Vashon’s rich variety of health care providers now includes licensed hypnotherapist Diana Labrum, who works out of an office in Courthouse Square.
While hypnosis is frequently joked about and misunderstood, it is a useful tool for people facing a host of challenges, from test anxiety to weight loss, according to Labrum.
“It is one of the best ways to deal with stress or to overcome a mental block,” she said.
Since 2005, she has practiced in Port Orchard, where she lives, and sees people of all ages for a variety of problems. Her most frequent clients are people who want to stop smoking.
“I see two to three people a day for smoking,” she said. “That is not something I ever would have expected.”
Over the years, she said she has worked with at least 500 people who have wanted to quit smoking and has an 85 percent success rate, which is extremely high compared to other smoking cessation treatments.
Critical to people’s success with freeing themselves from cigarettes is that they must want to stop, Labrum said. If they do not truly want to, hypnosis will not be successful, and she tells them to save their money and come back if they ever want to stop.
She has also developed a hypnosis weight-loss course, but weight loss is different than smoking cessation, Labrum said. It takes longer, and more sessions are necessary.
Beyond helping with bad habits and addictions, hypnosis is also useful for fears and phobias. Many fears have their roots in childhood, Labrum said, and through hypnosis, it is possible to go back and heal the cause, freeing people from sometimes extreme phobias.
Hypnosis is not just for adults, Labrum noted, and can be useful for children and teens, for issues ranging from anxiety to problems with performance in sports. She used to hypnotize her daughter before tests, Labrum said. Her daughter is very bright but was not a good test taker, and hypnosis helped her. Her daughter even called her before she took the Law School Admissions Test, asking her mother to hypnotize her over the phone. She did so, while her daughter sat quietly in her car. Labrum told her postive messages, such as that everything she knew was right there and accessible to her.
This is the kind of message that Labrum tells her clients when they are hypnotized.
“What you believe is really helpful,” she said.
When Labrum first meets with a client, she interviews them to find out why they are there. For the actual hypnosis, she leads what is called an “induction.” People close their eyes, think of a peaceful place and relax each part of their body. This brings people to the alpha state, which is the state right before sleep, and people are open to suggestion at this time, Labrum said.
People are only open to suggestions that are compatible with what they believe.
“If I put someone under hypnosis, they will never do anything they would not do when they are awake,” she said.
Labrum did not start out her professional life on this career path. In college, she majored in sociology and then worked for many years as an accountant for architects, not because it was a passion, but because she was good at it, she said.
When she was in her 20s, she had been interested in hypnosis and learned how to hypnotize people through books she checked out from the library. In 2004, she returned to those roots and took a several-month class on hypnosis through Tacoma Community College and then completed a 13-month class, “Advanced Clinical Hypnotherapy” through the National Guild of Hypnotists. She also particpates in a continuing education conference every year.
Labrum lived on Vashon for 22 years, where many people knew her as The Pie Lady, when she made pies for the now-closed Malt Shop, the farmers market and her stand on the Westside Highway.
She still has family on the Island and has thought about practicing here for a long time and believes the time is right to make this change, she said. She is on the Island on Thursdays and will add Tuesdays as her business grows. For more information, call her at (360) 876-5880 or see www.PersonalBestHypnosis.com.