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Is Hypnotherapy Therapy?

Is Hypnotherapy Therapy?

Historically, hypnotherapy as a discipline has been hard to categorise as it has been claimed to be part of the medical, psychological, and complementary therapy fields. Parts of its practise fit in to each of thesefields, but it does not fit entirely into any one of them. Since 1954, the British Medical Association has recognised hypnosis as a valuable therapeutic modality. (NCH, 2000), but many noted psychologists and psychiatrists have taken the position of hypnotherapy being solely a technique. (Waxman, 1989). Many also took the view that only physicians, psychologists and dentists should be allowed to practise hypnosis in any form (Erickson & Rossi, 1980).

In recent years, however, this view has begun to be questioned. In the United States, the Department of Labour gave an occupational designation of hypnotherapist (Boyne 1989). In the United Kingdom,
with the advent of the popularity of complementary therapies, hypnotherapy is recognised as one of the four discrete disciplines that have been studied to determine clinical efficacy (Mills & Budd, 2000).
The view that hypnotherapy is a variant on psychotherapy is expressed by Kirsch et al (1993) while explaining that in the nineteenth century use of suggestion in hypnosis was considered a distinct modality. They proffer the view that although suggestion is used in some cases, “more
frequently, the use of hypnosis in contemporary hypnotherapy is embedded within some broader therapeutic approach.” P3

Within the United Kingdom, it is accepted that there are some practitioners of hypnosis who qualify as psychotherapists (UKCP National Register of Psychotherapists, 2000). It is accepted that those
who qualify as being hypno-psychotherapists are post graduate equivalent and have undertaken a four year part-time course of study which not only included hypnosis instruction but also instruction in the primary schools of psychotherapeutic and counselling thought. Additionally, hypno-psychotherapists are required to undertake a period of clinical supervision post qualification.

However, there are in excess of 1000 hypnotherapists who do not have this background, many of whom have had no training or education in psychotherapy, psychology, child development or

I conducted a study which focuses on qualified practitioners. Qualified practitioners, in this context, are those with a credential in counselling and/or psychotherapy as well as hypnotherapy, or are practitioners who have taken a course in hypnotherapy only. A difficulty in looking at the latter
practitioners is the wide variance of quality of available programmes of study. Some schools run their programmes along similar lines to other educational establishments, whilst others have no formal protocols for thestudents with regards to quality control and academic rigor (Brookhouse, 1998).

Many of these practitioners have studied for one year part-time and have different experiences with issues relating to psychotherapy and counselling, dependent on the school at which he or she studied. For these practitioners there is often no mandatory supervision requirement and in many cases no requirement for continuing professional development (Heap & Dryden, 1991). Also, the variance of educational credential is great. Some hypnotherapists in this category do not hold a first degree
(Broom, 2000). A degree is generally seen as the first step to professional qualification (CTISHP 2001).

There have been recent initiatives to form common standards regarding ethics and professional training (Mills & Budd 2000). However, there is little or no agreement regarding minimum standards of entry for lay people wanting to practise hypnotherapy (Hawkins & Heap 1998). This means that there are not the same safeguards as those who qualify through a course of Counselling Psychology through the British Psychological Society, accreditation as a counsellor through the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy or registration as a psychotherapist through the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy.

Safeguards refer to the need for a recognised first qualification in psychology for the BPS, an accredited diploma for the BACP and a recognised qualification in psychotherapy for the UKCP.
However, when looking at the registers of hypnotherapists some practitioners hold degree and post graduate qualifications. Many also hold Certificates/Diplomas in Counselling (Broom, 2000).

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