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Monday, 18 December 2017

Why a therapist is not just for Christmas!

As those who know me best will confirm, I've been 'involved' with dogs since my mid teens. Over the years I've competed, judged, taught and lived with quite a few.

A well known dog charity has a slogan about a dog being for life and not just for Christmas. So could the same be said about therapists?

I think that what the slogan means is that, despite what you see in Lady and the Tramp, dogs don’t generally make good presents (especially of the surprise variety) because the person who’s going to do all the work and have all the responsibility should really be involved at all stages. And that starts a long time before the dog actually arrives.

Most therapists say that clients need to be motivated, and take responsibility for creating change in their lives, the therapy is something that supports that. So the question arises, can you give therapy as a present?

If it’s a wonderful relaxing massage, aromatherapy, or even a hypnotherapy session aimed at general relaxation, the answer is probably yes, why not? But I'm not so sure about therapy to deal with specific issues.

My experience of being a 'present'

 
A long time ago, I worked in a therapy centre which issued gift vouchers. I was contacted one January by a lovely gent whose grown up children had bought him some for a 'quit smoking' session with me. The vouchers had arrived on Christmas morning completely unexpectedly, along with a heart-rending message begging him to quit because they didn’t want him to die.

That left me in a quandary. I generally vetted my 'quit smoking' clients to make sure they (a) actually wanted to quit and (b) were not expecting me to wave a kind of hypnotic magic wand.  The gift vouchers had been sold by a new assistant in the shop below the therapy rooms who'd not been properly briefed on my ways of working, and the first time I knew anything about it was when the client contacted me to make the appointment. He knew nothing about hypnosis, and hadn’t even thought about quitting before the vouchers arrived.

Like the Christmas puppies, I felt that if the person who was going to have to make the decisions and do all the work wasn't involved in the decision making process, however well intentioned the gift it maybe wasn't worth continuing.  

How I handled it

 
I explained my usual policies, and we had a long chat to decide whether hypnotherapy was the right way for him to go. I was quite ready to ask the shop to refund the vouchers, but it turned out that the message which came with them had been a real wake-up call. We went ahead with the appointment, and he quit successfully. His family, of course, were delighted.

The point of all this, of course, is that therapy is a support as you make changes, but can't impose them on you. Clients have to be committed to their goals. Furthermore, some advertising regulations (in particular for quit smoking services) say we have to state this clearly on our websites and brochures. But how far we take this, in terms of vetting clients, is pretty much up to us.

Do you vet your clients?

How?
Would you ever take on a client who didn’t seem motivated?
Have you ever been a 'Christmas present' and how did that go for you?

Let me know in the comments box.


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Author: is an experienced hypnotherapist and hypnotherapy trainer. She is the author of Their Worlds, Your Words and has co-written the Hypnotherapy Handbook, both of which are available from Amazon.
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