Hypnotherapy – Legal Issues

It’s alarming: Of late, the number of Hypnotherapists across the world has been on the rise. A random look at the advertisements in print media reveals the fact. That is one thing. On the other hand, more and more people are on the run to reach out to Hypnotherapists seeking treatment for mental deformities. The scenario does really support many quacks to present themselves as expert therapists in the field.

In this context, it is important for both the therapists and the patients to know the generality of hypnotherapy and its legal status in therapeutic field.

Hypnotherapy is recognized as a reliable system of treatment for certain types of mental deformities by the World Health Organization, British Medical Council and American Medical Association. In India, there are no guidelines and institutional recognition for hypnotherapy. There are also no regulations for what would constitute adequate training for Hypnotists for providing hypno therapy and counseling. Hypnotherapy and counseling are not regulated professions in India. As a result practitioners of hypnotherapy and counseling may become liable for litigation.

Hypnosis is not a system of medicinal treatment. According to The Medical Council Act, anyone who is not a Registered Medical practitioner is not permitted to practice medicine for treatment of patients. The Supreme Court of India had ruled that it would be quackery for professional Medical Practitioners to treat patients using any system of treatment for patients other than medication.

Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, Family-therapy, Counseling and Hypnotherapy are not regulated professions in India. In principle, therefore, anyone can practice hypnotherapy and or teach hypnotherapy in India. At the same time, it is not legal for such practitioners to treat patients who require treatment by medical practitioners.   However, helping people to improve themselves, remove bad habits and improve relationships through hypnotherapy is considered as legal practices. But that should have to be done by adequately trained hypnotherapists in view of Medical Council Act of India.

Precautions:

Possibility of litigation against non regulated clinical practices by hypnotists cannot be ruled out. Therefore, non registered Counselors, Therapists and Analysts should have to be vigilant, careful and wise to get their clients sign a suitably worded contract that clearly specifies that their only role is to help the person to improve his or her phobic mental conditions  and thwarted relationships and that they understand that their therapist has no legal right to treat or cure illnesses through medication and that their therapist would not be responsible for failure if any in hypnotic suggestion therapy.

The ministry of Health and Family Welfare clearly cautions that the term “Doctor” shall be used only by qualified practitioners of the Systems of Medicine which is recognized by the Government of India. Foreign qualifications have no legal validity in India unless they are recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC) or Rehabilitation Council of India. It would therefore be wise to avoid the use of unrecognized degrees and other credentials on advertisements, visiting cards, name boards, websites etc and to avoid displaying such certificates at the places of practice.

All doctors, therapists, healers and counselors can face action under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 for violation of these conditions and for misuse of hypnotherapy. In order to help hypnotherapists an informal format of ‘Proforma for Patient Consent’ is furnished below: The Proforma is meant for guidance only:

PATIENT DECLARATION AND CONSENT:

Dated at……………..the……..day of …………………20..

I  Mr/Ms………………………………….residing at……………………..do hereby declare that I along with Mr/Ms……………………………….., my (father/mother/husband/wife/relative/close friend discussed my emotional problems and experiences of phobic/depressive conditions with Hypnotist,  Mr/Ms………………………….. I am convinced that my malady may be cured through counseling and suggestion therapy under hypnosis. I therefore do hereby give my consent for being counseled/hypnotized for the therapy.  I do further state in confirmation that the therapist herein above shall not be answerable for and accountable to failure if any of the suggestive therapy under hypnosis which I willfully undergo in the above mentioned context. I am fully convinced that the therapist does not treat diseases with medicin and his therapy is confined to verbal suggestions under hypnotic relaxation.

Signature  of the patient…………………….,

Name and address of the  patient……………………

Witnesses:

1.

2.

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