There is a quote I read out to all of the students who attend my hypnotherapy practitioner diploma course. Here it is,

Go into any large bookshop nowadays and you will most likely find that their shelves are liberally stocked with books about hypnosis, and its numerous applications. Pick out any such book at random, open it anywhere and look anywhere on the page. The chances are that what you are reading is plainly wrong, is misleading, is questionable, has little support, or requires significant qualification for it to be accepted as a valid statement.
(Heap, ‘Hypnosis: the modern perspective’, 2006)

This quote seems to get more accurate the longer I work in this field. I get sent quite a few newly published hypnotherapy training manuals and books each year for free and I am asked if I will offer a favourable review of some kind. This year, I have been unable to do so with the vast majority of them. The simple reason is that they are so poor and in order to give an honest account, I could potentially harm their sales, upset the author and so I choose to simply not offer up anything and make polite excuses – some of these authors are very lovely people, I hasten to add.

To give an exhaustive criteria of what makes a good hypnotherapy book would be a far bigger article than this one. This is just focusing on one small element… One of the first things I do when I am sent any kind of hypnotherapy book, guide or manual is to turn to the bibliography, the reference section. Doing so is the downfall of many a book I am sent.

If it does not have a bibliography or a large reference section, as Snoop Dog would say, I drop it like it’s hot.

I love that Vine. If you are offended by the language, please be assured that I sent the author an email and asked that he wash his potty mouth out with soap before he does anything else.

Anyway…. If a hypnotherapy book does not have research references, supporting evidence or any kind of leaning towards proving the statements it is making, then it should not be being used to inform hypnotherapists. I was sent a free copy of a book for hypnotherapists earlier this year that had a chapter on dealing with IBS and not a single study was quoted – with IBS, we have some pretty impressive evidence and research available, yet it was absent. In this particular book, the number of links to the various authors websites and information promoting themselves further was more in depth than the references which are virtually non-existent in the book. One single author offered any, and none of them were specific studies, they were simply references to non-evidence-based books from which basic tenets were being recycled.

This is my personal opinion only, but if there are no references, I don’t see how the book can really have value or make a beneficial contribution to your work as a hypnotherapist. If you are just getting unsupported opinions and subjective approaches based on someone’s experience, then you don’t need that. You need to trust yourself and your skills, you need to reflect correctly upon that which you do with your clients, you don’t need more random scripts and anecdotal thoughts spoonfed to you.

If you lack knowledge or have a deficit of skills, then read texts which are truly thorough, which draw upon evidence, which give you an objective account of the best ways to help your clients. Don’t rely exclusively on what those authors tell you, explore what a range of authors have to say, and what a range of studies suggest and how they all respond to each other’s contributions, and then make responsible decisions that are client-centred and supported by evidence as much as possible. Get a comprehensive, rounded education about the research and the approaches available.

Don’t fall into the trap of being desperate for answers and buying into vacuous methods espoused by someone whose book is nothing more than a marketing tool for their own business. You may as well go and do that thing whereby you join an online forum and ask everyone how they treat XYZ disorder and then make your decisions about how to approach it.

If I was going to employ a hypnotherapist, I certainly would not want them to be making decisions about how to deal with me based upon asking a bunch of questions on a forum. That is not-client centred, that is looking to be spoonfed answers. “Ah yes, Mrs Smith, today we are going to do a technique I learned about on a hypnotherapy forum yesterday because he said it works really well for him….” – Pah! Run away as fast as you can Mrs Smith!! What about making an informed decision based upon Mrs Smith and what evidence suggests is most likely to help her?

Invest in books that will become a professional investment, that you’ll refer to often, that have clearly taken lots of time to put together and books that have a big, thorough, multi-page reference section filled with journal references and robust evidence. Still apply a critical thinking mindset and healthy scepticism to what you learn as it informs your work and approach. If it is bereft of references and you suspect it has been lazily compiled, you can be forgiven for being cynical towards it instead. When there’s so much good stuff out there, filter out the nonsense, however well marketed it is.

Read thoroughly, read happily, read intelligently.

Read Adam Eason’s self-hypnosis book:
The Science of Self-Hypnosis

Learn more about Adam’s favourite hypnotherapy books:
My Top Ten Hypnotherapy Book Recommendations

Have some of these themes here resonated with you? Then have a read of these pages:

1. Do you need help or support in a particular area of your life?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason
2. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others? Are you a hypnotherapist looking for stimulating and career enhancing continued professional development and advanced studies?
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist who is looking to fulfil your ambitions or advance your career?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.

Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar.