The National Association of Clergy Hypnotherapist (NACH) joins the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH) as Clergy Special Interest Group (CSIG/NGH) 1997

(Dr William Curtis">

The National Association of Clergy Hypnotherapist (NACH) joins the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH) as Clergy Special Interest Group (CSIG/NGH) 1997

(Dr William Curtis, a Presbyterian Minister, was the founder and first President of The National Association of Clergy Hypnotherapist and the first to received "The Hypnosis and Religion Award" from the National Guild of Hypnotists in 1999. Chaplain Durbin was the President of NACH when it joined with NGH to become Clergy Special Interest Group of The National Guild of Hypnotists (CSIG/NGH) and was the second to receive "The Hypnosis and Religion Award" in 2000.)

In 1998, National Association of Clergy Hypnotherapists joined the National Guild of Hypnotists. As the newest "group members" of the Guild, we of the National Association of Clergy Hypnotherapists were delighted to have the opportunity to introduce ourselves to all of our hypnosis colleagues in the Guild. Fifteen years after its founding, the National Association of Clergy Hypnotherapists (more commonly known as NACH) had accepted, by overwhelming vote of its membership, the invitation of the Guild to become an official "special interest" group within the NGH. It seemed to us to be a most appropriate joining. NACH's founder and long-time President (now retired), Dr. William Curtis, envisioned an ongoing educational and supportive organization to help members of the professional clergy bring the benefits of hypnosis to ministries within institutional settings, including churches, private schools, hospitals, prisons, the military, and pastoral counseling organizations.

Our official NACH Credo set forth our commitment to "the study and prayerful use of progressive relaxation, suggestion. imagery, and various methods of clinical hypnosis as a part of [our] ministry of love, compassion and spiritually-motivated healing. We stood for excellence through continuing education in hypnotherapy, pastoral ministry and pastoral counseling...."

From NACH's beginnings in 1983 until his retirement in 1996, Dr. Curtis worked long hours to build up membership and credibility for NACH. I became a member in 1986, the year of the organization's first national convention in Atlanta, GA. I share with you this statement from the very first NACH Newsletter dated Spring 1987: "We are a non-sectarian FELLOWSHIP and EDUCATIONAL organization. As such the idea was not to play the game of clubsmanship, but rather to have informal idea and problem-solving exchanges in a warm ecumenical fellowship. We could find strength and inspiration in being united, in creating opportunities for favorable national and local publicity and promoting good public relations and education. We came from differing backgrounds, education and denominations. We possessed varied clerical, theological and hypnosis backgrounds. We might have differed in our philosophies, theories and our practices. However, our common interest UNITED us in the midst of these varieties. We would agree to disagree in an agreeable manner. We could glory in our diversity because of the strengths and experiences it brought us. We needed to agree to never 'put down' but rather to build up and love each other, for God's sake, and our own. We wanted an atmosphere of health, not hurt. Therefore, we should communicate in caring, present ideas as sharing, and value our own and other's opinions as treasures."

Over the years, NACH's leadership began to recognize that our ability to carry out NACH's mission effectively as an independent organization was not as great as we had at first hoped. As such, at our 1996 Annual Meeting, the board of NACH was authorized to communicate with both the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH) and the College of Chaplains (COC) [Now the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC)] to explore the possibility of merger. We approached the Guild with a proposal that the membership of NACH become a clergy division or special interest group with special requirements for membership as part of the Guild. We sought talks with COC to be a hypnosis special interest group with this nationally known and recognized clergy group. With the formal invitation of the Guild, we decided that we would rather be a clergy group with NGH than a hypnosis group with COC.

It was our belief that clergy would have a far greater influence in the 21st century with the Guild than as a separate organization. NACH member Father Phillip Vogel spoke for many when he wrote: "Let me give you my analysis. I don't think NACH as it is now and perhaps realistically in the foreseeable future has the 'critical mass' -- the numbers of members -- to hold together and/or maintain members year after year. I perceive the only viable solution is for NACH to amalgamate with NGH, a nonprofit organization with a membership of over 5000 members (some of whom are clergy and who were not members of NACH.) They have the 'critical mass' to be solvent and ongoing. Their convention is a learning buffet. I dare say that clergy interest in our group would be enhanced as members of NGH. We can provide ethical, religious and spiritual perspective and leadership for NGH."

The NACH By-Laws state that "Professional membership in the Association shall be open to all persons with religious vocations who are college and seminary educated and ordained by a recognized religious body." As a special interest group within the Guild, NACH will continue to maintain specific requirements for membership: a degree from a seminary accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, valid ordination or its practical equivalent (e.g., the taking of final vows within a religious order), and interest in the pastoral use of hypnosis as a religious service within an institutional setting.

We brought to the Guild our collective expertise (a number of our members are already familiar to the rest of you as regular presenters at the Guild's annual conventions), our enthusiasm for the appropriate use of hypnosis within both secular and religious institutions of education, health and healing, and our ongoing commitment to the continued growth and development of the community of hypnotists of which we are all members.

We look forward to many years of fruitful and faithful work as part of the NGH, shepherding the continued advancement of hypnosis within the sphere of institutional religion and sharing with all of you as we continue to explore the interface of hypnosis and religion. This is for NACH a new form of ministry -- may God bless us all in our work together!

Chaplain Paul G. Durbin, 

Last President NACH - First Chairman of CSIG/NGH.


Information on joining CSIG/NGH contact: Rev Dr Lindsay Bates

Rev Dr Lindsay Bates is the current Chairman:  lbates@uuma.org