Professor using hypnosis to help students deal with test anxiety

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A University of New Mexico professor is trying to help students with their anxiety before a huge test, with hypnosis.

The idea is getting mixed reactions from students. He says he hypnotizes students and has them visualize the exam. So when it’s time to take the test they stay calm.

“I can’t make you cluck like a chicken unless you want to cluck like a chicken,” says Dr. Robert Sapien.

Dr. Robert Sapien says he’s hypnotized about 70 medical students. He says hypnotherapy helps students deal with anxiety as they prepare for a high stakes exam.

“When we’re not calm and we’re trying to take a test it’s not going to reflect our true ability and that’s what we’re trying to get them to do,” Sapien says.

UNM students say they’ve got a lot on their plate. “There’s a lot to keep track of between writing papers and exams,” says Grad Student, Ellen Loechner.

They all have different ways of coping. But not everyone is sold on the idea of being hypnotized. “It would make me even more anxious,” Loechner says.

Sapien says during the sessions students develop affirmations and visualize how the exam will go.

“It really is about a person working through their emotional limiting beliefs,” Sapien says.
Some students say it’s a practice worth trying, “As long as it’s not getting taken advantage of in that state I’d be ok with it,” says Brandon Harris.

Sapien says his hypnotherapy sessions last from 45 minutes to two hours and the students remember everything that happened. Sapien, who’s a professor in UNM’s Department of Emergency Medicine, usually does three sessions with students leading up the exam.

He welcomes any student who wants to try it out to contact him.

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