Is Hypnotherapy Therapy?
Historically, hypnotherapy as a discipline has been hard to categorise as itÂ has been claimed to be part of the medical, psychological, andÂ complementary therapy fields. Parts of its practise fit in to each of thesefields, but it does not fit entirely into any one of them.Â Since 1954, the British Medical Association has recognised hypnosis as aÂ valuable therapeutic modality. (NCH, 2000), but many notedÂ psychologists and psychiatrists have taken the position of hypnotherapyÂ being solely a technique. (Waxman, 1989). Many also took the view thatÂ only physicians, psychologists and dentists should be allowed to practiseÂ hypnosis in any form (Erickson & Rossi, 1980).
In recent years, however, this view has begun to be questioned. In theÂ United States, the Department of Labour gave an occupationalÂ designation of hypnotherapist (Boyne 1989). In the United Kingdom,
with the advent of the popularity of complementary therapies,Â hypnotherapy is recognised as one of the four discrete disciplines thatÂ have been studied to determine clinical efficacy (Mills & Budd, 2000).
The view that hypnotherapy is a variant on psychotherapy is expressed byÂ Kirsch et al (1993) while explaining that in the nineteenth century use ofÂ suggestion in hypnosis was considered a distinct modality. They profferÂ the view that although suggestion is used in some cases, âmore
frequently, the use of hypnosis in contemporary hypnotherapy isÂ embedded within some broader therapeutic approach.â P3
Within the United Kingdom, it is accepted that there are someÂ practitioners of hypnosis who qualify as psychotherapists (UKCPÂ National Register of Psychotherapists, 2000). It is accepted that those
who qualify as being hypno-psychotherapists are post graduate equivalentÂ and have undertaken a four year part-time course of study which not onlyÂ included hypnosis instruction but also instruction in the primary schoolsÂ of psychotherapeutic and counselling thought. Additionally, hypno-psychotherapists are required to undertake a period of clinical supervisionÂ post qualification.
However, there are in excess of 1000 hypnotherapistsÂ who do not have this background, many of whom have had no training orÂ education in psychotherapy, psychology, child development or
I conducted a study which focuses on qualified practitioners. Qualified practitioners, inÂ this context, are those with a credential in counselling and/orÂ psychotherapy as well as hypnotherapy, or are practitioners who haveÂ taken a course in hypnotherapy only. A difficulty in looking at the latter
practitioners is the wide variance of quality of available programmes ofÂ study. Some schools run their programmes along similar lines to otherÂ educational establishments, whilst others have no formal protocols for thestudents with regards to quality control and academic rigor (Brookhouse,Â 1998).
Many of these practitioners have studied for one year part-time and haveÂ different experiences with issues relating to psychotherapy andÂ counselling, dependent on the school at which he or she studied. For theseÂ practitioners there is often no mandatory supervision requirement and inÂ many cases no requirement for continuing professional developmentÂ (Heap & Dryden, 1991). Also, the variance of educational credential isÂ great. Some hypnotherapists in this category do not hold a first degree
(Broom, 2000). A degree is generally seen as the first step to professionalÂ qualification (CTISHP 2001).
There have been recent initiatives to form common standards regarding ethics and professional training (Mills & Budd 2000). However, there isÂ little or no agreement regarding minimum standards of entry for layÂ people wanting to practise hypnotherapy (Hawkins & Heap 1998). ThisÂ means that there are not the same safeguards as those who qualifyÂ through a course of Counselling Psychology through the BritishÂ Psychological Society, accreditation as a counsellor through the BritishÂ Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy or registration as aÂ psychotherapist through the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy.
Safeguards refer to the need for a recognised first qualification inÂ psychology for the BPS, an accredited diploma for the BACP and aÂ recognised qualification in psychotherapy for the UKCP.
However, when looking at the registers of hypnotherapists someÂ practitioners hold degree and post graduate qualifications. Many also holdÂ Certificates/Diplomas in Counselling (Broom, 2000).