On my current ten month hypnotherapy diploma, the budding hypnotherapists are starting to engage in their case studies and are encountering some of the issues that seem to crop up each year and I talk to the class about several of these issues:

1. Not working with close family members or very close friends: Hypnotherapy students that struggle to find people to work on as case studies often opt to work on close family members. Every year I get similar responses to these scenarios “my husband doesn’t seem to respond to my induction” or “she keeps giggling” or “all my other case studies are going great, but I am struggling with this one.”

The thing is, when you work with someone you are close to, the context and frame of the session is determined by your relationship and its strong dynamic rather than you being perceived as ‘The Hypnotherapist’ or professional – the frame of being husband or wife or close friend remains and can interfere, so I tend to recommend that my own students do swaps (no, I am not suggesting wife swapping) but that if they are considering working with a partner, then to swap them for case study purposes so that you work in a different dynamic.

2. Case studies are not paying for the sessions. Therefore, they may not tend to value it as much as a paying client going to see a qualified hypnotherapy professional that they have paid for. So we need to look at ways to ensure we can develop this value – which is addressed later in this blog entry with a brilliant contribution from a colleague of mine.Case studies seem to have more inclination to cancel and re-arrange sessions.

3. The case studies know that you are a student rather than a fully qualified professional. This frame can also affect and influence how you are perceived, however well-meaning the individual may be.

With these main issues in mind, and having discussed it in class last week, one of my school tutors, Andy Palmer posted an entry in the forum that I thought deserved more attention and so I am sharing it here with you, here is what Andy wrote on the subject of ‘How To “Sell” Your Case Studies’ :

Here are some suggestions for helping to ensure that our case-study volunteers take it as seriously as we do.

Please feel free to add more ideas or suggest changes to the wordy bits.

We all know that there is a definite hypnotic effect that occurs when someone pays money for something. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve forced every last mouthful of a restaurant dinner into my mouth because I’ve paid for it.

Ethically, we can’t charge our volunteers for our case studies. What can we do to make sure that they value it and take it seriously?

  • Well, first and foremost, we should make sure that we  take it seriously.
  • We should treat a case study exactly as if they were a paying client.
  • Send them a therapeutic alliance agreement and get them to  sign it  (and  keep a copy  for yourself)
  • Make sure that you  present yourself  as a professional. Even if it’s a friend, dress for the occasion.

We can also pre-frame the experience for the case-study. We could say something like:

“While, as a student, I can’t charge you for our sessions together; I would like you to appreciate that I will be expecting a significant investment in time and effort from you during the sessions and with homework tasks. In return, I will invest time and effort in making this experience as beneficial for you as possible.
Working with me is a  collaborative experience,  and we will get the best results when we are working together as a team.
If you are unable or unwilling to make this commitment, then neither of us are likely to get the most from this opportunity and I will decline to work with you.”

These tips cover several of the principles of persuasion (You may wish to refer to Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion for more on this)

  • Authority – by dressing the part and being the hypnotist
  • Reciprocity – by promising to work for them in exchange for them working for us
  • Commitment and Consistency – by getting them to sign the therapeutic alliance agreement
  • Scarcity – by making it clear that we can refuse to work with them.

What other experiences have people had, and what suggestions would you make to help make this even more powerful?

There ends Andy’s submission.

Any student of hypnotherapy will benefit greatly from taking this advice on board and I’d like to personally thank Andy for his valuable contribution.

We can do a number of things to make sure our case studies respond well to the process, as we would with any paying hypnotherapy client and I hope this helps my own students as well as those from other schools…It’ll help make sure you are not sat in an empty room due to no-shows…