Help!? How do I choose a hypnotherapist in Reading, Thame, Wallingford or Oxford?
I spent some time, this afternoon, looking at hypnotherapy websites. I was struck by how confusing it all must seem to somebody seeking help. There are “Advanced Hypnotherapists,” “Curative Hypnotherapists” and hypnotherapists of a thousand other hues. How is anybody supposed to know which hypnotherapist to choose?
Perhaps you could judge a hypnotherapist by the number of professional associations to which they belong. Hopefully they do belong to an organisation and hopefully those organisations will say all the right things on their websites.
Some hypnotherapists have a great many such associations and their logos pasted on their sites. There is the General Hypnotherapy Register, The Hypnotherapy Society, The General Hypnotherapy Standards Council, The National Register of Advanced Hypnotherapists, The Association for Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy along with a dozen others.
They all talk of being the primary and ‘most respected’ professional organisation in the field. How is anybody looking to find a therapist supposed to know which of these bodies ensures that its members are trained and supervised to a high standard? How is anybody expected to feel confident that the members of such organisations are held to rigorous ethical standards, CPD expectations and so on?
There is a short cut
The question to ask is “which professional association campaigns for regulation of hypno-psychotherapy as a profession?” Which of them is prepared to submit its training courses and code of ethics to a nationally enforced set of standards? Which of them expects quite exceptional levels of CPD, supervision and ethical standards?
I chose to train with an organisation which is affiliated to UKCP. Graduates of this training school belong to the UKCP for as long as they abide by its standards. UKCP is one of very few such professional associations which actively campaigns for the government to regulate hypnotherapy and psychotherapy in general.
UKCP, in alliance with BACP, isn’t afraid to fight for regulation of the profession. We are determined to see that clients aren’t short changed or ill-served. We’re aware that the reputation of our profession is imperilled by the lack of any real professional accountability. The UKCP wants to see this changed. It knows that clients are deserving of properly trained, supervised and regulated therapists.
Counselling, psychotherapy and hypnotherapy are all unregulated. This means that there is nothing stopping anybody from claiming themselves to be a psychotherapist. You, yourself could do this tomorrow. There is no nationally defined set of standards which govern who is allowed to practise.
I believe that this ought to be a scandal. I spent four years training to become a psychotherapist (and another two in converting to become a child and adolescent psychotherapist) and feel most annoyed when I see others claiming to be psychotherapists after undertaking short-cut courses of just a few months in length. I believe this is unethical and that it puts clients at risk. If you agree then insist that your hypnotherapist / psychotherapist belongs to either the BACP or UKCP. That way you can be sure that their training is up to scratch.
Why don’t you open a hypnotherapy training school?
It isn’t difficult to open a school in which to train “hypnotherapists.” There’s nothing stopping anybody from doing it tomorrow. You can invent your own course, philosophy and qualifications. You can churn out as many therapists as you can recruit and charge, safe in the knowledge that the general public will often be unable to tell them apart from a well-trained and ethically supervised professional. That is, of course, until someone entrusts them with their secrets and emotional well-being. Don’t fall prey to some badly trained therapist. Ask questions. You deserve the best hypnotherapy available.
I have worked as a trainer before. I do know that many training schools allow anybody who’s willing to pay the fees to train with them.
Unfortunately, this can sometimes mean that people with significant mental health issues of their own are invited to train as therapists. I don’t believe that therapists should be spotless but they should at least know where the bodies are buried and be aware of where their flaws and weak-spots exist. BACP and UKCP therapists are required to undergo extensive personal therapy as a part of my training. I’ve had well over one hundred hours as a part of my two major trainings and have found it invaluable in rendering me a safe and effective therapist.
Don’t be afraid to ask your therapist of their own history regarding personal therapy. If they’ve nothing to hide then they’ll be happy to answer. Ask them how much personal therapy they have had. Ask them how much supervision they receive and ask them how much extra training they undertake every year.
What about supervision and insurance?
Supervision is essential in good therapy. The supervisor talks to the therapist, guiding and challenging them regarding their practice. Why did they choose that intervention? Are you really qualified or experienced enough to work with that client?
How could you work differently with the next such client? The supervisor’s job is to hold the therapist to ethical standards, to ensure that the therapist does not work in areas outside of their competence and to protect the client.
BACP and UKCP ensure that their members have regular supervision sessions. I would not recommend that anybody sees a therapist who doesn’t.
Insurance. If you visit a therapist in their home or office and suffer a fall, who will pay any bills? Their insurance will – if they have it. If you chance upon a poorly trained therapist who somehow manages to traumatise you, who will pay compensation? Their insurance will, if they have it.
BACP and UKCP ensure that their therapists undertake regular supervision The supervisors themselves are trained and they themselves are supervised. Nobody escapes supervision, not even the supervisors themselves.
You’re very unlikely to ever need to call upon your therapist’s insurance policy. However, like in all things, you’d miss it if you needed it and it wasn’t there…
So, their training, supervision and insurance is OK. What else do I need to bear in mind?
Much of therapy’s success is down to the quality of the relationship established between client and therapist. So, find out if you feel comfortable with a therapist before agreeing to begin therapy with them. I offer a free telephone consultation in order to allow my clients to feel confident in their ability to work with me. Others offer similar telephone consultations. Talk with some of the therapists in your local area before making your choice.
Don’t just choose the nearest therapist. It’s the worst of all reasons to choose someone. Don;t choose the cheapest or the most expensive. There may be very poor reasons for fees on either end of the scale.
Lastly, be aware that there are several hundred different schools of psychotherapy. That’s a great many ways in which your issues could potentially be tackled. Does your local hypno-psychotherapist restrict himself to one approach? Is he or she integrative? What are his areas of expertise? What is his or her favoured approach? Will their approach suit your preferences? Will they tailor their therapy to your needs or simply ask you to close your eyes before reading out a sub-standard one size fits all script? Ask, enquire, find out.
If you’d like to ask me these or any other questions, please contact me here.