The Nun and The Sun Lounger


Early on in my psychotherapy career, I took some training in hypnotherapy. Every profession has its signifiers; it’s tools of the trade. Doctors have stethoscopes; policemen used to have those rather distinctive helmets; hypnotherapists, I reckoned, need a metronome and a classy-looking black, leather, reclining chair, but leather recliners don’t come cheap. There are lots of costs associated with developing a new practice: advertising; business cards; hiring premises; a dedicated phone line; some sort of appointments system; not to mention the cost of becoming trained and accredited, and paying for advertising. As with all business ventures, you have to pay money out before any actually starts to come in, and there is no guarantee any will come in. I found myself procrastinating, caught between the desire to start making money and working in my new profession, and the fear that I might end up spending a lot of money for no return. And then I met this nun. She was a fellow student on my hypnotherapy course. One day, after we had been doing some practical exercises together and were waiting for the group to reconvene, she asked me what my plans were, so I told her. “Ach, you don’t want to be shelling out lots o’ money on fancy equipment,” she said, in her rich, Irish accent, “Oi’ve brought a sun lounger. It’s great, so it is. I pack it in the car and treat people in their ain homes. Ye just need to get ain with it”.” Of course she was right. The world is full of people who woulda, coulda, shoulda done stuff: people who are going to start their diet tomorrow, write their bestseller next year, start up in private practice any week now. We all have different talents, but the talent to come up with convincing justifications for not having taken action seems pretty universal. If we spent as much creativity in getting on with our lives as we do explaining why now is not quite the right time, who knows what we might achieve? Now don’t get me wrong, if you are in the happy position to afford to set up your business in style, you do that, but if you’re not, do what you can with what you’ve got. There’s a little coda to my story of the nun and the sun lounger, by the way. In due course I did indeed find myself in practice with a rather nice, classy-looking black, leather, reclining chair. One day I was hypnotising a young male client. Everything was going well. He was relaxing comfortably and entering a nice deep trance. “Notice how your body is becoming heavier and heavier”, I intoned, “As you drift deeper and deeper into trance, so you are becoming heavier and heavier, heavier and heavier”. I paused to allow my words to take effect. In that moment, there was a tremendous ripping sound as the base of the recliner collapsed, tipping the young man onto the floor, in a rather disorientated, sleepy, surprised heap. I blame a wrenched screw in the chair’s base, but the episode did my reputation for delivering convincing hypnotic suggestions no harm at all. © Adam May. Email: Adam May and Sarah Rees will be presenting the “Four Pillars Of Building A Resilient Caseload In Private Practice” webinar at 5pm-6.30pm, on Monday, October 15th 2018 for CBT Psychotherapist Briefings.