Hypnotherapy and expectations
Most hypnotherapists will have encountered clients who thought that hypnotherapy was a silver bullet. Without making any effort to change their behaviour they could visit a hypnotherapist and their behaviour would change straight away immediately following one session. A potential client rang and asked if he could be hypnotised to stop him being a compulsive liar. Another asked if he could be hypnotised to be less tired. After a brief chat and explaining that hypnotherapy is not a silver bullet and requires the client to take responsibility for their issues, neither client was invited for a hypnotherapy session.
Professional hypnotherapists should always manage client expectation about what can be achieved through hypnotherapy. Should a hypnotherapist take on a client knowing that the chances of success are very small? There is surely a moral obligation to explain to the client that they are the ones that must make the changes. If there is little prospect of achieving change to the particular issue this should be explained to the client. We will also encounter people whose lives have encountered so much trauma that a different route such as CBT should also be considered.
There is a dilemma. In managing expectation, if there is a chance of success, it is better for the client to have total belief and confidence that the therapy will work than for them to believe that there is a chance it will not work. On the other hand if hypnotherapy does not solve the particular issue there is a very real danger that that client then becomes a source of negative publicity for the profession, telling their friends and colleagues that “hypnotherapy” does not work. Conversely it is also the responsibility of professional hypnotherapists to ensure that clients who have an incredibly positive experience tell the world about their success story so that the many positive experiences of our clients by far outweighs the occasional blip.
Many of the general public’s view on hypnotherapy is that it is something like stage hypnosis. This prejudice hurts the hypnotherapy profession. Professional hypnotherapists have a duty to ensure that our profession gains credibility and the only way they can do that is to ensure that they operate to the highest standards and perhaps we should only see clients where there is a very high prospect of a successful outcome.
Professional hypnotherapists know that they can help virtually everybody with aspects of their behaviour that they would like to change. We help our friends and families achieve lasting change.
Times are changing – with lots of work being done with functional MRI scans there is an increasing wealth of scientific data that starts to explain scientifically how Hypnotherapy works. Hypnotherapists need to be watching every development in this area.
Being professional about managing expectation improves the reputation of the profession. By keeping the standards high and not trying to fix anything we achieve the reputation that hypnotherapy justly deserves.
As a client, you should probably talk to a few hypnotherapists before choosing one. See if they try to manage your expectation and look for client reviews on the Internet.
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