The short answer? No.
For a more detailed answer on why gifting hypnotherapy is a bad idea, read on…
Buying an original gift for somebody can be extremely difficult. We’ve all been there, browsing amazon, Etsy or looking down the aisles of John Lewis trying to find something interesting that will resonate and be remembered. Very often, we want to find something that will make a difference to somebody’s life – and it is therefore quite reasonable for thoughts to shift to somebody’s general well-being. It doesn’t take a dramatic turn of thought to imagine that buying a hypnotherapy session for somebody would be a great idea.
Hypnotherapy as a gift is counter-productive
While I definitely cannot fault the intention, I think that buying a gift of hypnotherapy for somebody is likely going to be counter-productive. Let’s start by imagining somebody doing exactly that to you. Do you think that you would wrap your arms around them and say, ‘Thanks so much! I’m thrilled that you thought of me in this way!’
Or do you think you might think that whatever you are going through is not really any of their business? And that it is certainly not their place to try and fix you.
This takes us straight to the essence of why gifting a hypnotherapy session is a bad idea: motivation.
For me, one of the key drivers of success in therapy is motivation. When people pay for loved ones to help them stop smoking because they fear that losing them will be imminent and unbearable, it rarely works. That’s because when people give up something or try to change –– they need to really want it. It needs to be their decision. I like to think of it as a willing and voluntary movement towards something positive, and not just a movement away from something that they feel forced to do.
No one likes to be told what to do
Also, when somebody flags up that you have a problem that needs to be fixed, for many people the natural inclination is to back away. No one likes being told that they are failing in some way. No one likes being told what to do.
Let’s assume for a moment, however, that your gift of hypnotherapy has been accepted and the recipient has agreed to go along to a session. Do you think they will be in the perfect frame of mind for this? Will they be thinking, ‘This is the nicest Valentines gift I’ve ever had. I’m totally committed to making hypnotherapy work for me’?
Or is it perhaps more likely that they will turn up begrudgingly, wondering why somebody has bought them such an unconventional gift?
Upon meeting the hypnotherapist, there is likely to be a degree of friction. The reluctant gift recipient is unlikely to have bought into the whole process and probably feels like they are there under duress. What many people don’t realise is that for hypnotherapy to be effective the client has to be a very willing participant. They have to be very open to the idea that the session will help them.
Turning up because somebody paid for you to go as a gift automatically kills that dynamic. It is no secret that there is a placebo effect that plays a significant part of the hypnotherapy experience. As I have just explained, client needs to believe that the hypnotherapy session will work for them in order for it to do so.
I cannot force somebody into a chair and convince them that what we are about to do will change their life if they don’t believe that. There will be resistance and the net result will be something called the ‘nocebo’ effect.
The Nocebo effect
The nocebo effect is the opposite of the placebo effect. It occurs when clients have a negative expectation about the treatment they are about to receive. And/or they don’t believe the treatment could work and this results in a negative outcome. With gifting, then, the hypnotherapist is basically welcoming somebody into the practice who is already very closed. They may not be visibly so and may, at face value, be apparently willing to give the hypnotherapy a go.
But because it was not their idea and they didn’t reach the point of thinking that they needed to reach out for help themselves, it is unlikely to be a success. A hypnotherapist needs chemistry with their client. It is for this very reason that I always have a free consultation with potential clients before we get together for a hypnotherapy session.
In some cases we are just not a good fit. When talking to them on the phone I can sense a lack of chemistry, resistance or hostility or something else that makes me think the session is unlikely to work. Naturally, I want each session to be a success and for each client to feel like they have had value from the experience. So they need to be completely on board.
An alternative to giving hypnotherapy as a gift
If you have a friend or family member who you think would benefit from hypnotherapy, it is a better idea to suggest the idea to them. Plant the seed. Maybe even nudge them towards a website or two such as my own, where there is a wealth of information about hypnotherapy and how it works.
If they then decide to pursue hypnotherapy as a solution to their problems themselves, the chance of success will be far, far greater.
You will have done your ‘good deed’, and you’ll have saved your money.