Hypnotherapy can be a wonderful tool to help people make changes in their lives. But it is not appropriate for everyone. There are a number of reasons that hypnosis may not be right for a client.
Sometimes potential clients come to see me and rather than wanting to make a positive change in their life, they are just being pressured by someone else to be in my office. Parents come in with teenagers saying, "make this kid quit running around with the wrong set of friends or drinking or drugging" while the child sits there with arms crossed and defiance radiating. Sometimes people come to see me after getting an ultimatum- "If you don't quit (gambling, drinking, etc.) I'm going to leave you. Or a doctor says "If you don't quit smoking or lose the weight, you are going to die." Too often clients come not because they want to change but because someone has twisted their arm in to coming. Hypnosis will not work unless the person, wants to change.
Another time that hypnotherapy is not appropriate is when the client wants someone else to change. S/he believes that the solution to the problem depends entirely upon someone or something else. If the client believes he has no responsibility or control over his own feelings, thoughts or behavior, s/he is not a good candidate for hypnosis. I can only work with the person sitting in my office - not the boss, spouse or mother-in-law.
There are some physiological problems that can cause limitations for hypnosis or hypnotherapy. If a person has limited hearing, hypnosis can be challenging. If the potential client has physical disabilities that make it difficult to sit comfortably, hypnosis may have to be very brief. If the client suffers from neurological impairment, a loss of abstract reasoning abilities or a loss of verbal skills, hypnosis may not be effective.
Although hypnotherapy can be used with clients of below-average intelligence or vocabulary, the techniques and procedures used with them need to be direct and concrete. Many hypnotherapy techniques require at least average vocabulary and intelligence.
Psychotics and people with borderline personality disorders are not good candidates for hypnotherapy. The use of trance with individuals who already are having difficulty with their conscious experiences can find hypnosis creates anxiety and paranoia. I ask in my client in-take form about all medical personnel and therapists that the clients have worked with and any diagnoses that they have received. If the client is working with a therapist, I ask for a referral and often have a phone conference with the therapist or physician before making a decision about whether hypnotherapy is appropriate.
A Free Consultation with each prospective client, gives that person an opportunity to ask their questions and to be with me. It is also my opportunity to identify any characteristics in the potential client's behavior or speech, that indicates to me that hypnosis is not a good therapy for that person. There have have been times at the end of a session, where I told the prospective client that I did not believe hypnosis was not appropriate for the issue and that I would be happy to refer him or her for counseling or therapy. Although this may cause disappointment, it is actually in the client's best interest.
In spite of the "exceptions" I have mentioned, a great majority of people who visit my office for hypnotherapy will not have any of these issues. For them, hypnosis and hypnotherapy can be a great way to create the changes they want in their lives.