How to Choose a Hypnotherapist

When I opened Tokyo Hypnotherapy in August 2007, there were only a few foreign hypnotherapists practicing in Tokyo. At that time, people chose a hypnotherapist primarily by location-- west Tokyo, east Tokyo, or central Tokyo. I estimate there are about a dozen foreign hypnotists, hypnotherapists, or hypnosis-trained psychotherapists practicing in Tokyo as of 2015 (updated). If you add Japanese practitioners, there may be several dozen. With so many to choose from, how can you decide? I recommend you consider purpose, experience, cost, and rapport.

1. Purpose
A hypnotist, a hypnotherapist, and a hypnosis-trained psychotherapist have different levels of education and training, and the purpose for visiting each is different.

A hypnotist can write suggestions for you, put you into trance, and then read the suggestions to you. This requires minimal training, perhaps as little as 50 hours. Many hypnotists receive their training by distance or in a weekend workshop. Hypnotists tend to specialize in one area, such as smoking cessation or weight loss. They frequently read the same script to every client, but the script can be very effective if it is constantly revised and improved. Suggestions that are written expressly for you, rather than a script, can also be very effective if you accept the ideas.

A hypnotherapist uses hypnosis to explore beliefs held at the subconscious level and then helps the client release these ideas through a combination of questioning and suggestions. This generally requires a minimum of 300 hours of training and includes supervised practice. Hypnotherapists are more effective than hypnotists when there is subconscious resistance to change, which is often the case. [The resistance is a protective mechanism, so the reason for it needs to be uncovered for it to be released.]

A psychotherapist has an advanced degree (usually an MSW, PhD, or MD) and can diagnose and counsel clients with mental health issues such as addiction, anorexia, bulimia, depression, domestic violence, schizophrenia, sexual abuse, trauma, and so on. Hypnosis may help with the treatment of some of these issues, but it should only be done by a licensed psychotherapist for your own safety and well-being. There are a few hypnotherapists in Tokyo who have doctorates in fields unrelated to psychology or who claim to have doctorates in hypnotherapy*. They are not trained to work with mental health issues. Please seek the help of a licensed psychotherapist for mental health issues. You can find one using the links to IMHPJ and TELL on the side bar.

2. Experience
Every mind is different. The more practice a hypnotist or hypnotherapist has in working with people, the more adept he or she becomes at writing suggestions and/or guiding the therapeutic process. Therefore, experience (and natural ability) is extremely important. Some of the best-known hypnotherapists had little formal training, including David Elman, Ormond McGill, and Gil Boyne. These three men became leaders in the field by developing their own processes through trial and error as they worked with thousands of clients over several decades. David Elman was self-taught yet became a seminal figure in medical hypnosis. His scripts are still widely used today. These men are exceptional. Most people need a good foundation before they can improve, but experience can produce powerful results.

3. Cost
The cost of a hypnosis or hypnotherapy session can vary widely. Hypnotists usually charge less than hypnotherapists unless they have a specialty. For example, some smoking cessation experts charge $500 for one session. Many of their clients quit simply because they spent so much money on the session-- money is a very powerful motivator!

Before you schedule a session, I suggest you consider whether you are ready to change and how willing you are to do so. If you are committed to change, then commit to the full course of treatment regardless of cost. Those who commit 100% always see the fastest results. If you stop going to sessions because you believe you cannot afford to continue, then you may stop short of your goal. On the other hand, if you choose someone inexpensive and inexperienced, you may never reach your goal. Most issues can be resolved in 3-6 sessions. For this reason, most practitioners sell packages to ensure their clients will reach their goals.

4. Rapport
Rapport is an integral part of an effective hypnosis or hypnotherapy session. All of us are intuitive. When you are in hypnosis, this ability is enhanced. If you do not trust the hypnotist or hypnotherapist, your critical thinking mechanism will reject what they say, and the session will be ineffective. Most hypnotists and hypnotherapists offer free consultations. Call the practitioner and ask a few questions. A good hypnotist or hypnotherapist will be able to establish rapport within 5-10 minutes and put you at ease before you schedule the session.

In sum, you have many options when choosing a hypnotist or hypnotherapist in Tokyo. First consider your purpose and seek the kind of practitioner who is best suited to helping you. Then consider the experience of the practitioner and how much you are able or willing to spend. Read a few websites, ask a friend for a referral, and speak to a couple practitioners before you make a decision. Finally, consider rapport. If you do not feel comfortable with the person you chose, then start the selection process over again. Ask yourself again if you are ready to change. Then commit 100% so that you can reach your goals. Then look forward to becoming the person you want to be.

* There is no doctoral degree in hypnotherapy offered by an accredited university in the US. There may be such programs in other countries.

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