If you are thinking of engaging a hypnotherapist to help you with a personal or work-related problem, where do you start?
This blog will help you simplify the process of finding a hypnotherapist so that you can understand what is written about them and better understand the jargon.
Why simplifying hypnotherapy is important
When I first started to learn hypnotherapy, I was confused about the jargon. What was the difference between a clinical hypnotherapist and an Ericksonian hypnotist?
What did all the different qualifications mean, and who was the most qualified?
Were there different types of hypnotherapy, and which would provide the best result?
As a trainee hypnotherapist, I wondered which types of hypnotherapy would be easiest for me to learn and practice. But as I got deeply involved in the profession and learnt so much more, these thoughts became less unimportant.
But today, as I reflect on what I do, I realise that as a profession, we must make things easier for the public to understand.
I am thinking more about the views of potential clients. How can I make it easier to make the right choices for clients?
After 18 years of practising as a hypnotherapist, I realise that potential clients must also be confused about approaching a hypnotherapist because there are so many names to contend with. Furthermore, not all therapists make it evident that they use hypnosis tools in their practice, although they may list it as one of their qualifications.
I know that as a client, you want good results, as do all hypnotherapists, but there are more things to a therapeutic relationship than hypnosis and techniques. For example, clients need to be listened to, empathise with difficult issues, and trust and unconditional positive regard to feeling comfortable and not judged.
So today, I will highlight three ways to understand hypnotherapy better so you can make an informed choice as to who or what methods you might choose. My aim, therefore, is to make the jargon easy to understand.
1. Simplifying hypnotherapy, or is it hypnosis?
The first step is to know what hypnosis is and the background of hypnotherapy; then, you will better understand what is being offered.
What is hypnosis?
When seeking hypnotherapy, you might wonder what you are getting.
Let’s start with what hypnosis is.
It’s difficult to describe hypnosis as there are many aspects to consider.
But an easier way to think about hypnosis is that hypnosis is a tool to help people focus their attention and imagination with positive suggestions to help them change.
Hypnosis + therapy is hypnotherapy. The therapy is usually talking therapy like counselling/psychotherapy, psychology or other complementary therapies such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
Is hypnotherapy regulated?
In the UK and many countries worldwide, hypnotherapy does not have statutory regulation like a doctor or nurse might have. So, generally, hypnotherapy is regulated through voluntary self-regulation and codes of conduct.
Unfortunately, there is no requirement to be registered with any professional body and no necessity to follow a code of conduct. Consider if it is important for your hypnotherapist to be registered with a professional body. In the UK, practitioners could be registered with organisations such as the GHR, National Hypnotherapy Society, NCH, CNHC or other bodies.
Consequently, anyone can call themselves what they like and choose to join a professional body and pay for membership.
There are no essential qualifications to being a hypnotherapist, but the professional bodies require a minimum of certification and a set number of taught hours and practice.
In theory, this means that the hypnotist doesn’t need qualifications. However, insurance companies and professional bodies won’t recognise hypnotherapists without training, so it’s unlikely that you will find people who are not qualified.
Qualifications can be certified qualifications from a training institute, college or university. If qualifications are important, here is what you should know.
There are two routes to qualifications in the UK. One goes up the academic line or the vocational line. Some practitioners have academic and vocational qualifications. Both are recognised.
Vocational qualifications can be gained from numerous training schools worldwide or online. The length of the training can vary from a few days to a year. Nationally accepted external verifiers often endorse them. For example, NCFE is an awarding body for hypnotherapy courses.
Most hypnotherapists in the UK are trained to diploma level (level 4). Some might have a certificate of competency.
The HPD (Higher Practitioner Diploma) is considered a good qualification, but it doesn’t mean that a therapist who doesn’t have this is not good.
Fewer hypnotherapists have higher academic qualifications related to hypnosis. But some do have a master’s degree, and even fewer practitioners have a PhD (maybe in a related subject such as psychology or education)
Several hypnotherapy schools have blended learning with other skills. This could be hypnosis and coaching, hypnosis and NLP. Some hypnotherapists will use counselling skills such as active listening, while other therapists will be highly qualified in their other talking professions.
Some hypnotherapists have other qualifications that might be important to you. For example, if you have a medical problem, you might like to go to someone with a medical or nursing background. However, most hypnotherapists can deal with common medical conditions well because these things are usually included in their hypnotherapy training.
So when deciphering qualifications, you will see similar ones to other academic qualifications such as a certificate (sometimes called a Cert), a diploma (sometimes called Diphyp), or a degree or master’s (usually MSc).
Having the highest qualification won’t necessarily mean getting the best outcome, but you will know that the therapist is serious and wants to learn more details.
Sometimes, years of experience and recommendations are the essential qualifications you are looking for.
If you want to know more about a practitioner’s qualifications and experience, ask!
How do hypnotherapists work?
Simplifying how hypnotherapists work is complex, as everyone has different training and approaches.
Hypnotherapists are trained in different ways according to the philosophy of how hypnosis is best achieved. Some hypnotherapists believe that hypnosis is an altered state of mind, while others believe it is a natural way our brain works.
Historically, hypnotherapy was delivered by doctors and important men in society, so it was direct and authoritarian. This is why, in old pictures, you will see a male hypnotist standing and a female client looking up into the eyes of the hypnotist.
However, other methods that are much more passive have been developed and work as a partnership with the client. People nowadays don’t want to be ordered around, so a good service today is more like a partnership with respect for each other.
One indirect/ more conversational method of delivering hypnotherapy is often called Ericksonian hypnotherapy after Milton H. Erickson, the leader in this way.
I believe that a direct approach is needed in some situations. For example, if you want to stop smoking, I give you direct suggestions under hypnosis to stop smoking now. Other times, for other issues, I might use more passive language.
There is no evidence that direct or indirect methods of hypnotherapy work best.
2. Simplifying the names of practitioners
The next area of jargon you might want to know about is the practitioner’s title.
In the USA, practitioners are licensed in a state if they have qualifications. In the USA, people who only use hypnosis are called hypnotists. They can use hypnosis as part of another therapy, such as psychology and continue to call themselves a therapist. Still, they must have other qualifications to do this.
The title hypnotist or hypnotherapist is used interchangeably in the UK, Australia and other countries worldwide.
But then there are variations on this.
For example, some hypnotherapists incorporate Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) into their work, so they are called cognitive hypnotherapists. Some hypnotherapists believe in a more spiritual aspect of hypnotherapy, superconsciousness and past lives, so they may call themselves transpersonal hypnotherapists. Other hypnotherapists believe in exploring the past. They are called Analytical hypnotherapists. Solution-focused hypnotherapists believe in focusing mainly on future goals and success.
However, many hypnotherapists are integrative and use all the above skills.
Finally, hypnotists who use hypnosis with entertainment skills are called stage hypnotists. There are also street hypnotists who practice with people on the street. Similarly, this is usually for entertainment purposes.
So again, if you want to know more about how they work, ask!
3. Understanding blended Hypnotherapy techniques
There are many ways of hypnotizing people, and there are many ways the hypnotherapist can help the person change when in a trance-like state.
You may hear some of these advertised blended techniques, so I will describe some common techniques I know about.
Please note many of these techniques have been trademarked.
I have been trained in the following, so I know the combinations.
RTT (Rapid Transformational Therapist). This is the Marisa Peer method of using hypnotherapy, regression techniques, NLP, and CBT.
Easibirthing. This is a course developed by Sharon Mustard. She has blended psychotherapy and hypnosis to help with having a baby.
The Fast Phobia Cure is also called the Rewind Technique or the Visual-Kinesthetic Dissociation Technique. As you can see from the names, variations of this technique use NLP, visualisation and relaxation. It’s not always necessary to use hypnosis with this technique.
Finally, as you can see from this blog, hypnotherapy is complex because there is lots of jargon, but I hope this has helped you understand and find the right hypnotherapist.