Evidence Based Practice.

‘…effective therapy depends far less on the hours you put in than on what you put into those hours’. (Lazarus, 1997)

The foundations of hypnotherapy were built on Braid (1851) empiricism. Critical of the Mesmerists healing energy ‘animal magnetism’ explanation, Braid conducted experiments to uncover the rational principles behind what was actually occurring in Mesmerism. He searched for valid reliable evidence. The role of evidence-based practice began with Braid, who is largely recognised as the founder of ‘nonstate’, evidenced based hypnotherapy. Evidence-based practice is of great significance today in the practice of hypnotherapy for effective treatment outcomes and reducing relapse. To read more about the unsubstantiated concept of ‘healing energy’ please click here.

     The empirical base of modern therapy is evident in the integrating of hypnosis and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Alladin, 2008 refers to numerous empirical investigations including meta-analysis, which found increased effectiveness in incorporating hypnosis with CBT. Taking an evidenced-based approach it is the responsibility of the therapist to be knowledgeable in what constitutes as reliable and valid evidence, drawing on the most recent and pre-eminent evidence available.

Whilst research on various therapeutic protocols uncover effectiveness, dismantling research is essential in distinguishing between the components, which are  contributing to treatment outcomes and those, which are excess to requirements. Numerous investigations have dismantled therapies uncovering the elements, which were unnecessary; uncovering the components which are used essentially to market the therapy but have no significant benefit to clients.  One example, which clearly highlights this point, is the research conducted by Nezu and Perri (1989). Their cognitive dismantling of Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) treatment of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), found treatment equally effective, with or without the use of eye movement, from which it derived its name. Therefore, the eye movements, which the therapy specifies as an integral component, found obsolete.

‘One need not kowtow blindly to “science”. Still we must recognise that there is an implicit contract between practitioners in psychology and psychiatry and the clients who seek their help. This involves the assumption that the techniques of mental health specialists are based on scientific grounds. […] In this sense, it is a very profound responsibility of the clinical practitioner that he be in position to show some of the ties between what he practices and the background of formal theory that makes up the body of knowledge in his field’. (Singer, 1974: 5)

Evidence-based practice employed in Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) draws on theory and methodology derived through rigorous empirical research. Providing the client, with the best standard of treatment available to them, requiring that the therapist continually update one’s understanding of various important developments in psychotherapy, hypnosis, psychology and related fields. Evidence-based practice refers to the therapist using therapeutic techniques, which are supported by reliable, valid and comprehensive interpretation of rigorous research findings. In sum, those techniques, which lack support in research, are not employed. Findings from well-designed empirically validated research are the bases for the techniques utilised at Northwest Therapy and Hypnosis The well-being and best interests of the client of paramount concern.

Becoming A Hypnotherapist by Helen Foxton

Hypnotherapy is an enticing career for some. It provides an opportunity to help people kick destructive habits, achieve emotional equilibrium, and reach an accord with themselves. Many empathetic individuals with a bent for healing find themselves drawn to hypnotherapy. However, a word of caution: Hypnotherapy carries with it a certain burden of responsibility, and practitioners should always hold to a strong code of personal ethics. Anyone wanting to become a hypnotherapist because it has a whiff of ‘mind control’ or ‘magic’ about it should seek an alternative career. Not only is hypnotherapy firmly rooted in science [1], it is also a practice which must always put the patient first, and not pander to the therapist’s own ego.

This proviso aside, hypnotherapy can be a rewarding career which really does change lives! To learn more about becoming a hypnotherapist, read on:

A Degree Will Help

You don’t necessarily need a degree to become a hypnotherapist, but people who have a University degree will find it easier to get work. A degree not only lends credibility to a practitioner, but can also help you to better understand the methods and mind you’re working with. A medical degree is particularly useful. Most practising hypnotherapists have advanced degrees, usually in medicine, sciences, mental health, nursing, or social work. To be competitive (as well as to better understand the world in which you will be working), completing a degree is probably a good idea.

Complete A Course, And Join The CHPA

In order to become a fully-fledged hypnotherapist, you are advised to complete a course in hypnotherapy. If at all possible, choose a course which is approved by the CHPA – the Clinical Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy Association [2]. This is the biggest association of professional hypnotherapists in Ireland, and the only one with recognition from the European Association of Hypno-Psychotherapy. The CHPA lends legitimacy and ethical backing to practitioners, through their regulations and code of conduct.

Choose Your Path

Having trained and qualified as a hypnotherapist, you will now need to establish your career path. Setting up as an independent hypnotherapist has certain advantages, but it is not always advisable for beginners without any clinical experience. Not only will you have to sort out premises, overheads, legal issues and so on [3] entirely by yourself, you will also have to source clients. Without clinical experience and recommendations to back you up, building business independently can be hard. However, it’s not impossible – don’t be put off if you really thing that this is the path for you! You can also check out the General Hypnotherapy Register’ (GHR) and/or The National Council of Hypnotherapy (NCH) for support and information.

Some budding hypnotherapists prefer to join existing practices, or seek clinical experience through other means [6]. This helps new hypnotherapists to build up experience and a reputation while practising.

Keep Learning!

However many qualifications one has, and however much practical experience, one must never assume that one ‘knows it all’! There is a lot of scientific interest in hypnotherapy, and it is a good idea to keep up to date with the latest research on the subject [7]. And it’s not only research you should be checking out. Public ideas about hypnosis are always changing. Keeping abreast of popular ideas about hypnotherapy means you’ll be prepared for the kinds of misconceptions, fears, and expectations you’ll be dealing with in your patients. Always learning means that you’re always improving in your chosen profession!

Keep Your Certificates Up To Date

Even if you don’t really need to ‘update’ your qualifications, it’s a good idea to have your practice and knowledge reviewed regularly nonetheless. Having your qualifications renewed gives you the opportunity to keep on top of your game, to learn about any changes to the law which might affect you, and inspires confidence in your abilities. There are professional bodies who will be happy to review your practice, and plenty of courses which will let you test yourself and your skills. Don’t rest on your laurels – check that you’re as up to date, skilled, knowledgeable, and relevant as ever!

[1] Chantell Williams, “The Science of Hypnosis”, National Geographic Magazine, Jun 2013

[2] CHPA, “Membership of the CHPA”

[3] QZ, “Public liability insurance”

[4] GHR “General Hypnotherapy Register”

[5] NCH “The National Council of Hypnotherapy”

[6] Health Service Executive

[7] DA Oakley, PW Halligan, “Hypnotic suggestion: opportunities for cognitive neuroscience”, Nature Reviews: Neuroscience, Aug 2013

an article by Helen Foxton

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