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First Session: What happens behind the closed door?

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—View from the far side of the recliner

Typically we have already had an extensive conversation about why they are calling me. These conversations are usually on the phone but sometimes a person would like to meet in person, in that case we meet in my office or my favorite coffee shop. In either case the initial consultation is free. Almost always the issue is something that is appropriate for my services. I then explain broadly what techniques might be employed.
At the beginning of the initial session the client fills out a simple and pretty brief intake form. In addition to basic personal information; name, phone numbers, email and mailing addresses, age, medical condition/s, relevant medications, counseling and hypnotherapy experience/s and referral source. The second page is information on the current issue/s, which is only half a page. The bottom of that page is agreements, the most important of which is to be an active participant in the process as a co-therapist. The last page is a list of the only conditions that any information from our sessions will be released other than to the client. In seven plus years I have never had to release any information on anyone. I always tell the client that my notes are both minimal and illegible. This maybe a comfort or not but it is definitely true.
Next the client’s issues, goals and relevant history are discussed in depth. During this conversation the client often makes discoveries, has insights and uncovers long lost memories. Depending on the issue/s most of the therapy happens before I do anything other than listen intently and ask key questions.
Part three is a discussion of the techniques of that I use only about half of which is formal hypnosis, the rest is breathing, visualization, NLP and various other techniques. NLP is Neuro Linguistic Programming which is not as scary as it sounds. Hypnosis is explained in terms of what it is and isn’t.
Part four is development of suggestions using the client’s goals and language. This is a very collaborative process in which I typically write out some suggestions, then run the content past the client until the suggestions align with the client’s goals then we fine tune the language to the point that it sounds like the client talking to themselves.
Part four is the instruction and practice of techniques then a transition into hypnotic trance. An emphasis of this stage is that the client is able to use all of the techniques, including an abbreviated version of hypnosis with suggestions independently.
Part six is a review of the session including the trance and techniques for independent use. Recommendations are made questions are answered, the client is asked to contact me at any time for support or with questions and to schedule. Scheduling, unless it is a medical, pain or pressing issue future sessions are scheduled at least a week later to give the patient time to practice the techniques and to observe any changes in their issues.
Almost always there is a fair amount of laughter, which is therapeutic, sometimes tears, usually the client more than me, which is therapeutic too.
I schedule the first session for two hours, subsequent ones for an hour to make sure there is no time pressure. Rarely sessions go past the scheduled time which works out alright usually because I try to leave time between appointments.
The charges are per session not time. Taking time and money considerations off the table makes things more relaxed for everyone. Besides turning to watch the meter hurts my neck.
I’m still working on the pain post, want to make sure that the wording is just right. I’ve had two radio info ads on two local stations and it’s time to write a couple of new ones. It is so strange to hear your recorded voice. I continue to work on the certification for the Blissborn hypnosis program for the birth process to replace the program I was using. I will begin with a real pregnant who will be even more really pregnant in about a month.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

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