Life Of A Hypnotherapist
Life Of A Hypnotherapist
Darren Marks (Hypnotist) gives expert video advice on: How much do you charge for each session?; Can hypnotherapists earn a lot of money?; What is psychoneuroimmunology? and more...
How much do you charge for each session?
I charge eighty-five pounds per hypnotherapy session currently. I used to work for a charity where I would work at a much lower hourly rate and prior to that I worked as a volunteer, which is where I got my initial experience, which is I think a fantastic way to begin a career in hypnotherapy. I currently also train hypnotherapists, and I'm charged a day rate for that. It's usually weekend work, and so I'll be working on a Saturday and a Sunday training groups of hypnotherapists at a different hourly rate.
Can hypnotherapists earn a lot of money?
If you see a lot of clients, and if you're successful at what you're doing, then you can earn a lot of money as a hypnotherapist. It depends what you call a lot of money, of course. What's a lot of money to one person is not very much to somebody else. So, it does vary. I have colleagues who have decided to go back to their careers in the city because they couldn't earn enough as hypnotherapists. Then, there will be other people who are coming from maybe less well-paid jobs, who feel that their work as a hypnotherapist is much better financially than what they were doing before.
What is psychoneuroimmunology?
Psychoneuroimmunology is a relatively new science which is all about how our minds influence our immune system. There has been a lot of research now, which has shown that how we think and what we feel has a direct affect on how our immune systems function. It's not so unusual for us to recognise it; when we're feeling run down, when we're feeling depressed or anxious, we're more likely to pick up colds and flus and that kind of thing. A lot of the research that's being done is being done with cancer patients and AIDS patients, and it's been shown that people who use psychological interventions like hypnotherapy will live longer, now, than people who don't use those sorts of techniques. The name of the pioneer of the research in this country is Dr. Walker, who is currently, I believe, at Hull University. You can find out more on his website, which is lgwalker.com, about a lot of the research that's being done in the UK. There's plenty of research of that nature around if you're looking for it.
Do you get referrals from GPs or other doctors?
I sometimes get referrals from GPs or doctors. It's not a regular thing, but it's happening more and more. One of the organizations I belong to is the NHS Trust in Complementary and Alternative Medicine. And every GP in the country will have a copy of this manual and access to the NHS Trust website, so they will be able to refer their patients to qualified, competent therapists of all different disciplines. So I'm on that list, and I do sometimes get referrals from GPs that way, and also from GPs that I've met professionally over the years.
Do you use a watch to hypnotise people?
I don't use a watch to hypnotise people, lots of people are looking out for it when they walk through the door, but usually in the theraputic setting hypnosis isn't used just for relaxation, like a guided form of relaxation. The experience itself feels a bit like when you have woken up in the morning, hear everything going on around you and you can't be bothered to move because you are still in a relaxed dream like state, that's often what hypnotherapt feels like. The ways of getting in that state are as numerous as there are people and imaginations. You may be able to hear in the background of this recording, the ticking of a clock, and I have found that a rhythmic ticking sound does help people to go into a trance state. I often use noise in the background called 'white noise'. White noise sounds like waves crashing. The reason I use it is because it has the ability to drown out any surrounding sounds to some degree, but also the rhythm of the sound helps people to relax. Those are the tools that I like to use. Essentially a soothing, calm voice is all that you need and imagination. Milton Erickson, a very famous American hypnotist, perhaps the most famous, successful and effective hypnotist of the twentieth century, defined hypnosis as a single pointed focus of attention. That's essentially what you need to be able to do. Whether you stare at a point on the wall, whether you are focusing all of your attention on the sound of somebody's voice, or whether you are focusing all of your attention on a swinging watch, any of those things will take you into a focused, relaxed state.
Have you ever hypnotised a friend?
When I was training as a hypnotherapist, we had to find lots of people to practice on so pretty much every single member of my family and all of my friends were practiced on at one time or another. The hypnotic experience itself is a very pleasant, very enjoyable experience and it certainly wouldn't do any harm for you to guide a friend or a relative into a nice, relaxed state. What I would recommend against is treating any deap seated problems with somebody who you are related to or are friends with. It is always better to refer them to somebody who is not directly involved with their life.
How can hypnotism help people?
For a lot of people just being able to go in to relax in a hypnotic meditative state would be a great benefit. But from a hypnotherapy point of view, that is simply the beginning. So once they are in this relaxed state there are a couple of things that we can do for them that fit broadly into two categories. There is suggestion and imagery. Now suggestion for someone who for example was feeling very anxious or not very confident in themselves would be that you feel calm, relaxed, confident, and comfortable. Now if I just said that to that person as they walked through the door, they might think "Well, actually that is not how I am feeling." But at a certain point in your relaxation process is what is known as the critical faculty of your conscious mind. The part of you that judges everything that has been said to you relaxes a bit. So suggestions are absorbed more easily than they otherwise would be. It works in a very similar way to advertising. If you imagine someone coming home from work, they relax. Their shields go down. They put the television on. Exposed to all of this state-of-the-art audio technology advertising and before you know it only that particular brand of corn flakes is good enough or whatever product it is. We know that works because that is why companies spend so much money on that type of thing. The difference here is that the suggestions are designed specifically to help you to achieve goals that you want to achieve. Now, the same applies with imagery. Imagery can be quite abstract. It can be dream like. It might not be directly connected to what you think we are working on but be connected in a kind of subtle way. It could be in the form of a metaphor or story. Storytelling is probably the most ancient form of teaching and healing and helping people to shift their perceptions. So sometimes I will use that kind of format. But it will also be very down to earth. I will ask people to imagine themselves in situations where perhaps in the past they haven't felt confident or relaxed. But this time they are feeling relaxed. They are feeling confident. Everything is going exactly the way they want it to. Now the reason that kind of imagery is effective is because our subconsious minds do not differentiate between real and imagined experiences. This is why dreams feel like real experiences, because they are real. They are not physical but they still feel real. So if you can imagine something well enough by the time it comes to being in that situation physically it is not a problem, because you've already done it. You have already broken the pattern. Now it works the other way around as well. So if you are thinking, for example, "Oh my god I have got to do that speech in a couple weeks time" and you start imagining it going really badly and you are hot and sweaty, and you are stumbling over your words before you even get to deliver the speech you are already anxious and it becomes almost like a self fullfilling prophecy. Hypnotherapy can be a very simple process and if you are thinking about something in a way that makes you feel bad then the answer is don't think about it like that. Then it is not a problem anymore, which is obviously very easy for a therapist to say but not neccessarily easy to do. If someone has gotten themselves stuck in some kind of pattern or mode of behavior, that might have gone on for years. But there does have to come a point in time where they say, "I have had enough of this" and they start to turn it around. The whole point of hypnotherapy is to create the framework, the space, which speeds that up and allows the person to make those changes very rapidly and very easily. That is the idea of it.
How many hypnotherapy sessions do you have with each client?
On average, I see people three or four times. Sometimes one or two hypnotherapy sessions is enough, and sometimes it may go to six or seven hypnotherapy sessions. But it's not the sort of treatment where I expect to see people for months on end. I hope and expect to see people at points in their lives where they're ready to make changes quickly, and they use the tool of hypnotherapy to help them turn those corners easily and effortlessly.
How long do sessions last with each client?
Each session lasts approximately one hour.
Do you take group sessions?
I currently don't take hypnotherapy group sessions with clients. I find that it's much better to treat people on one to one basis. That way they get the personal hypnotherapy treatment that they need. Sometimes people enjoy working in the group setting; they can feed off the energy of the group. The only time that I'm doing group work is when I'm training hypnotherapists these days.
How many sessions do you do each week?
On average, I probably have 20 sessions a week approximately.
What are your typical hours of work?
I see most of my hypnotherapy clients between 3:00 in the afternoon and 8:30 in the evening Monday through to Thursday, and then I sometimes see clients Friday mornings and Sunday mornings. So that's my typical week.
Do you work for yourself or for a company?
I work for myself and I work for companies. I work for the Institute of Clinical Hypnosis, who hired me as a lecturer and trainer for hypnotherapy, but my practice is a private practice. I used to work for the Southeast Cancer Help Centre, and again, they employed me to go in there one day a week and treat cancer patients.
What conditions do you most commonly treat?
The single most common thing that people come to see a hypnotherapist for is stopping smoking. I certainly get the most referrals from ex-smokers. I think the reason for that is that most people don't mind telling their friends that they went to see a hypnotherapist for stopping smoking whereas if you go to see a hypnotherapist, for example, because you're not feeling confident enough in your work or you're suffering from some kind of phobia, then you're less likely to tell people about it. So smoking comes number one, followed by all kinds of confidence and anxiety related issues, and then probably weight comes at number three, and after that would be a variety of different phobias. On top of the phobia list would be fear of flying.
Do you have your own practise?
Yes, I have my own practice. I have a hypnotherapy clinic in London and one in Herefordshire.
Do you do home visits to patients?
I did home visits when I first started out as a hypnotherapist, but have now stopped doing home visits. The main reason for that is that one of the things that makes a hypnotherapy session work is the atmosphere and the surroundings. And if you're going to somebody else's home, it's not always easy to create the right sort of atmosphere and surroundings. So I insist these days that people come and visit me, and I make sure that both of the clinics I work in do have disabled access.
Do you guarantee results for patients?
I don't guarantee results for patients. I don't think it's ethical to guarantee results for patients. Hypnotherapy makes it much easier for people to achieve the goals that they want to, to overcome their fears, to let go of unwanted habits. But you can't guarantee results. In the same way that if you buy your nicotine replacement therapy in the chemist, they don't guarantee that it works, they say it will help you. And if you go for an operation in the hospital, you usually have to sign a waiver to say that if any harm comes to you then the hospital is not responsible. Obviously, that's not necessary at all with hypnotherapy, but in the same way, although it is a very powerful and useful tool, it is not possible to guarantee results in that way.
How does hypnotherapy differ from stage hypnosis?
For a lot of people their own experience of hypnosis is what they have seen on TV, stage shows, people clucking like chickens and that kind of thing. I will explain to you a little bit about how that works, as opposed to what happens in a hypnotherapy session. Now, no stage hypnotist would do a show unless there is approximately a minimum of about seventy-five people present. Because they know that statistically out of seventy-five, they are going to get three or four people who are very quick at going into a trial state and are prepared to be the stars of the show; which generally means making a fool out of yourself. Usually the people who take part in shows like that are extroverts or the people who want to be extroverts. It is a great way to behave outrageously and not take any responsibility for it. One of the skills of a stage hypnotist is picking out the right people. So often, what they do is they ask for volunteers. You might get twenty or thirty people going up on the stage and then they go through a series of tests, which double up as a hypnotic induction. Now a typical test is this one, and you can try it now if you like. You clasp your hands together very tightly and I want you to imagine very vividly that your hands are glued together with superglue. No matter how hard you try, you cannot pull your hands apart. Now try pulling your hands apart. Now I would guess that one of maybe three or four things happened. What I see most commonly in my practice, when I do this test, is that people get the feeling of them being locked, and then kind of think whoa that is a bit weird, and kind of unclasp their hands, take back control. Other people, there will be a few people who really, you know, really get it and they will be thinking oh my god I cannot pull my hands apart. There will be another group of people who will be going, actually, no mate you cannot do that to me. I am in complete control here, which of course they are. But so is the person that is going along with it. It is just that they are choosing to go along with it, because they want to be the star of the show. Now, having said that, there is a pressure when you are on the stage to do what you are told. There is something about the energy, the power of a theatrical performance, which does push people to do things which maybe they would not normally do. You think the pressure is on the hypnotist, but that is not what it feels like if you are in the hot seat, as it were. So there is all that kind of psychological pressure going on at the same time. When you see someone clucking like a chicken, or eating an onion and pretending it is an apple, or whatever it is that they are doing, it is exactly the same process as a child playing. I have a little boy who is six and in a blink of an eye can transform himself into a power ranger or he can be eating imaginary food in the back of the garden, or digging dinosaur bones. And when children play games like that, it is very real to them. We are all born with a natural ability to fantasize very vividly and it is in this realm of fantasy that everything that we create comes from all inventions. All designs start in the realm of imagination. The great sports people of this world imagine themselves as winners. If you do not believe that, if you cannot see that, than you do not even bother to train. Part of the process of hypnotherapy is about imagining yourself as you really want yourself to be, because that is the first step towards achieving those goals. The illusion of stage hypnosis is that people are being made to do things against their will. That is the illusion. If it did not look like that, it would not make for a very good show. But they are actually very carefully selected volunteers. They are there because they want to be there. It is a real experience that those people are having. But it is a bit like an actor or an actress or a child playing who becomes so immersed in their part they have become the character, which is of course when you see the best acting. Hypnotherapy uses that same realm of imagination, but it uses it to empower people and to help people achieve their goals.
What has been your most exciting experience as a hypnotherapist?
Some years ago now, I got a phone call from Channel 4 asking me if I could help one their contestants on a reality TV show called "Salon" where the girl on the show had had a panic attack. It's one of their stars and had a panic attack live on TV and was refusing to go back on the set. And they wanted her back on the set that evening and could I sort it out? And so they arrived with this girl, all the producers and staff from the salon arrived in their limousine outside the clinic. I happened to have an appointment available that particular day and I had, literally, one hour to completely sort this person out so she could get back on the stage. So that was quite an exciting experience, and it worked very well.
What has been the strangest request you've ever had?
I'm not sure whether this would be termed a strange request or perhaps a sad request. Upon occasion, I've had people ask me if I could stop them, using hypnosis, from being homosexual, and my answer to that would be, “No.” I can't change how they are. But certainly you can use hypnotherapy to help people to accept who they are and feel comfortable with themselves. I suppose alongside that would also be people who ask me if I can help them to forget people that they've had in their lives, maybe relationships, this kind of thing. Again, you can't use hypnosis to wipe out parts of your lives, but what you can do is help people think about things in a different way so they don't affect them so badly anymore.