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Hypnotist Launches Therapy for Soldiers

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Returning home from combat can be a difficult transition for thousands of American soldiers. One Charlottesville health care provider wants to help make it easier with the aid of an alternative therapy: hypnosis.

Andrew Leon is a Charlottesville-based hypnotist looking to help soldiers deal with the aftermath of war. He says many veterans return from their tours of duty physically intact, but bearing the scars of emotion stress forged on the battlefield.

"Maybe they're the only survivor - or maybe they gave warning and the person didn't hear it. Maybe they felt scared and felt wrong for being scared. Whatever that is, we can go to that situation and can work with it," said Leon.

Leon explained that it sometimes takes 10 or 15 years for signs of emotional stress to appear, so many vets lead normal, productive lives until some trigger brings painful memories into prominence.

"What we want then is to get the information.  'What is it that sets you off? Take me back to that scene that set you off,'" said Leon.

Leon said while VA hospitals care for soldiers who are clinically diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, his treatment is aimed at prevention, dealing with repressed emotions before they turn into PTSD.

He's forming a coalition of hypnotists, The Virginia Veterans Hypnosis Project, to provide that help. "It's worth its while to pay some attention to dealing with this rather than wait until things blow up in your face and then you've got a guy that you have to fix. We don't want to fix them. That's very painful," said Leon.

The Virginia Veterans Hypnosis Project will launch at a conference on May 30 in Charlottesville.

Reported by Claire O'Brien
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