How do I choose a good school?

Whenever you learn a new career skill set, you will be required to learn a lot of information quickly. You will want to be sure you are comfortable with the class materials and especially the instructors. There really won't be time or energy for personality conflicts or trust issues with your instructors, so be sure you like them before investing your money in courses and programs.

Most schools offer several opportunities to get to know the school and instructors before you sign up. Open houses, short introductory courses and free class auditing programs are all good ways to check things out, and you should take every opportunity to thoroughly check out your school.

Indicators of a outstanding school include:

  • well established, has been doing classes in the same town for years;
  • has had the same president or director for some years now;
  • has more than one qualified instructor on staff;
  • has an open house day or evening with presentations, meet the staff, etc.;
  • is open about showing you the course text books and class materials (though probably won't let you take them home until you sign up);
  • offers continuing education credits for nurses and psychology professionals;
  • can provide you with the names and phone numbers of several graduates as referrals.

A school may not have all these factors going for it, but the more the better. Research the school's web site to learn about its history, offerings and staff. Listen to any MP3s or podcasts the school has on its web site.

You might also check to see if the director or president of the school has published any books on hypnotherapy (or other subjects), and find those books and read them. They will give you an idea of the school's philosophy and style. You can also ask the staff and director if they have any videos online of the instructors or introductory material that you can watch.

On the negative side, you can always do a Google search for "(school name) sucks" to see if there are any complaints about the school on the Internet. You can also check your local Better Business Bureau, and call local hypnotherapists to see what they say about the school.

If you are a medical or counseling professional with continuing education requirements, like a doctor or counselor, you'll want to make sure the school is accredited with your state. Then you'll be able to apply your classroom hours to your continuing education requirements. It also speaks well of the school if they are state-accredited; you know they have been around a while and are committed to offering quality education.

Going to night school or weekend courses in hypnotherapy isn't like college classes; you'll want to be sure you can attend every class session. Be sure your school is located so that you can get there when needed, and that the class schedule will work for you. If you do have to miss classes, check with the instructors to see if you can make them up with a different group in a different semester, or maybe help out at the school with other classes to make up the hours. If you don't have at least 50 hours of instructor-led, classroom training when you graduate, many professional associations may not accept you. You'll also want enough classroom hours to be confident in your new profession - confidence is of utmost importance for hypnotherapists.

A word about weekend workshops
A good course in hypnotherapy basics, certifying you as a CHT (certified hypnotherapist) will be at least 50 hours in length, too long for a quick weekend seminar. Yet, because hypnotherapy is an unregulated industry at this time, people can hand out certificates for even 4-hours of hypnosis training.

Even though hypnotherapists are not licensed, some states have requirements before you can offer professional hypnotherapy. 50 hours minimum training is a good standard to keep in mind, common in many states and professional organizations. AAPH recommends 100 hours of training before you open your doors as a professional hypnotherapist, and that level of training usually takes 6-12 months to obtain. This lets you get well acclimated to the hypnosis process, read many books on the subject as well as your text books, practice with many different people, develop your own specialty, and experience many different kinds of circumstances. 100 hours will give you a strong level of confidence when you open your doors for business.

That's not to say that weekend workshops are bad or aren't worth the investment - in fact, they may be the perfect way to get introduced to hypnotherapy and explore it a bit before you spend the money on a semester or two of school. However, just keep in mind that a couple of weekend workshops aren't really enough training for a career professional hypnotherapist.