Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The hypnotist and the client.

I was recently talking with Russian hypnotherapist Svetlana Lazovskih. Svetlana is a talented hypnotist who has had great success working with clients managing poor self image and compulsive eating.

We were discussing the fact that there is among hypnotherapists a greater burnout rate than one sees in psychotherapists or some other therapy types. There are likely many reasons for this.  Part of it is the fact that training for psychotherapy is extensive and there is clearly an emphasis on the idea that there is a ‘healthy’ distance between therapist and client. 

The nature of hypnotherapy is very different to other modalities. There is a necessity for trust that does not exist in other therapy types to the same extent. This closeness to a client is positively discouraged in many counseling and therapy situations. However, the upside of this risky prospect is that the client is often working in a partnership that attains positive ends very rapidly. The danger the therapist faces is the negative impact of such a connection with the client. Faced with a failure – which will happen from time to time in spite of unrealistic claims from many therapists – the therapist inevitable feels that such a failure is at least partly their fault.

The connection between therapist and client is not magical. It is, however, an extremely delicate one. There is no doubt in my mind, having worked with literally thousands of clients, that success is most likely to be found when working with a client which one shares a powerful connection with. When one does not have a good rapport with the client, while a degree of success may be possible it is much less likely to be as profound as otherwise. 

This is far from ideal, and has many professional implications. However the upside is undoubtedly very important, to the extent of actually being life changing for many clients, and so justifies the risks for most therapists. At Vancouver Hypnotherapy Inc. we recognize this aspect of working with hypnosis as a therapy. We understand that the connection is a highly personal and subjective aspect of a process that is otherwise very scientific and logical. Matching therapist and client is a process that is not only very important, it has extreme implications around the likelihood of success. I would add here that at Vancouver Hypnotherapy we have six diverse therapists, and are more likely, as a result of this broad resource base, to be able to provide the right therapist than an individual working alone. This is simply a mathematical fact. Six heads are simply better than one.

Personally I have chosen to apply some strict limits around who I will work with and how often I work with a client. Across the board we now put a maximum of three therapy clients a day with our therapists. Because they are well compensated this is acceptable and we’ve found a business model in which this works well.
I believe hypnosis is all about rapport. It’s a  trust based process. Give yourself to the hypnotist, and the hypnotist will serve you. This is a relationship that is almost sacred. It must be taken seriously and approached with complete sincerity. As hypnotists we need to tread gently, for we tread on peoples hopes, and their dreams.

The following poem by William Yeats is one we are well advised to remember:

Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

In talking with Svetlana it became obvious that the relationship we share with clients is one in which it is hard to be entirely impartial, and one in which the client places enormous trust in their hypnotist. This is a responsibility anyone going into this line of work should take seriously and learn to acknowledge everyday.