At Chrysalis Institute we pride ourselves in providing the most highly sought out licensed professional counseling and hypnotherapy services available in the state of Oklahoma.
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By Jean Fain
Most people, including my colleagues at Harvard Medical School, where I teach hypnosis, don't realize that adding trance to your weight loss efforts can help you lose more weight and keep it off longer.
Hypnosis predates carb and calorie counting by a few centuries, but this age-old attention-focusing technique has yet to be embraced wholeheartedly as an effective weight loss strategy.
1. The answer lies within. Hypnotherapists believe you have everything you need to succeed. You don't really need another crash diet or the latest appetite suppressant. Slimming is about trusting your innate abilities, as you do when you ride a bicycle. You may not remember how scary it was the first time you tried to bike, but you kept practicing until you could ride automatically, without thought or effort. Losing weight may seem similarly beyond you, but it's just a matter of finding your balance.
2. Believing is seeing. People tend to achieve what they think they can achieve. That even applies to hypnosis. Subjects tricked into believing they could be hypnotized (for example, as the hypnotist suggested they'd see red, he flipped the switch on a hidden red bulb) demonstrated increased hypnotic responsiveness. The expectation of being helped is essential. Let me suggest that you expect your weight loss plan to work.
3. Accentuate the positive. Negative, or aversive, suggestions, like "Doughnuts will sicken you," work for a while, but if you want lasting change, you'll want to think positive. The most popular positive hypnotic suggestion was devised by doctors Herbert Spiegel and David Spiegel, a father- son hypnotherapy team: "For my body, too much food is damaging. I need my body to live. I owe my body respect and protection." I encourage clients to write their own upbeat mantras. One 50-year-old mother who lost 50-plus pounds repeats daily: "Unnecessary food is a burden on my body. I'm going to shed what I don't need."
4. If you imagine it, it will come. Like athletes preparing for competition, visualizing victory readies you for a victorious reality. Imagining a day of healthy eating helps you envision the necessary steps to becoming that healthy eater. Too tough to picture? Find an old photograph of yourself at a comfortable weight and remember what you were doing differently then; imagine resurrecting those routines. Or visualize getting advice from a future older, wiser self after she's reached her desired weight.
5. Send food cravings flying. Hypnotherapists routinely harness the power of symbolic imagery, inviting subjects to put food cravings on fluffy white clouds or in hot air balloons and send them up, up, and away. If McDonald's golden arches have the power to steer you off your diet, hypnotists understand that a countersymbol can steer you back. Invite your mind to flip through its Rolodex of images until one emerges as a symbol for casting out cravings. Heave-ho.
6. Two strategies are better than one. When it comes to losing weight and keeping it off, a winning combination is hypnosis and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps revamp counterproductive thoughts and behaviors. Clients who learn both lose twice as much weight without falling into the dieter's lose-some, regain-more trap. You've already tried CBT if you've ever kept a food diary. Before my clients learn hypnosis, they keep track of everything that passes their lips for a week or two. Raising awareness, every good hypnotherapist knows, is a key baby step toward lasting change.
7. Modify, modify, modify. The late hypnosis innovator Milton Erickson, MD, emphasized the importance of using existing patterns. To alter one client's lose-regain, lose-regain pattern, Erickson suggested she first gain weight before losing it—a hard sell nowadays, unless you're Charlize Theron. Easier to swallow: Modify your highest- calorie craving. Instead of a pint of ice cream, how about a cup of frozen yogurt?
8. Like it or not, it's survival of the fattest. No suggestion is powerful enough to override the survival instinct. Much as we like to think it's survival of the fittest, we're still programmed, in case of famine, for survival of the fattest. Case in point: a personal trainer on a starvation diet who wanted me to suggest away her gummy bear addiction. I tried to explain that her body believed her life depended on the chewy candies and wouldn't give them up until she got enough calories from more nutritious foods. No, she insisted, a suggestion was all she needed. I wasn't surprised when she dropped out.
9. Practice makes perfect. One Pilates class does not produce washboard abs, and one hypnosis session cannot shape up your diet. But silently repeating a positive suggestion 15 to 20 minutes daily can transform your eating, especially when combined with slow, natural breaths, the cornerstone of any behavioral-change program.
10. Congrats—it's a relapse. When clients find themselves, against their healthiest intentions, overindulging, I congratulate them. Hypnosis views a relapse as an opportunity, not a travesty. If you can learn from a real or imagined relapse— why it happened, how to handle it differently—you'll be better prepared for life's inevitable temptations.
Many people equate hypnosis with a carnival trick, where a hypnotist gets people to do crazy things while in a trance. But it's now being used to help people lose weight. Dr. Mallika Marshall reports. <Wacth Video>
So much for 15 minutes of fame. After hypnotist Tom DeLuca hypnotized them into a deep sleep, about a dozen volunteers snoozed right through their appearances on Good Morning America.
But when he told them to laugh, they woke up, and all started cracking up.
"I told them that when I said sleep, they would go back deep asleep," DeLuca told Good Morning America's Charlie Gibson. "And I could plant a suggestion right now for you."
DeLuca, who demonstrated his hypnosis live on GMA, seemed to have his subjects in the palm of his hand. He plunged one man's arm into a large bucket of icy water, but the subject claimed he felt no pain, just wet — the sensation that DeLuca had told him he would feel under hypnosis. The same man was unable to tell Diane Sawyer his own name, because when he was under hypnosis, DeLuca told him he would be unable to say it.
Another female volunteer, who was hypnotized to block the number six from her mind, kept responding seven when she was asked the sum of five plus one.
In shows all over the world, stage hypnotists including DeLuca, have found that under hypnosis, people will do strange things.
Such shows, along with films that depict hypnotists as evildoers vying for control over their subjects, have given hypnosis a reputation as a hyped-up sideshow. But the reality of hypnotism is much less dramatic. Advocates of clinical hypnosis say that it is simply a different state of mind, and one that can be used as a medical tool.
By Susan Yara
Hypnotism is the Rodney Dangerfield of the medical world. Thanks to pulp fiction and old movies, hypnotism is seen by most people as part confidence game and part mumbo jumbo, practiced upon pliant blondes and unsuspecting heirs by hucksters, fakirs, goateed Viennese doctors and other assorted oddballs and lowlifes.
In reality, few hypnotists are so melodramatic. They will not put you in a trance that will make you quack like a duck or become a killing machine at the ring of a ball or the snap of a finger. Today, hypnotism is becoming an increasingly popular, and effective, way for people to combat health problems against which they often have little or no control.
Two of the most common reasons that hypnotists are contacted are to help lose weight and stop smoking. But it can also be applied to improving study habits, stress reduction and raising self-esteem. To those in search of better physical or mental health, it's equally important that hypnotism is becoming increasingly accepted by the medical establishment and is certified as a treatment by the American Psychiatric Association.