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Hypnotherapy Graduate Interview
We recently asked some of our hypnotherapy diploma graduates to take part in an interview about their experiences as a new hypnotherapist, which will hope will be helpful to others considering a new career.
Q. What did you do prior to training and what was your motivation for wanting to become a hypnotherapist?
A. Before re-training I spent 17 years working as a commercial lawyer, first in the City of London and then in Manchester. I initially practiced divorce and then after two years switched to commercial property. My first degree was however in philosophy and psychology and I had always had a wish to do some counselling or therapy. I had myself had hypnotherapy about twenty years ago, which was very successful, and I felt that it was the most effective therapy for any anxiety based problem. I had also had CBT and whilst this was useful to help me understand my thoughts, I was still left feeling anxious. I therefore thought that a combination of the two would be ideal – helping people to learn to switch off from anxiety whilst also giving them a way of understanding what it was that caused it and helping them to change that pattern.
Q. Could you briefly describe your work as a hypnotherapist?
A. I have my own practice and I work from home. I have a very broad range of clients – my youngest was 13 and my eldest 74. I see many different people – teachers, nurses, office workers, solicitors and barristers, people with their own businesses, dentists, doctors, students, lecturers, a jazz singer, a classical singer, several dancers and personal trainers, a transplant surgeon, research scientists, academics, stay at home parents – you name it! The range of problems treated tend to be stress related – sleeplessness, intrusive thoughts, phobias – I see a lot of needle and dental phobics, and fear of flying is also a common problem; psychosomatic illness, social anxiety and lack of confidence; I also use hypnotherapy for pain management, to help cope with serious illness, fertility issues and bereavement, tinnitus and Restless Leg Syndrome.
There are also a number of clients who see me about relationship problems – jealousy, insecurity and irritability being the main problems which clients present. I also do a lot of weight loss work though not a huge amount of smoking cessation – I think I have had only 4 smokers in the last year (though they’re all non-smokers now!). Weight loss clients are interesting – very occasionally you will get someone who just has some bad habits, but more often there are issues around anxiety and confidence which hypnotherapy and relaxation really help to resolve.
A number of local doctors, dentists and mental health professionals (who don’t themselves offer hypnotherapy) send me referrals. This is because I have previously seen one or more of their patients and they have reported back that they benefitted from the sessions. However, many local PCTs have no funding for hypnotherapy – and if they do they use hypnotherapists employed by the NHS – and so any clients referred in this way will have to fund the sessions themselves.
Q. What were the easiest and most difficult aspects to setting up your practice?
A. The easiest thing about it setting up in practice is actually seeing clients. It is really enjoyable to use what you have learnt and week by week to hear of a client’s progress. It’s hard when you start out however because you have very few clients of course! I began to get business through some of the internet listing sites I’d placed my details with, and then eventually through my own website, and now get them also by recommendation and referral. The market for hypnotherapy in Manchester is very crowded, with 30 or so very long established practitioners with very successful websites, and hundreds more practitioners who are not so successful, and so it was essential that my website was informative, explained to people exactly what hypnotherapy is, and quickly gained a presence on Google. Writing good quality material for a site is time consuming and laborious – a bit like doing homework – but definitely worth the effort. The same goes for exchanging links with other sites – I probably send out 15 requests for every one response – but again it is worth it in terms of your site’s internet rankings.
It’s difficult at first when clients don’t turn up for the first appointment, when they stop attending after a small number of sessions, or when they simply don’t seem to improve. However over time you realize that sometimes people are really not that committed to making changes in their lives, and when it doesn’t happen overnight they simply want to give up; sometimes it’s just that they are hoping that the hypnotherapy will somehow work by magic and that even if, for example, they carry on eating the same amount, they’ll somehow lose weight without changing their behaviour, just because they’ve been hypnotized. It’s also important to realize that with clients who are very unhappy or anxious, some days they simply cannot face talking or thinking about things, and so they don’t attend. You quickly learn to differentiate and to know which clients are worth gently persuading, and which ones just wanted a magical cure (no matter how hard you try to explain it involves effort on their part too, albeit usually only the very minimal effort of learning to relax!)
Q. What do you enjoy most about your job as a hypnotherapist?
A. The most enjoyable things are getting positive feedback from clients and when you can see and hear that their outlook has changed massively and their quality of life has improved. It’s also great as time goes on to get an increasing number of enquiries, as previous clients tell others about their experience. You get to know a huge number of people that you wouldn’t otherwise, and that in itself is often a very enjoyable experience.
Q. What advice would you give to someone considering training in hypnotherapy?
A. I would advise anyone thinking of training as a hypnotherapist to do as much background reading as possible first – other people’s websites (though the quality of many is not great, there ARE some very good ones out there), academic textbooks and articles. This way not only do you discover whether you really are interested in it, you are also in a position to get the very most from your course when you do it. You have to ask yourself whether you are resilient and hard working – it is definitely not an easy option if you are not as there is a lot of competition out there!