By Shaun Brookhouse on June 11, 2008, 02:07:52 pm
Adjudication from Advertising Standards Authority (UK)
The following is a reproduction of a recent adjudication about the advertising practice of a hypnotist. It is essential that when consulting a hypnotist, that the information that you are given is accurate and provable.
Hypno-Stop!Churcham House1 Bridgeman RoadTeddingtonMiddlesexTW11 9AJ
9th March 2005
Health and beauty
Public Complaint From:
Complaint: Objection to a regional press advertisement, for a hypnotherapist, headlined "You can stop smoking in less than an hour with Hypnosis". The text claimed "Using this incredible proven system that 100''s of local smokers have benefited from ... leaving you free from the habit that has controlled you for years ... We often see clients who have already tried everything from patches, Zyban to counselling and other forms of hypnotherapy but our proven, advanced hypnotherapy method has the highest success rate of all, says Patrick of Hypno-Stop! Centre in Teddington". The text was asterisked to a footnote that claimed "In a 3 year study of results, this method was proven to have a 95% success rate". Text, under the heading "How Hypnosis Works", claimed "When smokers try and stop with patches, N.R.T. or with will-power they often still want to smoke because something else is in control - the subconscious mind. "Hypnotherapy effectively transforms the subconscious mind which controls our habits, addictions and phobias. It safely allows healthy and positive change to take place," explains Patrick, "the advanced technique we use also removes cravings and stress triggers allowing our customers to stay non-smokers permanently"." Text, under the heading "GP and Dentists Support", claimed "Patrick is seeing increasing referrals from both doctors and dentists who are convinced that hypnosis is the safest, healthiest and most effective solution to the smoking habit. "We also help people who suffer from weight, stress, phobias and other psychosomatic conditions," adds Patrick". Text, under the heading "Is Hypnosis Safe?", claimed "It''s comforting to know that hypnosis was certified as 100% safe by the British Medical Association as early as the 1950''s and in spite of what we see with stage hypnosis, you cannot be made to do anything you don''t want to do nor can you get stuck in a trance!". The complainant challenged:1. whether the advertisement, in particular the claims "You can stop smoking in less than an hour with Hypnosis", "incredible proven system" and "stay non-smokers permanently", misleadingly implied success was guaranteed;2. whether the advertisement misleadingly implied hypnotherapy was 100% safe;3. the claim "Patrick is seeing increasing referrals from both doctors and dentists who are convinced that hypnosis is the safest, healthiest and most effective solution to the smoking habit";4. the efficacy of hypnotherapy for treating weight loss and psychological conditions; and5. the claim "In a 3 year study of results, this method was proven to have a 95% success rate".6. The Authority challenged whether the advertisement underestimated the importance of willpower.
Codes Section: 3.1, 7.1, 50.1, 50.4, 50.8 (Ed 11)
Adjudication: The advertiser said his hypnotherapy technique was highly effective, but did not submit written evidence to the Authority.
1. Complaint upheld: The Authority considered that readers were likely to interpret the claims "You can stop smoking in less than an hour", "incredible proven system" and "stay non-smokers permanently" to mean the technique would definitely be successful. Although it noted the advertisement stated that follow-up sessions were available for people who relapsed, it considered that that merely contradicted the general impression of the advertisement that success was guaranteed. Because the advertiser had not sent proof of that, it considered the advertisement was likely to mislead readers and told the advertisers to amend it.
2. Complaint upheld: The Authority noted the claim "... hypnosis was certified as 100% safe by the British Medical Association ..." and considered that readers were likely to believe the advertiser''s methods were 100% safe. Because the advertiser had not proved that, the Authority considered the claim was likely to mislead and welcomed the advertiser''s decision to remove the claim.
3. Complaint upheld: The Authority considered that, because the advertiser had not sent evidence of referrals from dentists or doctors, he had not proved the claim. It told the advertiser to remove it.
4. Complaint upheld: The advertiser gave a verbal assurance that he had successfully treated many patients for weight loss and depression, but did not send proof.The Authority considered that the advertiser had not substantiated the implication that hypnotherapy was a suitable or effective treatment for weight loss and was concerned that the claim could be interpreted by readers to include psychological conditions that were suitable to be treated by qualified medical practitioners only. It told the advertiser not to repeat the claim.
5. Complaint upheld: The Authority noted the study referred to in the claim related to the Practice Builders hypnotherapy method. Because the study used telephone interviews to measure the success rate, and the study itself stated that establishing success rates using telephone interviews was less reliable than using biochemical data, such as blood tests, and that some studies had stated that respondents to telephone surveys lied to researchers, the Authority concluded the advertiser had not proved a "95% success rate" and told him not to repeat it.
6. Upheld: The Authority noted the advertisement did not state, or allude to, the importance of willpower. It was also concerned that the claim "[smokers] often still want to smoke because something else is in control - the subconscious mind. Hypno-therapy effectively transforms the subconscious mind which controls our habits, addictions and phobias" actively implied willpower was not important. The Authority concluded that the advertisement was likely to mislead readers and told the advertiser to amend it. It advised him to seek help from the CAP Copy Advice team before advertising again.
Diplomate and Certified Master Instructor, National Guild of Hypnotists
Order of Braid, Council
International Affairs Officer, National Guild of Hypnotists