The first thing hypnotists who practice hypnotherapy are quick to clarify is regarding stereotypes. There is no swinging pocket watch and no magic stare similar to what clients may have seen on TV or at the movies.
“A lot of people may come in here in their first interaction with hypnosis, they only know about what they saw in movies and read in books, which is not a great, fair representation of it,” hypnotist Dan Candell said.
In fact, the average person might enter self-hypnosis regularly.
“Hypnosis is a natural state of mind that we all go through multiple times a day,” hypnotist Bob Martel said, pointing to engrossing movies or difficult tasks. “We have to get through to the subconscious mind if we really want to reprogram our minds for success.”
Martel and Candell are president and vice-president, respectively, of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Guild of Hypnotists. Massachusetts is a hotbed of hypnotists, as the NGH was actually founded in Boston in 1950 and its national headquarters are close by. And although casual observers may lump the practice in with unproven hokum and failed alternative medicines, a session or two may change their minds.
“I have to educate,” Martel said. “We don’t really convince anybody – that’s selling, and that’s not really what this is about. But the word hypnosis conjures up all kinds of images in peoples’ minds.”
Candell does split time between the two branches of hypnosis, doing — in his estimation — 120 stage shows per year. He can get audience members to act like they’re Miley Cyrus in front of dozens of their friends — not a hypothetical, as that exact scenario is the climax of his comedy show — and he insists the reality is simpler than some make it out to be.
“You don’t have to believe in hypnosis, but you have to be willing to be hypnotized,” Candell said. “Hypnosis is not mind control … it looks like you’re controlling people, but you’re not. You’re influencing their behaviors, bypassing the analytical mind.”
“It’s basically getting into the part of your mind called the subconscious part of your mind,” Candell continued. “That’s the part of your mind that stores ever single thing you’ve every heard, seen, felt, done, experienced, learned, read and tasted. And based on those things, it composes our perception of reality, it composes what we think and believe to be true.”
The medical endorsement of hypnotherapy has always been a source of debate. For example, according to a 1958 American Medical Association report, “the use of hypnosis had a recognized place in the medical [resources] and is a useful technique in the treatment of certain illnesses when employed by qualified medical and dental personnel,” but the report was later rescinded by the AMA.
“Doctors don’t have time to study this,” Martel said. “Many doctors might dismiss it because they don’t know much about it. But it is a valid modality to augment what someone might be getting.”
Martel’s business, Positive Results Hypnosis (positiveresultshypnosis.com) in Holden, has a laundry list of conditions hypnosis can help with. While both Martel and Candell say smoking cessation and weight loss top the list of most common treatments, Martel’s brochures also list anxiety, procrastination, addiction, stuttering, sex problems, hoarding, nail biting, poor public speaking, poor sports performance, anger, skin disorders, sleeplessness and even warts on a list of things hypnosis can help with.
“When I was going through my initial certification, you would not believe the mind-body connection and the power of it,” Martel said about hypnosis curing warts.
Candell (mahypnosis.com), based in Northboro, lists many of the same problems as examples for his practice. In fact, he first learned hypnosis when he was 13 years old after seeing a stage hypnotist. He had a learning disability, which affected his grades in school. But his parents bought him a few books, he recorded some “suggestions” on a cassette player, and soon enough his grades went up and he got hooked on hypnosis. At 16 years old, he performed his first show in Las Vegas, and he claims that in school as Assumption College he made around $25,000 by charging college students $10 per session for help improving grades – another common hypnosis measure. Now at the point where he is teaching classes on hypnosis to aspiring hypnotists, Candell said it’s important to screen your hypnotist.
“You don’t need a certification to hypnotize people,” Candell said. “You could watch a YouTube video and read a book, and hang a shingle and say you’re a hypnotist. I’ve had a lot of clients in here before where they’ve said their friend hypnotized them, but it was really weird. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. When you’re working with someone’s mind, you want to make sure you’re dealing with a qualified professional.”
Martel has eight years as a hypnotist under his belt. Before that, he was a marketing consultant and copywriter, although he said the transition came naturally.
“A lot of the phraseology and words we use to give positives suggestions to people are a lot like influence and persuasion techniques we use in marketing,” Martel said. “So it’s a good marriage, for me.”
Like many alternative medicine fields, hypnotherapy is growing in popularity, with both Candell and Martel citing high patient rates and referrals from doctors.
“I see hypnotherapy exploding,” Candell said. “It’s on TV, there’s really famous hypnotists who have their own TV programs in the UK and Australia, it is expanding and it’s growing. The enrollment numbers I have in my classes – my first class had three people. My next class will have about 10 people, the next class will have 15 or 20 people. More people are seeing it, more people are seeing it as something they can use to help people.”
Reporter Tom Quinn can be reached at 508-749-3166 x324 or tquinn@ worcestermagazine.com with story ideas, feedback, or questions. Follow him on Twitter @bytomquinn.
Article source: http://worcestermag.com/2016/01/21/hypnosis-for-health-sometimes-dismissed/39687