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Requirements For Becoming A Hypnotist In California

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Please Note: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.

In general, hypnotists are exempt from professional licensing in the state of California, so long as the provided services fall under self improvement (i.e., vocational and avocational) and the purpose of such services is not to treat mental or emotional disorders.

Hypnotists who are referred by persons who have a license to practice psychology, dentistry, or medicine also do not need to be licensed. 



When could a hypnosis practice be considered a medical practice in the state of California? 

California Penal Code 2052 prohibits practicing medicine without a license. Specifically: 

“Any person who practices or attempts to practice, or who advertises or holds himself or herself out as practicing, any system or mode of treating the sick or afflicted in this state, or who diagnoses, treats, operates for, or prescribes for any ailment, blemish, deformity, disease, disfigurement, disorder, injury, or other physical or mental condition of any person, without having at the time of so doing a valid, unrevoked, or unsuspended certificate as provided in this chapter or without being authorized to perform the act pursuant to a certificate obtained in accordance with some other provision of law is guilty of a public offense, punishable by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code, by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both the fine and either imprisonment.”

The California Superior Court held in People v. Cantor (1961) that practicing hypnotism as a curative measure to help patients lose weight, relax tension, improve nerves, and improve bad habits amounts to the unlawful practice of medicine if a hypnotist is not licensed to practice medicine. 

Licensed professionals, such as physicians, are allowed to use hypnosis as part of their practice. 

With the penal code and Supreme Court ruling in mind, it’s important that unlicensed hypnosis practitioners refrain from making health claims surrounding hypnosis, as practicing medicine without a license is unlawful. 

What hypnosis claims can you make in the state of California? 

If you plan to practice hypnosis without a professional license in the state of California, it’s important to avoid language that implies a psychological service is being provided (see Penal Code 2052 above). Specifically: 

  • Avoid using words like “psychology,” “psychiatry,” and “psychometry.” 

  • Avoid referencing disorders (i.e., OCD, bulimia)

When advertising your services, you may wish to disclose that your services are not intended to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any medical condition.

If you are an unlicensed hypnosis practitioner and offer services that complement a medical service, your best bet is to obtain referrals from a licensed provider.

Are hypnotists in California required to provide clients with an informed consent form?

When practicing hypnosis in the state of California, you may choose to provide new clients with an Informed Consent Form, which is covered under Senate Bill SB-577

SB-577 enables complementary and alternative health practitioners to advertise their services, provided they make important disclosures to patients. 

While not explicitly required for hypnotists, you may wish to use this form in your practice to help protect yourself and your patients. 


Disclosure under SB 577 must disclose the following:

  1. That the practitioner is not a licensed physician.

  2. That the treatment is alternative or complementary to state-licensed healing arts services.

  3. That the services being provided are not licensed by the state.

  4. The nature of the services being provided.

  5. The treatment theory upon which the services are based.

  6. Educational, training, experience, and/or other qualifications regarding the services being provided.


In addition, the practitioner must obtain written acknowledgement from the client confirming that the client has been provided the information described. 

Practitioners must also provide a copy of the acknowledgment and maintain their own copy for three years. 

Do hypnotists in California need to be certified? 

A certified hypnotherapist is a person who has obtained their certification from a professional hypnosis organization like the National Guild of Hypnotists. 

Hypnotists in California do not need to be certified. 

Even without a requirement in place, hypnosis professionals should consider becoming certified for a number of reasons: 


  1. It demonstrates that the hypnotherapist is committed to the hypnosis profession. 

  2. Some states require training or certification, so if you plan to expand beyond the state of California, you may find certification to be necessary. 

  3. It helps assure clients that you are indeed a professional in your field. 


A comprehensive hypnosis training and certification program can get you on a successful path to starting your own practice in California.