A psychotherapist came to me for hypnosis.
Her goals were rather vague. That was a concern, because if the client’s goals are not specific and concrete enough, I as a hypnotherapist may either not know when they have been achieved, or worse, I may misinterpret what the client wants and give her something else entirely.
So, my first efforts were to establish a bit of rapport, and start in on defining what she actually wanted. Something like “a sense of ease and flow in life” cannot be measured or observed, so I asked a lot of questions to narrow down just exactly what she meant.
And, when I started asking all those question, I noticed two things. She did not have any real specific way of telling when she would have achieved her outcomes. The more I tired to narrow down her outcomes the more she asked for different things. The other thing I noticed was that my efforts to understand her goals were causing me to lose rapport.
My client was kind enough to give me some subtle hints, like, “I don’t feel comfortable that we are developing a safe space for a therapeutic relationship”. And, it took me a while to realize that she was really asking for was psychotherapy rather than hypnotherapy.
Ask a hypnotherapist for something like increased self esteem, and she or he will usually go for it directly and immediately with a specific technique, metaphors, and/or one or more of the other tools of hypnotherapy. A psychotherapist will typically spend one or more sessions establishing a relationship, and then proceed into ongoing open ended nondirective conversation, perhaps digging into the client’s past. And, the psychotherapeutic approach usually is directed towards different kinds of issues than hypnotherapy. For example, a suicidal or deeply drug addicted client would be better served by a psychologist or psychotherapist.
My normal more directive approach was simply making my client close down and feel unsettled. So, I realized that what we both expected from our session was completely different, and that I had lost any chance of having good therapeutic rapport with her. So I stopped the session. I told my client that there I was dissatisfied with how things had gone, which was my responsibility, so I would not charge her for the session.
Then I got very quite inside, and just let a nice conversation develop as we got to know each other a little. Basically, I shifted gears, and offered her my best efforts to give her the beginnings of the therapeutic relationship that she had been wanting and expecting.
As we discussed what had happened, my client mentioned that she had a psychotherapist that she had worked with, and that she would go see him to help her go after her outcomes. It seems to me that the benefit of our session was simply my client’s realization that what she was really wanting was psychotherapy and not hypnosis.