The regulation of hypnotherapists in the UK is so lax that even a cat can become accredited, the BBC has found.
Chris Jackson, presenter of Inside Out in the North East and Cumbria, registered pet George with three industry bodies.
Each one accepted a certificate from the non-existent Society of Certified Advanced Mind Therapists as proof of George’s credentials.
It follows a similar investigation by an American clinical psychologist.
Dr Steve Eichel suspected industry bodies in the US were not running checks on their members.
He said: “I felt I’d test my hypothesis and I did that by getting my cat certified by a number of the most prominent lay hypnosis organisations in the United States. It was a frighteningly simple process.”
In the UK, George was registered with the British Board of Neuro Linguistic Programming (BBNLP), the United Fellowship of Hypnotherapists (UFH) and the Professional Hypnotherapy Practitioner Association (PHPA).
The UFH welcomed the Inside Out investigation and admitted the mistake, which it said has since been corrected.
A PHPA spokesman said the organisation makes great effort to ensure every applicant is a fully-qualified hypnotherapist.
The BBNLP said it exists only to provide benefits to its members, not to check or certify credentials.