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Q and A with Judy Bartelstone:
Dr. AlVera Paxson - Hypnotherapy and Addictions

Dr. AlVera Paxson answers questions relating to the use of hypnotherapy in the treatment of addictions.

Q. Dr. Paxson, what disorders can you actually treat with hypnotherapy; for example, I just read an article in Time Magazine March 2006 which suggests that hypnosis can be used as alternative to sedation during operations. And that there were fewer side effects!

A. Yes, absolutely. Hypnosis can be used for anything that the mind has created. Some people do medical therapy, others specialize. Hypnotic anesthesia, for example, allows the mind to produce its own natural chemicals. It takes total relaxation and is especially good for people who can’t tolerate chemicals. The power of the mind is amazing.

Q. Is this akin to the “Mind Over Matter” philosophy of the ‘40s and ‘50s eras?

A. That’s right—I just got a letter from a former patient of mine who had hip surgery with no medication! She had hypnosis and it worked! I tell people that the body has 54 billion workers(cells) and they’ll do anything for you! The body also needs to get in balance so I do recommend homeopathy as well as the allopathic doctor.

Q. Doctor—what is the number one addiction, do you think, and how does your hypnotherapy work with this and other addictions?

A. Smoking is the number one addiction and I’ve also worked with weight control which I think is number two, panic, alcohol, drugs, and addiction to pain medication. All of these involve a rush, an excitement, but a negative one. I always compare the mind to a beautiful garden; you must get rid of the weeds, no matter how they got there, and then you can plant the seeds. It’s my job to find and help get rid of those weeds. The hypnotic state makes you more aware and we’ll talk a little more about that later.

Q. I have a specific question—I volunteer with prison youth and I’m curious about the spewing out of foul language which is so constant. Is that an addiction?

A. Yes, it is. And also a cover-up, a mask. But the conditioning for that starts early in life. Two years old to four isn’t so bad, but they can still pick up the foul language and other habits. From four years to eight and a half or nine, they really begin to play the game and can pick up the wrong habits like a sponge.

Q. What about self-confidence and its role in the forming of a personality which might become addictive or emotionally disordered?

A. I have a lot of clients who lack self-confidence and some of them are millionaires! They learn to manipulate and this is because, despite their money, they lack self-worth. Hypnotherapy can pull out the weeds and discover the reason and causes of this. Hypnotherapy can apply to weight issues—we look for the root cause of any of these disorders. As a therapist, I am trained and educated to ask the right question to access the mind’s flow.

Q. What happens in that first hypnotherapy session?

A. Well, sometimes it’s the only session that they need! I try to give confidence, find out about the family or parent relationships, relationships with the outer world, and what is being covered up. The patient or client needs to be ready for emotional pain as I attempt to take out the bad roots, the weeds. I always have a box of Kleenex ready, believe me. “The mind knows all about your pain”, I tell them, “so now let’s go to the other side of the mind where you have what you do like and what would not be painful. Give me your hand, your path is over here, what is your goal, don’t go in a figure eight, go in a straight line, get rid of the backpack of pain, there is a choice.” Hypnosis is a state of awareness dominated by the sub-conscious mind. I have the person close their eyes, relax, take two or three deep breaths and progressively relax—and no, I don’t use an object, just my voice. You are not asleep, just more aware than normal.

Q. That involves a lot of trust and I am sure you are excellent at what you do. Could a person do some self-hypnosis at some point?

A. Yes, just replay the positive in your mind. People do it all the time, sports, stage, whatever. But what I do to get the client to relax into almost a dreamlike state where he is more aware than he would be normally because he is focusing so intently. I mentioned this deeper awareness earlier in our interview—the hypnotic state is a more aware one and so we can discover more truths. Here is an example of combining my hypnotherapy with self-hypnosis: after a session, a twelve year old said to me “Gravity was pulling at my feet when I came in here but now I am lighter. It’s up to me.” The child can convince himself now that he has aired his issues and knows he can get rid of the weeds. So, I teach you how to put yourself in that state and to re-balance yourself., how to relax.

Q. What about the actual sessions with you, what do they involve?

A. It is a three hour session and all done in one session! If you need to return you do so at a later date. I give you the tools, I know how to talk to you, that’s what I do, and I know how to talk to your 54 billion workers, or cells. It’s like a car battery with positive and negative posts; you need both, this is what makes you who you are. Emphasize the positive, that is your responsibility. As mentioned earlier, we talk an hour or so before I “relax” the client and we identify the issues. For example, smoking—we say, I know what a cigarette is, I must recognize the damage this does, I can do this, my mind can do this. We actually open up the cigarette and look at it. You are not born a smoker, let’s take stuff out of the closet that you are not facing and see why and when you smoke. You taught your body how to do that, you created your own addiction and now your subconscious mind is set on automatic waiting for you to smoke. Let’s uncover those roots and get out the weeds so you do not have to have this addiction.

Q. And you help with hypnotherapy and it works? That’s amazing.

A. Yes, you train your mind with my help to say NO. That is the most powerful word in the dictionary.. When addiction tries to take over, for instance, I want a cigarette after a meal, the thought process is now “ NO”, I can stop putting this poison into my body, I don’t have to do this anymore. Go back into the mind and say “I don’t have to do this anymore, I don’t need it.”

Q. Do you substitute something else in its place?

A. No. You actually get rid of the addiction, not replace it. You don’t have to do it anymore, you can handle your problems, and you can have control. You don’t have control if you have an addiction.

Q. Is this technique similar to how John McCain and other POWs survived?

A. Oh yes. You transfer yourself somewhere else in your mind, you block off. “I can, I will, I do.”

Q. You speak with such certainty; do you have personal experience as well as your actual credentials?

A. I’ve survived a great deal myself. I overcame abuse and cancer.

Q. I thought you spoke with the voice of experience! But tell me, how do you get your clients?

A. In thirty-one years, I’ve never had to advertise. The addict or the family somehow hear about me, often from other professionals. I also will recommend, depending on the degree of stress and trauma, to see another professional, such as a psychologist, for some ongoing talking. I can see this need in my three hour session. Incidentally, I’ve also worked with forensic investigative hypnosis, to be sure there are no false memories of sexual or other abuse, which often comes up in court cases, as you probably know or have read about.

Q. That’s amazing that you can determine this. One last question—the source of addiction, for instance.

A. The source can be genetic, learned or emotional. The addictions range from food to sex to gambling, it’s not just alcohol and drugs. All of these are addictions to gratification. That’s important to realize.

Dr. AlVera Paxson’ s Ph.D. is in Medical Hypnotherapy . She  is a licensed hypnotherapist and a specialist in the treatment of addiction.  She has training and experience in hypnotic anesthesiology and hypnotic forensic investigation. Her education and career include psychology, pain control and human behavior. Dr. Paxson can be reached at her office number 480-948-7577.

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Caroline S Walrad, Ph.D. is not a medical doctor. Her Ph.D. is in Homeopathic Philosophy. Caroline Walrad, Ph.D. does not diagnose disease nor takes the place of your medical doctor. At no time does this web site suggest you remove yourself from your medical prescriptions. In case of an emergency, please call your emergency centers or AMA physician.