It’s generally seen as good practice to add a 20 minute slot to the appointment when someone is coming to see you for the first time, so you can carry out a pre-hypnosis interview. I’m not talking about the pre-talk, here, although you may end up incorporating that into the pre hypnosis interview too if all goes well. What I’m talking about is the first time you and your client meet, ready for their first hypnosis session with you.
“But Josh,” I hear you say (well, you might not be saying it, but humor me please!). “What about street hypnotists and stage hypnotists? They don’t carry out a whole interview with people before hypnotizing them, and that seems to work just fine for them. Why should we bother?”
OK, you’ve got a point I suppose, and the fact is that nine times out of ten you might get by without the pre-hypnosis interview. But what I’d ask is, do you really want to use hypnosis to help people? Do you really want to maximize your (and their) chances of success? Do you want to go into your hypnosis session with them, confident that you’ve got a plan that will get the very best out of the session for both of you?
I’m hoping your answer would be, “Yes Josh” on all counts. In which case, I’d really urge you to take the pre-hypnosis interview seriously. Let’s look at 10 reasons why it’s a good idea:It gives a professional image. It makes it clear you’re viewing the client as a unique individual, rather than just the next person on the conveyor belt, and this will increase their confidence in you.You can get a clear picture of any previous experiences they’ve had with other hypnotists (clinical or otherwise) and ensures you can utilize anything that’s been particularly effective for them in the past, and avoid anything that’s been irritating, uncomfortable or ineffective.You can use the interview to check for any underlying medical issues they might have. This can be useful in ensuring you don’t do anything to aggravate an existing complaint, and also gives you the opportunity to suggest they seek medical attention (e.g. when someone wants you to help them with chronic pain, but they haven’t seen a physician to get the underlying cause of the pain diagnosed).It’s during the pre-hypnosis interview that you would check you’ve got the right contact information for them (useful for follow ups), including next of kin. I know, I know! It’s really unlikely to happen, but they might just decide to collapse with a heart attack as they’re leaving your practice. Now ok, we all know that calling for an ambulance is a good move at this point, but your client would likely prefer to have somebody they know with them or meeting them at the hospital, and when they’re lying unconscious on the floor it’s a bit late to be asking them who they want you to call and what the number is!It’s useful to check for phobias or even things they just don’t like very much – water, elevators, boats, particular animals, their parents (!). You can be sure to avoid these things in any visualization you decide to use.It gives both of you a little time to calm nerves and establish a rapport. Especially if you’re just starting out, you might find you’re just as nervous as your clients on those first meetings! Having a structure to discuss some practical things pleasantly before getting down to business helps break the ice and lets you both relax.It allows you to discuss exactly what your client’s hoping to achieve, which helps you really tailor your session for them, and also lets you do a reality check if necessary.I’m not saying you should, but some hypnotists offer to carry out an initial interview for free. This allows you, amongst other things, to assess the client and decide whether you’re happy to work with them. It gives the client the opportunity to decide, without having parted with any cash, that perhaps this isn’t right for them right now… or if they just don’t like the look of you, they have an opportunity to say, “I don’t think I’ll bother thanks very much!” It’s only 20 minutes of your time. You’ll almost certainly be fine working with virtually any one who comes to see you, but it’s good to have a “get out” clause with no commitment from either side and no offense given or taken.A very boring but important reason for carrying out an initial pre-hypnosis interview is to make sure you cover yourself in the highly unlikely event of anything going wrong. It may be unlikely, but it has been known for people to have heart attacks, strokes, even diabetic seizures while in hypnosis, albeit completely unrelated to the hypnosis. I’m assuming you’ve got professional indemnity insurance if you’ve actually set yourself up in practice. So if somebody decided to investigate the circumstances, with a view to suing you, your notes from the initial interview would show that you gathered all relevant information from your client, and took all reasonable precautions before deciding on your therapeutic interventions. Your insurers will like you!A good pre-hypnosis interview will give you lots of material you can use in the following session (and future ones if the client’s seeing you about longer term issues). Whether it’s details about their current smoking habits, or leisure pursuits they’re passionate about and wish they had more time for, or their relationship with their teenage son, it’s all useful stuff you can tune into and utilize.
So please, get a good format worked out for a useful pre-hypnosis interview that works for you, and make the most of this important useful tool with all your new clients. If you would like more hypnosis training articles like this one just let me know.