But coaching is not just for tackling new assignments. It can also play an invigorating role. Coaches can help executives "develop new ways to attack old problems," says Vicky Gordon, CEO of the Gordon Group coaching practice in Chicago. "When efforts to change yourself, your team, or your company have failed—you are frustrated or burned out—a coach can be the outside expert to help you get to the root cause and make fundamental changes."
People may undergo hypnosis in order to address all manner of problems—from addictions, like mine, to emotional trauma. There’s some evidence that it could be an effective tool in dentistry, treating eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder, and helping with pain during childbirth. But despite its prevalence, there's still ample confusion about what it actually is, sometimes even among those who've already committed to it. I certainly had no idea what I was in for as I relaxed into my superlatively uncomfortable chair, ready for, well, something. Or maybe nothing.

McNulty’s mandate was to shadow Mirabella 24/7 for as long as needed to ensure that he would grow into his position. From the start of their relationship, McNulty and Mirabella had two private meetings a day during which McNulty analyzed Mirabella’s behavior and role-played effective styles for mastering interpersonal situations that Mirabella did not handle well. True to his jock background, McNulty reacted to Mirabella’s avowals of ineptitude and anxiety with exhortations. “Quitters never win, and winners never quit” was a favorite comment of his, but at times McNulty would also chide Mirabella for being a “weakling” who needed to “act like a man” to deal with the demands of his preordained role within the company.

While there as many different hypnosis techniques as there are brands of cigarettes, a typical program will usually begin with a phone consultation, followed by an in-person session where the client is walked through breathing and visualization exercises and then “induced” into a “trance” — which is essentially a state of extreme relaxation. Once the patient is in the trance, and his “suggestibility” is maximized, the practitioner makes statements (“I am uninterested in cigarettes” or “I hate the smell of smoke on my clothing”) that will hopefully take root and change the client’s behavior. Then the client is “awakened,” or brought out of the hypnotic state. In short, a hypnotherapist verbally guides a client to a hyper-responsive, hyper-attentive state in which the patient’s subconscious mind (the part that tells them that smoking is cool and totally worth it) is in its most persuadable state, and then replaces the harmful or unwanted thoughts with positive, healthy ones.

Although there are different techniques, clinical hypnotherapy is generally performed in a calm, therapeutic environment. The therapist will guide you into a relaxed, focused state and ask you to think about experiences and situations in positive ways that can help you change the way you think and behave. Unlike some dramatic portrayals of hypnosis in movies, books, or on stage, you will not be unconscious, asleep, or in any way out of control of yourself. You will hear the therapist’s suggestions, but it is up to you to decide whether or not to act on them.
×