A question about when a hypnotherapist needs to receive a medical referral to work on an issue with a client.

Answered by Calvin D. Banyan, MA, CI, BCH

Question:

Can someone please tell me with which clients we need physician or psychologist referrals before we work with them. I just can't remember which clients we need referrals to work with! Thank you very much.

Answer:

This is a very important question. Here are some guidelines:

  1. Never interfere with medical treatment.
  2. Get a referral any time you are working on a medical issue.
  3. Always get a referral when you are working with issues that involve pain.
  4. It is best to think of hypnosis and hypnotherapy as being in addition or complementary to medical work, rather than an alternative to it.
  5. When in doubt, get a referral or at least notify your client's physician that you are working with his or her patient using hypnosis.

The main question is, "What is a medical issue and what is not." For the most part, it is fairly easy to figure this out. If the client is suffering from pain, disease, or chronic mental illness, you need a referral to work with these issues. It is important that your clients receive appropriate medical treatment. For example, hypnosis can be used to remove pain. But if your client has not reported the pain to his or her physician and had it looked at in a proper medical fashion, then the use of hypnosis may mask an potentially dangerous medical condition. This could cause your client to miss out on vital medical treatment.

In addition to safety and ethical considerations here, there is also an important business building consideration. As you properly seek out professional referrals for your clients and receive them, when you help these medical and psychological professional's patients, they remember you as a referral source for similar problems in the future. So, pursuing and receiving medical referrals for clients can lead to a very busy practice, with lots of unsolicited referrals from the medical and psychological community.