“I should have done it years ago. It’s amazing I didn’t even want cigarettes anymore.”
—Matt Damon [on his experience with hypnosis]
Like Matt, I stopped smoking after being hypnotized, about 30 years ago. I was smoking over two packs a day at that point. The private session lasted about 90 minutes and cost me $250, a hefty sum considering it was 1984. The hypnotist gave me a set of tapes and instructed me to listen to them every night for a few weeks. If they worked as they were supposed to, I’d be able to hypnotize myself, he said. They worked. Even today, I can remember going into a hypnotic state. I kid you not!
I haven’t even held a cigarette between my fingers since that afternoon.
Perhaps I would have stopped without hypnosis. Who knows and who cares? I don’t smoke and that’s what counts.
So I jumped at the chance to interview Colin Christopher, a 39-year-old certified clinical hypnotherapist from Canada, who started using hypnosis and hypnotherapy 15 years ago to help couples reconnect and reignite their waning flames.
Maintaining that sexless relationships are more common than most couples will admit, Colin says that as long as medical issues aren’t to blame, couples can employ many natural techniques to heat things up again. Colin also wrote Success Through Manipulation, which explains what manipulates us in our environment. “You can read each chapter in five to 10 minutes,” he says.
Enjoy my enlightening conversation with Colin.
Where did you go to school and why did you get involved with hypnosis?
I have a Bachelors Degree in Science, Genetics and Chemistry from the University of Alberta. I am certified by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners and had 300 hours of classroom training. The field started to fascinate me after I saw my first hypnosis show. I didn’t think it was real.
Before we get started, please explain the difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy.
Hypnosis is a relaxed mental and physical state that lets us willingly accept beneficial ideas and suggestions from the hypnotist. Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis isn’t sleep. Rather, it is a pleasant experience, during which we’re in control of our minds and wouldn’t do anything we normally wouldn’t do.
Hypnosis can relieve tension and stress, reduce fears, phobias and pain, as well as control destructive emotions. It makes it easier to break habits, such as smoking and overeating. However, it probably won’t cure a compulsive eater who uses food to “medicate” herself whenever she feels ‘threatened’ by someone she loves.
Hypnotherapists, on the other hand, can discover the source of someone’s addictive behavior and show him or her how to resolve long-term issue(s) that led to their destructive actions in the first place. When you were 10, for instance, you might have retreated into a gallon of ice cream to make you feel better whenever your parents loudly fought, which they did frequently. But you’ve continued this behavior every time you and your husband or children argue. You weigh 250 pounds and your health is in danger. Hypnotherapy regresses you back to the time you developed your addictive behavior and helps you to resolve emotions.
How many sessions does someone typically need for each type of therapy?
The number of sessions depends on the client and his or her response. Some only need one session; others need two to four, or even more. Clients can use recordings following their sessions (like you did after your smoking session) to reinforce their emotional and mental resolve in the face of negative environmental influences from friends, family, colleagues, the media, and more. The number of sessions depends on the complexity of the issue and how much the subject wants to succeed.
How long is a hypnotherapy session and must it be done in person?
A typical session is 100 minutes. We can do it over Skype so I can see the person’s reactions as we return to the events that caused the stress in the first place.
Can you give me an example of a case where you effectively used hypnotherapy?
I hypnotized a woman who started smoking when she was about 13, to make her mother angry after her parents divorced. She thought her mother drove her father away. When she got stressed at work, later in life, or with her parents, she got an overwhelming urge to smoke. Once those emotional issues were resolved, the negative reaction was no longer triggered.
OK then, what percent of couples over 50 do you see about sexual issues and how do you determine the best way for them to reconnect and reignite their passion?
About 20 percent of couples over 50 see me for sexual issues and about 25 percent of boomers come to me for weight-loss concerns, which do impact sex.
Some people I see have been in relationships for 25, maybe 35 years, and one of the partners decides he or she wants to cheat.
They’re more interested in having sex with other people. Many others see me because of male performance. Erectile dysfunction issues arise because a man is bored or tired. Both male and female hormonal changes affect sexual behavior as well.
First, I have a session with the man, then with the woman, and then together. I want to determine the emotional connection between the partners so they can build and strengthen it and enjoy sex more. Of course, both partners have to want to improve their sex lives.
Let’s say you’re meeting with a man in his late 50s, with ED. What do you discuss?
I get him to talk about it. Men of that generation have a sense of virility and they’re embarrassed by their ED. It takes a huge shot at their self-confidence and that carries over to the other parts of their relationship. I’d talk about his past sex life, when he was virile. I’d get his medical background and family history. I work with the emotional, mental and physical aspects.
The mind allows the body to heal if you first resolve mental and emotional issues. The physical aspect then takes care of itself.
Emotional baggage is usually associated with a physical issue. Men become depressed. They linger. They fall into a rut of thinking negatively, so even when they’re physically healthy, they don’t get an emotional rebound. They stay in the rut.
The man probably is focusing on his lack of virility. Does he have any lingering emotional issues? Has any member of the family experienced this? I’d switch his focus so it’s not exclusively on himself. I’d have him focus on what he used to enjoy about sex when he was younger and virile, as opposed to not being able to perform.
If a man’s ED is purely a physical issue (let’s say he had radiation for prostate cancer), then we have to work on things like taking Viagra. However, emotions also are tied to actual solutions like this. A man who never had a problem, and is impotent all of a sudden, is like a man who walked all his life and is now in a wheelchair. Unless he starts dealing with the emotional issues, and seeing the Viagra or wheelchair as a tool to help him be more active in his life, he’s going to remain in the emotional rut.
Now, let’s say you’re meeting with a woman, also in her late 50s, who has lost interest in sex. What do you discuss?
I ask her to think of the times when she and her partner had the best sex together and what was it during those times and those moments that made it good? I ask her to build upon the memories and the experiences that were really, really good.
If she can’t find a memory that was great with her partner, I’d actually take her back to another partner and find out what it was that was really incredible with him. I’d hypnotize her to want to recreate those emotions with her current partner.
Does this process really work?
Hypnotherapy or hypnosis will work in about 75 to 85 percent of sexual and other cases. Sometimes people decide they don’t want to resolve the issue after one session of hypnotherapy. They might actually feel there’s a benefit to having an issue. One client who was chronically ‘sick’ actually liked having people take care of her.
Hypnotherapy gives you an awareness of what you’re doing so you can have a choice whether you want to stop or continue. It’s not a panacea. Its success also depends on the relationship you have with the therapist. The client and I decide together whether to use hypnotherapy or hypnosis. The issues determine what’s best.
Does a person’s age affect how he or she approaches you about sexual issues?
No, not as much as someone’s reluctance to talk about sex in general.
What’s the best way to help a woman decide if it would be beneficial for her to meet with you?
- Don’t eat yourself up about the situation. We’re our own worst critics. Things always seem worse than they really are. You don’t have to take on something all by yourself.
- Don’t leave me as the last resort.
- Come to me before you have an emotional breakdown, or you’ll need a therapist.
- A good time to see me is when you know you’re stressed, and in emotional turmoil, but you can still function. The earlier you deal with something, the better off you’ll be. Stop something negative earlier on.