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A hypnotic way to work out issues

Hypnotherapy unleashes the subconscious in an attempt to help fix problems plaguing patients

Posted: December 17, 2009 10:35 p.m.
Updated: December 18, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Scott Spackey treats clients with hypnotherapy at his Newhall office. Hypnotherapy is a technique that relaxes patients so they can use their subconscious to help resolve issues such as phobias or addictions.

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A woman suffered from a skin condition that left a nasty rash covering her entire body. When she went to the doctor, he prescribed her a cream. Weeks went by and she returned. The rash was still present.

After several other creams and ointments, it seemed as if nothing worked. As a last resort, she decided to see a hypnotherapist. While in a state of hypnosis, her hypnotherapist gave her some instructions.

"Imagine a special lotion to help with your rash," the hypnotherapist said. "Take the lotion and apply it to your skin. It's calming and cool, and it'll make the rash go away."

The woman called the hypnotherapist the next day.

"The rash is gone all over!" she exclaimed with excitement. "Except for under my armpits."

She had forgotten to put the imaginary lotion under her arms during her session.

This is a true story according to Karen Maleck-Whiteley, a hypnotherapist and owner of Balance Point Day spa in Canyon Country.

"In my view, hypnotherapy is a tool people could use to achieve goals," Maleck-Whiteley said. "It allows you to use your mind to make changes in your life."

Scott Spackey is a hypnotherapist, a California registered addiction specialist, a life-counselor and an interventionist. He runs LifeMind out of an office in Newhall. As a certified drug counselor, he involves hypnotherapy in order to help people overcome their obstacles.

"(Hypnotherapy) is a process by which the subconscious mind is affected through conditioning. The way we cultivate negative behaviors is subconscious conditioning," Spackey said. "We know we don't want to be a certain way."

Hypnotherapy helps recondition the mind to allow a person to achieve his or her goals.

It all comes down to suggestibility, Spackey said. The mind works on a pain-pleasure system - to avoid pain and seek pleasure. In a state of hypnosis, the hypnotherapist makes new paradigms and associations.

Maleck-Whiteley and Spackey do not put their patients to sleep by swinging a watch like a pendulum while they lay on a couch. That's only seen in the movies. In hypnosis, people don't lose control and go into a zombie-like state where they can be made to do things against their will.

"It's not brainwashing," Maleck-Whiteley said.

"You can't make someone do something they don't want to do," Spackey said.

Clients don't even have to lie down to enter the state of hypnosis. And it's not as if the patient actually goes "to sleep" either. Rather, they enter a state of absorbed awareness, not unlike losing oneself in a good book or a favorite piece of music.

"We all go through trances in our life," Maleck-Whiteley said. "We daydream. While we're driving, we get somewhere and we don't really know how we got there. It's a normal state. Your mind is a million miles away and then someone cuts you off and you're swung back to reality."

The goal of hypnotherapists is to get their patients to relax enough to achieve this state in their office.

"We have ways to access that state," she said.

Hypnotherapy for what?
Hypnotherapy is a "technique used for a long time," Maleck-Whiteley said. "The theory behind hypnotherapy is we could access and change something in the subconscious. You actually work on what you want to work on. People use hypnotherapy for hundreds of things."

Some of the most common reasons people see a hypnotherapist are: Anxiety, pain reduction, sleep issues, sports performance, learning a musical instrument, improvement of self-esteem and confidence and removing blocks to success and starting a business.

Conquering phobias is also a concern among patients, whether they have a fear of testing, fear of public speaking or fear or spiders. Smoking cessation and weight loss are probably the most popular self improvement actions.

"A lot of high schoolers come in for test anxiety, better study habits and retention," Maleck-Whiteley said.

People often come in looking to overcome their addictions.

"We're all addicts," Spackey said. "Addiction isn't just to drugs and alcohol. People are addicted to shop lifting, relationships, sex."

Spackey is a recovering drug addict himself, and is well equipped to deal with people who are going through tough times.

Maleck-Whiteley and Spackey also get some unusual cases, including helping clients remember where they put something, teeth grinding, overcoming a fear of the dentist, hair pulling, hypno-birthing (so labor can be faster and less painful) and past-life regression.

"There's a theory that you can go back and visit a past life," Maleck-Whiteley said.

Hypnotherapy does not work for everyone, Maleck-Whiteley said, nor is it a quick fix to every problem in life. "Hypnotherapy is not a silver bullet," Spackey said. "It's an advancement."

From hooey to hurrah
Hypnotherapy used to be looked down upon. Today, it has been proven that hypnotherapy helps.

There have been studies and documentaries where hypnotherapy has had good results with irritable bowel syndrome and has helped cancer patients.

However, it is important to note that hypnotherapy is not a substitute for medical conditions, treatments or drugs.

"We are not doctors or therapists," Maleck-Whiteley said. "If you come in for depression or severe headaches, I'd refer you to a doctor."

Hypnotherapy is a supplement to overcome medical conditions. Doctors often suggest their patients see a hypnotherapist to help assist with the recovery process.

"Those people heal faster," Maleck-Whiteley said. "We can work in conjunction with the medical world."

The big component for those who are interested in finding a hypnotherapist is being able to trust who you go to.

"It's not a licensed profession," Maleck-Whiteley said. "I believe it should be."

Both Maleck-Whiteley and Spackey want those interested to be aware. People can take a weekend course now and claim to be a hypnotherapist.

"Make sure they went to an accredited school," Maleck-Whiteley said. Although not a licensed profession, clinical hypnotherapists can (and should) be certified.

Balance Point Day Spa is located 18285 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country. Call (661) 252-0650 or visit www.balancepointspa.com for more information. LifeMind is located 24303 Walnut Street, Suite B in Newhall. Call (661) 299-1966 or visit www.life-mind.com for more information.

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