Hypnotherapist and Hypnotist: What is the Difference?

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This is a question I have been asked many times in my career as a Clinical Hypnotherapist.  As a prerequisite to becoming a clinical hypnotherapist, I had to acquire my Hypnotist and Master Hypnotist certifications; I therefore feel I can answer this question with insight and accuracy.  As well, after working with both a hypnotist and a competent regression-to-cause hypnotherapist, many people agree that there is a huge difference, not only in the approach taken to resolve presenting issues, but in the results, especially if one is trying to dissolve the root-cause of the anxiety and other emotional struggles they present with.  

Hypnotherapy a safe, effective self-healing modality

Hypnotherapy for Emotional Issues Highly Effective

Hypnosis (the auto-pilot, daydreaming state) by itself is unlikely to cause a relief of issues permanently. It is the ‘therapy’ carried out during that altered state of awareness referred to as hypnosis that is significant. Therefore, the more qualified and competent the hypnotherapy practitioner, the more work that can get done at the subconscious level to facilitate the changes desired.  It is not enough to ‘read’ to the subconscious mind ones desires and expect permanent change.  Without first dissolving the underlying unproductive belief system first, changes are often not experienced or are not permanent.  In a future post, I will talk about the importance of identifying and dissolving the root cause of that symptom.  Symptoms can be smoking, excess drinking, nail biting, rage and so on.

There are considerable differences between a Hypnotist (includes Consulting Hypnotist, Certified Hypnotist, Stage Hypnotist, Forensic Hypnotist, etc) and a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist in terms of training, competency and effectiveness for subconscious healing of clients.  A Hypnotist is someone who has learned (from books, on-line, week-end courses and/or 50-60 hour courses) how to induce the hypnotic state in a willing person.  Some hypnotists go on to entertainment, others to do forensic work, others guided imagery and relaxation work.  Others, like myself, go on to master hypnotic techniques and eventually to do regression hypnotherapy in clinical settings.

A legitimate Hypnotherapist is a Master Hypnotist who has spent many more hours training in self-identification, regression, root-cause, release and re-learning techniques.  While some hypnotists refer to themselves as hypnotherapists and I have seen, recently, some hypnotists jumping right to the title Clinical Hypnotherapist without a single iota of additional training beyond basic Hypnotist.  Clients certainly see the difference in results.

I think the best description I have ever come across for ‘Clinical Hypnotherapist’ is from Dr. Fred Janke.  Certainly he makes the distinction between Hypnotist and Clinical Hypnotherapist clear:


A clinical hypnotherapist is someone who has been trained in using the art of hypnosis together with therapeutic intervention to bring about improvement or healing in a variety clinical conditions and negative behaviours.  This is much more complex than simple deep relaxation and requires sophisticated training in a variety of therapeutic protocols.  A well trained hypnotherapist will be able to apply knowledge and training to establish and manage the subconscious “root cause” of negative behaviours such as fears, phobias, anxieties and addictions.  A well trained hypnotherapist will be trained to identify and contend with resistance to change.  The therapist will be equally able to intervene and benefit a patient in matters of acute and chronic pain as well as assisting in a variety of medical and surgical procedures, including maternity care and childbirth.  The hypnotherapist will be able to affect the over-all well being of a patient including interventions that improve post-operative wound healing and even be able to impact the healing and pain of complicated individuals such as burn patients.  A clinical hypnotherapist therefore needs to have training that is high-level and erudite.  The training should include the opportunity for an adequate amount of hands-on supervised experience and should be followed up with refined and mature mentorship.   Thus a clinical hypnotherapist, trained in clinical intervention, is very much more than a simple hypnotist.

Dr. Fred H Janke
B.Sc, M.Sc, M.D., F.C.F.P., F.R.R.M.S
Associate Professor and Director Rural Programs
Department of Family Medicine, University of Alberta
205 – College Plaza
Edmonton, Alberta   T6G 2C8
Tel.   780-248-1116
Fax   780-492-8191

As in all professions, some ‘credentials’, diplomas, ‘ doctor titles’, ‘Ph.Ds’, etc are acquired through on-line, questionable and usually unaccredited ‘Universities’ and ‘Colleges’.  In fact, in some cases, just as in many professions, some people simple call themselves whatever they feel will attract clients, without regard to the fact that people who seek hypnotherapy are typically feeling very vulnerable and certainly cannot afford to be a victim of someone who is simply exaggerating their credentials.

You may see Doctors of Divinity, Doctors of Metaphysics, Doctors of Hypnosis, Ph.D or some using Dr. attached to their names when they are not medical doctors, all of which can be a misleading exaggeration of their true level of competency as a Hypnotherapist.  If you come across such ‘credentials’ do not presume Dr. means medical doctor, etc .  Be certain to ask where they obtained their degrees and credentials and do a little ‘clicking’ to research their background.  If you see CCHt (Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist) be sure to demand to know where they obtained their certification if it is not clearly listed on their website for you to confirm, as more often then not, they do not have any.

Some psychiatrists, medical doctors and psychologists learn basic hypnosis while still relying on therapist-identified model of treatment of the client’s problems because that is exactly what they are trained to do, which of course is not client-centered therapy as done by genuine Hypnotherapists. 

A competent, qualified hypnotherapist should be able to show you clearly where they received their training in regression-to-cause techniques, which is an important skill in being able to resolve root-causes of emotional struggles and mental illnesses.  Be picky!  Your wellness depends on good leadership, transparency, skill and honorable intention.


Other articles you may be interested in:
How to Assist Your Hypnotherapist
A Successful Smoking Cessation Approach: Stop Smoking Sensibly!


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  1. Hypnotherapy Sydney  August 16, 2013

    It contains truly information.

  2. Grace Joubarne
    Grace Joubarne  August 16, 2013

    I notice you are a colleague…thanks for dropping by! We need to work harder as a group to get the word out that hypnotherapy is by far the better bet for all emotional issues and mental distress…safer, dignified and effective.


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