To Script Or Not To Script? – That Is The Question

I have noticed another wave of posts on social media forums discussing(sic) the rights and wrongs of using scripts in a hypnotherapy practice and witnessed the all too familiar pattern of seeing the discussions descend into unpleasantness as both sides of the argument dismiss the others opinions.

For those of you reading this that are not completely au fait with what I am talking about, there is a core argument that exists in our profession as to whether hypnotherapists should use scripts when working with clients and if they choose to another argument as to whether they should define themselves as hypnotists or hypnotherapists at all.

Firstly let me state that when I began seeing clients I would incorporate scripts into my sessions as I was not entirely confident that I was saying the right thing or taking the right approach with various presenting issues that, as a novice and still finding my feet, I had not encountered before. I have never used scripts for inducing hypnosis, but the use of scripts in the past were for the suggestion part of the work. It should also be mentioned that back then, I used a more structured approach in terms of preparation and process during the session and part of both would have been finding and using the right script.

The way I now conduct sessions has evolved enormously. I do not use scripts because I soon found too much preparation became limiting rather than beneficial, the clients would provide me with what I needed to say as they were conversationally assessed, plus I began to feel more confident in using my own language when delivering suggestions to the client, thus maintaining a level of evenness and consistency for them when both in and out of what they perceived to be hypnosis.

The problems that arise for a hypnotist/hypnotherapist are when they become too reliant and dependent on a script using other peoples work to conduct a session – continuously feeling the need to look for the next script to read to a typically relaxed client. This is very limiting for both the operator and the subject – the ‘hypnotist’ doesn’t develop as they should and the client is confined to the context of the script being read to them.

It must be said that there are those hypnotists/hypnotherapists that change the scripts being used to a more tailored version for their subjects which mitigate some of the aforementioned limitations but can often still leave them a little short in delivering what the client in front of them actually needs.

What some hypnotherapists do actually use scripts for is to learn a new approach and strategy to help with an issue they may not have encountered before or are finding little success in addressing. They do not want to learn it ad verbatim but rather see how other hypnotists approach certain issues. I have done this before when, having experienced very limited success using what I thought was the right approach, decided to seek another approach which came in the form of a script (and turned out for this particular child I was working with, to be very successful). So in that instance it gave me more insight into the methodology rather than the language.

There are also certain scripts that have been applied and tested rigorously and are universally used or paraphrased because they are proven to be effective on their own or as adjuncts to other therapies (think using hypnosis as part of a programme of CBT).

Lastly there are those newly trained hypnotists, much like I was once, who just want to have the comfort of having a script there to fall back on, should they go blank or become flustered.

On the flip side there are those in our profession who consider even the mere mention of the word ‘script’ to be an act of heresy and act appalled and angry at fellow hypnotists who dare utter the word. I can see where they are coming from, like I mentioned, I no longer use scripts myself and I do think there are an unnecessary number who actually just relax and recite while using the title of hypnotist or hypnotherapist. But I also see why people will seek out scripts on certain issues for the reasons I have previously mentioned and why, for those that may not have been rigorously trained, in the early stages they can help stabilise ones development.

When I train students they are given a ‘patter book’ to help with those issues that arise for the first time and as a reference and refresher for the stuff they have learnt in the classroom. I vigorously emphasise the importance of becoming independent of scripts, but also rather give them something than nothing and to help develop a deeper understanding of phrasing and use of language as well as an extra incite into what suggestions to use in differing situations.

I also believe that those that are entirely dismissive of using scripts as sources of references and strategic inspiration (assuming everyone asking for one is just going to read them word for word) may be consciously or inadvertently limiting their own development as therapists. I am constantly tweaking my approach to client work and continuously drawing on external resources for inspiration, including language and strategies other people have used and though not very often , this can be in the form of scripts. Am I limited? Far from it – I am proud to consider myself to be incredibly flexible in how I approach issues, but it is because I am not dismissive of others strategies that I feel free enough to do so. My flexibility extends to the fact that I now realise that when someone is seeking a script on a forum, sometimes they are actually asking for a strategy template.

I am much more likely to be dismissive of the particular source of the script (the author), rather than scripts in general as I believe, because I see it time and time again, that there are those in our profession, unfortunately including established names, that will churn out any old shit in the form of a new script book, to earn a few quid and palm off to their followers.

What I do find genuinely disappointing is that some of those hypnotists who choose to be condescending towards their peers because they may have made bad choices in picking their training and ended up studying a curriculum that relies too heavily on scripts, could actually do with a little more exposure to scripts themselves, something which becomes painfully evident in examples of their own work. They are either limited with their one size fits all approach to change work, or much to my amusement, can be found waffling and talking complete bollocks as they free style their suggestion work.

The day anyone thinks they have the answer to everything is the day they begin to wilt and die. This includes hypnotists and hypnotherapists. If someone is seeking out inspiration, whether it is watching a video or sourcing a new script with a new approach to a problem, they are at least looking to evolve. Those that rely completely entirely on scripts and don’t seek to develop themselves will not last, while those looking to dismiss out of hand anyones approach that differs from theirs will eventually experience the same fate.

The one thing that both sides definately have in common is that neither are projecting the profession in a good light.

There are still a few limited spaces available to enrol on my next training course commencing on 24th July 2016. If you want to become a tolerant hypnotherapist and attain double certification from OMNI (IBHEC) and the National Guild of Hypnotists™ as well as saving £450 pound – click HERE.

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