Training in Hypnosis

Being an early career psychologist (and a graduate student not so long ago), I encounter many  budding therapists who are eager to learn hypnosis and incorporate it into their therapeutic toolbox. Finding appropriate training, if one does not know what to look for, can be a daunting task. Hypnosis, in itself, is not that difficult to learn. If one simply wishes to perform a hypnotic induction and assess whether one is capable of experiencing different phenomena, then one need not look further than YouTube or a cursory glance at a website or two. However, using it effectively and safely to help people in therapy requires much more. Ernest Hilgard said it best: “Hypnosis is a technique, like using a stethoscope, and what you do with it is more important than the routine skill.”

Many people and organizations offer such training. However, what is considered appropriate training is a matter of who is asked and somewhat political. Many psychologists in Division 30 have been trained by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (or its local components), the Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, or the International Society of Hypnosis. They often take form in workshops offered at meetings of each respective organization. The basic certification workshop takes place over several days, and it is not possible to offer it in the single-day pre-convention workshop of the American Psychological Association.

When Division 30 ran a workshop a few years ago to teach an introduction to hypnosis, participants were encouraged to find their respective local organizations that would offer them the further appropriate training. I have no data about how many continued to use hypnosis following that workshop, but I would bet that the knowledge gained from it is not as deep as that in those who obtained training elsewhere. Thus, I feel that the APA pre-convention workshop format, as it currently exists, is not sufficient for the needs of Division 30. I would like to see a type of pre-convention workshop that would go on over several days that could offer attendees the ability to at least obtain the basic certification level that is offered by the other organizations with whom Division 30 has an informal collaboration.

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