April 23rd, 2015
As I have been in practice since 1998 my advice is sometimes sought by trainees and people thinking of taking up hypnotherapy. A question which often arises is: where is it best to run my hypnotherapy practice from – a clinic or my home? The simple answer is that it depends upon your circumstances. Here is a brief summary of the advantages and disadvantages of either option.
Practising from a clinic.
- Support from colleagues and other therapists. For a new practitioner, engagement with the public can be very daunting. Your fellow therapists may be able to offer advice and help. They may be able to offer you the benefits of their own experience.
- Referrals from other therapists. You may find yourself in a clinic working alongside people who offer treatments to the body – osteopaths, chiropractors, massage therapists etc. They might be happy to refer their clients to you for hypnotherapy for, smoking cessation, weight loss etc.
- Advertising network. The whole issue of advertising can be very daunting and confusing for the newly qualified therapist. When I qualified, advertising was a simple matter. It was a choice between Yellow Pages and the local paper. Few therapists had websites. But now, any clinic worth its salt will have its own website and you, as a new member of that clinic, may benefit from exposure on the clinic’s website. You will also be allowed to display your own advertising leaflets on the premises.
- Degree of privacy guaranteed. Any reputable clinic will organize a room for you to practise in and will make sure that you can do so undisturbed by visitors, people walking in at random, and so on. This is a most important consideration for hypnotherapists. The last thing your clients need is to be disturbed by someone entering unannounced.
- Cost. The above advantages don’t come for free and sometimes the cost can be heavy. Many years ago I approached a local clinic in Horsham and was told that although I would only be practising there for one day a week I was nevertheless required to offer a £500 deposit and pay one month’s room rental in advance. You may also be asked to contribute financially to advertising, the cost of employing a receptionist, and other such costs. Furthermore, if you rent a room on a Thursday, for example, you will be expected to pay for that room every Thursday, regardless of whether you are on holiday or ill, or whether a bank holiday such as Christmas day happens to fall on a Thursday. If you rent a room on Thursday you will do so 52 weeks of the year.
- Client cancellations. Clients sometimes cancel at very short notice. Some therapists attempt to impose a cancellation fee. In my experience, this is counter-productive. If the reason for the missed appointment is genuine then the client will resent the charge and may take their custom, and future recommendations, elsewhere.
- Restrictions on practice hours. Some people work long hours. Some clients might not be able to see you until, say, 8 pm. A clinic might not remain open that late. It may shut on a Saturday afternoon. Or, if it does open during late or unsocial hours, it may end up costing you more.
- Restrictions of session time. Clinics usually work on the assumption that a therapy session lasts no longer than an hour. You might wish to spend longer with a client but your ability to do so might be restricted by the clinic you’re practising in.
Several years ago I rented a room in a local GPs surgery in Horsham. The atmosphere was brilliant, the people were most welcoming and the room I was given was light and spacious. The problem was that I was renting the room on Thursday mornings and was therefore trying to shoe-horn my clients into seeing me on Thursday mornings. Often this was simply not possible. I remember having a couple of busy weeks but no clients at all on Thursday mornings. Sometimes I would have only one client, and sometimes that client would cancel. Hypnotherapy is not dentistry. A hypnotherapist is not an optician. Clients are fewer in number and, therefore, as practitioners, we have to work around them. We cannot expect them to come and see us at our convenience.
My practice room was situated right above a car park and was not well sound insulated. Furthermore, although the GP practice team were welcoming and sympathetic, they also had long-established referral routes for clients with stress, habit or personal problems. For me, practising in a clinic was not the answer.
Practising from home.
- No rent! Your only overhead is your advertising.
- Control over your own environment. You can organize your practice room to suit yourself, or even to reflect something of yourself. My practice room is also my study. I am an Open University lecturer in Classics and therefore my practice room is very book-lined.
- No restrictions on practice hours. You can see clients whenever you wish and for however long you wish.
- There needs to be a spare room in your house specifically for the purpose of your practice (and possibly your other work). It is not a good idea to see clients in the family living room – that would create a very unprofessional image.
- You may be at risk from interruption. Your landline might ring. Someone might ring the doorbell. Other family members might barge in unawares. A family pet might put in an unwanted appearance, or make their presence felt in some way or other.
- Some therapists might feel vulnerable if they are on their own in their own house with a complete stranger.
- Your house might become classified as a business premises, and this could have financial implications. You might not be entitled to free cavity-wall insulation. It might impact upon your buildings insurance.
Home practice works for me. You don’t need total silence for hypnotherapy – but the quieter it is, the better. My practice room is quiet and peaceful. Of course, there are occasional exceptions. Road or building works sometimes take place, but practitioners working from clinics face the same problems. Family members know when I am practising and interruptions are avoided. The practice environment I offer is peaceful, quite and discreet. It is also located conveniently near the centre of Horsham, very near Horsham station, which is useful for visitors from Crawley.
Not everybody has a spare room or can offer a quiet environment. For new practitioners, sometimes a clinic is the best way into forming a lasting therapy practice. The above pros and cons are by no means exhaustive. Maybe the best way is to try both and make a choice on the basis of personal experience?