10 Tips to reducing Hypnotherapist performance anxiety

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.


What a difference a week makes!

How many times have I moved in my life? At the last count it was around 22 or 24, something like that. So you’d think I’d be used to it by now, wouldn’t you? However, this time it’s been absolutely mega. It all started around 5 weeks ago when I sat down to chant one morning with a big question in my head: How can I get my business working efficiently? You see, my tendency is towards chaos – of the organised variety, but nevertheless, chaos.

I reflected on my move out to rented offices last May.  It was lovely during the summer months but then, as winter drew near, my still-really-too-young-to-manage-every-night-alone-after-school, teenage daughter, having forgotten to take her key to school, would be shivering on the doorstep frantically texting ‘mother’ to demand where I was.  And then there was dinner to consider.  I couldn’t nip into the house and throw a few ingredients together and let them cook themselves between emails and telephone supervision sessions.

I started to spend less time in the office and was bringing my work into the house to do at home.  Suddenly, the office was overspilling into the house, the teleseminars competing with Wii’s Guitar Hero and general teenage angst and frivolity as song after song by the Lancashire Hotpots blasted out from my best quality computer speakers.

hypnotherapist trainingSo about 5 weeks ago, I had a brainwave!  Yes one of those rare occurrences.  I could get an office built and insulated in the garden and reclaim my house.  I researched.  I had a budget – a small one.  And the company I found turned out to be THE best I could have ever wished for.  They were Paul and Colin from Clear-Scape (or their  new name – Custom Building), Nottingham.  I had several chats with Paul over the phone.  I kept asking, ‘Yes, but Paul, can I have celotex insulation?’ or ‘Yes but Paul, can I have a long window next to the door?’  Eventually Paul had to put it into words I could understand. He said ‘Jenny, what I’m trying to tell you is you can have anything you want.  Just tell me what you want and I’ll design it and cost it for you’.   So unlike Henry Ford, I had to start believing that the choice was mine and that I was in control.  And not only could I have what I wanted, but they would build it and hook it up to the electricity for me too.  I’d already scouted around quite alot and realised that getting all this included in the price they gave me was, well, amazing!  Were they fools?

They were definitely not fools.  I left them in charge of the house for the weekend and they fed my cat for me!  Meanwhile I took the opportunity to go back to my college roots in Liverpool to see my dear old friend, Tony Cawley who was running a workshop called ‘Healing Metaphors for the Body’.  “A-may-zing” as a certain strictly judge might have been heard to say.  I’ll share more on a teleseminar coming up sometime in June where Tony will speak more.

So is my business more efficient now?  Well, there’s still a ‘shed-load’ (forgive the pun) of sorting out to do but at last I have a dedicated home for my work that suits my home life, my working life, and isn’t going to keep charging me rent month in month out.  And at last, I’ve also dealt with about 30 years of paperwork that has been accumulating in outside storage….the dustmen should be developing muscles in all the right places. So now you know what’s been keeping me quiet this last week….hold onto your seats because next week I’ll be reminding you that I’ll be talking to Patrick Dieter, my next teleseminar guest from the US.

I’m just snatching a few last minutes in my old high street office while I’m still paying for it to post this entry.  If you’re considering doing what I’ve done, please take a look at Paul and Colin’s site or meet them on twitter.  Thanks lads! You’ve done a great job.


My next Teleseminar Guest! Amazing!

Well, it took some dedication to get on skype this morning at 7am and talk to my US correspondent about his possibly doing a teleseminar for me in a couple of weeks.  But by the end of the, nearly 1 hour that we spoke, I was totally fired up and ready to start the day with panache!

What an amazing discussion to have with my next teleseminar guest, Patrick Dieter from the US.  I’d ‘found’ him on a psychotherapy forum on Linked in where his responses to some of the discussion captured my imagination.  It felt like he was talking my language.  I heard him.  Perceived him.  And thought ‘I’d like to know more about him’.  So a couple of private emails later around 6 months ago, confirmed that he was indeed someone who shared a similar perspective on life, but who is doing something quite unique with it.

Having been on his own journey of recovery from addiction over some 25 years and having had a number of ‘awakenings’ – his word – over his life, Patrick looks at substance and alcohol addiction in quite a unique way.  Gone are the reprimands or chastising for not sticking to a 12 step programme. Instead he focusses on the humanity of each and every client he sees in a wholesomely spiritual way – and interestingly, without fluff and otherwordliness and most definitely without using the R word – Religion.  Patrick is infinitely down to earth, practical and tactical but will share with us on our next teleseminar, not only his own story, but the ways he reaches into the lives of those he treats for addiction.

If you do nothing else this side of Easter, listen to him.  February 16th 5pm. He’s a gem in a wilderness of ‘by the book’ therapy that too often misses its calling.  I’ll send a link to his blog just as soon as he lets me know the address…..watch this space!

If you want to join me on my free guest speaker teleseminar just click here and enter your details and I’ll mail you the time, date and dial in number.

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When I first came to train my fellow hypnotherapists, I was terrified I was just teaching them what they already knew.  I had assumed, like me, that all hypnotherapists had a counselling and psychotherapy training as well.  So naive was I that when I first developed my chronic Fatigue course for hypnotherapists, I rushed through the counselling skills element thinking I didn’t want to repeat elements of their initial training.  However, as I sat and watched their practice sessions in that very first training weekend, I realised that I was teaching something completely new.  I could hear that my students had never studied counselling, nor psychotherapy.  I was both shocked, and relieved as you can imagine.  But I continued to teach those oh so essential skills as fast as possible, making sure at least that I communicated my training succinctly and relevantly.  In retrospect now, and many workshops later, I realise I could have slowed down quite substantially.  But the habit stuck.

The irony was, that when we studied counselling skills alongside some of my interactive hypnotherapy sessions my trainees were required to do some serious personal development.  The counselling skills just seemed to make the hypnotherapy all the more relevant, powerful and meaningful. 

I thought “If I could show hypnotherapists a way to supplement their academic knowledge and at the same time do some pretty intensive personal development fast, then I would probably need to condense my years of learning down into just a couple of well prepared days and exercises for optimum effect”.  So that is what I did.  Some of my past students and ongoing supervisees who have come from my training weekends will testify that their development as people and professionals has sky rocketed.

So as to share the benefits with you of my shorthand approach and to launch my new site, I’m offering an Introduction to Counselling Skills audio teleseminar course starting Wednesday 2nd February at 5pm for an initial month’s subscription on my Mind level of just 1p!  I will be talking over 3 months about the 3 skills of Gerard Egan’s Counselling Skills: a dynamic and very challenging and eclectic model of counselling.  All audio teleseminars are stored in the membership area so that you can listen to them again and again. 

How will it enhance your practice?

There are always those clients that come in who you just don’t quite manage to build rapport with.  Perhaps you:

  • Feel irritated by them
  • Can’t seem to access their desire to get well
  • Are wading through their cluttered minds
  • Can’t get them to relax and trust you
  • Can’t wait for the hour to be up

You know, some people are just difficult to access.  So how will you preserve your reputation if hypnotherapy doesn’t work with them?  Well, perhaps if you learn to listen to their subconscious messages while they’re still conscious and follow a line of subtle questioning that causes them to open up before you’ve even conducted any hypnotherapy, you’re on to a winner.  That’s just one way how it might benefit your practice.

How can you listen to the subconscious messages that people give?

This is what I’ve learned quite intuitively during my 10 years in practice.  Its basis is the counselling skills, but there are many shorthand ways in which I’ve learned to package that up and deliver it to you succinctly so that you get it. For dates and more information click here.

Can you get a counselling qualification from the teleseminars?

No!  You can’t!  It wouldn’t be worth much if you did.  But you’ll get loads of information on what they are, how to use them, AND you’ll probably get some personal development or insight, and you’ll certainly know whether doing anything serious about getting qualified is worth your while.  In fact, just so it’s super accessible in these financially difficult times, the first lesson is just 1p! Join me and subscribe now. Your dial in details will be with you immediately you’ve confirmed your subscription, and if you’ve already missed the first one, all can be found in the membership area archives.

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And with this I launch the new Website!

Yes! At last I have a website that is workable and doing what we think it should be doing!  My thanks go to a number of people who have helped me set it up, including a fantastic SEO /website guy, a words lady and a great graphic designer!  I shall talk about them in future posts but I wanted to share with you a quirky conversation I had this morning with a pretty well publiced SEO expert – Paul Weston.  Google him. He has quite a story to tell.

However, he told me a story this morning at a business network meeting about how he perceives hypnotherapists that left me agog! In fact, I asked him how he’d come to that conclusion and he said, ‘Well it all started when I was 6….” Hmmmm…very funny Paul!  Seriously though, he told me he didn’t trust them.  Trust them?  He was sitting next to one, me!  Though to be truthful, he may not have realised that because I always call myself a psychotherapist.

I reflected briefly what might cause someone to not trust someone else.  Could it be the erroneous idea that hypnotherapists are mind controllers? Could it be that he wouldn’t trust them to not put him into trance without him realising? Or could it be that he might be detecting some incongruence between who they present themselves as and who they feel they are underneath? 

If you don’t know who I am by now, you’ll realise that I work on the subterranean of the therapists mind: I’m the hypnotherapist’s therapist.  How do I find my therapist supervisee/students? I talk about their discrepancy between how they feel and what they project.  Easy really.  There is so much image involved in Hypnotherapy: so much pressure in fact to stay entirely in the positive, to be experts without expert experience, to behave to a set of preconceived ideas of what it is to be a hypnotherapist, and a successful one at that, so much pressure to uphold a professional persona….regardless of how neatly that image superimposes over your personality.

The net result of all this image making is an inner lack of self confidence:  a fear that we may not be able to deliver the solutions our clients are looking for and a performance anxiety that, at times, can be almost tangible to our clients.

Paul was uncertain as to what his suspicions were about.  He asked me if I was analyzing him right now!  “Hell. NO!” I replied.  “People always ask me that and to be honest, I can’t be bothered!  I don’t do psychobabble socially.  I enjoy engaging and socialising too much!”  He laughed. “You really are a psycho aren’t you!” He gestured, I think affectionately!  Yes, Paul. I am a psycho.

Help me launch my site? Take a look around and see if my proposition is something you think you could use.  And in particular, you may want to train with me middle of February so take a look at the events section.  Meanwhile, stay clear of the psychobabble.


It is with great pleasure that we launch the New Year with the news that, though only 2 were in attendance at last Friday’s supervision/CPD day, 4 of my CPDers and Supervisees have received their Read Your Clientcpd suoervision Foundation Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy.  They are now entitled to apply for membership of the National Council of Psychotherapists and call themselves Psychotherapists as well as Hypnotherapists.

Lisa, Wendy and Mark came through to train with me in October 2008 on my Unlocking the Mysteries of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  They were attracted to the course, not only because of the speciality, but because the course offered an integrative way of working with clients.  The broad application of the uses of integrative hypno and psychotherapy meant that their practices started to change as they did and they began to grow as integrative therapists. Catherine followed later the following year when she decided to train with me on my Integrative Approach Programme.

When I launched the Foundation Diploma course in autumn 2010, having received accreditation from the National Council of Psychotherapists, one of their first questions after studying the prospectus content was, how could they supplement the skills they had been learning with me in supervision meetings and the occasional integrative training day that would fast track them through to qualify in their Foundation Diploma?

It wasn’t difficult.  As they were open and willing to learn and already keen members of the Soul Level Open Mind Therapist Supervision group I supplemented them with a day’s training in December 2010 thatcpd hypnotherapy training covered off the last few bits they hadn’t yet learned with me.  Lisa said: “At last I can call myself legitimately a Psychotherapist as well as a Hypnotherapist.”

While we know there is regulation afoot for psychotherapists to be able to continue to call themselves such without a state degree, Lisa and Wendy are for the time being very pleased to be able to display their certificates and to join the National Council of Psychotherapists.  I’ll report more on the NCP’s position to the looming regulation and keep you posted about PNC.

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