Like the majority of alternative or allied health modalities, hypnotherapy is not government registered anywhere in Australia. Effectively, this means that anyone can hang a shingle, advertise themselves as a hypnotherapist and take money from clients for the provision of services. There is no minimum qualification, standard of training, etc.
Both while I was the President of the Professional Hypnotherapists of Australia (PHA) and as a practicing hypnotherapist, I have heard some disappointing and in some cases distressing stories from people about the practices of some calling themselves a hypnotherapist. From the lunatic that brought people into his ‘office’, sat them in a chair with a set of headphones on and then left, turning out the lights and hitting play on the tape deck to multiple complaints from women about a male therapist in WA effectively making outrageous claims of his abilities and then adopting more of ‘stalking’ form of advertising than what is normally acceptable. These people do the profession of hypnotherapy absolutely no good and nothing but harm!
Hypnotherapists that are registered with one of the major professional associations in Australia have been confirmed as practicing professionals adopting minimum standards of practice. Membership of any one of these associations requires that the individual:
- meet minimum education/training standards from a recognised/approved training institution,
- agree to, adopt and apply a Code of Ethical Practice,
- undertake a minimum yearly program of professional development,
- carry professional indemnity insurance,
- is subject to a professional supervision arrangement,
- adhere to strict confidentiality standards regarding client relationship,
- have up-to-date and current First Aid qualifications.
By adopting these practices and standards, clients can be assured that the hypnotherapist is professional, works in an ethical framework and maintains currency with the latest advances in clinical hypnosis and hypnotherapy. In addition to this and if the client has an issue or a complaint about the treatments or services provided by the hypnotherapist, they have an avenue of complaint and investigation via the professional association. For practitioners not registered or holding membership of one of the associations, the only complaint or restitution avenue open to the client is a legal course of action.
Consequently, it is strongly suggested that when selecting a hypnotherapist to provide treatment and before booking/paying, people should ask a few basic questions beyond the ‘how much?’ and ‘when can I book?’ standard enquiries. I would suggest that people ask:
- How long have you been practicing?
- Do you have experience with [whatever issue you want addressed]?
- What association are you a member of and what level of membership do you hold?
- What is your Australian National Hypnotherapy Register number?
- (and then check that registration by clicking here ->
Any qualified, professional hypnotherapist will not take any offence at being asked these questions. In fact, it is more than likely that they will be impressed and confident that you are the sort of person that wants the issue addressed and will take all necessary steps to ensure that you achieve a positive outcome.
A full listing of recognised associations can be found at the Hypnotherapy Council of Australia (HCA) website here. At the time of writing, the following associations are member association of HCA:
- Australian Association of Clinical Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy Inc (AACHP)
- Australian Association of Professional Hypnotherapists and NLP Inc (AAPHAN)
- Australian Hypnotherapists Association Inc (AHA)
- Australian Society of Clinical Hypnotherapists (ASCH)
- Australasian Subconscious Mind Therapists’ Association Inc (ASTA)
- Professional Clinical Hypnotherapists of Australia Inc. (PCHA )
- Professional Hypnotherapists of Australia Inc (PHA )
Member Representative Alliances
- The Australian Hypnosis Alliance (TAHA)
- Hypnosis Association of Queensland (HAQ)
All of the above is not to say that practicing hypnotherapists that are not members of associations are not good at what they do, don’t adopt professional standards of practice etc. They may well do so but without the assurance of association membership, clients and members of the general public can never be sure.
Remember, your first responsibility is to yourself and you should take whatever steps (and as many steps) as necessary to be as certain as possible that you are getting the very best, the very latest and the most professional treatment possible.