If you live in Victoria (Australia) there have been significant changes this year in regards to therapists. In February 2017 the healthcomplaintsact2016 became applicable to therapists practicing in Victoria. Not really bedside or light reading, but if you are working as a therapist, you really should become familiar with this.
“Acting responsibly is not a matter of strengthening our reason
but of deepening our feelings for the welfare of others.”
Jostein Gaarder, Sophie’s World
A short time ago there was a story aired on Australian television about a 10 year old child who had recently been certified as a hypnotherapist.
She had completed a 2 and a half day course that her parents, who are also hypnotherapists, gave her for a Christmas present and apparently is going on to do a more advanced course as she has family and school friends lining up for therapy.
The story raises several ethical concerns which were only partially addressed by the spokesperson for one of the Hypnotherapy Associations.
1. It should be noted that the training organization involved is neither a member of the Hypnotherapy Council of Australia nor the Australian Board of NLP who both list training organizations that set industry standards and hold members and training organizations accountable for their behaviour.
2. A two and a half day training course, costing just AU$119 (early bird price), is not enough hours of training to belong to a professional association, (minimum of 400 hours of training, Police check, WWC check, Level 2 First Aid, minimum of 10 hours professional supervision and 20 hours of CPE and Professional Liability Insurance) – it could not possibly equip someone, let alone a child, to deal with an abreaction.
3. A ten year old child is, if Piaget’s theory of Child Development is to be believed, in the third stage of their cognitive development. Whilst the child is able to show that they have organized, logical thought, it is not until around 12 years of age when they begin to master abstract thought. In the third development stage, (Concrete Operations) the child becomes less egocentric and more aware of others and is able to order objects in a logical sequence. As the child matures, around the age of 12, they will move into the fourth stage of cognitive development, where they develop abstract thought and the ability to reason. …..Although parents of teenagers may care to disagree on this point!….. Development in each stage is gradual, and in this fourth stage (Formal Operations), the child will move from using complex thinking in their personal decision making to more complex thinking about global concepts and idealistic views in later adolescence.
4. There is then the ethical dilemma of a child working. There are minimum age requirements in most states of Australia, except NSW where this story originated from.
5. This then raises more questions:
- Are the sessions pro bono or is there some kind of payment?
- What is the legal liability should there be any issues arise?
- Is the child supervised when working? (both for the safety of the child and the people she is seeing)
- Are adequate records of the sessions being kept?
- Have the parents of the child’s classmates (who are also minors) given permission for the hypnotherapy?
Whilst this has been discussed on private hypnotherapy forums, and a wide range of opinions have been offered, with both positive and negative responses, ultimately it is the general public’s perception that matters.
Teachers and parents that I have talked to are genuinely worried that this has been allowed to happen. There is great concern for the mental and physical safety of both the young girl and her “clients”.
At the end of the day, this reflects on the Hypnotherapy profession as a whole. Whilst there is a peak body that represents professional Hypnotherapists, the HCA and to a lesser extent, the ABNLP, (whose recognised trainers offer a component of Hypnotherapy in their courses) who are both working to preserve the integrity of this therapy, there is a small group of people operating outside the system who seek their “five minutes of fame” in the spotlight at expense of honest, hardworking and reputable therapists who hold themselves accountable by membership of an association, regular supervision and continuing education.
Coming from a background in “alternative therapies”, my viewpoint will be different from the “scientific rationalists” about therapeutic outcomes.
I’m a member of various chat and online forums where “therapy” is hotly debated from both ends of the spectrum. But who is to say which viewpoint is right? Galileo was denounced in his time and even the most modern of skeptics has recently had his credentials queried by his peers.
So what constitutes therapy – or hypnotherapy?
I would suggest that it is the structure of the consultation that enables therapy to take place. Many hypnotherapists would have consultations that run from 45 minutes or more and it would be safe to say that all of them would see their clients on time or very close to the booked time. The therapist would then spend a great proportion of the session time in asking questions about how the client feels, the problems that they are having etc. ….. a client centred session…..
Compare that to the medical model when you try to see your general practitioner or specialist….. you book a time…. wait in the waiting room for what seems like aeons.. (the longest I’ve waited is 2 hours) and even if you are the first appointment, you may be kept waiting for 20 minutes or more (how disrespectful is that of your time?)….and then when you finally get to speak to the doctor, you have less than 10 minutes to tell them what is happening for you..or else you are slapped with a “long consultation” and many dollars out of pocket, with no real resolution…. (I’m sure there are exceptions to this experience)
Getting back to the therapy…. Whether it is therapy or placebo is largely irrelevant…. it’s about listening to the client. Taking notes. Affirming that you have heard what is said. Listening by hearing, watching, feeling……
From the client point of view, having the space to say what is going on in a non judgmental space can be as therapeutic as any medication. The therapist has to be an unprejudiced observer, to borrow a term from the homeopaths.
Does it matter what process is used? Parts/Ego state therapy, timeline, regression, 5 path, aversion or any other permutation?
Possibly not… I’m thinking that in our busy world that many people don’t feel that they have a voice or that it got lost somewhere along the way. By allowing the client time to unfold their story, by matching metaphor or therapeutic method to the client – which is an art form in itself – space is created to allow the healing process to begin.
From a homeopathic viewpoint again…. A case well taken will go a long way to cure….Start at the top and work your way down….
What is going on? How do they feel? They may never have been asked and the questions may just validate them and stimulate their own answers……..
How do you define a business?
If you have clients, then surely you are “in business”…. but is your Hypnotherapy practice a full-time business or do you supplement it with part-time work, or perhaps even work in a paid job full-time and have the occasional client after hours?
Working part-time (often in a job that is not terribly satisfying) and having hypnotherapy clients in the time remaining may seem like an attractive proposition. At least there is a regular wage coming in to put food on the table and many therapists live in hope that there will be a full appointment book that will allow them to transition to working full-time with clients.
So what is the reality if you are starting out full-time as a therapist?
Well, you are not going to be just a therapist, and unless you go into an established clinic, you will be the receptionist, the accountant, the marketing manager, the OH&S expert, the social media guru all rolled into one.
You need a plan…. preferably a business plan and if you can afford it a business coach or mentor who will keep you accountable to your actions. You need to schedule your time to do specific tasks, but before you do that, may I recommend that you read the E-Myth and do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) as well as a little market research?
All very well to think that you have done the training, had successful pro-bono cases whilst you were studying and the public will flock to you when you hang out your shingle…. quite often the pro-bono’s don’t convert to paid clients. Now, I’m not intending to sound negative with all of this, but is important to consider these points as they will contribute not only to your financial health but your emotional health if you are not earning.
What is your plan if you get sick? Do you have income protection insurance or a buffer set aside in the bank to tide you over? Clients are not going to appreciate you coughing and spluttering over them as you lead them into an induction…..
Keeping in touch with your supervisor, even when times are lean, is important. They may have some strategies or be able to refer you to the right people to help you manifest some clients. If you can’t afford a business coach, put the feelers out and see if you can exchange some of your time for some of theirs. Coaches have their own problems too and you may just create a mutually beneficial business relationship.
Be clear in your own mind whether this is something you can commit to …. having a foot in either camp is OK for a while but eventually the energy becomes depleted for both. Go with your passion….step outside your comfort zone for a moment and see what happens…….
Like many therapists, you most likely got into the business because you have a passion for what you do. You enjoy the work, making or facilitating change for those souls who have been drawn to see you. You may have even been drawn to do this because of your own experiences.
Who looks after you when things go awry or pear-shaped?
If you are in an association, you will have regular supervision and you should be able to chat to your supervisor about how you are feeling. Difficult feelings or strong emotions may surface during a supervision session and this makes it difficult to reflect on how well you might be working with your clients. If the issue is very personal, then the supervisor should set the boundaries and suggest that you see a counsellor or another therapist.
Often, the Universe provides a solution and I have found this to be true. I’ve had a spate of family, friends and acquaintances die in a short period of time. Three in less than three months in fact. These events triggered residual grief about previous loss and I wasn’t in the best space to take clients, so the Universe cancelled them! I took myself off to my therapist and after a couple of sessions for myself…. the clients rescheduled and I was able to be in a space that I held entirely for them.
Part of the reflective process is to ask yourself better questions:
- How am I feeling right now?…… this includes identifying any feelings that you may not have previously acknowledged or expressed
- Does this remind me of anything/someone and what is it I would do or say?……..use gestalt, Parts Therapy, Ego State therapy to take stock of the situation.
- Can I see a pattern in what’s happening?…… sometimes difficult to do on your own, but writing it down or making a mind map can give you clarity.
Start the work on yourself, continue the exploration with your own therapist and check in with your supervisor and you might just find you are understanding not only yourself, but your clients a little better and in turn, becoming a more effective therapist.
What’s the difference? Isn’t it all Hypnosis?
Well, yes …. and no….. Clinical Hypnotherapy is just that… Therapy. It is usually related to an ailment such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Migraine or an anxiety or an unwanted behaviour, such as smoking or weight issues and has a therapeutic outcome. A client can also be induced into a very deep trance state which enables surgery and is being used more as a drug free alternative in childbirth.
Spiritual Hypnotherapy can also have a therapeutic outcome, especially if a client’s current symptoms can be relieved by past life or lives between lives regression. Is it real? Is it a metaphor? For some people it is very real and the life described has been authenticated. A search on YouTube will enable you to watch some Past Life documentaries, where children have been able to describe their previous lives with uncanny accuracy.
Stage Hypnosis is an art form. Somewhat frowned upon by the Clinical crowd, in fact many associations don’t allow their members to perform, the methods used to elicit the hypnotic state are worth investigating for the serious hypnotherapist.
“All the world’s a stage……” and every session of hypnotherapy or hypnosis is different, both for the hypnotherapist and client. Delving into the subconscious is like removing the stage paint or mask to find the true person underneath. If the outcome is achieved through therapy or fun or time travel, then it’s a job well done!
The light globe must want to change first……
Maybe you have just graduated and are setting up your Hypnotherapy practice or maybe you have been doing it for a little while and would like to expand your client base…… either way, networking is a sound business activity.
There are three kinds of networking.
Networking within your profession, external networking and social media.
I see all of these as a form of conversation where you find out more about the other person. You can network purely to gain leads for more business or you can network to form longer term connections.
There are many networking organizations you can join, some are free, some cost. Belonging to a recognized Hypnotherapy association should be your first step. It’s not always all about you either. You may know just the right therapist for someone you are talking to – suggest that the person you are referring tells that therapist how they found out about them and follow up with an email or phone call to the therapist to let them know you are referring on.
As a therapist you can choose to be a generalist or a specialist. When you network amongst your peers, you need to set aside the notion that you are all competitors and gain the mindset of Universal Abundance. You might find that you have a particular skill with children, whilst a colleague wouldn’t dream of working with them and prefers to work on men’s issues.
When you network amongst peers, you find out who has the passion and expertise in Past Life Regression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, School based anxieties etc. For most Hypnotherapists, weight issues and smoking cessation are the “bread and butter” of their clinic, but in my own practice, I don’t attract very many smokers as I deal mostly with stress management or weight. There are some issues I prefer to refer to colleagues with whom I have regular conversations.
Part of belonging to your Hypnotherapy association will mean there is the opportunity to have peer support sessions. In these semi formal gatherings, where the novice and experienced hypnotherapist both contribute, you can pick up valuable tips on what works and what doesn’t.
The second type of networking is to join a networking group. Usually there is a fee to join and you make the commitment to attend on a regular basis. This could be weekly, fortnightly or monthly. You can join one networking group or several – it all depends on how much time you are willing to commit.
Whilst I don’t endorse any of the following, you might want to check these out:
- BNI –weekly meetings,mixed gender, joining fee, referrals expected, only one profession per meeting allowed
- Heartlink – women’s networking group , weekly meetings, joining fee, referrals expected, only one profession per meeting allowed
- Bouncehub – Melbourne based, mixed gender, educational
And of course the third form of networking is social media. This post will appear on my Facebook Business page, LinkedIn and Twitter simultaneously once I push the “Publish” button.
- Facebook – create a business page and build that up so as to keep your personal life separate from business.
- LinkedIn – this will help you to build a profile that people can search and refer their business to you.
- Twitter – short snippets – you are confined to 100 characters including URL’s to your website.
- Pinterest –more of a visual site, but if you are artistic, you can create some lovely word pictures using photos and quotes that will appear on your other social media sites.
Where will I find the time for all of this?
I choose my networking events carefully. Maintaining a balance between peers, the wider public and social media. I rarely introduce myself as a Hypnotherapist at bigger events, choosing to ask more questions of the person I am talking to and only giving out my card if they ask for it.
With social media, there are a number of scheduling tools that you can use such as Buffer, Tweet Deck and Hoot Suite. Set aside a couple of hours to manage your social media and schedule posts for up to 10 days ahead. Mix them up – a quote here and there, a link to one of your website pages, a comment on someone else’s blog or sharing an interesting article.
And if you do find a lot of interesting Hypnotherapy articles, you can count the reading of them towards your Continuing Professional Education! Bonus!
If you have read the E Myth, you will be familiar with the different roles you might play in setting up a business. And if you are a Hypnotherapist setting up your practice, you might find yourself having to wear many different hats.
Can you do it all on your own?
To an extent you can do some of it, but there might come a time when you need a fresh set of eyes or some help in areas where you don’t really have the expertise. You then have to make the choice between spending time … which if you are getting busy seeing clients will cost you money…. or spending the dollars on the services of an expert.
One way to keep the costs down is to create a group to engage an expert in a particular field and for Hypnotherapists based in Melbourne (Australia), I have a Marketing expert who is happy to work with a group of 8, meeting you every 3 months to mastermind your marketing strategies.
To express your interest in this, contact me via the form below and I will get back to you regarding venue and price.
The Melbourne Chapter of The International Association of Counsellors and Therapists, very ably run by Pete Smith, current President of the Newton Institute and founder of HypnoEnergetics, will have it’s first meeting in a new venue in Melbourne’s South Eastern Suburbs.
The aims of the chapter are to feature each member’s business and provide a space for networking between complementary therapists, as well as having an educational component.
A Supervision component for other professional organizations, can be provided if required.
For more information about IACT and how to join go directly to their website www.iact.org
The next meeting will be Monday 14th April at 7.30pm. If you would like more details and to RSVP please use the contact form below….
There is nothing more tragic than to see respected therapists reacting badly at the word supervision. It’s as if they have suddenly been transported back to a very early childhood experience where they are standing outside the Principal’s Office for an imagined misdemeanor.
Watch them puff up and bristle ….
listen to the comments….”I don’t need to report to anyone what I am doing”, “It’s the association gouging more money from me”, ” I don’t need anyone telling me what to do” and so on…..
Perhaps if the word supervision was substituted by any or all of the following:
then there wouldn’t be the emotional response that is currently being observed amongst many hypnotherapists, newly required to have regular supervision.
Here is a definition of Supervision
With many Hypnotherapists also familiar with NLP, it’s time for a reframe. To take a leaf out of one of Tony Robbins books, they should be familiar with CANI (Constant and Never ending Improvement)
” CANI is a true discipline. It can’t just be practiced every once in a while, when you feel like it. it must be a constant commitment backed up by action. The essence of CANI is gradual, even minute, continuous improvement that over the long term sculpts a masterpiece of colossal proportions……
Many people never feel secure because they are always worried that they will either lose their job, lose the money they already have, lose their spouse, lose their health and so on. The only true security in life comes from knowing that every single day you are improving yourself in some way, that you are increasing the calibre of who you are and that you are valuable to your company, your friends and your family.”