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When Not to Use Hypnosis

When Not to Use Hypnosis
To offer ‘the safest and most useful hypnotherapy for your clients,
you need to understand the scope of practice suitable for a
Hypnotherapist who is not licensed. Unless you are a licensed
psychologist, medical doctor, dentist, social worker, or marriage,
family and child counsellor, you should limit the scope of your
practice to stress reduction, performance enhancement, and habit
control issues such as smoking and weight loss. If you have a
written referral from a medical doctor or you are working in
cooperation with a psychiatrist or psychologist, it is appropriate to
do additional kinds of work. This is especially important in the
United States, where we face fairly heavy restrictions on what
Hypnotherapists can do.
There are five instances in which hypnosis is specifically contra-
First, when the client’s personal history suggests that they
may be dangerous to themselves or others, the client is
beyond the scope of treatment of an unlicensed
Hypnotherapist. In most states of the US, even a psycholo-
gist, MFCC or MSW will refer a client who is dangerous to
self or others to a psychiatrist or a medical doctor.
Second, if the client is dealing with highly repressed or
traumatic issues, you may want to refer them to someone
who has been trained to deal with those issues. Hypnosis
alone may not be a sufficient intervention. Time-Line
Therapy@ could be indicated; if you are not trained in it,
you can refer the client to a certified practitioner of Time-
Line Therapy@. In addition, it may be appropriate to have
a psychiatrist or a psychologist work with the client.
Third, if a client is dealing with cancer or another life-
threatening disease, you should advise them that hypnosis
is a controversial form of treatment and insist that they get
a diagnosis and a written referral from a medical doctor
before proceeding. Currently in the US, it is not illegal to
use hypnosis to help alleviate the symptoms of a disease. It
is illegal to claim to cure disease by means of hypnosis. In
most parts of the world, it is inappropriate to say that you
will use hypnosis to cure cancer. Here is what I say to the
client: “What is important here is that I am not going to
heal you, you are going to heal yourself. Whether or not
that happens is going to depend on how well you can com-
municate with your Unconscious Mind.” That is a very
important framework for your intervention. You will never
regret referring someone out if you have any question on
whether you should be working with them.
Developing Your Induction Style
Fourth, if a client is suffering from psychiatric or neurolog-
ical disorders such as multiple personality schizophrenia,
bipolar disorders (manic-depressive), hysteria or epileptic
seizures, it is appropriate for you to require a written refer-
ral from an MD or psychiatrist before you even consider
working with the client.
Fifth, you should only hypnotize a member of the oppo-
site sex when there is a reliable witness present. Erickson,
for example, would not hypnotize women unless his wife
was present. An alternate safeguard is to tape all your

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