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In the Press

Can hypnosis help you break those unhealthy habits?
Read online at USA Today
PDF version
January 21, 2014

Amy Lavieri’s New Year’s resolution for 2013 was to finally lose the extra weight she’d been carrying for a decade.

She’d repeatedly failed at diets and gym memberships, so the Watertown, Mass., resident resolved to give hypnotism a try. One year and a dozen-or-so hypnotherapy sessions later, she’s 50 pounds lighter.

" If I look back to last year at this point to where I am this year, it’s been a complete 180," she says.

Hypnotism has been around since the mid-19th century, when it was often used as a parlor trick. Today, hypnotherapy is commonly used to break unhealthy habits like smoking, to rid people of phobias and to treat panic attacks.

Anecdotal success stories like Lavieri’s abound, and studies have found it effective for behavioral change, as well as for reducing surgical and cancer pain, nausea and fatigue in conjunction with other treatments. Data is weaker for quitting smoking, with one 2010 study finding that hypnotherapy did not do a better job of helping people quit than other interventions or no treatment at all.

"It’s something that’s often worth trying to find, is it a little bit effective for me, or is it a lot effective, or not at all," says Guy Montgomery, director of Integrative Behavioral Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Unlike the stereotype from old movies, hypnotherapy does not put people to sleep and old pocket watches are not involved. Instead, the client, with closed eyes, is guided through a series of relaxing imagery and ideas.

Everyone responds slightly differently to hypnosis, with some slipping into a deep, sleep-like trance and others not feeling much different than having their eyes closed.

"How often during the day do we zone out or drift off? That’s a light trance state," says Tom Nicoli, a consulting hypnotherapist and trainer in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, who helped launch World Hypnotism Day a decade ago.

Hypnotherapists use this state to give clients suggestions, like "resist the urge to smoke," or to take them back to past experiences, such as the first time they were scared by a spider.

Benjamin Kligler, research director of the Beth Israel Department of Integrative Medicine Continuum Center for Health and Healing in New York City, used self-hypnosis to quit smoking himself and now treats others.

A primary care doctor who uses mind-body techniques, nutrition and lifestyle modifications in addition to hypnotherapy, Kliger estimates that in 3-6 sessions he helps 60%-70% of the people who come to him for smoking cessation. But he won’t treat someone unless he’s convinced they really want to quit.

Most of what he does, he says, is train his patients to treat themselves.

"Self-hypnosis is the really key part, because you get to a point where you’re going to have that craving – you just have to be able to give yourself the message: ‘It’s no longer an option.’"

Insurance almost never covers hypnosis, so clients must pay out of pocket for fees that range as high as Kliger’s $250 a session – for as few as three sessions or more than a dozen, depending on the complexity of the problem.

Brian Mahoney, Lavieri’s hypnotherapist, says he will only work with people who understand that hypnotism is not magic. He doesn’t work miracles in one session; success comes, as with Lavieri, after weeks or months of hard work.

Lavieri, who met with Mahoney twice a month for the first half of 2013 and less often since, says she was very skeptical about hypnotism at first. "I did initially call with the sense of ‘why not, I’ve tried everything else?’ " But she got more comfortable when she realized that she felt very focused when hypnotized and always knew what was going on around her.

"I found it extremely successful in understanding a lot that maybe I had slipped under the rug for many years," she says.

Lavieri’s resolution for 2014? To use hypnotism to help keep off the weight.

"This is the first time in a long time I’m optimistic I can maintain this and not have weight issues any more," she says.

Finding a good hypnotist:

There is no national licensing board for hypnotherapists. Some practitioners are doctors or psychologists with extra training and the skills to use hypnotherapy in conjunction with other treatments; others have no more professional training than a weekend seminar.

To decide if a hypnotherapist is right for you:

* Do some Internet research, seeing how they present themselves online and checking review sites like Yelp (though remember that not all reviews are legitimate).

* Get personal references from people you trust.

* Talk to the hypnotherapist on the phone before scheduling a session, to see how they come across, and to ask about training and experience.

Avoid people who promise quick fixes or miracles.

Hypnotists for Hurricane Relief Jersey Shore Hypnosis Cooperative Fund Raiser Monday, January 21, 2013

Hurricane Relief

In response to the devastation brought about by Hurricane Sandy the Jersey Shore Hypnosis Cooperative or the JSHC will be carrying out a special fund raising event on Monday, January 21, 2013.

Participating members will be offering their services free of charge to the public that day in exchange for a donation to the New Jersey Hometown Heroes Organization www.njhometownheroes.org , which is offering direct assistance to those who lives were disrupted by Hurricane Sandy.

This a wonderful opportunity to help yourself while helping your community as well. The hypnosis counseling sessions being offered by the JSHC members can be used for stress relief, habit control and other "everyday problems of everyday life".

In order to participate:

a) Contact a participating JSHC member (they are listed below) and mention you wish to take part in the fund raising event and to see if they are available at a time that works for you. These time slots will probably go quickly, so call ASAP!

b) On the day your visit please have a check ready payable to "NJ Hometown Heroes." The suggested minimum donation is $50, you may donate more if you like.

c) If you know of anyone else who may be interested, please forward them a link to this page.

Thank you in advance for your help. Together we will restore the shore!

Article from the Asbury Park Press
An engaging look at Rhoda Kopy’s New Jersey hypnosis practice, Hypnosis for Women, and what inspires her. Learn about hypnosis and the people who benefit from this.

Asbury Park Press

At Your Job: Hypnotist (PDF)

Interview with the Asbury Park Press
Read a revealing interview with professional hypnotist and coach, Rhoda Kopy, and psychiatrist, Ronald Kamm, M.D., that explores the myths and realities of hypnosis. Learn about the success of hypnosis clients interviewed for the article.

Beyond the myths of hypnosis Professionals say it can be a useful tool for dealing with phobias, bad habits and health issues. But it’s not a magic bullet.
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 02/28/06
By Bobbi Seidel Staff Writer

Sailing on a stormy sea wouldn’t be Fred Forgie’s favorite idea of spending a day. But the Middletown man would choose that over flying.

At least, that’s how Forgie, 55, felt until a year ago, when he realized he wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of flying from Newark to Orlando, Fla.

"I hadn’t flown in a while," said Forgie, a Verizon technician who lives in the Port Monmouth section. "I was never too fond of it. Flying bothered me."

But he had to take that flight, so in February 2005, he called Dr. Ronald L. Kamm, an Ocean Township psychiatrist who uses hypnosis as an adjunct to therapy.

"He did an evaluation to see how I would react to hypnosis. I had a second visit, and he hypnotized me. He showed me how to put myself under, how to give myself posthypnotic suggestions to float with the plane," Forgie said. "And while I was under, we talked about phobias and fears.

"That was it. I flew. I had normal anticipatory anxiety, but he told me I would feel that; it’s normal. But no fear where you’re glued to the seat."

Hypnosis can be used to address phobias, such as a fear of flying or of dogs, habits such as smoking, and health issues such as stuttering, among others, Kamm said. Hypnosis also can help athletes to focus, said Kamm, the immediate past president of the International Society of Sport Psychiatry.

"There’s an excellent success rate with phobias," Kamm said. "If someone has anxiety, hypnosis can be a powerful tool in addition to psychotherapy and medication.

"With just two sessions for smoking, the one-year follow-up with hypnosis alone is 35 percent (of clients) not smoking a year later," said Kamm, who studied hypnosis during his residency in the early 1970s at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City and has since taken courses.

"It’s much higher if a patient is very motivated and has a good trance capacity. The success rate can be boosted even more through the use of medication and/or the nicotine patch," he said.

Mind at rest

Hypnosis helped Andrea Adams of Waretown end a 22-year smoking habit last August.

"Quitting for my health was my No. 1 goal. And I started thinking I was blowing money out the window," said Adams, 43.

Adams made an appointment with Hypnosis for Women in Dover Township, run by Rhoda Kopy, who is certified by the National Guild of Hypnotists, a New Hampshire-based, nonprofit organization focused on educational and ethical standards. Kopy also is a member of the Michigan-based International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association.

"It was very relaxing. We talked about what made me smoke," Adams said of the three sessions.

For 12 weeks afterward, Adams listened to a CD that Kopy made for her and practiced self-hypnosis, which Kopy taught her; Adams still uses both. Kamm also teaches clients self-hypnosis and makes an audiotape for them.

"The behavior may change within one to three sessions, but that doesn’t mean it’s firmly entrenched in the subconscious. It takes four to six weeks for new behavior to become permanent," Kopy said, explaining the use of the CD and self-hypnosis.

"Self-hypnosis takes a minute or two, which they repeat several times a day," Kamm said, explaining there are techniques to use in public, in private, and even a shorthand one that takes about two minutes.

"The reason hypnosis works so well is that when somebody is in a hypnotic state, their conscious mind is at rest, kind of on the back burner," Kopy said. "The subconscious mind is much more accessible.

"That’s the part of the mind where change is made," added Kopy, who studied hypnosis at the first state-approved school of hypnosis in New Jersey, the Academy of Professional Hypnosis in Union.

Kopy also has a bachelor’s degree in medical communications, studied nursing and has been a community health educator, behavior modification counselor and career coach.

"Hypnosis is not only a tool to make wonderful changes in your life," Kopy said. "It’s a way to de-stress. Your pulse slows. Your blood pressure comes down. When that happens, you see things more clearly. You’re primed for making changes."

Not a quick fix

Yet hypnosis won’t succeed without motivation, Kopy noted.

"Hypnosis can be extremely powerful, but it is not a magic bullet. If someone is looking for a quick fix where they won’t have to do any work, this isn’t for them," Kopy said.

Despite success with hypnosis, misconceptions still surround it, Kopy and Kamm said.

"People have developed very inappropriate concepts of what happens. I think, in part, it is because of Hollywood," Kopy said. "Hollywood’s depiction is someone swinging a pendulum of some sort and gaining control of you. Nothing could be further from the truth."

"When you go to a nightclub and see these stage hypnotists, they know how to pick people with a high trance capacity," Kamm said. "They look for certain facial expressions, for focused attention. They’ll pick them out and put them in a trance and say, "When you wake up, you’ll bark like a dog or cluck like a chicken,’ and sure enough, they do."

This doesn’t happen with a responsible hypno-counselor. Nor will people "get lost" in a trance, Kamm said.

"You’ll always be able to come out," he said.

"You’ll hear what I’m saying. You probably will recall most of what I say. You will not follow any suggestion that does not seem appropriate to you," Kopy said.

In a trance

Another myth is that hypnosis is like sleep, Kamm said. "In sleep, your awareness falls off. In hypnosis, your awareness becomes totally focused. It’s like shining a very intense, focused light on something so that’s all you see. You’re really honing in," he said. Hypnosis is actually a natural mental state, they said.

"You’ve been in a state of hypnosis thousands of times," Kopy said.

"We go into a trance spontaneously and don’t know we’re doing that," Kamm said. "It’s like being absorbed in a good novel. You lose awareness of the noises and distractions in the immediate environment. When the novel’s finished, you need a moment to reorient yourself to the outside world."

Therapeutic hypnosis occurs with the help of another person, an "operator," who helps the person enter a trance state, he said. Help includes visualization and suggestions, such as telling the person his eyes are getting tired.

About 80 percent of the population can be hypnotized, Kopy said.

"It’s an inborn neurological trait. That means your brain is wired for it, to a great or lesser extent," Kamm said.

People who usually can’t be hypnotized include those with very low IQs, Kopy said. Those who are anti-authoritarian or have strong control issues also would have difficulty, Kamm said.

People who should not be hypnotized include anyone who is paranoid, severely depressed or manic, or who has severe attention-deficit disorder, is experiencing intense anxiety or is in the midst of a nervous breakdown, Kamm said.

Kopy and Kamm ask clients to complete personal histories. Kamm does a test to see if a person can be hypnotized. Kopy advises depressed clients to instead see a licensed psychotherapist. Neither is a proponent of large-group, one-session programs, usually held to stop smoking or control weight.

"They work for a very small number of people," Kopy said. "If you have a group of 200 people, you’re not going to make a personal connection."

"They can be helpful if you have a good trance capacity," Kamm said. "If it’s a small group meeting with a hypnotist for stopping smoking or weight loss, that can be effective because group members can support each other. If it’s a one-session group in a hotel or somewhere, that does not apply."

"You are the Gardener of Your Own Being."

Rhoda Kopy, BS, CH, ACH
Call 732-270-0080
Nationally Certified Consulting Hypnotist, NJ & Transition Coach
1541 Route 37 East, Suite E, Toms River, NJ 08753
Providing Hypnosis and Coaching Services throughout New Jersey and the tri-state area


Website www.HypnoForWomen.com : Hypnosis for Women and Adolescents/Teens/Childen in New Jersey

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Hypnosis for Women (and children, adolescents/teens) provides hypnosis services throughout New Jersey, including Ocean County, Monmouth County, Atlantic County, Burlington County, Middlesex County, and Mercer County - including, but not limited to Toms River, Beachwood, Bayville, Brick, Forked River, Lacey, Barnegat, Point Pleasant, Jackson, Manchester, Whiting, Tuckerton, Freehold, Marlboro, Manalapan, and Red Bank.

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Rhoda Kopy Phone: 732-270-0080
Hypnosis for Women by New Jersey Hypnotist Rhoda Kopy
1541 Route 37 E.
Toms River, NJ 08753

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