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FARMINGTON — Hypnotherapist Rhonda Davis has opened a new practice in Farmington that aims to help patients with everything from quitting smoking and losing weight to managing stress and building self-esteem.

In addition to adults, Davis said her patients include teens who want to improve their athletic or academic performances. She has also started offering medical-related hypnotherapy, working with patients' physicians to coordinate treatment for issues like pain management.

A growing number of people are choosing alternative methods to treat issues such as pain and stress, according to studies by the National Institutes of Health.

Still, Davis said, the first thing she does does with a new patient is debunk many of the myths tied to the ancient practice of hypnosis.

"I think hypnotherapy is one of the most misunderstood therapies because people don’t know a lot about it," she said.

One of the common misconceptions is that the patient is unconscious during the hypnosis session.

"What I try to teach clients is that they are the co-therapist and are conscious throughout the session," Davis said. "They’re very aware of sounds and what’s going on around them. It’s very similar to meditation and prayer."

People also often think being under hypnosis can force them to act in ways beyond their control. Davis is quick to debunk that idea, adding "therapeutic hypnosis is so different from stage hypnosis."

Davis begins each initial client session by administering a susceptibility test to determine how easy it will be for the client to go into a hypnotic trance. It also helps her determine if the person is more visual, auditory or kinesthetic.

She said about 5 percent of people do not respond to hypnosis at all. Another 25 percent will go into a light trance and 45 percent into a medium trance. The final 25 percent can enter a deep hypnotic trance.

"You have to want to be hypnotized, and if someone doesn’t want to be, they won’t be," she said, adding that the ability to be hypnotized often correlates with a person's education and conditioning. Those who have more education, she said, tend to be more open to hypnosis.

Researchers have found that hypnosis creates changes in the brain through a process called neuroplasticity, Davis said.

"It’s not just an emotional change, but a physical change," Davis said, explaining she integrates neuro-linguistic programming to help clients reprogram negative thinking.

As for how effectively hypnotherapy can reduce pain and stress, Davis said she seen quick and dramatic results in some patients.

She referred to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that indicated breast cancer patients who had undergone hypnosis had less pain after surgery, as well as less nausea, fatigue and emotional upset, all of which led to the need for fewer pain medication.

Studies like this have helped more people accept that hypnosis can be used for therapeutic purposes.

"That’s one reason the code of ethics (for practicing hypnotherapy) is so stringent," she said. "They want to protect the credibility and pull it away from (the realm of) stage hypnosis."

Davis recently became certified in hypnotherapy. She worked as a massage therapist in the mid-1980s and was later employed in the oil and gas industry for 17 years, working in  environmental health and safety.

After she was laid off in November 2015, she attended a five-month program at the Hypnotherapy Academy of America in Albuquerque. She graduated with certifications in medical support and clinical hypnotherapy and is also trained in past life regressions.

Davis said although she personally believes in the existence of past lives, this type of therapy is not for everyone.

"It’s a very personal decision if someone wants to do that type of hypnosis," she said. "Usually if they have an issue that we think could really be solved by past-life regression, we’ll do it."

Leigh Black Irvin is the business editor for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4621. 

More info

What: Rhonda Davis Hypnotherapy

Where: 2901 E. 20th St., Suite 104, Farmington

Cost: Davis offers free consultations and charges $140 per subsequent session.

Contact: Call 505-215-7350 or visit RhondaDavisHypnotherapy.com.

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