I am ringing in the New Year with a revision to my hypnotism certificate, issued by the National Guild of Hypnotists. Thanks to a recent column in The Journal of Hypnotism, “Legislative and Governmental Concerns” by the Rev. C. Scot Giles, DNGH, I am phasing out the terms “hypnotherapist” and “hypnotherapy” and replacing them with “consulting hypnotist,” “hypnotism,” and “non-therapeutic hypnotism” (or hypnosis).

Apparently, California is one of the few states which still permits professional hypnotists to use the terms “hypnotherapy” and “hypnotherapist.” The national trend has been toward the title “consulting hypnotist” (and a few other variations) for those hypnosis practitioners who are otherwise not licensed pyschotherapists, licensed clinical social workers, or licensed professional counselors. Some people disregard references to hypnotism altogether and practice variations, such as “guided imagery” or NLP (neurolinguistic programming).

The issues surrounding this terminology have to do with defining and maintaining the proper practice boundaries. People should not present themselves as therapists (who are licensed) or as doing therapy (if they are not trained and licensed for this work). The thinking is that words like “hypnotherapist” and “hypnotherapy” can be misleading and the licensed professionals have concerns about this (as do the consulting hypnotists!), even though no one expects pyschoanalysis from a massage therapist or an aromatherapist!

In California, professional hypnotists are required to publish a disclaimer to alert clients and consumers to this distinction. Here is mine:

“As required by California Business and Professions code, sections 2051, 2052, and 2053, specifically 2053.5, the following information is provided:

Nothing in this web site is intended to hold out, state, indicate or imply that Amy Marsh is a physician, a surgeon, or a physician and surgeon. Consulting Hypnotists or Hypnotherapists are not licensed by the State of California and are not medical practitioners. Coaching and problem management through consulting hypnotism (also called hypnotherapy in the State of California) is complementary to healing art services licensed by the state. The hypnotist does not diagnose, cure, or treat in any way, medical conditions, illnesses, or diseases. Consulting hypnotism is not the practice of medicine, psychology, psychiatry, or licensed professional counseling, and is not in any way intended to be a replacement for diagnosis or treatment of any complaint or ailment. Persons with mental disabilities or mental illnesses should seek psychiatric care.”

Today I replaced the words “hypnotherapy” and “hypnotherapist”  in my disclaimer as well as throughout my websites and numerous profiles, internet listings, blogs, etc. Based on the column by Giles, it seemed the prudent thing to do. I also called the National Guild of Hypnotists to order a new certificate to replace the old “certified hypnotherapist” one. We are allowed – in fact, we are encouraged! – to do this. I also took a look at any terminology which may be questionable, and did my best to root out words like “trauma” and “anxiety.” Though these words are in common parlance, and are used casually and informally by lay people and practitioners alike, the National Guild of Hypnotists also cautions us to avoid any terms which may seem to trespass on licensed therapeutic turf.

The work is not quite over. I got a lot done today, with help from my marketing intern. However, I am sure that over the next couple of weeks, there will be a few more things to revise. In the meantime, I want to assure my readers that my practice continues (as always) to combine clinical sexology (sex counseling, coaching, and education) with non-therapeutic hypnotism, as described by guidelines of the National Guild of Hypnotists.

Truly, a hypnotherapist by any other name is probably in better shape…