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Hypnosis marketing

Hypnosis marketing – packaging or contents?

I was looking at some really slick hypnosis marketing recently on the Internet. It is a hypnosis based service to stop smoking. It looks very professionally done and is franchised through many local hypnotists. The benefits to the hypnotist are obvious. A small local hypnotist is able to on-sell a professionally made stop smoking service. And presumably they get a commission from hosting the advert or recommending it to their clients.

I have no doubt that it works for some people. I have no doubt that doing it this way is much cheaper than going to a professional hypnotherapist. And it is a good thing that smokers are able to get some cut-price help.

What I do wonder about however, is whether the marketing gets more thought than the therapy. This particular service offers a ten step program. The smoker downloads ten audio hypnosis recordings and listens to them over a period of weeks.

Why a ten step program? Why not six or eleven or some other number? What is so special about ten?

It seems to me highly unlikely that purely by chance stopping smoking requires ten separate stages. Or ten separate things to address. And yet, it is very common for all sorts of therapies to be packaged in this way. I think it is much more likely that the people selling such therapy packages are looking for something catchy to use in their marketing. The number of steps has absolutely nothing to do with what is needed to produce the result.

To me, this suggests that the therapy is being twisted to fit the marketing, and not the other way round. If the therapy actually requires six steps or nine steps or some other number, then the package must contain unnecessary padding. Or the actual requirements are being thinned out and possibly are less effective.

I am always suspicious of any over-neat package of anything to do with human psychology. Human beings just don’t fit into nice square boxes.

Continuous improvement in therapy diagram

I was doing some work for an upcoming talk when I came across this diagram. It is used in project quality management. It is a standard flowchart for designing continuous improvement. There are hundreds of examples of things like this. What I found particularly interesting is that if you look at it from the point of view of personal therapy, it is the basis for almost all therapeutic interventions.


Continuous improvement in therapy

The diagram starts off by asking "where are we today?" in comparison with where we want to be, or where we think we should be. You are then asked to visualize where you want to be. The next question is "how do we get there?". This gets the client to think about what has to be done to move in the direction of the desired state. The client is then invited to visualize exactly what the desired state will look like, and how they will feel, when it is achieved. This is the basis of most NLP therapy and the modelling of excellence.

The next stage is Gap Analysis. "Where are we now are versus where we want to be?". This determines the size of the problem. It naturally leads to an analysis of what has to be done to close the gap. From that, the gap can be broken down into smaller pieces and each tackled individually. Then the question is "what do we need to tackle first?". The various issues can be prioritised. You then focus your attention on those key features that will have the biggest impact.

Continuous Improvement Action Plan

Once you know what has to be done, in what sequence, you can begin to work on an action plan. For each action plan the client can decide whether they personally have enough resources, or whether they need help from other people. The client then lays out in detail everything that they have to do personally, and everything that they need to ask other people to do.

The action plan gets started, and then the client measures progress is that with the expected progress. If it isn't working, then they go back and change the action plan. The action cycle continues: measure the outcome, the back to the plan, to a new action, measure the outcome and check whether it is achieving the desired outcome. When all the planned actions have been finished, it is time to reassess the situation. At that point the therapist and the client discuss where they are compared with where they want to be. And the whole cycle starts again.

They say that there is nothing new under the sun. The things that we therapist do to try to improve people's lives are in no way unique. And certainly, looking at the therapy process from the perspective of quality management gives an interesting way of reassessing what we do.

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brain scans

Are brain scans about to revolutionise hypnosis?

Brain scans are establishing if there is a link between suggestibility and the tendency to be easily hypnotised. Everyone is suggestive. If we were not suggestible the entire advertising industry would grind to a halt. The science of advertising has been the subject of intense psychological research almost since the beginning of advertising. Advertisers now know all the tips and techniques for getting and keeping your attention.  The aim is of course, to persuade you to buy their products. But on the way researchers have learned a great deal about suggestion, and flow, and states of mind.

Previous studies have been hampered by a lack of direct hard data. Knowing whether an advert worked or not has mostly been a matter of statistics and inferences. But no scientists can actually watch the brain at work as it is exposed to different stimuli.
Psychology researchers are now expanding their studies beyond advertising exposure and into the area of hypnosis. The driver behind this is quite surprising. Advances in neuroimaging (brain scans) is allowing scientists to look directly into the living brain. This means that scientists can tell which parts of the brain are being activated at any particular moment.
The importance of this is that finally, you can tell whether someone is actually hypnotised, or is faking it. And the result is that there is not absolutely no doubt that hypnosis is a real state that can be seen as a distinct configuration in the brain.

This means that almost everything that is known or believed about hypnosis must be reassessed. All the research published in the 20th century was really based on anecdote and theory and supposition. Live brain scans mean we now have the opportunity to study hypnosis objectively. It is now possible to measure the exact effect of different wordings and different techniques. 

This means that for the first time controlled experiments can be made that will establish exactly what works and what doesn't, and why. This new approach to research may end up revolutionising hypnotherapy. Maybe hypnosis will finally turn into a hard science.

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Initial consultation

Is the initial consultation a scam?

Do you need to spend an hour with your client before you can start doing hypnosis? Or is insisting on an initial consultation a scam?
Many hypnotherapists make an initial consultation part of their business model. Their treatment plan consists of the initial meeting, and then one or more sessions of hypnosis. Clients sometimes refuse to go along with this, and often feel that the initial consultation, is a con, a waste of their time and money.

Those therapists who use an initial paid consultation put forward the arguments:
a) hypnosis is more successful when it is aimed at a precise and specific target. They say that without an extensive consultation you cannot identify exactly what the problem is. Until you know exactly what is wanted and what is causing it, you cannot fix it.
b) the initial meeting build rapport. The better the connection between the client and the therapist, the better the outcome is likely to be.
c) sometimes the client needs to talk to someone, to get their feelings out in the open, to know that somebody cares. Hearing themselves describe their problems sometimes helps them to put their problems into perspective.

I can see that there are merits in these arguments.

Analysing the arguments for an initial consultation

But do you actually need a whole hour to find out what the client's problem is?
If the client wants to stop nail biting, what else is there to know?

It seems to me that a competent therapist should be able to nail down exactly what the issue is within 15 minutes so. That leaves plenty of time to do some actual therapy. And if not, at least learn enough to be able to suggest some different type of therapy based on what was learned.
I suspect that the desire to know about the specific target is actually an outcome of NLP training. NLP practitioners try to know exactly how you do the behaviour, exactly what you feel when you do the behaviour, exactly how you will feel when you have stopped doing the behaviour. Without knowing this you cannot really apply NLP principles and expect to have much success. If your practice is based on NLP, and I think you need to be upfront with the client and explain that this is part of the process. It is a little deceiving to call it a consultation when you are really exploring whether they can identify feelings and not.

The second reason given is about building rapport. This is another principle of NLP. Having rapport is good, but not essential, in my view. If rapport was essential, then recorded CDs would never work. If you never meet the client, the person listening to the CD, then you cannot possibly have rapport. And yet CDs do work.

The third reason, that the client needs to talk to someone is perfectly valid. But if you're actually offering counselling, then you should tell the client that it is a counselling session, and do proper counselling.

My experience with initial consultation

When I first started doing hypnosis professionally, I had just come out of a training school. As part of the training I was taught basically NLP with a bit of hypnosis. The basic instruction was to get a client and then invite them to come to your office to discuss what it is you might do in some future session. I actually started off offering hypnosis sessions for free. And I quickly discovered, even if it was free, clients hated spending the first session without either getting hypnotised, or getting some explicit therapy. I therefore quickly adopted the strategy of finding out what the client wanted, agreeing what we would be able to do, and getting on with it. Over time I was able to work out ways of finding exactly what I needed to do in just a few minutes, or extending the session, at my cost, until I did know exactly what the problem was and felt confident I could fix it.

As far as I'm concerned, I am not prepared to waste the client's time, or more importantly, their money, just to indulge my own need to have a plan. Hypnotherapy involves a great deal of uncertainty. The therapist needs to be prepared to let things develop organically. I often start a client into hypnosis when I really don't have a clear idea of where it's going, and just allow my unconscious mind to interact with their unconscious mind until something new and powerful emerges. This process has never let me down.

If you think that for your own comfort you need an hour from every client, then I suppose if the client is willing to waste an hour and get nothing done, then that's okay. But I really don't think you should be charging for it.

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Is it ethical to give the customer what they want?

Is it ethical to do what the client needs, rather than what they came for? The customer is not always right, especially in the hypnotherapy business. In fact, in hypnotherapy, the customer is usually wrong. When a client comes in and asks for say, Gastric Band Hypnotherapy, or Past Life Regression, that is what they want, but it is not usually what they need.

The fact is, if the client knew what they actually needed, they would do it themselves, and they wouldn't need a therapist at all. The client therefore seeks  a solution based on faulty reasoning. They decide what it is that will cure them, and demand that you do it. They know what outcome they want, but usually how they want to go about getting it is wrong. 

As a therapist, is it ethical to do what the client asks for?

You can always outright refuse to do the procedure. But what is the Ethical position if you recognize that the client is showing symptoms of depression, or childhood trauma? Do you give them what they want, or what they actually need?

Suppose a clients says they want to explore a Past Life. Some friend told them they are being punished for some bad thing they did in a previous life. Do you just do the Past Life Regression as they ask, or should you first explore what is going on in this life? And if it becomes clear that their problems are all caused by something in this life, should you persuade the client to accept a different procedure?

Or should you agree and then do what they need? It is quite easy to do anything you want, within limits, when the client is in trance. You can disguise your therapy in a metaphor, or you can 'accidentally' go back to an early trauma and clear it with Regression to Cause. The client probably would never realise that what they got was not what they asked for. 

But if it works, is that ethical? Equally, is it ethical do what they ask for, when you know it won't work?

How do you value a hypnotherapy business?

hypnotherapy business

How much is a hypnotherapy business worth?

As with any business there are two ways of valuing a hypnotherapy business. There is the asset value of the business if it was closed down tomorrow. This is he difference between how much the assets are worth if they are sold at auction, minus any liabilities.

Then there is the going concern valuation: take the average of annual income minus expenditure to get the gross profit, then deduct the salary the therapist wants to earn and what is left is the net value stream generated per year.

To value the business you calculate how much money you would need to have in the bank to earn the same amount in interest as the net value stream each year. That figure is how much the business is worth as a going concern, minus some percentage to account for the risk of being in business as opposed to the nil risk of interest earned from a bank.

Calculating the risk discount is not an easy question, and the answer depends on many factors.


If you have an established brand then buying and continuing another business might only dilute your own brand presence. If you already have a hypnotherapy business in the same catchment area then the best thing to happen might be for the other business to just shut up shop and disappear. It reduces  your competition and so should reduce your marketing costs.

If you are a new entrant, or your current practice isn't doing too well, then it might make sense to buy the business.

There is also the question as with any business - why is it for sale? Obviously a therapist can die leaving a thriving business, or the therapist might want to retire. Or it might just be that the therapist could not make the practice pay enough, and wants to unload it and move on.

This is where accounting records become crucial. The business needs to be able to show audited financial records of income and outgoings. If there are no audited accounts then the business has been run by an amateur and it might be best to leave it alone or risk inheriting tax problems and unexpected claims. If there are no certified accounts, then there is no basis to make an objective valuation.


Success in the hypnotherapy business is essentially about attracting a stream of new clients.

Dental patients will go to the same office for years, and so taking over the dental practice means taking over the patient list, patient records and goodwill. The value of the business comes from the ongoing value of the repeat visits for years to come.

To a certain extent, professionals like dentists and accountants are standardized. They all have the same basic qualifications, and cannot practice without these government controlled qualifications. They all offer the same level of expertise, more or less, and have to strictly adhere to fixed regulations and procedures and are subject to being struck off if they don't.

A hypnotherapy business is not like an accountancy service or a dentist. Hypnotherapists typically do not have repeat business in the same way. If you treat a client for smoking, say, they should not be ever coming back for the same thing.

To get over this lack of repeat customers there are several different business models underpinning any hypnotherapy business. The difference is how the clients are recruited.

You get high profile 'showbiz' type therapists who spend more time on self promotion and publicity than they do in seeing clients. Then you get the type who spend a lot on constant advertising and business promotion. These businesses are further split into those who promote a brand name such as "Key Hypnosis" and those who promote the person named "Jane Smith Hypnosis". Sometimes these specialize in segmented markets, such as stopping smoking, weight loss, or self confidence.

There are
High Cost and Low Cost strategies

Low cost practices use a different strategy. They focus entirely on their local area. Many just have a website and rely on localized search engine results and maybe some paid entries on local business listings. Some low cost practices are integrated with medical centers and get referrals from health professionals.

Why does the business model matter? Where the hypnotherapy business is based on the personality of the therapist, the business effectively is the therapist. When the therapist goes away, the business goes away.  In that kind of business hypnotherapists are not interchangeable in the way accountants are. People want to see a particular therapist, not just any therapist. So you may not be able to convert past customers into future sales because the clients will not go to someone they don't know. Similarly, if the business model is based on referrals from medical professionals you may have to spent a lot time trying to persuade them that you are as good as the person you are replacing.

If it is a low cost internet based service for a localized brand name business, then effectively what you are buying is the Google ranking. You might be better spending the money on Search Engine Optimization to increase your own ranking.


A hypnotherapy business is a service industry like computer software training. In a training business all of the income comes from face to face interaction with the trainer. The trainer basically sells their time. They may own a few incidentals like tables and chairs, but this type of business is really about contacts and reputation. The software trainer doesn't own the software, or the intellectual property rights, or the trademarks, or anything else enduring.

A hypnotherapist does not own 'hypnosis' and usually has little or nothing in the way of exclusive intellectual property that can be resold. There may be books or CDs on sale, but once the original author has moved on they

and Liabilities

are difficult to keep up to date. Most therapist CDs are actually 'home made' and few have formal legal rights to use the background music on them. The 'scripts' are unlikely to be worth much either since the basic procedures are common throughout the industry and any script can be easily and transparently paraphrased. So the value of any claimed intellectual property needs to be carefully assessed.

There are also liabilities. If you buy a practice, who is responsible for comeback from past clients? If a client for stopping smoking comes back and says it didn't work, are you responsible, or is the previous owner going to fix it? If a previous client kills themselves, and the relatives find hypnosis a convenient scapegoat, are you going to court to defend the previous therapist as the owner of the company responsible?

Arriving at any sort of valuation can be very difficult.

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Hypnosis Tarot

Is New Age Therapy just for the gullible?

Are New Age therapy clients too gullible? I recently went to a Psychic Fair in my local town. It was well organised and well attended. All the usual New Age Therapy services were there: Aura Readings, Palmistry, Crystal therapy, Healing touch, Dream interpretation, Fortune tellers and various other New Age types.
The attendees were what looked like ordinary people, mostly women. They were getting their fortunes told or watching their auras drawn and everyone seemed well satisfied.

On the New Age assembly line

And that was what bothered me. I understand about placebos, and I am comfortable that people sometimes need to believe in something a bit out of the ordinary. I also believe that some of these modalities are helpful and worthwhile. But previous places I had been to all involved a bit more scene setting. I expected low light, whale music, private rooms, costumes and exotic symbols. This one seemed more like an assembly line. Everyone was in one big open room. They were queuing to book appointments. Everyone  waiting their turn like a motor licence agency, moving in when the last person finished while the seat was still warm. To make it look even more industrial, the time was prominently displayed on a clock facing the client.

Fleecing the New Age gullible

All these people were paying quite substantial sums of money without, apparently, ever questioning what they were getting or how effective it was. They also didn't seem to be much bothered about who was delivering it, or if they were qualified to offer it in the first place.
It was the Tarot card readers who got me. I use Tarot myself. Sometimes they the best way of reaching a particular client. But it has to be done with conviction and confidence.

What I saw was an extreme case of fleecing the gullible. One reader was laying out the cards, talking to the client, and then without the slightest sign of embarrassment looking up the book to see what the cards meant! The client just sat there while the 'psychic' read out what the book said.

In my view, if you are going to sell people nonsense, you should at least put some effort into it. Surely the client is entitled to believe that you have some sort of legitimate connection to the New Age universe? Would you continue attending a doctor if that doctor was looking up your symptoms on the Internet?

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Dave Mason PhD


Welcome to

This site,, is the revised and expanded version of was in operation for about eight years. Before that the site was known as

I started shortly after I started doing hypnotherapy. At that time I had no intention of becoming a hypnotherapist, as I had a full-time job as a university professor. I used the site largely for my own interest. I was studying hypnosis, practicing techniques, and learning how things worked.  It was a way of gathering my notes together. So I started organizing my studies under headings and decided to put them online.

Over the years as an academic I have found that the best way for me to learn something is to teach it to someone else. So as I studied a a topic, I would open a webpage for that topic and write it as if I was explaining it to some intelligent person with no background in hypnosis. Over time, and by that I mean four or five years, more and more topics were added and the site began to attract attention.

Hypnosis Scripts

I began to get emails and enquiries from people all around the world. In particular I got requests for scripts. It was obvious to me that most of the scripts on the Internet were out of date. As an academic, I am used to researching and investigating. What I discovered was that many of the scripts in circulation are incredibly old, some as old as the 1920s and 1930s. There were better ones, but these were mostly copied out of well-known textbooks without acknowledging their source.

And a lot of them were written by people who really didn't know what they were doing. I discovered that there were dozens and dozens of scripts in circulation which consisted of little more than a string of direct suggestion such as "You are now a non-smoker. You do not like smoking. Never smoke again. Smoking turns you off." This type of pseudo-hypnosis script shows no knowledge of hypnosis theory and no evidence that they have been used by practicing hypnotists.

Developing better scripts

So I started looking into what makes a good script. And I asked myself "what makes a script effective?". I then spent about three years part-time researching and studying how and why the words used in hypnosis actually work. On the way I investigated metaphor therapy, Gestalt therapy, direct suggestion, NLP, aversion therapy, parts therapy, clean language and every other hypnosis technique.

While testing out all these techniques on my clients I started to write scripts so that I would have the exact structure and wording I wanted. I of course wrote these in a word processor, so it was just as easy to put them onto the website. In a fairly short time I published dozens and dozens of  new original scripts and made them free for anyone to use. 

Commercial Script writing

I then got a very cheeky email from someone telling me it was too much trouble for him to cut-and-paste the scripts himself. He demanded that I send him all the scripts in a single document. 

Well, this got me thinking. "Maybe I could bundle up the scripts and sell them as a collection?". I did that, and was amazed to immediately get half a dozen orders. This then developed into a nice little sideline and I wrote more and more and more scripts.

Spoken script downloads

Then I got requests to have the scripts delivered in a spoken MP3 recording. I made some trial recordings and send them out to people. They were well received. And then I discovered a problem. When I recorded the phrase "a recording by" it was indistinguishable from the phrase "a recording by". Because they sounded the same, in promoting my recordings I was actually promoting someone else's website. The name hypknowsis was just a little bit too clever.

So I transferred the website to a new website name that wouldn't be confused. It was called I updated the website added a lot more material and hundreds more scripts. And it was very successful.

Arrival of the pirates

In fact it was so successful that it got copied and pirated all over the Internet. Other wannabes jumped on the name keyhypnosis and registered similar sounding names. Then I discovered that the easiest way for anyone to get my scripts was just to search for the term "key hypnosis scripts" in Google. That would take you to half a dozen sites where you could download my scripts for free.

Dozens of talentless nobodies had figured out the fastest way to look cool was to steal my material and say they wrote it. It got even worse. A surprising number of newcomers to hypnosis decided  that the best way to build a good website cheap was to cut-and-paste pages from my website. Sites all over the Internet had complete pages reproduced from my site. They even have the nerve to put copyright and their name on the bottom of it. To top it off, I discovered a site in India had copied my entire site into the local language. Without, of course, mentioning that it was a rip-off.

Imitation is the sincerest form of showing no talent

It wasn't just scripts that got pirated. I developed affirmations as an aid to therapy and created over six hundred brand-new original affirmations. I posted them into a special section of the website. And of course there are now literally dozens and dozens of blogs and websites all over the Internet listing my affirmations.

Somebody once said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Somebody else said it is the sincerest form of showing that you have no talent whatsoever. On the Internet, for every one person producing original work, there are 200 people copying it. And almost no way of stopping them.

Defeat by the pirates

I prided myself on the fact that every word on my site is original, researched and based on the best current knowledge about hypnosis. And every word was getting stolen. I left the key hypnosis site up but stopped developing it.

I lost heart. There is just no point in writing original scripts and developing metaphors when they are just going to be  copied and pasted the next day on other sites. This experience is not unique to me, but it really is going to be an ongoing threat to anyone producing original material.


With the site I am back in the game. I now have more time and I have started developing new material again. So I am doing two things. I am redesigning the site to put more emphasis on selling scripts. And I'm going to relentlessly pursue the people who steal my material.

I will greatly expand the site, and revise everything as I transfer them. I have also moved the entire site into WordPress. It is updated to a fresh and modern look. The site is completely mobile-responsive so that it can be viewed on portable devices. and the future

The site will be developed to become the premier hypnosis site on the Internet. My aim is to make it the go-to place to get everything you want to know about hypnosis. And the place for the best hypnosis scripts.

I look forward to hearing from you.


David Mason


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