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Author Topic: Florida
Posts: 54
Post Florida
on: July 8, 2011, 20:00

As you can see, provided you follow NGH Standards and Terminology you may practice in Florida. You may not use any of your American Board of Hypnotherapy certifications unless you also possess a license as a health care professional as the practice of hypnotism for therapeutic purposes (i.e. hypnotherapy) is restricted in Florida to such persons.

Glad to help,
Scot Giles

This state has an explicit hypnosis law, Chapter 485 (this number was assigned in 2000, replacing a previous statute number Ch. 456), which restricts the use of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes to persons licensed as medical or mental health practitioners. This law also restricts which licensed professionals can refer persons to hypnotists (medical problems can only be referred by a medical practitioner [broadly defined] while psychological problems can be referred by a mental health practitioner only).

While hypnotists do not qualify to independently work with clients under Chapter 456, Chapters 490 and 491 had explicitly allowed the use of hypnotism by hypnotists for non-therapeutic purposes. Unfortunately, "non-therapeutic" for many years was not defined, and in October 26, 1996 the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration attempted to use Ch. 456 to close down a hypnotist's smoking and weight loss practice. While we resolved this complaint, the issue remained. In March 1998, the Florida Department of Health assumed regulatory responsibility for these statutes and with input from OPEIU created a definition by excepting certain practices from the regulated scope of Ch. 485. The definition is created in Rule #64B4-7.002, regulating the qualifications necessary for social workers, marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors to practice hypnosis. In this rule the non-therapeutic use of hypnosis is defined as "stress management, self-hypnosis, guided imagery, (and) relaxation."

Therefore, it is necessary for Florida hypnotists to be very careful about how the describe their services to the public. They must carefully avoid using the language of health care professionals (such as depression, anxiety, compulsion, phobia, etc.) and use common-language equivalents instead (sadness, upset or worry, drivenness, fear, etc.). They must also clearly indicate that any services they render for mental or medical conditions are done only on referral from a licensed professional. All independent work, regardless of the purpose of that work must be held out to the public as hypnotism for some form of stress-management, self-hypnosis instruction, guided imagery or relaxation. We believe this is sufficiently broad as to able to include every hypnotic technique used by a hypnotist practicing under our standards. While not explicitly required by the law, it would probably be wise for Florida colleagues to use the term "hypnotist" to describe themselves and the word "hypnotism" to describe what they do. The word "hypnotherapy" is clearly identified with the licensed practice of health care in Florida and unlicensed persons should avoid it.

In the 1997 session the legislature passed HB 329 which amends the mental health license laws to explicitly include hypnosis or hypnotherapy as within the scope of practice of the various mental health professions. This act also modified Chapter 490 and Chapter 491 and it removes the explicit exemption for non-clinical hypnotism that had previously existed in Ch. 490 (the psychology law). However, another proposed law under consideration in 1998, HB 1463 (a change to the social worker and mental health counselors act), makes use of this language and explicitly contains the exemption in the modifications it makes to 491.114 (section 1) and .491.0141 (section 16). The 1998 session legislation included a resubmission of HB 329 and another bill, HB 3227 which affects hypnotists only in the sense of clarifying that they may not do substance abuse counseling.

After analysis, NFH 104 believes that the changes to Ch. 490 simply removed the mention of non-clinical hypnosis from the psychology law, but does not forbid the practice of non-clinical hypnotism so long as the hypnotist is careful to make it clear to the public that he or she is not a psychologist. The changes to Ch 491 leave the explicit exemption intact in the counseling and social work laws, requiring only that the hypnotist does not represent him or herself to the public using a protected title, or as doing work that is the same as that done by a licensed mental health professional as mentioned above, and observes Rule #64B4-7.002.

Another Florida regulation, 64B4-7.003, stipulates that persons wishing to do training for hypnotherapy for therapeutic purposes must do 200 hours of training in hypnosis from an organization approved by the Florida Board of Professional Regulation.

In 2000 a law regulating the practice of naturopathic medicine was passed. This law bans "suggestionology" which sounds like hypnosis. It actually is not. Suggestionology is the naturopedic practice of giving a patient a placebo while telling the patient that it is effective medication. Hypnotists do not do this. However, this law raises the penalty for the unlicensed practice of medicine to a felony.

In 2001 we became aware of reports that private investigators representing the Florida Office of Investigative Services were actually raiding the offices of some hypnotists and interrupting sessions. As our unionized political organization is part of the largest union in the State of Florida, we asked it to intervene. As a result of this intervention we were able to clarify that the hypnotists being interfered with we all practicing in violation of the Recommended Standards for Practice of the National Guild of Hypnotists. The Investigators agreed that the Recommended Standards do constitute lawful practice and hypnotists following them have be treated with courtesy by the investigators and left alone. Consequently, we now recommend that our Florida members practice in strict conformity with the Recommended Standards in Florida, and both use the “hypnotist” rather than the “hypnotherapist” title and to include in the Client Bill of Rights the same disclaimer recommended for a State on Guild Standard.

In 2002 a number of Cease and Desist Orders were issued by the Florida Office of Investigative Services, now renamed the Bureau of Unlicensed Activities. To our knowledge no practitioner who has used the hypnotist title and who has followed Guild Standards for a State on Guild Standard has been cited. However, in communication with the office the Chief Investigator refused to offer any assurances and stated that in his opinion “all hypnosis is therapeutic.” We judge this claim to be nonsense and the result of an overly zealous civil servant. Therefore, we used our union connections to request an opinion from the Attorney General. The opinion was promptly received and found that:

1. It is lawful for unlicensed persons in Florida to engage in nontherapeutic hypnosis provided they do not hold themselves out as licensed practitioners.
2. It is lawful for unlicensed persons in Florida to engage in therapeutic hypnosis under referral of an appropriately licensed professional.
3. The Bureau of Unlicensed Activities has no legal grounds to maintain that all hypnosis is therapeutic in nature.
4. The Bureau of Unlicensed Activities had no legal right to direct unlicensed persons to cease and desist from all practice of hypnosis. The Bureau can only order unlicensed persons to cease and desist from engaging in the independent practice of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes. Such persons retain the lawful right to independently practice hypnosis for nontherapeutic purposes or for therapeutic purposes on referral.

On the basis of this Attorney General opinion OPEIU issued a Cease and Desist Letter to the Bureau of Unlicensed Affairs and we consider the matter resolved.

Advisory Board, National Guild of Hypnotists
Legislative Liaison, National Federation of Hypnotists 104
Fellow and Certified Instructor, National Guild of Hypnotists

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