How to Become a Hypnotherapist: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a hypnotherapist. Research the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in hypnotherapy. View article »

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Hypnotherapist?

Hypnosis is a therapeutic practice that may be used within behavioral medicine, dentistry, traditional medicine and psychotherapy. Substance abuse counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists and social workers comprise just some of the practitioners who may use this treatment modality.

These therapists employ a variety of techniques to work with the subconscious mind through focused relaxation. This practice has been used to address issues such as behavior modification, relief from nausea, pain control and self-image enhancement. Self-employed professionals may incur large expenses to set up their businesses, and a great deal of time and effort might be necessary to locate new clients. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median annual salary of $74,710 for health diagnosing and treating practitioners in May 2015.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Varies by position; bachelor's, master's, doctoral and/or medical degree
Degree Field Behavioral medicine, dentistry, traditional medicine, counseling, nursing, psychotherapy, psychiatry, social work
Licensure and Certification State medical license and registration required for some positions; required and voluntary national certification options available
Experience Varies by position
Key Skills Ability to build rapport, create an appropriate environment, interview prospective and current patients, strong written and verbal communication skills, knowledge of confidentially policies and any related medical techniques
Salary $74,710 (2015 median for all other health diagnosing and treating practitioners)

Sources: The National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists, The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, The American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The requirements to work as a hypnotherapist vary based on your desired career path. You may need a bachelor's, master's, doctoral and/or medical degree in behavioral medicine, dentistry, traditional medicine, counseling, nursing, psychotherapy, psychiatry or social work. If you are working as a doctor, you'll also be required to hold a medical license. There are also some required and voluntary national certification options available. Experience requirements also vary based on career path. Skills you'll need include the ability to build rapport, create an appropriate environment, interview prospective and current patients, strong written and verbal communication skills and knowledge of confidentiality policies and any related medical techniques.

Steps to Become a Hypnotherapist

Let's go over what steps you'll take to become a hypnotherapist.

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree

Although educational requirements vary based on the specific position, professional opportunities may increase for those who hold degrees. Bachelor's degree programs in this and related fields are intended to provide a foundation for further training in the theory and practice of mental health and other clinical professions. Since most professionals using hypnotherapy as part of their treatment protocols have advanced degrees, completing a bachelor's degree in social work, psychology, nursing or a similar discipline is often the first step.

Success Tip

Graduate from an accredited institution. The National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists (NBCCH) stresses the importance of graduating from an institution recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Step 2: Obtain a Graduate Degree

In order to apply for NBCCH certification, prospective practitioners need to have a master's degree. In some cases, however, the NBCCH states a doctoral or medical degree may be required. Students also need to complete 60 hours of hypnosis coursework, including supervised practice. Since graduate programs in medicine and mental health focus on clinical theory and application, students receive on-site training with clients and patients to assist with gaining valuable clinical experience.

Success Tip

Choose a specialty. According to the ASPH, choosing a specialty is one way to develop a professional practice and confidence. Just a few areas of specialization include athletic enhancement, cancer support, grief support, memory and recall, phobias, past life regression, sleep issues, smoking cessation and weight control.

Step 3: Gain Clinical Experience

Furthering a career in the mental health and medical fields requires gaining solid clinical experience. The NBCCH states that after completing a medical residency or other graduate program, hospital and mental health internships and fellowships may assist with gaining relevant experience. These programs are intended to assist practitioners with their chosen specialties, including therapeutic applications for hypnosis and hypnotherapy. In addition, clinical experience is usually required to obtain state licensure or certification.

Success Tips

Begin the certification process early. Prospective hypnotherapists who have completed a minimum of 30 hours of training may begin the certification process, according to the NBCCH. While other requirements still need to be met, meeting this eligibility will be documented.

Earn continued education hours. The American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists (AAPH) states that hypnotherapy schools tend to provide opportunities to gain experience. This can assist with obtaining certification hours as well as expand knowledge of the field.

Step 4: Become Licensed or Certified

According to the AAPH, some states make clear distinctions between hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and medical practice for legal purposes. If a hypnotherapist isn't a state-licensed medical professional, then they may not claim to diagnose illnesses, conditions or practice medicine. In the states of Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana and Washington, for example, a hypnotherapist needs to be state registered. California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Utah also have specific state and local requirements. Some states, such as California, require a practitioner who touches their clients to obtain a license as a massage practitioner.

For certification, prospective hypnotherapists may consider options like the National Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist (NBCCH), National Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist in Public Service (NBCCH-PS) and National Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Hypnotherapy (NBCDCH) credentials offered by the NBCCH. There are also national certification options related to specific fields, such as social work, psychiatry and neurology, sleep medicine and pastoral counseling.

Success Tip

Review state guidelines. State regulations tend to vary, and some states may not require licenses. Before pursuing a position or opening a private practice, it's important to review the state regulations.

Step 5: Keep Certification or Licensure Current

For states or positions that require licensure or certification, it can be necessary to meet continuing education requirements. This can include attention classes, seminars or sitting for an exam. Hypnotherapists who do not yet hold certification from the NBCCH may want to consider this route, as the NBCCH indicates that due to increased use of hypnotherapy, this credential may assist with demonstrating professionalism and career advancement.

To become a hypnotherapist, you'll need to acquire a college degree and gain relevant experience. You may also need a medical license, depending on your chosen career path.

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