A Professional Hypnotherapist is one who has been trained and degreed by a regionally accredited university or college in the fields of medicine or mental health. In addition, these professionals have been trained in hypnosis and hypnotherapy techniques, which they use with their mental health and medical training, as an additional treatment technique, after a careful psychosocial assessment and evaluation. Licensed Professionals: Application/information about APMHA
A Lay Hypnotist is one who has learned how to help someone enter the trance state referred to as hypnosis. They usually have no accredited training in medicine or mental health, although they may list credentials which have been "awarded" to them through a hypnosis school. Hypnosis Schools may even give their students "degrees" in hypnosis. Currently, there are no regionally accredited programs which grant degrees in "hypnosis."
Since a lay hypnotist has no diagnostic skills, they are not able to reliably or legally diagnose any problem an individual may have. Further, because the lay hypnotist lacks the needed training in diagnostics, they may not know when a client should be referred to a medical or mental health specialist, as in the case of pain, or a mental health disorder which should not be treated with hypnosis.
Look for credentials such as degrees in psychology, social work, nursing, medicine, professional counseling, marriage and family therapy, dentistry, and osteopathy. These may be M.A., M.S., M.S.W., B.A., B.S., or Ph.D., Psy.D., D.O., M.D., D.D.S. When you are in doubt, ask the practitioner for the number of their State Board, to check their credentials.
There are three professional hypnosis Organizations in the United States: APMHA American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association (which sponsors the H.E.L.P. site), ASCH American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, and the SCEH Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.
Other organizations, designed for lay hypnotists, do not have a screening criteria for their members, and they will allow high school graduates to perform hypnosis without any formal educational training.
If you are in doubt about the credentials of a therapist, we will be happy to assist you in determining professional qualifications.
American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association.