January 12, 2010
By: John Kasprak, Senior Attorney
You asked if any states have created a licensure category for hypnotherapists.
At least four states (Connecticut, Colorado, Indiana, and Washington) require an individual to have a license, certificate, or registration in order to engage in hypnosis or hypnotherapy. Since October 1, 2006, Connecticut requires anyone practicing hypnosis or holding himself or herself out as a hypnotist to register with the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP).
In Colorado, an individual must either be licensed as a psychotherapist or listed on an unlicensed psychotherapist database in order to practice hypnotherapy. Indiana requires a special certification to practice hypnosis or hypnotherapy. Finally, in Washington, hypnotherapists fall under the definition of “counselors” who are required to register with the state.
STATES WITH LICENSURE OR REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS
State law requires most people practicing hypnosis, or holding himself or herself out as a hypnotist, to register with the DCP. The law exempts anyone licensed in this state to provide medical, dental, nursing, counseling, or other health care, substance abuse, or mental health services from the hypnotist registration provisions. “Hypnosis” is defined as an artificially induced altered state of consciousness characterized by heightened suggestibility and receptivity to direction (PA 06-187 (§ 44); CGS § 20-660).
Under the law, the DCP commissioner can impose a civil penalty of up to $100 for practicing hypnosis without being registered and is also authorized to adopt regulations in consultation with the public health commissioner.
Applications. The application must be on a DCP-approved form with information and attestation required by the department, including the applicant's full name, business and residential addresses, and a written representation that the applicant is not a sex offender under Connecticut law. The DCP commissioner must revoke, after notice and hearing, the registration of anyone required to register as a sex offender. The law requires registrants to notify the commissioner of any change in these facts within 30 days after they occur. The application and annual renewal fees are $100 (increased from $50 under PA 09-3, June Special Session).
Complaints and Discipline. Under the law, DCP receives and investigates complaints about hypnotists and may cause a prosecution to begin based on its investigation. Grounds for complaints include physical or sexual abuse, misappropriation of property, and fraud or deceit in obtaining a registration. DCP must give a hypnotist written notice of a complaint by certified mail. A hypnotist may contest a complaint by filing a request for a hearing within 30 days after DCP mails its notice. Hearings are conducted according to the Uniform administrative Procedure Act. The DCP commissioner must make a finding on the complaint and enter it into the registry; he may do so regardless of whether the individual is already on the registry or has obtained a registration as a hypnotist.
The law gives the commissioner authority to deny a registration to, but not revoke the registration of, a hypnotist who has been the subject of a finding. The registry must include information about anyone denied a registration and a brief statement by the individual, if any, disputing the denial. A hypnotist may ask the commissioner to have a finding removed from the registry if he determines that the hypnotist's employment and personal history does not reflect a pattern of abusive, deceitful, or fraudulent behavior, and the conduct involved in the original finding was a singular occurrence. The law prohibits removing a finding less than one year after it was added to the registry.
In order to practice hypnotherapy in Colorado, an individual either must be licensed as a psychotherapist, or listed in the “Unlicensed Psychotherapists Database.” To apply for the database listing, the applicant must go the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) website (see attachment) and provide the following:
1. the application for database listing,
2. affidavit of eligibility,
3. documentation of highest educational degree completed,
4. a complete mandatory disclosure statement,
5. a brief statement/listing of therapeutic orientation, and
6. years of experience.
The individual must also complete a jurisprudence exam with a minimum passing score of 80% (see Colorado Revised Statutes, §§12-43-201 to 229; 12-43-701 to 711).
Indiana requires a special, certification to practice hypnosis or hypnotherapy. “Hypnotism,” under Indiana law, means a temporary condition of altered or intensified attention induced in an individual by a person who professes to be a hypnotist, in which the condition is characterized by a variety of phenomena that appear spontaneously or in response to verbal or other stimuli, including alterations in consciousness and memory, increased suggestibility, and the production of responses and ideas unfamiliar to the individual in his or her usual state of mind (Indiana Code, §§ 25-20.5 et. seq).
An individual applying for a certificate must present satisfactory evidence that he or she:
1. has not been convicted of a crime that has a direct bearing on the individual's ability to practice competently;
2. has not been the subject of a disciplinary action by a licensing or certification agency or another state or jurisdiction on the grounds that the individual was not able to practice as a hypnotist without endangering the public;
3. has at least 500 classroom hours of hypnotism education from an Indiana school or program of hypnotism approved by the Indiana Commission on Proprietary Education or from any other state-approved school or program found by the commission to have requirements as strict as necessary for the commission's approval of an Indiana program. (A classroom hour must be at least a 50 minute period of instruction with both the instructor and student present. It does not include videotape correspondence courses or other forms of electronic presentation); and
4. is at least 18 years old with a high school degree and has paid a fee.
Under Indiana law, without the certification, an individual may not practice hypnotism (the penalty is a Class A misdemeanor); claim to be a hypnotist or hypnotherapist (Class B misdemeanor); use the title “hypnotist” or “hypnotherapist” (Class B misdemeanor); or use the prefix “hypno” with any word or use initials, words, letters, abbreviations, or insignia indicating or implying that the individual is an Indiana-certified hypnotist.
The Indiana Hypnotist Committee reviews certification applications while the Indiana Medical Licensing Board regulates the practice of hypnotism. (See http://www.in.gov/pla/bandc/ihc/Application_Instructions.pdf).
In Washington, “counselors” are required to register; hypnotherapists fall under the definition of counselors (Washington Administrative Code, §§ 246-810-010 et. seq.). The Washington Department of Health is the responsible regulatory agency. For registration, an applicant must:
1. pay an application fee of $95 and an annual renewal fee;
2. complete four hours of AIDS education; and
3. Submit an application that includes questions concerning demographic information, title description, previous certification, AIDS education attestation' and the applicants attestation (see https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/hpqa1/hps7/Hypnotherapist/documents/hyapp.pdf).
Once registered, a hypnotherapist must follow certain regulations. The hypnotherapist must provide disclosure information to each client prior to implementing a treatment plan. The required information includes:
1. name of firm, agency, business, or practice;
2. business address and telephone number;
3. Washington State registration number;
4. name and type of counseling provided;
5. methods or techniques used;
6. education, training, and experience;
7. course of treatment; and
8. billing information.
The hypnotherapist must also make a “disclosure statement” detailing the client's rights and responsibilities as well as those of the hypnotherapist. Failure to do so constitutes an act of unprofessional conduct. The hypnotherapist must keep records of all services and has a duty to report suspected abuse or neglect of a child, dependent adult, or a developmentally disabled person. Finally, the hypnotherapist to engage in sexual contact or sexual activity with current clients.