Hypnotherapy can help with a wide range of problems or symptoms. This list is not exhaustive but a summary of what clients generally seek assistance with.
We all know what it’s like to feel anxious from time to time. We overthink and anticipate the worst – that meeting or presentation. You feel irritable, edgy, can’t concentrate and find it hard to sleep. These feelings usually pass because they are challenging for a specific time, returning to your happy self when it’s over. However, when suffering from clinical anxiety these symptoms are persistent causing distress.
They can include physical cues such as palpitations (leading to panic attacks), shortening of breath, IBS and headaches/migraines. Breaking from the cycle of constant worry is difficult. There is a tendency to worry about future events and negatively introspect about the past. You become anxious about your anxiety. This heightened emotional state can prevent the person from achieving goals but enjoying social events. You begin to withdraw from family and friends, stop going to work as your anxiety takes control.
Anxiety has many forms, the most common being generalised anxiety, social anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
In 2013, there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety (reported to a GP). 1 in 10 are not seeking appropriate treatment as the number of prescribed medications given continues to increase.
Hypnotherapy is an excellent tool to reduce anxiety permanently. Unlike other forms of therapy, we don’t search for or explore the ‘why’ (you usually know). Working collaboratively, the therapist and client will set goals and challenge unhelpful thinking patterns, helping to create a happy and positive frame of mind. On average, clients are seen for between 8-12 sessions for generalised anxiety.
The word depression is often used in a broad sense to describe sadness. Depression is a common and debilitating mood disorder. More than just sadness to life’s struggles and setbacks, depression changes how you think, feel, and function in daily activities. It can interfere with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and enjoy life. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness can be intense and unrelenting, with little, if any, relief.
It has a significant impact on the person and those around them. Symptoms can include experiencing sadness, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, withdrawing from social activities, lacking in energy, motivation, disrupted sleep patterns, changes in appetite, and dreading each day. If this sounds familiar, it’s likely that you are suffering from depression.
Depression is more common that you may think. In 2014, nearly 20% of people in the UK aged 16 and over showed symptoms of anxiety or depression. This percentage was higher among females (22.5%) than males (16.8%). Internationally, Depression is the predominant mental health problem worldwide (Mental Health Org 2014).
Depression also presents differently according to gender and age. Women are more likely to experience heightened feelings of guilt, excessive eating and weight gain. The impact of depression will also vary according to hormonal balances. Postnatal (PND) depression affects 1 in 7 women and birth is the biggest contributing factor to post traumatic stress disorder.
Men are less likely to acknowledge their feelings but instead tend to focus on not enjoying work or a hobby, complaining of tiredness or digestive issues.
1 in 4 teenagers will experience some form of anxiety/depression. Teenage depression symptoms can include withdrawing from peers, suffering from digestive problems, headaches and behavioural issues.
This is not an exhaustive or an exclusive list. Each person will experience depression differently and each episode can be different too. There are different types of depression. It’s also important to remember that these are symptoms and the reality is different. With the right help and support, you can learn to manage this condition. Hypnotherapy can assist to not only reduce episodes of depression, but even prevent recurrences. It is a very effective tool but also works well alongside anti-depressants, increasing their efficiency.
Birthing is a basic mammalian process- we grow our babies within our bodies. A trigger of hormones leads to labour and we produce milk to sustain our offspring. We are not different to other mammals. When mammals birth they will find somewhere safe. Moaning lowly through the birth, following the rhythm of their contracts and giving birth instinctively. Labour can be halted or slowed down if mother senses danger enabling her to move somewhere safe. Humans react in the same way.
As an advance species, humans are complicated beings.
We still possess the primitive part of the brain described above but have been gifted with a newer part, the neo-cortex. This part of the brain analyses information and creates inhibitions. By intellectualising birth it is no longer instinctive. This can cause fear and anxiety therefore can have a bearing on the length of the labour and stop it altogether.
The history of birthing is different to the modern-day perceptions. Artefacts as early as the stone age show women birthing their children by squatting, kneeling or standing but the women appear to be strong serene.
Generally, once the industrial revolution arrived the rich birthed on their backs because it was ‘ladylike’. The medical profession was on the rise leading to the formal medical approach. Hospital births became the norm and birthing at home was no longer considered natural or safe. The stories of pain lead to an increase of using drugs as mother’s sought a pain free labour (made popular by Queen Victoria).
Our brain cannot not distinguish between real and imagined. Stories and TV shows reinforce horrific births and they feed our imagination. Once fear sets in our body reacts in a manner which is not conducive to delivering a baby. The aim of hypnobirthing is to neutralise the fear and anxiety. By reducing these negative emotions, pain is managed because the perception of pain is changed.
By changing perceptions of labour and having a greater understanding, the process of birth leads to a calmer mother as you are able to make informed rational decisions. The power of birth is returned to the couple.
Induction’s are less likely, stages of labourer are shorter, better postnatal recovery and there is less likely to be use of drugs for pain management.
Hypnobirthing enables you to have complete control over your birthing experience. By recognising the waves of motion as part of your journey to meet your child, you can begin to enjoy your labour– yes this is possible.
Your partner can also play an active role during the birth. Rather than be a passive presence they can support you by helping to induce self hypnosis, guiding the mother through the process to remain calm. Strengthening the relationship between the couple and bond with the baby.
The childbearing trends changed with Queen Victoria popularizing pain relief in the form of drugs. It is reassuring to that the current Royal family have a different approach – with Kate Middleton and Megan Markle both taking hypnobirthing classes!
If you are interested in enjoying bringing your baby into the world in a calm fashion then hypnobirthing is something to consider.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
We all experience irrational thoughts at times, usually there is a reasonable explanation. For example, a new parent who is fearful they may oversleep with the baby next to them. These thoughts pass quickly because they are recognised as being extreme and are dismissed. OCD is usually triggered when a person is faced with a traumatic event. Their primitive mind takes over and creates an inappropriate coping strategy becoming the default response to
future negative emotional triggers. This can lead to the person experiencing intense and insistent thoughts having a significant impact on their life. The obsessive thoughts are followed by repetitive compulsions or urges. These thoughts cause the person a great deal of distress because if they fail to act on these thoughts, they or those nearest to them are at risk.
People with OCD are aware their thoughts are irrational but are driven to carry out the compulsive behaviours and rituals. They believe this will relieve them of the anxiety causing the unwanted thoughts. Unfortunately, their desire to regain control leads to less control and increased anxiety as the relief is short lived. Generally, there are 4 categories of OCD: repeated checking (i.e. locking doors), fear of contamination, intrusive thoughts and hoarding.
Some people can carry on with their normal lives even with a diagnosis. OCD is manageable and there are good examples of this including David Beckham, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Hypnotherapy will enable you to regain control of your life by increasing your ability to have emotional control. Thus, enabling you to ensure that your intrusive thoughts are minimal and less likely to experience the compulsion. OCD is a form of sever anxiety and clients can expect to be seen for up to 26 sessions to fully embed the changes.
Pain is our natural way to let us know that something is wrong and should not be ignored. An excited Aunt squishing your cheeks is uncomfortable but tolerable. It will stop immediately upon removing her hand. On the other hand, spilling hot water on your foot is acute pain. The pain is alerting you to an injury and requires your immediate attention. This pain is usually a result of an accident, burn or broken bones.
When the underlying cause has been treated and the injury has healed, the pain usually subsides and then stops. Our ability to cope with pain will differ between us with some of us having a higher pain threshold than others. Our perception of pain will also have an impact on how we manage it. For example during labour, a mother will find the process tolerable as she will meet her child at the end (yes this is possible, take a look at hypno-birthing).
Chronic pain is different because it is persistent even when the underlying cause has been treated or there is no identifiable source. This can be debilitating resulting in muscle tension, limited mobility, a lack of energy but also employment implications and relationship strains. The impact is greater than the physical pain.
Approximately 30% of the population live with chronic panic according to research completed in 2016. Pain management usually takes form in opioid based medication. In 2016, Stamford University found that hypnotherapy can help experience of pain by changing thought patterns around it.
The research demonstrated by focusing on the positive outlook (increasing the production serotonin) can diminish the impact of pain. Negative emotions increase adrenaline heighten the pain sensations. It is widely recognised that hypnotherapy can assist cancer patients and those suffering from fibromyalgia. In these instances, hypnosis and deep relaxation becomes the focus to change the perceptions of pain messages, helping to reduce the intensity of pain and sensations.
Fears and Phobias
From birth, we are programmed to fear 2 things – loud noises and falling. Both indicative of potential danger. You hear a loud noise you ‘jump’ or run in other words you move yourself away from the danger. Inevitably, falling can cause serious injury and that’s why we always (when possible) attempt to break the fall. Often a fear can be misunderstood as a phobia.
A phobia is an irrational fear without good reason or a fear that something may not happen. Why does the brain create a phobia? To protect us. It is either learnt or a response to situation when we are already have limited mental capacity. Let’s explore this. You’re a toddler and every time your father see’s a spider, he screams and asks your mother to remove it. Your brain hears the scream = danger and you witness your father reactions (sweating, jumping onto the sofa). Your toddler brain records this as threatening situation. You witness this several times. Now when you see a spider, your brain undertakes the process of pattern matching and informs you this is a dangerous situation and a phobia is born.
Now imagine this, you’re having a tough time at work and feeling anxious about a meeting later that week. You have been working exceptionally late and your sleep has been affected. You decide to go for a walk. You’re walking along and out of nowhere a dog runs at you barking loudly. You naturally jump and the owner is apologetic while pulling the dog away. You can feel your heart going crazy and you almost laugh at how silly it is. However, now when you see a dog (the breed is unimportant, it barks and has 4 legs = dangerous out of control dog because your brain pattern matches it) you can feel your heart rate increasing. You start walking around the park instead of through it. Slowly you start to avoid situations where dogs are likely to be and hey presto- a phobia is born.
Phobias can cause different physical reactions. The mind is unable to differentiate between real and imagined. The response with any phobia will be the same as if you are in an actual life-threatening situation. You’ll either run, freeze with fear or hide.
Common phobias include: fear of flying; fear of vomiting; fear of spider; fear of moths; fear of needles; fear of birds.
Phobias can be quickly reversed regardless of the length of time you’ve suffered. Phobia’s can be overcome within 4 sessions. During your appointment, we access the phobia template and remove the emotional response to it. The memory is then reprogrammed so you have another non- emotive response to the event/item/animal.
In 4 sessions you could fly go away for that family holiday or honeymoon. You could sit in the garden and not be bothered by spiders or moths. Everything could be so different in 4 sessions.
Working with Children
Hypnotherapy is an excellent tool to use with children because they have wonderful imaginations. One minute they are walking with dinosaurs and the next they are superheroes saving the world. This can help us immensely as our imagination is required to create solutions towards their goal. Solution focused hypnotherapy is based on the fundamental principle of the person being their ‘own expert’ and not exploring the problem.
For many children, the problem is upsetting and embarrassing. It is for this reason that solution focused hypnotherapy is an excellent method to facilitate change. Like working with adults, the aim is set goals and identify small steps towards the goal whilst recognising skills and building resilience.
Whilst the principles remain the same, the approach is adapted so their interests, hobbies are incorporated into the discussion to promote better engagement. It can also be quite difficult for guardians to take a step back and not be actively involved during appointments. To ensure the therapy remains ‘child-centred’, the initial consultation is undertaken with the parents first. This is an opportunity to discuss concerns in a confidential environment. It also means that the child is not exposed to the guardians fears or concerns (adding to their anxiety). Guardians will play a collaborative role with the Therapist to support the child to value their strengths and identify skills.
The sessions will not be delivered in a traditional format and requires guardian to accept the process before there is an initial consultation with the child. Distraction in form of toys, sitting on the floor, colouring all assist the process. It is the child’s decision if they wish the parent to remain present during an appointment. This will be as an observer and guardians will not be encouraged to voice their views. The session is a safe space for the child to create and work towards goals. Input from guardians can hinder and therefore is not encouraged or advocated.
I hold an enhanced Disclosure and Barring certificate and so you can be confident that your young person is safe. Nonetheless, it remains a pre-requisite that if the appointment is being conducted at home that a guardian is also within the property. Children over the age of 7 are usually suitable for hypnotherapy.
The British Medical Association acknowledges that hypnotherapy is the most effective help for smokers. More than other methods such as nicotine replacements. Smoking is less prevalent than previous generations due to greater awareness of the chemicals and health implications. Changes in advertising and social pressure has lead to a decline in the number of people taking up smoking.
Health and well-being are better understood and being incorporated into everyday life. If you are one of the few smoking cigarettes, the pressure to stop is much higher than ever before. There are so many routes available-patches, education and services via the GP (I’m reasonably confident you will know them better than me!). Even with all the information available, it is often the expectations of others, particularly those close to us that triggers the journey of abstinence. Equally, this can have impact upon on our success and this may have contributed to lapses triggering feelings of failure and inability to quit.
Elkins (2004) conducted a longitudinal study of hypnosis for smoking cessation – 81% of the patients reported they had stopped smoking, and 48% reported abstinence at 12 months post-treatment. Hypnotherapy is 3 times more effective compared to other forms of treatment.
Like all Hypnotherapy, it is important that you are ready to cease smoking and are highly motivated to quit. At the initial telephone conversation, we will briefly explore previous attempts (if any) and your primary motivation to quit. Smoking cessation is one extended appointment and lasts approximately 2 hours. During this session we explore what you have enjoyed as well as dislike about smoking. We establish anomalies (when you have not smoked) and how easy it can be applied every day.
Whenever we have to perform a task demonstrating a skill – sports, exams or a presentation we strive to maximise the development of the skills. This allows us to present the best version of ourselves. With sports performance there a significant amount of physical training involved to prepare the body.
There is a large body of research indicating the mental practice can enhance physical performance. This is not to suggest that mental practice can replace the physical, but the mind does not have physical limitations such as muscle fatigue.
A number of studies have shown that performance can be significantly improved if mental practice is conscientiously sustained. With mental practice we can actually achieve results we physically want to. Also, we can be focused on presenting our skills rather than focusing on the process of the event or the ‘curve balls’ that can occur. Studies found by consistently practising (or revision, sorry folks it does pay off) the brain activates the same part when it actually executes the task. This is because the brain can’t differentiate between real and imagined. Thus, the mental rehearsal prepares us the actual scenario.
Hypnotherapy is an effective method because it is goal orientated and builds confidence. Hypnotherapy accesses the part of the brain where we hold our behavioural patterns and by practising scenarios, we can mentally prepare ourselves and equally, reduce potential anxiety. Therefore, freeing the mind to deliver the best performance.
This is also true of exams or tests. Once we have created the ‘perfect day’ template, the subconscious will reflect on this during hypnosis. So, when the day arrives, you will be familiar with it (like a deja vu) and no negative emotions triggered. Just a sense of calm and being in complete control. The number of sessions is dependent on you, on average clients are seen between 4-8 sessions.
When we were a primitive species (and I mean cave people not pre-instagram or iPhone), we ate in order to sustain our bodies and this was driven by hunger and the climate. When it got cold, we ate as much as possible to store fat for those times when food was sparse. We ate in moderation when food was abundant because we need to be agile to gather food for everyone and the colder months.
Then our brains became advanced- fire, the industrial revolution, fertilization of crops, wealth- the list is endless but in a nutshell our eating habits changed and went against out primitive reason for eating- survival. Food became emotive because the western world became bountiful. Food became meaningful, stressed? Eat cake. Celebrating? have a feast to honour the occasion. Lunchtime but not hungry? Eat because you won’t get a break later from work. Had a rough but successful week? Glass of wine and several slices of pizza – you deserve it.
It is important to understand our relationship with food and behaviour patterns in order to successfully manage weight. There is little to be gained from examining what we eat. There are strong links between stress and appetite impacting on choices we make about food. During our first appointment, the relationship between the vagus nerve ( widely known as being linked to depression), mood and eating habits, the role of neurotransmitters in weight management are explained.
Hypnotherapy can help you focus on your long-term goal rather short-term unsustainable fad diets. By remaining solution focused, you will be able to move towards your wonderful goal of managing your weight. The sessions are not a ‘quick fix’ and we will begin by helping you become a person with a greater sense of control so you want to make better food habits and lifestyle choices. The number of sessions vary immensely, on average a client will attend between 20-26 appointments.
Please Note: Solution focused hypnotherapy is very effective. However, results may vary and success is not guaranteed. Success is dependent on your willingness and commitment to make changes. The *FREE initial consultation is a 15 minute telephone consultation.