The Drs' Staffer Tries Hypnotherapy to Kick Sugar

The Doctors' Social Media Producer, Karyn, is giving hypnotherapy a try to kick her sugar habit. ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork says it's not surprising that so many of us can't resist sweets – research has shown that sugar may be as or more addictive than cocaine.

Karyn has always loved sugar. She eats chocolate in the afternoon and she can't stop. “When I try to stop sugar, I feel empty,” she says.

Watch: Action Plan for Breaking Sugar Addiction

Hypnotherapist Grace Smith says she likes to think of hypnotherapy as "meditation with a goal." Like meditation, hypnosis empowers clients to change the way their minds behave. "The reason why it works is very simple," Grace says. "When we are relaxed and feeling safe we become open to suggestion. Most people try to make changes to their lives when they are extremely stressed out, but when we are operating from a place of fight, flight or freeze, it is difficult to make lasting changes to our subconscious habits or beliefs. The body is essentially on lock-down, in survival mode, and it won't allow us to transform without a struggle. The relaxed, safe, meditative state we are in during hypnosis allows us to bypass the critical mind and improve our lives from the inside out in a very efficient, comfortable way."

As the session begins, Grace tells Karyn, “Your subconscious mind is always going to want to protect you, so we have to have a conversation with the subconscious and let it know it's safe to let it go.”

Grace quickly hypnotizes Karyn and asks her to imagine herself talking to a pile of sugar, and asking, “Why are you so much a part of my life?”

What does it respond? “Because I'm good!” Karyn laughs.

Watch: Sweet on Sugar

But then Grace asks her to travel back in time to childhood. Karyn sees a cake on the kitchen table, made by her mother. Grace asks if she used to help her mother and Karyn says she did. Baking the cake with her mother was a happy time.

“I want you to notice that what feels good about this scene is you spending time with your mom. You don't need sugar to try to represent the love you feel now,” Grace tells her.

Karyn tells the pile of sugar, “I confused you with love.”

Grace reminds Karyn that sugar is harmful. “Plus, it attracts bugs!” she adds. Grace says, “Even though we used aversion therapy with Karyn, it’s important to know that it doesn’t create a new phobia in the subconscious.” So those images of buggy cupcakes shouldn't bug Karyn in the future!

Karyn is in tears when she comes out of hypnosis. “And I don't know why!” she says. “It's a good thing. It means we hit the source,” Grace reassures her.

Watch: Hypnotherapy for Nicotine Addiction

Karyn says her cravings are gone. “I thought it would help me with willpower – but I truly don't even want sweets!” And she only had two sessions with Grace.

“When it comes to addictions, I've always said it's whatever works,” says Dr. Stork. He wonders whether the effect will last without follow-up sessions.

Grace says that Dr. Stork's question about the long-term effects of hypnosis is a great one. Hypnosis isn't magic and, despite how it is depicted in the movies, it is not mind-control and should not be expected that one session will cure us of all of our problems for a lifetime. Like any valuable tool, you have to want the results in order to experience them, and the process requires commitment. While every client is different, a study by Dr. Alfred Barrios found that, on average, 600 sessions of psychotherapy resulted in 38 percent improvement for clients, but just 6 sessions of hypnotherapy resulted in 93 percent improvement. Six sessions is the average hypnotherapy treatment for any topic. In addition, as needed "tune-up" sessions for certain topics can be a great way to maintain fabulous results for the long haul.

“The craving for sugar truly is an addiction,” says Dr. Stork.

Will Karyn stop making fun of him when he turns down cupcakes? “I'm so on your team now!” she assures him.

Grace Smith's goal is to make hypnosis mainstream. “It has nothing to do with clucking like a chicken,” she says. “It’s a respected alternative therapy that is not meant to be a replacement for traditional medicine, but instead a highly effective compliment." Grace is, in fact, correct. The Mayo Clinic has even started offering sessions to patients to help relieve the symptoms of many diseases and conditions.

Watch: Mindful Meditation

To learn more about hypnotherapy and Grace Smith, you can visit her website!

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