In Living Commentary

Molly Snyder's taking her hypnosis session quite seriously.

In Living Commentary

Rick Paddock, certified hypnotist.

My first time: Hypnosis

My First Time is a series of articles written by Molly Snyder about trying new experiences and reporting on them – from receiving a spray tan to getting a colonic. Enjoy the latest segment in this series.

When I told people I went to see a hypnotist, the most common opening question was, "Did he make you quack like a duck?"

The answer is no, he did not, however, the response from my friends and family spoke volumes about what people think about when they hear the word "hypnotist." Most likely, they are imagining the stage or television performers who are often trained hypnotists, but whose sole purpose is to entertain an audience.

Rick Paddock is a certified life coach and hypnotist – or "hypnotherapist" – who has a business, Milwaukee Hypnosis & Wellness Center, in Hales Corners. He has never performed on a stage in a cape or top hat.

"Mostly, I am a life coach or instructor who teaches skills to people that they can learn and use to pretty quickly get from where they are to what they want to be," says Paddock.

Paddock, who was formerly in real estate, got into hypnotherapy six years ago when the market turned. With a communication degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee already under his belt, he went on to receive three certifications in life coaching and hypnotism.

Paddock was inspired after he experienced a successful hypnosis session. He went to a hypnotist to stop a fast food addiction and says it worked.

"I didn't feel any differently when I was just sitting there with my eyes closed, but later I noticed in the days and weeks ahead I was stopping at Pick 'N Save to get a salad instead of the drive through," he says.

The top three reasons why adults seek hypnosis are to quit smoking, stop overeating or to reduce stress and anxiety. Paddock also works with kids (who are at least 8 years old) and teens to overcome issues from nail biting to social anxiety.

"Kids are very susceptible to hypnosis because their imaginations are so great. It's so easy to get them to imagine themselves no longer doing things that aren't good for them," he says.

Paddock's sessions cost $150 for the first and $120 for subsequent sessions. The first session is about an hour and following sessions are 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the client's needs.

Paddock offered me a hypnosis session to better understand the process. He asked ahead of time what I wanted to focus on changing, and I chose to focus on alleviating stress. I had never been hypnotized before, although I had undergone a past life regression, which was similar.

The hypnosis journey started with me sitting in a comfortable chair and closing my eyes. You don't have to close your eyes during a hypnosis session, but most people choose to do so.

He did not dangle a crystal before my eyes and say things like, "You are getting verrrry sleeeeepy…" Instead, Paddock conducted a short "warm up" exercise during which he asked me to imagine taking a lemon out of my refrigerator, slicing it in half and then smelling the fruit. Through his words – it helps that Paddock has a rich, calm voice – he encouraged me to "see" the yellowness of the lemon, they way it felt to cut through it – the toughness of the rind followed by the fleshiness – and finally to smell and taste the citrus of the fruit.

Once I was in the zone, he took me on another mental journey during which he asked me to imagine a happy place – OK, that's kind of a stereotype – and then to "see" as many details as I could.

He then gently instructed me to envision a path that led to a shed. He suggested I walk into the shed, imagine my stresses and then leave them behind in the shed. I then left the shed and went back to my "happy place" per his suggestion.

Later, he led me back to the shed and told me it was OK to take some of the stresses back with me. This part was most interesting. He suggested maybe I needed to work on them more, and I could put them in a bag or suitcase for later. I later realized from this it's OK to hold onto some stress, but to keep it separate like an ugly accessory. Not inside like an organ.

During the hypnosis, I felt like I was in a dream – the kind I might have while snoozing in the car, not a deep-sleep dream. I saw myself wearing brightly colored clothing, something I never do, and hugging myself. That part was kind of corny and weird – but telling. I really had been hard on myself about a few things lately and it was a reminder, perhaps, to be a little kinder to myself.

Paddock says his success rate is difficult to quantify because everyone reacts differently. For some people, hypnosis works immediately, for others it takes a few sessions and for a smaller percentage, it takes effect very slowly or not at all.

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