By: Regina Touhey Serkin, MSTOM, LAc, Special to The Eagle
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - A growing trend has parents hypnotizing their kids to do better in sports and in the classroom.
It's called "hypno-parenting" and those parents say it works! Some local parents swear by it, saying hypnosis therapy has really helped their child overcome big fears they thought they'd never get over.
This practice has it's critics too, therapists say it's not be for everyone.
"The word hypnosis is kind of creepy and I would be the first person to say yea no," said parent Salida Brooks.
Local mom Salida Brooks says she was scared of hypnotherapy practices at first, but willing to try anything to get over her long time fear of going to the dentist.
"There's stuff that we store in our deeper mind that we don't always know that we have in there," said Brooks.
After a few sessions of "reworking" her subconscious mind, Brooks found a new perspective.
"It was a completely different experience, I was asking them what they were doing and was not nervous at all and watched them on the video camera with things and it was very different," said Brooks.
She later tried the therapy with her 7-year- old daughter who's also afraid of the dentist.
"We were in a little private area and so I used some of the techniques I know from my training," said Brooks. " Within 10 minutes, I had a completely different child."
Leah had several teeth pulled that day with no problems.
"She walked back there by herself and said 'bye mommy' and put the mask on and she was fine and has been fine every since," said Brooks.
Chattanooga Hypnotherapist Joshua Gunter says he's helped several clients to lose weight and stop smoking. Hypno-parents too are now seeking help with kids struggling to perform on the field or in the classroom.
" One of the main ones is test taking anxiety where people don't have the confidence when it comes to either standardized testing or other types of testing, so hypnotherapy is a great resource for that," said Gunter.
Gunter describes the hypnosis" trance" like a day dream, when you're into a really good book or movie and time just slips away.
"Highway Hypnosis is common," said Gunter. "It's where you're driving down the road and you just become so absorbed in your thoughts that you either miss your exit or you get somewhere and you think 'I don't even remember half of that drive...where was I?'"
He believes that negative emotions like anxiety or fear can be corrected in your subconscious mind, but it takes a few exercises to get there.
"I don't swing any watches, don't make anybody cluck like a chicken, none of that goes on here," said Gunter.
Competitive cheerleader Kendall Kukta tells Channel 3, she tried hypnosis as a last resort.
"It definitely wasn't what I expected, it felt like it made you feel really good," said Kendall Kukta, 14-years-old. "Other than helping you through being scared or whatever you're going through...It helps you just really feel good about yourself."
Kukta was unable to tumble on her own after a bad fall. She feared she'd be kicked off the team after years of private lessons and no luck.
Three hypnosis sessions later, she's made the High School squad.
"I think it made me believe in myself a little bit more and be able to visualize myself doing it so that I can do it," said Kukta.
While some parents are thrilled, Brooks who is also a licensed counselor, warns that hypnotherapy can't be a substitute for good parenting and should not be used to manipulate.
"That's a scary thought to think about, 'It's time to take out the trash, my kids are refusing to be obedient so let me hypnotize them' yea that's scary to me," said Brooks. " It's one of many tools though, I don't think it's a fix all for everything."
Some say the therapy may be going too far, mental health experts say hypnosis is not a good idea for someone who is using drugs and alcohol or for someone with mental health issues. They suggest having a doctor evaluation before receiving the therapy.
A typical session can cost you anywhere from $100 -$150 dollars but therapists say some needs may require multiple sessions.