From 7 Days NLP Practitioner Training to Therapist
I've seen it all too often. They go rushing out of the hall, clutching their 7 day certificate in their excitable hands, eager to go out and change the world. They are also eager to go out and make a lot of money whilst changing this world. But how do they plan to do this?
Actually, many are keen to go out and make lots of money by taking on clients with psychological problems to whom they can charge a very high fee. After all, it's all about knowing where to tap with the hammer, right?
Well, yes it is. Partly. But here's the deal - I have met a great many NLPers trained to Master Practitioner level, most of whom like to boast about who they were trained by but very few could actually do very much. They still charge a lot of money to their potential clients though. Most will end up advertising for weight loss, anxiety, simple phobia and smoking cessation clients. Of the latter, they will charge the highest fee based on the "fact" that smoking is an expensive habit both to the wallet and to the health.
It's been said before - the average practitioner of NLP will seek clients who are middle class, good looking and affluent with a high disposable income to indulge themselves with some inner beauty therapy. The more money they pay, the more satisfied they'll be with their results. Show the average NLPer anything a bit more complex and suddenly they find themselves in a bit of bother and will try this technique and that technique without a real clue or understanding of what is going on.
This situation frustrates me - you need more than a 7-day training certificate if you aim to work as a therapist dealing with anything other than the standard staple of every rubbish hypnotherapist in the Western world. Listed below in no particular order are some key pointers about how to gain the relevant experience.
Insurance and The Law
Are you insured? You need to be these days, not only for any malpractice legal action (which, actually is very rare despite my best efforts) but also for things like trip, slip or fall. Is your toilet up a flight of steps? Is the carpet safe and secure? Do you have any evidence that you have carried out a risk assessment? If you are doing deep trance work, have you made sufficient provision for when your client is going to be driving home? Are your floors suitable, i.e. even, not slippery?
Do you keep case notes in any form on your clients and sessions? If so, are you familiar with the Data Protection Act? Do you take referrals from GPs? What do you do with these referral letters? Where do you keep them? Do you have a lockable cabinet?
What is your own personal Code of Confidentiality? Does it match the legal Code adhered to by Medical and Nursing Staff? Do you know what these codes are and how the law applies to them and to you? When telephoning your clients at home, do you know who else may be in the house? Have you checked with the client if it is ok to leave messages if required?
Criminal and Civil Law
Do you know the relevant Criminal and Civil laws that apply to therapists? Do you understand the potential legal implications of doing "change history," "hypnosis" etc when you have a client who, for example, is going to give evidence or be cross examined in a court room (i.e. an assault survivor)?
Getting Experience in Mental Health
I have heard too many NLPers criticise the mental health services, yet they have never set foot inside any mental health facility. This is a gross error. Learn who your local mental health team are, how they work etc. To get clinical experience, take a part time position for a while working as an orderly, auxiliary or volunteer in these areas. Your local mental health charity will also be able to advise you as to the best way to go about this. I have met far too many NLPers who have never met someone diagnosed with schizophrenia or with any other serious mental disorder, yet they seem to know how they should be treated. They then ask the question, why aren't psychiatrist 'using NLP'? Go find out.
Citizens Advise Bureaus and crisis housing centres are the front line for many people with serious issues in need of urgent attention. Do you know where these centres are? What they do? Who staffs them? Most NLPers ignore these agencies primarily because they won't find rich pickings there. Most of their clients are poor and desperate. NLPers really are changing the world? I doubt it.
Do you understand the physical health issues faced by your clients? Here is an easy checklist for nutrition. Older clients have almost stereotypical issues. Do you understand diabetes and how it affects people both physically and mentally? Heart failure? Angina? Arthritis and how steroids work and affect people? Have you studied physiology and health?
If you have a client who you are unable to handle, do you know where to refer them? Often, your clients come to you because they consider you to be the expert, but if you turn out to be something else, do you know how to smoothly handle this and get the client the help they need?
Nearly every client I see is medicated with psychotropic medication. These are typically either anti-depressants or anti-psychotics; anxiolytics are common too. There are a great many other common medications that have cognitive effects and you need to know about these. Go and buy, beg or borrow a copy of the Physicians Desk Reference (USA) or British National Formulary (UK) and learn about drug classification, effects, side effects, withdrawal etc. Both these books can often be begged from pharmacies, since they are updated twice a year.
Other situations can arise through ignorance - got a client who is asthmatic? Did he bring his inhaler? Got a client who gets angina? Where's his GTN? You need to ensure you understand these issues and know what to do.
How do you know that the client's problems are really psychological? How do you know that their depression isn't the result of a brain tumour or diabetes? How do you know their persistent low mood and fatigue isn't an early sign of heart failure? How do you know their anxiety is actually anxiety and not a heart arrhythmia? Have your clients seen a physician prior to seeing you?