Improving professional standards
is clearly now the wish and goal of the vast majority of practising hypnotherapists.
There is a widespread recognition that standards
must continue to rise if the profession is to gain increased acceptance
It is part of the long, difficult path towards
Like so much else however, it is easier to
state the ambition than describe the solution.
One, standardised examination for all UK hypnotherapists
is probably part of the answer, and so would a single register for the
Neither of those is within sight at the moment
however and requires a unity of purpose which has evaded hypnotherapy
However there are steps which individual therapists
and associations such as the BSCH can start taking right away. One such
issue is the question of professional supervision.
Too often, once a student has completed his
or her training, passed the exams, nailed the diploma to the wall and
started practising, the supervision experienced during tuition comes to
Of course many professional hypnotherapists
do undergo supervision of one form or another, recognising it as an important
element in their professional life. Unfortunately however many others
Though happily signing-up for master classes
and weekend courses, they continue their day-to-day therapy without the
oversight or help of a professional colleague.
It is a situation others, in related fields
such as counselling, find unprofessional and unacceptable. Within counselling
and most areas of psychotherapy there is a general obligation to receive
supervision as an ongoing part of professional development.
Classically, formal supervision means planned
regular meetings between the supervisor and the supervisee discussing
the supervisee's work and learning progress.
This usually involves a written contract between
the supervisor and the supervisee describing such issues as costs, ethics
and the regularity of meetings.
There is though an alternative, informal model
which hypnotherapists might consider as a first step – peer supervision.
So if you are not currently receiving supervision, this could be the option
for you. It does not mean simply sitting down with a friend or two for
a cosy chat about case notes every so often. Instead peer or group supervision
should be formalised sufficiently to offer an opportunity for hypnotherapists
to work in a small group at which each member brings details of his or
her work for discussion and examination by colleagues.
The group should choose a chair or moderator
to oversee the sessions. Ideally members of the group should be of comparable
experience and training. Inevitably though this will not always be possible.
Even when there is clear disparity within
a group it will still provide a number of important benefits for the individual
therapist, not least a support system, which can help ensure, he or she
keeps within their area of competence.
As important it provides an added safeguard
for clients that they will receive ethical treatment.
How large - or small - these groups should
be will depend on local factors, particularly the availability and willingness
of local colleagues to get together.
Some might object to therapists who are friends
as well as colleagues or who may work together in some form of partnership
being in the same group, however the author can see no compelling reason
why that should be a bar. In fact, in some parts of the country, to insist
on group members not having social or business links would rule out the
Whatever the size of the group, the role
should include evaluating performance and conducting individual case reviews.
The overall aim - to assist each member of
the group to offer their services competently in ways which meet their
clients' needs. This can also mean the group considering whether a therapist
is working within the limits of his or her professional training and experience.
As most readers will realise, there will be
times when a hypnotherapists is confronted by difficult ethical or even
moral dilemmas, when there are competing obligations. Though there may
be a reluctance to bring these cases to a peer group review, those who
have the courage to do so are likely to find the analysis brought to a
difficult situation by colleagues is especially valuable.
There should be a spirit of mutual respect
within the group so as to maintain good working relationships and systems
of communication that enhance services to clients at all times.
Obviously though each member of the group
must be prepared to accept critical assessments as well as offering reasoned
assessments on others within the group.
So how often, and for how long, should a peer
group meet? And what happens if one member constantly fails to turn up?
Ideally groups should arrange to meet once
a month. In practice however this may well be more honoured in the breach
than in the observance. Each meeting should last for a minimum of one
hour. The benefits are likely to last throughout one's career.