Dr. Nadine Sullivan

Dr. Nadine Sullivan

by Jeremy Jones

Shopping for a health care provider, therapist or confidant in spiritual matters is an often overwhelming task. Chestnut Hill is abundant in resources of every kind, and there are always new discoveries we can consider as options on our personal quests.

For years I have been curious about the sign on the red brick building at 7727 Germantown Ave. at the bottom of the hill: “Spiritual Counselor and Hypnotherapist.” No matter how many times I saw the sign, my mind transposed “hypnotherapist” to read: “hypnotist;” and seeing that sign in our little village seemed a bit curious. So, with a dash of skepticism and hint of prejudgment I made a phone call.

When I spoke with Dr. Nadine Rosechild Sullivan, it was agreed I would visit for a brief preliminary interview to see if she and her practice would be a good fit for this column. Our meeting lasted an hour and a half and went on to a second meeting, due to the substantive complexities of her work.

There is a refreshing essence of warmth and openness in Sullivan, but also a solid, reassuring presence. She adopted the middle name “Rosechild,” in honor of her mother who had 13 children. A native Philadelphian, she now resides in Chestnut Hill.

One of the many aspects of Sullivan’s practice is to help clients transition from the sometimes incapacitating state of feeling victim to people or events of the past, to a state where they have reclaimed their personal power and are able to live life as healthy, functioning survivors – finally liberated to move on, unimpaired by the crippling distortions that had once defined their sense of self-worth and identity.

“One of the most damaging things is feeling like it’s our fault,” said Sullivan.

Twice a victim of sexual assault in her youth, Sullivan has a doctorate in sociology from Temple University, with a concentration in gender and sexuality, and race and ethnicity. She is an adjunct professor at Temple, focusing on women’s and LGBT studies, and at Rowan University, focusing on sociology of the family and minority groups.

She has written two books: “I Trusted You: Fully and Honestly Speaking of Gendered Assault.” and “Turn Your Life Around! Expand Your Use of ‘The Secret’ & Manifest Intentionally in Every Area of Your Life.” Both books are available on the Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble websites.

Sullivan is not a psychologist. She is not a hypnotist. She is a certified hypnotherapist and gender scholar whose work in gender and sexuality qualifies her, as she said, as “an alternate therapist for addressing ‘PTSD’ [post-traumatic stress disorder]” in all its guises, including the traumas of war. She also works with clients whose goals are more easily defined, such as quitting smoking and losing weight.

As Sullivan explained it, the fundamental difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy is the number of steps and level of therapeutic intention in each process. Hypnosis is two steps: induction (deep relaxation) and suggestion (input from hypnotist to client). Though often effective, hypnotically suggested changes are often temporary.

Hypnotherapists add a middle piece between induction and suggestion. This process is more of an investigation that will hopefully lead to answers. It becomes an exploratory and interactive venture where the therapist can ask questions of the subconscious, and then be able to personalize the suggestions with the hope of getting to the root source of the addiction, anxiety, trauma – the mental and emotional conflict.

“Hypnotherapy is quicker than talk therapy,” said Sullivan. “It’s less cerebral. The client is choosing the sound of my voice to find their inner answers. If they are ready to get better, a person has to be willing to go into their subconscious space.

“The client can reconnect emotionally with an underlying anxiety but not in a scary way. It’s like peeling back layers of an onion. The mind wants to process it, and the subconscious will only reveal what you can handle. We bring the conscious and the subconscious together – when together, they release it. Your core says, ‘Release that – let it go.’”

Sullivan sees clients by appointment only. She does not take insurance. Her fee is $150 for a 90-minute hypnotherapy session. A 60-minute counseling session is also $150. She will negotiate her fee for those in financial need.