By Rachel Freeman
When we hear the word “hypnosis,” maybe a pendulum swinging back and forth in front of someone’s dazed eyes comes to mind. Or maybe a hypnotist counting down from three and just like that, the patient is lost in subconscious oblivion.
In reality, these fictitious and Hollywood-driven images are far from the truth about hypnotism.
The Dream Explorers club, a quirky sect of the Big Sisters of Psychology, is working to break down the common misconceptions about subconscious exploration.
This group meets on campus every other Monday evening to discuss the more “far out” psychology topics, including lucid dreaming, consciousness and dream interpretation. They have also hosted a UFO-ologist speaker and an intuitive painting session.
On Monday, the Dream Explorers gathered for a special hypnosis event hosted by Tamera Fontenot, a professional hypnotherapist and founder of Tampa Bay Hypno-Therapy
Fontenot is a long time friend of the dream meeting leader, Antonio Permuy.
Fontenot practiced hypnotherapy for over 15 years. A USF St. Petersburg graduate and expert on hypnosis, she was the perfect person to run the Dream Explorers event.
“Tamera is so charismatic and passionate about helping people change their lives with hypnotherapy,” said Permuy. “Her integrity, warmth and personalized approach are why she’s so great at what she does.”
The hypnosis gathering kicked off at 6 p.m. in the Coral room of the University Student Center. Fontenot started the session by introducing herself and citing some of her experience with hypnotherapy to the small, intimate group.
In her life, she was told that hypnosis wasn’t real and that it could not make for a real job. She decided to take the more conventional path and earn her degree at USF. Then, she started her career as a counselor and therapist.
After many years, Fontenot took a deeper look at her childhood dream of practicing hypnotherapy and her desire to help people.
She made a big change in her life and now, she is the owner of Tampa Bay Hypno-Therapy. Fontenot helps people every day to learn how to use their subconscious minds to improve their lives. She also hosts free monthly community meetups and group hypnotherapy sessions.
After her introduction, Fontenot discussed a brief history of hypnosis with the group. Throughout time, hypnotherapy has not been taken seriously, even though it does have potential to help people.
There are a ton of common misconceptions about hypnosis, which is why so many people don’t believe in it today. It’s possible to learn how to recode the world to get rid of things that aren’t helpful or uplifting, according to Fontenot.
Some Dream Explorers were initially skeptical, only to be surprised by the overall experience.
“The important thing to remember about hypnotism is that you can’t do anything you don’t already want to do,” said Permuy, a junior political science major. “You can’t do anything against your own will. The choice ultimately belongs to you.”
Fontenot explained the importance of consent and responsibility when practicing hypnosis. She made sure that everyone in the group was comfortable before starting the mini-regression group hypnosis.
The hypnotherapy session focused on positive reinforcement. Fontenot guided the students through an almost meditative experience, her soothing voice helping to guide their subconscious thoughts.
The group remained silent as their brains explored thoughts of their happiest memories and feelings. At the end, Fontenot gently brought the group back into reality. The realistically quick session felt timeless, to Permuy.
“Time is interesting when you practice hypnosis. I completely lost my sense of it when I slipped into that subconscious state. I thought it had an hour, at least. I was shocked when Tamera said it had only been 13 minutes,” said Permuy.
The hypnotherapy group session helped the students take a step back and look at themselves in a more positive light.
It was an affirmatory practice that combined mindfulness, meditation, and hypnosis to create a healing and peaceful experience. Affirming the subconscious mind with happy memories is a great way to feel the positive effects of hypnotherapy.
Hypnosis has a lot of benefits that can help people. As college students, it’s easy to view our worth as simply a grade point average. It can be hard to keep things in perspective when we are always labeled by our academic successes.
“It’s important to remember that our stressors in life are time-limited,” Permuy said. “There is an end to all the stress and it’s in sight. We can do it. Practicing mindfulness, meditation, and hypnosis helps me do it.”
Learning how to reprogram our conscious and subconscious minds can help us view the world and ourselves in a better light. Hypnotherapy skills have the power to benefit students by teaching them new ways to look at life and at themselves.
“These are the deeper and long-lasting lessons you learn from college,” said Permuy. “The goal of the Dream Explorers is to help everyone become more in touch with their best selves, and to discover and appreciate their strengths.”
The Dream Explorers look forward to hosting another hypnotherapy event with Fontenot next semester. Their every-other Monday meetings are open to anyone who wants to learn more about the subconscious mind and dream states.
You can like the Big Sisters of Psychology USFSP Facebook page for updates on the next hypnosis event. The next Dream Explorers meeting on Nov. 27
Header photo courtesy of Ray Scrimgeour