A handful of universities and medical schools now offer a course or two in hypnotherapy, but the physicians and other professionals now practicing hypnosis are usually the beneficiaries of only very brief training, frequently in a non-academic setting. This is not particularly disturbing, for, in truth, the ability to hypnotize can be learned very quickly.
But since the goal is not hypnosis but therapy, it follows that hypnosis is of greatest value when it is used by a competent therapist to effect behavior changes. I regret my inability to define just such a "competent therapist," but I think it has much more to do with empathy and concern than with degrees and credentials. And these are traits which do not reside exclusively in any one sex, or race, or creed. We are fortunate to live in an age when these types of barriers are recognized, at least by most educated people, as not only counter-productive but shameful. Still our society continues to make other demands upon those who would be therapists, despite much evidence that some of these demands are both arbitrary and unfair.
When the priorities of the people are perfected we will pay less attention to skin color, religion, ethnicity, and...college degrees. But until that day arrives, I sense a need to comply with societal expectations. Therefore, you can be very sure that the three degrees I have been awarded by Syracuse University are quite prominently displayed in my office. Given the image of hypnosis, people coming to a hypnotist are even more likely than people visiting other professionals to take great comfort in seeing ornate diplomas adorning the walls.
Given all these concerns, I think I can summarize the attributes of an aspiring hypnotherapist in the context of four broad, and general requirements. Specifically, he or she will...
1. be a college graduate, and, ideally, possess an advanced degree in a relevant field.
2. have demonstrated an ability to work effectively with people in some problem-solving role.
3. have a reasonable height-weight ratio, and be a non-smoker.
4. be free of personality and character defects that would preclude public confidence.
The question of having proper credentials is not so much a legal problem as a marketing one. Only a few jurisdictions have legislated about who may practice hypnosis, therefore, it is quite likely that virtually anyone can hang out a shingle in your home town and become a hypnotherapist. It is also likely that even the most unqualified quack will attract a few credulous people. But, Barnum aside, there may not be an endless supply of people willing to submit to hypnosis from someone they consider unqualified.
Sadly, the fortunate person endowed with the intelligence, empathy, and insight, to minister to the psychological needs of others, will find those qualities secondary in the eyes of the authorities, who can always be counted upon to focus on certificates, degrees, and the like. It is after all, a great deal easier for the bureaucrats to quantify the degrees you hold, than to try to measure, for example, your ability to be empathetic. So while we may be convinced that only God can create a therapist, it remains true that only the University can endorse them.
While hypnosis has been accepted by the AMA since 1958, it is only relatively recently that greater public acceptance has translated into a growing demand for clinicians trained in the medical uses of hypnotherapy. If you are a teacher, a social worker, a psychologist, or a minister, you have probably acquired the skills to work effectively with people in a helping relationship. If you feel you are gifted with such abilities you should consider the rewards of combining this talent with training in clinical hypnosis.
A major premise of this book is that such training is neither complicated nor arduous. Study of the book can prepare qualified professionals to add hypnotherapy to their arsenal of helping techniques. Your copy of "Hypnosis: Clinical, Social, and Theatrical Uses," (hardcover, 187 pages) will be sent immediately via two-day Priority Mail for $33, payable by PayPal or check sent to Northpointe Publishing, 166 Armonde Ct., Madison, MS 39110. Telephone 601-906-8571