Scamming The Public
Here follows a brief introduction to some of the ways hypnotists and NLPers use to impress the public. For the average member of the public, choosing a therapist is a fairly random process. Therapists know that the public are naive to the regulations and qualifications systems, and so will exploit a number of techniques to impress upon potential clients the following:
1. The level of qualification
2. The authentic lineage/connection to someone famous or influential
3. Official recognition and regulation
4. Level of expertise
Let’s look at these in closer detail. You will, of course, find some of these methods exploited to the hilt on my own website as I too attempt to compete for the next client. You should also note a degree of recursion built into this page because it is itself an attempt to create the “honest guy” impression and is thus aimed to impress upon the reader that the author is himself the “real deal”.
Level of Qualification
Most common is the use of letters after one’s name and this is possibly the most suspect of all methods.
For example, I could use:
Andrew T. Austin, BHR (Dip. Hyp), GHSC, MPNLP, BGC. Clinical Hypnotherapist and Master Practitioner of NLP
Let’s translate this. “BHR” refers to the name of a training company – no longer in existence – that offered a “diploma” in hypnosis. The course was itself excellent and the trainers all skilled clinicians, however, the use of the letters after the name is dubious. To use the initials of a training company is common and of course inevitably misleading – you might as well use the initials of your primary school!
As for “diploma” you can come to my house for a chat – bring biscuits – and I’ll give you a “diploma”. I’ll print it off from my MS Publisher program. Anyone can give a diploma to anyone. The name “diploma” when not used in conjunction with a recognised higher education qualification is of course worthless.
GHSC means nothing more than I’m listed with the General Hypnotherapy Standards Council. To enlist on this register the listee simply needs to provide proof of training and proof of insurance. The listee signs an agreement of standards and ethics. All well and good so far. However, what the hypnotist then does is to use the letters after their name as though it denotes a qualification!
You sign the forms and send off the cheque -but it isn’t a qualification.
It is also common to see the phrase, “Member of The…..” where the person inserts the name of the registration body. Remember the school register?
It is a list of names.
“Membership” suggests that the register is something more – an official regulatory body, perhaps?
MPNLP translates as, “Master Practitioner of NLP” – sounds impressive right? Given how many people just read a book or two, do a weekend course at the local college and call themselves “Therapists” or “Practitioners of NLP/Hypnotherapy” the potential client has a right to be highly suspicious. I know of some highly dubious NLP “trainers” dishing out certification left, right and centre so that many “master practitioner” certificates are utterly without value.
BGC simply refers to “Bloody Good Chap”.
Authentic Lineage/Connection to Someone Famous or Influential
Everyone I know who practice martial arts seems to do this too. The emphasis is to provide proof of a descendancy of your master from Bruce Lee, no matter how tenuous this link may be.
In NLP circles the tendency is the same. For example, I can write that, “I am trained with some of the worlds best, The Amazing Brando, Waldo The Incredible, and Binky The Clown…” and so forth. I can write this truthfully, but in a way that can mislead. I can omit to mention that I was one of 400 people in the room, or that I only turned up to register on the first day and again on the last day in order to collect the certificate.
I could word it as though I am friends or on intimate terms with the trainer.
The other trick is to place suitable quotes from famous people on the page. This works to create associations in the mind of the reader. I do this a lot and it works well – people associate me with those people from whom I liberally quote and also creates the impression that I know them.
Official Recognition and Regulation
This is a neat trick and one that works well. Scroll down a bit – you’ll see I’ve added a logo for “NHS Direct.” I have nothing to do with NHS Direct at all and, as far as I am aware, NHS Direct has nothing to do with hypnotherapy or NLP. Using a public logo in this way creates the impression that I am somehow connected with the organisation. I am not. However, when I combine it with the fact that I am able to take NHS referrals the cunning use of the logo implies that I am somehow connected to the NHS.
I am able to take NHS referrals but only in exactly the same way as any cleaning company is able to take a contract to clean the wards.
A business arrangement is not clinical approval.
You will find a large number of practitioners and people offering courses who will tell you that they are “approved by the BBNLP” or “accredited by the BBNLP” and so on. This method is very simple – create a website purporting to be something “official”, create the logo, then display the logo on your webpage.
If you are stuck for ideas, how about these that I made up:
- National Hypnotherapy Helpdesk
- British Federation of NLP Practitioners
- Global Organisation of NLP Trainers
- National Board for Experimental Hypnosis
- British Clinical Hypnosis Group
- European Center for Clinical Hypnosis Studies and Personality Research
And of course ones I didn’t make up:
- Global Organisation of NLP
- Planetary Organisation of NLP
- Intergalactic Federation of NLP
There are dozens of “bodies” or “organisations” – usually one-man bands such as Dodgy Dave’s Official Certification Body – that offer “accreditation.” So, if you seek authenticity, check carefully who exactly is behind these organisations. Some are legitimate, others just take the money and issue the logo…
Level of Expertise
This one is a hoot.
“Hypnotherapist with over ten years clinical experience as a hospital nurse….”
“World class training in one of Britain’s premiere training establishments…”
“25 years of excellence in human resources training and attention to detail….”
The best way to achieve this is to award yourself grandiose titles. For example, at the time of writing, I am technically the “Director” of my own limited company. It was an attempt at a tax break that failed – all the money saved is being given to the accountant who is resolving my administrative failings. But I’m not going to tell you that. No, instead I am going to tell you:
“With over 10 years of experience in hospital based critical care and 15 years experience in devising primary mental health care systems, Andrew T. Austin is now the Chief Director of Scammasters International Ltd, a newly formed company delivering the highest quality training in the UK.”
Of course, the other bit I don’t tell you is that the “devising primary mental health care systems” probably consisted of little more than attending team briefings and printing off the care plans and that those two periods of time (10 years and 15 years) actually ran concurrently.
How about getting yourself a “Harley Street Practice“? After all, everyone associates Harley Street with the best, right? I don’t understand why, but I guess it is just one of those things. Check this. Go to Google and type “1, Harley Street” and you get 11,800 happy google returns! No. 1 Harley Street sure is a busy place!
The hate mail and legal threats are just rolling in! When writing to me, please state if it is OK for me to publish it here (no private correspondence will ever be published without permission). Please note: in England we spell it, “arsehole”. Thanks.
Sheila Kenny takes time to write to me: “Addendum # 3: Set yourself up as apart from and above the scam artists by bashing everyone but yourself. Sheila J. Kenny, BCH (board certified hypnotist, National Guild of Hypnotists). Sorry, there aren’t more letters after my name. You may publish my correspondence.”
From the same email address, “Paul E. Kenny” also writes: “You are guilty of everything you accuse everyone else of being guilty of. Therefore, you are guilty of “scamming the public’ and covering up by saying that anyone who disagrees with you is sending hate mail. I don’t hate to say this, but you are a fraud. Paul E. Kenny, cht.” (reproduced with permission)
I give respect to the Kenny’s for signing their names and giving permission to reproduce their emails. Many haven’t done that and so will remain anonymous. But to others who do not like what I say here, do please read the second paragraph before emailing me!
And, “cht”, “board certified hypnotist”??! Come on guys, you can be more inventive than that, surely!
NLP Fight Club anyone?…The first rule of fight club is that you do not talk about NLP fight club…
Want to read more NLPer Bashing?
(I don’t bash the models of NLP, just some of the people who profess to “practice it” which for them invariably means they set themselves up as a “psychotherapists”).
From 7 Day Practitioner To Therapist
“It’s been said before – the average practitioner of NLP will seek clients who are middle class, good looking and affluent with a high disposable income to indulge themselves with some inner beauty therapy. The more money they pay, the more satisfied they’ll be with their results. Show the average NLPer anything a bit more complex and suddenly they find themselves in a bit of bother and will try this technique and that technique without a real clue or understanding of what is going on.”