Hypnotherapy with Joanne
From your perspective, what is hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis to make healing or change easier. It works with the subconscious mind, bypassing all the filters, barriers or anxieties of the conscious mind. Depending on the therapist or the needs of the client, the hypnosis and the therapy parts would vary (there are so many different approaches). It will always involve some sort of focus on a task or the therapist’s voice as a distraction and some sort of relaxation.
My approach usually has a meditative/dream journey where I work with the client on figuring out exactly what they want and why. This is completely accessible even to people who say they have no imagination or don’t identify as open minded. Hypnosis makes this really easy for anyone. Then we work on the issue, rewriting the story, usually with metaphors, without having to talk too much about it. It’s always held in a nurturing space and although clients sometimes cry, they rarely feel bad at all. Then I reinforce the changes the client has made as well as boost good feelings, and we put in some practical tools to apply in their daily life.
Please share 2-3 anonymized examples of how the work can play out and/or look in the room so that I can form a visual or narrative of what to expect.
- A, 64, He has not been sexually intimate with his wife for 2 years and he is worried that she will leave him. We identify that he processes visually and is an over-thinker. He is very busy with work and is disconnected from his physical body. He is short on time and just wants to fix it, now, as he feels he has already left it too late.
I use a visual induction (this is what we call the ways we get clients into a trance state) where A looks at the palm of his hand, analyzing everything he sees until he just wants to rest. I use a counting down technique to take him deeper and I ask him to indicate “yes” answers by raising his right finger and “no” answers by raising his left finger.
I then ask his subconscious if he genuinely wants to have sex with his wife, and he indicates “yes” by raising his right finger. I ask if he knows the reason why he isn’t, and he indicates “yes” again by raising his right finger. I ask if he is ready to begin to investigate this today, and he indicates “no” by raising his left finger. I ask if he would like to do some work on feeling good about himself today, and he indicates “yes” by raising his right finger. So I give him a pep talk of sorts using the information gleaned from our consultation, while he is in this very receptive state, and then I ask him if he feels better and is ready to come out of trance. He indicates “yes” by raising his right finger and I count him back up.
- B, 27, has been following the keto diet for 3 months, but unlike her friends, she hasn’t lost weight. B is very connected to her physical sensations, and so we use those to get her into a light trance. We take a meditative walk to a beach, and she brings the feeling of her grandmother sitting beside her on the rocks. Her grandmother tells her that she never liked greasy things growing up and they used to make her sick. Her grandmother tells her that her father had gallbladder issues and maybe she does, too. She knows that her issues are stress related and by putting her body under further stress with this diet, she is making matters worse. She needs to look at how to comfort herself in other ways. Together we promise that B will return to this place to talk some more and figure out where she needs comfort and how she can give herself this, to naturally let go of the weight and nurture herself.
- C, 48, hates their job, but has no idea what else they could do and doesn’t want to give up the money. C reveals that they have ADD, so it’s important that we make the induction very interactive and engaging. C is also very distracted by noise, so we use the sound of the air purifier as an attention anchor. I guide C to picturing their perfect office, down to every detail. It is exceptionally quiet and serene there; it transpires that the work they are doing is not the problem, it is the location. They want to work on their own. We make a plan for how we will spend the next couple of weeks making that a realistic long term goal and teaching C how to become more aware of ways they can connect this to opportunities in their life that can’t be seen right now.
Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
Every person is completely unique, and the best results are achieved by creating a program that reflects this. It has to be completely adaptive to change, as answers are revealed during sessions. At the core of what I do is the idea that everyone deserves to feel good about who they are, whatever is going on, and have love, ease and happiness in their life.
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
I respond completely openly to questions about myself, and I like clients to know me and see me as authentic. As hypnosis is a very liberating experience where people share a lot of deeply personal information, often in unusual and raw ways, it’s important that we bond as real people so that there is never any embarrassment. This is, however, a time for you, and I tend not to go into any details about my experiences (or other client’s experiences with a particular issue), as I believe every individual experience is different. What matters is what’s going on with you.
How participatory are you during sessions?
Very. I am either directing the hypnosis, asking questions, or facilitating a change. There are times when I am silently observing or giving clients space to talk or explore or release, but these would be short, contained periods of time during a session.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
Usually there will be some self hypnosis to do at home, a recording to listen to or some tips, tricks or exercises to be used to provide relief and reinforcement in between sessions. It is rare for me to share readings, but I may provide links to resources. For example, I recently shared a social anxiety MeetUp group with a client.
How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
Well, you will only know me for a couple of months at the most, probably. Although I have had past clients visit to work on something completely different than they did before, come for top ups just to feel good, come on retreats, or keep in touch with updates like having babies or getting a new job, generally our time together will be brief. It is certainly more friendship-based than a lot of therapeutic relationships. As I keep a small caseload of people I work with for a short period of time, you get a lot of attention and I often get emails from clients in between sessions. Because the work we do is focused on big changes in your life, it is inevitable that I would get to know a lot about your life, and because we work collaboratively, there is often a bond similar to friendship present. I do occasionally have clients where the relationship is far more traditional, but this makes up fewer than ¼ of my clients. While I describe the relationship as friendly, I will still be holding the space for you as a professional, being very observant and mindful and taking care of you. Plus, I am ultimately working for you, so there is an element of that type of relationship, too.
Is there ever a time when you would encourage me to leave or graduate? Or how do I know when it’s time to end or move on, or time to stay and explore more?
We would usually be able to tell from the consultation whether this was the right approach for you or not. The work I do is focused on getting changes in your life in a few sessions—less than 6 usually. We evaluate what is and isn’t working every week, and you will either feel better or you won’t, so you’ll know, and I will know.
It’s not common, but it may be appropriate to take a break and invest in something else (I have referred clients for all sorts of things such as breath work, physical therapy, nutrition support, psychiatric assessments, etc.) when something has come out during hypnosis that requires outside intervention. Sometimes it also comes out that something such as grief counseling or a specific type of therapy would be beneficial before hypnotherapy, alongside it, or after it.
Although I used to work as a mental health practitioner, I no longer diagnose or treat specific mental health conditions that go beyond the scope of the hypnotherapy I offer, but we would get you to a place where you knew exactly what was right for you and where to go.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
My first career was as a disability rights lawyer and then, after retraining, I worked for Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust, in the UK (healthcare services, including mental health services, are delivered in the UK through the government run National Health Service and this was my regional division).
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
Yes. I complete 8 CFU hours of hypnotherapy training every year in the UK, as well as a lot of holistic offerings here in the US and all over the world. I am always learning something new to improve myself and offer more to my clients to cover any eventuality that may come up in therapy.
Last year I completed a course of training with Tara Brach on the RAIN process to healing, and I will be attending a Kundalini meditation teacher training workshop this summer.
What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
I worked in disability equality law and began running wellness projects for people with mental health conditions. I used martial arts, meditation and self hypnosis to heal from my stress and poor mental well-being and decided to study on weekends to incorporate it into my professional life. After qualifying I set up my own practice offering one-on-one therapy but also continued to work on projects with businesses and the government mental health service part time.
What is the best part of the work for you?
Seeing people leave with hope and smiles after first arriving all shrunken and sad. Getting random emails with updates of good news years later from old clients.
What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
Most other hypnotherapists I know of seem to fall into three categories:
They are therapists specializing in a particular approach, that have added some hypnosis to the mix. In New York there is no requirement for the amount of hypnosis training someone needs to have done to call themselves a hypnotherapist, so while they should be competent therapists, the hypnotherapy part is usually an adjunct that has often been studied just over the course of a weekend. This is a long term approach that if done well, uses hypnosis to aid relaxation, build trust and overcome barriers, but too often clients come to me saying “my therapist tried hypnosis and it didn’t work.
The other is traditional hypnosis that isn’t really investigative or collaborative but involves telling someone that they’re changing their undesirable thoughts and habits, often in one or two sessions. If done well this can be useful for interrupting unhelpful patterns, providing a strong counter argument to habitual thinking and provide a will power boost. Unfortunately it is limited and often in the long term it’s just not that easy.
Then finally we have those who use hypnosis as part of a range of holistic healing practices. All sorts of weird and wonderful ways to work on the body and soul. Again this can often be beautiful but can come up short when it comes to the workings of the mind.
As far as I can tell I am the only one offering a blend of all 3 that is adapted to suit the needs of my client.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
Despite working in employment discrimination law for several years, I am always learning and evolving, particularly when it comes to appropriate language. I lived in a city in the UK with pretty much the same population diversity as New York and I don't think anything can beat daily interactions at work and in your social life with people from different backgrounds and close friends that you can ask anything of. I am very fortunate to have some very feisty LGBTQ and disability rights activist friends that I have had from a young age who always pull me up mercilessly on mistakes I make. Culturally how one approaches diversity in the room, as you say, is different in different parts of the world, and I would like to think I am sensitive to this. Here I always ask if there are any accessibility requirements and preferred pronouns and make sure that I ask clients about what any of their religious or cultural beliefs mean to them as part of their likes, dislikes and modalities and relationships. It's very important when you're doing any guided hypnosis that you work with their belief system and don't go in a direction that would be in conflict with it.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
As I offer very brief interventions (typically 4 sessions, rarely more than 8) every session there is usually a huge shift in how the clients present themselves, brighter, more relaxed and often with deep insights. Sometimes there are a couple of weeks when things do not appear to be having a real life impact and it can indicate that we need to move in a different direction and sometimes we need to stick with something through a little resistance (either with the clients or through coaching them to combat the resistance from others in their life) but if I do my job well, clients have the resolutions they want and that's how I tell. I always ask clients how they feel about everything but as soon as they are in even a light trance state, we always get the truth of whether it is helpful or not. Sometimes this is through direct questioning, sometimes through using metaphors or stories, and of course me observing all their micro-actions when exploring how their sessions are progressing.
How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
Clients will always tell me either outright or it will come across during trance. People don't really hide anything during hypnosis, so that's the beauty of it compared with other approaches.
How long should I commit to being in hypnotherapy, at least in the beginning?
How should I prepare for my first session with you?
There is nothing you need to do to prepare.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?
If you have accessibility requirements, please let me know as I hire rooms at different locations and they are, unfortunately, not all accessible.
“I first met Joanne in 2012 when we were studying together and have since worked together and become firm friends. She is honest, hard working, and genuine. She is someone I can rely on and would trust without hesitation in any circumstance.” -Dr. Kerry West
“I am a woman passionately committed to personal and professional growth. I have tried many coaches, counsellors and therapists in the past to support me in my journey towards deeper understanding and acceptance of my past. I can honestly say, hand on heart, that working with Joanne dramatically accelerated my personal awareness and that impacted enormously on the way I relate to a very particular other in my life. This increased and deepened the love I have for myself and my family.
Within minutes of our first session, I knew I could trust Joanne completely and after just one session I felt more relaxed than I had been in a long time. Joanne knows her stuff, and she listens intently. I love her balanced approach that seeks solutions not simply navel gazing. I also love the peace and tranquillity that follows the hypnosis. I highly recommend this woman.” -Siobhan Harper-Nunes