Recently we added a new service to our mental health clinic, hypnotherapy. This was new to me as a mental health professional and was interested to see how it worked in practice. Probably like many of you, I had a visual of the pocket watch being swung back and forth while a Freud-like bearded character says, “You are getting very sleepy.” The only time I had seen hypnosis being used in person was as parlor trick at large events where a “hypnotist” got audience members to do embarrassing things in front of a large crowd.
So to educate myself, I sat down with Romy Sundem, who is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Certified Hypnotherapist to learn more about how hypnosis is actually used to help people in their day-to-day lives.
How long have you been using hypnotherapy?
Do you actually swing a pocket watch in front of people like on television?
No. It’s not like on T.V. In hypnotherapy, there are actually four stages: Induction, deepening the hypnotic state, suggestion and bringing one out of the hypnotic state. First, I’ll ask the person to get comfortable and focus on their breathing. Then, I use a progressive body relaxation to deepen the hypnotic state. No watches are used.
Can you explain how it works?
You know how your mind is always working behind the scenes? Imagine if you could put all those automatic thoughts happening to work for you to assist with a challenge or concern in your life. That’s how hypnotherapy works – it puts your subconscious mind to work for you in a positive way. To do this, we put the person into a hypnotic state where they are much more open to suggestion because the subconscious mind is more active and listening. The suggestions are based on what each individual wants to get out of the process. After this, I bring the client out of the hypnotic state and ask for their feedback on their experience.
Why would people seek out hypnotherapy?
For people who feel stuck or have tried “everything” talk therapy has to offer, hypnosis can be another tool to try. Hypnosis isn’t a cure-all; it’s another tool someone can use to help overcome the problem with which they are struggling. I primarily use hypnosis to help people manage the effects of anxiety and depression. I also use it to help patients with test anxiety, public speaking, weight loss and smoking cessation.
Can everyone actually be hypnotized?
In my experience, 80% of people are hypnotizable, 10% are difficult to hypnotize and 10% are highly hypnotizable. Younger children tend to be easier to put into a hypnotic state.
Does it get results?
Absolutely. I’ve had some people say they noticed small changes/effects after one session. Most often it takes between 3-6 sessions to see any major effects or changes.
What’s your favorite part about hypnotherapy?
The mystery behind it. There is science that helps us understand why hypnosis works and what the brain is doing when someone is in a hypnotic state, however, for me, our brains are amazing places that can help us heal and combat the effects of problems in our lives. Hypnosis is one way to access what the brain, our subconscious, knows to do so we can feel better and live our lives in the way we prefer.
To learn more about hypnotherapy, visit HelpWithSolutions.com/Hypnotherapy.
Romy Sundem is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Solutions Counseling in St. Michael, MN. She works collaboratively with children (ages 5+), adolescents, adults, couples and families. Her preferred areas of work include consulting with those who are experiencing the effects of trauma, depression, anxiety, ADHD, school problems, relationship concerns, family conflict, couple/family communication and life transitions. Romy focuses on providing a warm, welcoming and non-judgmental space for those she consults with to explore their lives, relationships and current difficulties. Romy works from a Narrative perspective which means she recognizes that people use narrative (or story) to make meaning in their lives and construct their identities. Accordingly, people can change their lives and identities. Using Narrative principals also means Romy recognizes you are the expert on your life, family, etc. Romy combines Narrative practices with other theoretical stances to best meet the needs of the client. Romy also uses hypnosis to address a variety of concerns. Romy has a BA in Psychology from the University of MN, Duluth; a MA in Counseling Psychology from Boston College; and a Post Graduate Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from St. Mary’s University, Minneapolis. Romy is certified to use hypnotherapy and has advanced training in Narrative Practices. Romy views therapy as a sacred place. She looks forward to collaborating with you and your loved ones to start living your life according to your preferences, values, hopes and dreams.