When Jennifer and I first met, I found out that we both had a love of the Enneagram and a love of writing in common. I immediately felt at ease with her and I get the feeling that everyone does. She is keen to make connections, to pick up on and remember what is important to you, and to connect to your understandings about the world. Her gentle demeanor, deep listening, and detailed descriptions create a feeling of safety and trust. She is truly a gifted intuitive healer.
Welcome, Jennifer. I can’t wait to learn more about hypnotherapy, but first, can you tell us how you first got into Hypnotherapy?
I’ll give you a brief history of my career. I graduated with a psychology degree, but I wasn’t ready to go straight through to get my Masters. So, I actually started working as a probation officer. Through that job, I learned you could only help people who want to be helped, and many of them didn’t want to change. When I moved to Charlotte, I became an ultrasound technologist, because I thought I would be able to help more people, and I always liked learning about the science of the body. At that time in my life, I started learning more about intuition. While I was at that job, I started thinking things like: “I wonder why they have gall stones? I wonder what is going on in their emotional life?” But I couldn’t get answers from the patients to those questions. So, at that point, I went back to school for sound therapy, a form of energy work that uses sound vibrations. It did a lot of great stuff for people, but I found I kept hitting this block where I couldn’t help people as much as I wanted. I realized I couldn’t shift people’s limiting beliefs: what they believed about the world, how they felt about themselves, and their relationships with other people. I knew I needed to do something else, but I didn’t know what.
One day, hypnotherapy just popped in my head, and I got a book on the modality. I felt it was important to experience hypnotherapy, so I also had a few sessions with a hypnotherapist. I thought, “Wow…maybe this is what I’ve been looking for. It is literally dealing with the subconscious mind where our limiting belief systems are held!” The more I researched it, the more I fell in love with it.
The Institute of Interpersonal Hypnotherapy in Tampa, FL where I was trained, not only focused on helping people change habits and belief systems, but it also focused on the spiritual aspect of the practice. Because of sound therapy, I had a highly developed intuition, so it was easy to apply that to hypnotherapy. What was really interesting was that while I was practicing the rhythm and tone of my voice to guide people into hypnosis, I realized it was similar to how I used my singing bowls and gongs in sound therapy. Really everything I had done before hypnotherapy led up to this. Having been a probation officer, I can discern pretty quickly who is really ready to be helped or not. I can incorporate anything I’ve ever done, all the podcasts episodes I listened to, the books I’ve read, and intuitive workshops that I’ve taken into a session. Everything I learn, I can apply to help others when they need it.
Can you describe how it works?
I work with the subconscious mind because it governs about 90% of our thoughts and behaviors. When clients are hypnotized, they are fully conscious, hear everything that I say, and are fully in control. I guide clients into a very relaxed state where they are more inwardly focused and less guarded. Everyone has experienced the state of hypnosis because it happens naturally. Like for you, when you are really into the flow of your writing, your subconscious is activated. You are still conscious because you are typing, but you might not hear people around you as easily, not because you cannot hear, but because you are so focused on what you’re doing. It is like tunnel vision where you are more focused on the activity and less distracted by external stimuli. And because your mind already knows how to do it, as long as you want to go into hypnosis, I can put you into this relaxed state of mind. Once in hypnosis, I can intuitively guide you to help you let go of old beliefs and to move into a more balanced life.
When we are kids, our subconscious is fully developed, and our conscious mind is not. The subconscious is our imagination, creativity, and emotions. The subconscious is like a sponge which helps kids learn quickly, but it is also why they pick up so many beliefs and habits from others. They are taking everything in and using emotion to make sense of the world. Because the critical thinking part of the brain is not fully developed, kids believe what they are taught by their parents, teachers, and culture.
Between the ages of 10-12, the critical thinking part of the brain becomes more developed, creating a barrier between our conscious and subconscious mind. This barrier makes it more difficult for us to access our subconscious mind as we age. The subconscious is like a computer that stores all of our beliefs, most of which come from other people and society. Because it is like a computer, it can be re-programmed with empowering beliefs. When I put you in hypnosis, this barrier naturally moves out of the way creating an opening between the conscious and subconscious mind. We can then take an inventory to understand the subconscious beliefs that are causing you to feel more anxious, overwhelmed, or stuck. You decide what you want life to look like. You decide what to let go of from your past to help you move forward feeling more confident and self-assured.
A lot of the work I do is Parts Work. For example, if a client has an issue with speaking up in their marriage or in work meetings, a part of them may believe their opinion does not matter or they are not important. I ask the quiet part of them, “What do you need right now?” Usually an image, a feeling, or a thought will surface. That part might say, “I need to feel safe.” I continue with, Let’s talk about how we can make that part of you feel safe, but in a more grown up way.”
Then I’ll ask, “How long has that part been with you? Forever. How old is that part? 3 years old. Let’s talk to that 3-year-old you that’s feeling really scared, and can it tell us what is happening?” Or I might have them introduce themselves to their 3-year-old self. “And what is your 3-year-old’s response?” Many times, the client gets the feeling their younger self is happy and relieved to know they are not alone. Up to this point, the child thought they were still living with their verbally and emotionally abusive parents. “What if you introduce her to your current life? Show her your house. And then she can see that it is safe here and she is not in that situation anymore.”
A client had a similar experience recently. Her 8-year-old self was amazed. “Wait…we got out? I’m not being abused anymore?” And the client said to her 8-year-old self, “No, this is my house now. I am in a healthy, loving relationship with a partner. You are safe with me. I’ve got your back.” Her 8-year-old self was like “Wow!” And she said she felt all this resentment suddenly leave her. This session was over Zoom so she was in her current home. She opened her eyes after the session and as she looked around the room, she said, “I feel like I am seeing my home for the first time. I feel more present and more centered than I ever have in my life!” She was seeing her home in a new way because she was whole again. After the session, her new motto was, “You are safe with me.” She now checks in with her younger self daily to reassure the younger part that she is safe and that she can trust her adult self. She recently reported that her anxiety has lessened, and she feels much happier and more peaceful overall. She also told me her relationship with her partner is improving as well.
Wow! I love how that extends beyond just her past experience. It extends out to others and her way of being in the world.
Yes, this is why I love what I do! (big grin) I had been taught to use more direct language with clients, but I have always believed in a gentler approach. It definitely works just as well, and for most people it is even better.
People who have worked with me for a while become conditioned to enter the hypnotic state almost immediately when they hear my voice. They trust me so getting into a relaxed state is much easier for them. As a result, they can get into deeper states. And they come out of hypnosis saying, “Wow…I was really deep!” or “I was completely focused on everything you were saying.”
It sounds like you are getting clients into a deep meditative state.
That was one of the very first questions we analyzed in my classes: What is the difference between a meditative state and a hypnotic state? They have similarities and differences.
The beginning of the hypnotherapy session can feel like a guided meditation. The difference is that you are focused on my voice rather than focusing on your breath like people typically do during meditation. In hypnosis, you are in an altered state of mind and there is direct communication with the subconscious mind. The subconscious needs specific language to communicate with it which a hypnotherapist is skilled in doing. Meditation’s goal is to be aware of thoughts and emotions and accept what is there. Hypnotherapy’s focus is to be aware of subconscious thoughts and emotions and change your thought patterns through suggestions, parts work, and regressions.
What do you think is the most common misconception about hypnotherapy?
A common misconception is that I will put someone into hypnosis, tell them what to do, and then they will do it. Just like that. It is not just 1 or 2 sessions and then you are “fixed”. I take a more long-term approach because I like to look at the deep issues and help clients experience true change. I tell people that I am not here to fix them. I am here to guide and encourage and to help them let go of subconscious blocks and fears that are holding them back. Because of my experience and intuition, I know which techniques work best to get to the part of the subconscious that needs attention and a change in perspective.
What obstacles or blocks do people have that keeps hypnotherapy from benefiting them?
Hypnotherapy benefits those that are ready for change. If clients are hesitant, we focus on what life could look like and what steps they could take to live a more confident or fulfilling life. Some clients need to be reminded that they have choices and are always in control when working with me. I take the time to educate and explain and this helps hesitant clients become more open to the process.
They don’t have to tell me anything they don’t want to. Again, they are always in control of their sessions. But if their wall is up, I will say, “Let’s go talk to the wall. Just trust your first impressions. Tell me how tall it is. 10 feet. And what is it made out of? Cement. How thick is it?” And just like that, I am in…. I am in their subconscious mind. “What is the wall doing? Protecting me. Could we maybe put a window or a door in the wall? No. Then how about a ladder?” Yes, a ladder will work.
And we just keep working with their imagination aka their subconscious mind until they come up with what they need to overcome the block. I have them thank their block for protecting them for such a long time. And then we give the block a new job, such as reminding the client that they can trust themselves. Once the client has more faith and trust in themselves, amazing changes occur.
That is so creative. I love that!
Yes, I have become the analogy queen! (she laughs) I take whatever you really love, or you are really good at and speak in those terms. I don’t use scripts; all sessions are organic and customized which is the reason my clients see great changes in their lives.
That sounds a little like Neuro Linguistic Programming. Could you talk more about how that works?
Sure. NLP is not hypnosis, but I do use NLP in my practice. NLP uncovers how we communicate with ourselves on the inside. This inner communication is a combination of sounds, images, and feelings. Our mind filters information a certain way and that is how we see, perceive, and experience the world. But these filters can be changed. When doing an NLP technique, the client lets me know how they are perceiving their challenging situation.
For example, I have a lot of people come to me for test anxiety so I can do an NLP exercise to help them feel more confident. I might say, “You are at the test center. Tell me what you see, what you are focusing on.” It might be a clock ticking, or they see their test paper with red x’s on it. Then I ask them to describe how they feel and what they are thinking in that moment. After that, I have them imagine an activity they love and are confident in. I take what they are really confident in and apply that filter to the test situation.
If they are confident riding a bike, I would say, “Imagine feeling that same way before you start your test. Imagine the excitement you feel when riding a bike. The bike is getting you from A to B, and likewise this test is helping you get closer to point B, a college degree, or a new career. Sometimes you will feel like you are going uphill when the question is difficult, but then you get a question that you fly through like going down a hill. You might have to get off the bike and push it but you just keep moving.” They are able to practice this reframe and then apply it to real life and pass the test.
Something else that might be a misconception: What is the difference between a Hypnotist and a Hypnotherapist?
The main difference is in education and experience. Hypnotherapists can have up to 5 times more clinical training that hypnotists. Hypnotists use prewritten scripts and mostly focus on breaking habits like smoking or weight loss. We both use suggestions to shift subconscious beliefs, but hypnotherapists also focus on deeper, more spiritual aspects of clients’ lives using techniques like parts work, regression, and inner child work.
I really loved your motto on your website. Could you tell about “I believe in you until you believe in you!”
On the Enneagram, I am a 1, the Improver. Enneagram 1’s can see your true self underneath the mask that you project- we see the perfection in the imperfection. I just naturally see that in my clients. I tell my clients, “I believe in you. I see the real you in there. I know you don’t see or feel it yet, but I do. And we’re going to get you there.” I am honored to be a witness to their transformation, their spiritual awakenings, and the connections they make. My clients do the hard work. I am just there guiding, asking questions, helping to put the pieces together, and offering a way of life they did not realize was possible.
Contact Jennifer on her website
or phone- 980-240-1136.