Personal Stories of America at Work
Mind over Matter: Seattle Hypnotherapist Digs for the Root Cause
Hypnotherapist Lisa Crunick helps clients overcome roadblocks by changing their mind
No, clucking like a chicken never happens in my office. People have lots of images of hypnosis from stage shows and movies, which shows how powerful the mind is, but also how easy it is for people to dismiss hypnosis as a healing strategy. If someone calls me for a past-life regression, I refer him or her to someone else. Although, I have had several clients have past-life memories while hypnotized, and those are experiences I will never forget.
I first got into hypnotherapy when I was teaching a weight-loss class that utilized hypnosis. Part of my job was leading people to discover the emotional reasons behind what they ate and helping them break patterns related to weight gain and loss. The company that I worked for sold the branch office where I taught, and I was suddenly faced with going it on my own or finding a more “normal” job. I had already dipped in and out of the corporate world, and I knew that wasn’t what I was going to do, but venturing out on my own with no marketing experience was scary. I had the responsibility of two children and no child support, but my deeper mind knew it was my life’s work.
At that point, I had been exposed to many people who “worked to retire,” and I saw that the toll of doing work you hate just wasn’t worth it. So while my road has been bumpy, it feels right.
An invisible person in the room
Often, as a little girl, while the other kids were playing and my mother visited with her friends or my aunts, I would sort of sit in the background and listen. I would become almost invisible, so they’d forget that I was there. I was curious about human nature and why people do the things they do.
To me, the subconscious is almost like an invisible person in the room. People come to me because they feel out of control or they are in pain, emotional or physical. My job is to listen and hear what they may not be able to articulate. I am always looking for the root cause.
In hypnosis, we are trained that the subconscious has the job of protecting you. As practitioners of a healing modality called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), we are trained that negative emotions are a disruption in a person’s energy system. As a practitioner, I want to understand how the disruption shows up and what the subconscious mind is trying to do.
Many times, I will begin by having a person rub what is called the sore spot, which is below the collarbone and where the lymph nodes are. While they do this, I may start rambling about their problem. I say ramble because I am getting my own analytical mind out of the way. I let things come to me, and I watch my client for reactions, as well as ask them to notice any feelings or thoughts they are having.
One-session miracles and difficult cases
A man called me because he was addicted to candy bars, and I happened to call him when he was in his garage. He owned vending machines and his garage was full of candy. I did EFT with him in that moment, and after about ten minutes, he said the urge was gone. He didn’t eat one candy bar. He came into the office a week later, and he still hadn’t had a candy bar. I hypnotized him, sent him home with the recording, and he is still sugar free.
Of course, I love the one-session miracles, and I have had them happen with everything from insomnia to claustrophobia, but the difficult cases are the ones that stay with me. When the challenge is really entrenched—like with a severe eating disorder—the subconscious acts like a team of bureaucrats determined to keep their jobs.
A woman came to me because she wanted to do the Danskin Triathlon and was afraid to stick her head into the water. It turned out she had been in a car accident years back, and they had to put something over her face. Before her triathlon, we went swimming in the lake together to confirm that we’d overcome her issues. To see her put her head in the water was incredible; it made it a beautiful day.
One of my most challenging clients was someone I was originally afraid to work with because she was painfully thin. We worked on her issues, and she’s now healthy, has her Ph.D., and a job that she loves. So every time I see her when she comes in for a tune-up or just some relaxation, I’m reminded just how strong the human mind is.
Working with the subconscious mind
What many people don’t realize when they have habits, fears, or certain reactions to situations, people, or things, is that those issues almost always have a beginning. In my work, I’m always looking for the answer to “Where did that start?” or “How did they get that imprint?” One of the reasons I like to use EFT is it helps you very quickly get to the root cause. In a lot of cases, we just sift through to find it. Then once we find it, we’re able to take out the emotional sizzle or the emotional pulls around that particular situation. You do this by repeatedly asking questions. And it really depends on the person, so sometimes I use hypnosis to find out, but my preference is usually to use EFT, which involves talking and gently tapping the specific acupressure points.
They’re both ways to work with the subconscious mind, but they’re really different in that when you use EFT, you’re working with the energy patterns and thought patterns in a body, so you guide people through the process of tapping on specific acupressure points. While doing so, they’re acknowledging whatever their particular emotion is. It’s different from hypnosis, in that with hypnosis, it’s the practitioner directing and asking questions—watching a body or listening carefully to figure out the reactions—and basically doing repair work in a different way.
Hypnosis is a lot like guided meditation, but it depends how it’s used. In my sessions, once I figure out what’s going on, and I feel like we’ve flattened the reason—the emotional connection— then I will use hypnosis to have the person imagine what it would be like or what it feels like not to have that particular issue that brought them to me. If we go back to the woman who wanted to swim, after we took care of the reason why she was afraid, we then practiced swimming in her mind and what it was like to feel her face in the water.
Erasing emotional memories
I had a client who was afraid of spiders. An energy pattern in her body caused her to immediately become anxious every time she saw a spider. I guided her through remembering the reason that she had such a strong reaction to spiders. When she was a little girl she had fallen into a spider den. I guided her through that memory with EFT, and we zoned in on the feeling of those spiders crawling all over her neck, and then the feeling of whether someone comforted her after it happened.
Afterward, we went through the entire process for that one experience. Then, in a way, she just erased the emotional memory attached to the experience and was even able to sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” after we finished. In the beginning, she was barely able to say the word “spider.”
Following your heart
I raised my two daughters as a single parent. Now I have two twenty-something girls who view me as a professional and not just “the mom.” I’m proud that they respect what I do and send their friends to me. They even thank me for not trying to make them be one way or another and for giving them the freedom to explore the person they truly are.
You have to follow your heart, and while stability can be very alluring, I have seen so many people that choose stability feel like they are going to have to wait to start their life after they retire. So I always encourage everyone to follow their heart and follow their passion because when you follow your passion, you are much more willing to make sacrifices, and you’ll always have a powerful reason to do what you do—to get up and to contribute or help. And in my case, my passion is to help people.
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The Working Chronicles
The Working Chronicles captures an intimate look at work in 21st century America through candid interviews with people from all walks of life and all corners of the country.
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