Home versus Clinic

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.


My experience:

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.


My experience:

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?


As someone who has been in practice as a registered hypnotherapist for many years I am sometimes called upon to give advice and lend support to newly qualified or trainee therapists. From this experience I gather that the technique of ideomotor response, or IMR for short, is no longer taught as part of a hypnotherapist’s basic training.

When I began training as a hypnotherapist some twenty years ago, IMR was one of the first techniques we were taught. The National College of Hypnosis and Psychotherapy offered a basic hypnotic induction technique which included IMR as part of the process. While IMR is not suitable in all cases for all people, to abandon it altogether is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Ideomotor responses are elicited and employed when a person has already been hypnotized. Using the method that we were taught, a suggestion is offered to the hypnotized person that their unconscious mind will completely take over the control of one the fingers of the person’s hand – whichever hand is nearest to the person doing the hypnotizing. The unconscious mind will show that it has taken over the finger by allowing that finger to feel, and become, increasingly lighter and lighter until it actually rises up from where it is resting. When such an IMR response has been established it can then be used as a way of communicating with the unconscious mind directly. Simple “yes or no” questions are asked and the unconscious mind can “choose” the answer by allowing the finger in question to float upwards from where it is resting.

As trainees, we were encouraged to use this technique with most clients and for most presenting issues. For example, someone who smokes may do so for a variety of reasons. They may smoke simply because it is an unfortunate and dangerous habit they have picked up, they may smoke because they identify with the “image” it creates, or they may smoke to comfort some underlying problem or anxiety, and so on.

It is, perhaps, more useful with eating problems. Suppose a person knows what dietary changes they need to make and is responsive to hypnotic induction and suggestion. But the changes still don’t happen. Then maybe there is some deeper issue that the client hasn’t disclosed, simply because they’re not aware of its possible significance with regard to the present issue. IMR can sometimes lead the arrow straight to the target.

I think that IMR is a very useful technique for trainees to learn. Having said that, I don’t use it myself very much these days. The reason is that when you have been involved with therapy for quite a while you tend to develop an intuition about whether the problem of the person sitting in front of you is being driven by “deeper” motivations. A properly conducted initial non-hypnotic consultation will often tell you as much as you will get from the use of IMR. Another problem is that not everyone responds to IMR suggestions in the same way. Some inner defensiveness may inhibit ideomotor response, the finger may fail to rise, and then the client might feel that they themselves have failed in some way. Also, you can never be sure as to whether the “yes” and “no” answers you elicit through IMR are absolutely truthful. The unconscious mind doesn’t lie consciously – that is a contradiction in terms. But it may be operating in a way which is not immediately apparent to the therapist.

Sometimes I use IMR as a handy shortcut. I might ask a hynpotized subject to wander through an imaginary room and look at miscellaneous objects, and if the unconscious mind regards one of those objects as significant to let me know by an IMR. The applications are many and manifold, especially in past-life work. It is a useful tool. Not for everyday use, perhaps. But it should certainly be taught to hypnotherapy trainees.

The Father of Hypnotherapy?

March 18th, 2015

James Braid - a pioneer of hypnosis

James Braid – a pioneer of hypnosis

This latest concern with stage hypnotism (see previous three posts) reminded me that our modern ideas of hypnotism, and our use of it in hypnotherapy, actually emerged from something rather similar.

Modern interest in hypnosis can be traced back to the illustrious Franz Mesmer and his famous theories of “animal magnetism”. Mesmer (from whose name we derive the word “mesmerism”) had some medical training but became more interested in what we today might call “alternative” methods of treatment. He became convinced that within the bodies of mammals, both human and animal, there was some sort of special magnetic force which could be harnessed to produce strange and wonderful phenomena. In the early stages of his experimental research Mesmer got his subjects to ingest magnetized iron and attributed his results directly to internal magnetism. He soon came to realize that actually swallowing magnets was not necessary in order to get the required reactions. Read the rest of this entry »

No – I didn’t see You’re Back in the Room. Personally, I find stage hypnosis at best boring and at worst deeply irritating. Maybe I’m an old stick-in-the-mud but I take very little pleasure when people are made to look foolish for the entertainment of others. To me, it seems to represent one of the lowest traits of human nature. Stage hypnosis is rather like my other bête noire, the prank phone call. I detest these with a passion, especially if the prank caller is some smug radio DJ. But it is just harmless fun, isn’t it? Tell that to the family of Jacintha Saldanha. Read the rest of this entry »

Oh dear! The upcoming TV program using hypnosis as “entertainment” continues to cause alarm. Personally, I’m not over-concerned. People will always abuse hypnosis in order to make money make themselves well-known. The “master hypnotist” in the forthcoming program is only filling the gap left by Paul McKenna, who presumably has now made enough money and can put his feet up. Read the rest of this entry »

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