Welcome!

Welcome!

This  site is about how to  create emotional well-being and balance in your life.  I offer counseling and hypnotherapy to individuals and groups on this subject.  I use a combination of self-hypnosis and mindfulness training to teach people how to:

1. Become aware of negative emotional and behavioral patterns.
2. Create a non-reactive “space” within oneself  that is present-focused, nonjudgmental, responsive, and compassionate.
3. Allow inner wisdom to surface, heal, and direct our next steps in life.

Subscribe to this site for tips, inspiration, and instruction on how to make your present moment in time happier, more thoughtful, more grateful, and free of limiting beliefs and habits.

Sincerely,

Ruth Parsons, LICSW, RCH

Licensed Clinical Social worker, Registered Clinical Hypnotherapist – State of Washington

My private counseling office is located at

434 Orondo Avenue,  Wenatchee, WA   98801

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Reclaim Your Life From PTSD

Announcing the return of a popular group …

Reclaim Your Life From PTSD with Guided Imagery and Self Hypnosis

If you or someone you know is struggling with difficult emotions following a traumatic event – a car accident, robbery, assault, burglary, or other victimization – Help is AVAILABLE.

Join our free support group and learn the simple and effective tools of guided imagery and self-hypnosis to heal your spirit, feel safe, and experience peace.
Our Free Six-Week Educational Support Group includes:

Week 1:    Understanding Trauma:  how we respond to situations beyond our control.

Week 2:    Why we need more than “talk therapy” to heal from trauma.

Week 3:    Understanding the “emotional” part of our brain.

Week 4:    Myths and Facts about Hypnosis and Guided Imagery.

Week 5:    Introduction to Self-Hypnosis and Guided Imagery.

Week 6:    Group practice and how to have a healthy brain.

Co-Facilitators:

Ruth Parsons, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Hypnotherapist.
Ruth has served clients the Greater Wenatchee area since 1993.  She is a 12 year veteran at the former DSV Crisis Center, assisting hundreds of clients dealing with symptoms of PTSD.  She works part-time at SAGE and has a private counseling and hypnotherapy practice.

Brigette Forney, Crime Victim Services Advocate.  Bridget holds a degree in Biological Anthropology and has a strong interest in understanding how humans are affected by their environment.
In her current position at SAGE, Brigette provides outreach and services
to victims of general crime.

Date and Time:

Consecutive Tuesdays – October 25 – November 29, 2011 – 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

Location:

SAGE – 700 N. Chelan Street – Wenatchee, WA

To Register:  Call 509 663-7446 (all participants must complete a phone interview prior to registration.

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Understanding Trauma

A traumatic eventcan be defined as a single experience or repeating event that completely overwhelms a person’s ability to cope.  Wars, natural disasters, accidents, serious illness, unexpected death of someone close, and domestic violence are all examples of events that can turn one’s world “upside down”, destroying one’s sense of security, safety, and order as the struggle just to survive, physically and emotionally, becomes the most pressing issue.

A survivor sifts through tornado wreckage in Joplin, Missouri.

We humans have a built-in survival mechanism that is activated when we believe we are in a “life or death” circumstance.  Sometimes it’s called the “fight-flight-freeze” response.  This response operates below the level of higher, analytical thought.  If you were crossing a dark road and all of a sudden, a car swerves in your direction at a high rate of speed, would you have time to ponder what to do next?  Not really.  Your life might depend on a split-second judgement by your survival mechanism to flee, fight, or freeze.  Most likely, you would dive out of the way, without thinking.

Important parts of traumatic memories are stored in the middle and lower parts of our brains, which are preverbal and respond to sensory input (sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures).  One part of the middle brain, the amygdala, has been termed the “emotional watchdog”, always on the lookout for danger.

The amygdala is concerned with keeping us safe, above all else, so any sensory experience that “sort of” resembles any part of the original traumatic event, can put this part of the brain on “high alert”, automatically triggering a survival response that may not be necessary and may even block our ability to grow, thrive, and heal from the original trauma.

Can a person reduce, or even eliminate “trauma triggers”?  This question is addressed in some exciting group work that I am currently involved in.  Please watch for continuing posts on reclaiming your life from trauma.

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The Miracle of Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to form new connections and change its structure in response to experience – is a remarkable feat that deserves more attention in our personal quests to improve our lives.

While researching this concept, I came across a very compelling article, Rethinking the Potential of the Brain in Major Psychiatric Disorders, by Steven Morgan at www.vermontrecovery.com.

Steven Morgan writes the following:

… in order for the brain to form new connections and change, it must be stimulated through activity.  Whether this activity is external – such as playing a piano, or internal – such as imagining your fingers playing a piano sequence, an important factor in driving lasting brain changes is that you pay close attention to what you are doing … if thoughts and imagination physicaly change your brain, you can therefore use you mind – especially through focused attention – to positively rewire it.

Steven emphasizes that the brain is open to new experience across our lifetime.  In fact, research indicates that those who engage in life-long learning often have the best brain health, in terms of memory and cognition.

The only thing holding any of us back from re-wiring our brains for better outcomes are limiting beliefs, based on past experiences or mass cultural hypnosis!  Here are some examples:

I’m too old to start (singing, dancing, piano) lessons.

I need a drink at the end of the day.

I’ve never liked exercise.

I’m too scared to travel alone.

I don’t make friends easily.

The remedy:  discover the limiting beliefs holding you back, become aware of them, and develop intense curiosity about whether they are really true.  The curiosity must be intense enough to compel you to test the limiting belief to see if it is really true, rather than continue to believe it without question.

And how do you test it?  You involve yourself in a new experience, subjecting your brain to rich sensory information – sights, sounds, touch, smell, taste – with an observational non-judgmental attitude.

A mere walk in the park could be a new experience for someone with an acquired distaste for exercise – and what a rich experience that could be!  The warmth of the sun on your back, a light breeze, the laughter of a child flying a little red kite, the smell of freshly cut grass, the sweet taste of the grains in the bread of your sandwich as you sit on a park bench, observing the world.

Homework for today:  develop intense curiosity about a limiting belief you have and give it a gentle test – you may be pleasantly amazed by the results.

P.S.  Here is another amazing link to a story of neuroplasticity – very inspiring!

The Phenomenon of Neuroplasticity

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Hypnotherapy and Aromatherapy – a powerful combination

Have you ever experienced smelling a certain aroma – bread baking, the fragrance of a rose, the smell of the seacoast – and suddenly were overwhelmed with a strong memory related to the particular aroma?  All of us have positive and negative memories connected to smells, and no wonder.  Odor information is stored in long-term memory and has strong connections to emotional memory. This is possibly due to the olfactory system’s close anatomical ties to the limbic system and hippocampus, areas of the brain that have long been known to be involved in memories relating to emotion and place.

Sometimes the memories connected with scent are so strong that we are practically transported back to the place and time the strong connection first occurred – this experience itself is a form of trance – a state of mind in which our subconscious dominates, and we are less attuned to what is going on around us as we re-live the memory.

Aromatherapy is a form of therapy that uses volatile plant materials, known as essential oils, for the purpose of positively affecting a person’s mind, mood, cognitive function and overall well-being.  Although certified aromatherapists do practice in the United States, this form of therapy is more widely accepted and practiced in other countries, including Germany, Great Britain, and France.

My knowledge regarding essential oils is based on my years of experience growing herbs and personal research.  I favor the widely available essential oils of Lavender and Rosemary as gentle inhalants in hypnotherapy, serving to anchor positive mental states achieved in hypnosis:

Rosemary essential oil: has been traditionally known as a tonic for the nerves.  It has been used over human history to enhance mental function and as a remedy for depression, mental fatigue, and forgetfulness. Inhaling the fragrance of rosemary oil often results in an immediate emotional “lift”, resulting in a removal of boredom and fresh mental energy.

Lavender essential oil has a calming, relaxing scent and has traditionally been recommended for insomnia.  It has been used as a remedy in treating migraines, headaches, anxiety, depression, nervous tension and emotional stress. The refreshing aroma has been reported to remove nervous exhaustion and restlessness.

Note of caution: please use essential oils sparingly and safely.  Purchase pure essential oils from a reputable natural foods store, or online from companies such as Aura Cacia, Frontier Herbs, or Starwest Botanicals.  For a safe way to fragrance the air you breathe, consider purchasing a diffuser, such as the Aura Cacia room diffuser.

In summary, our sense of smell is a powerful link to our emotions and overall health.  Be mindful of the aromas which contribute to your well-being, and those which do not.  Seek out what smells good in life!

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Natural Weight Loss and Smoking Cessation

Smoking cessation and weight loss are the two most common goals of people seeking hypnotherapy.  Fortunately, hypnotherapy is an excellent method for reaching either goal.  When hypnotherapy is combined with mindfulness training, you have an even more powerful tool for permanent habit change, leading to lasting freedom from cigarettes and overeating.

First:  realize that smoking and overeating/eating junk foods are habits.  Habits are ingrained behaviors that take on a life of their own and begin to happen automatically, without our conscious awareness.  I had a nurse friend who confided in me that she bought a bag of Hershey’s chocolate kisses on her way home from work (a 30 minute commute).  By the time she arrived home, she discovered she had eaten every piece of candy, and didn’t even remember doing it.

Many times overeating and smoking are paired with other behaviors (watching TV, driving, socializing, drinking, worrying, etc.), which allow these habits to go unnoticed, below the surface of our awareness.

A first step in habit change is awareness.  Congratulations to all of us who realize our lives could be improved by changing unhealthy habits.  The next step is learning how to be deeply relaxed and aware at the same time.  When we allow our thoughts to quiet down and we focus on the present moment, we then begin to develop an awareness that we can choose something “different” from the old habit groove, which leads us down a path we don’t want to go.  What do you choose in your life right now?  What is the “ripple effect” of that choice for yourself and those around you?

Here is a simple exercise in mindful eating.  It’s easy to do here in north central Washington State, a land where acres and acres of incredible apples are grown.  This exercise makes a great dessert in the evening.

1. Slice a clean apple into quarters, then quarter each quarter.

2. Now you have 16 apple pieces.

3. Eat each apple piece by thoroughly chewing 1/2 of each piece at a time, and  swallowing before taking another bite.

4. Eat your apple pieces sitting at your dining table – focus on every sensory experience:  how the pieces taste, smell, sound, look, feel.

5. By the time you finish, you will have a new appreciation for apples and you will be amazed at how satisfied you feel – try it!

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Hypnosis for surgery: prepare and improve recovery

The following excerpt is an article posted on the Academy for Guided Imagery website.  It contains valuable information about the positive impact of self-hypnosis and guided imagery on psychological preparation for surgery and post-surgery recovery.

Surgery Preparation

Scope and Cost of the Problem

In the year 2000, there were almost 40 million surgeries performed in U.S. hospitals (Hall & Owings, 2000). There were also 32.5 million in-office surgery procedures in 1998, many of which routinely use some sedation (M Hall & L Hall, 1998).

Mind-Body Approaches to Coping with Surgery

Patients are often given drugs (sedation) to reduce and calm them before surgery or other medical procedures. However, sedation often increases the risk of low blood pressure or getting too little oxygen. As a result, researchers have looked at other ways to reduce pre-surgical anxiety.

Some of the most effective techniques include relaxation with guided imagery, self-hypnosis, and providing reassuring information prior to the procedure (Ashton, Whitworth, et al, 2000; Dreher, 1998; Faymonville, Fissette, et al, 1995; Lang and Hamilton, 1994; Lang, Joyce, et al, 1996; Ludwick-Rosenthal, Neufeld, 1993).

Used before surgery, non-pharmacologigic, mind-body techniques can reduce anxiety in adults (Bennett, 1996; Bugbee, Wellisch, et al, 2005; Good, 2004; McCaffrey, Taylor, 2005; Pellino, Gordon, et al, 2005), and children (Calipel, Lucas-Polomeni, et al, 2005).

Relaxation with guided imagery or self-hypnosis before and during surgery can shorten procedures (Butler, Symons, et al, 2005; Halpin, Speir, et al, 2002; Lang, Benotsch, et al, 2000; Tusek, Church, et al, 1997). These techniques can also significantly reduce procedural and post-surgical pain and the need for pain medication (Antall & Kresevec, 2004; Ashton, Whitworth, et al, 2000; Faymonville, Fissette, et al, 1995; Good, Anderson, et al, 2005; Halpin, Speir, et al.; Huth, Broome & Good, 2004; Lambert, 1996; Lang, Benotsch, et al, 2000; Lang & Hamilton, 1994; Lang, Joyce, et al, 1996; Laurion & Fetzer, 2003; Manyande, Berg, et al, 1995; Meurisse, Hamoir, et al, 1999; Montgomery, Weltz, et al, 2002; Patterson, Wiechman, et al, 2006; Rensi, Peticca & Pescatore, 2000; Syrjala, Donaldson, et al, 1995; Tusek, Church, et al, 1997; Weinstein & Au, 1991), even when only used post-surgically (Nilsson, Rawal, et al, 2003).

These techniques can shorten the time it takes for patients’ intestinal motility to return to normal (Disbrow, Bennett & Owings, 1993; Tusek, Church, et al, 1997), and shorten their hospital stay (Bennett, 1996; Cowan, Buffington, et al, 2001; Disbrow, Bennett & Owings, 1993; Lambert, 1996; Meurisse, Faymonville, et al, 1996; Rapkin, Straubing & Holroyd, 1991; Tusek, Church, et al). There is also some evidence that these techniques can reduce blood loss (Bennett; Enqvist, von Konow & Bystedt, 1995; Lucas, 1975; Meurisse, Faymonville, et al), and speed wound healing (Holden-Lund, 1988; Ginandes, Brooks, et al, 2003; Jones, 1977).

Improvements have been shown in sleep (Gross,Kreitzer, et al, 2005), and other psychological parameters such anxiety (Ashton, Whitworth, et al, 2000; Gross, Kreitzer, et al; Kanji, White & Ernst, 2004), and post-surgical anger and depression (de Klerc, de Plessis, et al, 2004).

Several sources, including Blue Shield of California and Cedars Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles), have reported that patients who used guided imagery tapes to prepare for surgery were very satisfied with them – plus, it reduced their bills (Fontana, 2000; Holden-Lund, 1988; Naiditch, 2000). In addition, guided imagery audio tapes are routinely used and recommended by many well respected physicians, including Mehmet Oz, M.D., heart surgeon and Director of the Complementary Care Center at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center (Oz, 2000).

Conclusion

Research available to date supports the conclusion that a low-cost guided imagery-based program to prepare patients for surgery can help to lower pre-surgical anxiety, reduce pain and the need for post-operative medication, shorten procedure time and hospital stay, and possibly reduce surgical bleeding, and speed recovery.

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Watch Our Garden Grow …

This Life Change Hypnotherapy website is in its infancy. The seeds have been planted, and the garden is now beginning to grow. Like a real life garden, new growth requires time and nurturing, thus your patience is requested as new content appears on these pages over the coming days and weeks.

Some pages are yet missing the informative text that will eventually appear, so please do not be discouraged if you are one of the early visitors to Life Change Hypnotherapy. I encourage you to check back often if the page titles pique your interest, for there will be much to learn within these pages soon.

I invite you to watch the garden grow and sincerely hope that I may offer something that assists you on your personal life journey.

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