Monday, 16 April 2018

The Importance of Self-Hypnosis

When someone wants to get fit, they start exercising and train regularly. They notice an increase in their fitness, they increase their strength, their stamina, and muscle mass. Perhaps they even lose some weight. When they feel they are fit, they don't just stop going running or whatever sport it is they are doing. They keep at it otherwise they will lose the flexibility, strength and fitness that they have developed and worked hard for. Sure, they might not train as regularly perhaps but they do still train. We understand this when it comes to our physical health but quite often we do not apply it to our mental health in the same way.

Self hypnosis is an important part of the hypnotherapy process helping you to get so much more out of the sessions. But it's not just about keeping it going whilst you are seeing a hypnotherapist. Some people, once they have reached where they want to be, stop doing all of the techniques that were helping them as they feel “back to normal”. However, it is important that you keep utilising all that you have learned such as the breathing techniques, the progressive relaxation, the self hypnosis, as well as all the other things that make you feel good because they help to keep you mentally fit!

Self hypnosis doesn't have to just be used for the issue that you came to see me or another hypnotherapist about. The techniques can be adapted for use in all aspects of your life. It can help to prepare you for a driving test, giving a presentation, increasing motivation, improving your performance in sports or music, helping with exam or job interview nerves, and much more. The possibilities are endless.

This last year I have used self hypnosis a lot for myself and I have benefited greatly from it. I have used it to induce analgesia and anaesthesia in my hand which allowed me to have a surgical needle put through it without feeling any pain or discomfort. More recently I used it to help me change my perception of time, boost pharmaceutical anaesthetic and to distract my attention during an hour long root canal treatment. Self hypnosis continues to impress me each and every time I use it to the point where I am a staunch advocate of it now. I feel it is potentially the most important technique that I can offer my clients and is integral to the success of therapy.

Self hypnosis forms a major part of hypnotherapy and has many benefits including:
  • Increasing your ability at hypnosis
  • Reinforcing the work we do together in sessions
  • Speeding up your progress in therapy
  • Building your level of self efficacy

Here I will discuss these benefits in a little more depth.

Self hypnosis increases your ability at hypnosis
We all know that practice makes perfect, that we get better the more we repeat something. This is the same for hypnosis too. It is a skill. One that you can learn, develop and expand upon. I would recommend practicing self hypnosis as often as possible. I always think that little and often is best as it helps you to stay focused and engaged. Interspersing it throughout your day helps to keep you “topped up” and helps to support the changes that you wish to make.

The Carleton Skills Training Programme as well as later hypnosis studies show us that hypnotisability (our ability to go in to hypnosis) increases the more we practice it and even more so when hypnosis has been explained thoroughly to us as well as what we are expected to experience during it. This is good news. As you practice hypnosis for yourself, you get better at it and you will then be able to benefit from both the self hypnosis as well as the sessions with a hypnotherapist so much more.

Self hypnosis reinforces the work we do in sessions
Many of the techniques used within hypnotherapy can benefit greatly from being repeated. Practicing the techniques at home for yourself helps to reinforce the new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving that you are working towards.

Self hypnosis speeds up your progress in therapy
Typically you will only attend a hypnotherapy session once a week, sometimes bi-weekly, for just under an hour. There are 165 hours in a week so the other 164 hours of your week are over to you to support yourself in achieving your goals. There are many ways of doing this including being aware of your thoughts, understanding thinking errors and being able to dispute unhelpful, negative thoughts. You might practice some progressive relaxation or breathing techniques or perhaps engage in exercise to help boost the flow of Serotonin, the happy hormone. And of course, self hypnosis is an excellent way to ensure that you progress and help you to achieve your therapy goals.

Self hypnosis builds your self efficacy
At the beginning of this article I mentioned self-efficacy. This is a term which I only recently became aware of but it is one that will remain in my vocabulary forever more. Research has demonstrated the need for self efficacy in a person’s life in order for them to make changes and develop as a whole which makes it particularly important when it comes to therapy. Self-efficacy has been defined as “one's belief in one's ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task”. When self efficacy is high, we are more able to tackle challenges and gain new experiences both of which are things that you will have done or are looking to do throughout the course of therapy and beyond. Self hypnosis and other self help techniques help to build self efficacy. When you believe in your ability to go in to hypnosis, you are far more likely to embrace it, increasing your level of collaboration in the process. Starting with the techniques early combined with the increased self efficacy, increases the likelihood that you will establish a good routine with these techniques and continue to use them throughout the course of therapy and thereafter and really develop a skill which can have a massive impact on your life. Not only do I require my clients to believe in their ability at hypnosis, but I want them to believe in their ability to overcome their problem and to make a change. As you know, you make many changes over the course of therapy and self efficacy helps you to do this. Self efficacy increases motivation and allows you to find change more manageable. I want all my clients to believe in their ability to “make it on their own” after they finish sessions with me. If you are equipped with self help tools when you complete your course of sessions with me, you will have greater self efficacy and will be more able to maintain the changes you have made.

So as you can see, there are many reasons why self hypnosis is an important part of therapy and a tool which can help you thereafter in many areas of your life.

If you would like a refresher on self hypnosis or would like to learn it for the first time face to face with a hypnotherapist, please do get in touch.

Friday, 12 January 2018

The Beginner’s Mind for a Good Night’s Sleep

Do you think you would sleep better if you approached bedtime without assumptions or preconceptions of how quickly it will take to fall asleep, how much sleep you’ll get or how you’ll feel in the morning? How about if you were to see that night as a new night, in isolation and independent of the day you’ve just had or the previous night’s sleep?

The “beginner’s mind” can help you view bedtime and sleep in a different way, helping to reduce the thoughts, worries and limiting beliefs you might hold about your sleeping ability, break out of unhelpful sleep routines, and allow for the possibility of a better night’s sleep.

Beginner’s mind is used within Mindfulness-Based Therapy and is a concept that comes from Zen Buddhism called Shoshin which means “having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.”

When I first trained as a hypnotherapist, I learnt an approach which was solution focused. I had spent time, energy, effort and money in learning and understanding that approach. I had beliefs, expectations and assumptions about it’s effectiveness and how it could be used with my clients. When I first started attending Continuing Professional Development (CPD) workshops, I remember judging everything that was being discussed by my previous knowledge, experience and training. I found myself closing off to certain aspects of what was being taught and on occasions, instantly dismissing it as not being of any value to me or my clients because it did not fit in with my current approach. This mindset limited my ability to learn, make use of and benefit from the techniques which were being taught. It was detrimental to both my personal and professional development.

If instead, I had gone in to those training workshops with a beginner’s mind, I would have been more open to the teachings, learnt a thing or too and gained more from the experience as a whole. Over the years things changed and I became aware of the concept of beginner’s mind and I have been applying it to all of my trainings since and it really turned the tables on my learning.

You can see how consciously adopting the mindset of a beginner would be useful to someone learning a new subject or skill but not so obvious how it can help an insomniac. When someone has been experiencing insomnia for months or even years, their thoughts become preoccupied during the day about the quality of their previous night’s sleep and what that means for them as they go through their day, and whether they will have a repeat performance the following night. Some people start to become fearful of bedtime. Many spend time searching for ways to “cure” their insomnia. Their thoughts at night might echo those of the day in addition to the usual thoughts that run through their head which made dropping off to sleep a problem in the first place. In addition to these thoughts, people who struggle to sleep often hold a number of limiting beliefs about sleep and their ability to do it, such as the need to have 8 hours, that if they do not sleep sufficiently they will not be able to function effectively the next day and that the longer they are in bed the more chance they have at sleeping. Then we have the behaviours that they fall in to as a result of these thoughts and beliefs. They might remain in bed in the morning after they have woken up if they’ve had a poor night sleep, have a nap in the afternoon, or have an alcoholic drink to help drop off to sleep. The insomniac becomes very good at not sleeping, the master of their problem and can get set in their ways. Their thoughts, beliefs and behaviours surrounding sleep become fixed which reinforces and exacerbates the problem. Their approach to getting a good night sleep is no longer working for them and as such they would benefit from learning a new way of doing things. Applying a beginner’s mind to their problem allows the insomniac to recognise where they might have developed unhelpful thinking and behaviour patterns and be open to trying something different.

“If you do what you’ve always done you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” - Jessie Potter

When a person cultivates a mind that is willing to see everything as if for the first time, they become open to learning new ways of doing things and changing how they think about their sleep problem, how they approach bedtime, how to relax, and they can start to make changes to the quality of their sleep.

We can use hypnotherapy to help with sleeping problems and there is an increasing body of evidence to support this. With hypnotherapy, we look at all aspects of a sleeping problem. During the sessions, we look at how insomnia presents for that person as well as how it affects their life as everyone is different. I teach my clients a wide variety of relaxation techniques to help reduce stress and anxiety. We look at the thoughts, ideas and beliefs that they hold about their sleeping pattern, the quality of sleep they get and how much they think they should be getting. I encourage them to be more aware of their thoughts during the day and teach them ways to address any negative thoughts they might have about sleep and life generally so that they do not continue to run through their mind at night. We cover general sleep hygiene to ensure that they are doing everything that they can to encourage an environment that is conducive to sleep and that supports their body in its natural ability to drift off to sleep. We also look at their sleep routine and help them to change any unhelpful aspects that might be causing a problem. In addition to this, I teach my clients self hypnosis among other techniques so that they can help themselves. A beginner's mind and hypnotherapy can help the insomniac sufferer gain better quality sleep. Of course, there are some medical conditions and medication that can affect sleep so it is important to seek advice from a GP to rule out any physical causes for the insomnia.

In addition to being open to new ways of thinking and behaving when it comes to sleep, the principle of beginner’s mind can also be used to approach each night as an independent event. Bringing a beginner’s mind to each night is something that I have found incredibly useful. Each night is a new night and is different to every other night you’ve had and every night you will have in the future. Every night is different. Just because you couldn’t fall asleep easily last night, doesn’t mean you will struggle to fall asleep tonight.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” - Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

We base everything on our previous experience. When we have had a problem with something we find it incredibly difficult to view it with objectivity. We lose perspective on the situation. Let’s use the example of an ex-smoker who hasn’t smoked for the last 10 years. They go out, have a drink and have a cigarette. Because they’ve had a problem with the habit in the past, they instantly assume they’ve failed, that they are now a smoker again and quite often continue to smoke. Whereas if someone who has never smoked goes out, has a drink and a cigarette, they can see it for what it is – they got drunk and had a cigarette. It’s an isolated incident. That one cigarette does not make them a smoker and they think nothing of it. We all have the occasional bad night's sleep but when we do not have a problem generally with sleep, we can see it as a one off and do not become anxious or worried about it.

A poor night sleep last night does not mean a poor night’s sleep tonight. Nor does it mean you are always going to be stuck with this problem. So treat each night as a single entity, an isolated incident. Avoid already “knowing” how you are going to sleep that night. Don’t let past experiences of bad night’s sleep influence your sleep tonight. Let go of those thoughts about how you couldn’t sleep last night and how tonight might compare to then or what it might mean for your day at work tomorrow. The past is the past and you cannot do anything about it. But you can change your experience of sleep tonight and in the future by viewing each night as a one off experience. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have the perfect night’s sleep straight away, but persevere with this way of seeing things and you’ll start to feel the benefit of it. Approaching each evening with curiosity and an open mind allows for the possibility of a good night’s sleep, makes you more comfortable with not knowing what is going to happen (whether you’ll sleep or not and how that will effect you or not), and helps you to be more objective about your ability to sleep and the quality that you get.

Seeing each night in isolation also allows you to avoid the temptation of making changes to your behaviour when it comes to sleep based upon contingencies from the day or previous night. (Ong, 2017) So for example, you might stay in bed in the morning after you’ve woken up after a poor night’s sleep. I know this is something that I have done many times over the years. It is a common strategy that people often employ when they’ve not slept well thinking that they might just be able to drop off and get some more sleep but it very rarely provides good quality sleep if any at all. Carrying out ineffective sleep related contingencies like this just compounds the problem. (Ong, Ulmer & Manber, 2012)

I’m not saying that applying a beginner’s mind to sleep is easy. I know that it is something that I struggled to do at first but it does get easier and you can really start to see things for what they are. I have also found that thinking in this way stops insomnia becoming a thing that you carry around with you, that you own, that becomes part of your identity. If you see each night separately, you’re just a person who has had lots of isolated incidences of not sleeping well but tonight could be different. So go, be open to the possibilities of sleep tonight.

If you are suffering with sleep problems in Bristol and would like to find out more about how Hypnotherapy can help you, please visit my dedicated Insomnia webpage on my website.

References:
Ong, J.C., Ulmer, C.S., & Manber, R. (2012) Improving Sleep with Mindfulness and Acceptance: A Metacognitive Model of Insomnia. Behav. Res. Ther. Nov; 50(11): 651-660
Ong, J.C. (2017) Mindfulness-based therapy for insomnia

Related Articles: Guided Visualisation Helps Reduce Nightmares
REM Sleep Helps Process Negative Thoughts and Memories

Photo Credit: by el7bara

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Skills Update and Bringing You up to Speed

As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been away from the blog for a while, 5 years in fact. Whilst I may have been absent from the blog, I have been very busy outside of it seeing clients, going on training courses and I’ve moved premises and home a few times too. So I thought I’d write a post to get you all up to speed on my skills and training updates as well as more logistical changes to my business.

Over the years, I have attended many Continuing Professional Development (CPD) seminars and workshops linked to hypnosis and hypnotherapy in addition to more thorough training courses. Below I have listed the courses as well as briefly explaining a couple of the key points I took away from the training. I'll keep it as brief as possible but there were quite a few training courses so it still ends up being a reasonably lengthy post. So bear with me!

First off, I attended a seminar aimed at hypnotherapists working with (or would like to work with) children, run by Clifton Practice Hypnotherapy Training (CPHT). I really liked the flexibility of the approach we were taught. When working with adults, sessions are more structured but with children, their attention span isn’t as good which means things need to be made more bite size so they can understand and keep focused. I had only worked with a few young teenagers prior to the course but afterwards I saw a number of younger children. I have to say, personally, I prefer structure and I struggled with some of the children as they didn’t always do as they were told. I don’t have children myself and wasn’t that experienced in dealing with this. I have since decided not to work with children and so now if I get any enquiries, I refer them on to a colleague of mine who has experience working with them.

Then I attended the London College of Clinical Hypnotherapy (LCCH) where I learnt about treating insomnia and other sleep disorders. I found the seminar quite refreshing as it was clinical in its approach and provided me with lots of information about the stages of sleep, circadian rhythms, the brain chemistry involved in sleep and more besides. The main thing I took from this course were the research studies quoted to us about an insomniac’s perception of their quality of sleep, how long it takes to fall asleep and how long they’re awake for during the night versus the perception of someone who doesn’t have a problem with sleep. I highlight these studies to my clients who have sleeping problems and they find it helpful to see how their perception of reality isn’t actually what is happening for them and helps them to focus less on the quantitative measures of sleep.

Later I went on a free NLP Level 1 course with NLP Excellence and I was so intrigued by the subject that I later trained with them to achieve my NLP Practitioner Diploma. A number of the techniques I was already familiar with from my original hypnotherapy training, such as the swish pattern and the fast phobia cure. Whilst I was familiar with them, I didn’t fully understand the reasoning behind why the techniques were done the way they were. The NLP training gave me that understanding but also really enhanced the techniques. After this course I found I had a lot more success with those two techniques specifically. I also really liked learning about the language patterns within the Milton Model as it was all new to me. It gave me more of an understanding about the wording used in scripts that appear in books.

As an add on to my NLP course, I received a free coaching course with the same company. Coaching was never an avenue I wanted to pursue but I went along anyway. I did enjoy the course and I learnt a few interesting tools that on occasions I use with my clients. The aim with the free course was to get you hooked so that you would want to do the second part which you would then have to pay for. I chose not to pursue it because coaching didn’t feel very “me”.

I was then recommended by a number of my peers, to train with an Australian Hypnotherapist and GP, Rob McNeilly, who had trained with Milton Erickson. So I attended a two day seminar that he ran here in the UK on Ericksonian indirect suggestion. He was a lovely man and I really liked his simple approach to hypnotherapy. Both Ericksonian hypnotherapy and NLP have become increasingly complex over the years in their efforts to simplify things for people. It can be incredibly frustrating. But despite being an Ericksonian Hypnotherapist, Rob works very simply with his clients. McNeilly has a really nice definition of hypnosis, which I know James Tripp referred to at the recent UK Hypnosis Convention. He defines hypnosis as “an experience of focused attention, leading to increased absorption in that experience, and which is agreed upon by operator and subject to be hypnosis”. I also really liked how he focused people on their current experience as well as getting people to recall things that make them happy to induce and deepen hypnosis. He showed us how to help people solve aspects of their problems by identifying what they like doing and their strengths within that activity and applying them to the problem situation.

Whilst I enjoyed the CPD seminars I had attended up to this point, I was finding it increasingly difficult to find ones that interested me that also took a different approach to the ones I’d been attending for a few years which just regurgitated the same old information. I had been on the mailing list of Adam Eason’s for a number of years and always enjoyed reading about his approach to hypnotherapy. I decided to attend his two day seminars on rapid inductions and hypnotic phenomenon and the science of self hypnosis. These two days blew my mind in more ways than one. I knew that hypnosis was a powerful tool but I hadn’t realised quite how powerful until these seminars. During these two days, I learnt how to hypnotise myself (and another person, although not at the same time) to get a pen stuck in my hand and my hand stuck to my leg; create arm and eyelid catalepsy; create arm heaviness and levitation; and elicit name amnesia and glove anaesthesia in my hand. The most amazing of all was the glove anaesthesia. I used self hypnosis to create analgesia and anaesthesia in my hand and forearm and then had a surgical needle stuck through my arm and I did not feel a thing. It really boosted my confidence in my ability at hypnosis and as a hypnotherapist. I thought to myself, if I could create analgesia and anaesthesia in my arm to the point where I had no pain when a needle was placed through my arm, then I could help people to help themselves overcome the problems they are having in their lives. Many schools wrongly think that hypnotic phenomenon is outdated and as such do not teach it but personally I think that all hypnotherapists should be taught this as it really gave me a better understanding of hypnosis and what can be achieved with it.

I came away from this course excited and wanting more so I signed myself up to the Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma that Adam runs. Whilst I had the qualification already, I knew from the syllabus that there was a lot of information that I didn’t get from my original training and that is what I desired. This is without a doubt the best decision I have ever made in my career as a hypnotherapist. It really solidified my understanding of the subject, filled in many of the gaps in my knowledge and boosted my confidence in being a hypnotherapist. The course was very robust with a wide syllabus. One of the things I liked about the course was how the evidence for and/or critique against a technique would be presented so that we had a full understanding of what it could and couldn’t do and any cautions that must be taken when using it. I liked that we weren’t told “this is what you have to do” but instead it was left to us to make our own judgements based on the information provided and choose the techniques and approach that we individually wanted to use to fit who we are as well as the clients we are working with. This was good for me as I had previously been working in a very set way that felt quite restrictive and that I felt had a limit to its effectiveness. It was amazing being offered a choice at how I worked and being given the tools to allow that to happen. Another key point I learnt was how important it is to set expectations with clients as to what hypnosis and hypnotherapy is (and what it isn’t) and how it can help them with their issues. Expectation is everything and can really sway how the client experiences hypnosis as well as the effectiveness of the therapy. I could go on all day about what I learnt from this course and the changes I have made to how I work as a result of it but I’ll leave it there for now.

Earlier this year, I went to a day workshop on dealing with intrusive thoughts and inner critical voices. The guy who ran the workshop was from Nigeria and told us about his life growing up there and how he ended up coming to the UK and now runs a training company – a real rags to riches story. I found him very inspirational to listen to and it made me realise how easy my life had been. The subject matter was very interesting and the exercises we worked through were really useful to me personally. I went in with a beginner’s mindset, something that I was taught on my previous training, and opened myself up to everything that was being explained. There were quite a number of things that didn’t sit well with how I work. Previously, I might have just shut down and stopped listening but now I find it so much easier to stay engaged, listen to everything, digest it and then afterwards I can draw out what I found useful and beneficial and highlight anything that I need to look in to further. That mindset allowed me to get more out of this CPD workshop than I might have done otherwise.

And finally, I attended the UK Hypnosis Convention which I mentioned briefly above. It is the first convention/conference I’ve been to on hypnosis. It was such a great experience getting to see some of the big names in the world of hypnosis and hypnotherapy such as Anthony and Freddy Jacquin, James Tripp, Adam Eason, Melissa Tiers, Gary Turner, James Brown, and Sean Michael Andrews, to name just a few. Such a wide variety of topics were discussed and it felt good to be fully immersed in all things hypnosis – it made me realise how much I knew and at the same time, how much I still had to learn. I’m already really looking forward to next year’s convention.

So that’s it for skills and training although a few other things have happened which are noteworthy too. I moved my hypnotherapy practice from The Healing Rooms on Gloucester Road to The Harbourside Practice in Redcliffe. I commute in to Bristol for work and I was finding it increasingly difficult to get up Gloucester Road without getting stuck in traffic so I decided to seek more convenient premises which were within close walking distance of Temple Meads train station. The Harbourside Practice ticked the box. It is very central to the city with good transport links and parking facilities and as it is on a side road, it means that it is pretty quiet with very few cars going by. It also has a waiting room for my clients to wait if they arrive early for their appointment and they can even let themselves in with a door code. All the rooms are double doored too which not only reduces noise but it also ensures client confidentiality. All in all, I’m very pleased with the move.

This academic year, I also became a teaching assistant on the Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma at the Anglo European College of Therapeutic Hypnosis. My role as teaching assistant, along with the other assistants, is to help support the lecturer, Adam Eason, and the students in and out of class. We are three months in to the course and I have been thoroughly enjoying working with the lovely bunch of students.

I have been practising as a hypnotherapist in Bristol for quite some time now and for all that time I have been a member of the hypnotherapy governing body, National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH). This year, I was awarded accreditation by them for my length of practising as a therapist in addition to my knowledge and experience.

I realise this post is a little bitty, or at least it feels that way to me. I think I am a little out of practice writing articles so hopefully I’ll fall back in to it now I’ve started up again. I will no doubt explore some of the topics I have briefly mentioned here in future posts as I feel some of them warrant a more thorough explanation.

So that’s it, all the changes with me and my business in a nutshell. And we’re all up to date now. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

I'm Back...

This is just a quick post to say that I'm back! It has been nearly 5 years since I last posted on here. I have been AWOL for all this time but I am back now. I don't really have any reason or excuse other than I lost my interest for blogging and I had other things I wanted to pursue, such as additional hypnotherapy training.

So much has happened in the last 5 years and much has changed from where I work to how I work and much more besides. I will talk about some of the changes to the way I work as well as my thoughts on hypnosis over the next few months as well as giving a rundown of what I've been up to instead of writing this blog.

Please accept my apologies for my absence and I hope to make it up to you by providing you with some interesting and informative articles over the coming months.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

2012 in Books

Happy New Year to everyone! It's that time of year again for me to give a rundown of what books I read the previous year and what I found helpful.

2012 was a very productive year for me, book reading wise. Not only did I read numerous books linked with hypnotherapy and mental health but I also read 23 fiction books for my own enjoyment.

In addition to books, I regularly read magazines, journals, blogs and websites which all relate to neuroscience, mental health, psychology and hypnotherapy. 2012 was also very good for television programmes to do with mental health, in particular depression, OCD and Trichotillomania.

Below is a list of books that I read and found helpful in 2012.

Hypnotherapy Books

Childrens Books

Specific Conditions Books

Self Help Books

Business Books

All of the books were very interesting and I have incorporated much of the information and techniques I have learnt from them to my initial consultations and hypnotherapy sessions.

I particularly liked the book by Tig Calvert - Teach Yourself Hypnosis, for a Better Life, as it had some great explainations in it about the brain and self hypnosis. The book is aimed at the general public and explains how to benefit from guided visualisation and self hypnosis.

Another firm favourite of mine was the book on Addiction by Joe Griffin. He writes a series of books and I have found the ones I've read so far very easy to follow and contain some great research and anecdotes - I have added three more of his books to my "To Read" pile for 2013.

As you can see, I read several Childrens books this year which is a first for me. This was because I attended a course back in the Summer on working with Children and I needed some simple explanations on how the brain works, how we create anxiety and what hypnotherapy is so that I could compile a child-friendly initial consultation.

I also read the quarterly journals from the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) and the AfSFH's Journal Hypnotherapy Today.

Previous Years Books:

Hypnotherapy Can Help You Make New Year’s Resolutions that Last

How long do your New Year’s resolutions last? As a Hypnotherapist, I often notice an increase in enquiries during March and April when people’s commitment to New Year’s resolutions has worn off. Many turn to Hypnotherapy to help them lose weight, give up smoking or achieve other important goals.

Part of the problem is that people tend to focus on external outcomes without addressing what’s going on inside. Weight management is a classic case in point. Some people think that once they lose weight they will be happy. They struggle with various diets and lose heart when the weight piles on again. The chances are, they are struggling with internal issues that need to be dealt with before they can take control of other aspects of their lives, such as their relationship with food, stress, work, money or family.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy helps people to regain control by helping them to focus on how they want things to be – their preferred future, rather than focusing on the problems. The therapy uses Solution Focused questioning techniques designed to help clients develop a clear vision of how they want to be.

Typically if I ask a client to tell me how they want to be, they will give me a list of what they don’t want – "I don’t want to be overweight, out of breath when I walk, staying indoors because I’m not confident going out". It’s my job to help them describe what they do want instead – "full of energy, feeling healthy, slim and confident". The difference is profound. Hypnosis helps to reinforce the positive image the client has developed.

It’s wonderful to see the transformation people can make to the quality of their lives, once they stop focusing on problems and direct all their energy towards thinking positively instead. And the great thing is that, because the client has addressed their internal thought processes, the changes are usually long-lasting. Unlike typical New Year’s resolutions.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Reducing Christmas Stress with Hypnotherapy

As the winter holiday season approaches, I thought it might be a good time to highlight how hypnotherapy can help those who might be anticipating a less than happy Christmas or holiday season.

Depression and anxiety are on the increase in the UK, with more than 12 million people going to see their GP with some form of mental health issue each year- and many more struggling on without any form of help. For some people, the festive season exacerbates their existing symptoms, and for others, depression and anxiety are quite specific to this time of year, approaching it with dread rather than excitement. When everyone else seems to be getting ready for a merry time with their loved ones, for some people this time of year only worsens their feelings of isolation, depression and loneliness, and for others, the struggle to cope with the pressures associated with having a great time, managing finances, family and all of the associated stressors creates a tremendous feeling of anxiety.

What sorts of things cause this “Holiday Stress”? Well, it depends - these feelings are all individual, and of course what makes one person sad, anxious or depressed may not affect another person at all.

Typical sources of holiday stress can include trying to balance all the demands of family with shopping and the social engagements, unrealistic expectations, financial worries and sometimes bereavement - this can be a very difficult time of year. Sometimes the pressure of being with people (often family) that you would not choose to be with can lead to relationship tension. There’s been a lot of talk in recent times of environmental factors too and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

So it’s not a great time for those who feel depressed or anxious. Symptoms can range from increased headaches, excessive drinking, comfort eating, insomnia, trouble concentrating, to mood swings, fatigue, tearfulness – while everyone around seems so happy. So what can be done to help?

Hypnotherapy can help by overcoming negative thinking styles. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH) uses practical, modern and well-researched strategies to help make significant, positive changes in your life in a relatively short period of time. We focus on what you want to achieve rather than on the problem(s) that prompted you to seek change. The approach focuses on the present and future and not on the past. This enables you to identify possible solutions for yourself and work towards them. Hypnosis itself reduces anxiety and this is done very simply through relaxation and visualisation, allowing you to focus on the positive aspects of your life that encourages a shift in perspective.

I am enthusiastic about how hypnotherapy helps clients at this time of year. I have been able to help many people to deal with holiday sadness, depression and anxiety. It is such a powerful and truly positive technique as I am able to work with what the client wants to happen rather than focus on negatives. It’s great to know that I can work with people to proactively help them have a happier festive period.