What is hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is a therapeutic modality that combines hypnosis, cognitive therapy and the dynamic between the therapist and client. Hypnotherapists engage with the client's conscious and subconscious belief systems so that emotional, behavioral and even physiological change can occur.
What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a natural state that you've probably experienced without realizing it. When the critical area of the mind (the area wherein our logic, reasoning, analytical capabilities, judgment, etc. reside) is relaxed, the subconscious opens and is more receptive to sensory data, and verbal suggestion.
How does hypnosis work?
Hypnosis works by engaging the mind/body connection. It works by isolating a person's attention and engagement. An inner calm is achieved so that imagination and attention can be heightened while inhibition and critical interference are lessened.
According to Stanford Medical researchers , three things happen to a person's neurobiology while in a state of hypnosis.
1. First, they saw a decrease in activity in an area called the dorsal anterior cingulate, part of the brain’s salience network. “In hypnosis, you’re so absorbed that you’re not worrying about anything else,” Spiegel explained.
2. Secondly, they saw an increase in connections between two other areas of the brain — the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the insula. He described this as a brain-body connection that helps the brain process and control what’s going on in the body.
3. Finally, Spiegel’s team also observed reduced connections between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the default mode network, which includes the medial prefrontal and the posterior cingulate cortex. This decrease in functional connectivity likely represents a disconnect between someone’s actions and their awareness of their actions, Spiegel said. “When you’re really engaged in something, you don’t really think about doing it — you just do it,” he said. During hypnosis, this kind of disassociation between action and reflection allows the person to engage in activities either suggested by a clinician or self-suggested without devoting mental resources to being self-conscious about the activity.
Essentially, hypnosis works because you're actively focused, engaged and open to suggestion.
What issues can hypnotherapy treat?
Here is a list of 146 issues that hypnotherapy can treat. Common issues I work with are insomnia, anxiety, being stuck, desire to quit a bad habit (biting nails, negative self talk, chewing tobacco, smoking, eating sugar, staying up too late, procrastination, etc.), emotional healing from past traumas, anger management, sexual performance, increasing motivation, fear of public speaking, indecision, releasing excess weight, increasing self confidence, inner child work and more.
Will I cluck like a chicken or bark like a dog while I'm hypnotized?
No. I will never ask you to cluck like a chicken or bark like a dog unless that's what you really want (and if that's the case, I recommend doing stage hypnosis, not hypnotherapy!). Suffice it to say, your critical area of the mind, self preservation instincts and willpower are still in effect while you're in hypnosis. Nobody can make you do anything that counters your instinct and desire.
Will I be asleep?
No, in order for hypnosis to work, you need to be awake and in a receptive state. Though your eyes will be closed and your body will be relaxed, you'll be able to hear, speak and engage with your conscious and subconscious mind.
However, sometimes clients fall asleep and if they do, I gently wake them up. This often happens to clients who are highly stressed, sleep deprived or just relaxed, at ease and comfortable. Some clients ask to sleep for the remainder of their session and this is a request that I happily oblige. Sleep is so beneficial to our mind/body health and my office is a safe place to do so.
Can anyone be hypnotized?
Yes, a skilled hypnotherapist knows how to test anyone's suggestibility and will formulate suggestions in a way that suits the client's particular level of receptivity to suggestion.
Do you have to be a believer?
No. All I ask is that you believe in the mind/body connection. If you can believe that, then hypnosis can work for you!
How does hypnosis feel?
It varies for each individual. Some people may experience a physical feeling like a tingly sensation or a heaviness in the body. Other people simply feel like they're resting with their eyes closed. But almost everybody feels relaxed, renewed and refreshed afterward.
Is there research to validate hypnotherapy?
Yes, please see the articles and videos on my Resources page.
What license or training do you have?
In the U.S., hypnotherapists become Certified rather than Licensed.
I'm Certified as a Clinical Hypnotherapist by The Hypnosis Motivation Institute, one of the leading hypnotherapy institutions in the nation. I trained for 1.5 years and completed 720 hours of clinical coursework as well as 107 hours of elective coursework.
When choosing a hypnotherapist, I recommend asking whether they're certified and if so, where they received their training. If they say they attended a weekend class, I'd look elsewhere.
Do you have training in counseling and/or psychology?
Yes. I trained in an M.A. for Counseling Psychology program at Pacifica Graduate Institute for one year before I withdrew because I fell in love with hypnotherapy. The emphasis of this program was in Depth Psychology, rooted in the power of mythology, the collective unconscious and the works of Carl Jung. This training, as well as the work I did as a Behavioral Therapist with Autistic kids, prompted me to heighten active listening skills, confidentiality, unconditional positive regard, and professional ethical practices.
What should I expect to happen in a first session?
Your session will be divided into two portions. The first portion will take place at my desk where you'll comfortably sit and tell me what you want to work on. I'll ask questions that will help me understand you and your situation. I'll take notes while I listen and engage with you and offer you a notepad to take notes as well. Often if clients are nervous, I'll teach them how to do a progressive relaxation exercise or breathing techniques.
Once I'm clear on what you want to achieve, the next portion can begin.
The second portion of your session will take place in my extremely comfortable leather recliner. If you're familiar with guided mediation, expect the hypnosis portion to be similar to that. I'll make sure you're comfortable, will put on some calm music and will do a gentle mind/body connection induction. As I tell all my clients, you can move your body during hypnosis, you can talk and you're completely aware of what's happening during the process. If you want, you can open your eyes at any point or get up and leave (though nobody has, yet!).
Once you're really relaxed and comfortable, I'll verbally guide you towards a specific imagery scene or scenario and that's when our constructive hypnotic work will take place.
I'll be in my chair by your side the entire time and will gauge my suggestions and transitions based on your feedback.
When we've finished our hypnotic work, I'll count you up and out of hypnosis (though technically you can open your eyes and come out of hypnosis anytime you want!). I'll leave time at the end of the session for you to process what you experienced and to make sure that you're alert, refreshed and feeling hopeful.
Is hypnotherapy something that you have to do forever (like counseling)?
No, and that's what I love about it. I can sleep well at night knowing that some progress is made each and every time a client leaves my office. My estimation is that 1 hypnotherapy session is equivalent to 3-5 traditional therapy sessions. Hypnosis works with the largest part of the mind, the subconscious, so we're able to achieve quick, practical, progress.
Unlike traditional therapy, we're accessing the largest and most powerful part of your mind: the subconscious. While your conscious mind is about 12% of your total mind power, your subconscious is a whopping 88%.
If the conscious mind has a desire to change a behavior (nail biting, negative self talk, motivation to exercise) but the subconscious (your emotions, beliefs, physiology, memories, associations) resists, the conscious mind won't be able to make that change on its own, i.e. in traditional therapy.
By relaxing the mind/body connection, we can access the subconscious and determine what needs to be modified in order for progress to occur.
How many sessions are needed?
It varies for each individual and each presenting issue. It's similar to having a fitness goal. If you want to get in really good shape, you may need to regularly go to the gym, hire a trainer, and show up for regular appointments. But sometimes all you need is one really good workout to help you release stress and feel better. Will you automatically be in amazing shape? No, but you'll feel better.
The effects of hypnosis can be temporary or long-lasting, it's really up to the individual client to decide. For some people, one session is all it takes to create immediate and long-lasting change. For others, it may take several sessions for the suggestions to sink in and for both the conscious and the subconscious mind to embrace positive change.
What is your pricing structure?
I charge by the session, not by the hour. Sessions can be up to two hours in length. Each individual session is 225.
What differentiates you from other hypnotherapists?
Hypnotherapy is a science and an art and I'd say I incorporate a beautiful blend of both in my work.
My process is one of cooperation. I believe that each client has the answers within them and that all hypnosis is self hypnosis. In order for meaningful change to occur, I need to speak my client's language and be truly present and in tune with my client.
While in trance, I often ask clients to communicate what they're experiencing so that I can pace my guidance with their process. I encourage clients to speak freely or to respond silently, using finger gestures rather than words. I meet my clients at their comfort level and respect their boundaries throughout.
Many therapists read generic scripts that address generic issues while the client is in hypnosis. Though scripts are a great way to practice, they are ineffective if they don't engage the client's inner language, beliefs, images and emotions.
I quite often go into trance with my clients while I'm guiding them into a hypnotic state and from there am able to engage them in imagery that is meaningful to them. I use Neuro-Linguistic-Programming techniques, Gestalt therapy, and even Transcendental meditation techniques.
When you choose me as your therapist, you can trust that I'll craft a session that specifically fits you and your needs and nobody else's. I wouldn't be able to sleep as well as I do if I neglected to do so!
How did you become a hypnotherapist?
You can read about my winding path towards hypnotherapy on my About page. The short story is I read a book in graduate school titled 'Journey of Souls', wherein a hypnotherapist/psychologist recounted case studies of clients who could access and recount lives and life between lives while in a state of hypnosis. I found it fascinating that humans have the capacity to go inward and find the knowledge they need in order to heal. All the hypnotherapist needed to do was guide them there. I realized that the sky was quite literally the limit when it came to how powerfully a person could heal by using hypnotherapy.
So I withdrew from my graduate school program and enrolled in a highly regarded intensive clinical hypnotherapy program. Simultaneously I worked with a coach who helped me work through my subconscious fears, limiting beliefs and helped motivate me to finally create my private practice. While completing my internship in L.A., I created my private practice and shortly thereafter relocated to Marin County to be closer to family.
How has hypnosis helped you?
I continuously use hypnotherapy on myself. Hypnosis helped me get over the fear of creating my own practice. But here is a specific instance where one session of hypnotherapy helped me through grief:
I sought hypnotherapy when I was grieving over the loss of my 3 pet bunnies. I felt guilt, sadness, confusion, and heartbreak. While in hypnosis, I was able to envision The Rainbow Bridge. I met with pets from my childhood as well as my three pet bunnies. I was able to receive messages from them, communicate with them, and wish them farewell while in a peaceful place of acceptance. I cried throughout the session but felt a weight lifted off my chest when we finished. Rather than stay in a long period of remorse, grief and heartache, I was able to move forward peacefully after just one 2 hour session.
When you visit my office, you'll see that I have a smiling blue bunny figurine on my shelf that greets you as you walk in the door. This bunny is a testament to the power of hypnotherapy and reminds me that each client is experiencing their own form of heartache. The bunny reminds me to tune into and channel the symbolism of the rabbit as well. Symbolism of the rabbit includes but isn't limited to: Love, luck, growth, speed, rebirth, shyness, harmony, awareness, abundance, creativity, perception, family and esoteric knowledge.
Do you have questions that haven't been answered? Send me a message, check out my Resources page or give me a call!