Working with Your New Client
For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.
Although this is a course designed to address the more spiritual aspects of the human life path, it is still a good idea to maintain a professional approach. I have found in my own practice that this opens the opportunity of spiritual awareness and development to people who would otherwise not be comfortable visiting shamans or psychics, for instance.
Your initial contact with a potential client will likely be a call during which you can get a good sense of who this client is and what they would like to achieve. This is your opportunity to clarify how you work, identify your fees, and discuss any other details that are beneficial to share.
Furthermore, this is your opportunity to shine. This initial contact is where you’ll both decide whether you are a good fit to work together. While this is an ideal time to demonstrate your expertise and ability, you also want to be sensitive to the individual who is calling.
- Do they seem motivated to do the work? Is someone else insisting they get help, or are they enthusiastic?
- Are their issues within the scope of your practice? Are they better suited to see a medical doctor or psychiatrist?
- Do they ask questions that are inappropriate or alarming? I once spoke with a man who wanted help with sexual dysfunction (OK), who went on to ask if I included role-playing in my techniques (Not OK).
- Listen for their tone of voice, the way they pose questions, and the general energy you sense from your potential client.
- It's in your best interest to not be so enthusiastic about getting a client that you overlook your intuition and common sense when onboarding a new client.
Take payment while they are on the phone with you, and then set up their appointment. This will be the final determinant of their commitment. If they're not ready to pay, then perhaps they’re not ready to commit to doing the work. Taking payment in advance has three benefits:
- it eliminates no-shows;
- it eliminates that awkward moment after the session when you then have to ask for payment;
- and it requires no billing if they then say they forgot their checkbook or they don't have a credit card handy.
Having a clear boundary around fees and payments is a good way to reduce your stress and simplify your business.
Once you've established that you and the potential client are a good fit to work together, have an organized process of enrollment in place. This will save you time and effort.
If you are a registered or licensed practitioner, please follow the guidelines required by your specific location or governing board. The following pertains to hypnotherapists in the State of Washington. You can modify this process according to your local regulations.
Create a file on your computer with all the forms your clients will need to fill out. Consider emailing all the documents to your clients at the time they set up their appointment, along with a map and directions to your office, or alternatively, the link to a Zoom call if you are not meeting in person. This strategy gives your client time to complete the forms without taking up valuable session time and gives them the opportunity to contemplate their objectives and options for the session. They will also have copies of the documents to refer to later, if needed.
Samples of these forms are included elsewhere in this module and include the legal language that is required for work in the State of Washington. Again, you are encouraged to check with your individual governing bodies regarding requirements, and to run the forms past your attorney to make sure they are up to date with current laws.
On the Intake Form, you'll request the client’s basic information, along with offering a list of optional topics that may be addressed in a session, including the transpersonal techniques that you are learning in this course. Your client may come in for a “normal” issue such as weight loss or relationship troubles, and discover that the issue will be well-served by including past life or spiritual exploration. Or, they may come for a Sacred Journey and find they also want to address blocks to prosperity or anger issues.
The Disclosure Form is a requirement in many states and specific locations. This document informs your client of your background and education, your specialties, your policies, and a statement outlining the confidentiality policy required by law. In the State of Washington, this must be signed by both the client and the hypnotherapist, and it must be maintained in the client file.
Also, in the State of Washington, and likely in other locations as well, on or before their first visit all clients must receive a document created by the Department of Health outlining their rights as a client. This document is obtained through the Department of Health and can be copied as is. This is not the same as the Code of Ethics.
When your client arrives for his or her session, you can look over the forms and have a short conversation. Some clients want to talk for a while, either because they want to have someone listen to them or they are accustomed to talk therapy. I inform my clients that I only need the basics, and that the majority of the details will come out as they become relevant during the session. I want to be respectful of the client’s time, and ensure that we are using the session time to the best advantage.
This short conversation is also an opportunity to build rapport and trust with your client. You want them to become accustomed to the environment, and to you. In your discussion, you could include a short explanation of what to expect during the session so your client’s mind is more at ease. Alternatively, a welcome letter explaining what to expect could be sent with the intake forms.
While looking over the Intake Form and your client’s list of objectives, you may ask about their overall goal for working together, and then ask them to state their goals for this particular session. That way you will have an idea of the bigger picture, where the sessions are heading in general, along with what your client will consider satisfying for their initial step in that direction.
If your client has several different items of concern, ask them to put them in order of importance. While we know most issues are related, or at least affect each other, knowing the order of importance will give you a place to start.
Once you are both satisfied with this conversation and the goals have been stated, you can ask your client to get comfortable, you may choose to turn on music if you are using music, and you can begin your induction.
Please note that I have a recorded a Mentor Series workshop that deals specifically with the Gestalt Intake Interview, which is available on my personal website. This specialty training will no doubt elevate the effectiveness of the conversation you have with your client during the first session.