The brain is a cradle of vast knowledge and the gateway to the deep chasms of the subconscious. This is also the central player in harnessing the power of hypnotherapy, helping people heal from traumatic thoughts from within. Speaker and hypnotherapist Norman Plotkin joins Catherine Kontos to share how he taps the minds of his clients to guide them in facing their inner demons and help them become bigger than their fears. He explains why he favors this method more than medicinal drugs, which he considers a cheap shortcut. Norman also talks about using hypnotherapy in elevating others and bringing their game to greater heights.
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Healing Trauma Through Hypnosis With Norman Plotkin
We have Norman Plotkin, who is a speaker, a hypnotherapist, coach and the author of the book titled Take Charge of Your Cancer: The Seven Proven Steps to Healing and Recovery from Cancer. Hypnotherapy is something that a lot of people seek out to transform or change perspectives or find out stuff about themselves that they are seeking out. Welcome to the show.
Thanks, Catherine. It’s great to be here.
Tell me, what got you started as a hypnotherapist?
It was unlikely. I have to check in with myself periodically, “Am I a therapist?” I was a lobbyist for 25 years. I represented clients. I worked through the legislature. I was a committee consultant. I ran campaigns. I lobbied for the medical association as the health committee consultant. I got sick. I had cancer. Through that process, I walked away from it but also, it was a spiritual awakening and an understanding of the power of the subconscious mind, which piqued my interest. I began to read books like Joseph Murphy’s The Power of Your Subconscious Mind and many other amazing teachers appeared like Wayne Dyer and Carolyn Myss and Deepak Chopra. I decided that I didn’t want to do those politics anymore.
I wanted to put myself into the service of others. I was looking for a modality that would help me to do that. I didn’t necessarily want to go back to school and get a PhD and all the cost and involvement. I was in Los Angeles at the time and it turns out there there’s a nationally accredited college of hypnotherapy there and further turned out that I knew someone who knew someone who had gone there. We had dinner and I asked her questions about her experience. I had never been hypnotized but I was moved by the power of it. The veracity of the school that I looked into and their reputation was good. I jumped in with both feet.
What is it about hypnotherapy that attracted you to that versus meditation and going and deep-diving into your conscience that way or any other type of healing? What is it that attracted you specifically to this practice?
I’m a deep meditator. I’ll tell you this story. I was looking at these coaching schools and there was this school run by these two psychologists. They said, “What makes us different is that in addition to the coaching and it’s much better if you add hypnosis in with your coaching because it makes people feel you’re doing something for them.” They talked about this advertising campaign. It was about music and this music store wanted to run this advertising campaign. There was a typo in the campaign. Instead of, “Put music back in your life,” it said, “Puts music back in your life.” The addition of that little S made it feel it was being done for you and it was wildly successful.
To the extent that people believe that you’re doing it for them, they argued that it was more powerful coaching. I’m like, “That sounds interesting.” That was in New Hampshire. It was a one-week course. That’s what got me started thinking about hypnosis and hypnotherapy. It was an elaborate process that I went through for accreditation and certification. That was built on my own experience of the power of the subconscious mind.
When I was in the middle of cancer, I had a friend who had gotten out of politics and opened a yoga studio and she taught me how to meditate. It was one of the things that helped me get through it because it is the same mind that makes me a good analyst kept me up at night. That monkey mind, 1,000 racing thoughts and the hyper-vigilance when you’re fearful and afraid for your life and whatnot. Meditation was the gateway for me. Building on meditation, hypnosis and hypnotherapy are both a deeper state. It’s been used by medicine men and women since medicine men and women have been around. Time immemorial, trans work has been used effectively.
Do you find that people that meditate are more easily hypnotized because they’re able to get into that deeper level of consciousness?
Yes. It transfers directly. Meditators, it’s easy to get them into hypnosis. The research out of Stanford says 80/20, 80% of people can be, 20% not so much. It’s been my experience that if you want to be, you can be but if you cross your arms and say, “I’m not going to let you in,” then you’re not going to let me in. If you want to come to my office and seek therapeutic relief using the modality of hypnosis to get at some deep-seated, repressed emotion or some block or childhood trauma, we’re going to get in and do some good work. I’ve loved what I do. I found my soul’s purpose. The meaning of the cancer was that I was barking up the wrong tree and that it took several years for my spiritual awakening but it feels good. You can read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose 100 times and still not know what your essential purpose is. I stumbled my way into it and it feels good.
It’s much better to add hypnosis in with your coaching to make people feel you’re doing something for them.
What happens when someone comes to you for hypnosis and trauma comes up? Something that was repressed. What happens to them? What if people are scared? They’re like, “Maybe I want to but I don’t want to because I’m scared of what I’m going to find out and then I can’t un-see it anymore.” I’m sure these are the fears that people come to you with. What if this trauma does come up and it’s something that they had repressed and suddenly it’s front and center in their mind? How do you deal with a client like that?
Most people are afraid because they think it’s a loss of control. The first and foremost thing I do is manage their expectations. In my preinduction speech and the cognitive part of the interview, I let them know what it’s like and what they’re going to experience. I’m going to uncover the trauma and the cognitive portion. They’re awake and conscious and we’re talking. I’m asking them detailed questions about that. I go to childhood and their family structures and this is where all of this stuff forms. I asked them about their experiences in a non-threatening, supportive way. I have unconditional positive regard and love for everyone but I am direct. People dance, dodge and misdirect. I come back around. I’m very direct but lovingly.
There were a lot of tears. I kept a steady stream of Kleenex and it’s okay because it’s a safe place. They have privileged information unless they say they’re going to hurt themselves or someone else. I can’t tell anybody about what we talk about. If they say they’re going to hurt themselves or someone else then I have to, I’m a mandatory reporter. Aside from that, we talk about it and I make them feel comfortable about it. I let them know they’re human and this is a human experience. Many people have them and that there’s nothing wrong with them. When we go into hypnosis, the Law of Opposites says that you can’t be relaxed and anxious at the same time. When I take them deep into hypnosis, they’re very relaxed.
When I bring up these childhood memories and traumatic experiences, it’s okay to feel it. The subconscious mind sees it. The subconscious mind hates the unknown and loves the known. That’s why a woman will stay with a man who abuses her because the unknown is even scarier. At any rate, I take them deep into relaxation. We bring this stuff up, they realize it can’t hurt them and they let it go. On rare occasions, people twitch. There are what are known as abreactions. I monitor them closely. There are ways to soothe, relax and release. It’s a positive experience. You just don’t have bad experiences. There are no side effects. You’ll dream afterward. I’ve had people emerge from an inner child session, emotional. Crying big strapping man, bawling their heads off and it’s okay. That’s what it’s all about. It’s to release and to return to that and to connect with that little boy or girl who lives inside you and let them know that everything’s going to be okay.
I can picture myself completely going into hypnosis with you because I’m listening and I’m already like, “I could picture myself with him going into deep hypnosis.” You have that soothing voice that will help someone get fully into hypnosis. Hypnosis has been around for a long time. It’s not something new. There’s a lot of the latest thing and I’ve interviewed a few people on this show, they use plant medicine to go into a deeper level of consciousness. They combine that with their therapies. Have you ever done that? Would you consider doing that with the hypnosis? Is it something that you would think of doing?
People ask about it. I did a lot of recreational drugs in the ‘70s, mushrooms and LSD. My girlfriend is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and a Qigong master. Without being mean to other people, plant medicine is a shortcut. It’s a cheap way. It doesn’t last. She’s disciplined, not everybody can muster that level of discipline.
By the way, I’ve toyed with the notion of ayahuasca. I’m curious. I’ve studied shamanism. The Way of the Shaman, it’s a textbook written by a well-known anthropologist who studied many shamanic traditions. Many of them, a lot in South America but elsewhere use plant medicine to enter what they call non-ordinary reality. Is it plant medicine? Is it your subconscious? Maybe you may access deeper regions of your subconscious but is it unfiltered? Is it influenced by plant medicine? I don’t know. Here’s what I know, to effectively hypnotize someone, I have to suspend their ego mechanisms and drop them into fight or flight. People come to me.
They’re on prescription medications. It makes it harder because that part of them that I would suspend is numb already. I don’t want anything between me and their subconscious mind to be the most effective hypnotherapist I can be. I can get deep into your subconscious mind and your experience without any aids. I don’t need anything. I’m sorry. That’s a non-answer. Is it interesting?
It is an answer because I understand what you’re saying. You’re not sure where that would go because you don’t know where the influence is coming from. Are you getting a dream state answer? Are you getting a real answer? Also, I also understand when someone is on prescription medication, it does numb them out. That’s why they don’t have, let’s say, mood swings or whatever. They’re just neutral, most of the time. They don’t get that high higher and that low lower. It’s there. I would also understand why it would make it harder for you to reach them where you need to reach them in order for them to heal. How long is the healing process after you’ve discovered something, a trauma or whatever is it? Is it long-term or is it something that is like a release and then the release needs a little bit of like, “It’s out there, let’s heal a little bit and you’re on your way?”
The subconscious mind hates the unknown and loves the known.
Everyone’s different. It’s one of the most subjective things out there but any healing is. I have people who’ve come to me who have been in psychoanalysis for nine years. I asked him, “Didn’t you wonder about year three if this was working for you?” Complex issues. There are three factors, severity, duration and impact. How long have you been dealing with it? How bad is it? How’s it manifesting in your life? I have some systematic things. If someone comes in and they’ve never been hypnotized, first, we got to give you an introduction. I’ve got to take you in because the first session, you’re going to be sleeping with one eye open.
I got to introduce you and then preview what we hope to achieve. I always ask people, “What does a successful course of action look like? What will you do? How will you be different at the end of this?” I make notes about that. I have been previewed, already like the Law of Attraction, already feeling as though it has happened. We do inner child. We do a metaphor of the garden of life, where we go into the garden of their life and rake up all the old dead leaves of the experiences that have hurt them. People that have betrayed them and light them on fire and plant new seeds and then maybe some forgiveness. There’s that systematic part that everyone needs. There’s some tailored stuff about how they want to be different. I sell packages of 3, 6 and 12. I’ve helped people lift fibromyalgia and complex auto-immune stuff. I can pretty much run a course of the therapeutic recovery and by twelve sessions, three months, we can get to where you need to be usually at six weeks.
I’m wondering what would happen if you had their full attention for four days. You’re in a retreat setting. You’re saying you sell 3, 6 and 12. Would it shorten the span of how long you would need the therapy because you are with them intensively, for whatever it is, 4 days or 7 days? What difference would it make in the duration of their recovery?
We can expedite. I usually would put a little time in between. In a group setting, you can do some group hypnosis some generalized stuff for everybody. You can do some breakouts and you record them in the breakouts so they can listen to it in between. You can do an expedited group of sessions. Some of it would be some coaching. There’s some basic stuff. We live in a complex time and people look for complex solutions and they overlook some of the simple stuff. I do a lot of coaching about how to manage life in the modern age, teach people tools for managing their state simply and also understand that control of the external world is an illusion and its control of their inner world. I teach them how to control their inner world. There’s conversational hypnosis and then there are deeper sessions. It would be a combination of things. In four days, I could design a program that could get folks some real growth and relief.
A retreat is an intense time. You do have an impact of the group as well. Everything plays a role during the 4-day or 7-day process. There should always be a program leading to it and then a program leading out of it for follow-up and stuff. In the middle of it all, if there’s this 3, 4 or 5, whatever it is. The longer, the better sometimes and sometimes not. It depends on the program. It could create a great jumpstart to their recovery process because you are with them. They’re already in that frame of mind. You don’t have to worry about that.
I’ve studied many different modalities and I incorporate everything that makes sense to me like shamanism and guided imagery. For example, in an opening session of the retreat, I could get up in front of a group and have them close their eyes and imagine the wild success of the retreat and achieving everything. Have them feel it in their body on an imagery journey where we hike on a trail in the forest and smell the pine trees and feel the cushion of the pine needles beneath your feet. I could create and set the stage for a wildly successful experience at this retreat. As a closing statement, recap everything they’ve been through and anchor it in their body, “Feel it in your body.”
It would be a great add-on whether it’s your own personal retreat doing that type of thing where there’s coaching and meditation. You do it all, coaching, meditation and hypnotherapy.
I teach meditation and forgiveness. I’ve studied Ho’oponopono.
What an incredible journey you would bring them on.
I want to do my own retreats someday. I’m busy building out my practice. My girlfriend bought a second office space and she wants to open a second acupuncture clinic. I’m involved in helping her with that. She and I both dream of doing a retreat someday. I’m editing her first book. Her book is Siji Yong Shong, which is Staying Healthy with the Seasons. She is a herbalist who talks about how to eat seasonally. Eating cold ice cream in the middle of the summer, it’s not a thing we’re supposed to do as humans. That’s just one stark example.
Hypnotism is about returning to that little boy or girl who lives inside you and letting them know that everything’s going to be okay.
We put on seasonal dinners. She gave me a basket of ingredients. I cook a seasonal dinner with all of the seasonal ingredients that are in line with your meridians and your body’s circadian cycle. I’ve been to retreats. It would be fun to participate in other people’s retreats. I’m back to the message that my cancer was an awakening and a desire to share and to be a positive force in other people’s lives. That is the hard lesson that I’ve learned that I can share with others.
Thank you for that. Many people need people like you to inspire them and to see that there are different ways of looking at a disease that takes over your life temporarily and it is temporarily. People should be grateful for all of that, including your book. We’ve spoken on one side about hypnosis but what about if someone doesn’t want to seek out something deep in their life? It’s more of an athlete or a corporate person who wants to level up their game. Is it something that they would use?
Many have. Tiger Woods, George Foreman, boxers, golfers, high performers. It’s the subconscious mind that allows you to perform at a high level. Practice to excel.
Specifically, hypnosis? I’m not talking about visualization. I’m talking about hypnosis. What would you do during the hypnosis to level up their game? What would you do differently?
I don’t do anything differently. I take them into hypnosis but instead of in the cognitive portion of the interview, exploring their traumas, I do a deep dive into what success looks like. What do they hope to achieve? What will it look like? How will it feel in their body? I take these notes as we are using their words, not mine. I’m a reflective listener. I take detailed notes and then I take them into hypnosis. I give it back to them and I have them envision it. I have them feel it in their body, “Feel it in your body. What does it feel to achieve at this high level? See yourself bowing to have the gold put around your neck.” It’s the Law of Attraction stuff.
Do you make them visualize also? Do you lead them in a certain direction?
Yes. It’s all about giving suggestions but I use their words, not mine. If I use my words, they will reject it. They don’t accept it.
What’s the difference between having someone who’s in deep meditation and visualizing with them versus hypnosis?
In deep meditation, visualizing your conscious mind is still hovering. Your reason, logic, analysis, decision-making, willpower, all of those things that you think are controlling you are still operating to control. Think of the conscious mind like a Labrador retriever and I throw a stick, it runs off to chase the stick, now I speak to the subconscious mind where your programming is. In meditation, that conscious mind is still hovering.
You’re just going at a deeper level. That’s it. It’s at a deeper level.
It’s different brain waves and levels of consciousness.
I love everything about the mind. I studied the mind and it’s always been intriguing to me. It should be intriguing to everybody because it’s such a precious organ in our body. Everything is precious but the mind is an incredible machine. It could do damage and good depending on how you use it.
If you think you can, you’re right. If you think you can’t, you’re right.
Where can people find you if they want to reach out?
I am at www.NormanPlotkin.com.
That’s your name, it’s simple.
Today is a complex time. People look for complex solutions, and they overlook some of the simple stuff.
I am the business. I’m on IG @NormanPlotkinCHT. I’m on Facebook @NormanPlotkinInc. I ditched Twitter. I do have a YouTube channel, Norman Plotkin, where I’m posting. I lead a virtual group meditation every Saturday night and I post the recordings of those. Everyone’s welcome to join. We pick a topic and I write a 2,000-word essay and share the details about the topic. We do chakra balancing, progressive relaxation and then meditation. Those videos are on my YouTube channel. My books are on Amazon. The first book is Take Charge of Your Cancer: The Seven Proven Steps to Healing and Recovery from Cancer.
It’s about the seven things that I did. It turns out most people who survive find their way to about 7 to 10 things to do. I found them the hard way. If you understand the before or during, it’ll make it easier for you. My second book is Master Mind Master Life. It’s all about hypnosis and hypnotherapy. What is it? What’s the history of it? What does science say about it? How can you apply it in your life?
You are a man of many talents that complement each other. I can see you using all of those to create incredible transformation in people. I want to thank you for taking the time for being here on the show to share all this knowledge and information and great little nuggets that my readers are going to get out of this. I hope to continue connecting with you in different ways because people with experience and professions such as yours are needed in the world. People need to tap into their consciousness in that way and heal themselves. Anything that is healing other people is something that I want to showcase to the world always. Thank you.
Thank you for the opportunity. The mantra Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, we all have our own answers. We just may need a little help finding our way to them. If I can make one person’s life a little better then it’s all worth it. Thanks, Catherine, for the opportunity.
It was worth it. Thank you.
- Norman Plotkin
- Take Charge of Your Cancer: The Seven Proven Steps to Healing and Recovery from Cancer
- The Power of Your Subconscious Mind
- A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
- The Way of the Shaman
- Staying Healthy with the Seasons
- @NormanPlotkinCHT – Instagram
- @NormanPlotkinInc – Facebook
- Norman Plotkin – Youtube
- Master Mind Master Life
About Norman Plotkin
Author, Editor, Speaker, Hypnotherapist, and Coach
Norman Plotkin spent 25 years in Sacramento as a consultant and lobbyist working in, around, and for the California State Legislature. He represented fortune 500 companies and trade associations in the medical, automotive, energy, and petroleum industries.
Surviving cancer in his forties, his journey awakened in him a desire to serve others and opened his eyes to the notion that sometimes tragedy through the right lens can be seen as a gift. He writes about this gift in his book, Take Charge of Your Cancer, The Seven Proven Steps to Healing and Recovery. The experience also awakened a desire to survey many healing modalities across time, cultures, and beliefs. Plotkin published his second book recently titled Master Mind Master Life, wherein he details the history, science, and application of the modality of hypnotherapy.
Embracing ancient wisdom and sharing the power of uncomplicated techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, self-talk, reframing, and emotional intelligence, Norman helps clients with steps toward self-mastery and away from chemical therapies. Committed to helping others engage in rapid healing and lasting wellness, Norman helps people understand that they are powerful beings who can write, or rewrite, their own story. Now practicing Hypnotherapy in Sacramento, CA, Norman has an emphasis on medical hypnotherapy as well as habit control, trauma, pain, and stress management, among other issues.