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Hypnotherapy is a very misunderstood modality of healing. People often associate it with stage hypnosis, where people are programmed to do silly things against their will.

The real truth is you can’t do anything against your will, even in a hypnotic state, and hypnotherapy is extremely safe and gentle.

I have been using hypnotherapy for years as a deep and effective way of attaining emotional well-being. Then in 2008, I discovered an especially powerful form of hypnotherapy called Alchemical Hypnotherapy, and loved it so much that I became trained in it. I am a huge advocate of hypnotherapy because I have personally felt its transformative effects and have also witnessed powerful shifts in others.

Research studies have also demonstrated hypnotherapy’s effectiveness. A study in American Health Magazine reports the following findings:

  • Psychoanalysis: 38% recovery after 600 sessions
  • Behavior Therapy: 72% recovery after 22 sessions
  • Hypnotherapy: 93% recovery after 6 sessions

Hypnotherapy help in San FranciscoWhat is hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a gentle relaxation of your waking mind and body. It brings your brain waves into a trance like state, very similar to meditation, that feels natural, calm, and expansive. This state helps to quiet the inner chatter of your waking, everyday consciousness, in order to access the larger and deeper parts of yourself.


How does hypnosis work?

Hypnotherapy uses a trance like state to gain greater access into the unconscious. Your unconscious is the key to your dreams, desires, habits, belief systems, creativity and feelings. Through hypnotherapy you begin to bridge the conscious with the unconscious, allowing for emotional well-being to occur at a deeper level of awareness.

Hypnotherapy works with neuroplasticity (i.e., the ability of the brain to change in response to experience) in order to create changes within the brain’s physical structure and physiology. This is why hypnotherapy, along with other techniques that access deeper levels of consciousness, helps you to change your emotional-well being by changing your brain in positive ways. It alters the way you view yourself, your relationships, and how you think about, feel about, and respond to your world.

What is Alchemical Hypnotherapy?

Alchemical Hypnotherapy is a form of hypnosis that goes beyond what traditional hypnosis offers. Alchemy is the process of transmuting base metal into gold. So Alchemical Hypnotherapy is the process of turning your emotional lead (e.g., negative emotions, disempowering belief systems, triggering memories) into gold (i.e., mental and emotional well being).

Essentially, Alchemical Hypnotherapy is a series of techniques that help reprogram, clear, and change negative experience at its root. Traditional hypnosis is also very effective, but does not clear the root cause in the same way.


What are the benefits?

Hypnotherapy accesses your inner being at a very deep level to create effective change. It helps to bridge the unconscious (where much of our negative belief patterns and programming resides) with the conscious mind. At this deep level of consciousness, you are more available to change and reprogram limiting blocks into positive, healthy emotions and empowering self beliefs.

Hypnotherapy can help you heal wounds

Can anyone be hypnotized?

Yes, pretty much everyone can be hypnotized.

Being hypnotized means entering into a trance-like state, which is completely natural. In fact, most people go into trance many times throughout the day, like when they are watching T.V. or spacing-out during a meeting.

There are a few exceptions to those who can be hypnotized. One exception is an individual with brain damage to specific areas of the brain. Another exception is an individual unwilling to be hypnotized. This may sound obvious, but you cannot be hypnotized if you do not want to be.


Will I remember anything?

Yes, everything. It’s actually important for you to remember what happens, so you can integrate your experience over the next few days or weeks. This way the subconscious and the conscious mind begin to work together more harmoniously.


What is a session like?

During a session, I will first speak with you about current issues that are challenging for you. Then I will have you sit or lie down in a comfortable position. I will lead you through some relaxation techniques, to have you come into greater alignment with your natural inner rhythm and enhanced mental capabilities.

Depending on the issue, I will then lead you on an interactive journey to access your deep inner wisdom. I will provide gentle suggestions for you and you will let me know what is happening along your journey, so we can co-create the perfect experience for you.

Each hypnotherapy journey is unique, depending on what you need in each moment. Every session ends with positive suggestions given at a deep level of awareness, helping to reprogram old, limiting belief systems. Finally, I help ground you back into your body and gently take you out of trance.


Example of a hypnotherapy session

A client of mine wanted to try hypnotherapy for her fear of speaking in public. Any time she had to speak publically she would panic. She experienced difficulty breathing, her heart would race, her hands and voice would shake, her stomach would ache and sometimes she would vomit. She had a big presentation coming up that was pivotal to her career, so she came to see me seeking some help and relief.

During her session, we followed her current symptoms to a past memory from childhood, which had caused her subconscious to connect the act of public speaking with the feelings of terror and humiliation.

During the hypnotherapy session she was able to change the memory of this incident, which allowed her to change her relationship to this memory and her relationship to public speaking. She then accessed her inner guidance, which gave her useful and concrete tools to use for her upcoming presentation.

OUTCOME: A week after the session, this client gave her presentation and reported she was no longer terrified of speaking in public. She reported her physical symptoms had dropped dramatically, and she only experienced mild nervousness before giving her presentation.

How can hypnotherapy help me?

Is hypnotherapy safe? What if I see or experience things I don’t want to?

Hypnotherapy is completely safe. You are in charge of your experience at all times. If there is some part of yourself you don’t want to connect to, you won’t.

I also make safety a priority in my office, providing loving, grounding, and nurturing support for anything and everything that may arise.


Is hypnotherapy right for me?

Hypnotherapy can be beneficial for everyone.

I have seen many miraculous transformations within myself and in others through this work. However, not everyone is drawn to hypnotherapy. You will know if you are curious or feel called to it. I always encourage clients to listen to their inner voice and to trust what it is saying.

Hypnotherapy is also great for:

  • Career and life purpose
  • Creating better relationships
  • Contacting your authentic and highest self
  • Major life transitions
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Achieving personal goals
  • Relaxation, stress management
  • Increasing creativity
  • Releasing emotional blocks
  • Overcoming fears/phobias
  • Weight-loss
  • Empowering yourself


How many sessions will I need?

I usually recommend three sessions for each major issue; however, this is not an absolute rule. Some people gain what they need in one session, and some people need or want more than three sessions.

I’d like to try hypnotherapy, how can I do that?

I offer hypnotherapy in San Francisco in conjunction with psychotherapy for my ongoing clients, and for other clients of  Well Clinic practitioners who would like to try it out. If you are not my client, please speak to your therapist or practitioner about setting up a session.

Get hypnotherapy in San Francisco


About the Author

Julia Barker is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) at Well Clinic in San Francisco. Her practice involves a mind, body, heart and spirit approach to healing, incorporating a blend of Western psychological thought and scientific research with Eastern spirituality and wisdom traditions.


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