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EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. -- The mind is a powerful tool, and with it, any number of things can be accomplished, Terry DeMars tells his clients.

DeMars, a hypnotherapist and owner of Healing Influences Hypnosis in East Grand Forks, said the main benefit is it can help people quit bad habits.

Through hypnosis, DeMars has helped people quit smoking and lose weight; he even helped somebody get rid of their warts.

"We've learned in the last several decades that we can do a lot with our mind," he said. "We've learned, for example, that we can control our bodily temperature to some degree, we can control our blood flow."

DeMars recently opened the hypnosis clinic in East Grand Forks and said he has helped about 100 people better themselves through hypnosis. Though many people come in skeptical, it works in nearly every case, he said.

Though DeMars said there's no clear answer how it works, when people are in a state of hypnosis, their brain waves change, becoming richer and slower. It puts people in a state of deep relaxation that's different than sleep, DeMars said.

It's a state most people have experienced, he said, such as when we're in a deep daydream or engrossed in a book or movie and don't hear somebody call out our name.

When hypnotized, the person is not sleeping or unconscious. People become more responsive and attentive, and in this state, people respond better to suggestions.

"Really, hypnosis is a focus on bodily sensations and inward processes," he said.

DeMars said he suggests things such as telling people their eyelids are getting heavier in order for them to reach a hypnotized state. He said he tries to suggest things that are difficult for people to fail, so they can relax and have them tune into their own bodies.

DeMars first got interested in hypnosis during college more than three decades ago and has used it as an outpatient therapist. Its effectiveness depends on the person and the issue at hand.

With some issues, such as relieving pain, it's very effective, but what works for one person might not work for another, he said.

Individualized sessions

During the psychotherapy sessions, DeMars said he tries to tailor the sessions to the individual person in order to find people's motivation and make the sessions most effective.

He's found if somebody wants to lose weight, there's oftentimes a goal, such as a dress the person wants to wear. He tries to hone in on that so he can get the best results possible.

He also said he tries to supplement what's worked well in the past for somebody with the hypnosis. So if nicotine patches have helped somebody quit smoking in the past, he'll encourage him or her to use those in between sessions.

"A lot of it is changing people's thinking, feelings and motivation," he said.

When people come in the door skeptical, which DeMars admits a lot of them do, he tries to tell them the facts and science behind it to try to erase some of their misconceptions.

He said hypnosis used in entertainment is not a good way to look at things. Those people are out to make a show, and while in hypnosis, DeMars makes sure people know he can't get them to do whatever he wants.

"The world would be a pretty messed-up place if that were the case," he said.

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