In this essay I intend to discuss why an initial consultation is so important, before delivering any hypnotherapy to a new client. I also will look at the ethical factors a therapist should cover at the time of the initial consultation. Prior to any course of hypnotherapy with a new client a reputable therapist would want to learn more about the person that has presented before them. This would be done with an initial consultation. It could be said that this initial consultation would be free of charge and last around half an hour. Some however, would say that you are giving half an hour of your time free of charge. Although my thoughts are that it would make clearer sense to not charge as a client would not feel that their time with a therapist was being wasted by a therapist just asking questions. (Although how this was advertised should be looked into very carefully as stated in (module 3 worksheet), the words “free consultations?” could be open to misinterpretation were the words “free initial consultation!” is clearer and states exactly what is offered). There are a number of aims of the initial consultation. The most obvious reason for this would be to give the chance to meet a client face to face.
Also a therapist would at this time be able to ensure that the client would benefit from hypnotherapy and indeed that hypnotherapy is the right course of action for that individual case. Also this gives the opportunity to gather as much information as possible about the prospective clients and the reason they have decided to undertake hypnotherapy. It is important that the reasons they are there are fully understood for example someone that wishes to stop smoking must have an incentive to why they are seeking hypnotherapy to help them quit. This should be investigated fully! are they there because people are nagging them to stop? Are they there because they themselves have reasons to want to stop? Perhaps they see smoking as unhealthy for them and those around them partner, children etc. The therapist should always dig deeper perhaps find out if there are anytime’s that they smoke more cigarettes. It could be that when that person gets stressed for a particular reason they smoke more as a way of dealing with it.
This will influence the hypnotic suggestion during the therapy. “A suggestion is a communication by the hypnotist to the subject and, as with any communication; it is intended to alter the recipient’s feelings, thoughts and behaviour in a specified way.”(Pg 3, Heap & Dryden.) During this the therapist can also discover the reason why the client has thought that hypnotherapy will help them. In addition the therapist is also establishing if they themselves have the skills to help the client. A therapist would also have the opportunity during this consultation to gather other information such as medications? Are they on medication if so what and what is it for. Perhaps they suffer from depression! With such a condition it would be prudent if this has not already been sought to gain the permission of their doctor before a course of treatment commences. (This of course depends upon the skills and experience of the therapist.
There are some mental illnesses that should not be treated by hypnotherapy such as Bi-polar disorders etc(Heap and Dryden) There are other conditions and illnesses that could also present an issue with using hypnotherapy as a treatment and again would probably need permission from a Dr before any commencement of treatment. Modality an individual’s modality can also be assessed at this time this would help with the selection of an appropriate style of screed for any treatment. There are many other avenues of questioning during this initial consultation. However, I would like us to assume that we have followed all lines of question that we feel appropriate during the initial consultation and all is well and a therapist decides that the client will benefit from hypnotherapy. Let us also assume that the client has presented to us with a very low self esteem issue! For the purpose of this Essay and descriptive demonstration we shall call our client Jane.
During the initial consultation it was established that Jane is going for a new job that would mean a promotion and more responsibility and to her surprise she managed to get the job because it is with her existing employer and her immediate boss recommended her for the new post. Jane however feels she is not capable of fulfilling the new role and feels more secure doing what she is doing right now as she knows that job inside out and is good at it. The new job has more responsibility and she would also be in charge of other members of staff. During the consultation it was established that Jane feels that she is not much good at anything. What Jane has shown a therapist is that she has learnt this behaviour from somewhere? A little bit of digging into her past may establish why Jane feels this way. This sort of feeling is trapped within the subconscious mind and is brought across to her conscious mind. During further questioning it is established that Jane when she was younger was the middle child of three. Her parents would show more attention to the other children and praise them for achievements more than they would Jane.
Jane recalls them saying on many occasions that she is useless and should be more like her siblings as she won’t amount to anything!!! This has presented Jane with a negative belief in her subconscious that in turn has made her believe that she is indeed useless. With the prospect of the new job role and promotion she believes she won’t be able to do the new role. Despite her current boss believing she can. Jane’s conscious mind is hearing her boss say you would be ideal for the job therefore we have a conflict. We now thanks to the initial consultation know where we should begin to help Jane with her self-esteem. To work with the positive aspects such as her bosses confidence in her and the fact that she herself admits to being good at her present job. It can be safely assumed that Jane was not born doing that job and indeed had to learn to do it.
Also to work at the root or the negative beliefs she has that where placed into her subconscious by her parents during her childhood experiences. None of this could have been achieved if we did not have an initial consultation. Had Jane had just come along to a therapist and said I have low self-esteem. The Therapist says ok “Now close your eyes” Well nothing would be achieved “unless a total fluke”. Therefore this demonstrates the importance of the initial consultation. An ethical Therapist during this consultation would also look at other factors while deciding if a course of hypnotherapy will benefit and what course of action to take. A client that presented to you although had unrealistic expectations. This is a client who would otherwise be a good subject for treatment, but has the view that Hypnotherapy is a magic cure all. A patient such as this may seek hypnosis as a form of treatment because he has already tried a series of unsuccessful therapies. He is looking for something quick and easy.
Even though hypnosis often works more rapidly than other forms of treatment, it cannot be expected to accomplish the impossible. (pg 280 Hypnosis for change Hadley and Staudacher) To inform a client that everything is possible when it would not be would be a lie and would shadow doubt on the ethics of a therapist. An example would be a therapist that is presented with a client and the client wants a therapist to get rid of the strong feelings she has for her ex boyfriend and believes that the therapist can make her hate him rather than love him. This would be impossible. Even if during hypnosis the client did hate her ex boyfriend it would not be possible to continue into waking Hypnosis and this is due to a separation between our subconscious and our conscious minds this is known as the CCF (Conscious Critical Faculty) The CCF is a sort of filter.
For example I could say that the grass is blue but you actually know it is not blue it is indeed green. That is because your conscious mind has the ability to be critical of suggestion therefore I could say the grass is Blue until I was blue in the face. You however, would know it was Green. Although I could suggest this under hypnosis and you would probably think the grass was blue until you where no longer under hypnosis because you’re conscious mind and the CCF would say once again it is Green. Therefore we could not change or do the impossible and it would be totally un-ethical to even attempt to proclaim to be able to do this just to secure a client. The most important ethical consideration a therapist should bare mind to is to be realistic with the therapists own ability as to take on something that clearly is beyond the therapists skills or remit could lead to MISAPPLICATION
That is using the wrong treatment stemming largely from failure to diagnose correctly during the initial consultation. For example, A common request for anyone who employs hypnotic techniques in therapy, is for help of chronic pain, pain suppression or pain management and increased tolerance is readily achieved with a good proportion of people who make such a request. The potential then exists for the sufferer to learn to mask the symptom of the disorder which if progressive or life threatening, may place him or her in danger- at least of not seeking appropriate diagnosis and treatment until the disorder is too advanced to be treated. (pg 187 Heap and Dryden).
Therefore if the therapist is using a good ethical practice during the initial consultation He or She will know their limitation and abilities. Other ethical issues that should be adhered to not only at the time of the initial consultation are laid out by the National Hypnotherapy society and to cover some of these in brief. That a therapist should not hold discrimination towards anyone based upon their Religion, gender, sexuality, politics, disability, age, marital status. It is important that when a client asks a question pertaining to their treatment and their goals that a therapist answers the question as fully and accurately as possible if an answer is not known then to make something up would be a big mistake that could hold serious consequences.
Therefore a therapist should endeavour to find an accurate answer. This would not undermine the client’s faith in a therapist if done correctly. For example that is something I would have to investigate further however I should have an answer for you in a day or two perhaps I could call you or we can speak at our next session. No lies have been told and the client is still happy. An Ethical practice puts the clients Welfare at the forefront and offers a service with respect, dignity and understanding. (Code of Ethics the National Hypnotherapy Society).
Hypnosis for Change. 3rd edit. Hadley and Staudacher.
Hypnotherapy (a handbook) Heap and Dryden.
National Hypnotherapy society (code of ethics)
British association of counsellors and psychotherapists (code of Ethics)