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
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
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
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
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.