Acupuncture and Hypnotherapy – For Weight Loss, Smoking Cessation and Behavior Change

The challenge many of us have chosen for the year ahead is to implement healthier behaviors. Perhaps you chose to exercise more or reduce sweets, or stop alcohol or smoking, or to journal more regularly, or reduce the number of hours you watch television. Clearly the list of behaviors designed to improve health can be long. Sometimes we find that the behaviors we seek to implement are beyond our control because we may have a slight or significant addiction to the offending objects or behaviors such as television, sweets, alcohol, tobacco, distraction.

During these circumstances, it is appropriate to seek help. Over the years I have had much experience helping individuals overcome the road blocks to behavior change. My success is due to the unique skill set I bring to each patient visit – nutrition, acupuncture, biofeedback, hypnotherapy, herbs, vitamins, supplements, medication – a rarity even among those who call themselves integrative. All of these therapies, in combinations unique to the individual, help a person reprogram and reframe his or her life. Often I utilize all of these therapies simultaneously.

Let’s talk about Acupuncture and Hypnotherapy.

How old is acupuncture and how is it done?
Acupuncture is often traced back to the beginnings of Chinese medicine over 2,000 years ago. In truth, it has been documented in Egyptian cultures and in Paleolithic cultures, which makes it the longest practiced medicine on the planet. Usually we use very fine pins to stimulate specific places on lines associated with energy flow called meridians. Often with behavior change we use points on the ears, scalp, hands, and feet.

Is there any discomfort from the needles?
The needles are so thin and small that often people have a hard time even seeing them. They are extremely flexible and can bend easily. They are not hollow – think of them as a very, very thin little sister to a sewing needle. They are nothing like the needles we associate with giving injections or taking blood. I say this in preface because acupuncture often is not painful at all. Very frequently, once I have placed a needle, people say, “Are you serious? That’s it? I really didn’t feel anything!”

How long has hypnotherapy been practiced and how is it done?
Hypnotherapy is often traced to the practice of Anton Mesmer in the 1840s but it can be linked to the Greek Healing Temples of Aesculapius. In hypnotherapy, the facilitator works to bring the individual to a deep state of relaxation, so deep that the person becomes an observer to their thoughts. In other words, to a place beyond ego attachment. At this deep level of relaxation and brain wave activity, the person is much more suggestible. This is a place where reprogramming can be most successful.

Are there patients who simply can’t be hypnotized?
Everyone who wants to be hypnotized can be hypnotized. It’s usually a dynamic of allowing oneself to release a degree of control and achieve a place of trust. For this reason hypnotherapy is a type of therapeutic relationship, and can take several sessions to establish that trust. That being said, no one can ever make anyone do something they are morally averse to doing. No one can ever have “mind control” over you.

How can either – or both – of these treatments change a person’s overeating or nicotine addiction?
Initially, acupuncture and hypnotherapy – alone and especially together – can reduce the anxiety that often triggers behaviors we are trying to change. On a deeper level, the therapies can reduce cravings and can alter one’s innate desire to engage in the behaviors. They can literally help reprogram the person in accordance with the person’s desired behavioral objectives.

Should people try to stop overeating or smoking before trying holistic methods?
For maximal success, I suggest that people use everything to help support their success. People should create the firmest nutritional and metabolic foundation they can as a part of stopping repetitive behaviors. They should work to enhance relaxation capacity. And they should proceed with the work of reframing and reprogramming. All at the same time. Those individuals who are most vested in success and surrounded by friends and family who support their success are going to have the best outcomes. Those individuals who are trying to accomplish behavioral change because they are forced into it can achieve that change, but it may not be as easy.

How many treatments does it usually take for patients to reach their goals? Do they have to continue to have the treatments after they’ve been successful?
Some people achieve success after just one treatment. More commonly I suggest to schedule between 4 to 6 treatments. Often follow-up treatments are necessary only for “tune-ups.”

Can you take us through the process, from the initial consultation to completion of treatment?
For acupuncture alone, the intake is about a half hour and the initial treatment is 45 minutes. The intake and initial treatment can follow each other on the same day. Follow-up treatments range from 15 minutes to 45 minutes depending upon the therapeutic objective.

For hypnotherapy, the initial intake is one hour and the treatments are 45 minutes. The initial intake and the first treatment occur on different days. Acupuncture can be included with these treatments.