by Brenda J Titus, CH, MS
Every once in a while, Cal will ask me “how many clients have you seen so far?” Each time I answer, the number creeps up a little closer to the first goal that I set my sites on as a hypnotherapist, and today I have achieved that goal- I have completed 5 PATH with 25 clients! There is something significant about the first 25 clients in one’s hypnotherapy practice. I understood that well enough during my training as I set my intentions on this initial goal, and I have come to fully appreciate the significance over the last several weeks as I have been approaching my goal. Reflecting back on the last six months, I’d like to share my insights and lessons learned on the power of the Golden First 25!
- Be a generalist. As I review my list of 25 clients, almost every single person came to me with a different “presenting issue.” I’ve worked with the typical smoking cessation and weight loss clients, along with clients who wanted to overcome childhood trauma, anxiety, nail biting and bruxism, as well as a host of other things. While I have certain types of issues that I prefer to work with, I know the importance of being a generalist and remembering: when the phone rings, be prepared for everything and anything. With your training as your guide, you can help your clients in significant ways, even with problems that you didn’t know anything about before they contacted you.
- Be flexible. You will want to have a good idea of the direction that you want to head with your clients before you see them, but your pre-hypnosis interview is truly going to help you to develop the roadmap of your sessions. Have some good Direct Suggestion scripts for the first session, including the Universal Script, Confidence and Self-Esteem, and something more directly associated with what they are coming to see you for, but be prepared to be flexible, throw your plans out the window, and go with what they bring to the table. This is especially important during your subsequent sessions. Your sessions may stir up some things that the client needs to deal with before you can move to the next part of your process, which you won’t know until they walk in the office for their next session. Be ready for anything and be quick on your feet.
- Recognize that some clients aren’t ready to do the work necessary to change; they could get in their own way. I have had this come up in various stages within my practice, and each time it has stung a little, leading to valuable lessons learned. First, you may have someone on the phone who is extremely excited to work with you, schedules their sessions and you prepare to see them. When their first session time arrives, they don’t show up, and they don’t return your phone calls. In other instances, you might have someone for one or even two sessions who decides that they are not prepared to do the work necessary, and they may contact you to tell you that they are not coming back, or they might completely stop coming and returning your phone calls. I even had a two-session smoking cessation client who said he felt so great after his first session that he decided that he didn’t want to come to the second session. The important lessons here involved being clear with the client from the start about the cancellation policy and being firm with them about payments. After you’re firm with your clients, be firm with yourself. Be prepared to charge no-shows for your time. Be prepared to refund money accordingly if appropriate. Remember that this is not about you and your skills as a hypnotherapist. Pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, and be fully engaged in helping the next person.
- Be prepared for anything. Whether your client regresses to a past life, you suspect your client has an attachment, you regress to a traumatic event that the client doesn’t want to experience, or your client insists that the person in the forgiveness chair is refusing to speak, keep your cool. Follow what you have learned in training, be assertive, and be confident. The more confident you are, the more confident your client will become in your ability to help them.
- Understand that some, if not many, ISE’s are very small, seemingly insignificant moments. This has been true even in my trauma cases. There is always something further back that led to the trauma that they have been blaming their problems on for years. When our clients realize that the baggage that they’ve been carrying for years is all due to one seemingly insignificant moment in time that they are now able to understand from an adult perspective, it really does change everything for them. I’ve had several clients whose ISE’s involved pretty common occurrences, such as the first day at school, waking up during the night in the dark, or even their first steps as a child. When they realize that these events hold so much weight, they might not believe it, but utilizing the informed child technique and helping them see how this incident has impacted their lives and held them back all of these years, they’ll be able to access their inner wisdom and truly heal those events and overcome the presenting problem.
- Be prepared to know your clients in a very deep, intimate way. Several clients have told me that after we have completed our process, I know and understand them in a deeper way than anyone else has ever known them. Sometimes more comes out in our session than they’ve been able to process over years of talk therapy.
- Be prepared to help your clients change their lives in significant ways! You will be touched, inspired, and in awe. Drink it in and enjoy it!
- Never stop learning! Now that I have seen 25 clients, I have made a commitment to extensively review training materials from my initial training. Every time I listen, I grasp something on a deeper level than before, simply because I can apply my knowledge to real life people that I have worked with- or am in the process of working with.
Some of these lessons have repeated over and over to me until they stuck, while others I only had to experience once to stop myself and say “if I’d known then what I know now….” I hope that these lessons learned can be an inspiration for anyone in the hypnosis business, whether just starting out, or several hundred clients down the line. I am looking forward to seeing what the next 25, 50, 100 clients brings to my doorstep!