Hypnotherapy is self-regulated in the UK and practitioners are represented by a many different societies and associations. Each accrediting body has a different mission and membership criteria. Some organisations believe hypnosis is a tool that should be only used by medical professionals like nurses, doctors, dentists or trained clinical psychologists. Other bodies argue hypnosis is a therapy in its own right, and so don't require their members to hold any particular qualifications in physical or mental health.
This is an important distiction when choosing a course, or when searching for a hypnosis practitioner. Make sure you choose a qualified hypnotherapist with a solid healthcare background. Here's what the NHS recommends
Societies which believe that hypnosis is a therapy in its own right and which do not require prior professional qualification.
These 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)
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:
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)