Tonya Tyler stands in the community room of the North Kohala Public Library and addresses the community members who have come to find out more about hypnosis. Still a highly misunderstood practice, hypnotherapy as a form of medicine is slowly gaining acceptance once people find out how it works as well as how much it can help.
“Hypnotherapy is about empowering people with tools,” Tyler said. “It can help with confidence, self-esteem, weight control and smoking cessation.”
Tyler, a resident of North Kohala, has been helping people change their lives for the better, combining her degree in psychology with hypnotherapy, reiki, tribal studies and spiritual counseling.
By explaining how the mind works, Tyler shows how our subconscious minds can be responsible for a lot of our behaviors, and if that part of the mind is reached through relaxation, then positive changes can be made. And contrary to what is portrayed on the movies or TV, a person is highly conscious of the process while being hypnotized.
“Even in a deep state of relaxation, if there was a fire, one could just get up and escape the building,” said Tyler.
The State of Hawaii doesn’t require people to be certified in hypnosis, so anyone can take a class, or a weekend course and claim to be a hypnotherapist. Tyler said it is best to find someone who is certified, or who has at least had a lot of training.
Clients that benefit most from hypnosis are those who have made a conscious decision to make changes in their lives. As a hypnotherapist, Tyler’s goal is to assist clients with tools to empower themselves and to not become dependent.
Jon Marie Kerns, Waimea resident, is a certified medical support clinical hypnotherapist. She has helped many people with personal growth, stress management and physical ailments. Her specialties include continuing education in pain management, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), hypnosis for birthing, fibromyalgia and much more.
“Every major burn center in the US is staffed with a hypnotherapist,” Kerns said. “ If they can get in within the first hour of burns, it prevents the deepening of the burn.”
Kerns explained that hypnosis is adaptable to any belief system, and when the brain has had several sessions, then the subconscious and conscious parts of the brain become more integrated, deepening changes in the overall outcome.
“It takes the brain 20-30 minutes to change chemicals,” Kerns said. The relaxation steps are: induction, deepening and a tailored script to whatever the situation may be. For example, Kerns has helped women before and after birthing, and has been present for operations in which there are allergies to anesthesia. She has helped people reclaim the brain that has become emotionally traumatized after a car accident or sexual abuse.
“All these types of things help one lose power,” said Kerns. “The bottom line is how do we get that power back, and hypnosis will help, but only when that person wants to be helped. If someone doesn’t want to go to their post-trauma, they don’t have to.”
One of Kerns’ clients suffers from PTSD and pain from war injuries. Through hypnotherapy and learning self-hypnosis, the client’s wife said, “Jon Marie has been working with my husband for only a couple of weeks now, and already his progressive disease is less debilitating.”
Both Kerns and Tyler are professionals who are eager to help people be more aware of the benefits of hypnosis.
As one hypnotherapy client in Waimea said, “Some may think hypnotherapy is someone brainwashing you slowly while you’re practically sleeping, but when shared professionally, it is one of the most self-empowering healing techniques.”