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On Practicing Hypnosis: The Ethics, Practice, & Rising Medical Acceptance

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Medical Acceptance of Hypnosis

Welcome back to another installment of hypnosis news with your friendly hypnotist Amber. Accordingly, today I want to talk medical acceptance of hypnosis around the world. Very few people realize how many states and even countries already incorporate hypnosis into a variety health fields. So I thought that we would take a look at what organizations have endorsed hypnosis as a therapy as well as how different states have determined requirements to practice.

Let’s dig into it.

Medical Acceptance Of Hypnosis

Hypnotherapy has been approved by the medical and scientific community for nearly seventy years. Hypnosis gained even more support in the period between 1950 and today. The world’s most respected medical associations recognize the validity of hypnosis and its therapeutic benefits. In many parts of the world, people are required to obtain training in hypnosis. Some parts of the world even require a college education in the subject to practice.

The following is a chronological summary of significant medical institutions that have stated their support of hypnosis and hypnotherapy.

19th Century

  • 1892 The British Medical Association (BMA) created a group to investigate hypnosis. Their report in the British Medical Journal, stated that they “satisfied themselves of the genuineness of the hypnotic state” and recognized that hypnotism is “frequently effective in relieving pain, procuring sleep, and alleviating many functional ailments.”

20th Century

  • 1955 BMA issued a report in the British Medical Journal endorsing the 1892 report. They added to the original report. They specifically noted hypnosis as an effective treatment in psychosomatic disorders, recognizing hidden motives and conflicts, removing symptoms, changing thoughts, modifying behaviors, and alleviating pain. It also recommended that students be introduced to hypnosis as a part of standard psychiatric training.
  • 1958 The American Medical Association (AMA) recognized hypnotherapy as an orthodox medical treatment instead of an alternative or complementary. They agreed with their British counterpart. Also recommending hypnosis be included in medical school curriculum. (In 87 they rescinded almost all policies from 1881–1958.) They have no stated position today.
  • 1960 The American Psychological Association endorsed hypnosis as a branch of psychology (it should be understood that the practice of psychology emerged from the field of hypnosis)
  • 1961 The AMA Council on Mental Health recommended that medical students should receive 144 hours of training in hypnosis at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
  • 1978 The Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) formed a section for “Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Medicine”.
  • 1983 The RSM approved a diploma level training course of hypnotherapy.
  • 1986 The BMA emphasized that hypnotherapy is “part of orthodox medical treatment.”
  • 1995 The United States’ National Institute of Health (NIH) reported that hypnosis is effective in chronic pain, cancer, headaches and irritable bowl conditions.

21st Century

  • 2000 BMA stated to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology that “Hypnotherapy and counseling may be considered as orthodox treatments.”
  • 2001 The British Psychological Society published a report on the nature of hypnosis stating that “hypnotic procedures may be beneficial in the management and treatment of a wide range of conditions and problems encountered in the practice of medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy.”
  • 2005 The American Psychological Association published a formal definition of hypnosis.


American Standards

As you can see medical acceptance of hypnosis is far wider spread than you might be led to believe. However, while these organizations have shown recognition the United States still remains a bit of the wild west of hypnosis. Where Australia, Canada, the UK and parts of Europe has fairly consistent standards, America varies from state to state. So I thought I would also share the requirements to become a hypnotist by state and talk about good ol’ Indiana in particular.

The sections below are a combination of standards from two different hypnosis bodies. I attempted to put them together from the most regulated states down the the least regulated.

Mandatory Licensing/Registration

There is an explicit law in these states mandates licensing or registration in the practice of hypnotism. In order to practice lawfully in these states you must comply with the law. The Hypnotherapist Union has a listing of specific laws by state.

  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Washington.

Mandatory standards

These states have specific laws governing the practice of hypnosis beyond the standards of the National Guild Of Hypnotist. But you may practice without a license under specific guidelines as notated by the Hypnotherapist Union.

  • California
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • New Jersey
  • Texas (Whose state standards are the same as the National Guild standards)
  • Utah

Regulated States

These states have regulations beyond those of the National Guild. They have regulations as to the practice, but not as to any licensing.

  • Idaho
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire (regulation voluntary, otherwise Guild Standard-see next section)
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada (forensic hypnosis and in Clark County, all forms of hypnotism)
  • North Carolina
  • Rhode Island

Guild Standard States

These states require that all hypnotist meet the standards taught by the National Guild. These requirements cover ethics, best practices, and treatment appropriateness by symptoms. In addition, the Guild is very specific about what hypnotist may and may not say to clients in an effort to maintain the highest ethical standards.

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming
  • Ontario

Unregulated States

The following states require little to no regulation as far as the Guild is aware.

  • Alabama
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Indian
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

The Hoosier State

As you can see there is a wide range of regulation across America. And if you look state to state the regulation is even more varied. As I’m sure you noticed, our own Hoosier state is unregulated. We used to be, but 5-10 years ago, the state determined that our former system was unfair and prevented many practitioners from practicing.

I will leave out names, but formerly there was only one place in the state where you could get certified. This would not have been an issue if the prices of this center were not higher than the national average for the same training. It was prohibitive and after several complaints the state choose dismissal of the requirements instead of correction.

Our Standards

You may ask why I would tell you all this. Or why you should come to us. Truth is it’s up to you what standard you hold your hypnotist to. I feel, personally, that is our duty as hypnotist to make all clients informed clients. In addition, I believe in holding myself to the highest standards humanly possible.

So what are our standards of care and practice?

Well first of all both of our current hypnotists (myself included) were trained and certified by the Guild. We both felt it was important for our clients to know that we were held to some standard of education. Despite the lack of regulation in our state we still follow Guild Standards.

Additional Standards

  • We believe just like Milton Erickson, that your privacy is of paramount importance. We endeavor to only ask for any information within session that is absolutely pertinent to your service and symptoms.
  • Above all, Integrity is something we strive to provide in every interaction. In addition, we do not lie about number of sessions, costs, or the contents of a session.
  • Informed consent– As stated above we want all clients to be informed clients. To know what we do. How effectively we do it. And additionally, what our services entail. In addition to being in best practices, informed consent is best business practice.
  • Confidentiality– In addition, we never share your information with anyone. For more information this topic check out our privacy policy.

Integrity and ethics are incredibly important. Thus it is one of the many reasons I thought it was important to share where and by whom hypnosis is recognized. For more information check About Us and About Hypnosis for more information. I hope you enjoyed our segment on the medical acceptance of hypnosis.


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