(The Path to Success and Acceptance)


Philip Holder, PhD.

copyright Philip Holder, PhD. 2005


So you want the public to see you as a true “PROFESSIONAL”. Perhaps some of my observations and opinions will give you food for thought. Maybe I can inspire you to look deeper into what causes the general public to view a profession as being legitimate. Perhaps you have some ideas that are even better than mine. If so, I would love to hear them. Whatever the case, I prefer “not” to be a big fish in a little pond. I am not at all satisfied with only the people in the complementary wellness fields seeing the value in hypnotherapy. I want every man woman and child on the planet to view our profession with trust and respect.


For hypnotherapy to become a mainstream therapy in the eyes of the public it is incumbent upon each therapist to represent the profession in a positive light. The image of hypnotherapy in the public arena is 99 percent dependant on the behavior of its practitioners and the quality of our training programs. A professional appearance, a pleasant demeanor, and a neat clean office are important, however, the most important ingredient is the behavior of the people within the profession. It is only by gaining the trust and respect of the public that hypnotherapy can rise to a level that it deserves.

Throughout history the medical and complementary modalities have had to earn their place in the public arena by gaining public trust. This was done through credible research and development, ethical standards and through word of mouth as patients and clients told their friends of their successes and their comfort level with that modality. What would you like the public to say about you? Of even greater importance, what do you want them to say about your profession? When you tell people that you are a hypnotist or hypnotherapist would you rather they respond with, “That’s great! I hear that you guys have a great success record”. Or do you want people to reply, “Can you make my friend quack like a duck”. The choice is really ours. What they say will be a product of our own behavior and level of credibility.


I was speaking with a colleague who is trying to increase his practice. He shared with me that although he diligently places literature and fliers wherever he is allowed, he often finds that a significant percentage of the time, other hypnotherapists tear down his posters replacing them with their own. In one recent case a competing hypnotherapist placed her literature directly on top of his… Not once but several times.

When he told me about this one thing came to mind for me. I couldn’t help but think how selfish and insecure the person who took down the posters must be. That person’s actions showed a complete lack of confidence that she could compete in a free and open marketplace. If showed that she would rather sabotage the efforts of a college rather than work to develop her own skills. That behavior shows a shallow and self-centered personality that frankly doesn’t belong in a profession that is attempting to move into mainstream society and that is designed to help people. My father used to have a saying. “The people rocking the boat are usually the ones too lazy to pick up the oars and row”


Those who are confident in their abilities don’t feel jealous of others. They aren’t afraid of competition and they don’t begrudge the successes of others. In fact the opposite is true. True professionals who are confident in their abilities celebrate the successes of colleagues. The greater the numbers of competent and professional therapists in the profession, the sooner hypnotherapy will be accepted as a normal, mainstream modality. Look at chiropractic. Only 25 or 30 years ago most people thought that chiropractors were all quacks. Today there are dozens of chiropractors in even small cities and towns. Furthermore, there are plenty of patients for all of them… Why? It is because the public is familiar with chiropractic and they view it as a legitimate profession they can trust.


I teach hypnotherapy certification courses year around. I was asked recently, “Doesn’t it worry you that you’re developing all of these people that will become your competitors”. My response was, “I have no competitors, only colleagues”. Some people will prefer me. Some people will prefer someone else. The important thing to me is that my students be competent, successful, and represent the profession in a positive way. As more hypnotherapists of quality open their practices, the public will increasingly grow to trust us and utilize our services. That means more business for everyone. Every one of your “competent” colleagues is really a walking advertisement for you and for the rest of us, so… Wish your fellow practitioners well. Help them to succeed whenever you can. This is truly a case where by helping others you are helping yourself.


It is also important that the public feel confident that the hypnotherapist they select is well trained and competent. Quality training programs are not only beneficial from the standpoint of producing competent hypnotherapists. Public awareness that hypnotists and hypnotherapists have a reasonable level of structured training helps to instill public confidence.

At Master’s Center, for example, our certification program is currently 200 hours plus additional home study. Most students end up putting in between 250 to 300 hours by the time they complete the program. Frankly, I (as do many of my fellow trainers) believe that 1000 to 1500 hours would be more appropriate in order to include all the materials that are necessary to produce a competent practitioner. Why don’t we do that you ask… That is simple. With all of the quickie one-weekend courses available (often recognized only by the office providing the instruction) it is simply not realistic to have a 1000 hour course. At this time, to require 1000 or more hours would simply cause the majority of students to flee to the two-day/weekend quickie programs. The alternative that we have chosen is to stay at the high end and to continuously grow and develop our program. In doing so we provide a venue for those who are willing to put in more time and effort, while at the same time, not putting ourselves out of business by being uncompetitive in terms of time and cost (which would benefit no one).


I have a dream for the future of hypnotherapy training. More importantly I have actively manifested that dream in real and practical terms. I would like to share with you some of the things that we have done that might be helpful to you. Although our actual program structure is copyrighted and trademarked, I invite all to share in the arena of ideas and hopefully benefit from these ideas, principles and concepts. Perhaps you will carry it a step further. The future of our profession is in your hands.


First and foremost we must police ourselves or we are inviting others to police us. That means that the graduates that any trainer sends into the field must have a high level of training including all areas of therapy and practice management skills. Please think about the following criteria that I believe are important to any training program if we are ever to truly mainstream.

  1. A well structured program:

I recently had a student of hypnotherapy (training in program other than ours) who called to ask me some questions that he thought he was not getting the answers to through his current program. When I asked him how many hours the program he was taking was, he didn’t know. He said that he went to class each week for a couple of hours and that there was no real format to the training, his instructor would just teach him about hypnosis when he went to class. There were no exams, no curriculum and no real structure. Want hypnotherapy to stay in the shadows? That’s the way to do it.

I am not advocating unilateral control of hypnotherapy by one faction or another but there certainly needs to be a well structured minimum training standard established as to hours, mandating certain core material, and requiring proof that the graduate understands the material (exams). Records need to be kept and there should be requirements for continuing Ed. For practitioners in their first couple of years of practice, a modest number of hours of supervision by a more experienced practitioner should be included. These are the things that will give the public faith that we are in fact “Professionals”.

For example, we at Master’s Center do our program in a 4-phase or module model. Each phase has a specific training purpose. Phase one, for example, is primarily aimed at teaching a student the core principles of hypnosis, history, an understanding of the various methodologies and approaches to hypnotherapy, to induce hypnosis and to make direct suggestion. Each subsequent phase as well has a specific purpose. The final phase is a practicum where students conduct actual sessions with volunteer subjects under the supervision of myself and other experienced hypnotherapists. We meet periodically in a conference room to answer student questions and to offer suggestions that will help the student in conducting more powerful sessions. Each Phase has intent and purpose and is well structured with a plan to follow and periodic exams to evaluate progress. A transcript is kept for each student.

  1. Inclusion of topics that every student will find indispensable.


Understanding the development of hypnosis, its growth, and its various schools of thought helps provide a greater depth to the student’s understanding of hypnosis.

Theory Concept and Principles:

To grow and develop after graduation it is important that a program teach students to understand the core scientific principles behind hypnosis. If graduates merely regurgitate an induction or mimic their instructor, he or she will likely never grow to be much better when they left class. With a true understanding of these core principles the sky is the limit in their growth.

Pre-Talk Skills:

Client preparation will represent 90% of the success. A well educated client who feels safe, secure and confident in the process will succeed. Students must understand the principles of a thorough pre-talk.

Intake Skills:

It is during the intake that a hypnotherapist gathers the information he or she needs to structure suggestions tailor made to the clients needs. Without this skill the hypnotherapist will likely be relegated to using generic scripts that fail to target the specifics of a client’s motivators, reward system, and needs.

Counseling Skills:

Unless otherwise credentialed a hypnotist or hypnotherapist is not a mental health counselor, however, understanding the basics of counseling can be of tremendous value in conducting your pre-talk, intake, and in structuring suggestions specifically tailored the client’s needs. That’s why we have incorporated a counseling module into our training program.

Practice Management:

Even if a person is the most gifted hypnotherapist in the world, it won’t help anyone if he or she can’t stay in business. Knowing phone, marketing, time management and organizational skills is as important to maintaining a practice as the therapy sessions themselves.

  1. A traceable training sequence including exams and a student transcript.

There must be a curriculum that is well thought out, up to date, and easy to follow. It becomes the student’s road map to success.

  1. Supervision:

Virtually every profession requires some type of supervision. This provides younger practitioners the opportunity to grow and to benefit from the mentoring of more experienced practitioners. Why would we as hypnotherapists thing that we somehow are the exceptions or above that rule.

  1. After Graduation Support:

Completing training isn’t the end of learning. It is more so the beginning of the learning process. For this reason we offer graduating students 1 year of free consultations (2 hours per month). This safety net is important in helping new therapists to get off on the right foot, knowing that they have help and advice when they need it. For one year after graduation from our program the new hypnotherapists can call with questions about problem clients, practice management questions, or about any other challenge they may encounter. It is our position that this strengthens not only the new therapist but the profession as a whole.


When it comes to interacting with the medical community, the psychological community etc., it is important that we build bridges not walls. If a client comes to us that would be better served by a medical professional then it is our obligation to refer them out. A hypnotist or hypnotherapist should never dispense medical advice or recommend that a person should not see their medical provider. We should instead work hand and hand with the medical community and avoid silly turf wars. In doing so we are far more likely to develop friends (rather than adversaries) in these other professions. More importantly the client’s best interests are served. The final decision has to be theirs as to their care.


We and other people within our relatively small complementary wellness bubble accept and understand hypnosis. The general public at large does not. It is important that the public recognize that hypnosis is 90% science, 10% art and 0% mysticism. If we truly want people to forget about the quacking ducks and view us with confidence and respect we ourselves must set the bar higher. Better we elevate ourselves, than to give ammunition to those who would just as soon see us banned. Take pride in what you do and always set your sights on excellence. This will not come easy. It will take time, hard work, and a willingness to demand more of ourselves. The reward will be the professional respect that we will have earned through our willingness to be our very best.

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