How To Choose The Best Hypnotherapist
Finding the services of the best hypnotherapist can be difficult if you have never experienced hypnotherapy before. And even if you have experienced it before and the outcome was negative, then there could be several explanations for this. Definitions of hypnosis and its use as a therapy are open to interpretation. And it goes without saying that every practising hypnotherapist is different to one another! What filters into your treatment will be a mix of the hypnotherapist’s life experiences, their hypnotherapy training, problem-solving ability, treatment experience, personal qualities etc. These are just some of the dynamics that live on the hypnotherapist’s side. Then consider what you bring into the treatment – your treatment issue and the specific background that individualises your problem. And not to mention the collaboration of all of these processes! Phew! When you take these various factors into account, it’s no wonder that it can be challenging weeding out the best hypnotherapist from a bad one.
Finding the best hypnotherapist is not rocket science, but it shouldn’t be done hastily either. Failing to vet your hypnotherapist could mean that you end up wasting your time and money. If you want your condition to be successfully treated using hypnotherapy, but have no idea how to choose the best hypnotherapist then read on…
The best hypnotherapist has hypnotherapy credentials
First ensure that your hypnotherapist is a member of a recognised hypnotherapy association. With a registered hypnotherapist, if you are unhappy with any part of your therapy, you can contact the association who will investigate your complaint.
Some of the bigger associations include the General Hypnotherapy Register and Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council. The CNHC register is approved as an accredited register by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care. This professional body is accountable to Parliament for maintaining standards of patient safety and service quality. Patients who ask medical staff to recommend a hypnotherapist have been advised by the Professional Standards Authority to recommend those hypnotherapists registered with the CNHC – how’s that for a seal of approval?
As a registered member of an association, your hypnotherapist will hold a recognised hypnotherapy qualification, professional indemnity insurance and will follow a strict code of ethics which will include maintaining Continued Professional Development. With the latter, it means that your hypnotherapist is actively developing their knowledge of hypnotherapy in practice and is probably passionate about their subject.
The best hypnotherapist has experience
An experienced hypnotherapist is more likely to have developed their knowledge, skills and expertise with “real” clients. In this experience, strategies are employed and techniques are refined with efficiency and effectiveness. With knowledge and practise comes confidence to appreciate what to do – and what not to do when treating different clients with different conditions. With experience, you can acknowledge how to manage the subtleties in each individual case.
How much experience is enough to develop confidence? In my opinion, a hypnotherapist who has worked five to ten years is developing their craft. That’s not to say that a novice cannot help a client, but they may still be in the experimental phase of their career where they “try this and see what happens…” The novice hypnotherapist feels less confident about adapting their treatment if your mind is not fully accepting their suggestions.
The quality of the experience is far more important than just the quantity of treatments given by your hypnotherapist however. The quality can be defined by dealing with a variety of medical conditions and having an understanding of their background causes. But the quality of that experience can also be affected by the hypnotherapist’s life experiences outside of hypnotherapy. Are you more convinced of a hypnotherapist’s treatment of your fear of public speaking if they have extensive experience of public speaking themselves? Do they have a medical or health-related background experience that helps them to understand what’s behind your presenting issue and not just understanding the presenting symptom?
Some hypnotherapists advertise that they specialise in treating certain conditions, having attended CPD workshops, extensively researched the condition or had personal experiences with the condition. This may “qualify” them to treat your condition more than a “general” hypnotherapist, but in practice it may only be evident that they are more qualified when you begin your course of therapy. This is because a symptom may be connected to other core issues e.g. a client’s weight gain (symptom) may be related to their low self esteem (core issue). A specialist in weight loss may have very little experience of treating low self esteem, whereas a general hypnotherapist with a wider knowledge base may be able to treat both issues effectively during the course of your treatment.
On the subject of experience, another important feature is that…
The best hypnotherapist has broken away from generalised scripts
As a member of the public, are you aware that one of the novice hypnotherapist’s basic tools is a pre-written generalised script? Yes, an “expert” hypnotherapist has used their experience to write a script called (for example) “panic attacks” and you can access these on YouTube and various phone apps to help you deal with your panic attacks. They may have been supplied on the hypnotherapy training course and can be found easily in hypnotherapy textbooks. The script features a mix of generalised and specific suggestions for treating “panic attacks”. Some of the generalised content will be ignored by you and some of the pertinent suggestions that connect with your issues will focus your mind into your issue and be more readily accepted. The novice hypnotherapist is likely to hypnotise you and then read the script verbatim as part of your treatment.
There’s nothing wrong with this approach; it’s still considered “hypnotherapy”. But the experienced hypnotherapist is likely to have developed a repertoire of “panic attack” suggestions and is confident enough to apply what has been discussed in the consultation into your individualised treatment “script”. This gives your treatment relevance and usually more positive change than an approach that is generalised with the hope of making a connection with you.
Please note that there is a multitude of dynamics in hypnotherapy that can influence a successful outcome in your treatment that includes using relevant personalised suggestions.
Another issue that can affect a successful outcome is…
The best hypnotherapist has a broad skill set
Using relevant personalised suggestions to help you achieve your goal is the building blocks of a hypnotherapy treatment. But when your unconscious mind partially accepts or resists these suggestions, does your hypnotherapist have other hypnotic techniques to assist you or do they continue with a generalised “relaxatherapy” session hoping that it does the trick? The best hypnotherapist can creatively employ a variety of techniques including regression, hypno-analysis, and the use of stories and metaphors to release blocks. They can work with your mind when progress is slowing down.
With experience, the effective use of these techniques can be adapted into your treatment quickly and confidently. The combination of a broad skill set and experience ensures your hypnotherapist can choose options to adapt your treatment program when issues develop in the moment. The unskilled novice is more likely to adopt a “one treatment fits all” approach.
Another issue that can influence a successful outcome is when…
The best hypnotherapist values the importance of building rapport
When you have a strong rapport with your hypnotherapist, you are more likely to accept their suggestions in the hypnotic induction and throughout your therapy. Building rapport is a two-way exchange of many dynamics that helps you feel that you “connect” with your hypnotherapist. When you have rapport with them, you trust them, you believe that they can help you, and you believe that they have the skills to treat your presenting condition.
Rapport is built during many stages of the treatment. It can happen in the enquiry stage when seeing an informative article about your condition, or when speaking on the phone or during an initial consultation. During these situations, there are many opportunities to offer you insights that they understand your problem and can help you. It continues throughout the treatment and is displayed by good listening skills, the hypnotherapist’s voice (an important tool in hypnotherapy), and even their non-verbal gestures. What your hypnotherapist says resonates strongly with you and develops a deep conviction that they are passionate about their subject, they understand your problem and they will assist you to achieve your goal.
Rapport is often helped by succinctly explaining what happens in your treatment and how you will benefit. It involves answering your questions and concerns about any aspect of the treatment in an open, honest and reassuring way. When there is rapport, it ensures that you feel confident and secure during all stages of your treatment.
Without rapport, the treatment process collapses. This can happen for a number of reasons including a mismatch of expectations. If given the opportunity, the best hypnotherapist will attempt to close that gap, but will readily accept that when there is a weak rapport, it’s better to refer the client on to another source of help.
Strongly connected to rapport is…
The best hypnotherapist has empathy
Showing an understanding of your presenting condition and the emotions that you bring into your treatment is just a small part of having empathy. An experienced hypnotherapist will demonstrate this understanding by asking appropriate questions but will also be prepared to listen to your individual responses, reassuring you of any concerns. The hypnotherapist’s listening skills may be part of their nature, part of their training or has been developed by dealing with real hypnotherapy clients. In whatever way that it has been acquired, you will very quickly feel this connection deepen when they have empathy (which is far more than just a feeling of sympathy). Your treatment will be explained in a way that helps you to understand what is going to happen and how you can benefit. When there is empathy, you feel ready to discuss your issues and trust that there will be no judgement from your hypnotherapist.
The best hypnotherapist is able to apply the right balance of hypnosis and therapy
An understanding of “hypnotherapy” requires an understanding of both “hypnosis” and “therapy” to be able to achieve an effective hypnotic treatment. Some hypnotherapists make better “hypnotists” and others make better “therapists”. The balance of these two concepts can influence the hypnotherapist’s approach to your treatment. This balance can usually be found in their advertising literature but becomes obvious very quickly in the hypnotherapy treatment stages. “Hypnotists” emphasise the power of hypnosis over you to create change, whereas “therapists” emphasise the power within you to help you change.
Whether the style of approach comes from the hypnotherapist’s personality e.g. extrovert/introvert, their training, or their experience in practice, the ability to adapt the approach to the individual is important. It will influence the building of rapport (see above) particularly when it meets your expectation about hypnotherapy. Where they “sit” on the continuum of hypnosis and therapy, and where you feel comfortable with their position will influence a successful therapeutic outcome.
The best hypnotherapist is not (exclusively) a stage hypnotist offering hypnotherapy
A stage hypnotist’s art is entertainment and some of it can be very entertaining. But does a stage hypnotist’s skill transfer into therapy? A stage hypnotist who dabbles in hypnotherapy may not have undergone any “therapy” training or supervision. That’s not to say that they can’t help people lose weight and quit smoking, for example, by using suggestions targeting those respective conditions. It’s when those conditions are connected to deeper emotional issues like depression or low self esteem where the symptomatic “quick-fix” has limited affect and can expose an underlying emotional issue that needs continued support. As mentioned in the previous point regarding the “balance of hypnosis and therapy”, if you really want an exclusive stage hypnotist to “use their hypnotic powers” to treat you, then you can make an informed choice when their hypnotic modality is openly advertised.
Most respectable hypnotists and hypnotherapists will advertise their profession, the conditions they treat, their location and their professional association membership. The latter can be verified by spending a bit of time researching the stated hypnotherapy association online.
Some hypnotherapy associations will not permit membership for those who perform stage hypnosis, whilst others are open to membership provided that the hypnotist/hypnotherapist has a relevant hypnotherapy qualification.
The best hypnotherapist does not make exaggerated claims about hypnotherapy
Wouldn’t life be easy if…when you have an emotional or behavioural problem, you consult with a hypnotherapist, they “put you under” and the problem is fixed! This is the view often portrayed in the popular media with anecdotes of miraculous changes that happened in one session.
Hypnotherapy is generally considered a short-term therapy (in relation to other talking therapies) and can often produce rapid results when a number of therapeutic conditions are in place. The problem comes when a hypnotherapist advertises a “quick-fix” guarantee without any prior knowledge of your presenting problem and historical background.
When you are desperate, it can seem tempting to sign them up for a quick fix, but therapeutic change usually takes a few sessions of hypnotherapy, and here’s why: Advertising that a condition like smoking cessation will “be treated in one session” for example assumes that the hypnotic approach has been scientifically tested and controls were in place when it was researched. But very few hypnotherapy treatment strategies have been tested in this way. It is difficult to reliably test hypnotherapy because it involves so many variables (as mentioned in the introduction). Thus you are unlikely to create a guarantee that everyone will get the same outcome regardless of what the client brings to the treatment process.
As an additional point, when you are desperate to have a condition treated, it’s easy to misread an advert that states: your condition “can be…” treated in so many sessions. You are likely to interpret it as it “will be…” treated in the stated number of sessions, only to be disappointed when your treatment takes longer than you originally thought.
Choosing the best hypnotherapist – other considerations
This section is less about what makes the best hypnotherapist and more about the other issues that might limit your choice when making an appointment with the best hypnotherapist.
Treatment costs – Prior to booking, ensure that you are fully aware of the cost, the length of each session, and methods of payment. Cheaper fees may seem attractive at first but could end up being money down the drain with a hypnotherapist who lacks the experience to deal with your presenting condition. Likewise, you don’t want to book with a hypnotherapist who charges extortionate fees without there being a good justification. In my opinion, a fee that is say, five times the average fee would almost need to offer a guarantee to justify the cost.
Paying upfront for a course of hypnotherapy – Be wary of paying upfront for a course of hypnotherapy sessions to save money before you have even met the hypnotherapist. It’s wise to try one or two sessions first and then review how your treatment is progressing without a huge initial financial commitment. Since each course of hypnotherapy can vary between one client and another, paying upfront for a course can be called into question. What are the terms if you achieve your goal early or wish to terminate your treatment early? Is there an option of a pro rata refund (which would seem fair)?
Type of practice – Consider if you would prefer to have your treatment in an established practice or the hypnotherapist’s home. Clients usually feel more secure in a practice and often feel that the whole treatment process is more professional. The location of the practice is something that is usually identified early in your research. Google tends to favour proximity when you search online. It’s obviously convenient having a practice close to you, but some treatments are worth the journey when it gets results.
Cancellation policy – Ensure that you understand the terms of any cancellation policy. A hypnotherapist who rents from a professional practice is more likely to have stricter cancellation terms. This is not surprising when the hypnotherapist will have paid a rental fee to accommodate your session and will lose that fee if you do not attend.
Availability – Check that the hypnotherapist can be available at the times and days to suit you. Their general availability to maintain continuity between each session is also important. Hypnotherapists who practise part time or who have various other non-clinical commitments may not be able to maintain a treatment schedule to help you.
Your past hypnotherapy experiences – When you have had a bad experience of anything, it’s easy to over-generalise the experience and extend that feeling of failure to all. With a previous negative outcome with hypnotherapy some might say “I had hypnotherapy once and it didn’t work, so I’ve done hypnotherapy now!” There are good and bad hypnotherapists, just as there are good and bad medical practitioners. The results that you get will only be as good as the individual hypnotherapist treating you. Some clients are also ready to admit that with a previous attempt to change a habit like smoking for example, they were not ready or motivated to quit smoking when they tried to stop smoking with hypnotherapy maybe ten years earlier.
The value of personal recommendation – A personal recommendation from someone you know can build trust and belief into your own treatment process with the recommended hypnotherapist. Even with a personal recommendation however, it’s still advisable to go into the treatment with an open mind and respect that everyone’s background and presenting condition is different.
Keeping an open mind is particularly significant when the person recommending you made rapid progress in their treatment. This might influence you to expect the same rapid outcome for yourself. If you don’t get the same results, it’s not uncommon to think that you have personally failed the treatment in some way. This is not the case however; no two situations are identical in hypnotherapy.
And finally…Trusting your gut feeling usually works – Trusting your gut feeling is often considered a good basis from which to make a decision. When choosing the best hypnotherapists too, it’s a good format to use. Take note of some of the points in this article and do a reasonable amount of research to find the best hypnotherapist for you.
For further information on how hypnotherapy can help you, contact Richard J D’Souza Hypnotherapy Cardiff.