Nicole Hernandez ('02, '04 M.J.) has always been interested in psychology as well as fitness, due to having a mother diagnosed with bipolar disorder and a father who instilled the habit of distance running. These interests led her down a circuitous path as she explored careers ranging from therapy to journalism, all of which centered on helping others. After having recently discovered hypnosis, Hernandez once again followed her curiosity and is now a certified hypnotist.
Hernandez is the first hypnotist to partner with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts as an appointed Resident Healer at the brand's downtown New York property. She officially started her hypnosis business in 2019 and meets with clients from all over the world via Zoom or at the hotel's spa. Hernandez has created her own hypnosis method called a Hypnotic Journey, which blends several mindfulness tools to create a special and unique session for each client.
"Within a Hypnotic Journey, I use hypnosis, meditation, yoga, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) tapping, dance and sound," Hernandez says. "Sessions are customized to each person. I ask what they'd like to change and use techniques based on their needs."
Hernandez hadn't always planned to become a hypnotist. She earned her bachelor's in psychology and her master's in journalism from UNT and went on to work in corporate marketing with a specialization in hospitality. In 2004, she worked for Tucker & Associates in Dallas, then moved to New York in 2006. She continued working with PR agencies and boutique hotel brands, and in 2010, she began parallel paths when she started teaching IntenSati classes, a workout that combines dance, yoga, martial arts and mantras as a way to strengthen the body, mind and heart.
"In IntenSati, you're cheering for yourself. You're actually saying affirmations as you're moving your body," Hernandez says. "I realized how important our thoughts are, even in our fitness routines."
In 2014, Hernandez began teaching yoga classes with visualization and went on to earn additional certifications. However, it wasn't until a coworker suggested hypnosis that Hernandez first considered it.
"I was still working in the corporate world, and hypnosis didn't feel like a real mindfulness tool," Hernandez says. "I didn't understand how it could help me."
Hernandez had been experiencing chronic anxiety and even stress-induced alopecia. In 2019, she decided to attend a group hypnosis session for her anxiety, and after feeling immensely better following that one session, she became intrigued and wanted to learn more.
"I went through my first hypnotist's certification program to see how she was doing it, and over the course of a year, hypnosis changed my life," Hernandez says. "I actually had an experience that helped me work through childhood trauma, which had been the root of my anxiety."
Now, Hernandez has studied under four well-known hypnotists and has read about neuroscience extensively. Since launching her business, she has helped people with their own breakthroughs, including assisting a woman who had a phobia of masks, helping a man overcome his fear of driving, and helping a woman reduce her stress response so she could finally get pregnant after five years of trying.
"Hypnosis is fun for me," Hernandez says. "I enjoy the work, and it feels very rewarding to help people."
Hernandez believes that hypnosis is the next big mindfulness tool and will soon become more mainstream. Hypnosis, she says, is similar to meditation in that it returns people to a mindful, daydream-like state. However, in meditation the focus is on the breath whereas in hypnosis, the focus is on a specific change or issue, which people work their way through using language and mental imagery.
"Hypnosis is a conscious state of focus that allows us to have an expanded sense of awareness," Hernandez says. "Hypnosis is so similar to the state of daydreaming, and I hope to dispel the myths that it's woo-woo or only a stage performance. We experience hypnosis on a daily basis. When you're staring out the window, you're in a light state of hypnosis -- you are one with your thoughts and you see movies or pictures or sounds of what you're thinking about."
Hernandez recommends hypnosis for people who are troubled by anxiety or phobias that they would like to release by finding the root causes of them. Hypnosis, she adds, also is a great practice for people who would like to break habits such as smoking.
"Hypnosis is important because it allows for us to change our patterns and behaviors very quickly," Hernandez says. "You can change something significant in your life within 45 minutes to an hour, and that could change your life and you never have to deal with that again."