Protecting the Public

Dear Anthony,

I wanted to thank you for writing such an interesting article in the November issue of Counseling Today regarding Life Coaches.  I am a recent graduate in Community Counseling and just passed the LPC exam.
Here in Dallas, a lot of so-called “hypnotist/hypnotherapists” pass themselves off as therapists and life coaches. It’s amazing because they have NO clinical training to practice mental health.  I’m wondering if there are any laws out there to protect the public.

For example, there is a guy in Dallas who is top listed on Google for Hypnotherapy.
The guy claims to be a “board certified hypnotherapist”…but in reality it requires no formal education nor licensure.  If you look at his site, he claims to treat all kinds of clinical issues … including addictions. There are an awful lot of people out there claiming to by hypnotherapists, but are not licensed by the state to perform therapy.  I’m wondering what I can do as a counselor to change this situation?


Jeremy Porter

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Dear Jeremy,

Thank you so much for reading and for your comments about my column!

The issue of licensure you describe is complicated, evolving all the time, and differs by state.

In Massachusetts, where my practice was founded, the term “Mental Health Counseling” is regulated. However, other terms, such as “psychotherapy” and “counseling” have not always been regulated. Note: They might be now, but in my discussions with the board of licensure in the mid 2000s they were not regulated.
Hence, at that time persons could hang a shingle and provide services called “psychotherapy” or “counseling” and –depending on what they were actually doing—they might be working within the law. Truly, every time a term is regulated it seems someone comes up with a new title that’s not regulated. Consider “life coaching”, “mentorship”, “listening services”, “life consulting”, or who knows what else.
It seems you are having a similar experience, with someone providing services under the term “Hypnotherapy”.

However, regardless of the title one is using, they might still be in violation of laws for practicing medicine, or psychology / mental health services, without a license. It seems the person you’re citing is claiming to treat additions, depression, etc…. I’m not sure about your local laws, but it seems such claims might very well cross the line in your state.

If you’re trying to practice in the same marketplace, I think that a good approach for you and other licensed mental health professionals (counselors, social workers, psychologists) is to emphasize your strengths to potential clients. This might include:

1 – Showing the difference in the caliber of education and licensure you possess

2 – Being eligible to accept clients’ insurance (which unlicensed providers can’t do)

3 – Patient/Client Privilege — the legal protection of client privacy licensed counselors have, but others don’t

Jeremy, I hope this helps!!





Dr. Anthony Centore