As clinical hypnosis (hypnotherapy) has gained a greater and valid acceptance as a helping and allied healing modality during the past ten years or so. Accordingly there is now a plethora of training institutions offering all manner and variations of courses and training to the public and allied health professions. This has created significant confusion for the person looking to study hypnosis, there are many new accolade titles which have taken on the name hypnosis, so this article is an attempt to remove some of the confusion for those who are interested in learning hypnosis.

One of the most confusing aspects is that all hypnosis is not the same; hypnosis has three significant aspects. Firstly there is the ever popular ;so called clinical hypnosis which usually involves a technique known as Ericksonian Hypnosis, named after the American Psychiatrist Milton Erickson. Many people fail to realise that Erickson did not usually induce very deep states of hypnosis in his therapy and that he was a much better therapist than what he was a hypnotist per se, in fact as a therapist it could rightly be said that Dr Erickson was a genius, but not all therapy, including Ericksons, involves hypnosis. At the time he came to prominence there was also David Elman and Harry Arons who were both much more effective hypnotists and used the traditional methods.

Secondly there is traditional hypnosis which is commonly used by entertainment hypnotists to produce some times amazing transformations in the subjects who have volunteered to take part in a show. Make no mistake, what you are seeing is very real and the people on the stage are not actors or employees of the hypnotists, they are individuals who have been identified as good hypnotisable subjects from among those who have volunteered. This type of hypnosis is very real and the techniques employed to induce the state can also be employed to great effect for therapeutic purpose.

Thirdly there is what I call Esoteric Hypnosis which is common in such procedures as Past Life Regressions, whether we have lived a past life not, past life regression when administered by a competent therapist can produce some very profound and positive results for the recipients. Many psychosomatic conditions for which no other treatment has been effective are often resolved by an effective use of this procedure.

Then there is NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) which is often passed off as hypnosis but in actual fact is not hypnosis at all, it is the study of human behaviour and reactions. NLP is usually very expensive to learn and often promises a lot more in theory that what it can deliver in a practical sense. It is indeed a good thing for a clinical hypnotist to know but is not of itself hypnosis at all.

There are also two main aspects to learning hypnosis, the academic way and the practical way. To my mind the practical way is more effective because it teaches a student how to induce and apply hypnosis in a real sense whereas the academic way is more focused upon theory, much of which is postulation more so than fact. The opposites of the two styles of training can be compared to A – Learning to drive a car by reading the manual, and watching videos, or B – By getting behind the wheel and learning in a practical sense under the supervision of someone who is already well experienced. The after you learn to drive the rest becomes a lifetime endeavour.

At the end of the day a good hypnotist knows how to hypnotise someone in a practical sense and is not someone who sits under an accolade hanging on a wall that was gained through hundreds of hours of lectures, video presentations, and pouring over books. Some institutions will issue an accolade of Master Practitioner to students after a short training wherein the student is taught little more than a progressive muscle relaxation, which more often than not will induce a trance state, but then again not all trance states are actually hypnosis.

There is no academic institution in the world that I am aware of that actually provides an academic qualification in hypnosis, therapeutic or otherwise. There is Government Accredited training in Australia but this simply means that the topic has been taught within a framework that a Government appointed training body had decreed is acceptable, it should be borne in mind that those who made the decree probably know less about hypnosis than what a potential student does.

Whatever training path you may decide to follow bear this in mind? A basic hypnosis induction can be learned from a $10 book or for free off the internet, the rest of it is a lifetime endeavour that requires passion and many many hours of practice to master. At the end of the day it makes sense that if you want to learn hypnosis then you should begin with a training organisation that actually trains hypnosis and not just trance. How do you you find out the difference, its easy really, ask the trainer to hypnotise you, if they can’t do so then what hope do they have of training you how to do it. When you are hypnotised you will not be asleep in the traditional sense of the word, you may even become hyper aware. However if you are hypnotised the hypnotist should be able to produce some kind a phenomena that you can feel or just respond to automatically. As a well known US doctor said in the 1950’s; “If after submitting themselves to the hypnotic procedure a phenomena cannot be produced in the subject then there seems little point in calling them hypnotised”. Clark L Hull.

As a potential student remember “Hypnosis is not hypnosis, is not hypnosis, is not hypnosis”. When you choose a training institution ensure that you are not just going to be fed a whole lot of theory and shown how to do a progressive muscle relaxation. There is much more to it than that, much much more.

Rick Collingwood – Australia’s Premiere Clinical Hypnotist and Hypnosis Trainer.