Tonawanda News — Several years ago Chris Johnson was a magician who used hypnosis in his act. He would get people on stage to do funny things, such as forgetting the number six when they counted their fingers. “It works 99 percent of the time,” he said, smiling.
He said he was also able to get his stage subjects to temporarily believe napkins were $100 bills or that people in the audience were cats.
The shows helped people to understand the art of hypnosis, he said. “I used it as a wonderful education for the fearful or the skeptical in the audience.”
But some members of his audiences were so impressed with his skills, they started asking him for help with life issues such as weight loss, phobias and stress.
In 2011, he opened his own hypnosis center on Porter Road in Niagara Falls and since then, he has gathered dozens of video testimonies from clients who have successfully lost pounds, stopped smoking or dealt with anxieties such as the inability to swallow pills.
It was a challenge moving from a stage performer to a clinician, though.
”That’s the biggest thing, is removing people’s misconception,” he said. “You cannot hypnotize anybody who doesn’t want to be hypnotized.”
His wall is lined with certificates which he hopes provide evidence of his continued training. He is also a master practitioner and trainer of neurolinguistic programming, trained by his mentor, Dr. William Horton, founder of the National Federation of NeuroLinguistic Programming. He’s also a certified instructor for the National Guild of Hypnotists.
Horton, a mentor to Johnson, said that the Falls man’s background in stage magic actually helps his clinical work.
”As a magician, he understands that people buy into illusions, like ‘I can’t quit smoking.’ They believe these illusions,” Horton said. “As a magician who learned hypnosis, he can talk about how people believe these illusions and part of what he does is helping people break that illusion.”