Hypnotist helps woman quit smoking

By Aaron Wische - Senior Executive Producer

Hypnotist Richard Barker has entertained thousands of people with his stage show and has made appearances on late-night television.

But aside from entertainment, Barker says hypnosis can also be used for practical purposes, like pain management, weight loss, and managing fears and phobias.

"My experience of 20 years of hypnosis, everything I've seen, and all the evidence that has been presented to me, has been positive," Barker said.

Ashley Coran wanted to try hypnosis to help her stop smoking.

"I mean, I've tried here and there, like I quit for a month, maybe a month, but then I started again," Coran said.

Barker started his hypnosis session with Coran by having her stare at a fixed object, then opening and closing her eyes.

"One, two, three, open your eyes, look at the object, Barker told Coran. "Close your eyes even further, keep yourself relaxed."

Once she was hypnotized, Barker issued commands against smoking.

"I want you to understand that if you're foolish enough to ever smoke again, your subconscious mind would come back to haunt you," he told her.

At one point, while Coran was under the influence of hypnosis, Barker even made her crush her cigarettes.

"Get rid of them right now, all the way down," Barker said.

Coran has not had a cigarette since she was hypnotized nearly six weeks ago.

Dr. Alan Keck, a licensed psychologist, believes you should only allow someone with a medical background to hypnotize you.

"Anything that's powerful enough to help can also harm, and that's why it needs to be handled in the proper hands," Keck said.

Keck said people can have latent mental health issues that could be triggered by hypnosis.

"You can say the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time and help them do something that really is not in their best interest," Keck said.

Barker and Keck use the tool in different ways, but both agree any treatment in the wrong hands has the potential for good and bad.

Texas does not regulate hypnotists, but the National Guild of Hypnotists sets standards for the practice.

2015 Click2Houston/KPRC2