The organisation of practitioners who have had at least four years of relevant training and who comply with the best professional standards of competence and ethics in hypnotherapy
Founded in 1958
30 Cotsford Avenue New Malden Surrey KT3 5EU
Choosing a Hypnotherapist
'How do I know whether I'm seeing a genuine hypnotherapist?' This is a sensible question. You want to know that the hypnotherapist:
Producers of television programmes on hypnosis seem to assume you are very stupid. So do thousands of hypnotists, who have set up as 'hypnotherapists' after taking a hopelessly inadequate 'training course' to make a quick buck from you.
They apparently imagine you can understand only a primitive form of therapy, in use 150 years ago, in which suggestions are pumped into you to suppress your presenting symptoms. As if you were unable to understand that:
There's a multitude of 'hypnotherapy' interest groups which hypnotists can join on payment of a fee. Some of these groups have professional-sounding names. Some advertise that they have, or are, 'a national register'. Some have 'a code of ethics'.
But a register, unless admission to it is restricted to suitably trained people, doesn't mean that the people on it have any expertise or standards. And a code of ethics, unless it's relevant and properly enforced, is only window-dressing, providing no protection to the public.
Reputable hypnotherapists will send you, or their organisation will send you, printed information before you see them, stating the nature of the service which they provide, their training, qualifications and experience, the names of any organisations or registers to which they belong, their fees, the terms and conditions upon which they will see you, their exact location and an indication of how soon and at what times they are likely to be able to see you. Giving you this information in print reduces the risk of any misunderstanding. It also enables you to talk about you and your problems when you have a consultation, instead of having to ask about routine points which could have been dealt with in a pamphlet.
Good hypnotherapists won't tell you before seeing you how many visits you will need, nor definitely whether they can help or not. Nobody knows, because the type of help required, if any, varies from one individual to another. So does the number of sessions. Before deciding what form of treatment you need, if any, a reputable hypnotherapist gives a thorough consultation. This will take up the whole of your first appointment, perhaps beyond, and hypnosis will not be attempted in that first visit.
Nor will any reputable hypnotherapist claim a success rate. There are many different ways of measuring success in therapy, many different views as to what constitutes success. Does it mean disappearance of the symptom presented - even if the result doesn't last, or you get, or still have, other problems, which may be underlying causes or new substitute symptoms? For how long do any benefits need to be maintained for the therapy to be counted a success? Who decides whether it's a success or not? The patient? His or her partner? The children? The parents? The therapist?
Good hypnotherapists have no connection with stage hypnotism or television shows. The use (or misuse) of hypnosis for entertainment is utterly different from its use to help people tackle their problems. Stage hypnotists are entertainers. Hypnotherapists, to do their job well, need different characteristics and years of training in psychotherapy, and therapy themselves
In 1958, the British Hypnotherapy Association was formed to set appropriate standards. It admits only therapists who have had at least four years of training, not merely in hypnosis, or psychotherapy, but in all relevant subjects and who are skilled in the understanding and treatment of emotional problems. Perhaps most important of all, to gain insight and to avoid acting out problems on patients, they have had thorough therapy themselves. They have to comply with high standards in ethics and competence in their work.
Maintaining these standards is greatly helped by you letting the Association know the results of your therapy, especially the long-term effects. So do please write to the therapist and to the Association upon completing your therapy, and once every ten years after that, stating the results in detail. Not just whether you're free of the symptoms you had, but the effects on your life as a whole, and how you are getting on.
Practitioners recommended by the Association or the Centre are on the BHA register. They don't advertise their professional services. They get their patients through recommendations from former patients and referrals from the Centre, the BHA and other organisations and practitioners.
In Britain, psycho-analysts don't use hypnotherapy. Most psychotherapists have had no training in it. Physicians aren't normally trained in psychotherapy or hypnotherapy. Nor are most psychologists or psychiatrists. Most people calling themselves hypnotherapists are only hypnotists.
The BHA no longer keeps a list of the many organisations with unsatisfactory standards, the many training courses which are worse than useless, and the many worthless qualifications which so many people who advertise their services put after their names.
There are too many of them.
To be able to do their job properly, hypnotherapists must have a thorough understanding of emotional problems, nervous conditions, the causes of these and the treatments available. Their training must include a wide range of subjects, from endocrine disorders to marital relations, from psychodynamics to alcoholism. They must have had thorough, successful therapy themselves, to ensure that they're reasonably free of neurotic kinks and blind-spots, and to give them an understanding of psychodynamics, psychotherapy and hypnotherapy.
Only the British Hypnotherapy Association requires those standards. Its practitioners are entitled to use the letters FBHA, MBHA or ABHA, depending upon their type of membership, after their names. There have been cases of practitioners who aren't members of the British Hypnotherapy Association and who don't even remotely come up to its standards claiming falsely that they belong to it or putting one of its designations, or similar-sounding letters, after their names. So always ask the Association to refer you to the nearest practitioner on their register.
If you want the quickest and best hypnotherapy don't be surprised if you're asked to pay in advance for any appointments you arrange. A busy practitioner, to reserve fifty minutes for a patient, may need some assurance that the patient will turn up. A patient who doesn't turn up for an appointment may be depriving someone else, who could have had that time. Paying in advance also makes you less likely to get coldfeetitis.
Because hypnotherapy isn't medical, it isn't covered by most private medical insurance schemes. But there have been instances of people getting reimbursement through company health schemes for employees. Some people have told us that they found that, as the therapy improved their working efficiency, all or part of the fee was tax-deductible.
It is not possible to have hypnotherapy to BHA standards on the National Health Service. It's generally better, anyway, for therapeutic reasons, to pay for hypnotherapy from your own resources if possible.
Patients need fifty-minute sessions and an adequate fifty-minute consultation at the start. Practitioners in the British Hypnotherapy Association charge fees related to their ability, training, experience, location and availability. Their fees are related to the amount of time you receive, the training and qualifications of the practitioner and the reputation which they have established. This does not apply to most practitioners not on the BHA register.
Use your eyes and ears to see for yourself how good a practitioner is who claims to use hypnotherapy or to be a hypnotherapist. Does he or she:
The answers to all these questions should be YES. If they aren't, raise them with your therapist and seriously consider, if you don't quickly succeed in sorting the therapist out, changing to another one.
The British Hypnotherapy Association has a register of hypnotherapists who have had at least four years of training, including having thorough therapy themselves and who are required to continue to maintain a high standard of competence and ethics in their work. For referral to the nearest, and information, phone one of the numbers below, indicating the nature of your problem, stating your age and your work location. You should do this yourself, not have someone do it on your behalf. There's a shortage of properly trained hypnotherapists so you may need to travel outside what you regard as your area to see one.
If you wish to enquire about treatment, please ring the following number:
For further information about psychotherapy, please visit www.the-psychotherapy-centre.org.uk.
British Hypnotherapy Association, 30 Cotsford Avenue New Malden Surrey KT3 5EU. Telephone: 020 8942 3988
(c) 7th November 2023
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