Hypnosis is a clinical technique typically used to treat conditions like anxiety and pain but some say it could also help as a parenting tool.
“Hypnosis and parenting is a natural solution,” Lisa Machenberg, a hypnotherapist and mother of three, told ABC News. "You naturally influence your child anyway, let’s learn how to do it with intention."
Machenberg began hypnotizing her own children to help them get through the night without wetting the bed. She now uses it as a tool to help her kids deal with everything from performance anxiety to difficulties focusing.
“My children are able to use logic and reason,” she explained. “They have a form of diligence or perseverance that you don’t see in other children.”
There is no science to support the idea that hypnosis is an effective parenting tool. The method, experts say, should only be done by trained clinicians.
Machenberg charges $125 per hour for her sessions and said she has worked with more than 1,000 kids in her years of practice. She also works with parents on strategies they can try at home and teaches kids self-hypnosis strategies.
Machenberg’s 17-year-old daughter, Rayna, said she has “always known” that her mom used hypnosis on her and said it has had a positive impact on her life.
“Being able to push back on stress and think about it deeply and do self-reflecting was a skill that I'm really grateful that my mom taught me,” she said. “I think it still influences me a lot today and helped me develop into the person I am right now."
ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser, whose parents are both clinical hypnotists, said hypnosis works for shaping behavior but the evidence is still out on whether or not it is a good tool for children.
"The evidence on the clinical use is really, really strong," Besser said. "I haven’t seen that kind of evidence for parenting and that bothers me a little bit."
Besser said other strategies parents can use to help their kids perform better include offering praise for good behaviors, using a star chart for school-age kids to track achievements and staying consistent on discipline and expectations.
"Not idle threats," Besser said, adding again that hypnosis should only be done by a trained professional.