As a hypnotherapist you are likely to have put in a lot of effort gaining your initial hypnotherapy practitioner qualification. After that, you may have started seeing clients, whether full-time or alongside another career or therapy. Alternatively, you may yet to have had an opportunity to put your learning into practice, or you might have taken time out for a career break and would like to build confidence and refresh your knowledge and skills…
As a hypnotherapist, your knowledge (and skills to use that knowledge) are your greatest asset. To be competitive, to attract the clients that you want to work with, it is important to stay on top of the latest information and skills. To be an effective therapist, you will benefit from the flexibility that comes from a well-developed knowledge base and skill set. Although you may consider your initial training to have been very thorough, remember that the true professional hypnotherapist engages in ‘Continuing Professional Development’ or ‘CPD’ after completing initial hypnotherapy practitioner training. Professional learning and developing new skills or ‘upskilling’, can take you beyond simply preserving the client base you currently have. It can help you to develop and grow your business. There are several areas in which CPD may give you benefits:
- Updating hypnotherapy knowledge and hypnotherapy skills
- Updating talking therapy knowledge and talking therapy skills
- Updating professional skills
- Updating business management skills
- Updating communication skills
Updating your hypnotherapy knowledge and skills is essential to keep pace with an evolving profession. It can be helpful to have an open and curious mind about developments within the hypnotherapy world. There will often be another ‘magic bullet’ type cure-all model or process being hailed as a wonder treatment. Yet if you look at its core components, you may already have all the necessary elements to work the same way, if you choose. Alternatively, there may be some aspect of that model that is new to you and could enhance your skill set by learning it.
Updating your talking therapy knowledge and skills can add to the depth and quality of your work as a hypnotherapist. It can be all too easy to focus on just hypnotherapy and hypnosis-specific approaches, yet other talking therapies can give you highly useful skills, such as counselling approaches to draw out information from the client. Mindfulness techniques can benefit a wide range of clients and makes great homework, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is really helpful when working with clients who do not wish to be hypnotised or are contra-indicated.
Updating your professional skills can really make your hypnotherapy business and therapy practice more effective. Are you good with information communication technology (ICT)? Being able to get the most from your computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone is a key part of running an efficient business. If your competitors can reply to an email on their phone, they may book that client enquiry before you even return home to turn on your desktop PC. Furthermore, being able to use relevant software, apps and programmes can not only improve your business efficiency, it can save you money. An Excel spreadsheet, or data entered into a cloud accounting programme can save you accountancy fees and give you up to date financial management information. Also, being able to edit your own website means you are in control of what is there and when it is updated. In addition, you may find that developing key business knowledge and skills in areas such as project management and risk management can support your professional work and enable you to actually have more time available to spend with clients, rather than having to waste time looking information up.
As a hypnotherapist you are likely to be self-employed. This means that you will be engaged in the business of being a hypnotherapist. To be able to get the clients to use your therapy knowledge and skills with, you need to run your business well. This means keeping up to date with advances and developments in business practice, finances, social media strategies and advertising to name but a few aspects.
Finally, we all tend to assume we have good communication skills, yet rarely do we take time to focus on or improve this essential ‘soft skill’. It is important that you are able to communicate as effectively as possible with clients, colleagues, healthcare professionals and others, in a way that clearly conveys your message. Both written and oral communication skills are a vital part of your hypnotherapy practice and your hypnotherapy business. If you’d like to learn to communicate better with yourself and others, check out my comprehensive book on the subject.
As someone new to the hypnotherapy profession, perhaps recently qualified, your training may have been thorough, or superficial. It can be useful to conduct a professional development audit (see below) to get an understanding of your starting point and use this to create a professional development plan to effectively target your available resources (e.g. time, money, effort). You may have qualified some time ago and perhaps worked as a hypnotherapist before taking a career break. By assessing where you are now and where you would like to be, you can find out how best to target your development to build on what you already have and add what is needed.
As a working hypnotherapist it is easy to get into a rut of working with the techniques and approaches that are most familiar and comfortable. It can be isolating work, as rarely will you be working in a joint or multi-therapy practice. Hypnotherapy supervision can help you challenge poor habits and identify professional development. In addition, a professional development audit and professional development plan can help you define what you need and keep you focused and on track. Not all new or different topics, techniques and skills will be relevant for you and your therapy practice. It can also be good to check what interests you against your plan. It might be that at a conference or taster event you discover something interesting and choose to learn it even if it isn’t on your plan.
Beyond the obvious benefits of developing as a professional, there are other advantages you may not yet have considered, such as by developing your knowledge and skills you enhance your problem-solving abilities. By having a broader viewpoint, you can engage in greater analysis and critical thinking, as well as enhancing your decision-making abilities. A wider perspective can also enable you to be more innovative and employ your creativity in how you work with your clients.
Whether newly qualified, returning to hypnotherapy or working as an established hypnotherapist, it can be good practice to keep aware of what the most in-demand skills are for your client base. What are other people offering for the type of client that you work with? Who are the best hypnotherapists in this area? What are they doing that you could do better or differently? You can then undertake a professional development audit from an informed perspective.
Professional Development Audit
Here are some useful questions that you can ask yourself in order to audit your current skills, to assess what you know and do currently, and to figure out where you have areas for improvement and growth:
- What do I need to do (or what could I do) with my clients but lack the knowledge or skills to do?
- What am I interested in that would support my work?
- What do I do well that I could take to another level?
- What could I add to my knowledge or skills that would enhance my work with my existing client base?
- What could I add to my knowledge or skills that would develop or add to my client base?
- What else could I do to get better quality information from my client during the intake/consultation? Or whilst setting goals? Or formulating treatment plans?
- How could I make greater use of the client’s information within the hypnotherapy work than I do at present?
- Do I rely on generic scripts? Or could I better individualise my therapy to suit the client?
- Are there any gaps in my knowledge and skills using the key hypnotherapy approaches (behavioural, cognitive, analytical, regressive)?
- Are there any gaps in my knowledge and skills of talking therapies and complementary approaches, such as mindfulness, NLP, REBT, CBT and ACT?
- Are my professional skills at a level that enables me to work effectively and efficiently?
- Do I manage my business as well as I could? What else could I do?
- In what way might I benefit from updating my communication skills?
Professional Development Plan
Your professional development audit, ideally conducted every year, will give you some great information about where to best focus your development. There are a vast number of different opportunities for you to develop or upgrade your knowledge and skills. Short courses are great when you wish to focus on a particular topic, technique, approach or skill. This can be at an introductory level, or at a more developed specialist level to build on what you already know and can do. Practitioner training may be the most suitable and cost-effective route if it has been a long while since your training and you have had a career break where your knowledge and skills have faded. In contrast, as an experienced and working hypnotherapist, with varied interests, you may find that an advanced training programme better meets your needs than a whole bunch of individual specialist courses.
Online training is a popular route for short courses, introductory courses and even more specialist and advanced hypnotherapy training. However, live, in-person training also has its place, whether at practitioner level, CPD level of for more bespoke 1-2-1 training.
Working well in the hypnotherapy profession will involve engaging in lifelong learning. Beyond simply meeting the requirements of your professional associations ‘CPD hours’ (often around 16 hours per year), there are so many broader benefits to engaging in an ongoing process of professional development. Not only does this keep you up to date in terms of knowledge and skills, but it can demonstrate to clients that you have passion about hypnotherapy. That you have ambition and are motivated to be the best that you can be. I don’t know about you, but if I were a client, that’s the kind of hypnotherapist I’d like to see…
We hope you’ve enjoyed this blog on keeping your hypnotherapy skills up to date and current. If you have any more 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