Professions which require regulation
To practice legally in the UK some health professionals need to be regulated by statutory bodies. For doctors this is the General Medical Council (GMC), for dentists this is the General Dental Council (GDC), and for clinical and counselling psychologists this is the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC). The titles 'doctor', 'dentist' and 'clinical psychologist' are also protected in the UK - you are not allowed to advertise yourself as one unless you have the qualification and are registered with the appropriate body. If a patient makes a complaint against a doctor, dentist, or clinical psychologist the complaint can be handled by their regulatory body. In cases where the complaint is upheld the professional can be 'struck off' and will no longer be allowed to practice.
Professions which do not require regulation
Other professions are not legally required to be regulated, and are sometimes said to be 'self-regulated'. Hypnotherapy, counselling, acupuncture, and reflexology are examples of professionals which are self-regulated in the UK. Being self-regulated means that there are no mandatory qualifications required for an individual to call themselves a hypnotherapist or to advertise their services as a hypnotherapist. There is no requirement to join a professional association in order to practice. Here's what the NHS website recommends:
Hypnotherapy is practised by some doctors, dentists, psychologists and counsellors, but it's also offered by non-professionals with little training. This is because in the UK, hypnotherapists don't have to join any organisation or have any specific training by law. Make sure you choose a qualified hypnotherapist with a solid healthcare background.
Because hypnotherapy is self-regulated In the UK practitioners who use hypnosis are represented by a wide variety of different hypnosis societies. The mission statements and membership criteria of these accrediting bodies are given here. An important distinguishing feature amongst hypnosis societies is whether the organisation believes that hypnosis should be used as a tool in a professional's toolbox (these societies require their members to hold a prior professional qualification in physical or mental health - e.g. doctor, dentist, psychologist), or whether they believe that hypnosis is a therapy in its own right (and which do not require members to have any qualifications in mental health). This distinction is often fiercely debated:
"Licensed health care professionals typically have six to nine years of university coursework, plus supervised training through internship and residency programs. On the other hand, lay hypnotists may be certified by lay hypnosis credentialing bodies and have only 200 hours of training." (Selecting a qualified hypnotherapist at ASCH.net)
"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. 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." (AMPHA information)
"Since hypnosis is most appropriately used to help normal everyday people with normal everyday problems, being licensed as a psychologist or physician is simply not an issue. Furthermore, such licensure does not in any way determine the quality of hypnosis or hypnotherapy that a particular client will experience, or the outcome that they can expect from such services. This is because there is no licensed profession in which hypnotherapy or hypnosis training is ever provided as a regular part of their education." (Cal Banyan's blog)
Societies which believe hypnotherapists should be qualified in another profession before they learn hypnosis, and which require members to be professionally qualified (e.g. doctors, psychologists, dentists):
Aims: To promote and engage in education and research in the discipline of hypnosis. Members are typically psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, dentists, and other health care professionals.
Membership criteria: Members must be professionals in their own right (e.g. psychologists, doctors, dentists) and their use of hypnosis must adhere to the standards demanded by their own profession. Members must only use hypnosis for purposes which they are professionally qualified. Members must not support the practice or teaching of hypnosis to those who are eligible for ISH membership.
Ethical code: Link to the ISH code of ethics
Aims: Dedicated to promoting and maintaining the highest professional standards in the practice of hypnosis for clinical or experimental purposes, and in the dissemination of information concerning hypnosis.
Membership criteria: Members must be professionals in their own right (e.g. psychologists, doctors, dentists) and their use of hypnosis must adhere to the standards demanded by their own profession. Members must only use hypnosis for purposes which they are professionally qualified. Members must not support the practice or teaching of hypnosis to those who are eligible for ESH membership.
Ethical code: Download ESH ethical guidelines
Established: 2007 (formed by a merger of the British Society of Medical and Dental Hypnosis [established 1952] and the British Society of Experimental and Clinical Hypnosis [established 1977])
Aims: To promote the safe and responsible use of hypnosis in medicine, dentistry, and psychology, and to educate both professional colleagues and the public about hypnosis and its uses.
Membership criteria: Only open to qualified doctors, dentists, psychologists and other health professionals.
Ethical code: Link to download BSCAH code of ethics
Aims: To encourage and promote excellence in the use of hypnosis by registered medical and dental practitioners; to advance scientific research, education and standards of practice in hypnosis; and to advise others about the value, application, and ethical use of hypnosis.
Membership criteria: Registered medical and dental practitioners.
Societies which believe that hypnosis is a therapy in its own right and which do not require prior professional qualification:
Aims: APHP is an exclusive body, based in the UK but with world-wide membership, dedicated to maintaining a high standard of professionalism amongst its members, all of whom are fully covered by hypnotherapist's professional indemnity insurance and committed to ongoing training.
Membership criteria: It is only possible to join the Association and the hypnotherapists directories via invitation or training by an accredited hypnotherapy school.
Ethical code: Link to APHP code of ethics
Aims: To promote hypnotherapy in the field of medicine.
Membership criteria: Full members are those who are entitled to practice as medical or dental practitioners in the United Kingdom and who hold a Medical Qualification recognised by the General Medical Council in the United Kingdom and who hold a Medical Diploma accredited by the Board. Founder members are those who were present at the inaugural meeting of the Association and vote for the adoption of this Constitution (but who do not necessarily hold a medical qualification).Affiliate members are members of any other hypnotherapy organisation nominated by the board.
Aims: To maintain a register of practitioners, to raise standards in the treatment of nervous problems, to care for the interests of patients and members, to collate and disseminate information on hypnotherapy.
Membership criteria: "Our members have each had at least four years of training, including having therapy themselves. Moreover, they are required to maintain high standards of competence and ethics in their work to stay on our register".
Membership criteria: Holders of a diploma in clinical hypnosis from an approved training course
Ethical code: Link to the BSCH code of conduct
Aims: To promote the highest quality practical and theoretical training in hypnosis.
Membership criteria: Membership of the Society is open to individuals who have undertaken extensive training in hypnotherapy. Approved trainer status is available to members who have acquired the necessary clinical experience and fulfill other requirements of the Society.
Ethical code: Link to BSH code of conduct
Aims: The maintenance of good practice, the promotion of unity and the encouragement of continuing development within the profession of Hypnotherapy
Membership criteria: Membership is open to hypnotherapists, NLP practitioners, or those who use hypnotherapeutic techniques. The GHR does not recognise members until they have completed a minimum amount of practical tuition (duration not specified). Newly qualified members must complete 2 hours of supervision in any 3 month period in the 2 years following qualification.
Ethical code: GHR code of ethics
Aims: To act as a link between the hypnotherapy industry and the Department of Health.
Membership criteria: Membership is only open to organisations (such as training schools) involved in the field of hypnotherapy. We advise that individual practitioners should join the GHR.
Ethical code: GHSC code of ethics
Aims: To protect the interests of its members, promote hypnotherapy as a therapeutic tool, provide opportunities for members to enhance their skills, and seek to educate members of the public, government and the medical profession as to the benefits of hypnotherapy.
Membership criteria: Membership of the Association shall be open to practising hypnotherapists who are able to satisfy the admissions criteria as agreed by an Annual General Meeting. Associate members will have been trained at a school that is not on the approved list. Licentiate members will have been trained at a school that is on the approved list. Full members will have in practice for at least five years.
Ethical code: HAUK code of ethics
Aims: The purpose of the Hypnotherapy Society is to create and maintain good academic, professional, practical, financial and ethical standards of training, supervision, Continuing Professional Development (CPD), professional practice & the provision of goods, services and contracts within the profession of Hypnotherapy in the United Kingdom.
Membership criteria: Professional Members need to demonstrate a combination of adequate training, experience, and competence, depending upon the level of their membership. Supervision is vital for the award and maintenance of professional membership. A licentiate member must either have completed an accredited training course or demonstrate a practical training knowledge of hypnotherapy with a formal qualification of at least Level IV in the National Qualifications Framework. The Society defines a Registered Member (MHS) as one who has demonstrated to the Society, not only those criteria relevant to Licentiate Membership, but also at least two years’ experience of professional practice under supervision.
Ethical code: HS code of ethics
Aims: To raise the standards of Hypnotherapy in the UK in every possible way. To maintain a Common Code of Ethics and Practice and a Complaints and Disciplinary Procedure to deal with complaints from any source. To encourage high training standards and to move towards nationally recognised qualifications in Hypnotherapy. To encourage links with other interested organisations and professions. To provide a professional and unequalled service to its members, the public, the media, and affiliates. To promote within the profession, the dissemination of information about Hypnotherapy through its Journal, Seminars and Conferences.
Membership criteria: When you apply to become a full member of the NCH, we ask you to show us that you have the knowledge, skills and understanding to be a competent, ethical and caring professional hypnotherapist. All joining Full Members are therefore required to hold the Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma (HPD). Full membership of the NCH entitles you to all the benefits of being a member of the NCH, including: A listing in our online Therapist Finder, Subscription to The Hypnotherapy Journal, Preferential Insurance rates, Participation in NCH national events, Permission to use our name, logo and the letters of your assigned membership grade, Member rates for CPD, and the NCH Annual Conference, Support and protection for you and your practice, Full Voting rights within the NCH. Student membership of the NCH is available to students currently enrolled in an accredited hypnotherapy training course. Associate membership of the NCH is available to anyone with an interest in Hypnotherapy.
Ethical code: NCH code of ethics