How many sessions?
One of the first questions people ask me when booking in for hypnotherapy is, "How many sessions will I need?"
It's an important question, but it's not one I can ever accurately answer, as it is dependent on so many factors.
My aim with any new client is to help them get over their problems as soon as possible. I know that by the end of just one session most people are either feeling able to cope again, or are at least very much improved. They’ll be able to not just see the light at the end of the tunnel, but will know it is within their reach.
Sometimes I will turn the question back on the client: "How many sessions do YOU think you will need?"
This is not meant to be a trick question - it's amazing how this causes a person to automatically do a search within (known as a transderivational search) and for their unconscious to provide them with an answer. It's usually a pretty accurate answer, too, because our unconscious mind knows us better than anyone else, and knows exactly what is needed to facilitate change. It gives me valuable clues as to how much work is likely to be required.
Some fears or phobias, or habits such as smoking may be possible to eradicate in one session, but something like prolonged anxiety might require more. If the problem has been going on for a while it may have become complex and multi-faceted. I always think of these sessions as being a little like an onion - you might peel back one layer to find something else lurking underneath. It's my job to help a client peel back as many layers as is required to give them the freedom they need.
Another analogy I use is that of a game of dominoes; sometimes all it takes is for the first domino to fall and set all the others toppling in super-fast time. Some people experience a real epiphany or a-ha moment which changes everything in an instant; others may require more time to make gradual and comfortable change at the speed that is right for them.
To me, it really doesn't matter, because I am always client-led. There are no hard and fast rules. I allow the client to guide me - they know instinctively when the work is complete. And who am I to argue or set a time limit on when they will be sufficiently recovered? It's not for me to dictate when they are capable of making these changes.
It's for this reason that I never lock clients into lengthy programmes - I allow them to book on a session-by-session basis, or for something like weight management (which by necessity requires a relationship over a period of time) I suggest a block of three or four sessions so we can track progress.
Lots of my clients do book in for additional sessions at a later date - a kind of MOT or 'mind maintenance’, if you like. This can be really beneficial - a bit like defragging your computer to help it run faster and more efficiently. I love this, as it shows their very real commitment to themselves and their emotional health. It also means I have the opportunity to build lasting and ongoing relationships with some incredibly inspiring people - and that is always the best part of my job.