by Steven Nix-Ennen
SBJ Contributing Writer
Jan R. Wood offers the harried a safe haven, a place to discover and overcome one's greatest fears. But this refuge is no hiding place. It is found just inside those who seek it. Wood is a certified hypnotist.
It is no carnival trick. No party gag. It is a serious attempt to help those in need find sanctuary within themselves. Wood's goal is to help businesspeople and professionals overcome the pitfalls of stress and today's demanding pace.
Specializing in helping people find what lies beyond their exterior defense mechanisms, Wood gets to many ingrained fears and helps clients step over socially developed barricades. Debunking many of the myths about hypnosis is a constant struggle for Wood. For one, she doesn't offer suggestions to clients to do things they wouldn't normally do.
"It is a very natural state," she said. "You could never do or say anything that was against your morals or conscience."
Her focus lies in helping others to master a process of self-healing though stress management for sales motivation or to overcome fears of public speaking. Essentially, Wood holds a key to our subconscious that allows us to become more effective in the working world.
There are no swaying watches involved, no mystical potions. The 32-year-old hypnotist uses no charms other than her soothing voice, comforting brown eyes and suggestions of success.
"We often sabotage ourselves," Wood said. "It starts with fear on some level, and that is what often causes us to stand in our own way of success."
Through techniques she developed over several years, Wood leads clients deep into themselves in a comforting manner that allows the client to overcome obstacles created by the conscious mind.
Similar techniques are employed worldwide for professional sports, smoking cessation, weight loss, grades and more. Wood is one of the few to offer this assistance in this region. Many times, the first step is taking time for oneself.
"People must have the time to be still and quiet," Wood said. "If they get the chance to stay still, then they get to know more about themselves."
That reflective time is a foundation for the sessions with Wood. In the business world, a salesperson may fear rejection; a CEO may fear addressing large or small groups; an entrepreneur deals with fear of the responsibilities of success.
"We feel we are getting some sort of benefit from not achieving all of what we can," Wood said. "We carry things around with us that have affected how we are now. But what you carry forward, from this moment on, is your choice. A lot of people don't want that responsibility."
Wood said such fears are often camouflaged by our minds so well that they are hard to bring into the open. This results in the nagging, forbidding sense of anxiety and an increased stress that often arrests people in their drive to inner peace.
"Some people cannot relax completely even when they sleep. So, if we can get them in here to relax completely, they can feel better on their way out of here. Stress causes a lot of trouble in our lives, and it has been proven to have serious physical effects."
Aside from offering clients a safe harbor from the outside world at her Vandivort Center office, Wood soothes clients into this very deep state of relaxation. Clients recline in a comfortable chair and through a deliberate vocal tone, and well-placed words of suggestion, Wood takes them to a level beneath their defenses.
In effect, she helps a client to rehearse, subconsciously, the steps needed to overcome many of these fears or to achieve a personal goal.
"Clients go into an alpha state where the conscious mind is at rest, so suggestions can go in (the mind) without being analyzed or criticized," Wood said.
Much of this path to self-discovery is already mapped in the minds of the clients. Wood does not purport to be a psychologist, nor a mental health therapist. She simply eases people past the mental roadblocks inhibiting success.
There are times when a client needs a little more. Wood consults and works with mental health therapist Mary Ann Wood Smith, MS, during these times. In other instances, if she feels a client is besieged by troubles requiring professional counseling, she holds back her services until a mental health specialist has been consulted.
Wood spent 10 years in sales herself. Although she has been professionally schooled in hypnotism, much of what she has uncovered was self-taught and developed through years of application to her own life.
"I was so shy, I could barely talk to anybody, and I had to compete with other salespeople," she said.
Wood started to employ self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques as a hobby and was impressed with the strides she made in her professional life.
"I would come home from a day and I couldn't believe I sold what I did," she said. "My sales went up 20 to 30 percent in three months."
Now, an accomplished public speaker and secretary of Springfield Toastmasters, she addresses schools, conferences, workshops and regularly makes presentations to businesses. Last week she was asked to speak on pain management to caregivers at Springfield's U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners.
Through the concept of creative visualization, triggered by Wood's suggestions, Wood is confident that a person in any situation can step across their own ring of fire.
"You get that strong image (of success) in the subconscious and you experience everything that goes along with that the emotions, the smell of it, the feel of it. So, after you have experienced that success in your mind, there is no reason why you won't go out and experience that again in the conscious world."
Aside from the business applications, Wood said her techniques in hypnosis can be used to combat depression, enhance memory, improve grades or sports performance, control weight or pain or realize personal goals.
She said she has been concentrating on the business area because she finds the dual pressure of stress and performance demands creates a great need for her techniques.
"My goal is to provide services empowering the individual to create positive change and personal growth in his or her life," she said.
Each individual session lasts about an hour, for which Wood charges $58. She also offers group workshops. Wood is celebrating the anniversary of her first year in business this month. She feels accomplished when overcoming many of the fears and stigmas against hypnosis.
She is active in the professional community, as a member of the Business Builders Breakfast Club, American Association of Professional Hypnotists, Heart of the Ozarks, and the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.
Because her business meets with the needs of her clients, all of her hours are by appointment, leaving her little free time. But she has no fear of being overworked.
After all, her trade is relaxation.
Jan R. Wood
& Assoc. Therapeutic Hypnosis
Founded January 1997
305 E. Walnut St.,
Vandivort Center, Ste. 207
Fishing retail shop Modern Outdoor Tackle moved; Healthy Spot LLC opened; and Springfield law firm Strong, Garner & Bauer PC changed names and moved its office.