Learning to Relax
Local practitioner uses hypnosis to ease anxiety in kids
By Seth Sandronsky
Many children live with stress. According to a peer-reviewed study in The Journal of Pediatrics in 2016, 7.1 percent of American kids 7 to 13 years old, or 4.4 million, had anxiety problems. Some show it. Others do not.
What can parents do to help make their children’s lives less stressful? Anti-anxiety medication is one treatment option; however, there are side effects to consider. Fortunately, other options exist. One is hypnosis. Just ask John Zulli, Ph.D., a clinical hypnosis practitioner based in Sacramento, with 34 years of experience.
Why opt for hypnosis to help kids reduce their anxiety level? “In hypnosis, children in part learn how to relax, mentally and physically,” Zulli says. “In this way, kids learn how to shift their energy from a fight-or-flight mindset to one of balance and peace.”
According to John Zulli, anxiety is largely the absence of relaxation. We cannot be anxious and relaxed at the same time. You do not need an advanced degree in human psychology to grasp that relationship.
John Zulli, born in upstate New York and reared in San Luis Obispo, recently spoke about hypnosis to a classroom of kids at Phoebe Hearst Elementary School in East Sacramento. He asked the students to raise their hands if they had experienced anxiety. Many did. One child shared experiencing anxiety over taking a math test. In fact, standardized tests can spur some kids to worry about their scores, high or low, at, below or above grade level.
“Hypnosis gives children a sense of control over their anxiety,” Zulli says. “I teach kids how to use a key word or phrase to shift their energy from one side of the nervous system to the other. Once they know there is a tool they can use to fight their anxiety it diminishes.”
Zulli began to use hypnosis to treat kids with anxiety in 1990. Since then, he has hypnotized scores of children. “Hypnosis promotes your mental and physical relaxation,” Zulli says. “This breaks the cycle of chronic stress and gives the child a chance to calm down and regroup.”
Being calm in the face of stress is easy to say, but can be difficult to do as a kid, let alone an adult. Consider this case at Montreal Children’s Hospital in Canada.
There, a pilot project showed favorable results using hypnosis to help anxious kids who were undergoing stressful medical procedures, such as catheter insertions. A medical imaging technologist treated a 9-year-old girl suffering from Hodgkin’s disease with hypnosis to reduce her anxiety. Practicing hypnosis in pediatrics came to the attention of the head of the Montreal hospital upon visiting France, seeing that treatment in use and yielding positive results.
Childhood can be a tough time due in part to the scant nature of control kids have over their lives. Adults can and do exercise control over kids. John Zulli, the father of a sixth-grade son, is well aware of that power dynamic. Accordingly, he emphasizes kids’ capacity to help themselves. Though some adults might find it a bit hard to grasp, kids can and do figure out how to use their unique creativity for self-improvement.
“Hypnosis teaches children to use their imagination to help themselves as opposed to allowing it to run away with them,” Zulli adds. “The imagination is the connecting link between the mind and the body.”
In addition to his practice of hypnosis treatment, Zulli is a leadership and management speaker. He serves private firms, small, midsize and large, and public agencies. One day Zulli speaks in Anchorage. Another day finds him in Aspen. His career brims with new faces, names and places on a regular basis.
In his past employment, Zulli worked as a park ranger. Later he served as president of a private college in Southern California.
No armchair academic, Zulli knows a thing or two about overcoming anxiety. At a young age, he lost both his parents. However, Zulli did not let that loss stop him from developing into an author, father, speaker and teacher who shows people of all ages and backgrounds how to realize their full potential in life.
For more information, visit mindsighthypnosis.com.
Seth Sandronsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.