This was my question too when this pandemic first emerged – can hypnotherapy be as effective online as in person? Having been a busy hypnotherapist with two clinics, the lockdown forced me to consider whether I could help people online.
Firstly I consulted the evidence, and I was amazed at the result.
Study after study showed that clients found the therapeutic alliance to be as good, and the results to be as effective if not more so than face to face therapy. (Sucala et al July 2012) or with only a slight reduction in effectiveness (Hassan Et al 2019)
Despite the hypnotherapists own beliefs that face to face hypnotherapy was the only way to get effective results, client satisfaction was actually higher after online hypnotherapy.
As I read more and more clinical studies I began to be more reassured. I consulted with the GHR and found that they support online hypnotherapy. I also found articles on the Hypnotherapy Directory, on which I am as listed hypnotherapist, which were also very positive about the effectiveness of online hypnotherapy
Anxiety UK also reported that online hypnotherapy was as effective for anxiety as face to face therapy.
I also looked at anecdotal evidence, such as this article from The Atlantic https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/01/i-got-hypnotized-over-skype-and-it-actually-worked/551351/
Wanting to give the best service to my clients I went on several training sessions in effective hypnotherapy online.
Anxiety UK, for whom I am an accredited hypnotherapist, provided excellent training in the basics of Zoom and Skype hypnotherapy.
The Uk College of Hypnotherapy take an evidence based approach. When I completed my diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy I chose to train with this college because their methods are based in solid clinical research. Their online training meant that I now had the theoretical backing for my online hypnotherapy. In addition they offered practice sessions working with colleagues in order to hone my online skills.
In addition I undertook Zoom training from Dr Russ Harris, ACT specialist, in how to be an effective online practitioner. Lots of great visuals and ways to engage and enhance the client.
So, what has been the reality of online hypnotherapy? It has been a revelation. My clients have found the transition much easier than they feared. They have been amazed at how quickly it has become, to borrow an overused phrase, ‘the new normal’.
Online hypnotherapy means that I can use cartoons, video and powerpoint slides in order to clearly explain new ideas, or represent techniques to my clients. The added distance has enabled some clients to relax in a way they found difficult when in an unfamiliar room.
Being at home has enabled them to relax comfortably (when the children and partners were out of the house or otherwise engaged!). With the added advantage of being able to replay the session (recorded with their permission only) at will.
Client outcomes have been positive, and the therapeutic alliance, that feeling of being listened to and understood, has been easy to establish and maintain.
This lovely testimonial comes from a client I only treated online. Other clients have described feeling very relaxed. Finding that they felt the same level of engagement in the hypnosis as they did face to face in one of my clinical bases.
I am a convert! Clients are preferring to stay online even under a more relaxed lock down as they prefer this method. Others are returning to the lovely clinics in which I work, but I now know that whichever they prefer, online or in person, I am able to provide a high level of effective online hypnotherapy to them.