Nine essential things to put in your terms and conditions

What do you mean, you don’t have any? Let’s start then, briefly, with why I think you should.

A lot is (rightly) said about building rapport with clients, about getting into their world and understanding their point of view, and about offering unconditional positive regard. I agree that this is very important. But it’s also essential to remember that you are building a professional relationship, not a friendship, and giving some thought to the business part of the situation is a good way of demonstrating this.

Having a written client contract or terms and conditions lets everyone know exactly where they stand. If your client is late, for example, they know how you will deal with it. The same can be said if they fail to pay, or don't turn up, or have questions about confidentiality.
I send all my clients a copy of my terms and conditions when they book in with me (along with a letter or email confirming their appointment and my fees, and a map so they can find me). I encourage clients to read the T&C and ask questions if there's anything they don’t understand. At the first session, each of us signs two copies, and we keep one each.
No-one has ever objected to signing, or been put off taking therapy because of it. In fact, the only comments I've ever received from clients have been positive ones. One even asked me if she could adapt my T&C for her beauty clients!

What to put in your terms and conditions?

Fees and refunds:
  • What I charge, including
    (a) under what conditions this might change (e.g. if I raise my fees whilst they are part way through their therapy)
    (b) under what conditions I give refunds (e.g. if they have paid in advance and do not need or want all the sessions)
  • The fact that the therapy is offered on the basis of what the client tells me
  • The fact that I can’t offer guarantees as to the results of therapy
  • Their right to withdraw from therapy at any time
  • How to cancel or reschedule appointments, and what happens if they fail to turn up without doing either (I charge them 50% of the session)
  • What happens if they are late (if it’s more than 5 minutes they might have to shorten or reschedule their appointment)
  • Confidentiality and the Duty of Care
  • How I handle confidentiality if a GP or employer referral is involved, and the referrer wants to share information
  • What to do if they have a complaint to make (contact me first, then my professional body if we can’t resolve the issue between us)
You'll notice this is not one-sided. The client knows what they can expect of me, as well as what I expect of them.

Do I enforce my T&C?

The honest answer is 'usually'.
I will let a session over-run if the client was late with good reason, and I don’t have someone else booked in straight after them.
If someone fails to turn up or cancel, but I later find there was a good reason, I waive the fee. One client was involved in a car accident on her way to see me, for example, and taken to hospital. Other reasons have been less drastic but just as much out of the client's control: a vomiting child, or a broken-down vehicle. You can see why phoning me was not at the top of their 'to do' list.
If it’s just the once I’ll go with what seems fair and is in the interests of maintaining a good client relationship. However, my signed T&C gives me somewhere to go if the client is persistently late or missing. It would also be helpful in the event that they stopped a cheque or wanted a refund because therapy didn’t work out the way they expected. I've never had either of those happen, by the way, but have come across other hypnotherapists who have. Maybe they need some written T&C.

Where can I get some terms and conditions?

If you don’t already have written terms and conditions, I'd definitely advise you to introduce them. You can find some templates by searching the internet but I'm happy to share mine if you want them. Just email me at and ask.

What else could be in there?

Anything you think is reasonable. It’s up to you. But I’d be happy to hear your suggestions, so please leave them in the comments box below.


Author: is Senior Tutor At Yorkshire Hypnotherapy Training, which offers multi accredited hypnotherapy practitioner training in Wakefield and York, along with taster days and foundation levels. Debbie has written a chapter on working with IBS in The Hypnotherapy Handbook, aimed at students and newly qualified hypnotherapists and also offers supervision and continuous professional development (CPD) for those in practice. Please contact Debbie to find out more.