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International Board Of Hypnotherapy and Ethics

What is the International Board of Hypnotherapy?

As an ever-increasing body of research lends greater scientific credence to the use of hypnosis and hypnotherapy to assist patients in accelerating their healing, controlling pain and facilitating recovery from medical procedures, more and more patients and medical professionals are looking for ways to incorporate these benefits in the health plans they are designing. Yet, with no governmental oversight, and a broad variance in training and even the theory behind the practice of hypnosis and hypnotherapy, a caveat emptor approach to a field that has long been misrepresented by the media makes hypnotherapy seem unapproachable to many patients and healthcare providers.

IBH exists to regulate and maintain a demonstrated level of professional training, ability, reliability and ethics in the hypnotherapy community, so that healthcare providers and their patients can make use of the power of the subconscious mind with the guidance of competent professionals who know how to work with the healthcare system.



Hypnotherapists help people use their own inner resources to improve the quality of their lives. Hypnotherapists are committed to the service of life, which includes health and wellbeing - the actualization of human potential. Hypnotherapists, therefore, take on the role of practitioner of hypnotherapy, life skills and achievement coach and educator.

The International Board of Hypnotherapy bases its Code of Ethics on the fundamental principles of the Clinical Hypnotherapy profession, which embraces the uniqueness, worth, dignity and equal rights of all human beings.

The International Board of Hypnotherapy requires all of its members to conduct their profession according to the following ethical principles.

The Member's Ethical Responsibility To Clients

  1. The member's main responsibility is the client's safety and welfare. They are to respect the client's mental and physical well-being at all times.
  2. The members are not to practice any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic culture, age, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, religion, national origin, political belief, physical handicap, or any other characteristic or personal condition.
  3. The members are to uphold a professional relationship with clients, and not engage in physical abuse, hugging or touching in an erotic way or any other sexual activities.
  4. The members are to seek advice of colleagues, mentors and supervisors whenever the consultation is in the best interest of clients.
  5. In compliance with HIPAA regulations, the members are to respect the privacy of clients and hold in confidence information acquired during the course of professional service. Also, members are to inform clients fully about the limits of confidentiality. The limits on confidentiality are provided to the client in writing prior to entering into a client-therapist relationship. Client notes are to be kept in a locked file cabinet, if using a computer, notes are to be password protected, and computer stored behind a locked door. If any form of email is used, client must give writen permission. Communication via voice mail is to be limited to scheduling appointments only, and only with client's approval.
  6. The members are to obtain consent of clients before audio or video recording or permitting others to be present during their sessions or activities.
  7. The members are to practice hypnotherapy services in accordance with the level of their training, competency and respecting the laws of their state.
  8. Members are to inform clients of what to expect during sessions, so that they can make an informed decision as to whether they consent to participate.
  9. Members are to work with only those clients that fall within their scope of practice.
  10. Members are not to have any intimate social contact with a client for at least two years after their last session with the client.
  11. Continuing education keeps practitioners informed of the latest developments in the field of hypnotherapy and reduces unethical behavior. Thirty hours of continuing education is required per two-year re-certification period.
  12. Members fully disclose their educational qualifications and professional credentials and certifications to their clients in writing on their client intake forms.
  13. Members agree not to use wording in the title of their business or any other promotional materials that could mislead the public.
  14. Members agree to be accurate in their description of their services, business name, and work place, so not to imply in their advertising and marketing communications that their hypnotherapy services are in any way the practice of medicine, psychotherapy or that they are licensed to practice hypnotherapy.
  15. Members agree to be truthful in advertising and marketing communications.  Also, members agree that they will not in any way state or imply in their advertising and marketing communications that they provide medical or psychotherapy services if they are not licensed by their state board of regulation to do so.  Members agree that Hypnotherapy will not be offered as a substitute for medical or mental health treatment. Hypnotherapy sessions are provided as a complement or adjunct to medical and mental health treatment only with a licensed physician or therapist's consent or referral.
  16. Members agree that as a hypnotherapist they will not use the following words in any of their promotional materials or marketing communications, such as websites, print brochures, newsletters, business cards, etc.: "psychologist," "psychotherapist," "psychotherapy," "psychological," "counseling," "therapist," "medical hypnotist," "licensed hypnotherapist," "doctor of hypnotherapy," "treatment," "treatment of ..." any mental disorders or mental health conditions or medical ailment, this includes but is not limited to "anxiety," "addiction," "insomnia," " depression," "trauma," "eating disorder,"  and other words like: "cure," "clinic," "patient," "alternative." Again, members agree not to imply that they are practicing psychotherapy or medicine, unless they are licensed by the state they practice in to do so.
  17. Members agree that clients should seek the appropriate and highest level of care and that members will be reasonable in their practice of hypnotherapy. Members agree not to provide hypnotherapy services if a client's behavior, or statements, would lead a reasonable person to believe that such a client should be assessed by a licensed physican or mental health professional. (If already licensed by a board of regulation, for example as a therapist, psychologist, clinical social worker, or physician, and you also provide hypnotherapy services, elements of #16 and #17 may not pertain.)
  18. Members understand that their hypnotherapy school training prepared them for certification by the International Board of Hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy is a "non-licensed" profession. Licensing of a professional group can only be authorized when a law is passed by a state legislature and then implemented by a state regulatory agency. They will not use the words "affiliated," "licensed" or "approved" by the IBH. Members may refer to themselves as "certified" by the IBH or that they are "member" of the IBH, or if they have achieved level 3 certification status, "fellow" of the IBH.


  1. The members are to set their fees in a fair and reasonable manner.
  2. The members are not to give any kind of economic compensation for receiving or making a referral, i.e., "finders fees" or cash "kickbacks" (including multilevel marketing type of compensation) for clients or seminar attendees.
  3. Prior to conducting sessions, members disclose their fees, what types of methods will be used and what the client can generally expect to experience with the methods described.
  4. Members are to provide clients with the IBH refund policy and client complaint mechanism in writing.

The Member's Ethical Responsibility to Colleagues

  1. Whenever dealing with unusual or difficult cases, ethical conduct concerns or other dilemmas related to their practice, members are to seek the advice of other Board members.
  2. The members are to treat colleagues with respect and professional decorum, during all interactions, including but not limited to phone conversations, email and social media. Negative comments, judgemental language, speculation and gossip will result in revocation of certification.
  3. The members are to respect confidences shared by colleagues in the process of their professional relationships.
  4. The members are not to exploit a dispute between a colleague and employer to obtain a position in a company.
  5. The members are to seek the mediation of a superior or administrator when conflicts with colleagues arise to reach appropriate and equatable solutions.
  6. The members are to relate to clients of colleagues in a professional manner.
  7. The members are not to solicit the clients of colleagues.

The Member's Ethical Responsibility to the Hypnotherapy Profession

  1. The members are to maintain high ethical standards of behavior to protect their profession.
  2. The members are to take actions to correct all unprofessional and unethical practices.
  3. The members are to always be honest about the origin of their professional degrees, education, certifications or other qualifications.
  4. The members are to advertise thier professional services with honesty and good faith. They are to insure that all of their marketing and promotional materials are truthful and realistic. Members acknowledge that medical support hypnotherapy sessions are provided as a complement or adjunct to medical and mental health treatment and only with a licensed physician or therapist's consent or referral.
  5. Members are committed to their own personal growth, continuing education, and actively pursue self-actualization.
  6. The members agree to conduct their practices and all professional relationships in accordance with the International Board of Hypntotherapy Code of Ethics.

Claim of Unethical Behavior

  1. After the Board has received via U.S. mail, a written complaint, signed by the complainant, an ethics committee will be convened to review the complaint. If there is reasonable merit to the written complaint, the ethics committee will form a quorum to receive testimony from all involved parties. After the complaint and response to the complaint are reviewed by the quorum and it has reached its decision, it will issue a report, then the parties will have 30 days to respond to the quorum's findings. A failure by the member to respond to the complaint within the alloted time will not prevent the quorum from taking action accordingly.

Actions the quorum may recommend include: 1) dismissal of the claim, 2) written warning, 3) request requiring actions by the respondent to correct unethical/unprofessional conduct in a reasonable amount of time, 4) suspension or 5) revocation of membership. After doing so, the ethics committee will submit its recommendations to the Board.

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Albuquerque, NM 87113
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Hypnotherapy is an educational and self-improvement process that facilitates access to a person's internal resources to assist him/her in solving problems, increasing motivation, or altering behavior patterns to create positive change.

Hypnotherapy is not a substitute for medical treatment or psychotherapy. Barbara Stafford does not practice medicine or psychotherapy and her services are not a replacement for counseling, psychotherapy, psychiatric or medical treatment. No service or product provided is intended to diagnose or treat any disease or illness, psychological or mental health condition. Medical support hypnotherapy is used only as an adjunct to conventional medical treatment. Consultation with a licensed physician is required before medical support hypnotherapy services are provided.

Hypnotherapy is a proven, adjunctive method to complement such ongoing treatment and care. Because hypnosis and hypnotherapy are a series of self-help skills and their effectiveness depends on the client, no guarantee can be made regarding results of their use.