Achieving New Year’s Resolutions Through Hypnosis: A conversation with counselor and hypnotherapist Barry Wolfson, MS
Dec 31, 2011 01:52PM
By Susan Bloom
While considered unconventional by some, hypnosis is a medically approved practice, introduced in the 1840s, that has proven effective in helping patients make positive behavioral changes. Barry Wolfson, MS, is the director of the Hypnosis Counseling Center, which he founded more than 25 years ago in Bloomfield and has expanded into offices in Flemington and Frenchtown as well as a planned site in Princeton. A trained hypnotherapist with a master’s degree in counseling from Upsala College, Wolfson has brought his methodology to more than 25 adult schools around the state as well as corporate offices, college campuses, and hospitals. Wolfson explains how hypnosis can help turn new year’s resolutions into reality.
NA: Do you find that a lot of people seek out hypnosis in January?
Wolfson: Absolutely. Many of us choose the new year to make a new start, and we do it by making new year’s resolutions. The fact is, however, almost none of us keeps them. It’s not that we don’t want to make the changes, because we’re usually very sincere. It’s that we try to tough it out alone, using sheer willpower, when many of our resolutions involve long-term habits that are difficult to change without help. That’s where hypnosis comes in. Hypnosis is a very effective tool that can help people realize their year’s resolutions. So every New Year’s Day for the last 26 years, as predictable as the new year itself, my phone starts to ring very frequently.
NA: What is hypnosis?
Wolfson: Hypnosis is an “alpha” state of mind, which is a dreamlike state similar to [that achieved through] yoga and meditation. Hypnosis helps you leverage your strongest personal asset—your mind—to achieve lasting and positive behavioral changes. Once in a relaxed hypnotic state, you’ll open yourself to affirmative, therapeutic suggestions and begin your own journey toward positive change and personal freedom.
NA: What types of conditions or behaviors can hypnosis effectively address?
Wolfson: At the Hypnosis Counseling Center, we’ve successfully addressed patient issues involving weight loss, smoking cessation, self-esteem, stress reduction, fears and phobias, public speaking, anxiety and panic attacks, test-taking, insomnia, sports improvement, migraines, and confidence building, among others.
NA: How would a typical session work?
Wolfson: Hypnosis sessions begin with a soothing breathing exercise. Through gentle suggestions, we then lead patients into a state of complete relaxation and deep meditation. The conscious mind steps back as the subconscious mind becomes open to suggestions for change. In this state of deep relaxation, your mind concentrates on one specific behavioral change, ignoring all outside distractions. I use my voice to put clients into a very relaxed state where I can then plant positive suggestions for change. At the same time, I make my clients customized audio CDs to listen to on a daily basis to help reinforce these positive messages.
NA: Do people have preconceived notions about hypnosis that you have to dispel?
Wolfson: Definitely. Contrary to popular belief, when hypnotized, you’re not asleep and you’re not unconscious—you’re able to talk, hear, move, and think. In hypnosis, you’re simply in a deep state of relaxation—similar to what you experience prior to falling asleep—where your mind is more open to positive suggestions for change. You can come out of this relaxed state at any time by simply opening your eyes. Many people also question the legitimacy of hypnosis, but the truth is it’s a scientific and medically approved methodology that’s been backed by the American Medical Association as an accepted and recommended medical procedure since 1958.
NA: What are the key messages you want readers to take away about hypnosis?
Wolfson: Through hypnosis, people can, for example, stop smoking without anxiety, weight gain, or mood swings, or lose weight and maintain it for life without drugs, fad diets, dangerous herbs, expensive meal plans, or special foods. The hypnotic state is attainable by almost all people; the only tools you need are your own mind and the desire to succeed. Hypnosis is safe, medically approved, and, best of all, it works.
Freelancer Susan Bloom writes weekly Health and Food features for New Jersey’s Asbury Park Press and specializes in topics related to nutrition, fitness and healthy lifestyles.