There are many different routes to becoming a hypnotherapist. Some people start their career in hypnotherapy by taking a workshop, such as a taster day or a ‘rapid hypnosis’ workshop, and then decide that it is something they would like to explore further, leading them on to full practitioner training. Other people just decide to ‘be a hypnotherapist’ and set up as one with little-to-no training (…hopefully, at the very least, they have read a good, and relevant, book on the topic). In the UK, whilst there is currently no legislation that directly requires hypnotherapists to have a certain amount of training, from a civil law perspective, if you work outside of your competence, and don’t work in a way that is ‘fair, just, and reasonable’ you may be neglecting your Duty of Care.
With the ever-expanding choice in training, some students and novice hypnotherapists try taking the ‘short workshop’ route, going from one ‘expert’ to another (‘Guru shopping’). They attend a mix of short courses, intensive workshops and masterclasses, in the hope that if they attend enough of these brief training events, that these will cumulatively add up to something more professional/substantial. However, it doesn’t tend to work that way, as they can miss some of the key fundamentals of hypnosis and hypnotherapy, together with associated psychological theories, and practice-based information, which can lead to significant gaps in skills and knowledge. In a way, it could be like trying to make a complete jigsaw puzzle picture out of a few different pictures. Although all may have a seaside theme, they probably won’t join together well enough to make a clear picture…
Some of the therapy ‘gurus’ and hypnotherapy techniques are heavily promoted and advertised, and can be targeted towards those novices (and even some established therapists) who have limited training/knowledge; offering ‘revolutionary methods’ as diverse remedies, ‘curing anything’ whilst being both ‘fast’ and ‘easy to apply effectively’. It’s an attractive idea, and whilst it would be great to have a ‘pre-packaged, quick, fix-all technique/model’, in reality, many of these courses and their ‘special models’ or ‘ground-breaking, modern techniques’ are in fact re-packaged ‘standard approaches’, delivering a ‘jazzed up’ version of the basics, whilst leaving out much of the underlying theory and supportive information that would allow for a much more informed and scientific (i.e. evidenced) base from which to learn and practice effectively. In fact, many of these techniques (or the parts of their sum/variations thereof) are taught on good foundation/practitioner level training courses.
By gathering skills and knowledge, piecemeal, it may seem like a quick route to becoming a hypnotherapist, yet there is a significant risk that either students will be missing some important information (such as where hypnotherapy can be contra-indicated and why), or that the information they have gathered doesn’t quite ‘link together’ in a practical ‘working model’ (such as how to advance treatment beyond the initial approach, if said approach has not worked for the client). Furthermore, key points, such as legislation, practice management, record keeping, client intake, challenging clients, various treatment approaches, conditions, and so forth, that may be automatically covered on a longer course, don’t tend to be relevant to shorter, more topic/method-focused courses. Another key point that may be glossed over (or dismissed) on the shorter courses, is that by not meeting the UK minimum competence standards set out in the Hypnotherapy Core Curriculum, it isn’t possible to register with the hypnotherapy profession’s voluntary regulator, the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Such registration can be a source of reassurance for the public, that a practitioner has had adequate training.
So, is the only answer to take a full practitioner course? Not necessarily. If you have a broad range of training, it can be worth undertaking a knowledge and skills analysis. One of the most relevant ways to do this is to assess your knowledge and skills against the UK Core Curriculum for Hypnotherapy [CLICK TO DOWNLOAD PDF]. If there are only a few gaps, then you may plan a way to meet these. However, if there are a vast number of areas, it may be simpler (and more worthwhile to your development as a hypnotherapist) to consider a longer practitioner level course, thinking of the overlap areas as revision.
Instead of taking the ‘guru shopping’ route, we (as well as many other professional hypnotherapy practitioners) would recommend getting a firm foundation knowledge and skills first. This can save you time, effort and money in the medium and longer term. Whilst it may take a little while longer to complete your initial training, you are likely to be able to break down and identify key components of a wide range of models and techniques, and adapt them to suit your own therapy practice. At the end of a practitioner-level hypnotherapy training course, you will be able to assess your own knowledge and skills, and then consider from an informed perspective what the various ‘guru’ and ‘technique’ workshops are offering, giving you the opportunity to assess whether they are necessary/helpful/something you don’t have but would use.
Although ‘guru shopping’ may not be an ideal route for initial training, and can leave the novice hypnotherapist confused and limited in terms of knowledge, skills and competence, it certainly can be an interesting way for qualified hypnotherapy practitioners to develop and expand their knowledge and skills.
One way of looking at it, is that the hypnotherapy training world is like a vast restaurant. To one side, is a huge, diverse buffet. Here you take your plate round hot, cold, spicy and sweet options, all cooked by different chefs of varying skill, putting on your plate some of each of the ones that catch your attention. Some taste great, others aren’t quite to your taste (but it’s fine, because you only took a small portion). However, it’s a lot more likely that by mixing the whole plate together, it may not taste all that good. On the other side of the restaurant, is the set menu, cooked by professional, Michelin-starred chefs. It still has choices, and the dining experience may take longer (as it’s cooked to order), but each meal has been carefully designed and balanced with a distinct end goal in mind.
We hope that you hunger and strive for the best training available to you, especially at the start of your foray into hypnotherapy, and that this blog 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
& Rory Z Fulcher