If you're looking for help solving a problem, and you've decided to use hypnosis to help, how do you decide who to use? We've talked already about some of the labels around those who use hypnosis but how does that help you choose a practitioner?
I think professional background is one of the interesting influencers in choice of provider. Most would see the logic in choosing a dentist to treat dental phobia rather than a psychologist, or choosing a doctor for sedation rather than a hearing aid technician. But, what about whether to choose a health care professional, or a non-healthcare professional to provide your treatment?
BSCAH as a Society is only open to regulated health care professionals for many reasons, and we only train registered health care professionals. But do health care professionals and non-HCPs provide different treatment? As always, I think it depends on the individuals involved. The views expressed here are my personal views, not necessarily representative of BSCAH - and I'd be interested to hear your views.
The main difference I have noticed between HCPs and non HCPs is the specificness of the treatment provided, highlighted by a friend's experience in treating erectile dysfunction. They'd bought a hypnosis recording online, and asked me to listen to it to "check it was OK". I was a bit apprehensive as I wasn't sure what I might hear (!!!), but went ahead. The recording was fine, with a lovely induction, and lots of deepening. The "therapy" started and it was all about relaxing and being calm, before a slow reorientation. If you contrast this to the approach documented in a previous BSCAH newsletter, where some specific physiological detail is given, you will see a difference. It is also easier for the HCP to avoid nocebo – by asking a few direct questions such as “Do you get morning erections” a physical cause is likely to be easily ruled out. A non-HCP would already be starting on the back foot, by asking the patient to see their GP to “rule out physical causes” or to “check nothing’s wrong” – introducing the concept of a problem already. Is either approach wrong? No! Is either approach better? Depends on the patient! Are both approaches better than nothing - of course!
So, if you decide you want to see a health care professional to help you with hypnosis, where do you start? Hopefully, you’ll already have encountered the person of your choosing, and they will offer to use hypnosis as an adjunct to whatever treatment they are already doing. Doing an internet search for "health care professional hypnosis" will eventually lead you to the BSCAH website. There are a few other results, but I'm not sure many would catch your eye. Finding the webpage, takes you easily to "find a therapist" where you are given very clear guidance, which I have reproduced here, as I think it's useful:
"We believe you should find a therapist who is professionally qualified in their own right (doctor, dentist, psychologist, nurse, other health professional). Many of our members are engaged in research or are employed as full time NHS professionals so are unable to accept referrals.
We feel that those practising hypnotherapy should already have a primary professional reason to be in a helping relationship with patients. They should be in a position to accept clinical responsibility for their actions and have indemnity cover and should only use hypnosis within the clinical field in which they already have expertise.
All those on the BSACH referral list are qualified health professionals and their entry states if they have, in addition, BSCAH Accreditation or the University Accredited Diploma in Clinical Hypnosis from Stafford University, Sheffield University , UCL or Birmingham City University. We list only those hypnosis training attainments gained on courses endorsed by the European Society of Hypnosis.
BSCAH takes no responsibility for the conduct of those on the referral list as BSCAH members are professionals in their own right and are subject to the strict guidelines and codes of conduct specified by their own professional body. Whilst not all members are medical practitioners, the “Duties of a Doctor” produced by the GMC is a model applicable for all members who do clinical work. The referral list is merely a platform to provide the general public with a list of health practitioners who may use hypnosis in their work.
There are no official qualifications or statutory regulations for hypnosis and hypnotherapy within the UK. If you decide to seek help from someone other than a health professional, we would suggest that you look for someone who is a registered member of UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy) or an Accredited member of BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy).
The BSCAH referral list has many members, but less than 50. Even fewer of those have any qualification by their name other than the "M" indicating they are a healthcare professional. As the first search for “health care professional hypnosis”, do we need more professional pride, and more of us substantiating our “healthcare professional who uses hypnosis” claims with BSCAH Accreditation or the Diploma?
What about if our patient decides to use a non-healthcare professional hypnosis practitioner? Well, that's even more confusing to navigate, and the NHS website offers little to help, directing you towards the professional standards authority.
This is a great little website that links you to the accrediting bodies of all kinds of professionals. It suggests three bodies regulating hypnosis use, which seems like a lot - but there are eleven for counsellors! Interestingly though, none of these registers include those suggested by BSCAH.
The Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) I'd never heard of, but their website was easy to use. I came up with at least 50 practitioners close to me, who could offer hypnotherapy. Some of the practitioners offered just hypnotherapy, but some offered alternatives including aromatherapy and body massage. I recognised the name of one of their registered practitioners and clicked to find out more. I was surprised they also offered beauty treatments like waxing and electrolysis.
Second up is the national hypnotherapy society which has an accredited register requiring at least a level 4 diploma to join. If I'm cynical, they add credibility to their website by stating accreditation was set up by the department of health. Again, a search showed many therapists.
Third is the CNHC. Again, I had lots of results near me - but the list appeared slightly different to the list provided by the other three. The CNHC is perhaps the best known accreditation list for non-healthcare professionals. They have very strict requirements – so strict, that the majority of BSCAH members would not meet their training hours requirements. Whether our health care professional background means our hypnosis training time can be reduced as many skills are transferrable or not is another topic for another day!