The Road Ahead : the way forward for the hypnotherapy profession

The Road Ahead

Antoine Matarasso
National President
Australian Hypnotherapists Association
New Farm Hypnotherapy Clinic

A member of the AHA since 1996, I have served on the National Executive for the past 14 years, first as a committee member, then for many years as Vice-President and for the past 4 years as National President. I am also Vice-President of the Hypnotherapy Council of Australia.

Over the years I along with others, have observed the vast changes our profession has experienced and also the changes in the various states’ legislation which once governed the use of hypnosis in Australia.  As we teach our clients, change is one of life’s only constants and in life as in our profession, some change is necessary, some is beneficial and some in the long term, is perhaps not so useful though this can be difficult to determine at the time.  It is only with reflection that sound evaluation can be made.

In the past 20 years the perception of hypnotherapy has changed. Where once it  was seen as the province of undertrained, under qualified ‘back-yard’ operators of questionable reputation and firmly ensconced at the bottom end of the health-services food chain, today we are widely recognised as a profession and regularly take part in the wider health care debate through associations such as the AHA.  We have also worked hard to establish a peak body for the profession in the Hypnotherapy Council of Australia which represents the associations and training institutions.  We should be, and like to see ourselves as a separate profession alongside psychologists, psychotherapists, counselors and other mental health care professionals, and this is how we would like other professionals and the public to see us.

There exists however one important difference between some of professions mentioned above and our own.  We are trying to be a self-regulating profession, one that sets its own standards for education, ethics and quality assurance and currently we do not have a legislated controlling body.

We are not subject or accountable to an outside regulating body such as the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) which oversees so many other modalities.  Only consumer law and our own codes of practice protect us and the public we serve.  This fact alone should make us all the more vigilant in protecting our achievements thus far.

Whether the current status quo is a good thing or not is a moot point as there is no government legislation on the horizon and no talk of AHPRA extending its reach to cover hypnotherapy.  In effect we are a law unto ourselves, we set our own ethical standards and how we live up to those standards will determine in the long term whether we have in fact evolved into being the ‘profession’ we want others to acknowledge us as being.

What does all of this mean in real terms?

One of my responsibilities is the unenviable task of dealing with complaints from the public, from government bodies, complaints made by clients about hypnotherapists and indeed complaints made by hypnotherapists against other hypnotherapists.  The number of complaints I receive has obviously risen with the growth of our profession but the increase of complaints is disproportionate the growth in numbers.  This has caused me to examine the reason or reasons for this unsettling statistical increase because to paraphrase Socrates, “An unexamined association is not worth leading”.  Honest self-appraisal is something we expect of our clients and we should require no less of ourselves as a profession.

The nature of complaints

With very few exceptions I am pleased to write, the complaints I receive do not involve the therapeutic encounter.  The majority of complaints concern marketing, they revolve around promises made either explicit or implicit, claims either made or implied.  Others are about financial transactions or post session communication between hypnotherapist and client. Below is an overview of such complaints:

◦       advertising that guarantees an outcome

◦       contracts that clients are required to sign before the commencement of therapy many of which ask the client to sign away their common law rights

◦       payment before the delivery of services

◦       unsubstantiated claims of outcomes from therapy

◦       questionable marketing techniques such as promising outcomes within a time frame

◦       not referring clients to a suitably qualified practitioner when appropriate

Why the increase of complaints?

I suspect the reasons for the increase and nature of complaints is both complex and diverse and my observation of the profession over many years suggests that there are a number of causes.

The proliferation of franchise style training courses

The nature of a franchise requires complete adherence to a set program by both operator and consumer and this is certainly the case with branding of websites, advertising and marketing.  These programs require the hypnotherapist to act and advertise in a certain manner and the client commit to a contract which whilst legal in the strictest sense tests most association’s ethical policies.  In fact, some advertising breaches consumer law as the law requires that any guarantee conditions be clearly visible in every advertisement.  I have received several complaints from Departments of Fair Trading around Australia about such advertising.

Such programs can also limit the creativity of the hypnotherapist and suggest a ‘one size fits all’ approach to therapy which stands in stark contradiction to the basic tenants of most hypnotherapy teaching, certainly Ericksonian styles of practice.  Pre-packaged programs also risk setting up an adversarial relationship between hypnotherapist and  client should they not be successful.  In all complaints I have received there was an obvious communication problem as the hypnotherapist and client had vastly differing expectations and the encounters were almost certainly doomed to fail.

The popularity of NLP

Over the past few years the rise in courses available that are predominately based on NLP and the techniques closely associated with the modality have dwarfed the more traditional hypnotherapy courses. In the past though hypnotherapy courses included a component of NLP, the emphasis was more weighted toward client centered therapy rather than solution-focused short therapy. This has led to perhaps unrealistic expectations about the nature and duration of therapy by both hypnotherapist and client.  Whilst short course therapy suits many clients it is rare in my experience that a single session is sufficient to genuinely resolve complex issues, and as a profession we should not be swayed by the modern mentality of an instant fix and others advertising that they can achieve outcomes in one session.  It took the profession many years to lose the ‘magic wand’ tag and we should not seek to resurrect this sort of thinking, we all understand that life and clients are more complex than this

The growth of the profession

More and more training institutions are training more and more therapists, I have been reliably informed that one single school trained more than 50 therapists last year. This obviously leads to competition between hypnotherapists and in many cases complaints are made by one therapist against another when it comes to marketing and promotion practices. What do you say to the therapist who abides by their associations Code of Ethics in Advertising and business and complains that a therapist in the next street does not? Although consumer law covers such advertising, regulators are busy and only investigate after a complaint is made. Thus the ethically responsible hypnotherapist is placed at a commercial disadvantage by acting in a professional manner though this is something we should all be practicing.

Training institutions must act responsibly in promoting their courses, some claims made about the financial rewards of a career in hypnotherapy are clearly misleading.  Also, prospective students should be properly screened by the schools before being accepted into training.  Schools also have a responsibility to counsel the graduate if they deem them to be unsuited to the profession of therapist. This holds true in many helping professions for example, a graduate of a psychology course does not at the moment of graduation become a psychologist and the same holds true of nurses. Profession mentoring, supervision and registration are required through both professional bodies and through AHPRA.  However, hypnotherapy sets it’s own standards and will thrive or fall by how we are judged to enforce and meet those very standards.

Professional associations must also take their share of responsibility for new therapists joining their groups.  A lack of mentoring and supervision leaves the new therapist without adequate oversight, guidance and assistance.  Affordable professional and operational supervision are the key ingredients in a novice hypnotherapist’s personal development and the building of a longstanding professional practice.  Associations must put into place properly regulated operational and professional supervision policies for new members and this supervision should be either one-on-one or in small groups led by properly qualified supervisors whose work is assisted and monitored.  New members should be prepared for the cost of such supervision as is the case in other professions.


Some of the practices of therapists, schools and associations do not suggest that hypnotherapy has achieved the professional maturity that we would like and would like others to see in us.  In its quest for unity and growth the profession must ensure that it does not sacrifice best practice for expediency and the lowest common denominator. With self-regulation ‘Everything is permissible, not everything is beneficial’. To be accepted as professional we need to act professionally in every facet of our operations and therapists, schools and associations.

In a self-regulated profession it is vital that this self-regulation be more than tokenism, it is the responsibility of all associations to apply their codes of conduct to  members and, before a hypnotherapist joins an association they should acquaint themselves with the code of ethics and codes of conduct and be prepared to abide by them. By not doing so they not only damage their own reputation but that of their association and the hypnotherapy profession as a whole.

How do we then address these issues to strengthen our profession for the future? I can only speak for the AHA  and make the commitment that the AHA will examine its policies and procedures with a view to ensuring that we do everything we can to provide the support that new hypnotherapists need and we will also continue to work toward the goal of increased professionalism in every facet of hypnotherapy.







QLD State Branch Workshop August 2013


Summary of the Day

Make an early start to the festive season, earn points towards your professional development requirements enjoy our Christmas lunch and set yourself up to hit the ground running in 2014!

The starting ‘menu’ for Dominique’s session looks nearly as enticing as that for our Xmas party that will follow her all-morning session:


Fast moving and fun what a better way to learn – like gifts from the festive tree

Presented by Dr Dominique Beck

In this interactive double-module session, Dr. Dominique Beck will present this highly practical, neuroscience-based workshop which will maximise your ability to think and work in new ways. You will be able to apply novel, brain-friendly tools immediately based on our exploration of the following five points:


  • Discover how cutting-edge, applied neuroscience and knowledge about the brain’s neuroplasticity can help you as a therapist
  • Become an influential practitioner through understanding the intricacies of the human mind and apply brain-based techniques in the way you communicate with your clients
  • Learn to remain positive and productive in stressful situations by accessing mindful awareness – and teach your clients to do the same!
  • Move from knowledge to implementation through novel, fun and experiential exercises
  • Create your personalised brain action plan to support you moving forward


Our Xmas party follows Dominique’s presentation let me know of any special dietary requirements.

Where:  The Comfort Inn Roberston Gardens, 281 Kessels Road, Nathan, Q. 4111

When: Sunday 17th November, 2013, registration from 8:30am

AHA Members only: QLD AHA General Meeting will follow the workshop.


NSW State Branch Workshop Feb 2013

8:30am – 9:00am: REGISTRATION

9:00am – 9:30am: General Meeting- Members and guests- Update on AHA news and general business

9:30am – 9.45am: MORNING TEA

9:45am – 1:00pm: IMPROVE YOUR MENTAL HARDWARE – Dr Dominique Beck (PhD) Neuroscience Based Coach/Trainer

In this highly practical, neuroscience-based workshop Dr Beck will help you maximise your ability to think and work in new ways. You will be able to apply novel, brain-friendly tools immediately based on our exploration of the following ‘five brain-based steps’:

1. Discover how cutting-edge, applied neuroscience and knowledge about brain functioning can help you as a therapist

2. Become an influential practitioner through understanding the intricacies of the human mind and apply five brain-based techniques in the way you communicate with your clients

3. Learn to remain positive and productive in stressful situations by accessing mindful awareness – and teach your clients to do the same!

4. Move from knowledge to implementation through novel, fun and experiential exercises

5. Create your personalised brain action plan to support you moving forward

1:00pm – 1:45pm: LUNCH BREAK

Dr Alan Brast- Medical/Mental Health Trauma Psychologist. Dr. Brast has 4 decades of experience with expertise in Suicidology, Medical Hypnotherapy, Analysis, Grief and Trauma Counselling. Extensive lecturing world wide.

Dr Brast uses Medical Hypnosis in all his areas of healing and will be speaking on the following topics:-

1:45pm-3.00pm: THE MIND/BODY CONNECTION- An understanding of how our minds have an enormous

influence over our physical and mental health and how to enlist our mind to help as an ally.

CURRENT METHODS OF TREATING PTSD: Better understand the methods of treatment options and their benefits.

3.00pm-3.15pm: AFTERNOON TEA

3.15pm- 5.00pm: NEW METHODS OF TREATING CANCER – An Update on the Treatment of Cancer.

A FORMULA FOR A LIFE OF HAPPINESS WHILE AGEING GRACEFULLY: presentation will unlock the secrets to accomplishing this challenge.


Venue: Ryde–Eastwood Leagues Club

117 Ryedale Road, West Ryde NSW 2114

OPD Inv: $110 Members (“early bird”) if paid before 10/02/2013 – or $130 after that date

$130 Non-Members (“early bird”) if paid before 10/02/2013 – or $150 after that date

Date: Sunday 17th February, 2013

Time: 8:30am – 5.30pm


QLD State Branch Workshop Feb 2013

  • Click here to download registration form

Session 1

9.00am – 10.30am – Attachment and Relationships

Kathy Ballantyne

Our unconscious mind is involved in our personal choices and our interpersonal experiences have a powerful impact on our present adult relationships. The discovery that this was so led to the awareness that our choice of a partner, if it is romantic, its’ influenced by our unconscious minds more than our rational experiences. The partner we choose is dauntingly similar – warts and all, to the caretakers who reared us. Thus the needs we want met in our adult intimate relationship – that were not met in childhood – are presented to persons who are woefully similar to the persons who did not meet those needs when we were children’.

These Insights have led to a new marital narrative of ‘conscious partnership” which is commitment to the needs of the relationship rather then to the needs of self, which paradoxically gets your needs met in ways they could never have been met if you had made your needs primary. From this insight Kathy will discuss the Different therapeutic styles and how Therapists can check and see what their own style is and how they can move towards a style that will provide them with more security.

About Kathy Ballantyne

Kathy is both a registered psychologist and hypnotherapist with over fifteen years experience working with people from many diverse backgrounds on a wide range of issues in both organisational settings and private practice.

Session 2

11.00am- 12.30pm – Using hypnosis for painless childbirth

Leanne Jackson

What the mind dictates the body responds – so over time we have been programmed into believing that pain is a natural accompaniment of birthing, and so when presented with the birth, pain is accepted. Hypnobirthing teaches techniques to eliminate fear –tension- pain syndrome before during and after pregnancy. How to eliminates fatigue during labour, and understand the bodies creation and control of its own natural anaesthesia.

Hypnobirthing (TM) was introduced to Australia 13 years ago and has been able to provide a completely different outcome for birthing and the dreaded pain syndrome.

Using hypnosis techniques, the mother along with help from her partner, is able to stay in a comfortable relaxed state allowing the birthing process to proceed in a much easier and more comfortable manner.

About Leanne Jackson

Leanne has been a hypnotherapist for nearly 30 years. She was one of the original therapists who trained in Hypnobirthing thirteen years ago and over that time has seen the wonderful results her birthing mums have achieved. She has given talks and information to midwives at various hospitals who have seen the amazing birth outcomes.

Session 3

1.30pm – 3.00pm – The mind-body connection / An update on the treatment of cancers

Dr Alan Brast

The Mind / Body Connection – An understanding of how our minds have an enormous influence over our physical and mental health and how to enlist ones mind as an ally rather than as an adversary.

An Update On The Treatments Of Cancer – While heart disease has enjoyed a 68% reduction in the past two decades, cancer has fallen only 11%. The reasons for this and new and upcoming treatment methods available.

Alan will use hypnotherapy for both these topics.

Session 4

3.30pm – 5.00pm – Current methods for treating PTSD / A formula for a life of happiness whilst ageing gracefully 

Dr Alan Brast

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can affect not only war veterans but victims of almost any form of trauma. Alan will help you better understand the methods of treatment options and their benefits.

One’s attitude in their approach to life can mean everything. However, the formula to achieve this “correct attitude” can be elusive. This presentation will unlock the secrets to accomplishing this challenge.

The presentations will include some examples and experiences from actual client sessions, Hypnotherapy , Q & A time and of course plenty more!

About Leanne Jackson

Dr Alan Brast comes from California he has been a Medical/Mental Health Professional for over four decades. He is both in private practise and a consultant for the Californian Dept of Mental Health. His expertise includes Medical Hypnotherapy/Analysis Grief suicide and Trauma Counseling. He lectures worldwide, has a number of articles published and is in the process of writing a textbook in collaboration with other professionals..

When: Sunday 24th February 2013


The Comfort Inn
Robertson Gardens
281 Kessels Rd
Brisbane 4111

Time: Sign-in from 8.30am, Workshop 9.00am to 5.00pm

Cost: AHA Members $120, Non-Members $90

Early-Bird if paid before 3rd February, members $110, non – members $130

For AHA Members only : Qld Branch General Meeting will follow the Workshop 5.00-5.30pm


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Memberships and Alliances


AHA International Alliances

International Alliances and Affiliations

International Reciprocal Alliances

The AHA has established a reciprocal agreement with both the UK General Hypnotherapy Standards Council (GHSC) and the Association of Registered Clinical Hypnotherapists (ARCH Canada) that permits AHA registered practitioners who relocate to these respective countries to transfer across at their equivalent level of registration without the need to go through the formal entry process and evaluation.

Such an alliance between these major bodies can only bode well for the promotion of excellence and unity within the profession of Hypnotherapy on a truly international basis. Practitioners who may be considering relocation to either England or Canada should contact the AHA Head Office for full information on the scheme.

As the GHSC is arguably the world’s largest and most successful professional hypnotherapy body this alliance reflects the AHA’s high standing within the international hypnotherapy community and an international recognition of the AHA as the Australian Hypnotherapy Peak Body and as an association that meets international standards.

International Affiliations

The AHA has an International Affiliation with the following international associations to enable the AHA to keep members informed about world movements in the hypnotherapy profession and to share links and ideas for the improvement and advancement of the art and science of hypnosis and hypnotherapy:

Membership with these associations reflects an international recognition of the AHA as the Australian hypnotherapy body and as an association that meets international standards. The AHA invites the members of these affiliated organisations to apply for membership.   Should members from these associations be moving to Australia, we would welcome their membership application.