Hypnosis is her key to unlock our hopes

Rochelle Jaffe teaches health experts, others

By Hannah Guzik
Ashland Daily Tidings
Posted: 2:00 AM January 10, 2011

There’s no dangling pocket-watch. She never says, “You are getting very sleepy.” Her patients don’t immediately break habits, such as smoking or overeating.

But Rochelle Jaffe says she does regularly hypnotize people.

“The patients are always awake and aware,” she said. “It’s about finding a deep, peaceful state within you, a way of contacting your inner self, which is very peaceful and resourceful.”

The Ashland hypnotherapist, who is certified by three professional organizations, has been seeing patients for the past 20 years here and opened the Ashland School of Hypnotherapy in 2005.

“I’m grateful that I get to teach people to use these skills,” she said. “It’s not just about teaching techniques, it’s about creating a much fuller sense of how to rest in that deeper place in yourself, to create a space and container for clients to step into.”

The school is certified by the American Council of Certified Hypnotist Examiners, and Jaffe is also personally certified by the National Board of Clinical Hypnotherapists and the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association.

Jaffe, who also holds a master’s degree in counseling and is an adjunct psychology professor at Southern Oregon University, said about a third of her clients are referred to her by local physicians.

Recent medical research has shown hypnotherapy to be an effective treatment for a range of ailments, including irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia and chronic pain, she said. Research also has shown that people who have hypnotherapy before surgeries have fewer complications, require less anesthesia, have shorter hospital stays and incur fewer medical costs, Jaffe said.

“It shows the importance of the mind-body connection,” she said. “It’s really, really helpful in managing pain and optimizing healing.”

Jaffe decided to open the Ashland School of Hypnotherapy about five years ago, holding weekend workshops for the first year.

In 2006, she began offering an annual 200-hour training to become a certified hypnotherapist. Classes meet for four or five days once a month for four months.

Students from as far away as Los Angeles and Seattle attended last year’s certification training, Jaffe said. Only three Ashland residents enrolled, she said.

It is the only school certified by the American Council of Certified Hypnotist Examiners in Oregon. There are 11 certified schools in California, including one in Sacramento and two in Santa Rosa.

Jaffe typically allows between eight and 12 students to enroll in each training. She estimates that she has certified 50 people through the 200-hour program and has taught about 50 others in workshops.

Doctors, nurses, psychiatrists and other health care professionals frequently enroll in her courses, but she also teaches interested laypeople, she said.

“Many people who work with patients in the health care field want to work hypnotherapy into their practice,” Jaffe said. “There are also people who have never experienced hypnotherapy and want to learn about it. This year, Jaffe is offering the 200-hour certification course beginning in June.

She will also hold three workshops, which can serve as continuing education credits in the health care field or toward a hypnotherapy certification. She’ll teach a workshop on past-life regression Feb. 4-6 in Ashland and a workshop on medical hypnotherapy April 8-12 in Portland. The dates for the final workshop, on soul medicine, have yet to be announced.

There are a variety of hypnotherapy techniques, Jaffe said. In a recent demonstration of a short session, Jaffe extended her hand palm up and invited this reporter to rest her hand on top.

“Lightly, ever so lightly,” Jaffe said. “Now feel your hand becoming weightless and strong, so strong, with the strength and peace inside you. So strong that your hand could just float there.”

She slowly took her hand away and instructed this reporter to keep her hand in midair. Jaffe gave verbal messages about strength and peace and then told this reporter to slowly lower her hand to the couch and open her eyes.

“Hold on to that peaceful, restorative feeling you just experienced,” she said.

Jaffe also makes personalized CDs of her messages for patients to listen to and offers phone sessions for patients who can’t come to her office on Skycrest Drive.

“I gear the CDs toward the patients,” she said. “Some people are most comfortable knowing every detail of the surgery, while others place themselves entirely in their doctor’s hands and focus on trust.”

She gives patients suggestions for relaxation and encourages them to appreciate the long road of schooling and training the doctors and nurses took to be able to perform the surgery.

She frequently meets with patients a few times before they are scheduled to have surgeries, and then makes them a CD to listen to on headphones while doctors perform the surgery. Occasionally, she goes in the surgical room with patients, she said. Later, she often does follow-up meetings, as the patients are healing from surgery.

“I help people deal with the emotional components of an illness, or pain,” Jaffe said. “Sometimes people have fear, phobias or traumas related to medical procedures.”

Hypnotherapy can also be effective when used in conjunction with other forms of psychotherapy, she said.

“Sometimes you run into a problem where you don’t want to bring something up, because it can re-traumatize a person,” she said. “Hypnotherapy can create a really safe, resourceful space for people to deal with powerful issues.”

Unlike how hypnotherapy is portrayed in popular culture — with pocket-watches and, “You are getting very sleepy” messages — there is no risk of patients receiving suggestions or following orders that could be harmful, Jaffe said.

“It doesn’t work,” she said. “We’re not susceptible to that. If you try to tell someone something that feels off, they’ll come out of the trance.”

For more information on the Ashland School of Hypnotherapy, see www.ashlandschoolofhypnotherapy.com or call 541-488-3180.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or [email protected].

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