There are some urban myths about therapists and especially hypnotherapists. The myths are centred around what a competent, skilled therapist can do on a consistent basis for most clients.
Therapists cannot do the work for the client.
Example One is the client who states: “I’m unhappy. So make me happy”. In this case the therapist can help the client understand that it is not possible for the therapist to make the client happy. The therapist is not an entertainer or performer. The therapist does not DO anything TO the client. It’s a process of discovery and the therapist acts as a guide in the process.
Example Two is the client who states: “I’m drinking too much booze. So make me stop.” There are many techniques and strategies to help a client change a behaviour but the therapist CANNOT make a client stop anything.
There are many other examples such as: the client who wants to make lots of money and expects the therapist to make them successful. Or, the client who wants to be more popular or attractive. “I want you to make me attract the man/woman of my dreams.” Of course there are ways to become more successful or attractive. A therapist can help you put a strategy together and begin taking actions. The therapist can help you determine deficient patterns and change them. But the therapist can’t make you successful. You have to do the work.
Stage hypnosis is entertainment, not therapy.
Often clients will have seen stage hypnotists perform a show where they magically get a person from the audience to do some funny and outrageous things on stage in front of hundreds of people. A client will assume that if a hypnotist can get a person to “think their shoes are on fire” or “fall madly in love with the person next to them”, then surely they can get me to do anything I wouldn’t ordinarily do. There’s nothing wrong with stage hypnotists as entertainers. I watch them and get a kick out of their antics. It’s all for fun… but, it’s not therapy.
So, a shift is required. It is important for the client to accept their role in the therapeutic process. The client must eventually gain some sense of empowerment in order to gain some self sufficiency and independence from the therapist.
What can a therapist do? It boils down to these main areas:
- Attention, empathy, compassion and acceptance towards the client
- Teach tools to the client so they can use them when they are “out in the world.”
- Help the client reconnect to a sense of grounded stability especially if the client comes to the session distraught or severely out of sorts
- Help to bring clarity and structure to the chaos and confusion the client may be experiencing.
- Help to prioritize some directions and even possible goals. Establish reasonable expectations based on the therapeutic process.
- Help the client resolve barriers or blockages that prevent the clients progress
- Monitor progress and bring attention to achievements.