Is being hypnotized to stop overspending a New Year's resolution worth making?

shopping Subconsciously, someone who overspends does it out of fear.

It could be a fear of not being validated by their friends and family for not having the latest gadgets, a fear of feeling they don't deserve their job so they spend their money while they have it, or a deep fear that goes back to childhood.

At least that's what I was told by Sanjay Burman, a Toronto hypnotherapist who says over spenders can be hypnotized to stop spending so much money.

In the coming week, many people will list that as a New Year's resolution, along with other common goals -- lose weight, stop smoking and get a new job -- and I wonder if it's worth the $120 to $320 per hour that Burman says it costs to be hypnotized to achieve that goal.

But you have to fully believe in it for it to work, Burman said, which is something that the skeptical journalist in me can't do. I would gladly pay $320 to lose weight, get a job or stop any stray spending habits I have. While I believe in Burman's explanation that the subconscious can be retrained during hypnosis, I don't think I'd be able to relax enough and not question it.

"The more you relax and the more you're in a position of wanting change," the more likely an hour of hypnosis is going to work, he told me in a telephone interview from Toronto.

One hypnotherapy session is enough if people really want to change, he said. Otherwise, it could take a few sessions.

Most major cities have at least one hypnotherapist, and they can be found at the National Guild of Hypnotists.

"It's not a magic pill," Burman said. "I can't make you do anything. What I can do is make your journey a lot easier."

Bad spending habits, for example, are a symptom of a problem, such as an emotional issue that goes years back, he said.

"If someone is spending, the first thing I ask them to do is 'Where does their fear come from?'" he said.

Once they get there, the problem will go away. For a New Year's resolution, that's a difficult place to go, even if a few hundred bucks will get you there.

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