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I can’t make you cluck like a chicken, but I can help you stop smoking

First off, professional hypnotist Monica Dobbie wants you to know that she cannot make you cluck like a chicken, or do anything else against your will.

She doesn’t use a swinging watch to put clients in a hypnotic state they’re never a part of real therapeutic hypnosis, she insists.

What she does do is help people to stop smoking, if they really, really want to quit.

Mrs Dobbie runs Holistic Health Bermuda. She uses hypnotism to help people deal with a range of stress-related issues from phobias to infertility, to exam preparation to nightmares.

“All hypnosis is really a self-hypnosis,” she said. “The person is allowing themselves to go into a relaxed state of mind. If they want to get up and leave they can. People find it very pleasant and relaxing. They often say they feel better than after a massage. The body relaxes so much. They can reject suggestions as well. They don’t have to take on board anything they don’t want to.”

A person is not asleep or unconscious during hypnosis, but in a relaxed state of mind similar to daydreaming (or micing in the Bermudian vernacular). Hypnosis attempts to reprogramme the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is essentially the body’s autopilot, the part of the brain that controls body functions like heartbeat and breathing and helps you do things like pedal your bike or drive without thinking about the process very much, if at all.

“Your conscious mind only remembers around seven different pieces of information at one time,” said Mrs Dobbie. “The subconscious mind remembers everything. Once you start having coffee and a cigarette every morning that quickly goes into your subconscious mind and that’s how it becomes a habit.”

Mrs Dobbie said only three percent of smokers are able to just quit cold turkey. A lot of people need some other assistance to help them.

“The nice thing about hypnotism is that it is all natural,” she said. “There are no harmful drugs or chemicals involved.”

She became interested in hypnosis because of a fear of public speaking. She was working in the insurance industry at the time. One day she was asked to give a big speech in Geneva, Switzerland. The head of the company was flying in on a private jet.

“I went to a hypnotist,” she said. “It took three sessions to cure my phobia. I went to the conference and gave the speech. No one knew that I’d had a fear of public speaking.”

She did her initial training with the late Hilary Soares who ran Agape House. Ms Soares had had a stroke and had learned hypnosis to help herself deal with it. She wanted to create an association of hypnotists in Bermuda, so she brought in a professional to lead a workshop. Mrs Dobbie took the workshop and qualified as a professional hypnotist in 1999 and opened her practice 12 years ago.

“I have always been interested in the brain and what a clever and mysterious computer it is,” she said. “What is interesting about hypnosis is that it is probably the easiest way to change things in one’s life. Through hypnotherapy all I do is talk to the person while they are in the relaxed state. I give them beneficial suggestions. If the subconscious accepts that then the person changes their behaviour. If it doesn’t accept it then they don’t change.”

Hypnotism can cure a problem very quickly, Mrs Dobbie said. She has seen many people with lifelong phobias come in for one or two sessions and then tell her their fear is completely gone.

“It can help with things like examinations, because it helps the client to retain more information,” she said. “They still have to study though. I am helping one client, right now, deal with writer’s block. There was an issue with procrastination. It can also help with sports. A lot of sport competition is about your mental state. Hypnosis can put you in the frame of mind to play your best game. A lot of fertility issues are also stress-related, and hypnosis can help with that.”

She teamed up with Bermuda Cancer and Health for a smoking cessation workshop in honour of World Cancer Day earlier this month. One of the myths that World Cancer Day tried to address was that certain people were fated to have cancer.

“Certain cancers can be avoided,” she said. “Stopping smoking is a major way to reduce your chances of getting many types of cancer. For treatment of smokers, my success rate varies. It depends on the motivation of the person. That is what is incredibly important. A person has to be at the stage where they realise that the pain outweighs the pleasure of smoking. They have to be ready to stop. A lot of smokers don’t want to stop because they enjoy it. I give people the power of choice over a cigarette where people often feel they don’t have a choice. My very first client was a smoker. She gave it up after just one session, and she is still smoke-free today.”

People often call her office asking to set an appointment for their spouse or relative. She tells them that the person with the habit is the one who has to make the call.

“They have to be prepared and ready to quit,” she said. “If a person is motivated to stop smoking they will stop smoking.”

She charges $130 for a private session and $100 for any follow-up sessions. Most of her clients only need two or three sessions.

“My problem is it is so successful I have to keep looking for new clients,” she said. “When a person leaves my office they believe they are a non-smoker. They don’t get withdrawal symptoms because they are a non-smoker. If they think about it, it might just be a passing thought and that is it.”

She teaches the Emotional Freedom Technique. This involves tapping on certain parts of the body to release tension during anxiety or a moment of craving. It is sometimes called emotional acupuncture.

“It is a wonderful way to reduce anxiety and fears,” she said. “It is a wonderful tool that they can use. It is being used now quite a lot for post-traumatic stress.”

Some of her clients come to her with problems that are too much for hypnosis and they are referred to a psychologist.

Mrs Dobbie will hold a workshop to help people quit smoking, in coordination with Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre on March 3.

The workshops will be held at Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre on Point Finger Road in Paget from 2pm to 6pm. Tickets are $100 each and include a free CD and free follow-up session, if required. To register call 505-7531 or e-mail mdobbie@logic.bm.

Useful website: www.holisticbermuda.com.

Monica Dobbie Hypnotherapist (Photo by Glenn Tucker)

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Published February 28, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated February 27, 2013 at 3:52 pm)

I can’t make you cluck like a chicken, but I can help you stop smoking

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