This weekend it all begins…

Yes indeed, weekend one for my latest Hypnotherapy Diploma course.

I love running my training courses. There is a slight and certain something that silently niggles away at me when preparing for my extensive hypnotherapy diploma course though.

The governing bodies that approve my hypnotherapy course and offer my delegates membership and subsequent insurance have certain aspects of the subject that they require to be included in the course content. In line with occupational standards.

Indeed, this is a good thing, it means that minimum standards are met and any old training school can not be accredited without attaining correct standards and curriculum content.

One particular thing I have to include is advising my students what the ‘Contraindications of Hypnosis’ are… This is my niggle.

Please, let me know if I am mistaken… There has never been a case of anyone being harmed by hypnosis. Hypnosis per sé that is. Of course, in the wrong hands and done with the wrong intentions, hypnosis could indeed be problematic. Hypnosis in and of itself though, does not offer much that can harm someone.

Paul Mckenna had a claim made in court, nothing came of it. It was proven in court that hypnosis is a nonstate and the application of how hypnosis was used came under scrutiny not hypnosis itself.

As far as I am aware, no other claim has ever (in history) been made, let alone successfully made!

So here is what I tell my students to begin with:

  • At this stage avoid anyone who you don’t feel comfortable working with.
  • Avoid anyone who may abreact — maybe you sense their emotions are close to the surface.
  • Do not work with anyone with severe psychological disorders (for now)
  • Do not work with anyone under the influence of recreational drugs or alcohol.

Hypnosis carries very few risks. Hypnosis may be contraindicated for individuals with certain medical problems, or who are actively abusing drugs or alcohol, or who are delusional or hallucinatory.

Hypnosis and hypnotherapy traditionally deals with neurotic disorder and neuroses.

A lot of (some think all) illnesses or issues that are classified as psychotic disorders are traditionally not dealt with using hypnosis and are considered to be contraindicated. This includes people with delusional/hallucinatory disorders such as schizophrenia and psychoses of varying types. Worth consulting your DSM for further information on these!

People with pathological personality disorders are considered to be contraindicated for hypnotherapy and those with drug or alcohol psychosis and people with dementia or senility as well as individuals with suicidal tendencies – all of which in the first place need to be referred to their doctor and ideally a psychiatrist.

Then also, we cannot make claims to be able to cure cancer or other diseases, such as Parkinson’s, though we can help with some symptoms on occasion. People with severe heart disorders and epilepsy may also be contraindicated due to physiological changes that could potentially occur while hypnotised.

There is a huge amount of evidence to support the use of hypnosis for overcoming pain. Though hypnosis should not be used for physical problems, such as pain, unless the client has first consulted a physician to determine underlying physical causes. Pain is there for a reason and needs to be dealt with, not just have the perception of that pain obscured with hypnosis.

Of course, it is not a good idea to try to induce hypnosis in a patient who does not want it. One should not use hypnosis to try to achieve goals other than the patient’s wishes. Generally, it would be difficult, near on impossible, to use hypnosis in this way. However, there have been reports of manipulation of ambivalent patients in hypnotherapy and other forms of therapy.

Here is the official line many schools go by:

Palmer and Dryden (1995) caution against using hypnosis if the client is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Hypnosis is contraindicated in clients suffering from severe psychiatric disorders. It is not recommended for hysterical and conversion reaction symptoms unless the client is also receiving therapy to resolve any underlying conflicts. In addition to that which I wrote previously, Palmer and Dryden also suggest that care needs to be taken when using hypnosis with clients who suffer from asthma, epilepsy or narcolepsy as hypnosis (or other forms of relaxation) may in rare cases exacerbate the condition.

Officially, hypnosis is not suitable for:

  • Individuals suffering from dementia
  • Individuals with psychotic disorders
  • Very young children
  • Drug addicts
  • Anybody evidently under the influence of alcohol
  • ‘Educationally challenged’ individuals
  • Anybody with comprehension difficulties
  • The main reason in all cases is the inability to properly interact and establish effective rapport.

Unofficially, I have worked with people slotting into many of the above groups with the permission of their psychiatrist or doctor and under specialist circumstances on occasion – and helped them to great effect. To make sure, this has always been with proper medical advice, consent and supervision.

So when people ask me about the contraindications to hypnosis… That is exactly what I say.