This interview was very long in coming. I met Dr. Randy last year, when he wrote for advice on marketing to women online. We chatted, he hired me, and I thought what he was doing was fascinating, so... I asked if he would be a Smart Man Online interview. He said, yes.
A long time has passed since then...and I know life has changed for me. But, the best thing that's changed for Dr. Randy, is his new website and blog. Because of them, I think he's worth writing about and I wish him outstanding success. Here's a friendly, intelligent man who's out to change people's lives. Girl-people, especially. I think he could change yours - read on and see how.
Yvonne: Tell my readers your story - why did you start a career in the field of clinical psychology? And how do you hope to achieve success in it?
Dr. Randy: Hello everyone! I’m happy to share a little about myself and what brought me to the field of clinical psychology. Like most psychologists, my background includes considerable pain, difficulty, and struggle. Although I grew up with wonderful, supportive parents, my older brother and sister’s immense conflicts and difficulties sucked away the bulk of my parents’ time and energy.For years I felt emotionally alone, not understanding why the child causing the least problems (myself) received the least attention. I also struggled with shyness and social anxiety. However, this all turned out to be a blessing in disguise for me.
I gradually developed a desire for a different adulthood—one where I could gain attention through positive efforts, learn the social skills to relate with a variety people, and help others to enjoy greater happiness in the process. More importantly, I came to feel that helping others find health and happiness would give true meaning and fulfillment to my life.
So naturally, the field of clinical psychology greatly appealed to me. For the last ten years as a clinical psychologist and hypnotherapist, I’ve had the privilege of helping my clients find greater health and happiness in their lives. As I help others work through their issues, I also receive much from them in return. Simply put, helping others achieve their personal and relational goals is what has come to define success for me—both professionally and personally.
Yvonne: Your field is full of unknowns, isn't it? And, voodoo magic? Explain it in real terms that real people can relate to.
Dr. Randy: Is the field of psychology full of unknowns? Yes. “Psychology,” the study of the mind, is known academically as a “soft science.” Why? Because psychological research can never fully “prove” anything or say exactly “what causes what.” Research is very important to psychology. However, the mind is too complex and variable to make absolute conclusions about. The best that psychological research can do is make conservative conclusions about what research “supports” or “shows.” Psychological unknowns include exactly how thinking affects feelings, how hypnosis works, and how the mind influences pain or healing.
The next question, if psychology is full of “voodoo magic,” is an interesting one. Mainstream psychology strives for respectability and shies away from most topics that cannot be researched in any clear, consistent way. Such “fringe” issues are commonly known as “parapsychology” or “pseudo psychology.” Examples of such “voodoo magic” issues include clairvoyance, mental telepathy, ESP, past lives regression, or astral projection. These mind topics cannot be supported through consistent research (although they are interesting).
Hypnosis, on the other hand, can actually be classified as either legitimate or voodoo. “Clinical hypnosis” as a therapy technique is strongly supported by research and is highly effective in promoting change and improvement—especially with weight loss, smoking cessation, and stress/anxiety management. This version of hypnosis is legitimate and highly respected in the field of psychology. Conversely, “stage hypnosis” falls under parapsychology. In this version of hypnosis, a hypnotist leads a group of subjects to act in extreme or outrageous ways in an attempt to entertain an audience. Unbeknownst to the audience, these subjects are not only being influenced by the hypnosis, but also an inner desire to please and perform in front of a crowd.
Yvonne: I know you are committed to helping all people, but that women are a focus for you. Why is that?
Dr. Randy: In the beginning, I didn’t really have a preference towards working with either gender. However, I quickly learned that the field of psychotherapy is primarily driven by women. I love working with women!
Women seek therapy for a wide array of reasons, such as relationship issues, mood issues, grief/transitions, panic/anxiety, and so on. They make up about 75-80% of my therapy clientele. Why? Well, women usually aren’t afraid to ask for directions—on the road, as well as in life.Also, women care. The more you care about something, the more willing you are to work at it and improve yourself.
The men who do come in to me in therapy almost always come in because of a woman somehow—generally a wife, girlfriend, or a mother. Typically, their relationship with a woman is threatened somehow and the therapy is a last resort. Nothing against us guys, but I feel that my male clients tend to be rather simplistic and linear. I can usually tell them why they are coming in before they actually say anything just by how they walk in. It becomes rather predictable. Women, on the other hand, are very intriguing, complex, and unpredictable. This complexity helps me to stay interested in my profession. It helps me be motivated to wake up in the morning and go to work.
Yvonne: Describe the steps to self-hypnosis - if that's a valuable tool women can use to make positive changes in their lives. If it isn't, why isn't it?
Dr. Randy: First, let me define traditional hypnosis. Traditional clinical hypnosis is where a professionally trained hypnotherapist like myself helps a subject get into a more receptive state for change through relaxing and focusing (commonly referred to as a “trance” state). Then, positive suggestions for change and improvements are given, which are then much easier to accept (because conscious resistance is minimized).
“Self-hypnosis” is basically self-directed hypnosis. Instead of an outside hypnotherapist leading the hypnosis session (either live or through audio recording), the person themselves leads the session. Steps for a sample self-hypnosis session include a person:
- relaxing through deep breathing, closing their eyes, and clearing their mind,
- visualizing a peaceful scene to absorb their conscious focus, and
- repeating a brief positive phrase promoting change.
Self-hypnosis can be helpful to promote changes and improvements. However, hypnosis directed by an outside therapist is usually more powerful and effective. Traditional therapist-lead hypnosis has the advantage of relieving the subject of having to think of “what’s next” and the suggestions for change. All the subject needs to do in therapist-led hypnosis is to relax, focus, and go along for the ride. Self-hypnosis, on the other hand, is harder work and is therefore less effective.
Yvonne: Do you do group sessions, or are individual sessions better? What if we want to buddy-up with a girl-friend. Can you do two at once?
Dr. Randy: I do two kinds of therapy: traditional psychotherapy and clinical hypnosis. I sometimes do sessions of both with multiple people present: couples, families, friends, groups, etc. The advantages of family/group therapy is that they create a social support network that doesn’t exist individually. In addition, multiple people all working towards change can be even more powerful. However, these benefits seem to exist more with traditional family/group therapy than with hypnotherapy.
Although group hypnosis is fairly effective, personalized, one-on-one hypnosis is generally best. Good hypnosis needs to be “all about you.” The greater the relaxation, focus, and personalized suggestions for change, the better. Even listening to hypnosis audio CDs tends to be more effective individually than in groups. Why? Because it’s easier to relax and focus when alone in the session than when others are there. Others in the room during hypnosis creates a distraction and promotes self-consciousness. So yes, two or more may attend hypnosis sessions, but I generally don’t find it quite as helpful.
Yvonne: What's the strangest confession you've ever heard from a client - relating to why they are coming to you for help. (you may change their names to protect the innocent)
Dr. Randy: Wow. Let me think… I’ve had several, but one stands out for sure. I came to diagnose one particular client in 2000 as having “paranoid schizophrenia” because his mind had spilt from reality, with delusions and hallucinations convincing him of odd and sometimes scary things. Our one session together began with him wanting to let me in on “a secret.” His speaking was garbled and random, but I made out a warning about “the conspiracy” going on in our country that involved the FBI, the CIA, and the Post Office. (That’s right, the Post Office).
He stated that he was one of the few “special people” with the power to see “the little and big demons that were threatening to control this nation,” and that the CIA, the FBI, and the Post Office were in on the conspiracy. He told me that there was a cover up, that the demons would soon take over, and that the government was secretly in cahoots with them. He wanted to let me know all of this so that he wouldn’t have to carry this burden alone. I think he wanted me to start some sort of revolution against the government with him! Like an underground resistance or something. However, I must admit, I’ve never seen myself as much of a revolutionary.
After this bizarre session, I called his referring agency to find out that this client was a recent transfer from an inpatient mental hospital to a transitional half way house. No surprise there. The agency wanted to know if I thought he was “ready for society yet or not.” Obviously, I felt “not.” I’m still wondering what all of those demons were supposedly planning on doing to the country and what this client expected me to do about it! I guess I’ll never find out. He never returned.
Fortunately, such highly disturbed clients are a rarity for me in my current private practice. However, from time to time, these types of clients make me wonder a little bit—are they totally “crazy”- or maybe they know something the rest of us don’t? I’ll never know for sure. The more we learn about the mind, the more we know we don’t know about it. Remember, the world’s top experts once thought the earth was flat. Maybe we “experts” don’t know as much as we think we do.
Yvonne: Do you think having pets and communing with your cat or dog (or bird, etc) can be a form of therapy? Can you (or we) learn to hypnotize pets?
Dr. Randy: Personally, I love pets! I currently have 2 Siberian cats. In fact, I’ve had cats and dogs my entire life. Later when I went into this field, all of my feel good pet moments were validated. Endless research shows that having and communing with pets serves as a great stress reliever (for instance, this article talks about just that). Pets also correlate with lower blood pressure, longer life spans, and lower levels of depression. In my personal opinion, the best pets are the ones you actually pet (cats, dogs, rabbits, etc.), versus those you look at from afar (birds, fish, lizards, and so on). This physical touch stimulates bonding. Talking and sharing looks with them further enhances the bonding that much more.
Why are pets so great? They offer love, warmth, and acceptance loyally and unconditionally. Human relationships, on the other hand, often seem fickle, fleeting, and conditional. Rarely does a pet break your heart the way other people do (other than the occasional doo doo on your carpet, of course). What’s not to love about pets?
Regarding the question of if pets can be hypnotized, I’d say no—at least not with the clinical hypnosis that I am trained for. From my background, hypnosis requires the subject to verbally comprehend what is said, along with how it is said. Pets only understand the nonverbal half of the equation (except for certain well trained animals, perhaps). I know that there are pet psychologists and even pet hypnotherapists out there, but I would have to lump them into the field of parapsychology. Just my opinion.
Yvonne: When you were a little boy, 10 or 11 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? What changed your mind? (if what you're doing isn't what you wanted, that is)
Dr. Randy: When I was about that age (10-11), I saw a psychologist talking to someone on a couch on TV, and thought, “That would be a cool to talk to people all day and help them with their problems.” I didn’t know for sure back then that I would eventually do this for a living, but it’s the only profession that stood out to me back then. I largely forgot about this interest for the longest time. Over the next decade, my friends and I were more interested in teenage things like video games, pizza, movies, and girls.
When I went to junior college in the late ‘80s, I suddenly realized that eventually, I would have to decide what I would do for the rest of my life (also known as choosing a major). I had forgotten my earlier epiphany, so I felt I had to figure things out from scratch. I had no idea. For some reason, I thought I’d major in accounting like my father. That is, until I took my accounting 101 class. Never have I disliked a class (and a subject) so much! Numbers, debits, credit, spread sheets. What a disaster.
So, I figured I’d major in chemistry—until I took that class as well. It was a little more interesting than accounting, but so difficult for me. It took everything I had to squeak a “B” out of the class, as well as avoid an explosion in lab! Chemistry also was not for me.
When I finally took my “Intro to Psychology” class, everything fell into place—my earlier interest, my curiosity about the mind and relationships, my desire to help others, and my need to work through my own emotional baggage. Psychology became my life, and the rest is history. Adding hypnotherapy along the way just enhanced my love of the profession and my ability to help others.
*As a side note, I still dislike accounting. That must have played heavily into eventually marrying my wife, the tax accountant. I’d rather have her deal with all of those numbers and paperwork than me! After all, someone’s got to do it. I guess it’s a tradeoff: she has me deal with all of the uncomfortable social stuff.
Yvonne: How long does it take for your hypnosis to help weight loss? Can someone lose 25 pounds in six or eight weeks? More importantly, when we do lose the weight, does your system guarantee we'll keep it off?
Dr. Randy: When people either come into my office for live hypnosis or purchase my hypnosis CD audio program, the emphasis is on healthy, gradual, lasting weight loss at 1-2 pounds a week. That is the healthy standard promoted by The American Obesity Association. Any more than that tends to be unhealthy and highly temporary. Weight loss products claiming or promoting faster weight loss are either lying or doing their customers an unhealthy disservice.
Because people vary greatly in their body type, weight loss needs, and commitment to the hypnosis, I can’t say exactly when the weight will come off with my hypnosis or how long it will stay off. However, from my experience, my clients/customers tend to lose 1-2 pounds a week fairly consistently until they reach they’re target weight, and then keep it off based on their commitment to their weight loss lifestyle.
This success assumes that my hypnosis CDs are practiced regularly in coordination with the supplementary diet and behavior modification tasks. Losing weight should be looked at a marathon and a lifestyle change, rather than a sprint, followed by a quick return to old, self defeating habits. If anyone claims more than this with their weight loss program or product, I simply say, “buyer beware.”
Yvonne: Last question: what's wrong with being a few pounds over weight, anyway? Isn't being pleasantly plump better than being anorexic??
Dr. Randy: There is nothing wrong with being a few pounds overweight and “pleasantly plump” (keywords being “a few” and “pleasantly”). And yes, that is certainly better than being anorexic, which is a serious medical condition. No doubt. The problem is that the media today distorts what is a truly desirable, acceptable weight goal—especially for girls and women. With anorexic-looking celebrities out there like Nicole Ritchie, Keira Knightly, the Olsen twins, and so on, it confuses what a woman really should weigh to be healthy and attractive.
This is exactly why I like to promote a medical approach to choosing a target weight goal. The best healthy weight range takes into account such factors as height, body frame, and gender in proportion to weight and is called the Body Mass Index (or “BMI”). This calculation is based on what is a physically healthy weight range based on medical science, rather than distorted, unhealthy media images. For more on BMI, see here.
Final note: Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my story and opinions with yourself and your readers. If anyone has any comments, questions, or other feedback for me, feel free to contact me through my blog or email me directly.