Are there too many unqualified trained hypnotherapists? Students rely on hypnosis schools to teach them what they need. But are they missing out something important?
I was looking over the exam for my local hypnotherapy association and I decided I didn't like some of the questions. That got me thinking about what exactly should be in a professional hypnosis exam.
Basic Competence is OK
Obviously the person has to be able to put someone into trance. But should the candidate be able to demonstrate some minimum number of different inductions? It is hard to say exactly.
They also need to be able to demonstrate competence in dealing with the normal range of problems they are likely to be presented with - Smoking, Weight Loss, Phobias, Confidence etc.
It seems to me that Hypnosis schools do a reasonable job of teaching these things. But they actually do a poor job of teaching what not to do. I know of no hypnosis training school that teaches their students how to recognize the most common mental illnesses. I have seen any number of weekend certificate holders on discussion boards asking for advice. For example, on how to deal with 'a client who has trouble staying in the present, who cannot concentrate and keeps going over and over the same thoughts'. Or 'my client comes to see me wearing two sets of clothes'. Another said 'my friend is always late for everything and needs two alarm clocks to waken up'. Anyone with a minimum of knowledge would recognize these as symptoms of common mental illnesses.
This lack of knowledge seems to be particularly prevalent in the USA. The trade protection legislation in the US has got hypnotherapists terrified of doing anything that could be interpreted as 'practicing medicine without a licence', even expressing an opinion. And yet refusing to recognize clear symptoms is just as bad. Using parts therapy or NLP on a client who has depression is pointless. It will be ineffective and therefore, in my view, unethical.
Recognize your limitations
Hypnotherapists do have to recognize their limitations. They are ethically bound to refer clients with organic issues to qualified medical personnel. But if they have never been taught the symptoms of say schizophrenia, paranoia or bipolar depression then they won't know it when they see it. Therefore they won't know what their own limitations are.
There is nothing wrong with saying to a client 'you appear to have many of the symptoms of severe depression, and I think you should see your physician immediately'. Recognizing a common condition is not the same as doing diagnosis. Proper training is in the best interests of the client, and society in general.
In my view trainers need to make a point of teaching trainees when not to do hypnotherapy.