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Scope of Practice and the Hypno-Psychotherapist

Scope of Practice and the Hypno-Psychotherapist

For some of you this will sound like teaching a grandmother to suck eggs, and those of you who have attended my classes will know that I am very much a conservative (with a small c) when it comes to the scope of practice in the work that we do. I feel moved to write this based on an email I have received through a hypno forum of which I am currently a member. (I have removed the identifying features of the email, and errors are maintained):

One of my client got a diagnosis of colon cancer. she will start chemo after Xmas. the problem is I have no scripts to make sure she will feel fine and not loose her hair. I could invent one, but I am sure that it exist so why reinvent the wheel. I was following her for PTSD due to severe abuse during childhood. I am now changing gear for this new challenge. If you have anything I will appreciate.

I believe that this is one of the most perfect examples of why I say we must restrict our practice to what we know, and what is provable. To put it bluntly, if you need a script then chances are you should not work with the condition. By need I mean being unable to work out what to do with the client without one. Having a script or two available to act as guidance for the work that you are doing is not need and is fine. I believe that this email shows two things, firstly an intrinsic laziness that is sometimes expressed by practitioners. It’s too hard to listen to what my client is telling me, so I would rather read someone else’s work”. The second is profound ignorance of the power of hypnosis. Yes, it’s bloomin™ powerful, but to believe that it can prevent hair loss after chemo and ensure a person feels fine is simply nonsense. It could help the person better than they might and certainly to cope but to suggest more is completely unethical. There is evidence that hypnosis can help reduce nausea and vomiting (particularly anticipatory), and of course, pain and anxiety.

It may surprise readers to know that the amount of training this person had in order to work with clients with cancer, PTSD, and abuse was a mere 96 hours of live training, with no background in psychology, psychotherapy or counselling. I have been saying for years, that it is the responsibility of teachers and trainers in this field to teach students what they can do and what they cannot or should not do. This is a perfect case in point where a graduate (who I am sure is well meaning) is trying to do far more than her training has prepared her for.

I ask that practitioners read this and take the message to heart. Our code of ethics states that one should only practice within one’s own scope of competence. Our work means that we are constantly learning and growing to add new skills and approaches to our work. After over 30 years in the profession, I still very much consider myself a student of the art, and I hope that never changes.

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