Help! I don't know what to do with this client.

advice for new therapists
As a hypnotherapy supervisor, I often hear this from new hypnotherapists, so if you feel like this sometimes, you are certainly not alone!
When we first start out as hypnotherapists, and lack the confidence that working with many clients over time brings us, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that with just the right ‘script’ we will be able to ‘cure’ the client.

After all, during training, we learn how to use hypnotic language, and practice developing our own hypnotic suggestions and working them into scripts. We are usually given sample scripts by our trainers and links to reference books full of them. This can lead to many new therapists feeling dependant on using well-worn scripts, which can be helpful in the early days, but can also mean that when a client presents with an issue that you don’t have a script for – you can feel out of your depth. I often have to remind the hypnotherapists I supervise, that they have received thorough and comprehensive training and already have everything they need to help their clients effectively.

Trust what you know

We tell our clients this all the time – “You already have all the resources you need to help you, you just need some help to get them working effectively for you” – so perhaps we should pay more attention to this ourselves as therapists! There is really no ‘perfect’ script that works for every client in every situation anyway. Every client is unique and we must always tailor our therapeutic plan to fit them and their progress, rather than try to make them fit our ‘script’ (both senses of the word intended!).
So, if you feel stuck with a particular client or issue, it is probably not entirely your fault, but it does perhaps flag up an area where you would benefit from some professional development. Resist the temptation to get onto the nearest hypnotherapy forum and ask for a suitable script. This is not the best way to help your client, or to develop your skills as a therapist.
Before you rush to ask others what they do with issue x or client y – take some time to brainstorm your own ideas and write them down. You will soon realize how much you already know and can use (building your own confidence too!) – for example, at the heart of many presenting problems is anxiety – and you know how to work with this, so use the transferable skills and techniques you already have and adapt them for this client.
Instead of asking for help straight away, do some thorough research on the presenting issue so you can better understand what is happening and why. This will probably trigger ideas you can use and will also help you to ask more meaningful questions in your initial assessment session with the client.


Recognise the client as an expert on themselves

When you demonstrate a sound understanding of an issue this can be very reassuring for a client and help to develop rapport and trust quickly. If you have spent an hour thinking creatively about an issue and really can’t come up with any ideas (this is unlikely, by the way!) and you still feel really stuck as to what to do to help your client, then note the specific gaps in your knowledge, and ask for help during supervision. Also, use this identified gap to seek out some continuous professional development training.
By all means, take ideas from old scripts and forums, but why not choose to be creative with them, make them your own, and find the best way to utilise them to help your particular client, so that you also develop as a therapist by broadening your ideas and understanding.
Remember that every client has a unique life experience and will give meaning to the events in their lives in different ways. Listen to how the client describes what is happening, how they feel and think about things and what they think will help them. Before coming to see you they have probably agonized and analysed long and hard over what they are experiencing. They are, after all, the expert on themselves.
The language clients use is often a rich source of metaphors that you can use to create a bespoke script just for them. By using clean language questions and allowing them time to describe their experience, you will be encouraging them to explain how it feels and how they think, in their own words. When you feedback that experience to them, using their own words during hypnosis, they will feel understood and more attuned to the beneficial suggestions and visualisations you can provide to help them.


Author: Sue Tibbett C.Psychol. I am based in York and like to describe myself as a personal development specialist. I have several years experience as a Hypnotherapist, qualified for the Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma, am a Chartered Psychologist and EMDR therapist. My aim is to help people overcome issues that affect their well being and personal happiness and make positive changes to their lives. I am recognized by the GHR as an acknowledged Hypnotherapy Supervisor and would be happy to talk with you about your one-to-one supervision needs. You can contact me via my website at: I write a weekly blog on mental health issues at: which you might find of interest and I tweet regularly about improving wellbeing at