By Ernst Lamothe Jr.
With people seeking various non-medical, non-invasive treatments to heal various issues in their lives, hypnosis has slowly gained traction as an option.
Hypnosis is a type of guided therapy used in psychological and medical treatments. Treating anxiety, depression, addictions and fears, hypnosis can improve sleep and quality of life.
“Overall mental health has become a very prevalent issue,” said Rekha Shrivastava, a certified hypnotist and founder of Blossom Hypnosis in Pittsford. “There are many issues that a hypnotist can help individuals conquer — from migraines and arthritis to alcohol, food and drug addiction,” she said.
Shrivastava holds a master’s degree in psychological development from the University of Rochester and has worked at Unity Health System for 20 years offering mental health services to treat a wide range of mental illnesses.
“Medication is not the only answer to problems. Sometimes the side effects of prescribed medication are worse than original symptoms,” said Shrivastava. “There are many pain management solutions that don’t involve drugs.”
Here are five issues that hypnosis can treat, according to her.
1. Public speaking
The fear of public speaking is the most common phobia ahead of death, spiders or heights. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that public speaking anxiety, or gloss phobia, affects about 73% of the population. The underlying fear is judgment or negative evaluation by others. Public speaking anxiety is considered a social anxiety disorder. One of Shrivastava’s clients had such a fear of public speaking that he would get nervous even in conference calls.
“He would have panic attacks before going on conference calls,” she said. “But after doing several regression sessions where you go into people’s childhood we figured his fear stemmed from a traumatic experience when he was young. We get the whole picture and it was because he was bullied in school at a young age when he had to give a speech where he forgot his lines.”
She offered several phobia release sessions, using the neurolinguistic programming method.
“I help people through their anxiety. You let the conscious mind go and allow people to get in a relaxed trance and then you talk to their subconscious and they hear a suggestion that gets embedded into that subconscious,” said Shrivastava. “The subconscious is the major part of our thinking system but it just happens to be a hidden layer of the mind. It has 90 % retention rate so the suggestions are retained long after the sessions.”
Shrivastava has helped clients with fear of heights, elevators, medical doctors and other crippling phobias. While fear is natural and a healthy response to danger, especially in a survival instinct mode, phobias are different. They are more intense than fears and can lead to anxiety and panic attacks.
“What I do with all that anxiety is I tell them to imagine those anxiety symptoms as a volleyball.” she said. “I tell them to now shrink it to the size of a golf ball in their minds and then allow it to roll off their shoulders, past their wrist and just hold it really tight in the palm. Then image releasing the ball and getting rid of it. They can see their anxiety being thrown away.”
Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.
“People come to me after the death of a mother, spouse or someone close with them and it causes a deep inner depression that can be difficult to come back from,” said Shrivastava. “I help them to stop the negative thoughts. There are many unwanted subconscious thoughts in your head and finding ways to get rid of them is a technique that [the]hypnotist utilizes.”
4. Weight loss
Gastric band hypnosis is a technique used to suggest to the subconscious that you’ve had a gastric band fitted around your stomach to help you lose weight. It is considered a non-invasive option compared to the actual gastric band surgery, which involves fitting a band around the upper part of the stomach. This limits the amount of food you can physically eat and encourages weight loss.
“I record audio of the session where I plant the information to stay on track and not eat junk food and avoid binging,” said Shrivastava.
In addition, hypnotherapy is more than just hypnosis as it offers services such as counseling. It is important to get an understanding of how a person ended up in the situation they’re in and other leading factors that may be affecting them. Once the therapist grasps a better understanding of the situation, then they can utilize the use of hypnosis.
5. Addiction to Drugs, Alcohol and Nicotine
Hypnosis is a very safe and effective tool to address addiction. She has helped multiple clients with alcohol, drug and nicotine addiction. “I embed the suggestions directly in the subconscious mind and it becomes a guide or inner adviser for the clients,” said Shrivastava, who is a credentialed alcohol and substance abuse counselor.
“Addiction can be addressed with aversion and various hypnotic techniques and anchors. It brings long-term changes in the lifestyle of clients.”
Shrivastava has successfully helped several clients who came with severe wine addiction and they achieved full sobriety with the help of hypnosis sessions and listening to the audios supplied by her.
Photo: Rekha Shrivastava, a certified hypnotist based in Pittsford.