The value of CNHC membership

Although this is a relatively narrow topic for a Blog, I’m writing it in response to a number of queries I’ve had from both fellow hypnotherapists and members of public who have asked “Why are you a member of the CNHC (Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council) Register?”

The short answer is because it is now the most important Register of professional competence open to practicing Clinical Hypnotherapists in the UK.

Many people are unaware that anyone can present themselves as a hypnotherapist.  There is no legal requirement for registration, licensing, training, supervision or insurance.

I have always considered this to be a completely unacceptable situation which has been brought about by the fragmented nature of the hypnotherapy fraternity in the UK and the  amount of political infighting which has resulted.   In 2000, a House of Lords Committee reviewed the whole issue of regulation of the complementary and natural health market and recommended that whilst legislation was not required, a Code of Voluntary Self Regulation should be implemented through an independent organisation.

Staggeringly, it has taken a decade for these recommendations to be implemented, accompanied by many thousands of man hours or discussion and debate.  Finally, however, in 2009, the CNHC Registered was launched.

The Department of Health now recommends that when seeking a hypnotherapist, NHS staff and members of the public should consult with someone who is CNHC registered.

To quote from the CNHC website…

CNHC registered complementary therapy practitioners using the CNHC quality mark demonstrate to members of the general public and other healthcare providers that they conform to national standards of practice in their work.

If a CNHC registered complementary therapist has the CNHC quality mark it means that they:

  • Have undertaken a programme of education and training which meets, as a minimum, the National Occupational Standards and the core curriculum for the complementary therapy/discipline concerned where a core curriculum has been agreed


  • Have achieved competency to the level of the National Occupational Standards for the therapy/discipline concerned by means of relevant experience of at least three years and /or relevant training and been assessed by their peers as having met those standards


  • Have provided an independent reference of their good character
  • Have confirmed that they do not hold a criminal record (including cautions), or notified CNHC of any such record for consideration by the Registrar prior to acceptance
  • Have confirmed that there are no health issues that impact on their ability to practice
  • Have confirmed that they have not been the subject of any disciplinary or civil proceedings against them in relation to their practice or have notified CNHC of any such proceedings for consideration by the Registrar prior to acceptance
  • Hold current professional indemnity insurance
  • Have agreed to abide by: The CNHC Code of Conduct, Performance and Ethics CNHC’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Policy CNHC’s Data Protection Policy Terms of use of the CNHC website.

Following it’s launch, the CNHC has made inroads to acceptance within the NHS and with charities, as evidenced by their latest Newsletter…

CNHC registration is key for mental health charities

As CNHC continues its work to raise awareness of CNHC registration across a range of sectors, they have been liaising with a number of organisations that represent people with mental health conditions. Here they outline the importance given to CNHC registration by Mind and Anxiety UK.

  •   Mental Health charity, Mind, supports CNHC registration. Mind provides a wide range of support and information to people with mental health conditions throughout the UK. Where people are seeking complementary therapies, Mind recommends they find someone who is CNHC registered.

Mind’s Head of Information, Beth Murphy commented: “Some people find complementary therapies help them to manage their mental health but it is vital that therapists are appropriately trained and regulated. Mind supports and promotes CNHC registration and the CNHC quality mark to help people find a therapist they can trust.”

  •  Anxiety UK is a national registered charity formed 40 years ago by a sufferer of agoraphobia for those affected by anxiety disorders. Today the organisation is still user-led, run by and for those with current or past experience of anxiety disorders. The charity is supported by a high-profile medical advisory panel as well as a number of celebrity patrons including cricketer, Marcus Trescothick and comedienne, Ruby Wax.  Anxiety UK works to relieve and support those living with anxiety disorders by providing services including counselling, clinical hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The charity also operates a national helpline, delivers online services and provides an innovative peer mentoring scheme. The charity uses robust screening processes for its therapy services to ensure the highest standards of governance are maintained both before and after appointment and CNHC registration is one of the criteria for its hypnotherapists.

Nicky Lidbetter, Chief Executive of Anxiety UK said: “It is of the utmost importance that our therapists are verified, validated and accredited by relevant and appropriate governing bodies to ensure the highest standards of clinical practice. As there are several governing bodies particularly in the field of hypnotherapy, it is most reassuring to know that the CNHC has made significant progress in defining and establishing a core standard in terms of qualifications, training and experience that hypnotherapists must have in order to be eligible for registration. Going forward, we will be requiring all of our hypnotherapists to be registered with the CNHC.”

To find out more about CNHC please visit


Introducing Eye Movement Therapy (EMT)

Introduction to Eye Movement Therapies

As part of my regular Continuous Professional Development  I  attend weekend courses at the  ICH in London.  The latest course provided a fascinating introduction to the latest EMT  techniques.

Developed by Francine Shapiro PhD at the Mental Research Institute in  1987,   EMT has proved to be a highly effective way of engaging the brain’s innate memory processing system  to deal with memories of traumatic events.

It uses bi-lateral stimulation of the brain – either through eye movements or left hand/right hand tapping.

The constant shifting of attention from left to right through movement of the eyes or tapping of the hands, together with the client’s simultaneous, controlled replaying of  the memory and negative emotions it produces, provokes an increased flow of  neuronal activity between  right  and left brain memory centres via the corpus callosum.  This flow facilitates the dissociation of the  link between the trauma and the emotions which it engenders.  Thus, as the memory is processed, the negative emotions fall away, rendering the memory less and less painful.

While originally used for Trauma with a big “T” (PTSD, rape etc)  where it was found to eliminate 77-90% of civilian  single trauma PTSD  within three 90 minute sessions).  Variants of EMT are now used for dealing with a whole variety of issues including events from childhood which have resulted in feelings of self-blame or inadequacy, creation of fears and phobias, anger and relationship issues.  I recently used one of these variants, called WHEE, to break a client’s fixation with chocolate (to facilitate weight loss) in just a single session.

What’s going to replace the Web? Here’s some food for thought…

Just watched a fascinating TED talk from Roger Mcnamee about the death of Microsoft, Google, Android and Facebook and the reasons why they will have lost their market stranglehold in the next five years.  If you want to know where the next big wave will come from, check this out..

Low Self Esteem

It staggers me how many people suffer from low self-esteem as a result of teasing by schoolmates, family or friends about their weight, perceived physical defects (which are in reality minute or non-existent), their looks or their intelligence.  These throwaway comments, often made in the heat of the moment, will have been forgotten a week later by the perpetrator but are revisited over and over again by the victim for years and years afterwards, shaping and distorting their view of themselves and the way they live their lives.

As adults we often forget just how fragile the evolving ego of a child is.  Particularly in their early teens when they are beginning to individuate themselves – trying to find out who they are what they are capable of doing and imagining what they might be in the future.  A careless word, a running joke in the family, a critical response to a failure – anything in fact which  a child might take as marking them out as different or deficient -can go straight to the heart of their view of the world and themselves, causing a lifetime of damage.

That’s not to say that we should never say negative things to children – telling them when they are doing wrong, making the wrong decision, how they might do something better etc.  They need to be helped to understand why something is wrong or how something can be improved in order for them to grow in life.  The criticism, however,  should be focussed on the work, the decision, the effort NOT on the child.  They are not stupid because they got it wrong, unloveable because they upset their sister, ugly because the are struggling with their weight.  What they need is kind, loving guidance which will help them to grow as people and to regard themselves as useful, constructive, independent adults who have earned and deserve their rightful place in the world.


I have developed a bit of a passion for working with sufferers from agoraphobia (a fear of being away from home/travelling/strange places).

It is a general principle that such people are often mentally very strong, intelligent, creative people who find it difficult to say “No” or who have been put into positions where they are under continuous stress and pressure, day in, day out.

They often want to please people and don’t want to let them down. They’ll often go the extra mile in their work and in their relationships with people. As a result, they can find themselves trapped in situations from which less determined people would walk away.

But because of their mental strength and determination to get through, to not back down, to deliver what they’ve undertaken to do, they find themselves becoming more and more exhausted until they finally have a breakdown through nervous exhaustion or come very close to the edge.

At some point in this process they might start to experience panic attacks, exacerbated by tiredness, stress, too much coffee/Red Bull etc. These add to stress and so a repetitive cycle begins to build,  creating a desire for avoidance of panic/stress inducing stimulus.  The client might find working from home less stressful than travelling to work; or they might try to minimise the amount of stressful travel undertaken. They might also notice that they feel sad when they leave home to go to work or anxious when away (properly known as separation anxiety). And so, they try to minimise their time out of the house or away from close family (wife/husband/partner). Their partner might also start travelling with them “to help”.

Without realising it, the agoraphobic is beginning to draw a mental circle – inside this circle they can move safely without stress; outside they become anxious and liable to panic attacks. They may live in London and have travelled the world in their work, but suddenly France becomes too far away from comfort, then anywhere outside the M25 corridor, then the top of the road, then their front gate and the back garden.

By the time they reach my door, they have usually had a psychiatric assessment, might be in touch with their local NHS Mental Health Unit, be on RSSI’s for depression or beta blockers for anxiety. They might have also had REBT/CBT therapy, again via the NHS, with little success.

I have to make it clear that hypnotherapy is no quick cure for their problem. By the time someone contacts me, they have usually had agoraphobia for a few years and it is quite deeply engrained. Usually I conduct home visits until they are able to visit my consulting room.

But such is the willpower of the sufferers, that they will gladly use the CD’s I tailor-make for them, do the silly exercises they are given and push themselves to take just one more step in a short walk to the front gate and beyond to aid their recovery.

Agoraphobia will rarely disappear completely, but these intelligent and resourceful individuals learn how take the best of what they are taught and  use the most appopriate parts to rebuild their lives so that they can once again travel and  function and feel comfortable and safe when away from home.

Working in this area has brought me to have a greater respect for the unconscious mind.

It can put up with an aweful lot of abuse, until it is brought nearly to the edge of breakdown or beyond, and then it rebels.

It creates fears and phobias which become defence mechanisms to prevent the body and mind being driven any further to the brink. Agoraphobia is just one such thing, but a fear of bridges might be just as effective in preventing someone doing a lot travelling, or a fear of public toilets, or people wearing uniforms. The list is endless.

But the unconscious mind is just so ingenious that it can create fears which it feels are best suited to that individual and their own circumstances. They feel the fear which will best protect them, despite themselves, and the fear will only abate when the unconscious is convinced that it can once again trust the conscious mind to take more care and be more sensitive to the needs and safety of the whole organism.