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Q&A – Working with a Psychotic Client

Posted Under: Hypnosis Blog

Hi Group,

I just received a question via email. The question is about a client who has been diagnosed with psychosis. The hypnotherapist wants to know if she sees the client is it advisable for the psychiatrist to sit in. (She has a referal from the psychiatrist.)

First off, let me say that I am going to be brutally honest here. Be prepared. Here we go. As I teach in class, I recommend that you do not work with these individuals unless you have training in working with mental illness, such as having at least a BA/BS in Psychology, Counseling, Social Work, or Mental Health Nursing.

There are several reasons for suggesting that you have this kind of training:
1. You need to know the psychological/psychiatric language so that you can speak in a professional way to the other professionals involved.
2. You should be educated on what a particular diagnosis means.
3. You will be better able to work with the client within the mental health system that is providing services.

My second set of recommendations regarding not working with these clients is that:
1. They are going to be very difficult, because they don’t easily bond with therapist in a manner that is conducive to doing hypnotherapy.
2. Typically thought-disordered clients (psychotic and delusional) tend to get worse before they get better, and they may not get better. What will typically happen then is that they will become more symptomatic, decompensate, and have to be hospitalized. Then the doctor and the client’s family will quit on you and hold you responsible for any further problems that the client has down the road, perhaps for the rest of the client’s life. You may even be sued because of what you “did to them.”

If you were to do this kind of work, here are my recommendations:
1. Again you should be trained to work with the mentally ill as I have written above.
2. The family, doctor and all supporting mental health professionals have to be fully informed that this is not going be an easy process, and that the client may get worse before she gets better.
3. You should have very good insurance that covers you working with the mentally ill. If you are sued you can lose everything, even if you win the law suit, you can spend every penny you own defending yourself.
4. I would be more inclined to work with early onset cases, because they have the best results.If things go very well for you, wonderful! You have done a wonderful thing for your client and her family. But probably no one outside of your circle will know about it. If things don’t go well, there may be legal problems, and news reports that reflect poorly on the whole profession.

Futhermore, a case like that “gone wrong” can have an impact where you live and cause laws to be enacted such that it is more difficult for you and other hypnotherapists to practice.Please take all of these things into consideration before conducting hypnotherapy sessions with the mentally ill, especially if you plan on using the powerful hypnotherapeutic techniques commonly used in 5-PATH(TM), such as hypnotic age regression therapy. Tread carefully, and if you decide to do this kind of work, please let me know how it goes for you. Regarding allowing the psychiatrist to sit in, I recommend against it, as he/she does not understand the 5-PATH process, however, if in your judgement, there is greater benefit in having him/her sit in, then do so, but you may want to teach that individual a little bit a about 5-PATH first.

Cal Banyan

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