I don’t give homework assignments to every client. I only give homework when the client is willing. When the client is willing to do homework between sessions it gives you a client that is actively participating in their own healing process. That can get you better results.
What you focus on you get MORE of. So, giving your hypnosis client homework to do between hypnotherapy sessions will get them better results. It also gives you a way to test the results of the work. For example, during the session the client might have an insight.
Based on that insight, they may make a decision to do something differently in their life. When that happens, you can use it to create positive change.
1. Be SPECIFIC
Generalities tend to fall to the wayside. You need to be specific.
Sometimes you need to reduce it to the ridiculous. Fortunately, it’s not necessary to come up with a major goal. In fact, small changes have a better chance of success than wide-sweeping alterations in a person’s life.
Big changes can generate unconscious resistance. But all that’s required is just one small step in the right direction. And then another. And another. Over time you can change a person’s overall trajectory. That can create sweeping changes.
- Put the fork down between each bite.
- Take a 10 minute walk outside during lunch hour.
- 5 minutes of tapping twice a day
- 15 minutes of self-hypnosis daily
2. Make it MEASURABLE
You need a way to measure the results. One small step may not seem like much but if you can get the client doing that consistently they’ll accrue the benefits. There’s an accumulative effect that’s measurable. And small changes are much more acceptable to the Subconscious Mind.
Big change can trigger unconscious fear. So keep it small and measurable. How will the client know when they have fulfilled their commitment? How will you know that they have successfully completed the homework assignment?
3. Make sure it’s ACHIEVABLE
Ask the client to give you reasons why they can do that NOW. Make a list. What makes it possible for them to do it now?
Be reasonable. If they have to go out and buy a home gym before they can start exercising, it’s not achievable NOW. Come up with something they can do before their next session. Achievable means it’s independent of anyone or anything for the client to be able to do it.
4. Be RESPONSIBLE
Responsible means that it’s the right thing to do. Trying to run a marathon when you’ve been sitting on the couch for the past fifteen years isn’t responsible. Getting off the couch and going outside for a 5 – 15 minute walk every day is a responsible goal. Going out and buying a pair of running shoes is a smaller step that is responsible. Make sure it’s “the right thing” for the client to do at this time.
5. Make it TIME-BASED
When will they do it? It could be something they agree to do every day, like drinking 8 glasses of water. Or, it might be a weekly commitment, like going to the gym on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. Or it might simply be a one-time activity that they will accomplish before their next appointment with you.
Having a SMART goal for a homework assignment gives your client an action to take. This gives you a way to test the results. And when the client takes action they’ll see the results and own them.
How A Client Got SMART with A Relationship Problem
During a session a client came to the realization that she had been emotionally shutting her husband out by not allowing communication. She wasn’t communicating with her husband because she didn’t trust him. But not communicating with her husband was reinforcing the problem.
She had one of those “V-8” moments in session where she realized she was doing it to herself. She realized that she needed to open up more. And that to do that she needed to practice trusting. Cool, right?
She decided a way that she could do that was by sharing her feelings with her husband. This would allow her to enjoy more intimacy in the relationship. And experience those feelings of trust that had been missing.
The client decided that she would risk sharing her feelings with her husband. This was something she had never felt safe in doing. So this was an important step toward developing greater trust in her marriage. It was also coming directly out of her internal process and realizations. That’s really smart. : - )
Did she complete her homework assignment?
Following her session she was so enthusiastic about taking action that she made the call right away. She hadn’t even left my driveway. And she was calling her husband to say, “Let’s go out for dinner and talk.”
Over dinner she even shared what she had been experiencing in her hypnosis sessions. The feelings she had been dealing with. And the insights that had been emerging.
She let herself to be vulnerable with her husband in a way that she had never allowed before. And she was both surprised and delighted to find her husband was both receptive and supportive. This provided the proof she needed. That it was safe to trust. Cool, huh?
Having a SMART goal as a homework assignment gave this client an action to commit to. And it gave me a way to measure her progress in the therapy.
It gave me a way to gauge where she was at. And how well she was doing. It also gave me an idea of how to proceed by showing what the next step in her program needed to be.
SMART goals can help you to get better results with your clients, too. So when you assign homework, make sure that the client is willing. Then, get SMART.
Remember .... S.M.A.R.T. stands for: