Hypnosis aims to help change unhealthy habits

07/07/2014 12:00 AM

07/02/2014 7:58 AM

When she had a corporate job, Stephanie Levine was surrounded by stress.

“I saw behaviors manifest themselves and affect the work environment,” she said.

When she was facing surgery, she turned to self-hypnosis and never looked back.

“I wanted to teach people how powerful they really are,” Levine said.

Now a certified hypnotist and spiritual guidance counselor, Levine opened Transformative Hypnosis in Morrisville about a year ago. She focuses on stressors in her clients’ lives.

“I treat everyday maladies that come up – hiccups in people’s lives,” she said. “The behaviors that are preventing them from moving forward.

“Hypnosis uses suggestions to alter perceptions, thoughts, feelings and sensations, thereby facilitating long-term changes in behavior.”

Levine said habits such as smoking and nail-biting can be addressed by hypnosis.

At one time, she said, she saw an uptick in behaviors caused by holiday stress. Now, she says economic instability has caused stress to manifest year-round.

“The mind is a muscle,” Levine said. “The more you use it, the more powerful you become. We can empower ourselves to manipulate and manage so many things.”

One client had a selective eating disorder that prevented her from eating fruits or vegetables.

“In hypnosis, she changed her perceptions of her fears, and now she has a full diet,” Levine said.

Levine interviews first-time clients over the phone in a free consultation. The next step is a meeting in her home office to better understand what the client wants to accomplish with hypnosis.

“Then they move to ‘the big chair,’ ” she said.

Hypnosis is a process of relaxation, Levine said, where the client reaches a level of consciousness within the subconscious mind.

“That’s where all the habits you have are formed,” she said.

When hypnotized, clients remain in control and hear everything around them.

Ultimately, Levine said, hypnosis changes the belief system.

She said athletes and actors often turn to hypnosis to alleviate anxiety and gain confidence.

In addition to private sessions, Levine leads workshops on a variety of subjects such as pain and stress management. She is also a public speaker and does handwriting analysis.

“Handwriting is a footprint to your personality,” she said. “It can help me understand how to hypnotize you.”

Levine is careful to point out that she is not a psychologist. “A psychologist is trying to figure out where stress is coming from. A hypnotist is trying to change behavior. If it’s out of my scope, I want to get a psychologist or a doctor to work with the client.”

Each session lasts about an hour and, for some clients, that could be enough to change a behavior. Smoking cessation is often accomplished in one to two sessions, Levine said.

“I would never say anything is 100 percent,” she said. “But I have been incredibly successful at stopping smoking.”

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