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Therapeutic Hypnosis

“It’s not magic, but it can seem like it.”

May 16, 2013
Susan Halas - Contributing Writer ( , Maui Weekly

Vanessa Wolf is a recent transplant to Kihei from the state of Washington. With an MBA, a six-figure career in finance and all the trappings of financial success, she first looked into hypnosis as a client and "felt called" to become a practitioner.

"It changed my life," she said.

Going through a divorce and other personal issues, she sought help for her own difficulties and ended up becoming a certified hypnotherapist, changing careers and moving to Maui a year-and-a-half ago.

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Vanessa Wolf of Kīhei is a certified hypnotherapist who believes her work offers a fast way to deal with quitting smoking, anxiety, stress, phobias, pain management and many other conditions.

Wolf recalled her own introductory experience.

"What years--a literal decade--of talk therapy had made me aware of, 12 weeks of hypnotherapy healed," Wolf said. "With therapies, you learn to cope, but it's not fixed."

As a result of her own personal encounter with hypnosis, she took 400 hours of training in 2008 and became certified by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners.

On her Website,, she writes: "Hypnotherapy is therapeutic hypnosis. Hypnosis has been used for a variety of purposes by shamans, visionaries and mystics for many centuries. When applied therapeutically, it allows you to gain perspective and insight into any underlying emotional reactions that are negatively affecting your life. It's not magic, but it can seem like it."

Therapeutic hypnosis has many applications. It can be a fast way to stop smoking, work on eating disorders or even help control chronic pain. Many clients have anxiety issues, and a whole laundry list of other addictions and phobias.

She's proud of her record in helping people break the nicotine habit--often, in just a few sessions. But she does add one caveat.

"I've had good results when the person who actually is the smoker made the appointment," Wolf said. "Then it works. When it is a loved one or spouse or family member who wishes the smoker would quit and sets it up, even if the smoker keeps the appointment, it is rarely successful. You have to come to it yourself and you have to want to. No matter how much someone else wants to help you, you have to do it yourself."

Each of her regular sessions lasts up to 90 minutes and costs $135. She can be found her through referral and on the Web.

Frankly, it sounded intriguing.

At Maui Weekly we're constantly up against deadlines and trying to come up with fresh ideas for our readers. It goes without saying--there's always pressure, and some of us have a few anxiety and procrastination issues ourselves. So a demonstration was requested.

Wolf has her client lie down and then provides a dialog that mixes relaxation with suggestion. She compared the resulting sensation to "the time just before sleep, drowsy but comfortable, yet the person still retains the ability to reject the suggestions and also to come out of the trance."

"The trance," she said, "can feel like that heavy shield that goes over your body when the dentist takes an x-ray, or it can feel like something buoyant and fuzzy."

Though it can take a variety of forms, what seems to be the important part is getting to that relaxed state where the brain is receptive to suggestions, and some of the real core problems show themselves in a way that can be reached.

"It's not always what you think it is," she said. "When we get into it, the real root is not always expected."

What's it like? This writer found it similar to a live rendition of some of the hypnosis and guided meditation CDs that are on the market. Wolf throws in a dose of Gestalt technique, so that the suggestions are often a result from the client's own words reframed and given a different inflection.

Does it work? Well it certainly doesn't hurt, and even for a miracle worker, 30 minutes is probably expecting too much. But yes, it definitely headed in the right direction.

Among the testimonials on the Website are comments such as: "It was helpful to me in my recovery from late stage Lyme disease. The session gave me a tangible something that I had lacked before in liberating myself from this illness. I am so grateful for her time, spirit, and gift in working with me." Another wrote, "My level of confidence and the patterns in my relationships have improved immensely since working with Vanessa."

As for Wolf herself, her motivation seems genuine, upbeat and helpful.

"I believe in this," she said. "If I were really rich, I'd give it away."

For more information, visit



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