Sunday, 13 May 2012
Should hypnotherapy be more widely available on the NHS?
Yesterday I spent a few hours in the company of a few fully qualified hypnotherapists and what an interesting evening it was.
Apart from the rigorous training they undertake, it was inspiring to note how dedicated each person was to their vocation.
Hypnotherapy is a subject I believe in. Many years ago I suddenly acquired an intense dislike - hatred wouldn't be too strong a word - of flying and because my work involved a considerable amount of air travel, I sought help through my German GP. He was most understanding and immediately referred me to a hypnotherapist who, he insisted, would certainly be of help. After two sessions I was able to return to air travel instead of the lengthy journeys by train and boat.
My treatment was paid for by my health insurance which is mandatory in Germany. Somewhere in the attic lies a tape which I was given as part of my treatment. Back then the Walkman was just coming into fashion and the idea was I played the tape when sitting in a departure lounge or on the aircraft. That same tape was used many times on other occasions just to unwind quickly.
Last night I learned how little the NHS uses hypnotherapy. Dentists and midwives, I was told, use it regularly but it's seldom prescribed for other symptoms such as anxiety, phobias and the multitude of ailments which are exacerbated by stress.
Three of those present during our pleasant evening worked full-time in private practice and another part-time. When she was discussing her 'other' job it became obvious her skills in hypnotherapy would be quite valuable, yet her employers had no interest. They preferred to employ more welfare staff to cope with the demand rather than acknowledge hypnosis has proved it can be beneficial to wellbeing.
What is her 'other' job? She's a student welfare advisor at one of Scotland's largest universities and insists quite a percentage of those who seek her services would benefit from hypnotherapy but her employers 'don't want to know'.
Like any 'main stream' or complementary medicine practitioner it's essential to do homework to ensure they are fully qualified as it is a therapy which has yet to set an minimum standard of excellence, but with the help of websites such as the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis, checking is reasonably easy. The advice I was given last night was to ask see written evidence of qualifications and not to hesitate to follow up any doubts.
Should hypnotherapy be more widely available on the NHS? Yes, but not until the profession gets its act together and organises a recognised national body to oversee training and accreditation procedures. Currently, anyone with a few hundred pounds available, can take one or more of the various courses available and set themselves up as a therapist.
He who laughs, lasts.
Mary Pettibone Poole