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Hypnosis, what’s in a name?

2019-04-08 13:06:44

As people who are trained in the use of hypnosis, we already know that our choice of words is important, and we’re very good at avoiding unwitting nocebo use. There’s been discussion about whether you need “formal” inductions for hypnosis to be effective - and no, it doesn’t, but it’s unlikely to be as effective.

But what about some of the other terminology around the use of hypnosis? There’s not necessarily a “right answer” for some of these definitions. It would be good to have your thoughts and discussions - please comment on this blog, on facebook, or twitter.

Hypnosis

Defining hypnosis is one of the things that makes hypnosis research difficult. Everyone believes slightly different things. The generally accepted definition includes altered focus and concentration, or trance combined with increased suggestibility to suggestion. This is really nicely visualised on “hypnosis and suggestion.org”. This is also explored further on BSCAH’s FAQ page.

By looking at the definition of hypnosis, it enables you to think about whether informal hypnosis is hypnosis or not. If you’ve got altered focus and concentration, however that came about, is that the first half of hypnosis? Faith healings, mesmerism, even mindfulness all have some amount of hypnosis in them.

By looking at the definition of hypnosis, it enables you to think about whether informal hypnosis is hypnosis or not. If you’ve got altered focus and concentration, however that came about, is that the first half of hypnosis? Faith healings,mesmerism, even mindfulness all have some amount of hypnosis in them.

Hypnotist

For me, the hypnotist is a person who induces a trance. Without any other qualifiers, stage hypnotists tend to spring to mind.

Clinical Hypnotherapists

“Hypnotists” who are practising clinically often call themselves a clinical hypnotherapist. They are normally people who work in a healthcare environment. They often have a higher hypnotherapy qualification, maybe with CNHC registration.

Hypnotherapy

This is generally considered to be the clinical use of hypnosis to help patients. The word is not a “protected” title. Some believe it incorporates anyone who uses hypnosis to help patients, whether or not they have a primary health care degree. It has been suggested that hypnotherapists are lay providers who use hypnosis.

A preferred term, that is perhaps more transparent, is “a psychologist who uses hypnosis” or “a dentist or Doctor who uses hypnosis”. Whilst this is a mouthful, it is very very clear what the clinician uses hypnosis for, and also, where their regulation comes from.

Hypnotherapist

Most hypnotherapists are non-medical practitioners. These practitioners are highly trained in hypnosis procedures, and will have completed a hypnosis course. The duration of the course will vary. Because these practitioners are non-medically qualified, they are unlikely to have an extensive medical background, and hence their understanding of pathophysiology may be limited.

Doctor, Dentist or Psychologist who uses Hypnosis

I don’t think this term needs any explaining or elaboration, but it is useful to think about the regulation and training of healthcare professionals who use hypnosis. The terminology is important - a doctor who uses hypnosis is regulated by their professional body, the GMC. If a complaint is made about their use of hypnosis at work, it will be the GMC who investigates, and the doctor’s medial indemnity agency (the MPS or MDU normally) who represent the doctor. As such, Doctors don’t have to be regulated by the CNHC.

The minimum training for healthcare professionals is generally accepted to be a “foundation course” which meets the requirements set out by ESH and ISH. Taster days and introductions don’t cover a broad enough content. There are a wide variety of courses offered. As BSCAH’s courses are taught for and by health care professionals, we believe our training is the best for health care professionals to complete. Our foundation course is run by experienced practitioners, and consistently receives good feedback

That’s why BSCAH’s aims can be summarised as:

BSCAH members are all health care professionals with special interest and training in hypnosis, and its integration in healthcare. BSCAH aims to promote the safe and responsible use of hypnosis in medicine, dentistry, and psychology by educating and training healthcare professionals about hypnosis and its uses.

So, what do you call yourself? 



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