A ‘traditional’ hypnotherapy session may range in duration from 50 minutes up to two hours, and, most commonly, is around an hour. Also, depending on the nature of what the client wants to achieve, there may be a single standalone session, or a series of sessions. However, not all therapy follows a ‘traditional model’. There are many reasons why you may need to work more rapidly with your hypnotherapy clients.
Firstly, a more rapid way of working may best suit your personality. If you prefer really dynamic work, and are naturally a fast-paced, high-energy type person, then adopting a rapid style will be congruent for you, rather than forcing yourself to take a slower, steadier approach and perhaps having a client picking up a sense of your suppressed impatience.
Secondly, a speedier approach may suit the client’s personality. If they naturally respond better to a faster delivery style, then accommodating their preferences can help optimally engage the client in the therapeutic process.
Thirdly, the nature of the therapy work may lend itself to a more dynamic style. If you are working with an athlete on sport performance, then a relaxing or moderately-paced session may not fit well, particularly if you are motivating them towards greater sporting achievement. Furthermore, with some conditions, such as pain, a more rapid entry into hypnosis can help a client move from their ‘symptom trance’ into a hypnotic trance. This can also apply in emergency situations where someone may already be partially dissociated as a result of their coping strategies and rapid work is required e.g. for initial pain relief after an accident or for supportive work immediately post-trauma.
Fourthly, the location where you’re doing the hypnotherapy session may also have an influence. If you are working in a healthcare or dental setting, you may not have access to the individual for a whole hour or more. If you are working with someone who is anxious about surgery and it is 30 minutes until their theatre slot, you will find that they are unlikely to put back the start time to accommodate a traditionally longer hypnotherapy session.
Whether you are more authoritarian or more permissive as a hypnotherapist, and whether you prefer more direct or indirect approaches, you can certainly build rapid therapy approaches into your hypnotherapy practice.
A rapid therapy intake process
Does your consultation process take up a large portion of your therapy session? A good intake is a significant contributor to an effective therapy process, providing a range of essential information (e.g. contact details, relevant medical information, information about the problem/goal) and desirable information, such as their hobbies, lifestyle, and how they usually relax. However, there are ways that you can streamline the intake process.
Firstly, for the standard factual information you need (e.g. name, address, phone, doctors contact), you could either have an online form or send the client a document online that they can fill out prior to the session. For condition and goal-specific information, this can be gained during a phone or online (e.g. Skype/ Zoom) call prior to the session. Although there are benefits from observing a client’s non-verbal communication (e.g. body language) and gaining sub-verbal information, such as how they are saying what they are saying, together with what is being left unsaid, this can be discussed as a ‘catch-up’ or recap summary in the actual therapy setting, thus still gaining this useful information.
Talking of useful information, only seek the information that you need. There is generally no need to find out about a client’s relationship differences between both sets of their grandparents when they are seeking to improve their focus at golf. Indeed, by seeking what can be regarded as irrelevant or intrusive information, it can break rapport. Remember, not only can you seek further information at a later point in the therapy process if needed, but also, some clients are simply not ready or willing to share an immense amount of information in the first session. Relevant information is highly beneficial though. It might seem a good idea to work ‘content-free’ to save consultation time, yet you are the expert on formulating treatment to address the client’s specific needs. Working content-free can place an additional burden on the client; that of somehow knowing exactly what to work on and the ‘best way’ to do it.
As well as gaining information from a client, your ‘pre-talk’ or ‘psycho-education’ about hypnosis and possibly the client’s condition, goal or situation is an area that can massively drain therapy session time. There are some useful ways to streamline this process, particularly if you are comfortable in front of a camera or audio recorder. You could record a standard, general pre-talk and have this either on your website or send your client a link for them to watch before the therapy session. This can then be briefly discussed during the session to check for understanding. You could even have separate videos and tips for common issues, such as anxiety, weight and smoking that could also be sent to a client once they have booked in and paid.
On the topic of getting paid, by getting the client to pay in advance (e.g. Paypal, SquareUp, bank transfer, etc.) , you are saving a couple of minutes of payment administration during your session. The client is also then more likely to actually turn up and also to engage as they have paid and thus are more invested and want to get value from their investment.
Rapid suggestibility tests
If you are seeking to work in as time-efficient a way as possible, you might wonder why it is better to include at least one suggestibility test into the process. Surely you would save time by not doing any… In fact, doing at least one or two suggestibility tests can actually save you valuable time. For example, by using the magnetic fingers test, you can gain an indication of resistance. Far better to quickly address any existing myths and misconceptions or other issues, rather than having a problem further into the session. Other rapid tests can assess sensory preferences (e.g. are more visual or more sensation influenced), movement abilities (e.g. ideo-motor response or catalepsy) and a number of other phenomena. A quick assessment can lead to much more focused creation of hypnosis and work within it.
Rapid inductions and deepeners
There are quite a number of permissive and authoritarian rapid inductions that you could employ in a therapy setting (yes, they’re not just reserved for use by street or stage hypnotists). If you are more of an indirect suggestion style therapist, then the more gentler-phrased permissive approaches may be well-received. They can include eye fixation, movement (e.g. rotating hands), confusion/overload and catalepsy. They can be just as fast (and visually dramatic) as some of the more authoritarian style (direct) rapid inductions, yet may sound a little softer to a client where the command ‘sleep’ isn’t used. The more dramatic inductions tend to be commanding and often have a physical element, whether shock or pattern-interruption. Having a range of indirect and direct approaches can be useful when wishing to work effectively with a range of different responders.
Also, although you might expect that the ‘hypnotic deepeners’ (to enhance or intensify the state created by the induction) would need to be similar in nature to the selected induction, it doesn’t have to be the case. If you are using a more progressive induction, then you could still use a rapid deepener, such as a hand drop or fractionation.
Rapid therapy approaches
A vast range of hypnotherapy approaches and techniques can be effectively employed from a rapid therapy perspective. There are a multitude of resource-building and ego strengthening approaches that are really quick and time-efficient, yet offer the ability to adapt to the client. For example, if the client wants to feel more confident at the end of their session, you could listen for the key words relating to their desired goal and use these to create an acronym that represents those key words. For example, ‘COPE’, representing ‘Confident’, ‘Optimistic’, ‘Positive’ and ‘Engaged’… Which you can then use as an ego boosting phrase, such as, “Over the coming days and weeks as you connect to the work within this session, you will find that you become more and more able to cope, becoming more confident and optimistic in your daily life, feeling more positive and better able to engage with all that you do”.
In terms of focused change work, behavioural habit development or change does not have to take multiple sessions for a simple change. It is a myth that if the behaviour has been around a long while it will take a long while to change. In the same way, identifying limiting beliefs can be done rapidly and new, more positive and beneficial beliefs established and integrated. Where a client is seeking insight, rapid analytical approaches can be quickly employed to help the client. Furthermore, where regression is indicated as being helpful, whether for reconnecting to past positives or gaining information or insight about the past, there are many helpful yet time-efficient approaches that you can use with your client. To learn a whole range of different rapid therapy approaches (as well as all of the other topics discussed in this blog), come along to my rapid therapy approaches course, held at various times throughout the year in London.
If you find that you can’t make it along to the live training, there’s also an online version of the course too! However, as these rapid therapy approaches are highly practical in nature, getting hands-on practice is an important consideration in developing these skills.
If you are having your client go in and out of hypnosis during the session (hypnotising them, doing some work, re-alerting, chatting, re-hypnotising, do some more work etc.,) then a rapid ‘interim’ awakening phrase, such as “1,2,3, open your eyes” can be sufficient and a more comprehensive awakening used at the end of the session. Alternatively, your could create a conditioned response to a cue word or phrase, such as “eyes open” and give the client suggestions that whenever they hear this phrase, it is as though they have received your usual full awakening.
If you have regular types of homework activity that you give to clients (e.g. self-hypnosis), then it can be good to either have information about these as a pre-printed handout or in a PDF format that you can quickly email to the client after the session. This can save you having to explain or write out information during the session, or even wait for them to take notes!
So, whether you wish to optimise time for your entire hypnotherapy session or simply become more time-efficient in one or more sections of your work, it can be good to have a sufficiently-broad range of knowledge and skills to be able to work rapidly with your clients. By broadening your ability to work quickly, you will be better placed to adapt to and have more choice in how to work in each new situation. We hope that this blog on rapid therapy approaches and fast change work has been useful for you. If you have any questions about this topic or anything else for that matter, do please get in touch, because we’re always happy to help!
– written by Dr Kate Beaven-Marks