Gabrielle Turner doesn’t look like she’d make us cluck like a chicken, but as a certified hypnotherapist, she regularly puts people under.
‘In the hypnotic trance we bypass the conscious mind. So because of that level of focus I’m able to speak directly to people’s subconscious or deeper levels of the mind,’ she says. ‘If you look at the different levels of the brain, we can only hold a few bits of information in our conscious mind at one time. If you think about a computer your conscious mind is like the screen. The deeper level of the mind is your subconscious mind, which again if you think of the computer is going to be the hard drive. All your memories, all your thoughts, your habits, your perceptions, are stored there.’
After training as an Occupational Therapist, she was first exposed to hypnotherapy while training as a duala, a birth partner.
‘It’s really amazing. I mean, when a woman really uses it to the full, sometimes you can hardly tell she’s in labour. It’s really, really amazing. And because I saw how powerful it was, I really began to understand the power of our subconscious minds to make changes and take control, to stay calm and relaxed through what can be a difficult experience, so I started to train in hypnotherapy.’
Hypnosis has been used for hundreds of years. Coming from the Greek word for ‘sleep’, current research shows subjects aren’t actually asleep when it’s happening. They’re fully awake, but deeply focused: their peripheral awareness decreases to the point they seem alseep. It’s thought to have first been used for health reasons in ancient India, spreading to Egypt and Greece. The term ‘hypnotism’ was first coined in the 19th century and over the centuries has been used for everything from recreation to anesthesia during surgery.
Today, Turner is a certified hypnotherapist in three countries. She sees people about everything from depression and weight loss to wanting to change habits, like nail biting or smoking and fears like public speaking and flying. She says hypnotherapy is so effective, it usually takes under six sessions to fix a problem: and many can be cured in a single session.
‘If somebody comes to me to stop smoking, can be a very quick change. That can happen in one session. I usually advise people to come for three because I like to reinforce it more and just build up their confidence that they’ve made that change,’ she says. ‘Sometimes with (things like) smoking, if it’s somebody that’s smoked for a really long time, they’ve tried to quit over and over again and they feel like they’ve got a real emotional attachment to it then I’ll ask them to come for more sessions because I like to really get at the root and cause of the issue. And with hypnotherapy you can do that, because we’re working with the subconscious mind and all our memories are stored there.’
She says that’s what really sets hypnotherapy apart: as a therapist, she’s working to get to the root causes of issues, not just treating the symptoms. It’s one of the reasons she’s found hypnotherapy particularly effective for weight issues—as well as motivating people to eat properly and be more active, she’s getting at the reasons why they gained weight in the first place.
‘When you’re dealing with the subconscious mind in hypnosis you’re able to help people find inner resources that otherwise it’s difficult to use,’ she says.
Since starting in Qatar, people have been beating down her door to have her muck around in their subconscious minds.
‘It’s fantastic. People are really interested, both locals and expats. They still think I’m going to have a watch, and they still think I’m going to be taking control of their minds! The first session I always spend a lot of time just explaining it and how it actually works, because people tend to do a lot better if they understand the process. It’s really about using the power of their minds, I’m just a guide,’ she says.
Gabrielle Turner takes appointments at the Six Senses Spa at the Sharq Village and Spa every Monday 9am-2.30pm and 6pm-10pm. For more information call 4425 6999.
We get hypnotised
Team TODO is always game to try something in the interests of research, which is how I found myself settling into a recliner and trying to move a ball on a string with my mind. That’s the first step to one of Turner’s sessions: it helps the client focus their minds. I hold the end of the string, and at her direction, get the ball to swing forwards, backwards, in a circle and stop on command without consciously using my arm. After that fun party trick it’s on to business: she has me lie back and start to relax, and the phrase ‘you are going deeper. . . and deeper. . .’ gives me flashes of the booming soundtrack to Inception. Before long though I do feel deeply heavy, like I couldn’t open my eyes if I tried. I have an itch on my nose but can’t move my arm to scratch it.
That’s when things go jello. I know she’s uttering words to me, targeting a specific problem (in my case a fondness for cakes). But I drift in and out. It’s a bit like falling asleep in front of the television; you hear parts of the show, and think you’re just resting your eyes, until suddenly you jolt awake and realize you’ve missed a chunk of the action. I drift back and forth, occasionally aware of her voice, with odd bits of thought and memory cavorting around my cerebellum. At one point she tells me the colour red will be significant; it will jump out at me and remind me of all we’ve worked on.
Then I’m awake. I feel relaxed, refreshed, and noodly. She says I’ve been under about 45 minutes but it feels at once longer and shorter. Did it work? Well, that night at dinner with friends I only finish half my meal, notice the red pen attached to the credit card receipt, and remember her telling me that I would savour my food and in fact not want as much of it. Cool.