Hypnotherapist Jean Fain loves a good case of removing warts or nail biting. And a subconscious state can be the cure for all sorts of ills: teeth grinding, weight loss, quitting smoking, phobias, and much more, according to the Concord practitioner. But lest you think that hypnotherapy is quackery, Fain is quick to point out that hypnosis has been recognized by many respected medical institutions. “A lot of people are skeptical, and that’s healthy and good. There’s no way to prove what’s happening with hypnosis; it’s kind of a mystery,” said Fain, 60, an instructor in behavioral medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance. She spoke with Globe correspondent Cindy Atoji Keene about her two decades of promoting an altered state of consciousness.
“People expect that I have a magic wand or glass ball. But I can’t see the future and I don’t have any special powers. Rather, I help them access their own hypnotic abilities. A trance is a state of focused relaxation, like sitting in front of fireplace watching the snap, crackle, pop of the flames. There’s a sense of automaticity and effortless, with better access to your thoughts, feelings, memories, and problem-solving abilities. And with that, change happens more quickly than in every day life. Clients often burst out laughing the first time they do hypnosis because it’s odd when your arm starts floating weightless in the air or other experiences like that. One man came to me because he was obsessed with finding a woman he had met once in a bar – but the work we did was not around retrieving her forgotten name or phone number but dealing with social anxiety issues that were the real obstacles to a relationship. When I was first learning about hypnotherapy, I’d take out the ‘cookbook of trances’ and follow them to a ’T.’ There were scripts you could read, including when to pause and when to speak, but I quickly discovered it’s not a cookie-cutter approach. I realize now that we are co-creating a trance together, like jazz musicians going with the flow. I do have a hypnotherapists couch, where people can lie down or sit up, and a prism that I use as an induction technique. But for those who think I’m going to make them act like a chicken as with the hypnotic stage shows, have no fear. I have no interest or power in making someone do foolish things.”