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Addressing stress in the veterinary practice with hypnotherapy

How Cynde Gardner, DVM, CEO of Bright Paths, helps veterinarians deal with the stress

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Imagine seeing your colleague leave a particularly stressful visit in the exam room and walk into the hall doing the “wet dog shake.” She just shook off stress the way the dog shakes off the water droplets. You’ll probably laugh and, right away, you both feel better. That’s just one of the tools that Cynde Gardner, DVM, CEO of Bright Paths, told me that she offers to help veterinary team members deal with frustrations that build up during a busy day.

When Gardner says, “The hidden epidemic isn’t hidden anymore,” she’s, of course, referring to the level of stress, depression and even suicide within the veterinary profession. We’re beginning to see articles about “compassion fatigue” and the recognition that veterinary team members, like those in other caring professions, experience burnout and struggles that are unique for these professions.

Gardner is a licensed veterinarian and knows about that. A severe automobile accident ended her career as a practicing veterinarian. However, following years of a chronic pain syndrome, a new door was opened to her through hypnotherapy.  From that moment on, she had a new lease on life — able to conquer her pain. Also, she knew then what her new career would be.

She received advanced certification as a Medical Hypnosis Practitioner, a HOPE coach, NLP Practitioner, Stress Reduction Specialist and a Passion Test Facilitator. She also holds certification from the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association (IMDHA), the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH), and the International Association of Counselors and Therapists (IACT). Following extensive training with major hypnosis training center as well as annual continuing education to maintain her certifications, she now offers services to a wide range of individuals and organizations as a clinical hypnotherapist through Bright Paths.

As a retired veterinarian, she is particularly well-situated to help veterinarians and wants them to know that they don’t have to feel alone. She’s aware that most veterinarians get no training in veterinary school about the emotional strain they will face. She’s known staff members who say, “What did I get myself into?” They love their chosen profession but are overwhelmed. After shifting her career, she was able to look back and realize that she had experienced the same feelings of stress and didn’t even recognize it at the time.

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Now she offers a variety of services (and tools, as she calls them) to help get people into a better place, tools that will enable them to pull themselves immediately out of a short-term “funk,” as well as life-long tools to create a life they love, she says.  Her help is available in various formats, depending on individual needs.  When I asked her to let me peek into the toolbox that she offers, she told me about the “wet dog shake.” What a picture that paints!  She added that every tool doesn’t work for every person, which is why she has a lot of tools in her box and introduces what is appropriate for her clients to have in their own toolboxes.

One of her tools is hypnotism, which she says is a natural state of selective, focused, attention that is 100 percent natural and normal. She told me that everyone goes into and out of a hypnotic trance multiple times each day. She, as a hypnotherapist, is a facilitator who is able to show you the amazing capacity of your own mind and exactly how you can tap into its unlimited power to change your life. The focus and concentration achieved in the hypnotic state might be compared to using a magnifying glass to concentrate and focus the rays of the sun to make them more powerful.  Similarly, when our mind is focused and concentrated, we are able to use it more powerfully.

You can begin to access her services (and fill your toolbox) by inviting her to your practice to give a talk on how things work and learn two or three specific tools. She uses humor combined with simple practical action steps, showing veterinary staff how to improve their overall quality of life and fall in love with veterinary medicine all over again.

When you’re ready to go further, you can enroll in her BRAIN SYSTEM Program where you will learn simple, easy steps to get big results to reignite your passion for life. It might take six weeks to go through the SYSTEM. Or, at greater depth, it might take six months.

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Here’s an idea of what the BRAIN SYSTEM involves:

B: Believe you can change your life.

R: Release thoughts or habits that no longer serve you.

A: Adjust by incorporating small changes that don’t take a lot of time but get you big results.

I: Install new perceptions, beliefs and habits

N: Understand Neuroplasticity – the process used to rewire the brain (through those small adjustments).  How do you make these changes?  Cynde has lots of tools in the toolbox to help you — besides the “wet dog shake.”

One of the  Gardner’s clients, Dr. K., accessed her services and said, “After working with Cynde, I felt more confident with surgical procedures as well as my decision making skills during high-stress moments and emergencies. I also developed a better way to communicate with staff. Before Cynde, I felt intimidated by my staff. With her help I gained the tools I needed to lead and communicate and still have my staff’s respect. I felt more at ease in my role as a veterinarian thanks to Cynde’s help.”


  1. Bright Paths, The Natural Approach to Healthy Living, www.brightpaths.com  800-278-0659 
  2. National Guild of Hypnotists, www.ngh.net
  3. International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association (IMDHA), www.hypnosisalliance.com
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