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A Consumer's Guide to Hypnotherapy

Author: David Clow

Date Published:
Publisher: The Tolucan Times - Canyon Crier

It might surprise you that a professional hypnotherapist would ask you to be skeptical about the subject of hypnotherapy, but that's what I'm going to do. Californians, particularly after the recent passage of Senate Bill 577, are intensely curious about it, and people have plenty of questions about how it can help them make constructive changes in their lives. But my first interest isn't in promoting hypnotherapy. It's in protecting your interest as a consumer just as I want to protect my own.

Let's make an important distinction between hypnosis and hypnotherapy as it's practiced commercially today.

Hypnosis: Proven and Powerful

Hypnosis is one of the most ancient and respected medical practices known to man. It's lasted through the centuries because it's a natural, safe, simple human process that all of us do every day, often without realizing it. If you meditate, if you zone out on the golf course, if you escape into music or a good book and let the world drift away, that's more or less what a light hypnotic trance state feels like. That trance state can be used to create suggestions for your subconscious mind to help you make a wide range of improvements in your life.

Today we're witnessing a remarkable resurgence of interest in hypnosis, within even the most conservative sectors of mainstream medicine. Hypnosis has been approved as a method since 1958 by the American medical Association, and now it's being actively investigated by the national Institutes of Health, and practiced at the Mayo Clinic and at medical schools from Stanford to Harvard, as an effective adjunct to conventional medicine even for illnesses up to and including diseases such as cancer. The separation between mind and body has been closed, finally, and the power of the subconscious mind is today being brought to bear as possibly the best ally you have for staying happy and healthy.

Senate Bill 577

Senate Bill 577, passed at the beginning of this year, helps guarantee your access to complementary healing arts such as massage, aromatherapy, and hypnotherapy. Millions of Californians now regularly avail themselves of these services, which unlike licensed healing arts, conventional medicine, psychotherapy, family therapy, etc., don't require medical training or credentials.

This bill builds on a long precedent. For decades, California law has recognized hypnotherapy as a valid method for "vocational and a vocational self-improvement," and tens of thousands of people have sought its benefits for problems that fall outside the normal scope of licensed medical practice. Doctors want you to quit smoking, for example; hypnotherapists can help you do it. Millions of people suffer from fears or phobias-of flying, public speaking, animals, even driving on the freeway and hypnosis has helped people conquer these obstacles and lead normal, happy lives. Athletes seek it to help them improve their focus and sharpen their performance. Many physicians and psychologist ask hypnotherapists to help their patients alleviate stress that can contribute to serious illnesses. Even cancer and HIV patients have benefited from hypnosis, in conjunction with conventional care, as a way to help them overcome the anxiety and stresses of their treatments.

You Can Benefit, If You Know How to Find Quality Service

As the many people who use hypnotherapy will tell you, the question isn't whether hypnosis works. It's how to get god hypnotherapy. You don't want to guess when you're looking for a service that can change your life; you want to make a careful buying decision. And here's the challenge: while California does guarantee your access to hypnosis services, it doesn't regulate their quality in any way. The fact is, because hypnotherapy is self-regulating, the quality of training and services available to you varies, and when you're shopping, you're left to guess. Some of the professional hypnotherapists practicing today took training that might be as brief as a single week before they hung out their shingle. So if you're curious but still unconvinced, where would I begin?

Ask Questions to Make the Best Investment

Asking a few questions can help you quickly find a responsible practitioner.

  1. May I see your disclosure statement?
    Hypnotherapists are required by law to have you read and sign a full statement of their legal status, theory, training, and experience. If they don't have one, don't stay.
  2. Where did you learn hypnotherapy, and how long did you study?
    The best training involves hundreds of hours of classroom time an months of supervised internship. Don't settle for less.
  3. Is this like stage hypnosis?
    The answer should be a ringing NO. The premise of stage hypnosis is that the hypnotist can control your mind. In real hypnosis, you are ALWAYS in control, even in trance. The illusion that you can be made to do something silly because someone else is controlling your mind is just that - an illusion.
  4. How long will it take for me to (fill in the blank)?
    If you want to quit smoking, for example, it's reasonable to ask how long it will take. If the hypnotherapist answers too quickly, watch out. Everyone is different, and everyone's course of hypnotherapy should be custom designed. Many issues can be handled fast, but if the hypnotist has a "canned" answer for you, beware.
  5. What can hypnotherapy cure?
    The answer is simple: nothing. Cures are performed by licensed medical professionals. A hypnotist who promises a "cure" might be practicing outside professional bounds.

The last questions are some you can ask yourself. How do you feel about this person? Do you feel confident in their candor and integrity? Are you comfortable? Is there trust and rapport between you?

The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence shows that we've just scratched the surface on the power of hypnosis as a broadly-adaptable tool for constructive change in all our lives. As a hypnotherapist I'm excited about what I can do to help people, and as a consumer I'm reassured that it's possible for us all to find good practitioners. With a few informed questions up front, hypnotherapy can be a great investment we make in ourselves.