Not only do I love working with clients, but I also love discussing ethics in our profession. Here's another installment on issues that can arise in hypnosis practice.
Client Safety: Members shall not engage in verbal, physical or sexual abuse of any client. A principle from the NGH Code of Ethics.
When it comes to this code of ethics principle while it may appear cut and dried, there is room for confusion. Let's examine a fact pattern:
A hypnotist and her client have had three sessions so far and both client and practitioner are happy with the professional relationship – client achieving their stated agenda and the practitioner happy to have this committed and invested client. It becomes clear to both of them though, that there is a mutual attraction between them. After the third session, the client suggests they should go out for a drink sometime. The practitioner accepts and a ‘date’ is set. The date comes and goes and the experience was enjoyable for both and only confirmed the mutual romantic interest. The two continue to work together in a professional relationship for a few more sessions but also date and ultimately become more serious and intimate. Lets stop the scenario here.
What are the implications?
What could go wrong?
What is at risk?
The NGH code states that a hypnotist “shall not engage in … sexual abuse of any client” – would or could this be considered sexual abuse?
As we can see, these ethical issues can get tricky. Here, it appears we have two consenting adults, authentically attracted to each other and both mature enough to manage an intimate relationship while in a professional relationship. And in many circumstances this scenario could easily unfold without a hitch. But when it goes bad and fails, it can really do some damage.
So what is one to do? Here's a possible solution:
Assuming both want to pursue a personal relationship, they should agree to terminate the professional relationship. The hypnotist should refer the client to another hypnotist so that the client continues to get the change work they desire and the hypnotist keeps business as business. While both get the benefit of enjoying each other’s company in a lot less awkward way.
What would you do?
This blog post is not legal advice, rather a commentary for licensed and unlicensed hypnotists to incorporate NGH Best Practices and advance the hypnosis profession and further maximize outcomes for our clients.
Scott Howard is an NGH certified consulting hypnotist and the President of the Baltimore City Chapter of the National Guild of Hypnotists. Scott is dedicated to helping everyday people with everyday problems through hypnosis and life coaching.