Psychology Student Explores Genes that Make Us Susceptible to Hypnotherapy - Humboldt State Now

Psychology Student Explores Genes that Make Us Susceptible to Hypnotherapy

Whether it’s mastering public speaking or conquering an addiction, Kyle Wannigman (’15, Psychology) wants to help you overcome your fears and anxieties.

Wannigman is a master’s student working with assistant professor Ethan Gahtan on a project that explores the genes that make certain people more naturally susceptible to the benefits of hypnotherapy.

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Kyle Wannigman (‘15, Psychology) is a master’s student working with assistant professor Ethan Gahtan on a project that explores the genes that make certain people more naturally susceptible to the benefits of hypnotherapy.

He’s also a certified clinical hypnotherapist who recently opened PositiVibes Hypnotherapy in Arcata, where he uses hypnotherapy to help people break negative behaviors and patterns. Earlier this year, Wannigman began collaborating with St. Joseph’s Hospital in Eureka to comfort and support cancer patients.

“Insomnia, addictions, low energy, test anxiety, emotional trauma, pain, anger, and much more,” he says. “The goal is to empower people to heal themselves now and for them to continue to improve their situation in their future.”

In hypnotherapy, therapists use a combination of deep relaxation, imagination and positive suggestion to help people change their subconscious thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Supporters say it can be used to treat anything from simple bad habits—like smoking or overeating—to more deep-seated issues like anger and PTSD.

“The mind has these amazing processes and what hypnotherapy does is use the way the mind functions to work for a person,” says Wannigman, whose interest in the subconscious began while he was serving in the Air Force in Iraq. During his tour, he started reading the “Power of Now,” a self-help book by Eckhart Tolle that stresses the importance of living in the present.

“I realized that it’s the internal world that alters our perception of our outer world,” Wannigman says, “and that once you change your mind, you can change your physical world.”

After returning to the U.S., Wannigman enrolled in the Hypnotherapy Academy of America in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he received his hypnosis qualifications and a certificate in NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). NLP is designed to help people change their neurological wiring to shift the way the mind perceives triggers like addictions, learning deficiencies, and mental blocks into something that works more positively and productively for the individual.

Wannigman experienced the transformative power of hypnosis first hand when a fluke skiing accident shattered his spine in 14 places. To help speed his recovery, Wannigman supplemented his medical treatment with hypnotherapy.

“It showed me that hypnosis really is the best adjunct medicine,” says Wannigman, who is now fully healed. “It’s not here to cure or heal but to work with doctors to accelerate healing and amplify results.”

Although misconceptions about hypnosis still exist, Wannigman hopes that recent scientific research will continue to shed light on its efficacy. In fact, his master’s research explores individual suggestibility—in particular, the genes that make certain people naturally more susceptible to hypnosis than others.

By finding a reliable predictor of who responds better to certain types of treatment, patients can take control of their health, Wannigman says.

“The goal is to empower the person. These days we’re reliant on the doctor, the therapist or a pill to give us that feedback,” he says. “Hypnotherapy helps people realize and actualize their own power.”

For more information, visit positivibeshypnotherapy.com.