Hypnotism: that's when a mysterious gentleman puts you in a trance by dangling a watch on a chain and then makes you bark like a dog, right? Not exactly. That might describe the stereotypical shtick of a stage hypnotist, but the healing discipline of hypnotherapy is better described as a state of focused relaxation in which a person is more responsive to suggestion.
Medical and mental health practitioners with hypnotherapy training help patients enter this relaxed state in order to assist with psychotherapy, promote stress or pain relief, change unhealthy habits, and reduce recovery time for illnesses and injuries.
A wide variety of clinical professionals seek out training in hypnotherapy, from doctors, nurses and dentists to psychotherapists, social workers and counselors. During a hypnotherapy session, practitioners go over a patient's medical history, the issue they'd like to address, and, if the patient is new to the procedure, how hypnosis works. Generally, sessions last about an hour, and begin with a series of relaxation techniques. After the patient is relaxed and focused, the practitioner introduces guided imagery and suggestion designed to provide symptom relief and even behavioral changes.
Training and Education
What You'll Study in Hypnotherapy School
Usually, hypnotherapy training programs include study of the theory and history of hypnosis; the uses of hypnosis in a clinical setting; selecting the right techniques for an individual patient; working with specific issues such as addiction; and ethical concerns.
Average Length of Study
Most approved hypnotherapy certification programs require a minimum of 40 to 100 hours of hypnotherapy training workshops, plus 20 hours of supervised individual training and 2 to 5 years of practical experience using hypnosis as a part of your practice.
Most practitioners who undergo hypnotherapy training are licensed medical, mental health, or health care professionals with a master's or doctoral degree. Their education qualifies them to seek hypnotherapy certification from a professional group such as the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists (AAPH), the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ACSH) and the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (SCEH). Specialty certifications are also available through the American Board of Medical Hypnosis, the American Board of Psychological Hypnosis, the American Board of Hypnosis in Dentistry, and the American Hypnosis Board for Clinical Social Work.
As awareness of alternative medical treatments continues to rise, hypnotherapy training will be in higher demand. In particular, people looking for non-invasive, drug-free ways of losing weight, breaking habits such as smoking, and managing stress may turn to hypnotherapy.
Salaries for graduates of hypnotherapy school vary widely depending on occupation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for physicians is $187,200. Physician assistants earned $90,930, and registered nurses earned $65,470. In the mental health field, clinical psychologists earn $67,650, while mental health and substance abuse social workers earn $41,500. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.
Is a Hypnotherapy Career Right for You?
Hypnotherapy training can greatly enhance the careers of practitioners with an interest in holistic health care, whether you choose to focus on medical uses such as easing headaches or asthma, or on counseling applications like breaking addictions or treating eating disorders. Even massage therapists and acupuncturists can use hypnotherapy to help relax clients and improve healing. Ultimately, though, the hypnotherapist is helping patients to help themselves by harnessing their own minds' healing abilities.
Sources: American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists, American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association, American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.