If you’re looking for a hypnotherapist, the first step in choosing a therapist for most people, is searching the internet. However, it’s worth taking time to do some research and find someone who is suitably qualified and experienced to help you, especially if this is your first time seeking hypnotherapy.
Asking friends or relatives for a recommendation is a good starting point as they will have first hand experience, but if you don’t have any recommended therapists to contact, the next step is usually a Google search, especially as most established hypnotherapists have their own website which can give you an idea of what they’re like and how they work.
Asking questions when choosing a hypnotherapist is important because it enables you to get a better idea of who they are and how they work. To give yourself the best chance of success, you need to feel comfortable with your therapist and able to talk to them. The working relationship between you should be open and trustworthy and you should feel at ease. It’s also important to remember that hypnotherapy is very much a two-way process in which your motivation and participation are essential. Hypnotherapy isn’t done to you, it’s done with you.
If you haven’t experienced hypnosis before or if you have any questions about hypnotherapy, these are usually covered in your first appointment. However, if you have any concerns or questions, a therapist should also be happy to briefly answer these on the phone or via email. Some therapists also offer a free initial consultation where you can meet either online via video or in person and ask any questions you may have.
Some of the questions you could ask when contacting a hypnotherapist for the first time include:
- What happens in a hypnotherapy session?
- Do you have experience of working with this issue?
- How many sessions will I need?
- What qualifications and training do you have?
- Are you a member of a professional hypnotherapy organisation?
- Do you receive regular supervision?
- How much will it cost?
Number of Sessions Required
Whilst it’s not always possible to give an exact figure in terms of the number of sessions that may be required, a hypnotherapist should be able to give you a rough idea based on their training and experience of working with similar problems or issues. People respond differently to hypnotherapy and so your therapist should monitor your progress at each session to ensure that therapy remains focused on what you want to achieve.
Hypnotherapy Training & Qualifications
When choosing a hypnotherapist, it’s a good idea to make sure that any therapist you decide to work with, has the right training and experience to help you. At present in the UK, there are no statutory training requirements for hypnotherapists. This means that there are a wide variety of training courses available, from online or distance learning courses, to comprehensive face to face taught programmes which include a combination of coursework and practical training, along with supervision and formal assessment and/or exams.
Most of the larger professional hypnotherapy organisations require their members to have undertaken a course which includes a minimum number of taught hours, along with a combination of both theory and practical training. Many of the professional organisations also require training courses to follow the National Occupational Standards for Hypnotherapy, which currently require courses to include a minimum of 450 hours, of which, at least 120 hours must have been face to face teaching. Some organisations also specify the level of training, for example, equivalent to Ofqual QCF level 4.
In talking therapies such as hypnotherapy, counselling and psychotherapy, the process of supervision involves a therapist meeting with their supervisor, who is also an experienced therapist, on a regular basis to review their work with clients, along with their professional and personal development. The supervision process is important for all therapists regardless of their level of experience and most professional hypnotherapy organisations in the UK require their members to have a regular supervision arrangement in place.
Supervision is a valuable ‘checking in’ process, helping therapists to stay grounded, maintain personal and professional boundaries, avoid burnout and provide safe, ethical and competent therapy for their clients. During a supervision session, a therapist will reflect on their own feelings, thoughts, behaviour and professional approach, as well as discussing client cases where presenting issues may be difficult or complex. Client confidentiality is maintained within the supervision process.
Disclosure & Barring Service
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is a public body, sponsored by the Home Office of the UK Government, which exists to enable employers to make safer recruitment decisions by undertaking DBS checks to ensure that employers are recruiting suitable people for their organisation. The service offers different levels of check including; Basic, Standard and Enhanced. Checks of various lists, databases and registers are undertaken depending on which level of DBS check is requested and these include; police checks including details of unspent convictions, the sex offenders register and lists of people who are barred from working with vulnerable adults and children.
Enhanced DBS checks are usually requested by employers of people who work in health and social care or in roles where they work with vulnerable adults or children. This level of check cannot be applied for by an individual, it must be applied for by an employer or responsible organisation, with the DBS certificate being issued to the individual. It is not a qualification or a permit to work with certain groups of people e.g. children, it is simply an official check of relevant databases and registers to ensure that an individual is suitable to work with these groups.
Some hypnotherapists may hold an Enhanced DBS certificate if they also work in a health or social care role in addition to their therapy practice. Possession of an Enhanced DBS certificate does not automatically entitle a therapist to work with vulnerable adults and children, it is simply verification that they have been vetted by the Disclosure and Barring Service and may be suitable to work with these groups. If you are seeking therapy for either a child or a vulnerable adult, choosing a hypnotherapist who has an Enhanced DBS may offer some peace of mind, however you should also ensure that the therapist has relevant training and experience of working with these groups.
Membership of a Professional Hypnotherapy Organisation
It’s a good idea to ensure when choosing a hypnotherapist, that they are a member of an established, reputable and independent hypnotherapy organisation. There are quite a number of organisations in the UK; some are independent and have strict entry requirements and accreditation criteria and others have been founded by and are affiliated to training providers, with their own training and entry requirements.
In 2012, The Professional Standards Authority launched the Accredited Registers programme to accredit registers of social and healthcare practitioners who meet the Authority’s standards. An Accredited Register is the result of the programme set up by the Department of Health and administered by the Professional Standards Authority, who are an independent body, accountable to the UK Parliament. The Professional Standards Authority accredits registers of people working in a variety of health and social care occupations. The Authority also oversees statutory regulators such as the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
At the time of writing, there are currently three accredited registers to which hypnotherapists can belong and these are The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council, The Federation of Holistic Therapists and The National Hypnotherapy Society.
The National Hypnotherapy Society
The National Hypnotherapy Society holds the first and only current UK hypnotherapy register to be directly accredited by the Professional Standards Authority. All professional registrants (Members, Accredited Members and Fellows) on the Society’s register must:
- Be a qualified hypnotherapist
- Have appropriate training and qualifications
- Adhere to the Society’s code of conduct and ethics
- Receive regular supervision
- Be fully insured
- Undertake regular Continuing Professional Development (CPD) each year
Choosing a hypnotherapist who is on the Society’s register can offer you peace of mind, whilst ensuring that you are seeing someone who has met the Society’s standards and is on a register which has been vetted and approved by the Professional Standards Authority.
Treatments & Cures
Hypnotherapists and other types of talking therapist cannot ‘cure’ you and an ethical therapist should not make any claim regarding a cure for your problem or issue. There are a variety of factors that can affect the outcome of any type of talking therapy and these include the level of training and experience of your therapist, the type of therapy used and the level of rapport you have with your therapist. However, the most important factor is your motivation, participation and commitment to the therapy process. Therapy is all about helping you to help yourself.
A quick search of the internet often reveals a wide variety of hypnotherapists to choose from, including websites advertising the ‘treatments’ on offer. However, apart from attracting trouble from the Advertising Standards Authority for using potentially misleading language, for many people, the word ‘treatment’ often implies a ‘cure’.
Because some of the factors involved in successful therapy are within your control, not your therapist’s, it is impossible for your therapist to offer any guarantee of treatment, cure or success. Hypnotherapy, Counselling, NLP, CBT and other talking therapies have a good track record in helping people to overcome a wide variety of problems and issues, but remember, you need to play your part too.