The other day, I read a discussion going on in one of the hypnosis groups on Yahoo. It was started by a particular student of a particular school which promotes one session cures or, if absolutely necessary, in extremely complicated issues, as many as two to three sessions to help clients resolve their issues and ills.
In this discussion it was suggested by at least one member of the group, that if you took more than that prescribed number of sessions that either the hypnotist was incompetent or just stringing out the sessions to make as much money has he or she can off of the client. It was even suggested by one member of the group that this was the case with those who practiced 5-PATH®. With that, I figured it was time to attempt to make an educational contribution to the group, so to speak and I sent the email below. The salutation in the email message has been removed to avoid revealing the school and teacher as well as perhaps the students who participated in the discussion.
Please allow me to add to this ever interesting and enlightening conversation.
Hmmm, how many sessions? I remember when I went full time in the profession I read the Elman book, Hypnotherapy, listened to his audio programs, viewed your teacher’s fine videos, and studied other masters who were in the same vein of thinking. Then I opened my center… I found out that I could not get every client who came in to see me into somnambulism in two minutes. I was bummed. I was a very good student. And then as I continued to see clients, I discovered that when we work with our clients, they bring a lot to the session and how well a session goes is not entirely up to us. They don’t always follow instructions, answer questions truthfully, and so on. I learned I had to be more flexible to consistently get the kind of results that I wanted to consistently get for my clients. As a result of this experience I coined some phrases, “hypnosis is a dance” and “hypnosis is a confidence game, if you don’t get their confidence then there will be no game.”
“Hypnosis is a dance” because when you have a session with a client, it is in some ways like when a couple decides to dance. One asks the other, “Would you like to dance?” And the other person either accepts the invitation or declines it. If the person accepts the invitation to dance, then one person takes on the role of the lead, and the other person is to follow that lead. This is very similar when the hypnotist asks the client if he or she would now like to do hypnosis (after the pre-talk and the pre-hypnosis interview has been completed). Just like in the dance, if the person follows the person in the lead, and the person in the lead knows what he or she is doing, then things work out beautifully. As you read in my book, Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy: Basic to Advanced Techniques for the Professional, I co-authored with Gerald F. Kein, I believe that it is worth spending a bit of time with an individual until the client understands his or her role in the dance. If you begin before this has been sufficiently discussed, then there will be trouble in the session.
“Hypnosis is a confidence game, if you don’t get their confidence, then there will be no game” is my way of saying that you need to present yourself well, and your office well, and meet the expectations of the client. I highly recommend that you do convincers at the beginning of the first session to make sure that the client knows that he or she is hypnotized.
These things take time out of the first session. How much time each session takes depends on many factors. Here are some things you might want to consider when you are deciding how many sessions it will take to work with a particular client.
The willingness of the client to follow instructions, and the ability of the client to follow instructions. Some clients are excellent in doing these things, and all of the above can be accomplished in minimal time.
The skill level of the hypnotist is vitally important in determining how long a session will take, or how many sessions it will take to complete the work with any particular client. If you are new and your skills are not yet polished, then it will take longer to do what you want to do. You should not feel badly if, in the beginning it takes you a session or two longer to do the work.
The duration that you have decided to allocate to each session that you work with a client will also have a real and significant effect on how many sessions it takes to do the work. At our center, we set up our appointments so that we see a new client every hour and a half. This means that we intend to spend about one and a quarter hours with each client during each session. If we need the whole hour and a half, then it is there for us to use. We work diligently to keep on schedule, but if we absolutely need to run over a few minutes, we can. In our intake paperwork we inform our clients that we are very good at staying on schedule but from time to time we may run as long as 15 minutes over, and that we are doing this because it is in the best interest of the client that we are working with, and we expect that if we went just a bit longer, then we could save them an entire session. And, we go on to state that , we would do the same for them if it was the case during one of their sessions. So we actually have up to one and three quarter hours if we really need it during any particular session.
Some issues can be more complicated than others and require more session. For example we may find that a particular issue has more than one ISE! This is not common, but it can come up. There are also other reasons why sessions can be more complicated than usual and make additional sessions necessary.
I have always been reluctant to cultivate a one-session mind set, and there are several reasons for this. (Of course I completely respect those that have a different opinion, and work in a different circumstance.) Here are some reasons for my multiple session mind set (none of which have to do with greed).
I want to avoid “Marathon Sessions” because it is difficult to schedule clients and operate a successful hypnosis center with multiple hypnotherapists, as we do, if we do not know when sessions will end.
Long sessions tend to fatigue the client, and when such sessions can be avoided they should be, because a fatigued client may not do as well in the session as one who is relatively awake and able to concentrate.
Marathon sessions also fatigue the hypnotist, and this can result in a session that was not conducted as well as a session done by a hypnotherapist who is not so fatigued, and has a clearer mental state and is more energetic physically.
If the hypnotist and client have a one-session mind set, or even one in which we are always focusing on doing the least amount of sessions in every case, the ability to follow-up with the client and determine that the sessions that were conducted led to long-term change. So, the hypnotist may believe that his or her (1-3 session) approach was always successful when indeed there were some problems down the road that the hypnotist was not aware of.
Also, when one has the 1 (2 or 3) session mind set there is also the possibility that if problems do come up later the client believes that you did everything that you could do, and in such cases believe that the hypnosis did not work. Being a bit more open-ended in your approach encourages the possibility of follow-up work, and encourages the client to come back if additional sessions are needed.
I believe this was mentioned in an earlier message on this subject that one of your teacher’s well known grads often sells sessions in blocks of 5. I’m not sure if that individual was writing about me and how we do things at our center but I can say that we do offer such an arrangement. Let me explain why and how we do this as briefly as I can (I recognize that this is a much longer than usual message to the group and I really am trying to keep it as short as I can). Our approach is a 5 phase approach not a 5 session approach. We have found that on average, with the sessions being the length that I have described above that our clients tend to have about 5 sessions with their hypnotist. The exception is our stop smoking program which can be as short as two sessions.
After building up our clientele over the years and often being very booked up, we found that if we only book clients for their next session at the end of each session that they just completed, then sometimes they could not get in again for a couple of weeks, which of course was a very unsatisfactory situation. We looked at how to handle that and we decided that what we would do is when we made the first appointment with the client, then we would go ahead and schedule 5 sessions. That way they would have the best opportunity to book the times and dates that they wanted (before they became booked by other clients who would start the process after them). This worked out very well. Note that we are not charging clients for all 5 sessions when we do this. Furthermore, if all 5 sessions were not needed then they would be canceled and the new openings would become available for newer clients.
As time went by we raised our fees…As we did this we wanted to be able to offer our services at a lower rate if the client opted to purchase a number of sessions at a time. We did an experiment which worked out very well for us and we continue to use the system. That is we offer the clients who wanted to save some money the opportunity to pay for five sessions when they booked the first session. If a client chose this option, then he or she would save 20% and as such effectively get a 5th session free. Of course if they did not need all of the sessions then they would be refunded for the sessions that they did not use. However, we found that since they had already paid for 5 sessions, and if they only needed 3 (for example), often they would choose to use those 2 remaining sessions on another issue. This made both our clients and us happy as well.
Well there is, a slightly different perspective on the number-of-sessions discussion. I hope this information helped you all out. Please feel free to do differently, that is what has worked for us. We have conducted over 34,000 individual sessions at our center (first in MN and now in CA). Our system of doing things is based on that level of experience.