The Element of Surprise

My former life as a tax adviser was frequently frustrating but rarely dull. The reason was that any plans I had for a particular day were often defenestrated (i.e. thrown out of the window) by a telephone call or visit from either a client or a partner wanting something done immediately. My favourite (not) were the partners who would turn up at 4 pm and say “I’ve promised Mr So and So that he’ll get his tax return first thing in the morning.” Thinks: “Fine for you to make the promise – you don’t have to do the work.”

Now I’ve put all that behind me, dei gratia, I still get the odd surprise in my work as a self-employed hypnotherapist. Very occasionally, I take a call from a prospective client who desperately needs my help straight away – a sudden attack of nerves before a presentation, perhaps, or fear about an upcoming flight. Another kind of surprise came from a client in Greece wanting a telephone session. But the most usual type of surprise comes from a client who turns up in my consulting room with an issue that I wasn’t expecting.

Generally, when I take a booking, I ask the client how he would like me to help him. Some give me a great deal of information at that stage, most give a brief overview and a few are so reticent – or perhaps they are calling from work – that they don’t want to give any details over the phone. Then they arrive and it quickly becomes clear that the issue they told me about isn’t what we need to work on. Or there’s the client who comes for a particular issue in session 1, then says he has other issues too – so when he comes back for session 2 I don’t know whether we’re going to be working on reinforcing what we’ve already covered or something entirely different.

Happily, my original hypnotherapy tutor was adamant that we shouldn’t use pre-prepared scripts and trained us to work completely cold with our practice clients. We wouldn’t even have any idea what issues they would bring to the session. That was about nine  years ago, and I have since picked up a number of new techniques that can be adapted for most situations, such as Emotional Freedom Technique and Archetypal Parts Imagery. It can often be tricky to make an instant decision on which of the possible techniques to use, but all of my client sessions start with a pre-talk to find out what the client needs and there are usually clues there which will guide me on which way to go.

There is one more kind of surprise in my work – the client who fails to show up altogether. There are several possible reasons for that – but I’ll save them for a future blog.

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