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How to find a great Hypnotherapist

Hypnotherapy can be useful for a range of areas, including:

  • Giving up smoking / becoming a non-smoker again;
  • Overcoming fears and phobias;
  • Improving revision and examination technique;
  • Improving sporting prowess or skill through effective mental practice;
  • Learning powerful relaxation techniques, that can take you deeper than meditation.

If you're considering a hypnosis or hypnotherapy session with anyone, please be very careful before embarking on such a treatment with someone you don't know well, or someone that hasn't come very well recommended.

Look for someone who's been recommended personally, or someone who you've tracked down through a significant professional body (ie one that actually has selection procedures other than just receiving an annual payment to become an 'accredited member' with letters after their name).

Hypnosis can be a very powerful technique, even for those who don't necessarily appreciate many of the other things which may be going on during a session (hence, with someone with the necessary basic skills, a little knowledge can seem to go a long way).

  • However, think about the subtleties of words, and the hidden meanings that can often be accompanied with them (ie that someone with paranoia may pick up on).
  • Imagine talking to a child when they're feeling very vulnerable, and the impact a throw away comment said in frustration, may have on their character and development.
  • Consider the situation of an adult woman, suddenly recalling childhood abuse that she'd learnt to 'forget' because she couldn't deal with the impact on her life, just because the hypnotist had asked her to recall a time when she was ...

Whilst 'under hypnosis' your mind is highly sensitive, your imagination expanded, your clarity and focus is highly developed, and the two hemispheres of your brain can virtually work as one helping your mind to become immensely more powerful (hence the success of hypnotic techniques for so many conditions, and why it's also really great for exam revision!). However, while in this 'hypnotic state' your vulnerability is also heavily exaggerated. Hence anyone present with you in the room at the time must be particularly careful and professional, in everything they do during that time, and from then afterwards.

A wrong word, the wrong use of language, a mixed message you may not have picked up on, or the remembrance of an earlier time that would rather be forgotten, can have profound effects for all the wrong reasons on a client.

Thankfully the government is taking slow steps to regulate this area (with a few minor rules already established for stage hypnosis) and there are a few 'governing bodies' already established in this sector (with a variety of 'selection' criteria), but it's still a long way off before reaching the same stage of regulation seen in other healthcare sectors. Unfortunately it's still perfectly legal for someone with absolutely no form of training, to set themselves up as a hypnotherapist and advertise publicly their services.

Some of the 'more famous' names from the stage are often running huge, highly expensive group training in hypnosis, for a couple of hundred people at a time, with minimal one-on-one training: Having read details of such 'training courses' and learnt more about the accreditation received, it concerns me greatly to say the least.

So please, if you are going to see personally, or communicate with (for the purpose of a session) someone calling themselves a hypnotist/hypnotherapist or someone offering hypnotic sessions: Please first get recommendations from friends or family (as most therapists should normally be unable to provide references or statements from previous clients for reasons of client confidentiality, even with client consent).

Some people are naturally easier to hypnotise than others, although some may also be much easier to hypnotise by one hypnotist, far more than by another (typically a therapist will be unable to work effectively with 10% of the population, which will be a different 10% to another therapist).

All sessions need a basis of firm trust and mutual respect for it to 'work', although with online sessions, many of your natural intuitive safety guards may not be able to work as well so it may seem easier in some regards.

If attending a professional session, some other questions you may wish to ask (if a recommendation is not forthcoming) include:

  • Find out who the person qualified with (was it an independent trainer, an accredited educational establishment, etc.)
  • How long that training program lasted (was it a distance learning course, a weekend or five day intensive training session, or a structured qualification period over many months, with supervision, examinations, etc.)
  • How many hours one-to-one training they received with a professional trainer (who actually holds recognised teaching qualifications too).
  • How many supervised sessions they provided as part of their educational training (ie with the trainer 'sitting in' on a session).
  • How many case-studies they had to record as homework during their training, or did they just start working straight away after 'qualifying'.
  • Does the therapist have a professional background in Counseling or Psychotherapy? (Just as massage therapists should have a good understanding of Anatomy & Physiology, Hypnotherapists should have a good understanding of the mind and emotions, and how to effectively deal with the emotional releases so prevalent within a therapeutic session like hypnotherapy).
  • Ask how many trainers the therapist has worked with whilst learning (as every therapist will have their own professional style, and shouldn't just be a copy of their trainer's).
  • Whilst working, does the therapist only read from pre-written scripts? (Scripts can be a useful guide in preparation, but any therapeutic session should be a direct involvement between both the client, and the therapist. A therapist reading exclusive from scripts generally indicates a lack of experience and lack of confidence, both very important to a productive therapeutic session).
  • You should also ask to see a copy of the therapist's public liability insurance (normally for a million pounds or more), which would also cover personal injury (ie falling off the therapy couch, or similar). This needs to state somewhere that they're covered to provide Hypnotherapy (as many policies don't cover this normally).
  • Find out how is responsible for them (either a governing body, a supervisor, a mentor, etc.), and how you would lodge a complaint against them should you wish. (Should they not have a formal complaints with a separate body, and a procedure that doesn't go beyond 'getting your money back', steer clear, as they'll have no-one apart from perhaps trading standards, to answer to).
  • You can also ask how often they attend further training (CPD) and with whom they train.
  • Ask how many clients they've had to date, and how many clients they see a week on average. (ie if it's just a part time 'hobby', how up-to-date are they with their experience?)
  • Ask how long they keep client records for (should be 5 years or more), which should be kept very securely. You may also wish to ask if they are registered data controllers (in many cases they won't need to be, but if they are, at least then they would have looked carefully into it).
  • What sort of consultation is taken prior to the first session. And if after the initial consultation, you don't feel happy carrying on, will they still charge you?
  • Ask how many sessions it typically takes to 'solve' a particular problem (for many people, more than around 5 sessions, could be an indication of the wrong motives by the 'therapist', ie making money through repeat sessions, rather than helping to actually fix the underlying issue).
  • Someone who tells you you'll need at least 10 sessions for a relatively common issue (ie 'standard' fear or phobia), during the first phone conversation, without ever having met you or worked with you, is also a chance to flag up some warning signs.
  • Do they teach you 'self-hypnosis' early on through your sessions (enabling you to practice at home between sessions), do they offer personalised CDs to help between sessions, or do they deny you this extra support until your fifth or sixth session (to ensure you keep coming back to pay them)?
  • And of course it's important to know how much each session costs in advance of meeting them (N.B. more expensive generally does not indicate better quality). Anywhere from around £40-£80 per session can be quite typical (although I have heard of one 'therapist' charging up to £2,000 per one-hour session, for the same techniques as anyone else!).
  • Golden ruleā€¦ If you are in any niggling doubts whatsoever, steer well clear, or stop the session immediately and leave, then get your money back.

The above text was written by Jason Parlour, founder of The Therapy Agency, and professional hypnotherapist since 1998, Jason has worked with thousands of clients around the world in a range of professional therapeutic sessions, and now utilises his knowledge and background to support the careful selection of carefully selected therapists around the UK for a host of businesses, events, and individual treatments.

If you would like to replicate the above text in an alternative publication, please contact The Therapy Agency directly for fees and a commercial release. Otherwise, please do feel free to direct your readers to this page instead:

To find quality hypnotherapists carefully selected to the highest standards in the above criteria (including a professional interview with every applicant), do contact The Therapy Agency.

Minutes A Day

You can also look to bring the effective business training methods of 'Minutes a Day' into your workplace. A range of professional and accessible techniques to promote well-being, improve self-awareness, and develop understanding. One of the most effective session of which includes Self-Hypnosis training for all staff, enabling them to learn the techniques of self-hypnosis for themselves

Just view the website 'minutes a day' for more information.

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, 14 April, 2009