Blog Post

What you Need to Know Before Choosing a Hypnotherapist

The following case histories highlight the main reasons why consumers need to be very careful when choosing a hypnotherapist.

The Gainesville Sun reported on the story of 64-year-old hypnotherapist Robert Andrew Nichols who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for having sex with a client.

“This man has tainted my life. Not only by the painful vivid memories of coerced romantic and sexual situations, but also by the exacerbation of disease and mental illness that remains,” the victim wrote.

The New York Post is reporting on the story of Robert Bruckner, 55, of Randolph, New Jersey, a self-described "master hypnotist" who told clients they needed prostrate exams, then sexually assaulted them. He was charged with practicing medicine without a license, endangering the welfare of a child, and sexual assault. reported on the story of a hypnotist named James Graham, 57, who was charged with five counts of sexual assault and two counts of uttering death threats involving two females, both in their 50's.

These are just a few of the cases - all of which occurred within the last two years - that came up with a simple Google search of "hypnotist sentenced."

The openness to suggestion and subsequent behavioral implications of hypnosis has proven to be an irresistible temptation to a variety of charlatans for many years. Unlike its legitimate medical uses, hypnosis can be very damaging when used improperly such as in the cases described as well as by those who use it as a stage show. In fact, use of hypnosis as entertainment has been banned in several nations because of the danger of adverse posthypnotic reactions.

This is why the Catholic Church has warned – but not condemned - the use of hypnotism by the faithful. According to a June 2, 1840 Vatican document, “She has condemned only abuses, leaving the way free for scientific research. ‘The use of magnetism, that is to say, the mere act of employing physical means otherwise permissible, is not morally forbidden, provided that it does not tend to an illicit end or one which may be in any manner evil.’”

Because hypnosis is not regulated in most states, consumers should select a licensed (not certified as Patton claims to be) hypnotherapist, which is a person who has medical, psychological, dental or other professional health care training.

The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis explains: “A lay hypnotherapist may be certified and claim to have received 200 or more hours of training, but licensed health care professionals typically have seven to nine years of university coursework, plus additional supervised training in internship and residency programs. Their hypnosis training is in addition to their medical psychological, dental or social work training. Careful questioning can help you avoid a lay hypnotist who may engage in fraudulent or unethical practices." [emphasis added]

A potential hypnotherapist should be asked if they are 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.

There are only two nationally recognized organizations for licensed health care professionals using hypnosis in the U.S.: the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.

To find a qualified hypnotist near you, visit their websites at or

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