Thirty-five years ago I was a young marriage and family therapist seeing a wide variety of clients. Women would come in who were being abused by their husbands or boyfriends, mothers would bring in children who were angry or depressed and refused to go to school, and then there were the families of young sexual abuse victims. On many days, I felt overwhelmed and frustrated about what I could (or couldn’t) do to provide healing.
Traditional talk therapy helped them to understand but did not seem to provide real, long lasting changes in their life patterns. I had done trainings with Dr. Fritz Perls, Albert Ellis and Dr. Eric Berne. I incorporated Gestalt techniques, using a pillow and talking to the other (absent) person in an empty chair. These tools were vastly more therapeutic than just talking, but still did not make lasting changes.
Then I discovered hypnotherapy and the power of age regression work. These regressions opened up windows to the soul and gave us access to the subconscious mind. I realized that when trauma happens to us as very small children, we use those situations to make generalizations about ourselves. These generalizations or conclusions about ourselves, usually negative and judgmental, last for a lifetime unless discovered and changed in the exact place and time they were made.
For example, a child who is beaten by an alcoholic father generalizes that “I must be bad.” This is understandable because that is what the abuser is telling the child as he whips him.
From this conclusion about himself, the child then subconsciously decides how to behave to stay safe. “I’ll just become invisible, then I’ll be safe. I will fly ‘under the radar’ so to speak.” Or “I’ll be very good, do what I’m told and sneak around to get what I really want.”
However with these decisions also come resentments and dysfunctional behaviors. Or the child may develop rebellious behaviors, concluding, “Yes, I am bad and so I will become very, very bad.”
I saw how expansive hypnotherapy treatment could be and I began to practice this with all of my clients. I discovered that I could treat nearly anyone and everyone with hypnotherapy. I began to develop specific protocols for specific issues which were extremely difficult to change with talk therapy or even with many of the humanistic tools I had been given. The results were amazing! Every session was fascinating and no two sessions were alike. I no longer found myself getting sleepy during a session or looking at my watch wondering when I could take a break or go home. Now, with my new exploration into the subconscious, I couldn’t wait for the next challenging client to walk through the door so that I could continue to learn how the subconscious mind works.
Many of my colleagues were asking about how the hypnotherapy was going and were fascinated with my reports. My colleagues began to ask me to train them in this fascinating tool.
After completing the first training of students (my colleagues), they were thrilled with the results and saw amazing healing for their clients. The word spread and soon people were wanting me to come to New York and California to teach this work.
My husband, David Hartman, himself an MSW, supported my work and became involved in doing the research to back up the results. With his background in psychology as well as being a financial planner and stock broker, we together developed The Wellness Institute. We bought a building in a small town in Washington State and The Wellness Institute began to grow. We had more and more requests for our hypnotherapy training and certification program. We realized that many people were flying in from all over the country and later on from all over the world. It became clear to us that we needed our own retreat center, closer to a major airport. We decided to move our healing center to the magnificent Cascade Mountains near Seattle.
Since that time in the mid-1980s, we have been blessed to have thousands of professional students come together here at our magnificent healing center which we named The Wellness Institute. We have authored several books, publish a semi-annual professional journal, and developed The Trim-Life Weight Release program which is being used around the country, including at The Cleveland Clinic.
David’s vision has been for The Wellness Institute to become accredited in order to grant Master’s and Doctoral degrees to our students. His vision is now becoming manifest and we are developing the Wellness Graduate School of Psychology. Our dream is coming true and the healing work continues. Thirty-five years ago, all we had was a clear vision. Now The Wellness Institute is a well functioning, healing institution serving people all over the world including South Africa, Turkey, Mexico, and many other countries.
So why do we do what we do? Becuase we have found a modality of therapy that really, truly, works. And by teaching this modality to others, we have been able to have an immeasurable impact, five thousand times larger than we could ever achieve on our own.