We have had several questions in the past about Hypnobirthing® and Hypnobabies, which are programs that employ hypnosis during childbirth. Some are good, and some are bad. Here’s what I found out.
HypnoBirthing® is not New Age. It uses the Mongon method of hypnosis/childbirth and was founded by Marie Mongon of the HypnoBirthing® Institute in New Hampshire. Ms. Mongon is a lay hypnotist who is licensed as a counselor, not as a hypnotist, by the State of New Hampshire. She is certified as a hypnotherapist, hypnoanesthesiologist, and instructor of hypnotherapy.
Even though she lacks medical credentials, many of her associates are MDs and other healthcare professionals.
HypnoBirthing® is based on the work of an obstetrician, Dr. Grantly Dick-Read (author of Childbirth Without Fear, 1944) which teaches women how to understand and release what is called the “Fear-Tension-Pain Syndrome” which is often the cause of pain during childbirth. The hypnotic techniques used bring the woman into a trance-like state similar to that of reading a book or staring at a campfire. They are able to be alert and yet remain very focused and calm during the birthing experience.
However, it should come as no surprise that the New Age has thoroughly invaded the field of hypnosis as well as in the area of hypnobirthing and the perfect example of this is Hypnobabies, which was founded by a lay hypnotist named Kerry Tuschhoff who teaches “Gerald Klein’s famous Painless Childbirth techniques.”
Klein is extremely problematic. He’s the director of the Omni Hypnosis Training Center in DeLand, FL which offers certification in hypnosis. One of his featured talks is Advanced Metaphysical and Ultra Height ® Hypnosis which is described on his website as being designed to, among other things, teach clients to master out of body travel and communicate with spirit guides, to instruct them on channeling while they are in the hypnotic state and to aid clients in developing natural clairvoyant abilities.
Klein is not the only dubious character recommended by Tuschhoff. Her website also offers links to many other “professional” organizations that are distinctly New Age such as the International Hypnosis Federation, which describes itself as being dedicated to supporting “humanistic attitudes” and promoting “enlightenment for all.” Another link recommends the American Board of Hypnotherapy which promotes “accelerated human change technologies including neural linguistic programming.” (Neural linguistic programming is another manifestation of the human potential movement and is a competitor of Landmark (formerly est)).
As far as hypnosis in general is concerned, the Catholic Church has only issued a warning – not a condemnation – about the use of hypnosis. Citing a Response from the Holy Office issued in 1840, the Catholic Encyclopedia states that the Church “has condemned only abuses, leaving the way free for scientific research.”
However, because the use of hypnosis is so ripe for abuse, and because the improper use of hypnosis by ill-trained individuals can cause all kinds of adverse post-hypnotic reactions in people (these can be so bad that some countries have actually banned any public displays of hypnosis) it is strongly recommended that people use only licensed (not just certified) hypnotherapists who have medical, psychological, dental or other professional health care training.
Lay hypnotists receive a certification after completing 200 or more hours of training; licensed health care professionals typically have seven to nine years of university coursework, plus residency programs.
A person should always ask if a potential hypnotherapist is licensed, rather than just certified, by the state in which they are practicing. If they are not legitimately licensed, they probably lack the education required for licensure. The next question would be to ask what their degree is in. If it’s in hypnosis or hypnotherapy, rather than a state-recognized health care profession, the person is a lay hypnotist.
Because this field is so inundated with New Age practitioners, my recommendation is that people interested in the use of hypnosis for any purpose use only licensed health care professionals.
Send your New Age question to firstname.lastname@example.org