Evelyne Hendricks lives to help others. After 20 years preparing families for adoption and 25 years counseling couples through marriage, she is now helping people manifest change through hypnotherapy.
Hendricks has lived in Blaine for 25 years. She graduated from Western Washington University’s mental health program in 1986, then studied couples counseling in San Francisco, and continued her studies at the Portland Family Therapy Institute before moving to Blaine.
Upon moving to Whatcom County, Hendricks and her husband started their own small, private marriage counseling practice. She said they love and resource the work of John and Julie Gottman of The Gottman Institute, which uses a research-based approach to helping make relationships successful, and use other works like The Internal Family Systems Model, an integrative approach to individual psychotherapy developed by Richard C. Schwartz.
Helping couples through a difficult time in their relationship is certainly hard, but, Hendricks said, it’s satisfying when you know you have helped.
“I think most people really want to achieve a sound marriage or partnership, and it really requires some very specific tools to achieve that,” she said. “And I think that’s what my husband and I feel like we’ve done.”
Hendricks said marriage counseling is more psychoeducation than therapy. It’s teaching people the tools to make a partnership successful and what they can do to achieve that success.
What are the tools to a successful partnership? According to Hendricks: Building admiration and respect in the partnership, honoring differences and creating a map of intimate knowledge about your partner.
While marriage counseling, Hendricks worked in White Rock, B.C., for 20 years as a social worker for the Government of Canada’s Ministry of Children and Family Development where she counseled families, children, individuals and couples in the midst of adoptions. She said she evaluated families’ strengths and areas of growth so that they could be successful in parenting children through adoption.
“So if you ever want to adopt, I’m a very good resource,” she said.
Hendricks became interested in hypnotherapy when a friend, Sue Dunstone, told her how much she enjoyed Bellingham Technical College’s hypnotherapy program. Hendricks said she was looking for a new challenge.
“My goal really was to find something different and interesting; a way to facilitate rapid transformation for people who are stuck repeating unhealthy patterns,” she said. “And that’s what hypnotherapy does – it’s a way to get to the change much more quickly.”
Hypnotherapy is an exploration in what’s called cognitive behavioral therapy, she said, which is communicating with your brain to make changes in your life and in yourself.
Hendricks received her hypnotherapy certificate from Bellingham Technical College in June 2020, after starting in the fall. The program, based on research by Roy Hunter, required students to get 300 hours of one-to-one contact with clients over the course of a year.
Hendricks said due to Covid-19 she has conducted her therapy sessions on Zoom or over the phone, which she said has been a learning curve for everyone, but was able to graduate and begin taking on clients after receiving a license from the state of Washington. Now, she holds all her therapy sessions, which last from an hour to an hour and half, over the phone, but once the pandemic is over she has plans to reopen her in-person practice location with the name Rapid Transformation Hypnotherapy.
Hendricks said the myths about hypnosis – losing control and consciousness – are inaccurate.
“What’s interesting about hypnotherapy is that we are totally awake and in charge the whole time. The mythology around not being in charge or doing silly things or thinking we’re out of our safety zone isn’t accurate,” Hendricks said. “We are completely in charge and yet our brain relaxes us to hear a new and different kind of message”
Hendricks said hypnosis is more like a relaxing of the mind.
“It really is just a very deep, guided relaxation that helps us relax the brain enough to hear new messages and make changes accordingly,” she said.
Hendricks said we go into this state often throughout the day, most commonly when we’re driving. Have you ever been on a frequent drive – maybe it’s a commute to work or to the grocery store – and when you arrive forget passing a familiar place, or find yourself 10 miles down the road, safe, but unaware of what you just passed? That is the state of mind hypnosis puts people in, Hendricks said.
“It’s sometimes called the hypnagogic state,” she said. “In hypnotherapy, it’s called the alpha state – it’s a quietness in the mind.”
Hendricks said she’s had an uptick in her private practice and in returning clients who are struggling with the common themes everyone is experiencing since the pandemic.
“The isolation, loneliness, a lack of routine that provides meaning, and I think contact, just contact with friends and family, and the person you see for coffee everyday,” she said. “Just that kind of normalized life. The normlessness of these times. That’s just a recipe for some depression and anxiety.”
Hendricks knows therapy has a stigma, and psychological barriers for some people, but she thinks and hopes our culture is evolving to a place where it’s seen as normal.
“It’s like diabetes. If you get a diagnosis for diabetes, you don’t just ignore it and minimize it, well most people don’t. They get help, they go to the doctor, they get medication and change some of their lifestyle. And yet, with therapy, there’s some secretiveness or shame involved. I think it’s getting better and better. Younger people are much more willing to get that kind of help and not feel ashamed or embarrassed by it. There is still a stigma, but I think that’s changing and it’s a really good, positive change,” she said.
As a therapist, Hendricks finds the work invigorating. She said she’s fascinated and honored to be invited into somebody’s personal life and mind, and how it’s working or not working.
“It’s kind of like a sacred space in a way,” she said. “It’s someone making themself open and vulnerable and really wanting change. And being willing to look at hard stuff in their lives – things that aren’t working – and to being open and receptive to hearing ‘OK well, maybe you could try something different.’”