A: I’m a certified hypnotist. I have a large beautiful sign outside of my office—it reads BOARD CERTIFIED HYPNOTIST. You should’ve seen it—when I put that sign out there it embarrassed the hell out of my kids!
Q: How did you train to be a hypnotist?
A: I had been fascinated with the power of our subconscious mind since I was in my early 20’s. I took a Hypnosis Training course through the National Guild of Hypnotists — the largest organization with the most difficult course I could find. It was 75 hours of in-class training, 25 hours of extra work outside, and an exam at the end of the course.
That was in 2001. I now teach the Hypnosis Certification Training course.
Q: Can you tell me a little more about what hypnosis is?
A: It’s like meditation with instructions. It’s a tool to help people change the thoughts that stop us from doing what we want to do.
When we have a fear, our conscious analytical mind knows we’re safe, but our subconscious mind feels frightened. For example you might know intellectually that driving over a bridge is safe, but something inside you is screaming “DON’T DRIVE OVERTHE BRIDGE. IT’S SCARY!” The subconscious and conscious mind are in a huge conflict.
I help by teaching clients what they need so that both parts of the mind are on the same page. Then they can safely and calmly drive over any bridge.
Q: Do you have a watch on a chain that you dangle in front of people to put them into a trance?
A: No, modern hypnotists don’t need that! I just help people go into a relaxed natural state. It kind of feels like when you wake up on a Saturday and have nowhere to go—and you are enjoying being in that hazy place that’s in between the dream state and awake state.
People allow themselves to listen to me and allow their mind and body to relax. I can’t control them or make them reveal deep dark secrets.
Q: So it’s like meditation?
A: The only difference between meditation and hypnosis is that meditation is letting go of your thoughts and hypnosis is directing your thoughts.
Think of something you set out to do and you accomplished. You had positive thoughts about the outcome and you knew you could do it. That’s how you can always achieve success.
Q: Can you make someone cluck like a chicken?
A: They have to pay me extra for that. lol!
Q: What kinds of issues do you help people with?
A: I frequently do traditional hypnosis, like helping people stop smoking, or with weight loss, or combating a fear. If a woman needs to relax so she can get pregnant, hypnosis and self hypnosis for relaxation can help.
A huge part of my practice is devoted to helping women who have gone through transitions in their life to help them turn their life around. I also specialize in helping women stop emotional eating.
Q: How did you build up a business doing hypnosis?
A: In the beginning I bought ad space on a diner placemat and placed an ad in a local yoga journal.
After a few years I got tired of working by myself and I wanted to be with other people. A short time after I had that thought, Dave, a guy who took my hypnosis training class called me and showed me a huge, gorgeous office in the perfect location — but the rent was more than my mortgage! He said he’d be willing to rent it with me and we shook hands.
I love our office. It is a beautiful stone tavern over 200 years old. Beautiful floors and windows. No ghosts either.
Marketing has been easy because we have an attractive sign on a highly traveled road. I also get a lot of referrals from past clients and other certified hypnotists. A lot of my graduates refer to me too.
Q: Do you remember your first clients?
A: My first client was a petite little woman with gray hair, L.L. Bean boots and coat. She said “I need to be comfortable during matches. I’m a power lifter.”
She said she wanted to win at the state level. During matches she also got very nervous. I told her to imagine herself picking up the weight and imagine it was made of styrofoam.
Instead of focusing her attention on her nervousness, I helped her harness the energy of everyone watching and she imagined that flowing inside of her. She made the energy flow through her shoulders and hands while helping her feel calm. She even used that energy to increase her strength.
She won at the state level and then for her age group at Nationals. She was 60!
Q: That’s cool.
A: I’ve had doctors, lawyers, students, Moms, teens, a few CEOs too… I have the best freaking job in the world.
I recently helped this wonderful woman who was 55 years old. She is an expert kayaker and she noticed that when she was kayaking and practicing her rolls — the Eskimo Roll — she was both nervous and inconsistent. We just finished working together.
Q: And she improved?
A: Yes. She’s over her fear and now rolls consistently.
A lot of people come to see a hypnotist as a last resort. One client I helped was a schoolteacher who had a fear that people could smell her body odor. She would always sit far from the other teachers and her fear got debilitating.
Turns out her mother had told her at age eleven, “You gotta put on a lot of deodorant because you smell bad.” It was a deep embedded subconscious thought. I had her go into a gentle trance and talk to her child self and she got over it in four sessions.
Sometimes magic happens when we have the older self talk to the younger self. You can tell your younger self things like, “I’ll keep you safe so that you aren’t scared anymore.”
Q: Do you do this Monday through Friday?
A: Yes. But on Tuesdays I mainly work on my online courses. I like to see ten to twelve people a week. Sometimes fifteen.
Each client learns self-hypnosis in order to re-train their mind. We meet once a week for 75-100 minutes, and you come see me for coaching or four to ten sessions. Clients learn what hypnosis is and what it isn’t. After the first session, you go home and begin the practice of how to focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want.
Q: Have you ever had a person you couldn’t help?
A: If the person asks something like, “Can you make me want to quit smoking?” then no, I can’t help them. But if they have the desire to make a change, then I have the tools.
This article by Suzanne Yeagley appears in Mcsweeney’s where you can find others with super interesting and unusual jobs!