So, you are learning to do hypnotherapy and you either want to practice (which is very sensible!) or maybe you are required to practice, or present ‘case studies’ as part of the course homework… But how do you get volunteers to practice hypnosis with?
Do you twist your partner’s arm and use them as ‘volunteers’? Maybe family? Close friends? They may be the most accessible, it’s true, however, a key point to remember here is they know you as YOU, rather than as ‘the hypnotist’, so unfortunately, they may not take you (or any hypnosis work that you do with them) very seriously… This will generally cause it to be less effective (or to not work at all, potentially). That said, whilst family may not be the most appropriate participants for therapy / change work, they may really appreciate some hypnotic relaxation and ego boosting.
With close friends, who you want to keep as friends, treat them, from a hypnosis perspective, like you would family. Keep to the pleasant and positive approaches. The moment you start to do ‘therapy’ with a friend, you forever change your relationship with them, becoming their therapist rather than their friend …especially if they share information with you that they wouldn’t normally share as a friend. This certainly applies to family members and partners as well.
A really useful way of getting hypnosis practice volunteers is to do a ‘friends swap’. Swap those friends and family members who would like some hypnotherapy, with one of your fellow students and vice versa. That way, you keep your social relationships intact and yet still get (hopefully) willing volunteers who are ‘pro-hypnotherapy’ and ‘pro-students’. This approach can also work well with close work colleagues.
As well as ‘swaps’, it can be useful to ask friends, family and colleagues, to spread the word to their friends, family and colleagues. Using friends-of-friends can be a good way of getting someone ‘known’ (and vetted), rather than a complete stranger. You may also use your social media to offer sessions, as a student, and be very clear about what you will and will not work with.
Should you charge people when you’re ‘just practicing’? Well, whether you wish to take any payment at all, is entirely your decision, but there is a perspective which considers that someone only truly places value on something if there is some cost (such as time, money or effort) to them. If you have to pay out for room hire, you may wish to pass this cost on to your volunteer, especially if they are getting a positive gain from the process. If you don’t want to charge a fee, then you may ask for the volunteer to make a donation to your favourite charity, or perhaps buy you dinner. Who knows, you could even get them to wash your car, mow your lawn and paint your house for you as a means of payment!
Keep in mind that it is sensible and much more safe (for both yourself and the volunteer), to practice hypnosis only within your scope of training and competence. If you are working on ‘therapy’ (especially issues and approaches that you do not understand fully), then you will certainly benefit from supervision, where you discuss, with an experienced hypnotherapist, how you are working with a client.
There are clear advantages to practicing your skills as early on as possible. The more practice you get, the stronger your hypnotherapy skills will be. You will become experienced at working with a wide range of people who all respond slightly differently in hypnosis, and who all have different factors to consider. By practicing hypnosis early on in your training, you get broader perspectives of how each technique or approach works, so it deepens your understanding and gives insight into how people respond to therapy in general. It also gives you ‘real-life’ cases and issues that give you an opportunity to utilise new techniques that you are being taught ‘in the field’. That way, in class, you are already considering these approaches from the perspective of a therapist, rather than as a student. By the time you actually qualify, you will be much more comfortable working in a therapeutic manner and this will transmit confidence to your clients. Also, by doing this you may already have started to build up a client base and, hopefully, a good reputation too!
So that’s it… Now it’s time for you to go and practice! Have fun and be safe!
We hope this blog has been helpful, but if you have any more questions on hypnotherapy scripts and how to work towards becoming script-free, do get in touch because we’re always happy to help!
– written by Dr Kate Beaven-Marks