How exciting! You are asked to work with a journalist on a hypnotherapy article in exchange for them mentioning you in the article. Think of the ‘free’ publicity. Is it really free? If it is a telephone or in-person interview about something you are doing or have done, or you write an article for a magazine or paper, then you are likely to just invest your time. If it is a therapy session (smoking cessation, phobias and performance anxiety are popular topics) you are likely to invest both your time and perhaps pay for your therapy room, and indeed treat them just as though they were a client…. Without being paid.
To balance that, there is the potential for exposure to a vast number of people (depending on whether local paper, national or international) that you may never have reached by your conventional advertising and promotional strategies. It can be a great opportunity. A hypnotherapy article a few months ago, in Men’s Health (featuring both myself and Rory) gave a positive and balanced view about performance anxiety and the benefits of using hypnotherapy to address it. More recently I was featured in an article in the Style magazine of the Sunday Times (see full article below this paragraph) gave a more individual account of a stop smoking therapy session, and the author disclosed a fair amount of personal information which may have made the article seem more ‘real’ to readers. Both of these articles generated a considerable amount of enquiries from the public and others in the media.
Being mentioned in the press, especially if it is a positive mention can be reinforcement to a potential client that you are an expert. A brief mention in the Daily Mail a few years ago, talking about how I taught hypnosis to the students at Eton College, resulted in numerous enquiries. As it still comes up on a google search of my name, it shows potential clients I have been around for a while. It further enhances a perception that I am an expert, as perhaps not just anyone would be let loose on future prime ministers! It further helped that the journalist mentioned a high profile public figure (David Cameron) and Prime Ministers Questions in the same article. The hypnotherapy article also followed one about Prince Andrew. All raising the visibility of the article by association.
You may be invited to write articles about some aspect of your work. Recently I was published in Massage World, where I wrote an article about hypno-massage (that was even on the front cover). This promoted lots of interest from massage therapists about how they could incorporate hypnotherapy into their therapy practice.
Working with journalists, giving them a free therapy session, in return for mention in an article can be more complex. Whether free or paid, if you conduct therapy on someone, unless previously agreed (and I suggest you get it in writing!) then you are bound by confidentiality. In reality, this means that they could write their article with unexpected content or from a completely different perspective to the one you were expecting, and you generally cannot present a counter-argument. Once it is published, any inaccuracies, from your perspective, will remain publicly accessible. It can be good to discuss expectations prior to the start of the actual therapy session (less of an impact on rapport). This may include whether you will have an opportunity to view (or even comment upon) any draft articles. It can be a gamble, because no matter how brilliant a therapist you are, it takes two for the therapy to be effective.
There are likely to be a number of factors present that are not usually part of a standard therapy session. Perhaps the most significant is the motivation of the journalist towards the session. Do they actually want the change / positive outcome, or are they just going along with what their editor wants?
There may be a theme, angle or perspective to the hypnotherapy article. It can be useful to understand the publication it will be going into; what their principles and target audiences are. Alternatively, the journalist may already have a perspective that they wish to write the article from, or it could be part of a themed series. Often the journalist will do some research about you in advance so will have an idea of how you work. They may also come into the session with some prepared questions.
If the journalist records the session (with your knowledge, or without), then by listening back, it can take them back to the start of the session (with their problem as it originally was). Repeated listening to the recording can not only give their problem back to them, but actually strengthen it. This can result in a poor outcome, even more so with a good subject! Also, if the journalist takes notes, they are likely to be distracted. A part of them will remain in ‘work’ mode, and thus with a weaker subject, they are even less likely to get full benefit from the session. If they do neither, and just intend to remember the session, then a part of them will be ‘keeping record’ and thus can also impact on how much they engage and commit to the session. Being distracted like this generally means a less accurate recall of the session. Not just what was done, but why… However, all hypnotherapists are likely to remember being in class during their training and getting positive outcomes from the practical work. Even though a part of them was monitoring and observing what was going on (‘student’ mode), they were still able to work on real issues and get helpful change. Several factors can help make the session more likely to be positive.
To minimise any note taking, it can be good to provide the journalist with some key information about you (a mini biography) prior to the session and to clearly establish goals for the session. It can also be helpful to let them know that you will happily answer questions about the work after the session (preferably at a later date to avoid immediately unpicking your work). As most journalists are skilled at creating rapport, this is something you can make use of within the session to enhance your therapeutic work. However, do remember who you are working with; that they are both a client and a journalist. They will be used to getting people to talk. Be careful not to get caught up in the moment and share or disclose more than you usually would.
With all of the above, it can seem that hypnotherapy for a journalist is fraught with problems. Though it has the potential to be a bit of a minefield, with some clear understanding and preparation, it can be a very effective way of reaching a much wider audience that ever expected.
We hope this blog on hypnotherapy articles, journalism and the media has been helpful, and if you have any questions relating to this blog, do please get in touch, because we’re always happy to help!
– written by Dr Kate Beaven-Marks