They say kids are doing everything younger these days. Lorelai Chalmers is taking this to the next, pseudo-scientific level. At just 10 years old, she has qualified as Australia's youngest hypnotherapist.
It's not all that surprising given her parents ply the same trade, yet she's still a self-starter. "I asked for the hypnosis course from Santa", she says.
After a 20-hour training course, the primary schooler from Gymea in Sydney can technically test her mesmeric skills on anyone, yet so far, she's kept things local. Her current speciality? Curing her friends' fears of spiders and snakes.
And if she wasn't already a teacher's pet, she will be now: "She's helped people wanting to be more motivated to do their homework", says Lorelai's mum, Karine.
It seems as though Lorelai has carved out (or conjured up, rather) a schoolyard niche. "She's already had some kids asking at school for simple things to be helped with. She can be more on their level because she's in their age group", explains Karine.
Her parents are justifiably chuffed by and supportive of her interest in the alternative therapy. Karine is "absolutely fine" with her pursuing it now, and later, as a career.
Yet Lyndall Briggs, President of the Australian Society of Clinical Hypnotherapists has reservations due to wide-eyed Lorelai's lack of life experience. "My concern really is for the child – because of vicarious stress, to start with", she says. "It's not a toy, it's a profession".
Lyndall's words are consistent with fact: to gain a Diploma of Clinical Hypnotherapy, 1200-1500 hours of documented study is required. Following that, extensive professional development and supervision is needed to maintain the qualification. The admission age for most hypnotherapy schools is 21.
This is way off from 10, though there seems to be misinformation about the extent and usage of young Lorelai's mind-bending methods. Although Lorelai has worked her magic on her dad, fellow hypnotherapy trainees and an older police officer family friend, Karine is sure she won't be going pro anytime soon. "She needs to have experience – it's all about that", she says.
Lyndall remains opposed to even this amateur use of the remedy. She is particularly concerned by the dual relationships that exist between Lorelai and her friends who double as 'clients'. "The situation is setting her and her parents up to be sued", she declares.
Despite this, Lorelai won't be stopped, because, quite simply, she enjoys it. Her fellow 10-year-olds are also apparently reaping psychological benefits, free of charge. Karine puts it poetically: "The payment is that they're happy and that they've got their outcome."