Ham and High February 26th 2009

A hypnotherapist is leading the way on a new technique hitting Harley Street, which claims clients can be hypnotised thin.

Jennie Francis, from the Lewis Clinic, is one of the best known hypnotherapists and is using the treatment more and more for weight loss. Using Neuroliguistic Programming, clients can be turned off certain foods such as chocolate as well as convinced to give healthier options and exercise a go. “I think hypnotherapy helps people get off the diet band wagon,” says Ms Francis. “Most people know what to eat and how to exercise – hypnotherapy helps give them the freedom to do it. I usually say people have between three and six sessions over a period of time depending on how much individuals need.”

It was celebrities and unsurprisingly the world of diets – LA – which first launched hypno-dieting, with Lily Allen allegedly the latest convert. And it is quickly catching on here, with Ms Francis getting as many clients with New Year resolutions to lose weight as to quit smoking, something now widely accepted as being cured with hypnotherapy.

The diet phenomenon is showing the expanding scope of issues for which hypnotherapy can be used. As Ms Francis reveals “Hypnotherapy helps with a variety of problems, including stopping smoking, phobias, anxiety, panic attacks, IBS, teeth grinding and hair putting. “Athletic performance can also be affected – I’ve seen golfers and footballers and tennis players. It is also being used for anaesthesia and dentists and medical operations as well as pain relief. I’ve even helped hayfever sufferers.

The problem of knowing the scope of hypnotherapy’s use is according to Ms Francis, due to a lack of research. As pharmaceutical companies are the main sponsors of clinical trials, little is done to look into with hypnotherapy can be used as a replacement. One of the reasons Ms Francis is such a success is that she trained in counselling as well as hypnotherapy. She says her advice is steeped in practical advice and support as well as using hypnotherapy techniques.

As the Ham&High guinea pig for hypnotherapy, I was, at first, ill at ease with the whole concept. I found it hard to believe that anyone could tap into my subconscious – let alone plant something there to stop me from liking chocolate. Chocolate is one of my most craved foodstuffs and the idea that I would happily allow it to be taken from my mind was, quite frankly, unbelievable. However, within minutes of meeting Ms Francis she started to convince me otherwise. She couldn’t, she admitted make me hate chocolate forever. But she could undo those nasty dependencies and connections with the sweet stuff. Chocolate would no longer be a crutch for feeling down or bored but a little luxury to be enjoyed for what it is.

Five sessions on and I feel that has worked. I’m now as keen to pick up fruit instead of chocolate at the supermarket without having lost the enjoyment for that well-earned pudding now and again. Since you aren’t exerting willpower, the whole therapy makes you feel better about yourself too – a gap which many let food fill.

Basically it seems hypnotherapy has cured the age-old problem of how leave a packet biscuits have just eaten one, rather than wolfing down the whole lot. And that is an LA fad I can get in on.