In many areas of our lives and interactions as humans we find ourselves adapting our style & approach; we may address an adult differently from a child or dress differently at work to a night on the town. These adjustments are aimed at improving communication. The message may be partially verbal or may be non-verbal. It is estimated that only 7% of communication is from words whilst tone and volume represent 38% and body language 55%. In hypnotherapy when typically the therapist cannot deliver non-verbal messages since the client is likely to have closed their eyes, & the client may have preconceptions how to adopt style is an important factor.
In a counselling or hypnotherapy situation it is key that the client feels relaxed & comfortable and has confidence in their therapist, it is therefore important to recognise that everyone is different and will respond differently dependent upon their own culture, background, values and perspectives. Heap describes hypnosis as ‘an interaction between two people’ & goes on to suggest that ‘the therapists actions and communications ...should contribute to the creation of appropriate expectations, thus maximising the patients receptivity to suggestion’. (Heap, 2010, pg. 2) It is also noteworthy that this relationship should be mutual and there may be circumstances when the therapist should chose not to pursue a particular course.
It is not unrealistic, given the above, to suggest that to achieve the best results it is important to understand the client; personalising an induction treats the client as an individual and understanding their likes and dislikes may help avoid pitfalls such as using an analogy that disengages the client (for example if someone is claustrophobic they would be unlikely to feel safe cocooned). There are a number of recognised techniques and methodologies aimed at assisting adaptation.
Firstly there is context – as Heap states ((Heap, 2010, pg. 17) ‘the context in which hypnotic suggestions are delivered is of great importance’ the relationship between the hypnotist and subject will vary dependent upon whether it is a stage act, a health centre or a study group; the subject or client will have entered with a different set of expectations and therefore is likely to respond differently.
Other possible barriers to effective communication fall loosely into two categories, external factors such as appropriate setting & internal factors such as a perceived lack of empathy. Typical external or physical factors to be addressed might be the need for appropriate attire; having the room at a comfortable temperature; ensuring the client is not hungry/thirsty & that background noises and disruptions are kept to a minimum. Might the client, for example, be suffering from any condition that would make sitting for a while uncomfortable? Is the client overly anxious or upset? In this case is this an appropriate time for the session to continue? Is the client under the influence of alcohol or drugs? If this is the case then the session should not continue and treatment may need to be reviewed.
Internal factors affecting communication may be more difficult to recognise and acknowledge, they might include the need to adjust language to the level of the client ensuring that the client understands, but also seeking to ensure that you are clear about what the client is saying, so if an unfamiliar term is used clarification should be sought; there may be an inclination from both client and therapist to reject a message perhaps because at it is yet too uncomfortable; the client may be confused or overly anxious; things can be mis-remembered and on occasion there may be a lack of rapport or a particularly challenging circumstance which inhibits empathy or trust (both ways); it is important to stay focussed on both verbal and non verbal cues and remain in the moment in case a line of thought is missed...