There are many faces of hypnotism.

I wonder which face you see. Is it the entertainer, working with large audiences, choosing participants who are willing to have an adventure? Or is it the practitioner, like me, who helps everyday people with everyday issues?

Regardless of how you view hypnotists, these professionals work in many different areas. This was once again brought to my attention at the annual summer convention of the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH) in Massachusetts. NGH is the oldest and largest organization of hypnotists in the world, represented by roughly 18,000 members in 80 countries. Hundreds of attendees had to choose between 300 different lectures and workshops — offered in only 3 days!

In addition to lectures on weight management and smoking cessation, other presentations on various issues were offered: eliminating sleep issues; broken hearts mended; meet your guardian angel; children and fears; removing the family curse; menopause relief; hypno youth and beauty; neuroplasticity; chronic pain; hypnosis for fertility; hypnosis for brain surgery; and hypnosis for ADHD. As a faculty member, I presented twice: a lecture on neuroanatomy, and a workshop on pain.

In my practice, I see people struggling with many of these issues. For example, loss of a loved one can toss a person into a descending spiral of despondence and isolation, manifesting as not eating and not leaving the home. A few sessions of hypnosis can help you get back on track with your life. It’s really about change. Your life changes all the time, and there are many techniques available to help you adjust, adapt, and go with the flow. The prestigious American Medical Association in 1958 approved hypnosis as an effective and legitimate modality for change. All you have to do is be willing to change. Are you ready to be willing to change?

So the next time you see an ad for hypnotism, I wonder: which face will you see?