Lots of people do ask me about what goes on in my consulting rooms and there is a great deal that happens when preparing for a hypnotherapy session. Even before I meet people I send them on a lengthy document for us to discuss in our first session together in order that we can be as diligently and as fully prepared as possible. The answers to the document will help assess the suitability of the client and also give us both much more information, before we even get face-to-face…

Some hypnotherapists offer up an initial consultation, others have an orientation session of some sort and others refer to it as the interviewing stage… Which can sometimes scare people!

The interviewing process is something which requires a good balance to be struck in relation to structure and informality. The information needs to be elicited in a structured fashion, yet it also is best elicited conversationally rather than seeming as if the client is having boxes ticked as they talk about themselves. It is likely that a hypnotherapist more interested in writing and the paper they are writing on is going to detrimentally affect levels of trust and rapport and subsequently harm the quality of information that the client is likely to offer up.

Any initial consultation needs to firstly include some sort of overview of the session, to map out the structure and create expectancy. At this stage, I think it is important to state the responsibilities of myself and my role throughout the sessions and ask the client if they have any expectations as far as I (as therapist) am concerned. At the same time, I mark out my own expectations and requirements of the client and ensure that a working alliance is strongly forged at this time.

The next step for me is to explain and explore the subject of hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Here, I dispel many of the myths and misconceptions about hypnosis, I explain how stage hypnosis differs from hypnotherapy, I explain some core theories such as them not being made to do anything they do not want to do, as such, they need to invest their energy and effort in the hypnotherapy process.

I explain that hypnosis is not like being asleep or being unconscious, I actually make a joke about the point of paying someone to be unconscious in their company and that if we wanted that to happen, it would be easier to keep a cricket bat in the corner!

My explanation includes talking about hypnosis being a state of mind where people are more responsive to positive suggestions.  It is then this which makes change amplified and rapid in hypnotherapy. There are many articles on this website about that in much more depth than I am offering up today.

I give examples of anyone and everyone being able to enter hypnosis and benefit from it and that anyone can go into hypnosis as long as they adopt an open mind and attitude towards the process.

I ask them if they have any questions or queries about hypnosis and do my best to answer them. I also give examples of many sceptic clients I have worked with in order to create a good level of expectancy and inoculate any fears or previous misunderstandings. I actually have a recorded introduction that I give my clients prior to session one. I then run them through it in the session and ensure that they have all their questions answered.

Following this, I go through a health questionnaire to get a good understanding of their health and any issues pertaining to it. As much for due diligence purposes as for necessary understanding of the clients condition.

The central part of the initial consultation is to ask questions and take a personal history. I almost always start with:

“What do want to achieve from these sessions? How will you know if you have achieved that?”

I ask them if they have theories about the cause of or the reasons for the presenting issue. We explore the circumstances and situations whereby the symptoms are at the most severe, the frequency of the issue happening, when it starts, how it happens, the sensations that accompany it, the behaviour that accompanies the issue, how it ecologically affects other areas and relationships in their life, when it started and if anything makes it better or worse.

I’ll run through the BASIC assessment form (as per the work of Arbold Lazarus in Multimodal therapy) though I do sometimes also explore the logical levels from the field of NLP, which are similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs… That is, I ask about their environment and where the issue happens, their behaviour and what they actually do. Their capabilities and resources, their values and beliefs and their sense of identity and purpose – all in relation to the issue at hand.

I’ll round things up by agreeing the hypnotherapy treatment plan with the client at this stage. I offer up my recommendations and the reasons behind them. I remind them of their responsibilities and our roles.  I’ll close by asking for any final questions or queries prior to ending the initial consultation. All these elements that I deem important, are inherently linked and equally important in my opinion, despite probably taking different period of time to complete.

Hope that answers the questions of many of you guys asking about it… Have a great day.

ps. Am interviewing and having a webinar with james Brown this evening… He is a very clever magician and we are going to be discussing parallels between magic and hypnosis and all kinds of other stuff… The webinar will be available in my members area later this week.