No. And No.
That would be an uninspiring blog entry if it ended it there, wouldn’t it?
It is the time of year whereby some of my hypnotherapy students are working on their case studies and this week, one particular student encountered a moderately common problem among case studies, and a less than common, but common enough issue in professional clinical hypnotherapy practice… The client not really knowing what they want to achieve from the sessions. They just want to “get better.” or they want to “be happier.” Sadly, these kinds of wishes are too broad and tend to be tough to measure.
“I just want to get out from behind this cloud!”
What’s more, they are not exactly well-formed or well-defined desired outcomes for the hypnotherapist to work towards.
if the hypnotherapist is not entirely sure on what it is that the client wants to achieve with the hypnotherapy sessions, then whatever interventions are applied are unlikely to be fruitful, and if they do benefit the client, they might have been due to luck or be temporary.
You need to have somewhere to move towards.
Agreed, some clients do not always know exactly what they want, or even where they want to go. As the hypnotherapist, you enquire, ask questions and investigate and explore.
Over recent times however, many schools of hypnosis think it fine to have no direction on a ‘conscious’ level. Many think in terms of ‘magical thinking’ and that the all-seeing, ultra wise, benevolent, demi-God that lives within us will serve us perfectly – the unconscious mind knows what we want, let it sort things out, eh? I wrote about this kind of notion here.
I was taught to trust my unconscious mind to know what interventions to provide my clients with, just like Milton Erickson used to do apparently. The client is told by those advocating this approach to trust their unconscious mind to learn what you need to learn from the hypnosis session. For example, in his 1987 work Therapeutic trances: The cooperation principle in Ericksonian hypnotherapy, Stephen Gilligan advocates this notion. Many other prominent and influential trainers do too.
My advice is that you do not rely on any such notion of trusting your unconscious mind. I wrote about this in more depth in other entries on this blog about the unconscious mind’s very existence.
Rather, I highly recommend that you prepare thoroughly, that you are specific and perhaps systematic in the way you gather initial information which you can then discuss and explore with more questioning should you need to. Then, when you understand the client better, you can agree upon some goals and define outcomes together for the sessions ahead and of course agree upon your treatment plan together, looking at the strategies best suited to achieving those well-defined goals and outcomes.
it is not always the case, but in my experience and professional opinion, when it comes to hypnotherapy, more benefits are gained when there is something being worked towards and an achievement aimed for. it enables and enhances the therapeutic alliance too, making it something which is collaborative and helps empower the client rather than decisions being made solely for them by the hypnotherapist… Or by some invincible unconscious force that knows all…
Is there an unconscious mind at all? Read here.
If you’d like to learn more or if this has resonated with you in some way, then visit these pages:
1. Has lack of critical thinking held you back and/or is it still doing so now?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason.
2. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others to think more effectively? Are you a hypnotherapist looking for stimulating and career enhancing continued professional development and advanced studies?
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist for whom lack of critical thinking is detrimentally effecting the success of your business?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.
Self-hypnosis is a great way to help advance critical thinking. If you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar.
I hear what you’re saying, Adam.
But when you ask a client questions, you’re not going to be just talking to one mind and not the other. You’re going to be talking to both. So it is quite possible that the outcome the client wants and or the wants of the client come from both the conscious and unconscious mind, if they exist.
I think it’s a matter of trusting the unconscious but not at the expense of everything and not seeking to worship the unconscious mind either.
Marty, you assume that there is such a thing as the unconscious mind here and not that we can simply deal holistically with the individual. When I ask questions, I firmly believe that I am talking to one person, with one mind and that they are one thing.
I completely agree that it is not ok to have no direction in a consious level, how will we then measure the results and the success of the techniques and therapies used?
I think it would be disrespectful to the clients needs to not gain as much information as we can when exploring their problem. “I just want to get better” – What would that feel like for you? Can you remember a time when you were feeling that way? What would tomorrow be like should you wake up and you are better? Also their defenition of “better” should be explored as we dont all enterpate words in the same way.
“I just want to be happier” – What do you feel is stopping you? How do you feel when you are happy? What does being happy mean to you? How will your life change when you are happier? How will this effect those around you?
I think it is possibly even more important to set goals for the kind of clients that “dont really know” becuase it will make them more aware of how they are spending their time on a day to day basis and what actaully effects them in positive and negative ways. Confusion and uncertainty can also be an effect of the conscious mind purposefully going against the unconscious.
When we really get to know ourselves and how we work, thats when our behaviours make sence and change can really start to happen.
I think that after the first session with a client they will be doing a lot of thinking about themselves and their situation which will hopefully encourage congruency with themselves. With a person who is “not sure” I think it is likely that their mail goal(s) may change from session to session, depending on the time between them.
I am not a “magical-thinker” and wouldent encourage any of my clients to let their unconscious mind “lead the way” becuase all you need to do is listen to my voice and I will cure you without you knowing it. Aaaand thats £300. Cash.
No. It is an alliance, a partnership, and when you simply do these things I ask you during and after our sessions, we can work together to improve your life in the way you want.
Love that response Dominique, thank you for contributing here today 🙂