Yes indeed, today I am referring to that famous acronym – P.R.A.T. The official dictionary definition of acronym is an abbreviation so old or familiar that no one remembers what its letters stand for.

So here is the reminder and explanation of what it means:

P – Purposely creating problems for people by bending the truth and twisting reality. (Wannabe Machiavellian, but not sophisticated enough)

R – Readily tries to discredit others.

A – Annoyingly claims to know better than anyone else.

T – Tediously moans, whinges and complains about everyone and everything.

In a nutshell, I encountered such a P.R.A.T last week, of course such people exist and we do our best to be polite, offer up “best wishes” and smiley faces to show our true intentions, but afore mentioned P.R.A.T’s blinkered sight ensures all is lost with any grown-up communication attempts. This P.R.A.T was also a potential student of hypnotherapy. He has enrolled on a course, but is not yet to start it and already has been complaining about the chairman of the NCH and comparing the quality of his courses to the one he is enrolled on??? Without being on either and not having even started his own training… Like I said, P.R.A.T.

This man, whilst comparing a 59p iPhone app to my hypnotic memory improvement system, which comprises of over 20 separate tracks of material, with 3 separate additional hypnosis sessions and is £29.77 (although can be purchased for half price in the members area, and actually comes free with one of our membership levels), suggested that I was somehow doing the world a disservice by not offering a money-back guarantee.

If you do not think my work represents good value, then no-one is forcing you to invest. You can indeed go and invest in something cheaper, I understand that and wish you the very best with your 59p iphone app. We are not cajoling anyone to become an online customer. Our marketing has developed enough to know that we cannot please everyone and as a result, we do not attempt to. We focus on those that we resonate well with and develop long-term relationships with those people… As our thriving members area and online community would suggest.

Tell me honestly what your thoughts are on this: Someone clearly considers this amount of money to be “quite expensive” by writing as much, and is asking “do you offer money back guarantee” in relation to the product. I know what I think when faced with that scenario. Am I being paranoid or would you think it too, even slightly?

In the 15 years I have been in this field, we spent most of those offering a money back guarantee. All successful internet marketers that mentored us over the years told us we should and we adhered accordingly.

Then we had one or two bad apples becoming more frequent and larger in number…. Those that would buy over £500.00 worth of my life’s work, all at once, download it all and then tell us they wanted a refund the next day, with no way enough time to listen to the programmes, let alone absorb it or benefit from it in any way, no chance that they could have robustly examined and applied the processes… Then if we politely questioned this refund request, they complained to Paypal and got their refund, who we all know have a strict policy that favours the consumer, especially when you offer a money-back guarantee. They knew and abused the system.

As I said, this is my life’s work, I am naturally protective though probably overly defensive when this occurs. So we made a business decision to stop offering lifetime guarantees a couple of years ago, as a result of these repeated experiences…. That said, if people are desperately unhappy with anything we offer, myself and Keith are both open to hearing from people… Our groups of students, many hundreds of members, thousands of ezine readers all know that and regularly communicate with us, we respond and react accordingly.

However, we decided this very weekend… For the vast majority of our audio programmes, we are going to put our balls back on the line and offer a money-back option for anyone not entirely satisfied… Though I still find it ominous when the first thing someone asks about a programme is whether or not we offer such… We’ll be integrating this back into the website over coming weeks and any programme which we do not offer a money-back guarantee on, we’ll be offering free samples of the programme to ensure people get the chance to use it.

Additionally, as a means of giving people ample opportunity to get used to my style and quality of work… We do offer several free audio programmes for download on the site, ebooks, many articles, and many, many hours of free podcasts as well as samples of volumes of our bigger audio programmes… All of which can give anyone the opportunity to make an informed decision about me and my work. I utterly and completely understand that my work is not for everyone and so we do all we can to enable people to make an educated and informed decision about investing in anything.

This (money back guarantee) is a debate that is contested in many hypnotherapy forums and I have had these discussions with peers and fellow professionals over the years.

We concur that it does probably make good business sense to offer such a guarantee for our audio sales, offers our potential customers some initial confidence and just because of those few people who abused the system with us previously, we’ll now choose not to allow that to affect us any longer.

Keith and I had bitterness and anger issues that I think we have managed to let go of to make this happen!  😉

As hypnotherapists, we are in business. If my business failed, I would not be able to see clients, teach my subject, or offer my work to others. There are hundreds and thousands of incredibly talented hypnotherapists out there, trained to very high standards… Yet not all of them get to actually demonstrate their skill or breadth of knowledge because their businesses fail and they do not reach enough people. It is all well and good suggesting you are in this field for altruistic reasons, but your altruism cannot be satisfied if no-one comes to see you or if you go bankrupt.

Online business and audio programmes aside… Our featured P.R.A.T says that he is going to offer a money-back guarantee to anyone not entirely happy with his face-to-face hypnotherapy services once he is qualified… Now this is totally different territory altogether….

Some of the better hypnotherapy organisations that I belong to, frown upon the use of guarantees in hypnotherapy and there are others than plain disallow the use of such to their members. Any hypnotherapist trained well to the highest standards, knows that each individual is unique and though we can offer some evidence base for the efficacy of many interventions used in our field, we cannot guarantee someone of success or of achieving absolutely what they wish. Though we aim to do so as best we can.

Imagine being one of those people who does not achieve the outcome they desired as a result of seeing the hypnotherapist offering a money back guarantee? Being one of those people who has now failed. A guarantee makes it black and white, right or wrong, success or fail. Would you want to leave feeling as though you had failed and therefore needed to take up a guarantee?

Whereas, if you are client centred and appreciate that each individual is unique and responds accordingly, then they’ll achieve the outcome in their own way with the collaboration of the hypnotherapist. That should be the attitude that the hypnotherapy is entered with. That should be the initial framework that the working alliance is forged upon. Not upon whether or not you are going to fulfil a guarantee pledge. A guarantee makes the emphasis all about the therapist and their capabilities… Successful hypnotherapy must be collaborative, it must require the client to involve themselves in the process.

I have written about research upon research that demonstrates the efficacy of hypnotherapy is amplified greatly when trust, empathy and motivation are in place prior to interventions (See Irving Kirsch’s work, for example) and I wonder how much of those you are going to have if you are working to a money-back guarantee? Or if the therapeutic relationship is framed with such?

In newspaper advertising (and all other mediums adhering to professional advertising standards) you cannot make such claims of anything being guaranteed to work, for example, and suggesting you offer a money-back guarantee does suggest similar.

Now then, I am still a member of the human race, I still act and respond according to however I feel at any given moment. I am not going to hide that behind some bland, biege-wearing bureaucratic, magnolia painted, mild mannered, supposedly professional response where I tippy toe around trying to please everyone concerned… And for those that do not resonate well with that, then you can go and track down a hypnotherapist that appeals more to you, there are many out there. These were and are my honest feelings on the subject, and you all know how I believe in congruency over and above fallacy and dressing things up in hyperbole.

Over the years of speaking at conferences, events and running webinars and teleseminars, peer supervisions groups, mentoring and the likes, my encounters have led me to know that I see more clients than most in my well-established hypnotherapy clinic. This could well sound conceited, it is not my intention. The truth is I do see what I consider to be a very healthy number of individual clients in my hypnotherapy practice.

If I was unprofessional and lacked compassion or the skills to do my job well, I simply would not see as many clients as I see, most of whom are referred to me by previous satisfied clients, people who got results and achieved their desired outcomes. I initially involved myself in this field out of a desire to do good, you regular readers know my story and how I arrived here. That desire to do good simply is not enough. I nearly went bankrupt in my early years of practice, and thank goodness I only had myself to support in those days, because if I had my family and mortgage then, I would have to have found another career. Very few hypnotherapy trainers equip their students well-enough to go into business and succeed.

Of course, we all go into these fields for some altruistic reasons, but we need to make a living too. And why oh why would I not want to secure my business in the best way possible? In a manner that I believe offers up the most viable and beneficial options for my business.

This blog is written every day for free, to thousands of subscribers, my ezine is free, over 2000 words every week and goes to thousands more, I offer studio recorded audio and ebooks for free. For very little investment (£4.77 a month) people can get every single one of the 50+ individual audio sessions as one of our membership options. I run a peer supervision group for free for hypnotherapists in Dorset and Hampshire and manage to bring in guest speakers from around the UK to come and speak for free for the benefit of my peers.

Of course, these things have business benefits for me, but I think that much greater value is gained by those involved with these services too.

All those of you that have been my students and that became my friend, that have been my clients, and that continue to follow my work – you all know me and what I am like… I can be a certain way sometimes, a way that provokes at times, a way that can rub someone the wrong direction at other times, but I think my work and endeavour overrides that, and the feedback I receive regularly convinces me of that.

If I were entering the field of hypnotherapy today, I’d take time to understand people, to establish alliances and make friends rather than start unduly publicly slating people before I had even started training, let alone had some experience of working in this field… All because of a lack of money-back guarantee… Something which many consider to be ethically and professionally flawed anyway.

I’d like to see some comradeship in this field, blimey, we encounter enough negativity via the media and have enough public misconception to tend with… There are very few of us that regularly show this field in a progressive light to an active, attentive audience… Here on this blog are hundreds of references to research, news articles, evidence base, paranormal-nonsense-busting and the likes… All as part of my business, and also in an attempt to champion our field of hypnotherapy. I truly do not understand those that simply seek conflict and some sort of dick-waving competition…

Those of you already in this field… Look out for this ilk of person. Sadly, they exist to disrupt and damage and will test your resolve if you let them… For anyone that has had this sort of person try and do them harm, go and have a look at my hypnosis session Shield of Invulnerability to help you through it.