Should therapists offer guarantees?

I’ve been asked a few times if I offer any guarantees for my hypnotherapy.

The short answer is no, and this blog post is to explain why that is. When you’ve read it, you’ll understand why no health professional can really offer any guarantee regarding the outcome of their therapy.

Let’s imagine two brothers, Bill and Ben, who each decide to visit a pub on Friday evening. (Different pubs, to make it clearer).

Bill is in a good mood already. He’s had a good week and now just wants to unwind. He’s called several of his friends and they’re also coming out. Ben, on the other hand, is in a foul mood. He’s had a bad week which he now wants to forget. His friends are all busy or didn’t answer his call, so he already knows he will be on his own.

You don’t need a psychology degree to know that Bill will get much more pleasure from his evening than Ben will! And yet the pubs they’ve visited are both clean and safe, with pleasant and efficient bar staff and a wide range of drinks on offer. Everybody did their best in both places, but with very different results.

A pub can afford to guarantee that the beer won’t smell like bad eggs, the toilets won’t be overflowing, and the doormen won’t beat up customers. All these things are within their power to control. But they can’t guarantee that Bill and Ben will have an equally good evening, because so much of that depends on what they’re bringing with them.

It’s just the same with therapy. Research shows that at least 40% of success or failure in therapy is about the client, not the therapist or the type of therapy or the way it is delivered. In fact the client is the biggest single factor which determines success or failure.

If a therapist does guarantee success, assuming they will actually honour this guarantee, you’ll probably find they’re extremely selective as to which clients they agree to treat. For this reason they will need to charge very high prices to make up for the smaller number of clients whom they treat.

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