Dr. Deirdre Clark listened on the phone to a prospective patient’s concern.
“No, there’s no crystal ball involved,” she said. “No. No special glasses, either.”
The man, an alcoholic who wanted to get the monkey off his back, was exploring all his options. A call to Clark, a licensed hypnotherapist, was on his list of possible treatments.
After a few minutes of back-and-forth, Clark hung up and sighed.
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“A lot of people don’t know what hypnosis is, and it’s unfortunate it’s been given a really bad rap,” she said. “It’s almost tragic, because through hypnosis, people can do so many things.”
Each week inside Fabulous Life Hypnosis – Clark’s practice off W.T. Harris Boulevard in the University City area – between 20 and 35 patients sit in her black leather recliner with their feet propped up and let their subconscious minds be persuaded.
Some wish to quit smoking. Some want more confidence in their lives. Others seek relief from arthritis. A few, diagnosed with terminal illnesses, sit down eager to find a way to cope with their new realities.
“There’s no person that can’t benefit from hypnosis,” said Clark. “I see addictions, fibromyalgia, cancer patients, arthritis. Give me any scenario, and hypnosis can help.”
Still, critics exist. Clark blames much of that on decades of Hollywood and its staged hypnotic theatrics.
“I can only plant things that you want to happen,” she said. “I can’t hypnotize somebody to rob a bank, unless they wanted to rob a bank.”
For those who believe in hypnosis’ power, Clark leads them into her office. She taps a CD player and tranquil music plays softly while a small stream of water babbles over rocks in a small fountain in the corner. A basket of books, each with the word “hypnosis” in its title, sits on one side of the recliner, a box of tissues on the other.
The ones who don’t think they’ll cry often do, said Clark.
There’s no swinging watch, no swirling, spinning objects to fixate on, just a heap of ruby red Luden’s Cough Drops piled on a desk across from the chair. Those are for Clark.
“I talk a lot,” she said.
Hypnosis isn’t sleep, she said, but an altered state of consciousness.
“It’s a state where you are relaxed, where you are not sleeping but you are not totally awake,” said Clark. “It’s called Theta, and when you’re in Theta, you’re open to positive suggestions. That’s why it’s so effective.”
Clark often gives tasks to patients, like math problems to solve, while trying to get them into Theta.
“I use various things to distract the conscious mind, because your conscious mind does not want you to go into hypnosis,” she said.
“The power is in you to do it,” said Clark. “If more people used it for the wonderful tool that it is, they would see their lives turn around dramatically. If you change your mind, you’ll change your life.”