Client sexual attraction
Hypnotherapy is a very intimate profession. Two people spend many hours talking about deeply personal things in a secluded, private location. It is inevitable that issues of client sexual attraction will arise. This is especially the case when the hypnotist is in control and is working with the other person's subconscious mind.
Issues of sexual attraction between clients and hypnotists have been around for as long as hypnosis has been around. Before Freud developed psychoanalysis, he was a hypnotist. One day the maid unexpectedly entered his office when he was hypnotizing a young female patient. It was reported that the patient had her breasts exposed. Freud claimed that she had come on to him while in trance. The exact circumstances will never be known, but he never used hypnosis again after that.
Research on client sexual attraction
There have been a few surveys looking at the issue of sexual attraction client interaction. It appears that about 4% of therapists of various sorts have admitted to having sexual contact with current or previous clients. Around a fifth of therapists reported that some of their clients had admitted to a sexual relationship with other therapists. About 40% of therapists said they had heard of other therapists getting into a sexual relationship with one or more clients.
Some research tried to predict the risk factors. Gay therapists were more likely to have sexual contact with their clients. Therapists who themselves had an affair with their supervisor in training were more likely. Therapists who spend the most time in a training or mentoring relationship were also more likely to stray with their own clients. However, the numbers surveyed were small, and you should not give too much reliance to these indicators.
How to deal with client sexual attraction
Some of the therapists in the survey felt that client sexual attraction was not something to avoid. They took the view that both parties were adults and both parties got something out of it. More than one well-known hypnotherapist has said that it is good for the client. According to him, a sexual relationship was exactly what they needed.
However most therapists said that they avoided client sexual contact for ethical reasons. They believed that the therapist client relationship is always one of power. Therefore it is never acceptable for the therapist to take sexual advantage, no matter how willing the other party might be.
Most therapists also thought that if such a relationship by another therapist was to come to their notice, then they were duty-bound to report it to their professional Association.
The same considerations apply in the supervisor-student relationships.
What do you do about sexually attractive clients?
I personally have had many clients who I would happily have had a relationship with, if I wasn't their therapist. I have actually had two clients who hinted heavily that they were very interested in pursuing something outside the office. However, I believe that such a relationship is always inappropriate. So I just ignore these overtures.
I have also heard of two local hypnotists who have pursued relationships with current clients. And I have had quite a few clients tell me that they came to me after refusing to go back to a different therapist who they described as "creepy".
What has your experience been?
Have you heard of sexual relationships in your area? What would you do if a client suggested a different type or relationship.
He is highly regarded in the hypnotherapy community. He is vice president of the New Zealand Association of Professional Hypnotherapists (NZAPH).
He is regularly consulted for advice by other hypnotherapists around the world. He is known for the quality of his published scripts. He presents at international conferences and has published on hypnosis and advanced hypnotherapy.
He lives in Wellington New Zealand with his wife Trish and a cat called Parsnip.