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Calling Yourself a Hypnotherapist May Harm Your Clients!

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I’d love to get some feedback from you on this one. After years of calling myself a “Hypnotherapist” I am considering changing the title I use to “Consulting Hypnotist.” I have my concerns of course, but I think that there are enough good reasons to change over to the new title to get me to do it. In fact it may be the best thing I can do for the vast majority of my clients. I am beginning to think that calling myself a hypnotherapist, and suggesting that they need my services suggests that there is something wrong with them, that they are actually ill, when they are not.

First my concern; I wonder how it would affect business if I dropped the title of hypnotherapist? Would potential clients perceive the same value in going to a “Consulting Hypnotist”, as they would in seeing a “Hypnotherapist”? I wonder would students attend my school if I offered certifications in hypnotism, and graduation from my certification courses resulted in becoming a Consulting Hypnotist? It really is about perceptions, isn’t it? And of course, perceptions determine behavior. And, my potential clients’ and students’ behavior, choosing my Center, or not, determines the success of my practice and school (meaning my business). This is a significant concern. I like being successful and living well.

Where did I get this idea of changing the title that I hold out to the public? It was a couple of years ago, maybe three, when I was at the National Guild of Hypnotists convention. During the keynote address by Dr. Dwight Damon, the president of the NGH, where he announced the idea and encouraged everyone to consider the name change. I immediately had mixed feelings. Why would he come up with such an idea? Here’s the problem, there are powers out there that would love to put an end to hypnotists doing their work. And, as a result of their efforts, some states now regulate the terms “therapist” and/or “therapy.” Other states are now considering the same kind of regulation. So, it makes sense that the leadership of National Guild of Hypnotists would want to promote a title for its members that all of its members could use. It would also make it less complicated as they work to keep hypnotists able to practice in all 50 states.

Perhaps selfishly, I thought because of the liberal environment where I practice (it is perfectly legal for me to use the terms “hypnotherapist” and “hypnotherapy” in California) it would be best for me to continue to stick with the old way. I was at the time conflicted as to what to do, so I stuck with the old title. I thought it was probably a good idea for those who had to change their titles to do so, but I was resistant.

Then it hit me today, really, the title “Consulting Hypnotist” is a better way to go, and here’s why. In my practice as a 5-PATH(R) hypnotist, and a 7th Path Self-Hypnosis(R) teacher, I have always taken the stand that there is nothing wrong with my clients. The majority of the clients I worked, with… Wait a minute! Let me restate that. Really, the majority of the clients that my whole staff, and all of my graduates worked with, were simply normal every day people with normal everyday problems. Sure, from time to time we worked with clients who had bonafide medically or psychologically diagnosed illnesses, which were referred to us by professionals in psychology or medicine, but mostly it was not the case.

So then, as I think about it more critically, and rationally, I see that if one is not ill, then that individual does not need therapy! Therapy is for making the ill or injured healthy and or whole. What most people need is a good hypnotist, which he or she can consult with, who can work with them using his or her hypnotic training, skills, and help them overcome normal issues in life, like bad habits. We, as professional hypnotists, can even go beyond that and help you to achieve more in life by providing motivation, and so on. The more I think about this, the more using the title of Consulting Hypnotist makes sense to me.

With this in mind, I think that we should seriously consider the name change, and then make a great effort to rewrite the terminology that we use in our profession and remove the word “therapy” from it. Here are some examples that I would like to propose.

Old Way

  • Hypnotherapist
  • hypnotherapy
  • age regression therapy
  • Parts Therapy
  • Parts Mediation Therapy
  • Symptom Producing Event
  • Phobia
  • Obsession
  • Compulsion
New Way

  • Consulting Hypnotist
  • hypnosis/hypnotism
  • age regression work
  • Parts Work
  • Parts Mediation Work
  • Start of Problem Event
  • Exaggerated Fear
  • Persistent Thoughts
  • Persistent Habitual Behavior

The NGH has already suggested that its members stop using medical and psychological terms in their literature and when they speak to their clients. See the National Guild of Hypnotists Code of Ethics and Recommended Standards of Practice.

Does this mean that hypnotists would no longer do therapy? I say that if someone is trained to do therapy, and if he or she is licensed to do therapy, or working under a referral from someone who is able to diagnose, then of course, a hypnotherapist can do therapy, where it is legal to do so. And, he or she can call it that. For example, if a psychologist or doctor referred his or her client or patient to me, to do “hypnotherapy” on for a “phobia” (or other diagnosed illness) then I would certainly do so. If a professional who is licensed to make such diagnosis and referral applies that label, and asks me to do therapy, then I will. In fact I will call it therapy, and I will call the problem a phobia (or other diagnostic label), because it is according to the patient’s or client’s doctor or psychologist.

In all other cases, I shall shun the terms “hypnotherapy” and “therapy”. I think I will change my title. I shall be a Professional Consulting Hypnotist! And, I shall do the work of hypnosis or hypnotism, whatever you want to call it.

So, what do you think about that? Do you think I will lose clients? What do you think I should do about my school, should I leave it up to my grads as to what they call themselves? What shall I put on their certificates, hypnotist or hypnotherapist?

I believe by making the change I will do what is best for me, my clients and the profession as a whole. I believe my practice and school will still thrive!

33 Reader Comments to Calling Yourself a Hypnotherapist May Harm Your Clients!

  1. Rich and Cath Smith October 24, 2007 at 7:57 AM

    I’m definitely in your corner on this one. Cath & I have long ago abandoned the Hypnotherapist label. We see ourselves as teachers and facilitators rather than therapists. Our clients come to us to learn new ways of dealing with issues in their lives – not to be “cured”. I’m sure there are some hypnotists who indeed do therapy (for which they’ve been trained), but we prefer to be Professional Consulting Hypnotists.

  2. Gilles October 24, 2007 at 8:08 AM

    Hi Cal:
    I like the idea of removing the therapist designation, but still have some doubts because ‘Consulting Hypnotist’ does not suggest helping clients. To me, it sounds like providing consultation for other hypnotists.

    Something like ‘Client-Centered Hypnotist’ or ‘Personal-Solutions Hypnotist’ may be less likely to disturb either clients or the psychology community.

    You could also call Phobias ‘Event Specific Fears’, as I feel that ‘Exaggerated Fears’ may offend some.

    Gilles Hamann
    Certified Hypnotist

  3. Steve R. October 24, 2007 at 10:31 AM

    I can’t imagine that you would lose clients by dropping the hypnotherapist label. In fact, I would think people would be more comfortable telling their friends “I went to see a hypnotist to [lose weight][quit smoking]”, rather than saying “I went to see a hypnotherapist…” Saying you went to see a therapist of any sort can make it sound (and feel) like there’s something wrong with you.

    I also like how “consultant” implies a greater level of personal responsibility on the part of the client.

    Maybe you should put a poll on one of your sites: “Would you rather work with a Consulting Hypnotist or a Hypnotherapist?” This poll would hopefully only be targeted towards regular non-hypnotist folks, and there would probably have to be a third choice: “What’s the difference?” Here’s a place to get cool free polling widget:

    “Therapy” and “therapist” also kind of lump hypnotists into categories like massage therapists; not that theres anything wrong with a nice massage of course, and I know that being a licensed massage therapist takes a lot of work and study… even more than becoming a certified hypnotist. But check out the “therapeutic services” section of craigslist, do you really want to be in same mental real estate as “sensual 4-hand massages” and “instant psychic healing by email!”

    I think another bit of terminology that would be good to get rid of would be “clinical”. That term clearly implies some type of medical environment or background. I think it’s silly (and poor marketing) that someone would imply that they run a clinic of some sort when it’s really just an office or spare room in their house.

  4. Joshua Houghton October 24, 2007 at 11:13 AM

    Hello Cal,

    I would have to side with you on this one. I too am going through a similar issue in my state of Georgia. In Columbus where I live I got a local therapist who claims the min I start to market for business he will cause me trouble. He believes that a hypnotist has to have a license to practice and that without going to school we are just trying to practice medicine without a license. I too thought about using the term hypnotherpist because it just sounds more professional, but due to this situation and others I have heard about I am just going to go by “Certified Hypnotist” I like the ideas for the rewording of certain terms. Good article

  5. Darwin Gillett October 24, 2007 at 5:26 PM

    Hi Cal,

    I understand your point of view and all of the people that have previously posted their responses to your blog. However, I personally feel more comfortable with Hypnotherapist. Perhaps that is because I am licnesed to practice psychotherapy in Massachusetts and can diagnose, etc. When I hear the title of hypnotist I think more of a stage hypnotist or as for entertainment value and not necessarily helping people with their problems or help them to move forward. I think adding something like “client-centered”, as Gilles Hamann suggested, would explain the title better. However, you don’t want to be too wordy. I think until people come to see the title “hypnotist” as not an entertainer but as someone to help them alleviate their pain and problems, I will stick with “hypnotherapist”. Just my feelings about it.

  6. Debbie Yaffee October 24, 2007 at 5:39 PM

    Hi Cal.

    Well, I guess I am going to be the first one to have a dissenting opinion on this one! Great article, by the way.

    Here’s my thought about it: I feel that the complementary healing community at large has been rather under attack for awhile and that it has been progressively losing , bit by bit, various important words that should by right belong to everyone. Wonderful words like “healing” are being usurped, narrowed as to definition and meaning , and increasingly made to be the sole province (professional real estate) of a narrow group of people who certain self-proclaimed authorities deem approvable. I feel that the word “therapy” is in the same sort of danger. We aid and abet these intellectual/conceptual takeovers when we find ways (by intent or inadvertently) to limit terms for our own understanding or use.

    The term “therapy” is a marvelous word…….I wouldn’t want to lose my right to say (or believe) that what I do, for myself or others, is therapeutic in the best sense of the word. We shape the destiny of words and their meaning…..when I restrict the word “therapy” to be associated only with illness, then I take away the expanse of its functional vibrance in my personal need for deepening meaning in my own journey.

    I think it should be up to the practitioner to choose the title under which he or she does this work. I am happy to live in a state which still allows us to choose the term “hypnotherapist”. When people ask me what I do for work, sometimes I say I am a hypnotist and sometimes I say I’m a hypnotherapist.

    I suppose I wouldn’t object to having “clinical hypnotist” among the choices of titles. I have no personal objections to “consulting hypnotist” but am not in favor of moving to locking that in as the ONLY choice we have. To move totally to “consulting hypnotist” seems like a political move to give over sole custody of words like “therapy” and “healing” to only a certain limited community. Said community is (I believe) working its way up to pushing us to licensing across the boards anyway. I believe that the complementary healing community would do best to bolster its confidence and assert its right to co-exist and use terms within its own context of meaning.

    Personally,I would like to see our training include several required psychology courses and some sort of supervision for a certain number of clients. As a profession we are definitely coming under more and more scrutiny.

    Will it affect your business one way or another? Seems to me that you are so successful that your title won’t matter either way…….folks know that you get the results! They’re gonna sign up no matter what! No worries there. :–)

    So that’s my two —or ten—-cents!

    All the best,
    Debbie Yaffee, CH, CN

  7. Kirk October 24, 2007 at 5:49 PM

    Some people need the white coat and without it their expectation isnt filled.
    Others need a friendly approach. Maybe a poll of clients would be more meaningful.
    As for writer #4 he has my sympathy. I encountered a psychologist that was unbelievably hostile. Very territorial individual.

    My personal inclination is to agree with you but polling the choir may be counterproductive. 🙂


  8. Johnie Fredman October 24, 2007 at 6:19 PM

    I’ve only been in the Guild a little over a year and wasn’t introduced to the term “consulting hypnotist” until this year’s convention. I have to say, when the van pulled into the hotel and I saw the “Welcome Consulting Hypnotists” sign, I was less than pleased. I understand that to call oneself a therapist can be fraught with peril, and it illegal in some locations, but what is wrong with just being a hypnotist? My initial feeling upon hearing the term was that the lawyers have now taken over our profession and someone came up with a term that almost apologizes for what we do. We don’t do “therapy” and we aren’t “healer”, but we are helpers. We are more than just a consultant. Maybe the problem is my impression of a consultant, which falls somewhere along the line of “Those who can, do; and those who can’t teach”. Obviously I need to spend some more time, as you did Cal, chewing on this idea and the new terminology, and maybe I’ll come around also. Until then, I will continue to proudly be a hypnotist (at least until I complete my counseling license in 2 years).

  9. Cal Banyan, MA, BCH, CI, FNGH October 24, 2007 at 7:18 PM

    Hello Hypnotists, Hypnotherapists, Etc. 🙂

    I just want to post a quick comment and say that I am very pleased with the level of passion that I am seeing in the comments. I’m going to let the comments pile up a bit more and then I’ll see if I can respond in a more meaningful way. I will just say at this point I am not married to the term “Consulting Hypnotist” yet. And, that in my article I also mentioned that I believe that if one was to change names/titles then it would not prohibit what we do, if we are asked to work in a therapeutic modality.

    Thanks again for each and every comment, pro and against my article. We need to hear all viewpoints, I believe.

    Cal Banyan

  10. Bill Fenton October 24, 2007 at 9:33 PM

    I read your comment. “I say that if someone is trained to do therapy, and if he or she is licensed to do therapy, or working under a referral from someone who is able to diagnose, then of course, a hypnotherapist can do therapy, where it is legal to do so. And, he or she can call it that.”

    I say as long as someone stays in the arena of stop smoking, weight loss, and maybe stress relief your students can call them selves anything they like. But who are they kidding when they enter the many other areas that require years of training and hourly requirements for obtaining the designation of therapist.

    We all know hypnosis can help many many people with many many issues, but I will not bet my practice on entering areas that I know require much much more training than the National Guild requires for membership.

    Hypnotist and stage humor fit very well together. Whether we like it or not that is what the average guy we need as client’s perceives. If they are not wise enough to understand the difference….they make my best client. I can easily explain the difference.

    Bill Fenton

  11. Scott Babb October 24, 2007 at 11:12 PM

    It sounds like there are two things at issue here:

    1. Does using the term “hypnotherapist” negatively impact our clients?

    I’m not sure that the term “hypnotherapist” has a negative impact on clients, but most of the people commenting here probably have more experience with that than I do, so I defer to the wisdom of those people on this one. I just want to make sure we’re not trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist here.

    2. Does using the term “hypnotherapist” increase the risk that lawyers, legislators, and licensed health practitioners will try to negatively impact us?

    This is probably the crux of the matter right here. As you pointed out, anything mentioning “therapist” or “therapy” raises the hackles of some members of the medical community and some legislators.

    My knee-jerk reaction to that is to cling to the “Certified Hypnotherapist” term on my NGH certificate and try to educate those who would attack us for using that term. Fortunately my knee didn’t jerk too far. I keep having to remind myself that being in the right doesn’t count for much when you’re going up against large establishments. A little more consideration has me thinking that you’re probably right here.

    Now we’re faced with having to come up with terminology that conveys a high level of professionalism while still flying under the radar of those who might oppose our existence. Frankly, “hypnotherapist” sounds pretty professional to me, but it has that “therapist” red flag.

    The NGH will currently put one of three titles on their certificates: “Certified Hypnotist,” “Certified Hypnotherapist,” and “Certified Consulting Hypnotist.” They also tell us to use the titular abbreviation “CH” for any of these. If we toss “Certified Hypnotherapist,” the most professional sounding of the other two is probably “Certified Consulting Hypnotist” in my mind. I do like your suggestion of “Professional Consulting Hypnotist.” That works even better in my mind. Applying the same to the other term gives either “Professional Certified Hypnotist” or “Certified Professional Hypnotist” and either of those may be more easily mistaken for someone doing stage hypnosis, in my mind.

    I have other terms rattling around in my head like “Professional Coaching Hypnotist” but nothing has come up yet that I prefer over “Professional Consulting Hypnotist.” I agree that we may have to purge ourselves of “medical” terms like symptom, therapy, diagnose, treat, etc. That’s unfortunate because many of those terms are concise ways to express things we frequently need to express. But if we have to change, then we have to change.

    I am going to try to find something different for “SPE” though. 😉 How about “Start of Problem Exposition” or something like that? If “SPE” wasn’t so ingrained in us 5-PATHers, we could probably come up with a different acronym to describe the event.

    If you step back and look at it from a distance it seems absurd that we could get into a turf war over terminology. “I’m allowed to say THERAPY, but you’re not” sounds pretty goofy. But as you pointed out, it’s already happened in some states, so we’re going to have to deal with it.

    I don’t suppose it would help to point out that hypnotism has been around longer than most schools of psychology and almost all of the current medical specializations… Nah, that would just irritate them more.

  12. Adam Eason October 24, 2007 at 11:36 PM

    Hello Cal,

    I have been calling myself a consultant for years now and much, much prefer consultant hypnotist rather than hypnotherapist.
    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
    Best wishes to you as always,


  13. Louis Patrick October 25, 2007 at 6:15 AM

    I am all for changing of titles…I have been searching around for a replacement. However, in my experience, the word hypnosis,etc. scares more people than it attracts. What has to happen here is a major public-wide education/informational era. Then outside of state regulation, it won’t matter what we call ourselves. I rarely use any of those ‘words’ until I first explain about the brain and why we live the lives we experience. A 21st century title would certainly make our marketing/advertising efforts much easier, so we could at least get a shot at speaking with more people.

  14. Steve R. October 25, 2007 at 1:52 PM

    It’s true that the “hypnotherapist” verbiage may sound more impressive or more credible to certain type of clients. But if that’s the basis for making up a title, why not just call oneself an “Elite Advanced Clinical Master Hypnotherapist”? I don’t think any made-up title should be necessary to demonstrate your value to clients.

    I suspect that most people, who just want help with getting their problems solved, don’t really care about the difference between “hypnotist” or “hypnotherapist”. I may be biased towards “consulting” because in business and corporate world, although exceptions from Dilbert-land can always be found, they generally are regarded as being experts in their field, and worth top dollar.

    But what really matters is what “the people” think, so: here are some interesting statistics from a years worth of web logs (with enough visits to be statistically significant, i would guess, not being a statistician)-

    search terms used to get to my site:

    hypnosis 75%
    hypnotist 17%
    hypnotherapy 6%
    hypnotherapist 2%

    There are some other interesting statistics which I have gathered but I hesitate to share here for business reasons, but which indicate to me anywhere between a 3-to-1 and a 4-to-1 preference among real potential clients (not just curious about hypnosis) for the term “hypnotist” vs. “hypnotherapist”. For certain reasons, I believe that this 3:1 to 4:1 ratio is more meaningful than the percentages above, which still indicate a definite preference among avg people.

    What i take from this is that when the avg Joe or avg Jane needs help with something, they search using the “hypnotist” term, and not “hypnotherapist”.

    PS. I think the choice between “certified hypnotherapist” and “consulting hypnotist” is a bit skewed because given a choice between someone who is “certified” and “consulting”, i think most uninformed people will naturally choose the more impressive-sounding “certified”. in order to do valid test, i think it’d be better to isolate one word at a time. But let’s be real: certification is just a piece of paper. Anyone with an inkjet printer can get “certified”. Uh oh, another can of worms…

  15. Steve R. October 25, 2007 at 2:14 PM

    Duh, i forgot about Google Trends. Here is addtl interesting data from Google Trends, a comparison of the terms:

    There seems to be great variation based on region of world, ex. in UK it looks like “hypnotherapy/therapist” is much more popular than in US.

    Even keeping in mind that some of the ppl searching for “hypnotist” may have been looking only for stage hypnotist, it still appears that the vast majority of people in US are searching for a “hypnotist”.

    The interesting exception seems to be in NY and especially LA, where those wonderfully hip people are more inclined to search for “hypnotherapist”, but still nowhere at the level of “hypnotist”.

    Too much information? sorry… too much coffee today…

  16. Dave Stoll October 26, 2007 at 8:05 AM

    Hello Cal,

    I must say I’m with you on this one. Actually, I’ve found in casual conversation with folks I use “hypnotist” more than “hypnotherapist” anyway. Most people around here know what a hypnotist is (or at least they think they do). When I use the word hypnotherapist they’re not getting the “hypno” part so much.

    I too live in a state that is unregulated, but nearby Washington, DC and Maryland aren’t quite the same.

    I think the title change is welcomed, and I too shall follow suit.


  17. Cal Banyan, MA, BCH, CI, FNGH October 28, 2007 at 2:44 PM

    Thanks again to everyone for your comments. You all have such great points to make and you did so very well.

    After taking everything into consideration, I have made the decision that I am going to change my title to “Hypnologist(TM)”! 😉

    What do you think of that?


  18. Edward Wunder, BCH, CI, CPHI October 28, 2007 at 7:25 PM

    Dear All,

    The NGH, which I happily support for any number of selfish reasons, has credentialed me first a Certified Hypnotist (Hypnotherapist) and now a Board Certified Hypnotist, (Hypnotherapist). At the time of my credentialing, and within the state I practice, the term “hypnotherapist” was not censured.

    Cal, and Dr. Damon before him, are right. The Big Boys and Girls of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and their subset, the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) get to call the tune most of the time. The AFL/CIO Local #104 represents hypnotists at large by being pro-active, running interference and doing damage control within legislatures as they have the resources and abilities to do.

    The APA has co-opted many words for their own use. Nouns such as “depression” or “anxiety” quickly come to mind. As in, “I’m dealing with some depression/anxiety in my life right now,” or “Can you help me with this depression/anxiety?” The common person still does not know that by making such statements, THEY are illegally practicing medicine by making such statements, or asking such questions! The APA has had passed into law in many states that those words are no longer nouns, but rather diagnoses which only they, and grudgingly, medically licensed professionals are able to use, legally.

    Never mind that dictionaries of common English limit those definitions as diagnoses. No, in each case, it is only in later definitions that such words, including “therapy,” are defined in their more restrictive medical or mental health fashion. Nevertheless, it is what is being codified that will interest a lawyer, not what Random House, Webster, or American Heritage may list.

    In “therapy’s” broadest meaning, it can be positively argued that the profession of positive life change hypnotism is therapeutic, as in the second and fourth definitions found in, “a curative power or quality,” and “any act, hobby, task, program, etc., that relieves tension.”

    Unfortunately, in many states the APA has been able to codify “therapy” in the more restrictive definitions as per the same source, “the treatment of disease or disorders, as by some remedial, rehabilitating, or curative process: speech therapy,” and “psychotherapy.”

    Therefore, in agreement with those who are smarter than I am, I am content to call myself a (Board Certified) Hypnotist and present that professional banner with pride. To define my professional role further in society, I am a Consulting Hypnotist who provides my services in both hypnotism and waking state skills to both groups and individuals to help them improve their lives in a non-therapeutic fashion. It isn’t that my work doesn’t help people “relieve tension,” as per the above definition of therapy, it’s just that it isn’t (thank Delta!)”psychotherapy.”

    I just wish the same offense against “Hypnotherapy” were taken against “Music Therapy,” “Light Therapy,” “Color Therapy,” “Aroma Therapy,” “Play Therapy,” “Animal Therapy,” “Art Therapy,” etc., so that the absurdity of the turf protection could be more readily heard and seen.

    There are enough mentally ill and mentally well people who need all of our professional resources. Why the greed on the part of the body politic, APA? Y’all take care of the mentally ill as best as you can. When some of your depressed and anxious patients do not progress as well as THEY would like to, then refer ’em to the real 5-PATHers. If we can manage to help in some small way, well, we’re just grateful for the opportunity.

    Now, if we could just get some licensed mental health professionals to quit putting down the insurance code for “Outpatient Counseling,” (reimbursable) when what they should be coding for is tobacco cessation or weight management (usually not reimbursable, or at least not for as many sessions). Tell me, does it really take an advanced degree to help someone quit smoking or reduce their weight?

    If a person is mentally or physically ill (or at least diagnosed as such), you must first consult a licensed mental or medical doctor for treatment. However, if you’re not mentally or physically ill and want to improve some bothersome aspect of your life, come see a hypnotist. If mental health and medical professionals have done all they can, then come see a hypnotist who will then work with you by referral. I think I can live with that as a consulting hypnotist; how about you?

    As far as “Hypnologist” is concerned, sure, be greedy and Trade Mark it. Might as well be you, cuz someone else will if you don’t.

    All the best,


    Edward Wunder, BCH, CI, CPHI
    A Hypnotic Change
    Lincoln, NE

  19. Cal Banyan, MA, BCH, CI, FNGH October 29, 2007 at 7:58 AM

    Wow! What a discussion we have going on here. (By the way Edward, I was just kidding about the (TM) I put on “Hypnologist” in one of our Yahoo groups. That term is not TM-able, because it has been in existence for a long time.)

    As I just mentioned, I moderate a number of hypnosis groups on Yahoo, and last night I wrote up a response to a member who wanted to know why, and I’m paraphrasing here, “the NGH and I have settled on the term/title of ‘Consulting Hypnotist’?” I’ll post my response here. (Thanks Jean for the message.)

    “So far I have not settled on a term/title. I am beginning to think that having “therapy” in the title is not such a good idea, for all the reasons I gave in my blog. What I am saying is that some other term would probably be better for both the profession and our clients, as I pointed out in the blog entry. It seems to me that issue needs to be discussed more widely, looking at all of the ramifications of a title change. Ultimately, it is up to you, to choose what you call yourself, given that term/title is legal where you practice.

    Let me respectfully say that, I rather enjoy the title of “hypnotherapist” as well, but I am considering moving away from it. When I think about it, it really isn’t about which title I “enjoy,” but rather which title best serves the hypnosis professional, the profession, and the client, best.

    Since I opened up this conversation, here on this group, other discussion groups, and on (my blog site) I have heard many sides to the discussion. At this time I am learning toward what is most practical as well. I cannot help but wonder how many of those who are really invested in the term/title “hypnotherapist” have been a member of the hypnotists union over the last 5 to 10 years? Perhaps if more people had opened their wallets, and perhaps even became involved, then we would not be in the situation that we are in with so many states outlawing the use of the term “therapist” by hypnotists.

    It is good to have things our way, but we have to remember that there are organizations with real money behind them (lots and lots of money) who would like to put us all out of business, and without the funds coming in to the Union (meaning having enough members), then we will regress, and we will have to make concessions.

    On my soapbox now… Perhaps, some people will call making a name change to “Consulting Hypnotist” (or other title that does not include the the term “therapist) a concession, or even a regression in our status, but where is the money? Where are the members for the union? If the members of our profession want the freedom to always call themselves “Hypnotherapists” then the majority of people wanting to use that title must be willing to stand up and fight for it. History tells us that freedom is not free. Getting off my soapbox now. 🙂

    Note, where I practice, here in California, I can legally use the title of “Hypnotherapist” but I am currently, and very seriously looking for an alternative. Consulting Hypnotist may be just the right title for me. Maybe I’ll choose another title, but I know that the main thing for me will be to choose what is best for the profession and my clients as a whole.

    Cal Banyan
    Consulting Hypnotist (tentatively)

  20. Roy Hunter October 29, 2007 at 3:36 PM

    I was certified as a “Hypnotherapist” by the late Charles Tebbetts in 1983, and have written a book entitled THE ART OF HYPNOTHERAPY…and have defined IN WRITING hypnotherapy as the use of hypnosis to help people:

    “In my opinion one could simply define hypnotherapy as: the use of hypnosis or any hypnotic technique to enhance goal achievement, to enhance motivation or change, to enhance personal or spiritual growth, and/or to release clients of problems and the causes of problems.

    “I believe that this simplified definition is true whether the use for hypnotherapy is medical or non medical, as medical symptoms can also be called problems whether removed by a physician directly, or by a trained hypnotherapist working under a physician’s referral or direct supervision.”

    This appears in Chapter 12 of THE ART OF HYPNOSIS. If we give up our title of “Hypnotherapist”, then what guarantee do we have that certain powers that be might not try to use this against us?

    I am a hypnotherapist, and am a hypnotherapy instructor certified by the legendary Charles Tebbetts…who personally asked me to continue his work, and granted me authority to certify other hypnotherapy instructors.

    Roy Hunter, M.S., FAPHP

  21. Cal Banyan, MA, BCH, CI, FNGH October 29, 2007 at 4:24 PM

    Roy, I don’t get the point of your comment. It sounds like you are saying that because you:

    1) were certified as a “Hypnotherapist” by Charles Tebbetts,

    2) because you have written a book with the word “Hypnotherapy” in the title, and

    3) because you have “defined IN WRITING” (your emphasis) the word “hypnotherapy” in that book, as being what you have defined it to be, that this holds any weight with the law?

    4) And, that my clients should be aware of what you have decided hypnotherapy should mean?

    Roy, I certainly respect your work and your books, but I don’t get the point of your comment. Does any of this help the people in New York, Texas and Florida to be able to freely call themselves “hypnotherapists”? No.

    Do you think that your definition is what the clients who come to see me in my office have in mind when they hear the words, “therapy” or “hypnotherapy?” I don’t.

    The word “therapy” implies that there is something wrong with the person, or that he or she is ill, or has an injury of some kind. That is not the message I want to give my clients. I plainly tell them that there is nothing wrong with them; they just have a program that is running inside of them (i.e., bad habit or limiting belief) that we can change with hypnosis (unless of course my client has been properly diagnosed with a physical or mental illness then I will do therapy with them when referred by someone who has the legal right to diagnose such a condition.)

    Roy, maybe I have misunderstood your point. How does any of what you said, help those who cannot call themselves “hypnotherapists”? How does it help me, or the profession as a whole? And, how does having your definition written out in a book that my clients will probably never read help them?

    From my perspective, this all needs to be very carefully thought through. I for one will have a lot of work ahead of me if I decide to make the change, and take a stand against using the term “therapy” or “hypnotherapy.” I will have to do a lot of rewriting on my websites, promotional materials, and in my training manuals as well. It would, at least in the short term, be a lot easier on me if I stuck to the old way. But times are changing, and we may need to change along with the times. We need to look out for what is best for each hypnosis professional, the profession as a whole, and of course for our clients, now and in the future.

  22. Matt Stewart December 20, 2007 at 12:28 PM

    Although you have undeniably rustled some feathers through this issue, I am glad that you and others are promoting this distinction that the NGH has advocated for some time now. I have basic training in hypnosis. It is confusing for persons like me when contemplating operating a hypnosis practice to determine what is legal and appropriate when they can see contradictions and discrepancies between the law and common practice. Of course, the laws of one’s particular state should inform his or her decision in title and practice. As I am in Texas, I have not pursued advanced training because I have felt it is geared toward “therapy.” I perfectly understand how therapy and therapeutic are used casually. Taking a walk or a hot both is therapeutic and has nothing to do with psychology or the APA. Still, we understand this point–that word and others are problematic and really are best to avoid…especially in some states. I believe training should be revamped to steer away from “therapy” and toward “coaching.” Of course, if a person is already licensed as a psychologist and counselor, these restrictions don’t apply. If one lives in an unregulated state, that’s great. For the rest of us, we have to be careful. I was glad to find this topic posted. I enjoy browsing you websites, Cal. So much info. Happy New Year to you and the Center.

  23. Laura May 21, 2008 at 11:05 AM

    Hi Cal –

    I know this is an older conversation, but it’s new to me! I like this fresh approach. While a rose is still a rose, and what we do is not changed by the name we call it, I do think our clients are affected by the words and labels we use. Also, I have felt a bit shy about the “therapist” term, because I do not want to butt heads in my small community with anyone particular about the legal nature of what I do.

    Just as you say, I want to reinforce that my clients are well — yes, they could be “weller” or function at a higher level in some area. (and can’t we all?)

    While I have a BA in psychology, I decided that this was not the field for me (at least not via the traditional tracks) specifically because the whole approach is oriented towards finding, labeling, and then hopefully fixing what is wrong with a person. I appreciate good therapists — there is a need for this profession. But I, personally, did not want to become a white coat that saw people through this filter of labels, which I found demeaning and ultimately unhelpful.

    While Washington lets us practice as hypnotherapists, I’m thinking about making the change too — I like the option “client-centered hypnotist”. I even think people may imagine coming to me as more fun –perhaps, a bit of an adventure — than coming to a therapist, too, which could be a very good thing. And bragging might occur more often, which is good for them and me. 🙂

    Thanks, Cal, for all you do…I’ve appreciated your 5-Path DVD class a lot, your blog, and your podcasts — I hope to meet you sometime.


  24. Heather September 12, 2008 at 10:29 PM

    what about consulting hypnologist?

  25. Heather September 12, 2008 at 10:30 PM

    what about consulting hypnologist

  26. Cal Banyan, MA, BCH, CI, FNGH September 12, 2008 at 10:45 PM

    Hi Heather,

    Great idea! I thought of that one to. Then I found out that a “Hypnologist” is someone who studies sleep. Bummer, because it would have been a good alternative. I continue to warm up to the title “Consulting Hypnotist”.

    Thanks for the comment!

  27. What would Dr. John Kappas who founded the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in Los Angeles years ago think about changing the title as the NGH advocates?….He is deceased but he spent a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears in getting the title “Hypnotherapist” into the Dictionary Of Occupational Titles!…..Never heard of it….this is it:

    “079.157.019 – HYPNOTHERAPIST

    Induces hypnotic state in client to increase
    motivation or alter behavior patterns. Consults
    with client to determine nature of problem. Pre-
    pares client to enter hypnotic state by explaining
    how hypnosis works and what client will experience.
    Tests subjects to determine degrees of physical and
    emotional suggestibility. Induces hypnotic state
    using individualized methods and techniques of
    hypnosis based on interpretation of test results
    and analysis of client’s problem. May train client
    in self hypnosis conditioning.”

    And what about the titles “Diagnostic And Therapeutic
    Hypnosis”?…..I went through extensive training in these areas and was examined by two California licensed M.D. psychiatrists and a California licensed Ph.D. psychologist and was found duly qualified to practice in these areas,and I have practiced them for over 33 years…..and now, because the NGH says it is good to change our title, we should do it?

    I say good for whom??????….Good for the NGH because they are not looking out for hypnotists, but instead are working to please the APA and the AMA!

    Why don’t we do what the chiropractors did?….Did they allow the AMA to dictate to them?…..You don’t hear medical doctors utter a word of criticism for them these days! Why?????….The answer….they stood up and fought for their rights?….They didn’t roll over and give in because the AMA wanted them to…..and as a result they preserved their independence and they practice to the limits of their imagination today!

    What did they do????….They filed a federal class action lawsuit against the AMA and won!….But they also filed for and won a federal restraining order against the AMA restricting the AMA and its constituent members from criticizing or defaming or belittling chiropractors in anyway!

    So instead of selling out the profession by recommending that we no longer call ourselves hypnotherapists, why not advocate standing up for our rights that were so hard fought for and that we have enjoyed for so long!

    Do you think for a minute that changing your title is going to be enough to please them….do you honestly think for a minute that they would tolerate you making the changes you are advocating!!!!!….If you do I can’t help but think that you have been brainwashed by the NGH!

    I don’t say “N0” to changing our title….I say “Hell No” and over my dead body! I say stand up and fight!
    I did….I filed a 9th Amendment Declaration of Rights that among other things, guarantees my right to call myself a hypnotherapist and to offer services to the public on an equal basis to other providers!

    If anyone is interested in pursuing this “path” let me know!

  28. Cal Banyan, MA, BCH, CI, FNGH March 15, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    Hello Raymond – Thanks for leaving a comment.

    I would like to suggest that when Dr. Kappas was alive the environment in which hypnosis professionals across the USA may have been different. The fact is, that it is illegal for individuals who are not mental health or medical professionals to practice hypnosis using the title of “Hypnotherapist” in some States. The only way that they can practice is to avoid the word “therapist” or “therapy” in speaking about who they are or what they do.

    Also, please keep in mind that the vast majority of people in the profession of hypnotism work with normal every day people presenting normal everyday problems. These are problems that are not diagnosable as either a mental health problem or medical problems. Examples are removing unhealthy habits, improving motivation, and such.

    With this in mind, I’d like to suggest that you look at the definition of “HYPNOTHERPIST” that you offered up from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, and you will see that nothing in that definition suggests that a “hypnotherapist” would do therapy. Rather, they are things that any hypnosis professional would do with normal everyday people with normal everyday problems (not therapeutic in nature).

    Therapy is required when there is a diagnosable illness. The person providing that therapy is called a therapist. If that person uses hypnosis to provide that service, then it would make sense to call that person a hypnotherapist. But the rest of the time, this person may be best served by using the title, “Hypnotist” or “Consulting Hypnotist”. Certainly, if the person practicing hypnosis WAS working with mental or medical issues, and it were legal to do so, then that person could and should be called a hypnotherapist (i.e., when working with someone who was licensed to work with those issues and he or she –the hypnosis professional – is not licensed to do so).

    I have good news for you. In California you can use the title of Hypnotherapist. The State Government takes no issue with that.

    As for your statement that the “NGH” is “not looking out for hypnotherapists but instead are working to please the APA and the AMA!” (at the expense of hypnosis professional). I have to say that you are not well informed. I serve on the NGH Advisory Board and Ethics Committee. I can tell you that there is no organization in the world that does more for hypnotists, than does the NGH. They are constantly working on ways to keep the profession safe from being closed down by the AMA, APA, or government forces/interests.

    Anyone who says that the NGH is “selling out the profession” needs to do their homework. I also wonder why hypnotists who rarely, if ever, work on medical problems or mental health issues, want to cling to the term “hypnotherapist” when they do not work on issues of a therapeutic nature.

    Here is the deal… You can use the title hypnotherapist anywhere it is legal to do so, and the NGH will stand behind you on that. If that situation changes or looks like it is going to change in your state, then join the NGH and union. Better yet, join them now if you are not already a member. The NGH and the union are your best allies in protecting your right to practice hypnotism, and that is what is most important. Yes even more important that whether or not you can call yourself a hypnotherapist.

    You know, it is really easy to write to a blog on the Internet and say things like “’Hell No’ and over my dead body! I say stand up and fight!” But do you really mean it? If there were a gun to your head would you’d really choose death over being able to continue to help people using hypnosis, if all you had to do is call yourself a “Hypnotist” or “Consulting Hypnotist”.

    I say, a “rose by any other name is still a rose”. The most important thing is that we can help people.

    If you want to learn more about protecting your right to practice hypnosis or hypnotherapy I strongly suggest that you check these websites out: National Guild of Hypnotists Site National Federation of Hypnotists Site Group protecting individual rights to choose alternative health practitioners, including hypnotists and hypnotherapists.

  29. nihal bhat February 16, 2011 at 10:01 PM

    hypnotist/coach is a great way forward. you are pretty much coaching clients. coaches don’t need any certification.

  30. Cal Banyan, MA, BCH, CI, FNGH February 16, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    Thanks for your comment! I like “coach” and “consultant” as in Consulting Hypnotist.

  31. Jo January 10, 2013 at 6:53 AM

    I am just doing my certificate which will say I am a Clinical Hypnotist but I am thinking of being a Licensed Practitioner of Hypnosis instead… or Hypnosis Practitioner. Hypnotist automatically sends an imagine of a stage hypnotist into my mind.

  32. Cal Banyan, MA, BCH, CI, DNGH January 10, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    The most important thing is that we are honest with our clients. If you say you are “licensed” make sure that you are actually licensed. I also like to stay away from the word, “clinical” unless the hypnotist is a licensed medical professional. Otherwise there is the possibility that you could have problems and be accused of practicing medicine without a license. (I’m not a lawyer so I’m not giving legal advice here, just sharing my thoughts.) I like the title that the National Guild of Hypnotists are promoting, and that is “Consulting Hypnotist”, who is a person who is trained and certified as a hypnosis professional, who uses hypnotic techniques to help clients get what they want.

    The other main thing is makes sure that the title you use is legal where you intend to practice hypnosis.

    Thanks for you comment. We really apprediate it. Remember to become a VIP member. It is free and you get notified when we put up new free hypnosis training videos.

  33. Katherine Smart May 18, 2018 at 4:27 PM

    Hi Cal,

    I am very interested in this topic because in North Carolina, where I live and work, it is against the law to use the term hypnotherapist unless you are licensed in another health field such as medicine, psychology, or even massage.

    However, there are quite a few hypnotists here who are NOT licensed and still call themselves hypnotherapists. While I agree with those who believe the words “therapy” and “healing” should not belong to a particular community, I do believe in obeying the law. And to me, it’s ironic that in NC it’s OK to be a “Web Therapist,” but not a Hypnotherapist.

    I agree that people who do not know much about hypnosis may be more impressed with the word “hypnotherapy” and that that term may offer a business advantage to those using it.

    Thus, while I call myself a professional consulting hypnotist in NC, I am irritated by unlicensed hypnotists who call themselves hypnotherapists in a state that deems that illegal. It seems to be an unfair advantage.

    I’m wondering what, if anything, can or should be done to correct this unethical practice. I have personally spoken with several of these people, letting them know the law, and they just shrug their shoulders, not willing to consider changing their titles. One of them even said that the Guild accepted her hypnotherapist title in NC without questioning it in any way.

    I am personally not inclined to start a negative campaign, but as president of the NC Triangle Chapter of the NGH, I and my colleagues will not allow anyone in our group to misrepresent themselves this way.

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