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Are Limiting Beliefs Infesting Our Profession?

by Shaun Brookhouse, PhD, DCH, MA, MSc, PGDHP, FNCH

Category: Hypnotherapy


I do not know if everyone else in the profession can feel it, but there seems to be a distinct negativity going around and I cannot understand it. When I got my morning post today, I received a newsletter from one of the organisations I am a member of. I generally look forward to receiving my 'hypno-publications' like many practitioners, I find that reading of my colleagues successes and new ideas is inspirational. The publication I received today was at best a downer, at worst down right depressing.
The reason for this was due to the viewpoint that everything is difficult for practitioners, there is not enough money out there, and finally the field must have its right of practice protected from those who want to see hypnotherapy practice limited or abolished. I have noticed that these themes are common and in the main unfounded. I would like to take this opportunity to put forward a different and hopefully more positive view of the profession that we all love.

The first point is about things being difficult for practitioners. I agree that there are times when we all struggle to earn a reasonable living helping others. However, I do not believe that hypnotherapists have it any more difficult than any other independent health care provider. In fact, we have distinct advantages when compared with other forms of complementary or alternative therapists. We have a large scientific basis for the work we do, and perhaps even more important we have “brand recognition”. By this I mean that the average member of the public has some idea of what hypnosis or hypnotherapy is. This is not to say that it is always a correct view, but it is at least a view.

There is a Jungian concept that perception is projection, which means that if we perceive something to be true, that is what we project out to the rest of the world. If we accept this principle, then it is true to say that if we perceive that things are difficult, that is what will be the case in the world we live in. Hypnotherapists are in the field of human development, helping others to overcome limitations. However, it appears that many of us are harbouring limiting beliefs about ourselves and our field which we are too quick to accept as fact rather than as a personal perception.

This leads me to my second point, "there is not enough money out there". It is true that to establish a practice is not easy, not even more importantly, cheap. However, there is a way to be smart about this. The first thing one must accept is that to make money takes money. So a practitioner must make a certain level of investment to get started and to continue to grow. This does not need to be a large sum of money, but one needs to invest this money wisely. I use the term investment because good advertising expenditure is an investment.

Secondly, a rule I teach my students is that if a company needs to contact you to tell you about them, it is probably not worth advertising with them. You will notice that most good sources of advertising for clients, like Yellow Pages and certain magazines will wait for you to contact them. They very seldom “cold call” businesses. Why? Because they know they are a good source of business and that they will get more than enough interest from businesses looking to advertise. Useful advertising should produce enough new business to survive on.
If you are a skilled practitioner, you should then get referrals from these people which should allow you a comfortable standard of living. In the UK, many people within the therapy world are well meaning amateurs. It is this amateur component that makes it difficult for the full time practitioner. I believe that if you are going to do something you might as well do it to the best of your ability. Many people train to be hypnotherapists and then bumble their way through a couple of years before deciding to give up. This is reflected in the fees that they charge. There is a range from anything as low as £8 (approx $13.00) to a high of £200 (approx $300).
It is my view that we should lean higher than lower. Imagine you were going to see a specialist brain surgeon who only charged £10 for a visit. I think we have a perception that you get what you pay for, rightly or wrongly. If we are to be taken seriously as professionals we must first take ourselves seriously. This should be reflected in a reasonable fee. Therapists do the world a lot of good, we should be appropriately compensated for this.

Finally, the issue of practice protection. It never ceases to amaze me that we are still paranoid in this field about some unknown government agency or European Dictate that will all of a sudden remove the right of practice from thousands of hypnotherapists.
In the first instance, there are clauses in European Employment legislation which should protect us from this. Secondly, perhaps even more importantly, we as a profession need to get our house in order. Agreed codes of ethics and practice, minimum training standards, continuing professional development and research and development are the way to impress the government and general public that we are a viable profession. I would ask that organisations stop using scare tactics to try to impress their views on the profession, inclusivity rather than exclusivity is the key to the development of the profession.

The above points are within our control, I believe that we as a profession should actually take control, rather than being happy to see things happen beyond our control. Successive governments have stated they have no intention to legislate the “talking therapies”. We waste far too much effort in trying to give the government a reason to, rather than developing as a therapeutic field. If legislation is to come, it will come when we as a field are mature enough to handle it. I am sure that legislation, if it does come, will be positive and will be inclusive rather than exclusive. The days of believing that there is not a profession of hypnotherapy are over and the medical and psychological professions accept this. Let us look forward and grow up.

I believe that many of the problems outlined above are due to the fact that a number of people have been out of the loop for a long period of time. In many cases, they only have the views of one trainer from several years ago to go by. I tell my students to study with as many people as you can, it will give you a broader perspective of the profession as a whole.
For those of us who find ourselves in leadership roles in this field, it behoves us to be as up to date as we can with current developments in the field both here and abroad. If we are to lead, we must do so from a position of knowledge rather than of out dated opinions and prejudices.


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