To Your Health by Linda Finarelli, Staff Writer - June 11, 2008
(To see the article online at the newspaper's website,
Want to lose weight or stop smoking? Hypnotherapy may be an option.
According to Dr. Bruce Eimer,
a clinical psychologist in Huntingdon Valley who specializes in
hypnotherapy, the use of hypnotic tools along with psychological
counseling can help people change behaviors more quickly and
efficiently. The director of Hypnosis Help Center and Alternative
Behavior Associates, Eimer said he has used hypnotherapy "to help people
change harmful habits" for 20 years. His success rate is about 70
percent for those trying to stop smoking and about 50% for those wanting
to lose weight, he said.
Eimer sees patients in a
one-on-one visit, with follow-up within two weeks if necessary, he said.
For some, the goal is not losing weight, but eating a healthier diet, he
said. Some need to jump-start a diet program or "go back on the wagon."
There is a "greater drop-out"
rate for those trying to lose weight, Eimer said, because stress or
other emotional problems in their lives may be causing them to use food
as an outlet and contribute to overeating.
The use of hypnotherapy to
stop smoking "works for people who are motivated and determined to
stop," Eimer said. Usually, the person either has a strong positive
motivation to stop or is scared, having been told some medical diagnosis
as a result of smoking will be made worse, he said.
It doesn't matter how long or
how much someone has smoked, though it is easier to help those who smoke
three to four packs of cigarettes a day than those who smoke only eight
cigarettes or so a day, he said.
Similarly, those with
exceedingly high cholesterol or indications of cardiovascular disease or
diabetes are often more motivated to change their eating habits, Eimer
said. However, he noted, "the severely obese don't do well with
hypnosis... they need to have a more structured program."
Eimer said he got involved
with the use of hypnosis years ago when he learned to use self-hypnosis
to deal with back pain.
"I experienced the benefits
for myself," he said.
A board certified, licensed
clinical psychologist, Eimer is also trained in clinical hypnosis and is
a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and member of the
Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.
During the first phone call,
he said, he gets basic information to screen people to "see if they're
ready to stop smoking."
"I can tell if the [the
person] is a candidate [to stop smoking] for one visit or whether they
have other issues" and need to be seen on a more open-ended basis to
deal with other problems, Eimer said. Those who qualify for "one visit"
are given an intake evaluation "to determine the appropriate
hypnotherapy approach to meet their particular needs; it's not a canned
approach," he said.
Additional information "in a
form most smokers have never heard" is provided, and he determines what
needs smoking satisfies, the reasons to stop and how the patient copes
with stress, and then talks about the dangers of smoking and benefits of
stopping, he said.
Hypnosis, which lasts about 20
minutes, is used "to cement into the subconscious mind a lot of the
ideas already given" to stop, Eimer said.
With hypnosis, "the conscious
mind takes a mini vacation so the subconscious is more receptive to
The suggestions are more
toward taking care of one's body, he said, adding, "I don't like
associations with aversive stimuli. It's not necessary to feel
A lot of people have a
misconception of hypnosis, Eimer said. "It's a voluntary and pleasant
state of relaxed concentration during which the conscious mind is
relaxed and the subconscious is receptive, with the person's permission,
"The more relaxed and
comfortable and more focused, the more senses are heightened and the
imagination is activated."
"No one can be hypnotized
against their will," Eimer said, "and can't be made to do anything they
wouldn't do outside of hypnosis. They are aware of everything that's
In hypnosis the senses become
more acute, but the person is not unconscious and there is never a
problem coming out of the trance," Eimer said. People can talk while in
hypnosis, "but it's not a truth serum," he said.
Eimer is the author of two
self-help books on hypnosis and four textbooks. More information is