It may be surprising to know that the internet dates back to 1969 (although the two computers crashed after the first two letters of the word ‘LOGIN’) and the World Wide Web, from its launch in 1990 had 44 million users in 1995, and 413 million by the year 2000. It is thought that by mid-2017 just over half (51%) of the world’s population has access to the internet. However, many people have yet to make use of even a tiny percentage of its information. In the early times, official bodies (governments, research and military) made use of the computer connections and this spread out to academic and commercial organisations over time. Nowadays, you can buy a domain name and create and populate a website in your lunch break (or even coffee break if you are quick).
Today, for the modern hypnotherapist and hypnotherapy student, the range of information is vast, with many books and journals only published online. However, there is also access to worldwide resources such as newspapers, magazines, government statistics and data, corporate statistics and data, even electronic library catalogues. Furthermore, beyond simple text, sound (spoken and music) and video are commonplace. Indeed, you could possibly spend an entire lifetime simply watching YouTube videos. It is becoming increasingly common to have interactive web pages and virtual-reality is a huge growth area. Whilst 10 or 15 years ago, it wasn’t necessarily expected that a hypnotherapist would have a website, today, it is a standard business tool. Communication is not expected to be simply passive, looking at websites. With both social and professional applications, your social media options are ever expanding too.
So, is everything you see on the internet true? No! In fact, there is little filtering of information on the internet. You could create a website dedicated to nature pictures of unicorns (or even unicorns doing gymnastics if you are good at Photoshop) and some people may take your site seriously, especially if it is built well and has what are perceived as credible sources of information. Whilst some information simply is untrue (sorry, there really are no unicorns at large in Windsor Park), other information is ‘slanted’ to be presented from a perspective that suits the organisation or individual presenting it. Just as the same piece of news can be reported very differently by the Financial Times, The Independent, and The Sun.
Sometimes your clients will read something online (e.g. there are so many self-diagnosis sites) and end up totally believing that they have that condition, or must only have that same form of treatment. So how can you find out if something is credible? Well, there are several actions you can easily take to explore the information’s veracity. Firstly, look at the type of site that it is presented on. Is it an academic institution? Is it a recognised organisation? How credible is the organisation presenting it? Then triangulate the information by conducting an internet search to see where else that piece of news is mentioned. You can also be thorough and use different search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, as these have different criteria for ranking information.
There are many advantages of online searching, including rapid access to a vast range of superb, potentially highly-current information resources. Indeed it takes only seconds to upload an e-book online, yet could be months or years for that book to appear in your local library or bookshop. Yet it can also be good to be aware of the disadvantages, including potentially low-quality information, uncertain provenance (originator of the information) and sometimes, simply too much information. So much that you either don’t know where to start or how to refine your search. For example, a Google search today, using the words ‘learn hypnotherapy’ found over 7.7 million results (2.6m on Bing and 2.58m on Yahoo). Refining by location can help (766,000 Google, 1.05m Bing, 1.04m Yahoo), yet it would take an immense amount of time to look at each of those results. So how do you refine your search? Taking ‘hypnotherapy’ as a very broad starting point (15.4 million on Google), refining to ‘hypnotherapy training’ becomes 10.6m, ‘hypnotherapy training UK’ 3.74m, and ‘hypnotherapy training London’ 1.05m. You might then notice that there is more than one London globally, so ‘hypnotherapy training London UK’ really helps, down to 655,000.
So, what more can do you do to narrow your search further? Well, what are the key aspects of the training that you are interested in? Perhaps you have done your research and want a course that meets the UK Hypnotherapy Core Curriculum. Include this and you will notice that the numbers reduce substantially, to 498,000. You might also choose to ignore the listings at the top with ‘Ads’ next to the URL, which are sponsored by companies who may or may not be as relevant as the genuine organic search results beneath the adverts.
To save yourself time and effort, it can be good to think carefully about the keywords which are important to your search and also consider synonyms. For example, if you are looking for centrally located consulting rooms, then ‘urban’, ‘central’, ‘city’, ‘town’ and ‘metropolitan’ may be more or less relevant depending on the geographical area you are considering. To refine your search even more, explore different combinations of key words and if you find a really great combination, it can be useful to make a note of it, especially if you are likely to be conducting another search in the near future.
You may notice that if you search ‘IBS hypnotherapy’ on Google you will get a very varied range of responses. If you want something more academic or factual, the Google Scholar can be a great resource and an easy to access pathway to a multitude of research journals and text books. Whilst you are able to get the full versions of many of the items listed, some may only display a summary with a charge (often hefty!) if you want to access the full paper. A useful tip is to then take the key words (title, author) and put them into a regular search engine like Google or Bing (the latter is used by a lot of colleges so can be better in this situation). You may be able to find the same article elsewhere with full access. For example, the author may have published it on their own website or their academic institution may have also published it.
By being creative and thinking laterally, you can often access a broad range of useful information in far less time than it would take you to pop into your library or bookshop. Do remember that the internet is constantly changing and updating. If you find search terms and key words that are great for you, keep a record of them. It can save you even more time and makes a good starting place for future searches.
We hope that this blog on internet searches and how to find good hypnotherapy information has been helpful to you. If you have any more questions about this topic or anything else for that matter, do please get in touch, because we’re always happy to help!
– written by Dr Kate Beaven-Marks