Want to become a hypnotist? Not sure where to turn next?

How to choose the hypnosis course that is right for you




  • How many hours of training are offered? How many of these hours are actual classroom hours? (You should receive a minimum of 100 hours of hypnosis training. At least three-quarters of this time--75 hours--should be spent in the actual classroom.)

  • What kind of certification will I receive after taking this class, and from whom? (Be certain that you will receive certification upon successful completion of the course, and not have to come back for additional classes! Certification should come through an internationally recognized hypnosis association with a set of practitioner ethics, such as the National Guild of Hypnotists.)

  • Will I be able to practice hypnosis in my state after graduating from the course? (While hypnosis is largely unregulated, some states such as Florida have very strict requirements for practitioners.)  

  • Will I receive hands-on training? (Find out if your class is experiential. To learn hypnosis thoroughly, students must spend ample time both giving and experiencing hypnosis, not just listening to lectures. This is why we discourage correspondence, online or video courses.) 

  • Who will be my primary instructor? What is her or his experience as a hypnosis trainer? (Your primary teacher is the connecting source for all the information you will receive. It is important to know in advance precisely who will be teaching you, and to have an idea of her/his foundation of knowledge. Some groups offer a weekend course in hypnotism, and then immediately sell a second brief course whereby students can become "certified instructors"! Always keep in mind that someone who may sound friendly and professional on the phone and have a slick website is not necessarily expert as a teacher. For that, there is no substitute for years of experience.) 

  • How many years has s/he been a practicing hypnotherapist? (It is obvious that the more years your instructor has spent as a practicing hypnotist, the better s/he will be able to teach you. If you want truly good training, do not consider studying with anyone who has had less than ten years of experience working full-time in the field, and preferably more.  Take the time to double-check with the instructor's certifying organization to see how many years the instructor has been a certified hypnotist. Think about it. Anyone wanting to learn how to play the violin well would go to a professional musician, not to a person who only began taking violin themselves a few years ago!) 

  • Does the instructor do other things, besides hypnosis, for a living? (Find out if your instructor's full-time source of income is hypnosis. Why? Someone who practices hypnosis only part-time does not have enough experience to teach you the skills you need to become expert, nor can you learn how to practice full-time if your own teacher can't make a living in hypnosis. Red flags include someone who lists as a profession work other than hypnosis, including practicing as psychic reader, Reiki practitioner or energy healer, massage practitioner, nutritionist, web designer, life coach, etc. This is indicative of a hypnosis hobbyist, not someone with the expertise you need to teach you well. Even psychotherapists and psychiatrists who are also hypnotists spend far less time hypnotizing than full-time hypnotists, and have less experience.) 

  • Request a personal or telephone interview with your primary instructor. (You must feel comfortable communicating with the instructor. This is essential if you are going to be taught by this person. The instructor should take an interest in interviewing you and speaking with you, no matter how popular or busy she or he is.) 

  • Ask to review a course outline. (Ask for a detailed outline of what you will learn in the course, and only enroll if the teacher can provide one. Make sure it is thorough, and covers necessary topics such as “inductions,” “regression techniques,” “suggestion management,” “guided imagery,” “history of hypnosis,” "applications of hypnosis" and “marketing.”) 

  • Is a specific method or modality taught? (Some schools offer just one type or style of hypnosis, such as Ericksonian Hypnosis. Some have developed their own unique approach to hypnosis. Others expose you to a wide variety of techniques. Know in advance how broad the education is that you are going to be receiving.)

  • Have either the instructor or the school been the subject of any lawsuits by former students? (If so, you have the right to know what the lawsuit is about. While anyone may be the target of a lawsuit and being sued does not indicate guilt, it is important for you to have this information, just as it would be if your physician was involved in a malpractice case.) 

  • Exactly how much will the course cost? (Expect clear, specific answers. The best instructors are transparent about costs. Avoid schools or instructors with vague answers regarding tuition, and run the other way if anyone tries to “hard-sell” you! Most of the complaints we hear from prospective students are about hypnosis schools that push too hard. Expect to pay a fair price for tuition and don't bargain hunt; remember that you are paying for a lifelong vocation. Be wary both of extremely inflated and extremely cheap tuitions. Typical and acceptable tuitions for hypnosis certification in the USA range from between $2,000 to $3,000.
       Be on the alert for offers that promise you anything for "free."
    Understand that such "gifts" are a shrewd marketing ploy that will eventually have a steep price tag attached to them! Offering anything for free is a tried-and-true sales manipulation technique, based on something called the Law of Reciprocity; we are uncomfortable about receiving something free, and end up feeling both loyal and obligated to the person/group who gave us the gift. Because of this, we usually wind up spending much more than we originally expected to invest.) 

  • What is included in tuition cost? (The best schools offer you books, scripts, recordings, and all other supplies, including snacks and beverages, as part of your tuition. Small items can add up to a lot of money if they are not included.) 

  • Will there be solicitations to buy extra materials? (You should not have to spend valuable classroom time for which you paid tuition receiving advertisements to buy additional products. All necessary supplies should be provided as part of your tuition.) 

  • Will there be solicitations to take additional courses? (While some schools offer complete hypnosis training in one course, others inform you that you will be required to take higher levels of training or “advanced” classes--and sometimes do not reveal this until you have begun to attend class. Make sure you know at the outset if this is going to be the case. Check with other students who have taken the course, if necessary. As above, you are not paying tuition to be a captive audience for advertisements promoting other trainings!)

    HOW MANY HOURS OF TRAINING WILL I NEED BEFORE BECOMING CERTIFIED AS A HYPNOTIST? Some organizations believe that hypnosis can be taught in a weekend.  Other groups demand many hundreds of hours of expensive study, with months of internship. It is important for the prospective student to be discriminating.A balance between the two extremes is probably best. At some point an individual must "leave the learning nest" and begin conducting actual unsupervised hypnosis sessions. Experience has shown that students are capable of entering the practice of hypnosis very competently after completing a 100-hour training course. The National Guild of Hypnotists—a world-wide respected hypnosis organization—concurs by recommending 100 hours of hypnosis training (this includes a minimum of 75 classroom hours, plus additional assignments equaling 100 hours). Keep in mind that receiving hypnosis certification is simply the first step of a magnificent and lifelong learning journey! Continuing education is a requirement for most certifying organizations, and is recommended for all hypnotists.

ADDITIONAL CARE IN SELECTING THE BEST HYPNOSIS SCHOOL FOR YOU The large majority of hypnosis schools rely on the Internet to advertise their courses. A good school should have web pages that are easy to read, informative, attractive and well organized. Typos should be at a minimum. It is obvious that a disorganized and sloppy web site would likely be indicative of the kind of training offered.
   Be aware, however, that slick and professional appearing web pages, as well as high rankings in internet search engines like Google, are not an indication of an honest or reputable school.
   Example: a purported hypnosis academy and "university" in Florida posted what appeared to be a very credible, informative and extensive web site, which ranked and continues to rank high in web searches for hypnosis training. Unfortunately, its pages were full of fraudulent, misleading, and even stolen material, including student testimonials cut and pasted from another school's site, with only the names changed.
   Another seemingly professional hypnosis group in Canada took their course descriptions word-for-word from the course descriptions of a legitimate school. In print or in the mail, such blatant deceptions would incur criminal charges and scandal. The internet, however, has no police force.
   Check to see if there are photographs of former students/graduates on a school's website. A reputable teacher will probably have such photos. These are less likely to be faked.


Be on the lookout for fake doctorates (Ph.D.'s) and titles like "Reverend"
Sadly, the deceptive use of such titles is quite rampant in the world of hypnosis. Genuine Ph.D.s and ministers spend from six to eight years in rigorous studies at an academically accredited college, university or seminary. At this writing, there is no doctorate in hypnosis from any school that is accredited in the USA. No matter how respectable a hypnosis teacher seems, if they claim to have advanced degrees in psychology or any related field, check their educational background carefully.
  Make certain that an individual purporting to be a doctor (Ph.D.) or minister has in fact graduated from a recognized college or university. Check the college's accreditation, and then contact the school to make sure the individual in question in fact holds the purported degrees. Remember that any deception on the part of your instructor might ultimately reflect on your credentials. Imagine being invited to be on a TV talk show as a hypnotist, for instance, and then have it discovered that you were taught by someone with a fake Ph.D.!

  Such fake accreditations are common, sadly, in the world of hypnosis. We were even duped, and in the past recommended several trainings by people who were using Ph.D.s that were from diploma mills or non-accredited sources. If a hypnotist is using the title Dr., Rev., or Ph.D., type their name and the words "fake doctorate" or "fake reverend" into a search engine. There is at least one web site dedicated to exposing fraudulent use of such titles in the hypnosis community. 

A good hypnosis instructor undergoes special training to be certified to teach hypnosis.
Such training should have been taken with a recognized hypnosis organization and should entail more than just a weekend class. Check the credentials of any organization with whom the teacher claims to be a certified instructor. Make sure that it is a legitimate organization, and not just a bogus agency made up to sound impressive. Next, contact the group both to discover what kind of training their instructors take, and to clarify that the teacher in question is indeed one of their certified instructors and is in excellent standing with the organization, having complied with their code of ethics.

Double-check credentials and professional affiliations.
Make certain that any hypnosis organization with which the teacher claims to be affiliated is a legitimate group. Contact the group to check the instructor's standing. Some hypnosis groups have impressive sounding names; others imply that their members have special training in counseling or medical hypnosis, which may or may not be the case. While there are excellent hypnosis organizations who insist that their members adhere to a code of ethics, anyone can make up a name and create their own hypnosis group. Be aware, also, that most hypnosis organizations are happy to offer memberships to anyone who pays the dues. Having a wall full of diplomas and memberships, even legitimate ones, does not indicate expertise.


There are many, many excellent and ethical hypnosis teachers and schools from every hypnosis organization. Follow the above guidelines to make your selection. Below are just a few hypnosis schools we recommend:


Academy for Professional Hypnosis Training, Mary Elizabeth Raines, Sedona, AZ 

Center for Hypnotherapy Training, Marilyn Gordon, Oakland, California (northern CA; includes EFT & esoteric hypnosis)

Ericksonian Hypnosis and NLP, Peter Blum, Woodstock, NY

Healthy Visions Wellness Center School of Hypnosis, Ron Eslinger, RN, Tennessee (specializing in medical hypnosis training for nurses)

We wish you the best of luck in your search for excellent hypnosis training, and hope you will join us in unifying all hypnotists as we pursue our wonderful goal of helping people!

Mary Elizabeth Raines (Leach), Author, Columnist, and Certified Hypnosis Instructor

Mary Elizabeth Raines

Mary Elizabeth Raines, author and sponsor of this article, is director of the Academy for Professional Hypnosis Training, as well as a Certified Hypnotherapist, Hypnosis Instructor, and Adjunct Faculty Member with the National Guild of Hypnotists. In addition to hypnosis certification classes, she teaches Past-life Regression Counselor Certification and Guided Imagery Specialist Certification courses. In the past, she has presented seminars, classes, and workshops for the MidAmerica Hypnosis Convention, International Hypnosis Federation, American Board of Hypnotherapy, Friends General Conference, the Bodhi Tree, the National Guild of Hypnotists, the University of Wisconsin, Yavapai College Olli in Sedona, AZ, and others. A professional writer, she has published articles in professional hypnosis magazines and websites, and has a number of informative hypnosis topics available on Kindle. Among her published books is The Laughing Cherub Guide to Past-life Regression. She has contributed chapters to three books on hypnosis, and is a regular columnist for the Journal of Hypnotism.


National Guild of Hypnotists

This web page is intended to help prospective hypnosis students ask questions and make requests which will guide them to the best and most honest hypnosis educators and schools so that they may receive a superior education in their chosen field.


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