About 7 years ago, I visited what I considered to be the worst looking hypnotherapy consulting room and it’s equally poor looking patron.

I was asked by a hypnotherapist for some mentoring and I went along to his hypnotherapy room which was at his own home. He fitted me in between a couple of clients that day and I went along to see him and his consulting room… He turned up to meet me in his slippers and shell suit bottoms with a sweater on, the place smelled bad upon first walking in and then when sat down in the hypnotherapy room, the smell was worse… We opened a window.

In the middle of his lounge – I could tell this by the fact that there were sofas, a coffee table pushed into a corner, and a widescreen telly in another corner – was a massage couch that he used for his hypnotherapy clients.

I could go on about the plug sockets hanging off the wall and the damp patch in one corner, but I immediately had suspicions as to why he had very few returning clients and no referrals in his business. Though he did only charge £25.00 per hour and there was a part of me that wrongly thought, well for that investment, people should not expect much more… But heck, I was here to mentor, not offer up facetious remarks.

We set about reorganising his business model, that started with changing his work space and not just making it more presentable and client-friendly, but also making it professional and ethical. There is much to be taken into consideration… I think for some, we take too much into consideration and so we look to strike a balance as to how our offices/consulting rooms look and feel.

My own office is in a business centre in the middle of Bournemouth town, with parking facilities, a full-time receptionist, views over green parkland, has a choice of reclining leather chairs, antique bookcases and writing desk along with suitable lighting, professionally framed certification and so on… I know many hypnotherapists who have photos of themselves and their families in their consulting rooms, and others that deem it unprofessional and unethical to do so… I had an office in Harley Street when I worked in London, which is one of the noisiest places on the planet and not ideal in every way, despite many initial thoughts that come with such an exclusive address.

The way I have my room may well not suit everyone, though for the fees people pay to see me, I think they are likely to have expectations that I’d like to meet as best as possible – and that is not exclusively the territory of fabulous therapy.

You see, the chap I mentored may well have been the single most outstanding hypnotherapist on the planet, but his clients would have made decisions about him and remained consistent in those thoughts as soon as the environment started to influence them… Regardless of how good or agreeable the hypnotherapist was.

We all know about Freud having a now iconic “lie down and tell me your problems” couch, don’t we? According to Diana Fuss, author of The Sense of an Interior: Four Writers and the Rooms That Shaped Them, “For the patient lying on the couch, surrounded by Persian carpets and wreathed in the smoke of Freud’s cigar, the room was a late Victorian fantasy of an opium den.” Freud also filled his space with thousands of antiquities including a rotating collection of 40 statuettes he placed on his desk. I am not sure that official psychological societyies and associations would wholly approve of such set-ups nowadays, would they?

We know how Freud thought it was key to rummage around in the past, so perhaps his archeological props in his room helped him with all his psychic digging that went on in there? Or maybe it was just the kind of room that suited Freud while he was whacked out on cocaine?

There are authors that believe we can design places that are part of the therapeutic process itself.

There is much discussion and theorising as well as research all about colour and personality for starters. I doubt that many therapists or hypnotherapists are going to have bright red painted walls in their therapy rooms.  There are spaces that many consider to be healing though, heck, Feng Shui and its popularity is testament to this notion…

I have been on many hypnotherapy training courses where the school have adorned the classroom walls with optical illusions and famous hypnotherapists with swinging watches and the like, perhaps as a means of setting the environment a certain way… It is said that Mesmer would often have pictures and paintings on his walls where he conducted his group animal magnetism sessions; these often depicted people in unusual trance-like postures and behaving in certain ways… A sure-fire way to influence those involved within the room, no? In fact, lets be honest, its a great way of inciting those very responses!

Many alternative kinds of therapists have crystals scattered around the rooms and pictures of wise looking eastern gurus, maybe the room has incense of some kind too… I must say, one of our sitting rooms at home has furniture that makes me feel relaxed just to see it and be about it, and other places with more or less sunlight tend to make me feel a certain way at certain times… And we can’t all cover all eventualities all of the time…

The physical environments that we frequent are loaded with meaning, and there are many that believe that they can act as a catalyst for our growth and change… Places purposefully designed with iconic healing elements and positive messages are believed by some to connect us to the best of our past, present and future even.

Regardless of how you go about it, when a client/patient invests in hypnotherapy or any other therapy, the likelihood is that the client is going to form opinions and be affected in one way or another by that environment and I recommend that hypnotherapists consider that and do their best to avoid someone like me thinking “well for 25 quid, what would you expect?” and such like comments….