Scope of Practice for Hypnotherapists

Scope of Practice means the area in which a person can safely function legally or because of professional restraints. In general, the scope of practice for hypnotherapists within the United States means that they can do the following with clients. They can assist them in:

  • building good habits: i.e., taking prompt action, exercising regularly, improving study skills
  • removing bad habits: i.e., stop smoking, nail biting, emotional overeating
  • setting goals and following a plan of action
  • eliminating negative self-talk and replacing it with helpful self communication
  • eliminating unnecessary fears and phobias (see note for NJ which restricts phobia removal): i.e., flying, public speaking, test taking
  • improving performance: i.e., sports, music, acting, speaking, sales
  • shifting perspective and attitude to help a client move ahead: i.e., from what's wrong to what's right, from problem to solution, from worry to action, from what can't be done to what can
  • teaching self-help tools and techniques: i.e., self-hypnosis
  • teaching corporate seminars: i.e., stress management, creating excellence
  • teaching personal growth seminars
  • healing emotional pain
  • enhancing physical healing
  • creative problem solving
  • locating and removing limiting decisions or negative beliefs
  • locating and releasing blocks that prevent any of the above

The following is done with a medical clearance:

  • Pain management
  • Childbirth preparation

The following is not done unless the hypnotherapist has additional credentials as a mental health professional or is working upon referral or as part of treatment team with those legally able to function in these areas:

  • working with suicidal depression
  • working with most psychologically labeled disorders

Hypnotherapists may also work in the areas of drug and alcohol addiction, forensic hypnosis, but these require additional training and possibly also additional credentialing. Some do stage shows, but some state restrictions apply. Check for the regulations or practices within your state.

New Jersey Regulations

New Jersey (as well as many other states) has no ruling on how much education hypnotherapists require to practice. However, in the advisory codes under the section governing psychologists, it does spell out what a "hypnocounselor", a term coined by the Board of Psychological Examiners to signifiy someone doing hypnosis without a mental health license, may do without referral or supervision, and what they cannot.

NJAC: 13:42

This law found in NJAC: 13:42-1.5A states that "hypnocounselors, whose work is of a psychological nature, are exempt from licensure, provided that no hypnocounselor holds him/herself out to the public by any title or description stating or implying that the individual is a psychologist or is licensed to practice psychology or offers to provide psychotherapy or other form of therapy...

A hypnocounselor shall not diagnose, or offer to provide independent hypnocounseling for a condition believed to be or described as a phobia, physical addiction or psychological dependency upon drugs, ...pain or other significant physical symptom that has not been medically evaluated."A hypnocounselor may provide hypnocounseling for psychological or medical disorders provided that the individual has been evaluated and diagnosed by a licensed health care professional, hypnocounseling is prescribed by licensed health care professional as part of a closely integrated treatment program, the patient records of the prescribing licensed practitioner fully document the diagnosis, hypnocounseling plan or treatment, and regular assessment of the patient with respect to the hypnocounseling, and all records to prescription for and management of hypnocounseling be available for the Board inspection.

SEE the National Guild of Hypnotists to download current legislation. 

Hypnosis-Scope of Practice
for hypnotherapists