Summary of State Laws Regarding Hypnosis
The majority of the United States exert little or no direct regulation over the practice of Hypnosis or Hypnotherapy, although other laws generally affecting the operation of any business will usually apply (e.g. truth in advertising, unfair business practices, etc.).
Colorado, Connecticut, and Washington are states that require mandatory licensure or registration.
California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas and Utah do not have mandatory registration, but do lay out specific regulations for the practice of hypnotism and guidelines for licensure exemption.
- SECTION I -Lists and analyze the United States that may have mandatory licensing/registration requirements.
States: Colorado, Connecticut, Washington
- SECTION II - Lists the United States that maintain explicit guidelines for licensure exemption.
States: California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, Utah
- SECTION III - Lists the United States that do not appear to specifically regulate the practice of hypnosis.
States: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
There are also a number of states with laws defining the practice of psychology or practice of counseling (which may require a license) that refer to terms such as “hypnosis” or “hypnotherapy.” It is unclear what the intent of such references are (for example, if hypnosis is listed as just one of many things that a psychologist may do – but that others may do as well – similar to coaching, research, interviewing, evaluating aptitudes and interests, consulting in legal decision making, vocational counseling, creative arts, and stress management). The states that we believe may fall in this category are marked with an asterisk (*). There may be additional states as well that fall in this category, in part, because laws sometimes change in between website updates and also because some states do not have online copies of their laws that we can research.
I. UNITED STATES WITH MANDATORY REGISTRATION
The following United States have explicit regulations regarding hypnosis and/or hypnotherapy:
In order to practice hypnotherapy in Colorado, you either need to be licensed, or be listed in the Unlicensed Psychotherapists Database. To apply for listing in the database, go to http://www.dora.state.co.us/registrations/, and fill out the following information...
- The application for database listing
- The affidavit of eligibility
- Documentation of any name changes
- Documentation of highest educational degree completed
- A complete mandatory disclosure statement
- A brief statement/listing of therapeutic orientation
- Years of experience
- Complete a jurisprudence exam with a passing score of at least 80%
Registration Required: In Connecticut, beginning October 1, 2006, “no person shall practice hypnosis or hold himself or herself out as a hypnotist in this state without first registering with the Department of Consumer Protection.”
Eligibility: To register as a hypnotist in Connecticut, an individual must:
- Pay an application fee of $50
- Complete a simple application form. The form requires name, address and a representation that the applicant is not subject to sexual offender registration laws.
Regulation: The Department of Consumer Protection shall receive and investigate complaints against individuals who are practicing or have practiced hypnosis in this state and may cause a prosecution to be instigated based on such investigation. The grounds for complaint shall include physical or sexual abuse, misappropriation of property, and fraud or deceit in obtaining or attempting to obtain registration as a hypnotist.
- The Commissioner of Consumer Protection may deny registration as a hypnotist to an individual who has been subject of one of the above findings.
- The Commission of Consumer Protection may, after notice and hearing, assess a civil penalty of not more than one-hundred dollars ($100) against any person who has practiced hypnosis in this state without first registering with the department.
Definition of Hypnosis: In Connecticut, hypnosis means an artificially induced altered state of consciousness, characterized by heightened suggestibility and receptivity to direction.
- The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection
- Link: http://www.ct.gov/dcp/cwp/view.asp?a=1625&q=320228
- Public Act No. 06-187 § 44; 2006 Ct. ALS 187.
- Application: http://www.ct.gov/dcp/lib/dcp/forms/hypn-01_-hypnotist_registration_(4)final.pdf
License Required: In Washington State, “Hypnotherapists” and “Counselors” are required to register. Note that the “Counselor” category was eliminated in 2010 and converted into eight new categories; however the “hypnotherapy” regulations were not modified.
Eligibility: For registration, an individual must:
- Pay in advance, an application fee of $95 and an annual renewal fee.
- Complete four hours of AIDS education.
- Submit an application form that includes questions of:
- demographic information;
- title description;
- previous certification;
- AIDS education attestation;
- and applicant's attestation. For the form, see: https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/hpqa1/hps7/Hypnotherapist/documents/hypapp.pdf
Regulation: Once registered, there are regulations a hypnotherapist must follow:
- You must provide disclosure information to each client prior to implementation of a treatment plan.
- The required disclosure information for each client includes:
- Name of firm, agency, business or practice
- Business address and telephone number
- Washington State registration number
- Name and type of counseling you provide
- The methods or techniques you use
- Your education, training and experience
- The course of treatment
- Billing information: (i) client's cost per each session; (ii) billing practices
- You must also make a “disclosure statement” detailing the client's rights and responsibilities as well as yours. Failure to provide to the client any of the disclosure information shall constitute an act of unprofessional conduct.
- You must keep records of all services. See § 246-810-035 for a list.
- You have a duty to report suspected abuse or neglect of a child, dependent adult, or a developmentally disable person.
- You have a duty not to engage in sexual contact or sexual activity with current clients.
Note: There is pending in 2010 a proposed rule by the Department of Health to repeal WAC 246-810-030 and not require hypnotherapists to provide disclosure information to clients.
Regulatory Agency: Washington State Department of Health
Reference: Washington Administrative Code § 246-810-010 et. seq
II. STATES WITH GUIDELINES FOR PRACTICING WITHOUT LICENSURE
The following United States have no hypnosis laws that require mandatory registration or special certification for hypnotists or hypnotherapists. Instead, these states lay out guidelines to lawfully practice hypnosis or hypnotherapy without a license. These laws generally require that a hypnotist not advertise or perform medical services (such as diagnosing or treating medical conditions):
Statutes: California does not have an explicit statute or regulation requiring licensure for hypnotists or hypnotherapy. California Business and Professions Code 2908 exempts “persons using hypnotic techniques” from the psychology licensing act to do “vocational or avocational self-improvement” as long as they “do not treat emotional or mental disorders.” 2908 also exempts “persons using hypnotic techniques” they are working under referral “of persons licensed to practice psychology, dentistry or medicine.”
California Business and Professions Code 2053 requires that complimentary and alternative health care providers make certain written disclosures to clients. If hypnotherapists are deemed to be covered by this provision, they must make the required disclosures:
- A person who provides services pursuant to Section 2053.5 that are not unlawful under Section 2051 or 2052 shall, prior to providing those services, do the following:
- Disclose to the client in a written statement using plain language the following information:
- That he or she is not a licensed physician.
- That the treatment is alternative or complementary to healing arts services licensed by the state.
- That the services to be provided are not licensed by the state.
- The nature of the services to be provided.
- The theory of treatment upon which the services are based.
- His or her educational, training, experience, and other qualifications regarding the services to be provided.
- Obtain a written acknowledgment from the client stating that he or she has been provided with the information described in paragraph (1). The client shall be provided with a copy of the written acknowledgment, which shall be maintained by the person providing the service for three years.
- The information required by subdivision (a) shall be provided in a language that the client understands.
Case Law: In People v. Cantor, a 1961 Superior Court case, the court held that the practice of hypnotism as a curative measure or mode of procedure in helping patients to lose weight, relax tension and improve nerves and bad habits by one not licensed to practice medicine amounts to the unlawful practice of medicine. People v. Cantor, 198 Cal. App. 2d Supp. 843 (App Dep't Super Ct. 1961).
“Practicing Medicine” Statute: “Any person who practices or attempts to practice, or who advertises or holds himself or herself out as practicing, any system or mode of treating the sick or afflicted in this state, or who diagnoses, treats, operates for, or prescribes for any ailment, blemish, deformity, disease, disfigurement, disorder, injury, or other physical or mental condition of any person, without having at the time of so doing a valid, unrevoked, or unsuspended certificate as provided in this chapter or without being authorized to perform the act pursuant to a certificate obtained in accordance with some other provision of law is guilty of a public offense, punishable by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), by imprisonment in the state prison, by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both the fine and either imprisonment.” California Business and Professions Code § 2052 (a).
Here, the hypnotist advertised that “Hypnosis helps lose weight...relax. Self Hypnosis... improve... nerves and bad habits.” He claimed that he had no failures, had cured bed wetting by a child, and that he could and did relieve cancer pain. The court found that from “all the evidence, it is apparent that appellant ‘advertised,' held himself out as practicing and practiced and attempted to practice a system or mode of treating the sick or afflicted, that he diagnosed, treated ‘an ailment, disease or disorder or other mental or physical condition' within the purview of the statute.”
Analysis: Care must be taken in California, at a minimum, to disclaim in advertising materials the practice of medicine and to state that the hypnotist does not diagnose, prescribe, or treat any medical condition. There appears to be no other case law in California affecting hypnosis and there is no other California case that follows/disagrees/disapproves/cites People v. Canter.
In Florida, therapeutic hypnosis is regulated. It is unlawful for any person to engage in the practice of “Hypnosis” for therapeutic purposes unless such person is a “Practitioner of the Healing Arts” or a “Qualified Person.”
“Hypnosis,” as defined by statute, only applies to hypnosis “used in the treatment of any human ill, disease, injury, or for any other therapeutic purpose.” A “Practitioner of the Healing Arts” means a person licensed to practice medicine, surgery, psychology, etc.
A “Qualified Person” means a person deemed by the referring practitioner to be qualified by both professional training and experience to be competent to employ hypnotic technique for therapeutic purposes, under supervision, direction or prescription.
It is not clear how the law applies to hypnotists who expressly disclaim the practice of therapeutic hypnosis.
Because Florida’s statutes do not include a definition of the term “therapeutic hypnosis”, some cities and counties in Florida have taken different positions regarding the conditions under which hypnotherapists will be issued business licenses or tax receipts. For example, the city of Melbourne, Florida recently denied a hypnotherapist’s request for a tax receipt (formerly known as an occupational license); however, the city reversed its decision the same day and issued the tax receipt after the city received a letter from Matthew Brownstein (our union’s Florida “representative” and the Director of the Florida Institute of Hypnotherapy
, in support of the hypnotherapist. Our union continues to monitor developments in Florida and work with Matthew Brownstein and the Florida Institute of Hypnotherapy in an effort to protect our profession from unnecessary restrictions in that state.
Reference: 32 Florida Statutes §485.000 et. seq.
Statute: ”Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prevent a person from practicing hypnosis without a license issued under this Act provided that the person (1) does not otherwise engage in the practice of clinical psychology including, but not limited to, the independent evaluation, classification, and treatment of mental, emotional, behavioral, or nervous disorders or conditions, developmental disabilities, alcoholism and substance abuse, disorders of habit or conduct, the psychological aspects of physical illness, (2) does not otherwise engage in the practice of medicine including, but not limited to, the diagnosis or treatment of physical or mental ailments or conditions, and (3) does not hold himself or herself out to the public by a title or description stating or implying that the individual is a clinical psychologist or is licensed to practice clinical psychology.”
Definition of Clinical Psychology: “Clinical psychology” means the independent evaluation, classification and treatment of mental, emotional, behavioral or nervous disorders or conditions, developmental disabilities, alcoholism and substance abuse, disorders of habit or conduct, and the psychological aspects of physical illness. The practice of clinical psychology includes psychoeducational evaluation, therapy, remediation and consultation, the use of psychological and neuropsychological testing, assessment, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, hypnosis, biofeedback, and behavioral modification when any of these are used for the purpose of preventing or eliminating psychopathology, or for the amelioration of psychological disorders of individuals or groups. “Clinical psychology” does not include the use of hypnosis by unlicensed persons pursuant to Section 3 [225 ILCS 15/3].
Reference: 225 Illinois Compiled Statutes 15/3(h).
Note: New Jersey law does not seem to require licensure for such hypnosis activities as: (i) altering habits such as smoking and weight management, (ii) increasing client motivation in employment, the workplace and in sports activities and (iii) enhancing creative, artistic and scholastic endeavors.
See Statute: (b) Persons not requiring licensure are limited to persons engaged in the practice of hypnocounseling as well as those whose conduct and practice is exempt from licensure pursuant to this subchapter.
- For purposes of this subsection, hypnocounseling means the induction of a hypnotic state by applying individualized techniques to induce hypnosis in order to assist clients with stress management not related to a medical or mental health disorder, altering habits such as smoking and weight management, increasing client motivation in employment, the workplace and in sports activities and enhancing creative, artistic and scholastic endeavors
- The services of a hypnocounselor shall be limited to:
- Interviewing a client to determine the nature of the client's problem;
- Assessing the client's suitability for hypnocounseling
- Testing a prospective client to determine the client's level of suggestibility;
- Preparing clients for hypnosis through an explanation of the process and procedures used as well as a description of the resulting hypnotic state to be experienced by the client
- Teaching self-hypnosis to clients;
- Inducing the hypnotic state; and
- Applying hypnotic techniques.
Reference: New Jersey Administrative Code § 13:42-1.2
Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy when performed by a licensed psychologist are subject to Board Rules. 22 Texas Administrative Code § 465.5
The practice of psychology includes hypnosis for health care purposes and hypnotherapy. Texas Occupations Code § 501.003
Office of the Attorney General, State of Texas Opinion No. DM-321 February 8, 1995: A person who, for compensation, practices psychotherapy, hypnosis for health care purposes, hypnotherapy, or biofeedback without a license under the Psychologists' Certification and Licensing Act, V.T.C.S. article 4512c, violates that act unless such practice falls within one of the exceptions set out in the act. The act authorizes the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists to take action to enjoin such violations, as well as other actions against violators authorized by law.
Certification is required for “investigative hypnosis proficiency.” 37 Texas Administrative Code § 221.7
The use of specific methods, techniques, or modalities within the practice of professional counseling is limited to professional counselors appropriately trained and competent in the use of such methods. Authorized counseling methods and modalities may include, but are not restricted to: (13) Hypnotherapy which utilizes the principles of hypnosis and post-hypnotic suggestion in the treatment of mental and emotional disorders and addictions. 22 Texas Administrative Code § 681.31.
Hypnotherapy may be provided by a marriage and family therapist. 22 Texas Administrative Code § 801.42
Court held that a hypnotist was not exempt from obtaining a medical license when he advertised hypnosis as a means of curing certain mental and physical disorders. Masters v. State, 170 Tex. Crim. 471 (1960)
Statute: Exemptions from licensure:
(5) An individual engaged in performing hypnosis who is not licensed under this title in a profession which includes hypnosis in its scope of practice,
- And Who:
- Induces a hypnotic state in a client for the purpose of increasing motivation or altering lifestyles or habits, such as eating or smoking, through hypnosis;
- Prepares the client to enter hypnotic states by explaining how hypnosis works and what the client will experience;
- Tests clients to determine degrees of suggestibility;
- Applies hypnotic techniques based on interpretation of consultation results and analysis of client's motivation and behavior patterns; and
- Trains clients in self-hypnosis conditioning;
- May Not:
- Engage in the practice of mental health therapy;
- Represent himself using the title of a license classification in Subsection 58-60-102(5)
- Use hypnosis with or treat a medical, psychological, or dental condition defined in generally recognized diagnostic and statistical manuals of medical, psychological, or dental disorders.
Reference: Utah Code § 58-60-107
Statute: Unless one is licensed (e.g., as a psychologist), the title “clinical hypnotist” may not be used
As used in this chapter, “unlawful conduct” includes:...
representing oneself as or using the title of any of the following unless currently licensed in a license classification under this title:
- clinical hypnotist;
Reference: Utah Code 58-60-109
III. UNREGULATED UNITED STATES
In Alabama, the State Board of Education specifically prohibits the use of hypnosis. School personnel are prohibited from using any techniques that involve the induction of hypnotic states.
Reference: Alabama Administrative Code Regulation 290-040-0400.02
A physician may not delegate the following procedures to an unlicensed person: Psycho-therapeutic procedures, including individual and group psychotherapy, clinical hypnosis, or other behavioral health interventions subject to independent regulation in Arizona.
Reference: Arizona Administrative Code § R4-38-306
Arizona law does not provide a definition for clinical hypnosis. I believe that clinical hypnosis generally refers to therapeutic hypnosis done by medical professionals only. For example, the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis says that the requirements for certification in clinical hypnosis include:
- MD, DDS, DMD, DO, DPM, PhD, PsyD, or equivalent doctoral degree with psychology as the major study, or a masters degree in nursing, social work, psychology, counseling, marriage and family therapy from a college or university accredited by its appropriate regional accrediting body;
- Membership in a professional society consistent with degree;
- Licensure or Certification by the state of province in which you practice;
- Minimum of 40 hours of ASCH approved workshop training (20 hours each of beginning and intermediate workshops);
- Minimum of 20 hours of individualized training/consultation with an ASCH Approved Consultant;
- Minimum of two years of independent practice utilizing clinical hypnosis.
District of Columbia *
Hypnotists are listed as one of many examples of business or practitioners of professions or occupations which may be subject to regulatory fees of local governments.
Reference: Official Code of Georgia § 48-13-9 (b)(24)
Proposed Legislation: As of right now, there is no hypnotherapy regulation in Hawaii. However, a bill has been proposed as recently as March 2006, requesting that the Legislature recognize Hypnotherapy as a legal profession subject to regulation and control. This bill would impose strict licensing requirements on the practice of hypnotherapy. The Hypnotherapists Union opposed this bill and was instrumental in its defeat.
Proposed Eligibility Requirements: Prior to eligibility for examination, the applicant shall furnish proof that the applicant has received a total of not less than one thousand five hundred hours of education and training consisting of:
- A formal program in the science of hypnotherapy at an institute or school approved by the board.
- Six months clinical internship program supervised by a licensed hypnotherapist.
Proposed Regulations: Any license to practice hypnotherapy under this chapter may be revoked or suspended by the board at any time for any cause, including but not limited to:
- Obtaining a fee on the assurance that a manifestly incurable ailment can be permanently cured.
- The use of false, fraudulent, or deceptive advertising and making untruthful and improbable statements.
- Habitually using any habit forming controlled substance, such as opium or any of its derivatives.
- Procuring a license through fraud, misrepresentation, or deceit.
- Professional misconduct or gross carelessness or manifest incapacity in the practice of hypnotherapy.
Reference: 2005 Bill Text HI H.B. 1695
In 2010, Indiana passed Senate Bill 0356, which among many things, repealed hypnotist and hypnotherapist licensing laws in Indiana as of July 1, 2010. Prior to this, Indiana had a licensing scheme for hypnotists and hypnotherapists under which it was very difficult to become licensed and few were licensed.
New Hampshire *
New Mexico *
North Carolina *
North Dakota *
Rhode Island *
South Carolina *
We are aware of one case in which the South Carolina Board of Examiners has taken the position that an unlicensed person advertising “hypnotherapy” or “counseling” on a website is practicing psychology without license.
South Dakota *