Recently, the staff of Evergreen attended a Hypnosis Certification course with a new intern. What an interesting experience it was. We noticed that a higher caliber of people seem to be drawn to the profession than those we met several years back (when we felt like we might be the only “normal ones” in the group — even if you’re open minded and informed as to matters metaphysical, a weirdo is still a weirdo and they’re easy to notice because they seem to go to extraordinary lengths to draw attention to themselves and their weirdness.)
That having been said, at the certification course the instructor was entertaining, to say the least. He delighted and charmed the neophytes, while teaching them the barest basics of hypnosis and skillfully interspersing sales pitches into his lessons.
Business is business, but to be honest I have to admit to some discomfort when I see business and education merge. My feeling is that teachers should teach, and salespeople should sell. Though each obviously does a little of both, I believe the honest and ethical stance is to call yourself a spade if you are a spade. When an instructor sells more than he teaches, I begin to have my doubts about things such as misrepresentation.
In sales a common technique is to lure customers in by offering something at a low price, then persuade them to spend and buy more than they had intended. This is commonplace and part of the actual training for speakers who give presentations worldwide. It’s a business. Speakers are paid a low salary, and make their real money on the products they sell. They are speakers, not teachers.
In education it seems as though a student should be taught what that student needs to know to perform competently. When students are taught the mere basics of hypnotherapy and then are certified, turned loose to practice, and assured by their teacher that they will learn more as they actually treat clients (perhaps pursuing further education in the field), frankly I shudder. If only clients knew how little actual training that piece of paper on the wall often represents.
A few days after the certification course, an elderly client came to my office with imaginary stomach problems and diminished appetite. I knew from earlier phone conversations that his doctors had ascertained there was nothing physically wrong with him and they had actually recommended hypnosis to him.
The poor man could barely walk; even with the aid of a walker it took him five minutes to make it from my front office to the back office, sitting to rest along the way. I had to physically help him lower himself into the recliner. While still upright, I noticed he could barely breathe. I skipped the suggestibility tests, and opted for a very abbreviated pre-talk. Only five minutes into progressive relaxation, his body began stiffening into spasms and his face grimaced into severe contortions. I came close to ending the session, but intuitively shifted my guiding monologue until he calmed and settled into a still upright position. As his breathing became deeper, I slowly reclined the chair, speaking to him softly, formulating suggestions based on the information he had provided during his interview and eliminating altogether any tests for depth or convincers.
He experienced a very successful session, indicating to his own and to his wife’s amazement that he wanted to stop on the way home for a hamburger, fries and milkshake. Sighing with relief, I thought, “How in the world would someone who had only basic training have handled this?”
When a beginner is encouraged to treat clients prematurely, learning as they go, their clients serve as guinea pigs without even realizing it. I find that scary. The newly “certified” hypnotherapist who has worked with a classmate or two (pretending to be the ideal client.), or with a friend who has a simple goal or minor concern and is very willing to play along, can too easily think, “Whoa, there’s nothing to it!” Sometimes overly confident, they believe they are much more capable than they actually are. When they find themselves in over their head and unprepared to swim, they sink — sending some clients away saying, “hypnosis doesn’t work.”
This hurts the profession.
I cannot recommend strongly enough that every beginning hypnotherapist work with a well-established, successful professional in a mentoring program, to learn the safe and prudent application of hypnosis and to become aware of the realities of the profession. A classroom is one thing; a clinical setting is something else entirely.
When your career has been sold to you rather than taught to you, by all means educate yourself before you open a practice. Find a reputable school where you will learn textbook hypnosis, and align with a seasoned professional — who has nothing to sell — and you have everything to gain.
If you are a new hypnotherapist, please contact Ginny or Frank at Evergreen if you have any questions about our mentoring program. If you are looking for a qualified hypnotherapist, go to FAQ on this site for our input.