So the BBC are taking up the mantle and having a look at the world of hypnotherapy and hypnotherapists… We have seen builders from hell, kitchen staff getting the microscope treatment, rogue traders of various kinds, so I suppose hypnotherapists should expect the same… My issue is that with some of these television shows, they want to point out all the cr@ppy elements and the worrying, anxiety-inducing non-professionals within the field rather than aim to advance it in any way.The public often make subsequent sweeping generalisations about the entire field, rather than know what to look for.

Rather hilariously, the investigation team get their pet cat registered with a professional organisation and set him up as a hypnotherapist! Hahaha… it does show a very poor system of member checking and certification generation, doesn’t it?

For the period of time I was complaints officer for the Hypnotherapy Association, I had some eye-opening experiences I must say. I never once thought this was reflective of the field at large though and I sincerely hope that this show is not going to be one that looks at strangling a profession rather than heightening public education and advising how to find the professionals of a good standard.This could potentially enhance the field instead.

The people being highlighted in the show are no embassadors for the field of hypnotherapy by all accounts, though a good guy, great author and trainer whose work I am aware of, Andy Austin, seems to be representing the professional element of the hypnotherpay field, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does and what he has to say.

Here is what the press release from the BBC has to say about the article:

Next week’s new BBC series of Inside Out lifts the lid on the world of hypnotherapy in the North East of England and shows how easy it is to set yourself up as an “accredited” hypnotherapist with absolutely no qualifications.

In fact, it’s so easy that presenter Chris Jackson is able to register his cat George with several seemingly professional industry organisations. All his cat needed was a fake diploma and the ability to stump up the registration fee.

Inside Out then meets a hypnotist who claims to be able to help people stop smoking.

George McNaney from East Rainton, near Sunderland, is a self-proclaimed “hypnotist to the stars”. George claims an “up to 90 per cent” success rate for treating smokers using hypnotherapy techniques for a one-off payment of £129 – though the most detailed clinical studies report that hypnosis can help only around 20-35 per cent of smokers.

Mr McNaney responds by saying that he’s less interested in clinical tests than what works for his clients.

After a bit more digging, Inside Out finds that although Mr McNaney has a website offering hypnotherapy services, he isn’t the director of any registered hypnotherapy company.

He is, however, the director of an outfit that predicts who’s going to win at the horse racing. All you had to do was send nearly £5,300 to a South Shields PO Box for the privilege of finding out.

He says that this scheme is no longer in operation and was stopped before he became a hypnotherapist.

Meanwhile, stage hypnotist David Knight of Northallerton makes claims that he can do what experts say is physiologically impossible, that is, increase your breast size using his hypnosis CD.

David is so convinced of his ability that he quotes an 85 per cent success rate. He tells Inside Out that his figure is based on his own customer feedback and a study of 22 women carried out in the Seventies.

He says: “Every lady’s breasts today have been grown by the mind. The mind grows it, so the mind can enhance it. Fact.”

The show’s investigation shows that while there are several hypnotherapy organisations none of them is regulated by law and there are no standard qualifications.

This worries hypnotherapist Andy Austin who blows the whistle on his own industry.

He says that internet forums are full of clueless hypnotherapists and says that: “People are often spending their money in good faith, believing that the person they are paying the cheque to is fully registered, fully qualified and is a proper professional.”

The programme ends with some of the organisations with whom George the cat was registered applauding Inside Out’s investigative efforts.

Yet, one organisation responds by saying that they don’t check their applicants because they’re just a member benefits company.

The show is on tonight. I am not in the right region so may have to track it down online…. Inside Out, BBC One North East and Cumbria, 7.30-8.00pm, Monday 12 October 2009.

I’ll be interested in the feedback from hypnotherapists and members of the public alike.