What began as a quest to discover the source of her own crippling anxiety, has become a passion and a thriving career for Traci Blank.
We’ve all heard someone say at one point or another “It’s all in your head.” For Traci Blank, a clinical and medical support hypnotherapist specializing in anxiety, the response to this ages-old belief is, yes, it is all in your head — mostly.
Blank, 31, proprietor of Tracing Your Path, based in Somerville, believes that harnessing the power of thought has a profound effect on the body’s ability to heal and remain healthy, but sees it as an adjunct to traditional medical treatment and not a substitute.
“Hypnotherapy works best when used to reinforce your doctor’s treatment plans. I often work with medical teams and I complement the work they are doing with the patient,” she said.
She referenced a number of studies that suggest that the power of one’s thoughts do play a powerful role in the healing process.
“For example, there are studies that show that bones heal on average six weeks faster with hypnotherapy than without and surgery is faster and more effective with hypnotherapy,” Blank said.
A journey inward
What began as a quest to discover the source of her own crippling anxiety, has become a passion and a thriving career for Blank.
The Martinsville resident said her life-long struggle with anxiety worsened and eventually manifested as obsessive compulsive disorder and daily panic attacks.
“My body was basically sending me a message to slow down, but I wasn’t listening and eventually my body shut down so that I couldn’t do anything except take care of myself,” she said.
After trying different treatments, she turned to hypnotherapy and found that it empowered her.
“I was able to take charge of my body, not just giving it new programming, but also listening and conversing with my mind and body,” Blank said.
She credits hypnotherapy with offering her a way to understand her own needs and better meet them.
“It forced me to slow down, be a little quieter, a little more selfish, and establish better boundaries with people,” Blank said.
Her own healing set her on a path to become a professional. She began as an apprentice in 2012 in New York in the area of suggestion hypnotherapy. But she soon wanted to learn other approaches so she enrolled in the Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Hypnotherapy Academy of America, which offered rigorous training that consisted of 10 hour days, five days a week for 10 weeks.
After working at Morristown Medical Center, she established her own practice in Somerville.
Traci Blank demonstrating hypnotherapy. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Traci Blank)
How and why hypnotherapy works
According to Blank, messages received early in life have a profound impact on the rest of one’s life.
“Your mind does not let you be wrong, so if you are programmed to believe you are clumsy, you will trip even on a flat floor,” she said.
Referred to as “the critical factor,” Blank said the beliefs and programming established between the ages of seven and 11, are carried throughout one’s entire life unless there is some kind of intervention as in introducing new thoughts or messages while in an altered state. .
“We use the altered state of hypnotherapy, along with repetition of the new programming we want to put in to make the changes the client is looking for,” she said.
Blank said most of her clients seek her help to overcome the emotions controlling them such as: fears, phobias, worrying and intrusive thoughts that often lead to panic attacks, migraines or irritable bowel syndrome.
She also works with patients facing: cancer, pregnancy, preparation for surgery, pain management, headaches, digestion, tenitis and those seeking accelerated healing.
Blank said many of her clients also seek her help to achieve better focus, concentration and improved sleep quality.
She believes that In order for hypnotherapy to be successful, one needs to have a desire to reach his or her goal, be comfortable with the practitioner and the setting, and believe that hypnosis will to help them achieve their goal.
Blank said it is sometimes difficult for an individual to make a positive change because they have defined themselves in one way for so long, and therefore it is difficult to let go of that identification.
“Every negative behavior has a positive intention, usually to meet a legitimate need,” she said. “So we want to make sure to find a new way to meet that legitimate need so you feel better about letting go of the negative behavior.”
She said the analysis aspect of her work is what intrigues her most. It’s not just a matter of making a suggestion, rather, the analytical approach to hypnotherapy requires a much deeper understanding of what is motivating the individual to engage in a certain behavior or experience certain symptoms.
“Analytical hypnotherapy involves taking a good look at why the programming exists in the first place and what is required to overcome it,” she said.
Clearly, when all is said and done, our experience of the world is filtered through our mind. We might say – it’s all in your head. But then there’s the deeper question: how did it get there in the first place?
If you would like to be featured in the “Imagine” column, email MaryLynn Schiavi at marylynninc@ gmail.com.
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