What is the difference between a hypnotist and a hypnotherapist?

Hypnosis is a state of consciousness that occurs naturally, can be self-induced, or facilitated by a guide that allows the hypnotee to access an expanded state of consciousness. In the hypnotic state, there is a heightened ability to respond to suggestions, recall memories, access creativity, experience imagination, and activate mind over matter through self-healing and pain management. When therapeutic interactive processes take place in the hypnotic state, the client participates in the form of therapy called hypnotherapy.

A HYPNOTIST induces the hypnotic state with the participation of the willing hypnotee and usually gives direct suggestions. The hypnotist is the active director of the process and the client will usually be passive, non-verbal and non-interactive in the trance experience. The success of hypnosis depends on the client's willingness and abilities to respond to suggestions.

A HYPNOTHERAPIST also facilitates the client going into a hypnotic state, but once the state is achieved, the client and therapist are interactive and verbal communication usually takes place. For instance, the client might, through hypnotic regression, recover childhood memories to heal a trauma. During the hypnotic process, the hypnotherapist facilitates the client in reporting details of the events of the trauma and then engages the client in re-parenting, reframing the event, or healing the traumatized inner child. The work of hypnotherapy goes way beyond the client's abilities and willingness to respond to suggestions, because the client is co-creating the therapeutic process. And the therapeutic processes used in hypnotherapy are effective even when the client is not in a hypnotic state because the process are based on sound therapeutic approaches. The hypnotic state , however enhances the process and helps the client get out of her own way as she accesses an expanded sense of Self and more of her inner wisdom and creativity for problem solving, memory enhancement, and self healing.

Directive or non-Directive Approach

Whether you choose to work with hypnosis or hypnotherapy, discuss with your facilitator where she falls in the continuum of directive versus non-directive hypnotic style. Some use direct commands like, "Close your eyes now." And others use less directive styles including open-ended suggestions like, "Close your eyes when you are ready, or keep them open if you are more comfortable to do so". Some clients respond well to direct suggestions and others need a more open-ended approach. A well-trained hypnotherapist will have flexibility in her approach so she can match her client's needs and responses.

The Therapeutic Use of Language is Crucial

In the practice of hypnotherapy, the therapist's skill in the use of language is crucial. Does she use only positive suggestions or does she use negative suggestions and aversion therapy? Does she tell the hypnotee specifically what to do or experience in hypnosis, or does she empower the client to choose her own individual response? Does she overlay her own agenda for the hypnotee or does she empower the client and avoid overtly influencing the client's process?

Not all Certifications are Equal

Not all Certified Hypnotherapists have the same amount or quality of training.

The field and practice of hypnotherapy is not nationally regulated and, in most states, hypnotherapy is an open practice not requiring any regulation or governmental licensing. States that have regulations for hypnotherapy have vastly different requirements . On one end of the training spectrum, in Indiana, there is legislation requiring hypnotherapists to be trained in 500 hours of supervised classroom education at specific Hypnosis Board approved schools. In Florida, hypnotherapists are required to meet the State Board Requirement of fifty hours of hypnotherapy training to practice hypnotherapy. On the other end of the spectrum, in California, the practice of hypnotherapy is not state regulated at all. And under the new California legislation (Senate Bill 48), the training of hypnotherapists in private post secondary schools will be even further deregulated from the old legislation in California that required all postsecondary vocational schools to be registered or licensed. Under the new California regulations hypnotherapy schools that keep their cost of tuition under $2,500 will not be required to license or approve their programs in with the newly formed Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education in the California Department of Consumer Affairs. "Certified Hypnotherapists" may have had as little as a weekend training or 400 hours or more of training. The big question is: who is training and "certifying " the hypnotherapist? There are fifteen or more "Certifying" organizations for hypnotherapists and each one has its own standards and hours of training required. Many of the organizations are owned by individuals who create their own standards to certify and are membership organizations whose only requirement is to pay the yearly fee. Some are in-house certifying organizations. Some organizations certify for as few as fifty hours and some require as few as two hundred hours.

As a consumer, ask about your hypnotherapist's credentials. Is she also licensed to provide counseling or psychotherapy? Is she formally trained in hypnotherapy? Is she trained by an individual or a through a state approved school? How many hours of training and what style of training has she received? How long has she been in practice? Is she directive or more permissive and open-ended in her approach? Does she practice hypnosis or hypnotherapy? And you might want to find out about the requirements in your state to practice hypnotherapy to make sure that your practitioner meets the state standards.

Once you have found the right hypnotherapist for you, relax and enjoy the work! Hypnotherapy will open you to explore dimensions of yourself that are resourceful, creative, intuitive and wise. And with hypnotherapy, your healing and well-being will most likely be quickly and greatly enhanced.

Author's Bio: 

For over twenty years, Holly has been training and mentoring hypnotherapists at HCH Institute, a California state approved school, which is one of the oldest hypnosis schools in the US. Working with the transpersonal model of hypnosis, she empowers her clients to access their higher Self as an inner resource for healing and transformation. At HCH, Holly traines and certifies hypnotherapists, energy therapists and offers an on site and distance learning program in Parapsychological Studies taught by Loyd Auerbach. In her private practice she combines psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, sandplay therapy, and Emotional Freedom Technique with Reiki and EMDR. Read her FREE ebook Spiritual Hypnotherapy, her blogs and listen to samples of her hypnosis CDs on her web site. Holly is available for on line video sessions.