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As healthcare practitioners who lead patients to a state of deep relaxation or altered state of consciousness, hypnotists must have a solid background in psychology. They use their knowledge of hypnotherapy techniques to help patients recover from disorders such as anxiety and panic attacks, as well as overcome pain. A career as a hypnotist suits individuals with advanced training in medical or clinical hypnosis and a passion for helping people.
Get the Relevant Training
The first step to become a hypnotist is to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology with concentrations in brain and behavioral science, such as the one offered at Purdue University in Indiana. The program should equip you with knowledge of how the brain functions, as it has coursework in human memory, cognitive neuroscience, and sensory and perceptual processes. Next, pursue a certificate program in clinical and applied hypnosis, such as the one offered at Saybrook University in California. The year-long program provides training in hypnotic approaches and concepts, as well as their application in the treatment of medical and behavioral disorders.
Master the Skills
Hypnotists must consult with patients to understand their problems and find ways to heal them. As such, you should be an active listener with clear speaking skills. You need strong analytical and problem-solving skills to assess patients’ symptoms, identify disorders and choose the right hypnotic interventions. If a patient has an anxiety disorder, for example, having him slowly count to 15, as he imagines walking down 15 steps into a beautiful garden, can induce relaxation. You also should be able to demonstrate emotional stability, as you may deal with patients who may be in severe emotional distress.
Although many states don’t regulate the practice of hypnotists, others -- such as Colorado, Connecticut and Washington -- require hypnotists to get a license before joining a practice. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, but you generally must provide evidence of completing hypnosis training and pass a state-administered exam on issues that are relevant to the practice. As of February 2015, you may practice without a license in California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas and Utah, but you must adhere to specific guidelines. In California, for example, you are prohibited from treating mental and emotional condition. This means your practice is limited to dealing with people with conditions such as smoking addictions.
Get Certified and Join a Practice
You can secure membership in the Hypnotherapist’s Union to obtain a union badge and earn a Certified Hypnotist designation, which can boost your job prospects. Armed with all the credentials, you can find employment opportunities in hypnosis clinics, holistic healing centers, physical therapy offices, counseling offices and acupuncture clinics. With sufficient startup capital, good business skills and several years of work experience, you can move into private practice and establish your own hypnosis clinic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of health diagnosing and treating professionals will grow by 20 percent between 2012 and 2022, faster than the 11 percent average for all occupations.
Based in New York City, Alison Green has been writing professionally on career topics for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in “U.S. News Weekly” magazine, “The Career” magazine and “Human Resources Journal.” Green holds a master's degree in finance from New York University.