By Laurel Busby
Hypnotherapist Lisa Machenberg began using hypnotism with her twin sons when they were babies.
“I hypnotized them to sleep quickly, soundly, calmly, deeply all through the night,” said Machenberg, who recently discussed hypnoparenting on The Steve Harvey Show.
When her boys, Max and Jake, were four, she hypnotized them so they could stop using diapers at night. She told them, “I have a present for you. You’re going to be dry all the night.”
She joked, “They’re 19 now, and they’ve never had a problem.”
Machenberg, who teaches child hypnosis and other classes at HMI College of Hypnotherapy in Tarzana, works with clients in her Sunset Mesa home and also at HMI. She treats individual clients, but also provides hypnoparenting, which involves working with families using hypnosis to create a “calm and peaceful home.”
She said the techniques are not mind control, but are instead done with both the parents’ and child’s awareness to allow them to choose new behaviors they would like and help their brains implement them. “According to Scientific American, hypnosis is as safe as going to a lecture, and everyone can learn it,” Machenberg noted.
Typically, parents and their child will visit with Machenberg together. “Usually it’s a family systems problem,” said Machenberg, who works with varied children, including those with special needs. “Nothing is done behind the child’s back. Everything is out in the open.”
She will first talk with the parents to help them learn “how to separate emotions from their parenting response.”
“If you want to teach self-regulation, impulse control and containment, you have to have those skills,” said Machenberg, whose husband is Bryan Ney, a Kaiser physician. “You can’t teach anyone to self-regulate when you’re out of control.”
She might use hypnosis with the parents to help them learn a new way of handling their emotions so that they can change their responses to their children. Parents may have experienced challenges during their own childhoods that are now manifesting as they parent their children. These problems might have begun in past generations and been passed down from parent to child.
“I teach the parents how to be a transitional hero, so it doesn’t go on for more generations,” Machenberg said. Later she added, “You have two opportunities to have a parent-child relationship. Once when you’re the child and once when you’re the parent. When [a parent] makes a different childhood parent-child relationship.
Machenberg, a Connecticut native who has worked for 23 years as a hypnotherapist, says that 12 percent of how the brain works involves logic, reason and willpower, while the remaining 88 percent focuses on what is familiar and known. So when people want to eat healthier, but instead find themselves eating junk food while simultaneously saying, “I shouldn’t be eating this,” it’s because the 88 percent is winning.
With hypnosis, she “reprograms the brain” in ways that the client, whether adult or child, would like. Using words, intent and aromatherapy to “hack into the brain,” Machenberg said she might help reprogram someone to healthy eating by saying, ‘Hey, subconscious, now you only feel good when you eat for the goal of a light and healthy body. Not doing that feels bad . . .’ We want to get it so it’s as habituated as putting on your seatbelt in your car.”
After working with the parents for part of the one-hour session, Machenberg will talk to the child about whatever desired improvements s/he may want to make. Machenberg, who also discussed her techniques on Good Morning America, is then able to give the child’s brain a new message to help conquer their challenges. She will ask children to pick out a special crystal both to use in the session and to take home with them. A recording will capture the hypnosis session, so the child can use it at home.
Change is generally seen immediately, and the technique includes trigger words selected by the child that can be spoken by the parents at home.
On The Steve Harvey Show, Palisades parent Tamar Springer and her 11-year-old son Ariel tried one session with Machenberg to help Ariel better tackle both doing his homework and cleaning his room.
Springer, a psychotherapist who sometimes refers patients to Machenberg for hypnosis, said the session worked. “The hypnoparenting helped me to feel calmer and to separate my emotions from parent- ing interventions,” she noted. “Ariel has been better about getting to his homework. The room still gets messy, but he cleans it with less resistance. We only had one session, but to me it was powerful. I believe that ongoing sessions could be very beneficial.”
Typically Machenberg, whose daughter Rayna also joined her on the show to dis- cuss her positive experiences with hypnosis, works with clients for about six weeks with steady improvement each week.
“If it doesn’t work in six weeks, it’s not going to work,” Machenberg said. “Every week it should be better.”