effective as face-to-face therapy. (See notes below)
That’s good news.
But let’s look now at what I’ve called the 7 main differences between in-person and online hypnotherapy.
1. Body language
One of the things all good therapists look for is unconscious communication, better known as body language signals.
Your body will communicate a lot in counselling and hypnotherapy, from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave. But with online sessions the therapist will only be able to see your face and upper body on the screen – unless you sit far enough away.
Trouble is, if you sit too far from the screen the therapist won’t be able to see subtle facial cues, such as a slight watering of the eyes when discussing emotive issues (these are the sort of things us therapists look for!).
However, in well over a hundred online sessions I’ve now done since March, this has proven not to be an issue. As long as I can see your face and upper body, that’s enough.
The thing is that online hypnotherapy can be even more hypnotic than in-person sessions. By focusing on the screen your attention is narrowed down to sight and sound only, the sight of the therapist’s face and the sound of his or her voice.
And a ‘narrowing of focus of attention’ is one of the definitions of hypnosis. This is why I believe all counsellors and psychotherapists need to be aware of how easy and natural it is for clients to go into trance – especially online!
2. No physical touch
During in-person sessions it is quite common for a hypnotherapist or NLP practitioner to use physical anchoring, such as touching you on the arm, shoulder or hand at certain times to reinforce good feelings. This is obviously not possible in online hypnotherapy.
However, in online sessions you can be instructed by the therapist how to do this yourself so that you can trigger good feelings whenever you need to feel better. Most of the time physical touch is not needed, anyway.
3. Technical issues
When I started doing online sessions many years ago (way before Covid-19) I was slightly wary of using certain hypnotic procedures via a screen.
The question you might ask is, “What will happen if I’m hypnotised and we lose internet connection?”
Let me reassure you…Nothing would happen. You’d come out of the trance state naturally, just as you naturally emerge from everyday trances like daydreaming.
Even though technology is continually improving we still can’t guarantee there won’t be connection problems at times. However, all good online therapists will inform you about this possibility - and how to deal with it - before doing online work with you.
The thing is that a well-trained, competent, and professional hypnotherapist will have protocols in place to ensure your safety at all times, whether in-person or online.
4. Risk assessments
All online therapy requires making an important risk assessment on the part of the therapist. The truth is that online therapy doesn’t suit everybody.
If you have a history of self-harming, suicidal thoughts, deep depression, or have been diagnosed with psychotic disorders then online hypnotherapy or, indeed, any form of online counselling, is probably too risky. For example, what would the therapist do if a client started harming themselves on the screen or threatening suicide?
Online hypnotherapy thus raises practical safety issues, along with ethical issues and for this reason a special informed consent form for online therapy must be agreed upon by you and the therapist before online work can proceed.
5. Online therapy saves you time and money
One of the main differences between in-person and online hypnotherapy is that you won’t have to go anywhere. This will save you time and travel costs.
Not only that but online therapy can be less expensive than in-person therapy. And, from the comfort of your own home, you might well feel more secure and relaxed rather than being in the therapist’s office.
This can enable the therapy to proceed faster because, being in familiar surroundings, you’ll feel safe enough to speak openly and honestly without needing to put up any barriers. In effect, because of the distance between us, you’re more able to ‘just be yourself’.
And if you suffer from an anxiety disorder such as panic attacks or agoraphobia where leaving the house is not possible (at the moment), online therapy can help you to feel better without having to step outside your door.
All of this assumes, of course, that your home is actually a safe environment. For many people, unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
For online therapy to be effective, you need to ensure you have privacy and safety (at least for the duration of the session).
It might be the case that you feel more comfortable in the therapist’s office, away from the familiarity of home, for which in-person sessions would probably be better for you. This is something we would discuss beforehand.
6. Online therapy offers greater flexibility in scheduling a session
In the pre-Covid days I hired a therapy room in town for two set days a week. If you wanted to see me, you had to be able to attend on either of those days and you might have to wait up to a month for an appointment (depending on my schedule).
But doing online sessions means that I can offer you an appointment – usually within 5 to 7 days of contacting me - Monday to Friday.
As long as you have a private space, a screen with a video camera and a good internet connection, we’re good to go!
This last point is vital for both in-person and online hypnotherapy. However, online therapy can actually be more confidential than traditional face-to-face therapy.
See, some people don’t want their friends, family members or colleagues to know they are going for therapy. If this is the case for you, online hypnotherapy offers you the privacy, safety, and confidentiality you're looking for.
I hope you’ve found this article informative. Please take the time to contemplate each point and if you’d like further info check out the online hypnotherapy page on my website https://www.human-spirit.co.uk/online-therapy-sessions/