Often a hypnotherapist’s performance anxiety is palpable in the therapy room, no matter how well you think you have it hidden, it will leak through into your work.  The effect of that is in effect to dilute the techniques that you offer and to cap it all fail to engage your client effectively so that they do not return for follow up sessions.

The following tips are only tips.  They come from a humanist/Buddhist perspective that seeks to reduce our anxiety by increasing our authenticity as a hypnotherapist.

#1 Get it in perspective.  Your client is with you 1 out of 168 hours in a week

It’s amazing how much you can carry your clients around in your head each and every day.  They can consume more than just the one hour’s time you spent with them if you’re not careful, as you ponder whether you did or said the right thing, or used the right technique. Try and get a perspective.  You have only seen them for 1 hour in their week.  They have 167 other hours to fill.  You are really not as powerful as you think.

#2 spend more time listening.  Your clients may want to feel heard as well as treated. 

Top 10 tips for reducing Hypnotherapist anxiety

Hypnotherapists: remain relaxed

How often have I watched hypnotherapists on TV or in training sessions try and fill every gap of silence that is left during a therapy session.  Back off!  Your clients need processing time.  Your silences are at times as important as any techniques you use.  And aside from processing time, your clients may need to offload more than they need treating with Hypnotherapy.  Learning to listen could provide a huge boost to your hypnotherapy practice.

#3 Be more congruent with yourself.  If not, your client may detect you’re not honest with them.

If you’re sat behind your professional veneer quietly reflecting on your feelings about your client, the chances are your client will know you are hiding something from them.  Perhaps not even consciously, but they will start to detect that you are thinking or even judging them behind the professional facade.  Being congruent with yourself will allow you to act in the here and now by giving yourself permission to feedback some important impressions, sympathetically, you have received from your client.  This will help them understand what kind of unconscious signals they are giving off in the rest of their lives and empower them to change.

#4 Be human. If you’re offering techniques, try sharing with them how it helped you.

You do not have to use your sessions as a confessional but the occasional bit of moral support can help your clients believe in the possibility of their own transformation.  Being human in this way helps build a bridge of trust between you and them.

#5 You may be the only one clients ever told stuff to. Share with them your sense of privilege.

It is indeed a privilege to be trusted with so much personal information from your clients.  They may have spoken to no one else quite like they’re talking to you.  Share with them your sense of privilege.  It will help them feel valued and heard.

#6 Remember you are just one person in your client’s life journey and it may not finish with you

You may have had a series of 6 or 12 sessions with someone and they’re still not quite well, or perhaps they’ve only come so far.  Get real.  You are only one person in their life’s journey.  You may have provided a significant stepping stone to the next part of their journey and in that respect you have succeeded.  Just because your client doesn’t report that all their symptoms are cleared doesn’t mean you have failed.  Again, I state, you are not that powerful.  They are actually in control of what they take on, not you.

#7 Irritated with your client? Are they having same effect on others in their lives?  Break the tension. Share your observations with them.

There is no doubt that some of your clients will be irritating or annoying.  They may annoy some more than others, and even some not at all.  So why you?  Perhaps there is something in your life that is unresolved and you’re seeing it personified in your client in front of you!  Or perhaps your client is just genuinely annoying.  Either way, it is worth standing aside from your own prejudices and identifying what you’re feeling. You’ll know if you ask yourself the question honestly enough whether it’s your own prejudice or whether it’s your clients’ effect.  If you can hear from their story that they’re having a similar effect on others in their lives, tell them: sympathetically of course.  It will help them understand what they’re doing that’s snookering their attempt at resolving their issues.

#8 Techniques not working? How is client blocking.  Share your observation with them.  Is it their habit to block everyone out?

Some clients just block every attempt you make of working with them.  Sometimes, there can also be that unspoken hostility that sits between you and your client as you blame them and they blame you for their lack of progress!  Are they as blaming and challenging with other people in their lives?  Do they expect you to fix it for them without them having to do anything?  Is it their habit to sit and wait for someone to fix things for them?  Explore it with them.  It will break the impasse between you.

#9 When you’ve reached session 12 and client comes in with sudden crisis, you haven’t failed they just need more.

That’s one way of looking at it.  Another way is to realise that actually, your client is subconsciously manufacturing a new crisis because they need more input from you.  Do you know how to counsel and to ‘hold’ your client for longer periods if that’s what they need?  If not you might consider enrolling for my rolling counselling skills teleseminar programme designed for hypnotherapists that covers off the 3 stages of counselling over 3 months February, March and April 2011 (all audio recordings available to members).  It will help expand your practice, increase your self awareness and make you feel more relaxed about how you engage with your client.

#10 When clients leave after 1 or 2 sessions & you don’t know why, ask yourself whether you’re being honest enough with them.

When I say honest, I mean take a look at points 3, 7 and 8.  If you don’t know how to negotiate your own feelings in the therapy setting then chances are your clients will pick up on that and feel uncomfortable at your incongruence.  Becoming self aware and developing your inner confidence will transform your practice.  To help you do this, why not join my rolling counselling skills teleseminar programme designed for hypnotherapists now and add skills and awareness to your hypnotherapy practice.

Jenny is a Fellow of the National Council of Psychotherapists (NCP) and member of their senior management team and a supervisor for the Hypnotherapy Association (HA), an Individual member of the BACP and a Senior Qualified Hypnotherapist with the Hypnotherapy Standards Council .  Click here to send her an email.

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