Are you unhappy or dissatisfied in your current job? Maybe you’ve wanted to make a change for a while, but something has stopped you. Perhaps you’ve been waiting for the right time, or for redundancy to take the decision to quit a boring or stressful job out of your hands? Well, the bad news and good news is that there is no ‘right time’, there is only now. True, you might wait until you receive an anticipated tax refund to provide some funds for training or you may put your plans on hold until your little one goes to school. If you are waiting for something non-specific to indicate that now is the time for change, you could be talking about changing direction this time next year or the year after. If you’ve heard yourself saying ‘oh my gosh, where has the time gone, I can’t believe it’s June, July, August or whenever’ you are likely to remain where you are for some time to come.
A question I’m often asked by prospective students is “Can I earn a decent living as a hypnotherapist?” The answer to that depends on a few simple things: your skill, your marketing and your relationship with money. In this article, we’re going to look at the last of these points.
We often talk about our relationship with food or alcohol, but how often do we think about our relationship with money? If you explore your attitude to money, how would you describe it? Are you comfortable with money or is it a dirty word? Our feelings about money are often formed early in life. Some of us are brought up to believe that discussing money is impolite, whilst others are comfortable to talk about it openly. It’s an interesting fact that long-term relationships often break down when each individual’s core beliefs about money are diametrically opposed. It is especially difficult if this topic wasn’t discussed before couples moved in together or got married.
Putting personal finances aside, when it comes to running your business, how does your attitude to cash affect what you charge your clients? Do you strive to make money from your therapy work or do you feel uncomfortable charging the ‘going rate’? Do you admire therapists who charge a lot more or do you feel antipathy towards them? Lack of confidence in your ability or doubts about your level of experience or results can lead to a failure to recognise the value of what you do.
Whether it is cash or plastic, currency is something that we can’t do without. In our business, we do have some control over how much money comes into our account. We can’t force clients to come to our practice, of course, but we can set a fee structure that is commensurate with the service we provide. An attitude to money that prevents us from earning a good living from our work is likely to de-motivate and discourage us and engender a sense of scarcity.
What we can do is to review our relationship with money. Could it be that wealth or the pursuance of it is what is troubling or exciting, rather than money itself? Naturally, our pricing needs to be in line with our values, but if we learned at an early age that having a lot of money makes you a bad person or that caring people are always poor (think Mother Theresa) then we might want to reappraise our position and its origins. If earning money from your enterprise is as exciting as helping people to make changes in their life, is that a problem? I would say not.
If you are concerned about charging ‘too much’ for your services, why not do a little audit... Add up the cost of your training, books, journals, CPD and include the fees for professional membership, insurance, room hire, website, marketing, etc. When you have tallied up all your costs (and don’t forget what you didn’t earn while you were training or your time investment) ask yourself if what you are charging clients, or planning to charge them, is excessive. Who knows, you might even decide that you should raise your fee!
Years after qualifying as a hypnotherapist I still struggled to find a niche that I’d always been advised was a wise idea to have. However, I just couldn’t find an area to specialise in; there were so many different issues that I enjoyed helping clients with. I was a generalist and no one area seemed to be the only thing I wanted to work with. Many therapists experience the same challenge, although of course, some people have a therapeutic area that they’re naturally drawn to. Most training courses (including ours at LHA) rightly teach you to work with a wide variety of clients and presenting issues, using different styles and techniques.
Helping a range of clients with different problems and concerns is very interesting and helps to build confidence and skill. Over time, many therapists may, as I did, recognise areas or issues that they don’t want to work with, before identifying an area of personal expertise or interest. Perhaps one reason that therapists are reluctant to specialise, is that they want to help as many people as possible. It may also be a fear being seen as elitist or inaccessible. They may believe that they would be unwise to turn away someone who would happily pay their fee in case they don’t get enough work that is within their niche. It may be that they just feel more comfortable saying ‘yes’ than ‘no’.
Ultimately, it is up to you; there is work for niche therapists just as there is work for generalists. It is probably true that niche therapists find it easier to differentiate themselves from other therapists on a register or on the internet and this probably allows them to charge a higher fee. If they specialise, they may get more opportunities as arguably people want to work with a specialist and value a higher level of expertise and knowledge.
So, did I finally find my niche? Well, in a way, but it took a fellow therapist to draw it to my attention. After chatting to her about my practice and what and who I liked to work with, she drew to my attention, something that was obvious to her. I enjoy working with (and am not fazed by) complex emotional issues and low self-esteem. It hadn’t occurred to me that this was unusual or a niche, but when we reflected on it, we realised that many new therapists would feel uncomfortable or out of their depth dealing with certain deep-rooted problems and belief systems. That’s how I came to claim my niche and it certainly hasn’t impacted on my business negatively; if anything it has had the opposite result.
And I do have another niche; helping taxi knowledge students to qualify as London cabbies... but that’s a story for another day!
When researching various training options for hypnotherapy there is a lot to think about. Fitting classes and learning around your life might be something you have to consider. It may seem very convenient to seek out training which is online and offers you ‘self-paced’ learning. Online courses are sometimes cheaper for all the obvious reasons but there are some drawbacks which are not always apparent before you start your training.
In our face to face classes, you will work closely with your tutor and fellow trainees and have the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers immediately. You will also learn from the interaction with your classmates and be able to benefit from any knowledge or experience they may have. We have found that great friendships are formed during the course of the training. Valuable conversations and the sharing of ideas take place in the lunch breaks and at tea time too. This relaxed interaction helps to create a bond between students and provides them with a peer support network so that no-one feels isolated.
Classroom style training allows you to experience how hypnotherapy works for yourself, both by being hypnotised by other students and also by hypnotising others under supervision. The tutor is always there to offer advice and encouragement. This style of learning, where you practise your skills and receive feedback, from your tutor and fellow students allows you to hone your skills and increase your confidence in a way which may not be possible when learning online from home.
If you are planning a career in clinical hypnotherapy, it’s worth bearing in mind that only those who have met the profession’s National Occupational Standards (NOS) will be eligible for entry to the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) register. The CNHC is an 'Accredited Register', for the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA) which was founded with government funding and support. The organisation’s key purpose is to act in the public interest and to enable accountability of all therapists on its register. One of the criteria for registration is that training has been completed on a face to face classroom course.
The UK Confederation of Hypnotherapy Organisations (UKCHO) also refuses to acknowledge online training for hypnotherapists, as do most independent professional bodies such as the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) which is one of the longest established associations. There are a number of new associations springing up which may offer membership or accreditation to those who are ineligible to join the CNHC and other professional bodies. Some of these will have direct connections to schools offering distance learning.
Whichever route you choose to take, most colleges will invite you to have a chat on the phone before you enrol. At LHA we offer an opportunity to prospective students to join a real life class for a day. You can participate in practical exercises, watch demos and generally get involved so that you get an idea of what our training is like.
Ericksonian hypnosis is a style of therapy named after the American psychiatrist, psychologist and hypnotist, Milton Erickson. Born in Nevada in 1901, Erickson is often described as the father of modern hypnotherapy. A fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, The American Psychological Association and The American Psychopathological Association, Erickson went on to found the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
Perhaps surprisingly, Ericksonian Hypnosis is not a single hypnotherapy technique but is a collection of several different styles. What Erickson’s various approaches had in common were that none were focused on the history or past experiences of the client. Erickson was truly a solution focused therapist. He believed that every client already had the resources and solutions to their problem within them and this is the tenet of Ericksonian Hypnosis.
It is a common misconception that Erickson always used a permissive, indirect style of therapy, as he also used an authoritarian, direct and sometimes provocative methodology. Erickson is also famous for his use of metaphors and he would employ these with clients both in and out of hypnosis. These metaphors could be simple metaphors such as ‘I had a friend who...’ to more complex stories with embedded messages. These subtle messages would be ‘missed’ by the conscious mind, but absorbed the unconscious mind. He also developed a natural conversational style of hypnosis which easy to listen to and absorb without resistance.
Erickson was a great storyteller, famous for his language patterns. He would direct his client’s focus inwards on a search for meaning, which in itself is a form of trance. Direct and indirect suggestions could then be delivered in this hypnotic state. To use an Ericksonian approach with clients requires creativity on the part of the therapist and new practitioners sometimes lack confidence in making up their own stories and metaphors. Some great books of scripts have been published, however, written by experienced therapists who enjoy using this style of therapy. With practice, new therapists often grow to love using conversational hypnosis and delivering their own metaphors. Ericksonian hypnosis can be highly effective and great results can be achieved.