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How to Choose a Hypnotherapist

Before I became a hypnotherapist, I worked with a couple of hypnotherapists to help me with my own issues. I’ll admit I found it challenging to figure out how to choose one. And I was nervous, because I’m opening up to a total stranger without knowing much about them.

So I have a sense of where you’re coming from. Each hypnotherapist could write this article differently, so remember that it’s written from my personal perspective. Use only what’s useful.

Before you interview candidates, remember to check their websites as they may answer some questions on the site or via a free hypnosis report. To avoid a potentially cool response to your long list of questions, weave these questions into the conversation instead of just reading a list. A genuine and friendly conversation will get you higher quality answers.

By the way, if you get an answer that confuses you, or if a part of this article is unclear, feel free to contact me. Whether or not you’re a client, I’m here as your community resource. And now onto the questions!

Ask about their education.

When did they graduate from hypnotherapy school? Are they currently certified? If yes, by what organization?

If they didn’t graduate, I’d pass. If they graduated, ask what they learned there. Ask about their philosophy and also the philosophy of the school. Some schools teach more traditional hypnotherapy, while others teach a more modern style, while others teach a more esoteric style. Get a sense of each person’s philosophy and style of hypnosis.

As for certification, make sure it’s still current, as that means they’re still learning new things for their continuing education units (CEUs).

Here are three of the major certifying bodies. Each requires a minimum number of hours in order to become certified.

  • American Council of Hypnotist Examiners (ACHE) (200 hours)
  • National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH) (100 hours)
  • International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association (IMDHA) (180 hours)

If the person is certified elsewhere, look up the organization online and compare its educational requirements with the ones listed. I would say 100 hours is the bare minimum, and 200 is better. Obviously avoid a certification that only required one weekend of training.

After graduation, what else have they learned?

One thing that separates a competent hypnotherapist from a skilled hypnotherapist is their training after graduation. Engage them in conversation with a few questions.

1. What are some of your favorite techniques? What do you do in a first session?

Get a sense of whether they can explain things clearly and whether they’re bored or enthusiastic in talking about their work.

2. What organizations and instructors did you train with outside of your hypnotherapy school?

Ideally they’ll mention multiple schools/instructors, because that shows a level of intellectually curiosity and a broader perspective.

Get a sense of their “real” experience level

Imagine a musician with a day job, and for 20 years she’s had a paying gig two nights a month with one practice session a month. It’s obvious that her skills would improve very slowly. For hypnotherapists, much of our skill improvement comes from working with actual clients.

When you ask about their experience, find out how long they’ve been in practice, how long at the current location, and on average how many hours per week are they directly working with clients (i.e., be clear that they leave out the admin time). As a general rule, 20 hours of hypnosis session work per week is the maximum number before we burn out, because it can be an emotionally intense profession at times.

If they work much more than 20, be wary, as they may be burning out. If it’s two hours per week, then their skills will improve very, very, very slowly. If they give a very low number, you may want to ask more questions to gauge their experience level. Perhaps they’re just in a slow time in their business, as an example.

Here’s a way to bring up the topic in case you’re uncomfortable asking directly: “I have a question I’m not sure whether to ask… may I ask how many hours you spend in session each week? I’m just curious.”

Do they have a free form approach or a framework/system approach?

There are two schools of thought.

School #1: Each person is a unique individual, so we can only go session by session. Planning ahead or using a system won’t work when dealing with the complexity of the human mind.

School #2: Each person is a unique individual, yet there are patterns that tend to be present. We can design a system while respecting the uniqueness of each person. Have a framework with some flexibility.

In case you can’t tell, I fall into school #2. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that without a system or framework, you could easily be wandering in the mental wilderness for a long time. In my opinion, having a framework is one key element in helping the client succeed quickly.

For my colleagues that talk about the uniqueness of each client, I have an observation. Since 2003, I’ve learned one big lesson: most clients are remarkably more similar than less similar when it comes to what’s important for change, meaning their subconscious minds all operate in a pretty similar way.

Yes I know that we’re all unique in how we look, dress, act, and think. We all have different personalities and life histories. I’ll grant that as all true. Yet as strange as it sounds, those unique things don’t matter much when it comes to hypnosis. I’ve only found one thing that matters, and that’s how each subconscious mind functions.

I’ve met people with horrific childhoods and people who had great childhoods. The first type may have some deeper issues, but the basic framework is effective for pretty much all clients. Maybe not all hypnotherapists would agree with me; I’m sharing what I’ve observed.

Do they typically offer to teach self-hypnosis?

If the answer is no, then ask for the reason. When the client practices self-hypnosis, it really increases the chance for greater success. There are a few issues in which teaching self-hypnosis isn’t necessary, such as phobias and overcoming a particular traumatic event; these are typically easier issues to resolve, though it may sound strange to say it.

But for many issues, such as smoking and weight loss, practicing self-hypnosis really accelerates the change and is very helpful even after the change. Another reason for hypnotherapists to teach clients self-hypnosis is the client can now tap into their own power more easily. Plus they won’t become dependent upon the hypnotherapist, because the client can now create change at home.

How many many sessions does it take to resolve the issue? What’s the difference between the simple cases and the complex cases for this issue? Why do people have the issue?

Your goal is to get a sense of how they think about hypnosis and whether they can explain it clearly. As you interview several hypnotherapists, see which philosophy resonates with you.

Closing thoughts…

In your interview process, if you get a confusing answer or want any feedback, contact me. As I said earlier, whether or not you’re my client, I’m here as your community resource.

One of the biggest factors I’ve saved for last: rapport. Do you like the hypnotherapist? Do you get along with them? Do you like their sense of humor? Would you enjoy working with this person over several sessions until you succeed?

Personally, I would prefer to see an okay hypnotherapist that I get along with versus a great hypnotherapist that I dislike. Why? Because rapport affects how well we do in the sessions. The stronger the rapport, the greater the chance for success. As you choose, make sure to listen to your brain and your heart.

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