Written by Dr Kate Beaven-Marks
With everything that’s going on in the world, now is a great time to either start learning hypnosis and hypnotherapy, or to further develop your hypnosis and hypnotherapy skills. You will find that there are a wealth of great courses that you can study online, meaning even if you’re stuck at home, you can still develop your hypnosis skills. With online hypnosis and hypnotherapy courses, you will work through the course, gaining knowledge and developing an understanding of the techniques and approaches that you learn. Then you’ll need to practice in order to fully develop those skills and become an expert at applying them.
At the very start of this process, think about what you want to study and whether the course you are looking at will give you what you are seeking. Is it just theory? Does it teach you practical skills? If so, check whether you will need to practice these during the course in order to progress further, or whether you can complete the course and then practice afterwards. If you do need practice opportunities within the course, firstly explore whether there are any ‘in-house’ opportunities, such as practicing with your fellow students on the course, or with other students/past students within that training organisation. As an example, our ‘live-online hypnotherapy certificate’ course gives students access to a ‘student forum’, where practice sessions can be arranged (whether in person or online). The advantage of this ‘course-based practice’ is that the people you practice with are likely to have some level of interest in what you are studying and may also be able to give you an opportunity to experience the approach yourself, as well as practicing it with them. Sometimes, learning by experiencing it yourself gives you added insights that you may not get just from delivering it. Of course, it can also help to record a technique/approach and then experience it back. Yet if someone else delivers it, there may be differences in terms of style and delivery that can offer new awareness and depth of understanding.
Where possible, it can help to look at what you will be covering on your chosen course and what the practice requirements will be and then, if you can, start to line up your practice partners in advance. Even where you will be practicing with fellow students, you may wish to also practice with people who have no idea of the techniques or approaches you will be using. In addition, whilst one volunteer for each technique you wish to practice might seem enough, remember, life happens! Your practice person may not be available when you need them. So, it can be more re-assuring to have at least two people lined up. There is a further advantage, because if both (or more) of your volunteers are available, you will be able to gain even more practice and, as you will likely know, each person can respond differently to the same hypnosis technique, giving you valuable experience.
Even if you don’t need practice opportunities throughout your course, creating a list of techniques and potential practice participants means that you can get started reinforcing your learning as soon as you are ready to do so. There is nothing like applying a new technique to really reinforce your memory and gain greater understanding of how and why something works. Also, by practicing, you’ll learn what you need to do to make each technique and approach your own!
Whilst it may be tempting to simply just start practicing straight away with real clients, there are advantages to first practicing where both parties are aware that it is practice! The key advantage is that you can get direct feedback. With paying clients you will get indirect feedback based on how they respond and whether their outcome is what you (and they) expected. With ‘practice clients’ you can directly ask them how they felt about the technique and your approach. Do bear in mind though, how important your language is here. Avoid unpicking your work with careless comments or poorly worded questions, including:
- Oh sorry, was that really rubbish?
- Did you notice the bit I forgot?
- Was it terrible? Too fast? Too slow? Too….?
- Are you still in pain?
- I messed up the X bit…
Also, it can help to avoid closed questions (e.g., Yes/No answers) and keep your questioning and comments open and neutral, such as:
- It would be great to hear about your experience.
- What were you aware of during this process?
- What did you think of that?
- How do you feel now?
- What do you notice now?
Apart from ‘in-house’ opportunities to practice with your fellow students and graduates, where else can you find practice opportunities? Well, a great place to start is with people who know you, and who you are already connected with (whether friends, family, partners, colleagues, etc.). As well as practicing with those people, you can ask them to spread the word that you are looking for more people who would like to experience ‘X’, such as gaining confidence, alleviating phobias, developing healthier eating habits – whatever the ‘positive outcome’ is that they’ll receive when being your ‘practice subject’. Rather than being problem-focused in your enquiries, saying things like, “oh would you like to lose some weight? I can help you with that…” (instant judgement!), phrasing your offer positively will reap greater rewards. Pretty much everyone has something they would like to adjust, even if only a little. By phrasing it positively, selling the benefits, it is easier for your friends, family and people you know to talk about your offer, and will build (rather than break) rapport!
Keep in mind, you do not have to offer your practice sessions for ‘free’. You could charge a reduced rate or ‘mates rates’, in order that you’re getting much needed practice whilst still appearing professional. Sometimes giving something away for free can make people question the value of it. If you’re not comfortable charging for your hypnotic services, you could always do a ‘swap’ instead, where your practice person does something for you (such as mowing your lawn or walking your dog, for example). Charging, even just a ‘token fee’ can be a good idea when you’re planning on practicing with someone that you don’t know personally, so that it seems like you know what you’re doing (which will generally give you a better outcome). In contrast, you might not charge your direct contacts (friends, family, etc.) as they’re doing you a favour, and to charge them might not be appropriate.
Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways of casting a wide net and getting practice opportunities – so, talk about yourself and your hypnosis skills to people. Yet there are other routes as well. If you are active in any social media groups, you can also talk there about what you are offering people. You may find that you will get more interested offers if you post in groups that are about other interests, such as hobbies. This is because your offer will have more impact and stand out in a ‘car enthusiast’ or ‘sport’ group than amongst all the messages in a therapy-type group. The key thing is to keep your offering simple and memorable, yet enticing so that people will want to take you up on your offer. People are more likely to engage if what you are offering is interesting or even unique. So, if you are posting an offer in a musician’s group about hypnosis for increasing confidence, you could make it specific to musical confidence. If you’re charging for these sessions, you might even offer a bonus to incentivise people further. For example, if someone lets you know that they found you in ‘X group’, they will get a free MP3 recording (from you) or something similar.
Another great way of boosting your word-of-mouth referrals is to identify key influencers in the groups you are looking to post in, and have a chat with them (e.g., via Messenger) and ask if they will talk about you. It can help here if you do the preparation work for them and perhaps say you can message a few key points about the changes people can benefit from when working with you. Remember, keep the focus on what people will gain from an experience with you, rather than focusing on problems.
Finally, encourage anyone that you hypnotise to talk about their positive experiences with you and ask them to share your contact details with their friends, so that others can benefit too. With a little thought and effort, you can soon have a huge list of practice opportunities. Remember as well that these practice volunteers may then, at some point, become full-paying clients!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this blog on how to learn and practice hypnosis online. Feel free to check out our range of hypnosis courses, and 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