Huntingdon woman brings hypnotherapy to area
HUNTINGDON — Dana Jefferson wanted to become a veterinarian.
“I loved animals and I still do. I have two dogs and a cat. I took my first college chemistry class and decided it just wasn’t the thing for me. If I could have gone straight to working with animals that would have been fine,” Jefferson said.
The Dagsboro, Del., native then turned to psychology.
She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Salisbury University and later received a master’s and doctorate in psychology from the University of Delaware.
Today, Jefferson is the owner of Nine Waters Group in Huntingdon, where she works as a hypnotherapist.
Jefferson, 62, didn’t become a hypnotherapist until recently.
After she received a bachelor’s degree she ended up working for the State of Delaware for 30 years.
She said she accidentally fell into the state job.
“I needed a job. My dad was on the state health resource board; he knew they needed a planner. He set me up with an interview and I got the job. I started as a health planner,” Jefferson said.
“My father was right. He said if you stay with the state, you would be grateful in the long run,” she said. “He was right. I was able to retire with a generous pension and my health benefits.”
She spent 19 years with the Department of Health and Social Services in various jobs, then became the head of human resources. She also served as director of administration for the Department of Labor.
“I was lucky. I got thirty years in and had just turned 53,” in 2009, Jefferson said.
She then moved on to work for the University of Massachusetts-Boston from 2009-18, where she retired as a senior policy fellow at the Institute for Community Inclusion.
She was president of the National Association of State Personnel Executives at the time of her retirement as the Director of Human Resource Management for the state of Delaware.
While still working part time for the university, she decided to pursue her hypnotherapy career.
In 2016, she decided to attend the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in Tarzana, Calif., America’s first hypnotherapy training school, to become nationally accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. She graduated with honors.
“I was previously certified as a hypnotist before discovering HMI for my advance certificate work. I was so enamored by their theories and practices that I decided to complete their entire training program,” Jefferson said.
In addition to becoming a certified hypnotherapist, she has received advanced hypnotherapy specialty certifications for hypnosis and weight loss, hypnosis for seniors, smoking cessation, hypnosis for anxieties and fears and past-life regression therapy. She also recently completed advanced certification in hypnosis and childbirth.
She and her husband, Ed Tos, moved to Huntingdon in 2015, where she opened her practice. She also is president of the Huntingdon Health and Wellness Association.
Jefferson said her father had attended Juniata College and always talked about how nice the area was. Her son, Zachary Gordon, also attended Juniata.
“When I came for parent orientation, I fell in love with the college, the mountains and Raystown Lake,” Jefferson said.
She also noticed there was a need for a hypnotherapist in the area.
“When I moved here, I got involved with the wellness center. One thing I saw was lacking was having hypnotherapy available as a resource. I knew there was a lot of research showing how effective it can be for various things. I wanted to have it available for the community,” Jefferson said.
Hypnotherapy is a type of complementary and alternative medicine in which the mind is used to help with a variety of problems, such as breaking bad habits or coping with stress.
“I put people into a nice relaxed state. I make suggestions. You reach people’s subconscious mind, so it is working for them rather than against them to help them reach their goals,” Jefferson said.
Some of the most common uses for hypnotherapy are to help people quit smoking, lose weight or to reduce stress.
“I’ve helped a lot of people with high levels of anxiety and stress, to get them relaxed to deal with stressful situations. While it works for a lot of things, it only works for people who are motivated to make the change. It is not like a miracle pill.” Jefferson said.
Tracy Lake, who is vice president of the health and wellness association, went to Jefferson for hypnotherapy.
“She helped me with pain management after my surgery, and her treatment helped me into the recovery period to avoid medication. I wholeheartedly recommend her services as a hypnotherapist,” Lake said.
Jefferson said there are misconceptions about hypnosis.
“I can’t make you quack like a duck unless you want to quack like a duck. You can’t make people do things against their will. People are not in a zone-like trance — they are very relaxed, they hear everything I say. You can remember everything,” Jefferson said.
Jefferson said it makes her feel good to be able to help people.
“I get such a good feeling doing the work. I come home with a smile on my face; that is why I do it,” Jefferson said.
She said she hopes to grow her business.
“I just want to continue to grow my practice. If I can find another modality that will be helpful for clients, I want to try and add it to my tool chest,” Jefferson said.