UCSD Professor Teaches Subliminal Therapy at Athens Conference

A treatment originally developed by Dr. Edwin K. Yager is to be the subject of a textbook out this fall.

  • By Sandra Fong Young
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  • July 26, 2011
  • There are no swirling black and white spirals or pocket watches swinging back and forth in UCClinical Professor Dr. Edwin K. Yager’s Subliminal Therapy practice. In fact, patients may not even enter a hypnotic trance. Instead, subliminal therapy, a treatment developed by Yager, helps patients access and use unconscious abilities to treat problems caused by negative life experiences.

    This past May, Yager was invited to share his findings in Athens before a global audience at the 16th International Conference of the Association of Psychology and Psychiatry for Adults and Children. During the two-part workshop titled “Subliminal Therapy: Effective, Evidence-Based Psychotherapy of Psychogenic Medical Problems,” Yager explained how this specific psychotherapy can treat problems including headaches, asthma, addictive disorders, anxiety, depression, pain issues and weight control.

    However, with subliminal therapy, the clinician may never know the specific experiences or issues faced by the patient. By guiding patients’ “extra-conscious” domain that Yager has named “centrum,” the clinician can aid patients in determining the root of their problem and help educate the conscious mind of these issues. Yager stresses that the clinician is merely a facilitator in this process, as the patient is in control of both conscious and unconscious activities. The clinician can only interact with “centrum” by responses reported by the patient through an imaginary chalkboard or whiteboard.

    Yager acknowledges that there are skeptics of the treatment, both within the general public and professionals, but he is confident in the results of his research over the past three decades.

    Researched success rates vary but are generally high, including a survey Yager began in 2009 where the most common problem treated was general anxiety, with a success rate of 92 percent. Other success rates include 70 percent improvement in pain disorders, 66 percent for compulsive behavior, and 90 percent for phobias.

    Subliminal therapy is also considered an extremely time-efficient form of treatment compared to traditional therapy. Yager asserts that most individual problems go away after three to seven sessions and explains that it works to resolve issues by identifying and recognizing their causes (life experiences), instead of focusing on the symptoms.

    “We learn to be afraid or to react in a physical way when things happen, and we sometimes continue to react in the same way long after the event,” said Yager. He has observed that if a problem is periodic, it may have been learned, compared to other ailments, such as a headache caused by a brain tumor, that would result in constant pain.

    Conference participant Dr. Edith Samuel, an associate professor and coordinator for the Department of Psychology at Crandall University in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, was not familiar with subliminal therapy before the workshop and from her initial understanding considered it “pretty Freudian in approach.”

    After Yager conducted the therapy on a couple of attendees, Samuel said that she considered the treatment very effective and “more practical than other therapies that I know of.” Yager said such reaction post-demonstration is common and commented, “It was encouraging for me to see the same enthusiastic responses from persons from other countries as I have found here.”

    Yager first began conceptualizing subliminal therapy in 1973, copyrighting it with his first paper in 1976 and claims he has demonstrated its efficacy on thousands of patients since then, including William Campbell, a retired airline captain residing in Tierrasanta. Campbell came to Yager with chronic pain in his lower back. After approximately six sessions, he was able to resolve his pain and also found that the therapy helped him fall asleep quicker. Patients’ experience with subliminal therapy varies, but Campbell described, “When coming out of the trance state I tingle all over.”

    In another case, Fletcher Hills resident Barbara Tierney sought subliminal therapy in order to lose weight and as a result, was able to resolve an abuse issue experienced earlier in her life. She noted that she had completed many years of therapy but believed the best she could do was “manage varying degrees of shame, fear, dread, panic.”

    “I felt as though Dr. Yager and I were watching the event back in the time and place that it occurred,” said Tierney, who had treatment for a year. Tierney was able to recondition the unconscious parts of her mind causing the problems and successfully remove her lingering feelings. The treatment has also led to larger life changes, as she has since returned to graduate school to become a psychologist and practice subliminal therapy herself.

    In addition to his roles as psychologist and practitioner, Yager is the founder of the nonprofit Subliminal Therapy Institute Inc., which conducts formal research including identifying other illnesses that can be treated with the therapy, trains clinicians and educates the public and other clinicians.

    Yager, a La Jolla area resident, has been with UC San Diego since 1975, when he began in the department of pediatrics. He then held clinical appointments in the department of psychiatry, leading to his appointment as a clinical professor of psychiatry in 2005.

    To assist people looking to practice this psychotherapy, Yager has written a textbook that provides examples and transcripts for completed cases. Launching this fall, the book is titled, Subliminal Therapy: Using the Mind to Heal. He is also the author of Foundations of Clinical Hypnosis: From Theory to Practice.

    Continuing to teach workshops and speak at conferences around the world, Yager will be presenting a one-hour workshop next month for the 2011 Congress of the European Society of Hypnosis in Istanbul, Turkey.