The Skinny On Hypnotherapy

With Sheri O. Zampelli, M.S., CCH Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist An Interview By Laura M. Turner, CHHP

I admit, I didn’t know much about hypnotherapy, especially for weight loss. But the results are undeniable. So to find out more, I sat down with Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, weight loss coach and creator of Donate Your Weight ( to get the skinny. Here’s what she told me:

Q: Sheri, What is the background or history of hypnotherapy?

A: Modern hypnosis is said to have been around since 1776 and has faded in and out of popularity and acceptance since then. Sigmund Freud used hypnosis in his practice and his theory of psychoanalysis was formed based on some of the things he liked and didn’t like about hypnosis. Many therapists and doctors integrate hypnosis into their practice to help clients manage physical pain, break habits and resolve deep psychological issues.

Q: What is your story as it pertains to hypnotherapy? Why were you drawn to it?

A: I initially found out about hypnosis when I was desperately struggling with my weight and eating and went to see a woman named Dr. Nancy Bonus. She marketed a “non-diet weight loss program” and called her technique ‘visualization’. It seems that many people call their technique visualization in an attempt to avoid any negative connotations previously associated with hypnosis. The truth is, many programs using ‘visualization’ are using some version of hypnosis. However, the term ‘visualization’ doesn’t adequately describe the power of hypnosis.

The goal with hypnosis is not just to see or imagine something in your mind. The power of hypnosis depends on the state you’re in when you visualize an outcome and also the emotions you are able to experience as a result of being in a deep, relaxed, trance-like state. The goal with hypnosis is to get past the analytical or logical part of the mind and to access the part of your mind that makes automatic, impulsive, emotionally driven decisions. With hypnosis, you can help your conscious mind work in harmony with your subconscious mind so that eventually, you are automatically drawn to new behaviors without having to think about it or use willpower.

Q: Why would a person choose hypnotherapy as a means of promoting weight loss?

A: A good reason to choose hypnotherapy as a means of promoting weight loss is because hypnosis helps you get past the critical factor and access that part of the mind (the old brain) that’s like a little brat and insists, “I want cookies, I want candy, I don’t want to exercise.” That old brain (amygdala) wants instant gratification and rewards, it doesn’t care about consequences or logic. You can reprogram that part of the mind to look forward to health, fitting in smaller clothes, dancing, playing, getting off medication and all the other benefits of weight loss, suddenly you have its cooperation. Now your conscious and subconscious mind are working together. Your subconscious mind doesn’t care about good or bad, should or shouldn’t, right or wrong. In fact, the subconscious mind seems to rebel against rules, but it loves rewards.

Q: What would a private session involve in terms of expense and time commitment? Do you offer private sessions via internet?

A: Private sessions can range from $75 to $300 an hour. My per session fee is $150 but I prefer to offer six-session packages for $700. I do offer coaching over the phone and I will create a personalized hypnosis CD for the client after I’ve been working with them for about three weeks. The truth is, when it comes to weight loss, most people will not benefit from only one session. Weight and eating issues are very complex and sometimes begin in infancy. Solving your weight problem permanently usually requires work on emotional triggers, psychological triggers, habits, self-talk and self-esteem. It also includes making changes to your environment and mindset related to food, eating, fun, rewards and weight.

Some clients have experienced trauma or abuse that is the root of their weight problem. Food becomes a friend and excess weight becomes a security blanket. Unless trauma is resolved, the weight and poor eating habits are likely to resurface again and again, especially in times of stress. However, it is possible to resolve these issues and take back your power if you are willing to commit to the process.

Q: Could a person get the benefits of hypnotherapy on their own and how?

A person can absolutely benefit from using a CD recording of a hypnosis session. CD’s often work great for motivation and focus and staying on track with new goals. CD’s can also help you break habits. A self-motivated person with little or no past trauma or abuse might find that a CD is sufficient to attain their goals. However if the CD alone seems to stop working or lose effectiveness it might be either time for a new CD or time to see a professional who can help you overcome roadblocks that might be standing in their way of gaining the full benefits of hypnosis. Self-sabotage can also be a factor in the effectiveness of hypnosis. If a person holds core beliefs such as “I don’t deserve good things, I’m worthless, Why bother, People will think I’m snooty, slutty, selfish, etc.” then hypnosis alone may not be enough to overcome those beliefs. My book, From Sabotage to Success offers a wide variety of tools for overcoming self-sabotage.