1995-1999: The Early Years: Hypnotherapy Research Society; Hypnotherapy Society
In 1995, a group of psychotherapists who were also practising hypnotherapy established the Hypnotherapy Research Society (HRS.) The original intention of the HRS was to act as a space to create and build an evidence base for hypnotherapy practice so that hypnotherapy would be taken more seriously both in the psychotherapeutic community and for use within NHS settings. The founding President of HRS was the noted surgeon Clifford Stossel. At launch, HRS had approximately 150 members, drawn from a variety of other professional bodies.
Shortly thereafter, in 1996 the HRS became the Hypnotherapy Society and moved from focussing upon research to being a professional body with founding chair Dr Adrian Greaves. At this stage, the HS was still small and functioned as an unincorporated body. With a rise in membership and interest the Society incorporated as a non profit in 1999.
The HS was launched based upon key values:
• Hypnotherapy should be taken seriously, as part of the community of psychological therapies
• A membership body based upon listening to and supporting its members
• Members to have full say on policies and direction of travel
• Where possible, practice should be informed by evidence.
In the early days, the HS attracted hypnotherapists who agreed with its ethos and who wished to try a different approach to professional body affiliation.
2000-2010: Growing Further: Hypnotherapy Emerges: Hypnotherapy Society; National Hypnotherapy Society
The HS continued to grow slowly but steadily throughout the early 2000s. Partnering with the increasingly growing National Counselling Society enabled dual qualified practitioners to belong to both a hypnotherapy and a counselling organisation which shared common values. However, it was clear that the direction of travel for hypnotherapy was increasingly towards defining itself as a separate profession from counselling and psychotherapy.
With increasing moves towards voluntary self-regulation, the Society played a key role, partnering with the General Hypnotherapy Standards Council to form a Working Group for Hypnotherapy Regulation. The group worked with other stakeholders to facilitate a common shared set of standards and look to the way forwards.
However, the Society could not agree with the direction of travel where hypnotherapy was being defined as a “complementary therapy”, our members maintaining that it was vital to keep links with the wider psychological professions. Accordingly, the membership voted not to participate in the CNHC system of voluntary registration.
In 2010 there were huge shifts in the profession with the coalition government. Coming to power in May 2010, a few months later the Government announced it was to create the first “Accredited Voluntary Register” programme under the auspices of the Professional Standards Authority. The Society fully supported this development and accordingly began to make wholescale changes in our governance and procedures, improving all areas of our structures and processes in order to become an AVR holder. In November 2010 it was decided to change our name to the National Hypnotherapy Society, in view of our growing membership and in anticipation of becoming an AVR holder in due course. (Subsequently the AVR programme became known as the Accredited Register, or AR, programme.)
2011-2020: Gaining Recognition, Growing Strongly: Accredited Register
Chaired by Dr Chris Forester from 2011-2020, The Society was awarded Accredited Register status in 2012 – the first, and still the only, hypnotherapy professional body (as opposed to a complementary therapy umbrella body) to hold this recognition. The Society successfully retained this status throughout this period, growing to become widely recognised throughout the profession, leading to strong and sustained growth in members. Chosen by many hypnotherapists as their only professional home, and by many others as an additional home, the Society became noticed for its core ethos continued from its early HS days.
2021 Onwards: New Possibilities
From 2021 the new Chair of the Society is Liz McElligott. Our goal for 2021 is to expand our vision in new and exciting ways by offering support to a much larger variety of therapies connected with hypnotherapy. We will also be developing a much wider suite of post graduation opportunities via enhanced CPD, and working hard to continue to get hypnotherapy the recognition it deserves.
As hypnotherapy retains its popularity and continues to grow, the Society will continue to have a central role in the UK profession, supporting our members and allowing the profession to flourish and continue to help the many people who use our members’ services.