10 Things A Practicing Hypnotherapist Needs to Know
If you’re reading this and are already practicing hypnosis yourself, then you already know its potential. Hypnosis is definitely not the stage gag you see on TV nor does it ensure you have mind control the way it’s portrayed in the movies. Hypnosis as a therapy, aka hypnotherapy, can sincerely help you and others when you struggle to change the results of real life problems, from fears & phobias to releasing traumas to quitting smoking to coping with anxiety and depression.
Have you decided you want to become a hypnotherapist yourself? Congratulations! By reading this you’re committing to learn how to become a hypnotherapist. Now is the time to learn all you can about hypnosis and hypnotherapy.
You may be wondering however, where does one start? What is there to know?
For instance, knowing the signs of hypnosis, knowing why you need to create a safe space, and knowing why it’s important to debunk the myths of hypnosis are all things a practicing hypnotherapist can add to their toolbox of knowledge.
Here are ten more things a practicing hypnotherapist needs to know.
1. The Importance of Building Rapport
What is almost as important as your hypnosis skills themselves? Rapport with your client, because without it, you may find yourself in pushback during the hypnosis process.
Here are some tips to build rapport:
1) Your Appearance. There’s no need for formal attire like a suit. That being said, make sure that what you decide to wear is clean and fresh. A good appearance means looking put together, tidy, and no strong scents (clean ones as well as bad ones—too much aftershave or perfume is as unapproachable as strong B.O. is).
2) Encouraging Body Language. Eye contact is important, about 70% of the time. Smiling is great for building rapport and always brings a pleasant energy to your presence, and as we tend to naturally “mirror” people, your client will likely smile back. Keep your body in check as to what your facial expressions and body language is saying about you, what vibe it gives off. You can check this by video recording yourself interacting with people (with permission) and watching it back.
3) Effective Communication. When you talk to people, it’s good to be actively listening and paying attention to what’s being said, instead of thinking of how you’re going to respond or half-listening while being distracted. Active listening sadly doesn’t happen as often as we’d like, so when you give someone your full attention, they may feel you actually care. Reflecting back what your client has said to check if you correctly understood them (paraphrasing is okay) shows them you care about what they’ve said enough to clarify.
4) Remembering Names. This one is pretty self-explanatory. When people remember your name, it feels like they care, that you matter. There are tips and tricks you can use to help you learn someone’s name if you’re one who has trouble remembering.
5) Empathy. This is referring to the ability of understanding and seeing things from a different perspective. When you recognize other people think about things differently, or feel differently about things, it can help you communicate with them better. Without empathy, you may come across as dismissive, which can make people “close off” or “shut down” around you. Acknowledge the other person’s feelings and emotions, ask questions which relate to what they are talking about, and be curious and emotionally intelligent with your interactions.
2. Why You Need to Debunk the Myths of Hypnosis
There are many myths and misconceptions of hypnosis and hypnotherapy. When people think or hear the word hypnosis or hypnotism, the automatic stereotype pops to mind. It’s usually over-the-top stage performers asking “random” audience members to the stage to be induced into a deep trance state with results shocking or comical, depending on the crowd. This stereotyping unfortunately leads toward the misconceptions about the true practices of hypnosis.
The first example of a misconception that stage hypnosis sets is it does things against your will. The reality is, you are in complete control of your own mind during a hypnotherapy session, and you are not forced to do or say things that you do not want to do.
Real hypnosis does not take place on a stage or on television with random subjects, or have that kind of impact on the participant. It is a therapy tool used to help break through thought patterns, clinical issues, and phobias.
As hypnotherapists it’s our job to debunk these myths to ensure our clients’ safety and trust, and help to create a calm, relaxing space for our patients to heal. Which brings me to the third thing:
3. The Benefits of Creating a Safe Space for Your Clients
If your space doesn’t feel safe, your client is more likely going to resist the hypnosis process, and they’ll be more reluctant to share what they’re feeling and needing from their session.
By creating a safe, calm, and relaxing environment for your clients, it makes them feel like they can openly share their challenges, problems, traumas, and phobias they’re facing.
4. The Benefits and Risks of Using Aversions
What is the aversion method? Aversion is when we tell a client in hypnosis things that will put them off (smoking, drinking, overeating, etc.).
The effectiveness of using aversions depends on:
- Aversive conditions and treatment methods used
- If the client continues to practice relapse prevention after treatment
- In some instances, once out of treatment and no longer exposed to the thing that put them off, client may return to previous pattern of behaviour
In some cases, aversion therapy may increase anxiety that interferes with the treatment process.
5. The Signs of Hypnosis
As a hypnotherapist it is useful to know these signs of hypnosis, as they will help you realize that your client has entered the hypnotic state.
- Eye fixation. The principle of hypnosis is to capture attention. No matter how you direct your client, you should see a lack of blink reflex and open eye catalepsy (the inability to blink or close the eyes).
- Pupil dilation. When your client’s eyes defocus, the muscles around the eyes relax, and pupils dilate.
- Change in blink reflex. Your client’s blink reflex will start to slow, with a sign they’re going into a
- Rapid Eye Movement. When we dream, our eyes move rapidly back and forth from left to right. This is REM (Rapid Eye Movement). The same thing happens in trance when you ask your client to visualize something.
- Eyelid flutter. Some clients may develop eyelid flutter, which is an automatic response but does not indicate nervousness.
- Smoothing of facial muscles. These muscles will usually smooth out, losing signs of tension in their face. Their jaw or shoulders may drop.
- Slowing of respiration. Breathing usually slows and becomes deeper.
- Reduction of the swallow reflex. It is normal to swallow about once or twice every minute. During hypnosis, it can stop altogether, and it’s not unusual to see a client not swallowing for half an hour. Increase in swallowing indicates nervousness and dryness in the mouth.
- Body immobility. Your client will develop a comfortable immobility in their body and limbs and may adjust their position once or twice to get comfortable, but usually relax into a comfortable position.
6. Why It Matters to Know How to Test Levels of Depth in Trance
By testing the levels of depth in trance, you can get an indication of how well your client will accept suggestion (suggestibility), how open they are to suggestion (susceptibility), how they will respond in hypnosis, and whether they are in hypnosis.
7. The Risks of Regression Therapy Without Sufficient Training
Since regression therapy is a specialized type of therapy involving a specific experience with the primary principle of the approach being the concept of core levels of consciousness, this training involves a background in psychoanalysis.
It’s recommended that therapists who wish to offer regression therapy seek thorough training in the practice of hypnotherapy, as with any treatment method used without adequate training can carry potential for harm. For example, the possibility of creating false memories is a risk factor. Memories of abuse or other trauma may be uncovered to be found false.
Therapists practicing regression therapy are advised to guide their client through a re-experiencing process with open-ended questions, “What do you see, hear, or feel?” instead of asking questions that may be suggestive or generative to “memories” of events that have not occurred, also referred to as “leading.”
8. The Relevance of Using Proper Language for Your Clients
Communication is essential when working with clients. You need to help them feel at ease, build rapport, reduce anxiety in the hypnosis process, and boost their confidence. Having skillful communication helps your client feel in control and part of their therapy process.
Aside from selecting words you say, how you say and write those words are also important. When you communicate effectively, you influence your clients positively, which can help you grow your client pool.
9. Understanding How the Use of Music Is Helping or Hindering Your Sessions
Music can be as hypnotic as hypnosis itself. It can provide the subconscious with suggestions. Hypnosis and good hypnosis music contains harmonic progressions and rhythms that suggest your client to relax, easing their subconscious, preparing for the suggestions to come.
It’s worth noting that music can trigger both good and bad memories. As a hypnotherapist, it is your job to talk to your client before introducing any music. You would not want to play a piece of music that may impede their ability to relax.
Specific beats can be used to help induce trance while others can prevent your client from going into trance.
10. Why Reading a Script Doesn’t Always Work
“Practice perfect practice,” or “start as you intend to continue” is a more realistic approach to your hypnotherapy sessions. With pre-scripted suggestions, you may train yourself to overlook the significance of reading your client, meaning you’ll miss out on building the skill of giving them the suggestions they need in that moment.
Hypnosis scripts can interfere with real communication with your client. You can miss non-verbal body language and not know when your client is responding, and also miss when you need to switch things up to help them get results.
Connection is key. Speaking directly to your client and showing them you really get them, maybe more than they get themselves, is a distinct experience than having a script be read to you. Nothing feels more personal than feeling like someone understands you and knows what you need, which can be healing.
Hypnotherapy opens the way to a world of possibility. As an aspiring hypnotherapist, you are learning how to help uncover any subconscious reasons why things may happen in your client’s life. The above ten things are tools that can be helpful to you as you learn your craft and find your own way to help others through hypnosis.
Do you feel you need a little more guidance than just a blog post? I can show you how to be the best hypnotherapist you can be with my 12-month training program on how to become a certified clinical hypnotherapist. More hypnotherapist blogs are in the making as well, so please stay tuned.
And if you have any questions at all, you can always contact me.
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