Hypnotherapy and Life Coaching can help women with all of these issues:

Pathways to Health
Stress and Anxiety
Life Transitions
Go Alcohol Free
Children’s Hypnotherapy
Menopause
Hypnotherapy for Menopause

Menopause

Getting off the roundabout of self destructive behaviour

One of the most common experiences that my life coaching and hypnotherapy clients talk about is a feeling of being out of control and – even when they are aware that certain behaviours are self destructive – they find it very difficult to break the patterns.

Whenever we engage in any self-destructive and addictive behaviour – such as drinking – there’s a sense of a loss of control. The other day, I was on a roundabout. It was one of these roundabouts with tons of lanes – and I was in the wrong lane. I ended up having to go round the roundabout twice before I got into the right lane (side note – I get confused driving sometimes, especially if I’m stressed – getting treatment for a driving phobia is what originally encouraged me to seek hypnotherapy treatment!). Anyway, back to the roundabout with all the lanes, and while I was on it, in the wrong lane, I felt like I couldn’t get off it. It felt like I was being controlled by the roundabout.

When we engage in self-destructive behaviour, such as drinking, it can feel like we’re on a roundabout and that we’ve lost some control. Imagine that somebody says or does something hurtful to you, just as you’re pulling onto the roundabout. Despite knowing which exit you want to leave at, you’re suddenly confused – you’ve forgotten which exit you need to take for your own good. You’re on the roundabout and you’re being pulled to the wrong exit – a route which is taking you away from where you wanted to be. Being on the roundabout feels scary and out of control.

Let’s retrack to the beginning. You knew which exit you wanted to take but something happened on the roundabout which affected you, so instead of taking that exit you went round a couple of times and then went off the wrong exit.

Let’s imagine that your drinking cycle is like being on a roundabout. You wake up in the morning and resolve that you will stay sober today, no matter what comes your way. You’re resolved – no matter what anyone might say or do to you, and no matter how hard your day is – to take the roundabout exit that says ‘sober’. But, at some point between leaving your destination and taking the ‘sober’ exit, something happens so that you choose not to take the ‘sober’ exit. You stay on the roundabout. You figure you’ll either get back to the sober exit or take another exit, which will probably take you back to the sober destination…or maybe it won’t…eventually you take the exit which leads to ‘alcohol’. Let’s face it, as soon as you dithered about taking the ‘sober’ exit, even though you had some vague idea you’d end up at the sober place, there was a likelihood you would end up taking the ‘alcohol’ exit.

It’s very easy to get thrown off track while you’re on the roundabout, just as it’s very easy for your resolve to stay sober to get thrown off track because of the events of the day. It’s easy to let your emotions take over from your logical brain. So how do you stop it happening and make sure you take the exit that you need to?

1.       Resolve which exit you’re going to take – which exit will enable you to follow your desire to stay sober?

2.       Identify the point at which you might get led away from taking that exit. Is it early on in your day, or later. What specific situations will make it more likely that you don’t take the sober exit? Will it be something that a particular person says or does? Will it be a particular time of day? Identify these circumstances which are bound to crop up and which may easily mislead you BEFORE they happen.

3.       Be aware that taking that exit might be hard – but you can do it. You’ve identified it’s the exit you want to take. It might take some effort to stick to that exit, but you need to resolve to do it, no matter how hard.

4.       Be aware of what happens if you don’t take the correct exit. Take a moment or two to think about the consequences. What happens if you let yourself lose control, be misled and end up on a route you really don’t want to take?

5.       Remember – humans are creatures of habit. It’s far easier to take the old exit that you’re used to taking, but it’s also very possible to take a new exit – it just requires effort and resolve.

6.       Finally, once you’ve taken that new exit, see how good it feels to have reached your desired destination for the day. How much better does it feel to have chosen to be in ‘place sober’ than to have been dragged to ‘alcohol junction’?!

 Hypnotherapy and life coaching can help you not only to identify self-destructive patterns, but to break them. Sometimes just having the support of an independent life coach or hypnotherapist can be enough to help make sure you take the right exit for you.

A-Z of hypnotherapy and life coaching – Depression

My ‘D’ in my A-Z of hypnotherapy and life coaching is depression. Depression is a horrible condition to live with and it affects so many of us. Thankfully, people are more open in their discussions about depression and awareness has increased greatly, but there is still so much misunderstanding around the condition and treatment options tend to be limited.

Many of hypnosis and life coaching clients who suffer from depression talk describe it in terms of having a very physical, as well as mental, effect. Depression isn’t just feeling sad. It can slow people’s ability to think and express themselves. It can cause major lethargy and deep fatigue. People can feel achy and lose, or gain, their appetite. Depression also tends to be accompanied by distorted thinking and this type of thinking often feels like a critical voice on your shoulder, telling you that you are wrong, and bad, and that you should feel guilty.

People with depression have often suffered trauma in their earlier lives at a time when they may have internalised messages about not being good enough, or feeling abandoned or unloved. We’re still learning about genetic and biological causes of depression which may be linked to serotonin levels and inflammation. It’s likely that in many cases there may be a mixture of genetic predisposition/ biological reasons for depression and that there is also a link with early life traumas.

The majority of current anti-depressant medications tend to be Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and include Prozac and Citalopram. They work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Whilst they do improve many people’s depression, they do come with side effects and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advises that medication is prescribed in conjunction with talking therapies for the treatment of depression. Unfortunately, waiting lists for talking therapies tend to be lengthy and it can often take months to see a therapist on the NHS.

Both hypnotherapy and life coaching can really help if you are experiencing depression. Hypnotherapy can help you address the roots of earlier trauma, and, whilst you are in a state of hypnosis, you can be helped to comfort your younger self and to release the guilt, resentment or anger which may still be contributing to your depression. When I am working with hypnotherapy clients who have depression, I work with them in a gentle way, encouraging them to make connections with what happened to them when they were younger with how they are dealing with life currently. When you have depression it is easy sometimes to blame yourself and to think there is something wrong with you, that you are somehow damaged or ‘not right’. Revisiting some of the reasons you might have become depressed is not about attaching blame to your early caregivers, or about developing an unhealthy obsession with your past. What we are doing is trying to give you an explanation, to show you that you are a perfect, precious human being. During hypnotherapy, I also encourage clients to find some way to comfort themselves and to work through those earlier experiences so that they don’t keep cropping up in the guise of unresolved issues.

Hypnosis can also help with depression by helping you to accept the positive comments of the hypnotherapist, in contrast to focusing on those negative voices in your head (which maybe originated with the voices of people who were influential in your past). During hypnosis, you enter a more imaginative, creative, and accepting state of mind. We discuss some of the negative ideas and voices that you have got used to listening to, and question – how accurate are these voices? What would you like to believe? From an adult perspective, what is the real situation? I help clients, using hypnotherapy, to challenge their unhelpful beliefs and change these to more helpful – and realistic – thoughts and beliefs.

Hypnotherapy is also wonderful for depression because it is such a lovely, relaxing experience which allows the mind and body to rest and replenish.

Life coaching can help you if you are depressed by encouraging you to set achievable goals, and to focus on the process of working towards those goals. What is often more important than reaching a specific goal is sticking to those things that you know will help you move forwards and this is especially true of depression. There are so many things you can do to help yourself, such as maintain a good routine, eat healthily, avoiding coping mechanisms such as drinking and drug taking, and taking care of yourself. Life coaching will help you stick to these measures. It will help you identify a process which is right for you, and stick to that process. Depression can feel like tunnel vision sometimes, especially on a really dark day. Life coaching will help you see the bigger picture, and working with a hypnotherapist or life coach will mean you have their support so that, even if the depression is tricking you into thinking that you’re not making progress or that everything in your life is crap, your therapist will be there beside you to help quieten the negative self talk which is so exhausting.

When I working with my hypnotherapy and life coaching clients, I don’t guarantee that they will be cured from depression, but I can assure them that both hypnotherapy and life coaching will help shift their perspective, will help them adopt more supportive behaviours and that they will have the tools and strategies to deal with their condition in a far more effective way.

Seeing the dolphin – how life coaching & hypnotherapy can change perspective

A few days ago, after a busy day at work, I saw a dolphin in the wild. I should point out that I’m lucky enough to run my hypnotherapy practice and training school in Prestwick, on the west coast of Scotland, a few minutes from the sea. Apart from the occasional seal, and an abundance of sea birds, I haven’t seen any other sea life out there before. That night, the calm, mirror-like sea’s surface was broken by the movement of a dolphin, rhythmically making it’s appearance as it made it’s way south. I’d been feeling tired that evening, and had some non-work related stresses going on, and suddenly I felt rejuvenated. I walked as fast as I could, following the dolphin, feeling more energised and excited each time I saw its fin and smooth body appear and disappear.

 I’ve seen dolphins before, once in the wild swimming beside a boat I was on, and in captivity. And I was lucky enough to sea a whale of the coast of Shetland, but this particular sighting of the dolphin, unexpectedly, in the town where I live made a huge impact on me. Metaphorically, it reminded me that, although our worlds can become tied up with routine, seeing the same faces, doing the same things and sometimes feeling that our worlds are small and closed in, in fact there is a huge world out there. Just in that small stretch of water which I could see, there is so much life. I don’t know where that dolphin was heading, but possibly to places I’ve never been to. Metaphorically, seeing the dolphin reminded me of the vastness of life and how small and inconsequential those little issues I’d been facing that week really were.

 When I’m working with you as a hypnotherapy or life coaching client, whether from my office in Prestwick or via Skype or Zoom, part of my role is to help shift your perspective. It’s very easy to allow our worlds to become small and to focus in on each and every negativity. Maybe someone was nasty to you at work. Or your finances are stretched this month. Or your business isn’t bringing in the clients you wanted. Whatever it is, by focusing in too much on what’s not going right you can risk getting very caught up and end up feeling that NOTHING is going your way. As a hypnotherapist and life coach, I will help you to see the bigger picture. I’ll help you to recognise that although things might not be exactly the way you want them to be, they’re not overwhelmingly bad either. When you get a bit of distance from your problems – with the help of a life coach or hypnotherapist – you can develop a far healthier perspective. From this healthier perspective, you can begin to focus on potential solutions. You know that expression, ‘you can’t see the wood for the trees?’. Well, that’s what I’m talking about here – giving you the distance to see the wood (the bigger picture) instead of being so caught up in the trees that you can’t see a way out.

Why am I addicted to alcohol? And how life coaching can help

Many therapeutic interventions to help people stop or cut down their drinking focus on behavioural issues, such as setting clear goals around drinking, finding replacement behaviours to drinking and focusing on a future without drinking. Whilst all this is very helpful, I also think it’s important to ask the question, ‘Why am I addicted to alcohol?’. Because if you don’t ask this question – and work through getting to an honest answer – you’re going to still have the same underlying drives which caused you to drink to excess in the first place. No matter how good your strategies to stop or cut down your alcohol consumption are.

 

The simple answer is, alcohol is an addictive substance. And, of course, this is true. Alcohol tricks the brain, leaves the body craving and fools the mind into wanting more and more. Anyone can, in theory, become addicted to alcohol. But not everyone does. So what else is going on in terms of addiction?

 

When I first went for therapy, I didn’t specifically go about my drinking and, in fact, I was in denial about the level I was drinking and the impact it was having on me. I went about my anxiety, the fact that I was holding myself back in life and my poor coping mechanisms. What emerged from my wonderful life coaching and counselling sessions was that…I didn’t really like myself, and I didn’t know how to cope with life. Drinking allowed me to be more sociable, to keep going when I felt like dropping and to hide the pain and hurt I felt around certain people and situations instead of being able to assert my needs.

 

Why was I addicted to alcohol? Certainly there was the physical addiction – when you’re hung over, groggy, fatigued, aching muscles and everything else that accompanies drinking, the one thing you want more than anything else is a drink to (temporarily) sort you out. But I was addicted to it as a coping mechanism. I was psychologically addicted as it quickly and effectively solved my problems for a few hours.

 

With my life coaching clients, I spend some time looking at why they became addicted in the first place and why they continue to be addicted and I make sure we move away from simply focusing on alcohol as an addictive substance. Addiction of all kinds, including alcohol, is strongly associated with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) (see here https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/ace-questionnaire for ACE questionnaire). Having a higher ACE score is clearly linked with higher incidences of alcoholism. If you experienced adverse effects in your childhood, you are significantly more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol later in life.

 

So what to do with that knowledge? The past is past…Except that it’s not really – not if its still informing how you act in the present. Not if your coping mechanisms and choices are guided by things which happened in your childhood. By examining what happened in your past, you are able to make the links, to discover that you’re not a bad or weak person, and to realise that your actions today have been influenced by what happened to you much earlier in life. It doesn’t mean you’re apportioning blame or saying, ‘’Well, I had a crap childhood – no wonder I drink these days!”. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s about taking control, identifying the factors which contributed to your drinking addiction, working through any issues which may have started in your past and which continue to drive your drinking. My work with my life coaching clients is always more effective once we have done this type of deep work which means that looking to a future is based on much more solid foundations.  

Collaboration – A-Z of life coaching & therapy terms

Next in my A-Z of therapy terms is ‘collaboration’ – by which I mean, collaboration between hypnotherapy/ life coaching clients and myself. A – fairly reasonable – expectation from life coaching or hypnotherapy clients who are coming to see me for the first time is that I will tell them what to do. The transaction between us will be one of them having a problem or issue which they need help with and me providing the help and the expertise required.

This is very different to what actually happens during a hypnotherapy or life coaching session! Firstly, my starting point is that you are the expert on, well, you. You’ve lived with yourself from day one. You know the things that make you click. You know what excites you. You know what you’re good at and can remember the time when you’ve demonstrated some amazing skills. You know what it takes to make you feel valued and loved and cared for. You also know what causes you problems. You know your weak spots. You know the triggers which make you feel overwhelmed or out of control. I want to find out all these things, but you’re always going to be more of an expert on yourself than I ever can be!

So, rather than me tell you what’s best for you, we collaborate. We work as a team. I had a wonderful personal trainer once – she would turn up once a week and work me really hard, but tailor our sessions to my levels of fitness and health. Although she expertly guided me, I had to put in a huge amount of effort. We worked as a team and my fitness was the best it had ever been. My role as a life coach and therapist is very similar to that of a personal trainer – I’ll be there, helping you dig deep, working together with you to see what’s the best direction for you and keeping you on track – during and in between our sessions.

Having a successful life coaching experience is all about collaboration. We’re equals in this. I’ll spend time getting to know you, finding out about your best qualities, exploring where you want to go, helping you to identify the resources you have to get there. If you have a bad week, I’ll be there to support you and help you get back on track. There’s no judgement in this collaboration – we’re both completely honest with each other about what’s working and what’s not, and how we can fix any week bits.

The result of collaborating rather than me telling you what to do? You come out stronger, more resilient and you’ve got all YOUR skills to take forwards when our sessions together are finished.

Boundaries in therapy – A-Z of therapy terms

In my A-Z of therapy terms, boundaries is my ‘B’. Creating healthy boundaries is as important between you and your therapist or life coach as it is between you and other people. But, unless it’s something we’re looking at in therapy, it’s often something we never think about.

Why are boundaries important between you and your hypnotherapist or life coach? Well, the therapeutic relationship is designed to be a ‘safe space’ – almost removed from your usual daily concerns and relationships. It is specifically set up to foster an environment of empathy and understanding, a non-judgemental space where you take centre space. The focus is on you. Think of how different this is to your usual relationships with friends and family, where – even if they’re great human beings – people jump in with their own opinions and jostle with you to be heard. Friendships are very different to therapeutic relationships and maintaining healthy therapeutic boundaries is one way to create and maintain that therapeutic relationship. The boundary should be designed in order to define that relationship as being unique and separate from your other relationships – otherwise your therapist or life coach will just end up taking on the role of your family or friends.

What would a healthy therapeutic relationship look like? You may well be given a confidentiality statement and/ or contract which clearly defines the relationship (although not all therapists used signed forms) and the relationship will be demonstrated by your therapist. Confidentiality is a key element of a therapeutic relationship – your therapist will not discuss anything you say with anyone else (except with a supervisor, in which case identity is preserved) unless they believe you or someone else is in danger or you are involved in certain illegal activities. Your therapist will also ensure that your contact hours and type of contact are kept to what has been agreed. For instance, if you have booked one session per week, you will not be encouraged to phone your therapist at random times throughout the week. If you meet out and about in the supermarket, your therapist or life coach will not engage in conversation with you – this is to preserve your anonymity and also to allow them to get on with their shopping! You will also be required to turn up for appointments at the allotted time and your therapist will have some system in place for charging you for the full appointment or proportion of your fee if you fail to attend.

All of these measures are there to help you become independent of your therapist, to maintain your responsibility, to preserve confidentiality and to ensure that your therapist or life coach isn’t suggesting they are your ‘friend’ which breaks down the structure of the therapeutic relationship.

What is a healthy boundary between you and your friends and family? Well, firstly, I prefer the word ‘healthy’ to strong. I sometimes feel that ‘strong’ implies that the boundary is there to shut out other people, whereas a good, healthy boundary can hold out what is negative or unwanted but it also let’s in what is good and desired. Some people have very ‘strong’ boundaries which are more like a crab’s shell than anything else and which don’t allow themselves to escape the boundary or to let others in.

A healthy boundary will allow you to decide who or what is allowed to be a part of your life. This can cover behaviours and people. And the great news is – it’s entirely up to you to decide what that boundary will look and feel like! When I’m working with clients, I spend some time asking them to experience what their boundary feels like and what they have to do to create a boundary which will work better for them. Creating your boundary is such a unique and personal experience and there’s no right or wrong.

A healthy boundary will allow good experiences in. It will allow you to say no to people or things which you believe are damaging to you. It will allow you to acknowledge and protect yourself from difficult past experiences and prepare yourself for future experiences. If you consistently come into contact with a person who manipulates you or treats you badly, or who makes you feel bad about yourself, a healthy boundary will allow you to confront that person in the hope that they will change or to cut yourself off from that person. If someone repeatedly violates your boundaries, you have the option to remove yourself from that relationship.

Unhealthy boundaries are poorly defined. They offer little protection from other people or behaviours. For instance, let’s say you have a family member who treats you with no respect, who is rude or aggressive to your face and who gossips about you behind your back. An unhealthy boundary would mean that you might continue to have contact with this person and put up with their behaviour without confronting them because you ‘don’t want to rock the boat’. It could be that you are in a relationship with someone who bullies you or puts you down in public. An unhealthy boundary would allow you to accept their behaviour and to stay in this relationship. You might have an unhealthy boundary with your own behaviours. Are you drinking or eating junk food, despite wishing to pursue a healthier lifestyle? If your boundaries are weak, you will find it hard to say no to these behaviours. Perhaps you’re working so hard there’s no time for yourself, but you lack the strength in your boundary to decide what is wrong or right for you.

Having a healthy boundary allows for openings which can show your vulnerabilities. Asking for help when needed – letting other people into your boundary – is a strength which can provide the learning, nurturing and love which you might have been missing if that boundary was too hard and fast in the past.

Life coaching can help you identify what your boundaries would look like if they were really working well for you. I spend time with clients helping them create a good, healthy boundary and then work with them so that they are operating from within that wonderful, healthy, creative, supportive space.

3 ways to kick start sober living!

When I stopped drinking, it was the first fortnight which was the hardest – and the first few days were downright horrible. I remember walking from my house to the bookshop, which was about a mile away, feeling grim – but determined to see if I could get hold of a book on going sober (which turned out to be a really good idea). I was about day 3 in to my alcohol free adventure, and it felt like more of an ordeal than an adventure at that point. I came home, lay on my bed, shed a few tears of self pity and then opened up the book.

When you’ve been drinking pretty much every day – even if it is just half a bottle or a bottle of wine – your mind and body craves it. It takes a while for the alcohol to leave your system, so even if you’ve not been a heavy drinker you feel a physical craving to top up those levels. You might feel exhausted and your sleep may be very disturbed. You might have aches and pains. The temptation to have a drink to alleviate all this is huge! Here are three tips to help you kick start things.

  1. Find a replacement habit (big clue, it doesn’t have to be a ridiculously healthy habit!). When you stop drinking alcohol, there’s a gap. For me, it was a huge, cavernous hole. Eventually you want to get to the point where you can sit with that gap, explore your life and be able to stay with the discomfort of your feelings but in the very early days, it’s useful to replace your drinking habits with another habit. The mistake some people make is thinking that this habit has to be super healthy. ‘I’m no longer going to drink every night at 6.00 – I’m now going to have a detox drink and go to the gym’. If that works for you, fine – but for many people this is too much of a leap, too soon. My replacement habit during my early sober days was mug collecting (exciting, I know!). I figured that I was saving at least £5 a night on wine so I would go to the supermarket and buy a mug. Sometimes I’d treat myself to something else – a scented candle, some flowers or some nice soap – and these little treats made me happier about stopping the wine. Some suggestions include having nice long baths, finding a good yoga class, going to the cinema one evening or getting out and having a coffee. It’s up to you to fid your things and – as long as it’s better for you than drinking booze – go for it. doesn’t matter if it seems silly or pointless (or if you end up with an awful lot of mugs) – use it as a means to replace one behaviour with another and reward yourself into the bargain.
  2. Be selfish. Sober living is a huge step – one which is going to allow you to live a life you didn’t even know was possible. You need to put yourself first while you make these changes. Being selfish has a whole load of negative connotations but think of it like this – you are looking after yourself and putting your own needs first. What could be wrong with that? You might feel empty and grumpy when you stop drinking. Make sure you look after yourself. You might hurt and offend other people with your decision to stop and they may be people who are close to you. Don’t let yourself be made to feel bad or be manipulated. This is your life. Other people are free to act in the way they want to. If you choose to stop drinking, that’s up to you. It is no one else’s business except yours. You need to stick to your ground and do what’s right for you. If that means avoiding certain social activities for a short while then that’s what you have to do. If it means offending someone, then feel free to offend. This is too important to ignore your own needs.
  3. Nurture yourself. Whilst your coming to terms with the physical and mental changes which are taking place, you might feel like giving up sober life – because it’s so much easier to keep drinking alcohol. Sleep deprivation is a very common problem for people who have stopped drinking. Although alcohol severely affects the quality of sleep you get, you’ll have been used to sleeping in a certain way for a long time. When you stop drinking, there’s a complete overhaul in your sleeping patterns. Many people find they’re hardly getting any sleep in the early days. If this is you – make sure you rest when you can. If you’re so tired you can’t cope with work, treat it like a sick day and have a day to catch up. Remove those responsibilities which drag you down. Curl up under the duvet with a good movie if you need to. Share with your family and friends what you’re going through. Read inspiring books. Find a tribe which will support you – there are some great Facebook groups out there such as Dry January and Beyond. Find a life coach or counsellor who specialises in working with alcohol addiction – reaching out for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, bravery and commitment.

What is an anchor? A-Z of hypnotherapy terms

The first in my A – Z of hypnotherapy-related terms is anchoring – a fantastic NLP technique which I use with most of my clients, most of the time.

 

Natural anchors

Although anchoring is usually thought of as an NLP technique, it’s useful to think of anchoring as a completely natural response and reaction to a range of situations, which we, as hypnotherapists, simply manipulate in a positive manner to help people. So what is a ‘natural’ anchor? An anchor is something which immediately – at an unconscious level – triggers a memory or response in us. Anchors can trigger both positive and negative responses, and any of our five senses can be triggered in a number of ways. Let’s imagine you walk into a room and smell a familiar smell which immediately makes you think of your grandmother. Your response to the smell is immediate – you don’t consciously register what is happening. Without realising it at first, you have smelt your grandmother’s favourite perfume and are transported back to the memories and feelings of being near your grandmother. Or perhaps you are walking past a man and smell his aftershave, and unconsciously find yourself lost in thought about the time you met your husband for the first time in a nightclub. If you are working on a difficult project, which is stressing you out, and an old song which you loved as a teenager suddenly comes on the radio, you may find yourself feeling calmer and happier, lost in the feelings that the music is invoking. When I walk along the beach near my home in Prestwick, on the west coast of Scotland, the sound of the waves often evokes early memories and feelings associated with childhood holidays in Shetland. Perhaps someone says or touches you in a perfectly innocent way, but it immediately anchors you to a negative experience. My brother, who was 9 years older than me, used to tickle me until I was in pain and crying, and sometimes hung me over the bannister as part of the tickling experience. If my sons or partner dare to give me a friendly tickle, I react in a very extreme way because – unconsciously – I am anchored immediately to this earlier experience (having been warned on several occasions, and having received the occasional extreme response from me, they all know not to tickle me now). These are all examples of natural anchors – a stimulus which immediately and suddenly takes you to a particular memory and state of mind.

 

How do we use anchoring in hypnotherapy?

Although anchors are completely natural, we can manipulate them in a positive way. Instead of just randomly letting an anchor ‘happen’ we can set one up, so that you can choose a trigger which will anchor you to a state of being of your choice. Again, some people have a tendency to do this naturally. For many years – long before I trained as a hypnotherapist – I used some anchors on myself. When I was at the dentist, I would find myself digging my thumb nail into my finger so that I would focus on that instead of the dental work which was taking place around me. I discovered through chance that certain pieces of music helped calm me down considerably whilst driving, and would play these songs when I was approaching a driving experience which I found difficult. If you take a minute or two now to think about it, you might find that you have specific things that you do or say to yourself which help you to stay calm and in control in particular situations. Children may find themselves hugging their favourite teddy, which immediately takes them into a calm and safe state. And sportspeople are famous for having specific tools and techniques which help to ground and anchor them before a performance. Anchors, therefore, are not only natural, but we often have the innate sense to create our own personal anchors.

 

We can take things a step further when it comes to utilising anchors in hypnotherapy. Firstly, we don’t leave things to chance, or rely on the fact that you will just inherently ‘know’ what is a good anchor for you in a particular situation. If there is a situation which tends to trigger a strong stress response, or which makes you act in a self-destructive manner – say, driving in heavy traffic, or binge eating when you feel low – I start off by asking you how you would prefer to feel in these situations. People would generally like to feel calm, confident and in control of the difficult situation – rather than the situation being in control of them (which it currently is). I then go on to ask my clients if there is a time when they have felt confident and in control of a situation, perhaps a time when they have achieved something good in their life, completed a task or simply felt like they were that ‘best version of themselves’. Even if it was a long time ago, we all have had times when we’ve handled a situation well, or utilised our best qualities, and I spend some time talking with my client to help them remember the right sort of memory. I then help them to use this good memory to ‘anchor’ them to the more positive state of mind they told me they experienced when they passed their driving test/ completed their work ahead of time/ achieved their weight loss goal. I create some kind of a tool to help them access this state whenever they need to. For instance, I will give them a word, or a scent, or a task to do – such as firmly clasping their thumb and finger together – which is, from then on, strongly associated with their good memory and state of mind.

 

I work with the client, in a state of hypnosis, to strengthen their anchor and to use their strong imaginations to experience how it feels to use their anchor during the situation they usually find difficult. For instance, if you came to me with a phobia of thunder, I would create a strong anchor with you – based on what you told me was a time when you had felt strong, confident and in control – and then, in a state of hypnosis, I would ask you to imagine yourself in a thunder storm, using your anchor. If you had an issue with alcohol, I would ask you to imagine yourself in a situation which usually triggered your drinking – such as feeling bored or lonely during the evening – and I would then ask you to use your anchor, so that the next time you were bored and lonely, you would be immediately transported to that ‘best version’ of yourself.

 

It’s impossible to overstate how powerful anchoring can be as a means to immediately and effectively access your ‘best you’ – whatever that ‘best you’ is. It seems like such a simple technique. But it’s beauty really lies in its simplicity. Because it is so natural, and so easy to do, it works at a very deep level which bypasses any need to have to think about it. In fact, in some ways, it’s the opposite of thinking. When we are in a state of panic, we’re in our ‘fight or flight’ system, and its impossible to think straight. One of the things to go when we’re in fight or flight is the ability to calmly and rationally think things through. Logic goes straight out of the window. The anchor works in a very different way to trying to think things through by quickly and fundamentally triggering a new, favourable response. Simply by breathing in a scent, or squeezing together your thumb and finger, or saying a special word, you automatically go into your desired state of confidence and being in control. You IMMEDIATELY feel a sense of calmness which means that the fight or flight response subsides, and which allows you back into the land of rational, logical thought.

 

Anchoring – as well as mentally transporting you into a very helpful frame of mind exactly when you need it – also provides some ‘time out’, which is especially useful for habits and destructive behaviours. I had a client recently who had a nail-biting habit which was causing them a high degree of distress. I helped them to create an anchor, based on a time when they had felt really good about themselves. In a state of hypnosis, I then encouraged them to imagine the types of situations which usually triggered their nail-biting response, which tended to be when they were bored and usually when they were at home after work. I got the client to replace the nail biting with an anchor or rubbing their thumb and forefinger together, which produced a sensation of feeling calm and satisfied and which replaced their old desire to nail bite, and which created a break between the feeling of boredom and the old behaviour of nail biting. A client with an over-eating issue found that her anchor gave her some time out and that she used it to manage the old cravings until they disappeared. When – with the help of the anchor – she felt calmer and more in control, she could make a rational decision about whether she wanted to eat the food, or whether to choose a healthier option, or no food, instead.

 

If you feel that you have a behaviour which is out of control, or that some situations cause you such stress that you feel unable to deal with them, an anchor may provide a very effective solution. Please get in touch if you would like to make a hypnotherapy appointment at my office in Prestwick, or would like to arrange for a Skype hypnotherapy session.

What can I expect during a Skype hypnosis (Skypenosis) session?

A Skype hypnotherapy appointment is very similar to a face-to-face appointment. It’s amazing how much technology has advanced over the years. When I trained over ten years ago I remember being astounded when our tutor told us he had a client in Japan who he communicated with by phone. Phone hypnosis?! Never! Although Skype was around, it wasn’t used anywhere near as widely as it is now. My first experiences of Skype weren’t great – as far as I was concerned, anyway. After my youngest child was born, we lived abroad for a few months and my partner’s family started Skyping us. I would generally avoid the shouts of “Can you hear me?!”, and “Can you see me?!” and run off in the other direction. I’d far rather have communicated by phone.

 

However, all things change and not only am I a huge fan of Skype as a means of providing hypnotherapy sessions for clients who live too far away to visit me at my office in Prestwick, Ayrshire (even if they are missing out on the treat of a lovely coastal town). I’ve also warmed to visual communication on a personal level too, and find Facetime is a great way of keeping in touch with my adult son.

 Initial hypnotherapy consultation

One of the most important aspects of a hypnotherapy session is the initial consultation, which can either take place before your session and is free of charge (a free phone or Skype consultation) or which can be added during your initial consultation. The initial hypnotherapy consultation allows you to ask me all the questions you might have about hypnotherapy, including your ability to be hypnotised and how effective hypnosis is for whatever it is you feel you need help with. The initial consultation also allows you to decide whether you feel that I am the right therapist for you, or whether your needs would be better met by someone else – or by a different type of therapy. During your consultation, I will ask you about what it is you would like help with and go into this in some detail, so that I really get a feel for how we might work best together. All clients are unique. One client’s weight loss journey may be very different from another client’s weight loss experience. I never have a one-size-fits-all approach, and make sure we have a thorough consultation. With Skype, the initial consultation takes exactly the same format that it does when I have an in-person consultation. Being able to see each other really enhances the experience.

 

Hypnotic induction

Once we have discussed things in detail, I will lead you into a state of hypnosis – a state of mind which is day-dreamy and slower than the normal, waking mind and which feels a bit like meditation or being very absorbed in a really good book or daydream. Some hypnotherapists use touch – for instance, lifting and dropping a hand – whilst they guide someone into a state of hypnosis. Personally, I prefer not to use touch in favour of simply using my voice to guide you into a hypnotic state. For that reason, there is very little difference in the way I conduct a Skype session to how I work with my hypnotherapy clients in Prestwick. I simply talk to you in a calm manner, which helps you to focus inwards. There is one great benefit of doing this by Skype, however, which is that – because you are comfortable in your own surroundings – you may find it far easier to relax and focus inwards than you would do in-person. You can have your room set up exactly the way you like it. You’ll know how and where you like to relax, and you can make sure things are exactly right for you. Clients often Skype me from their couch, wrapped in their favourite blanket and with some scented candles lit. Quite often I see a cat or dog somewhere in the screen too – if an animal helps you feel safe and relaxed it’s great to have their company!

 

Comfort and relaxation during hypnosis

Hypnotherapy is all about becoming relaxed and focused. Sometimes, no matter how much effort the hypnotherapist has put into creating a lovely environment – and most therapists do try very hard to make their offices as comfortable and welcoming as possible – it just helps if you’re in your own place. It means that you don’t have to worry about traffic or bad weather, and you know that the second the session is over you can just lie back and relax very deeply (or even have a snooze if you want!).

 

Choosing the right hypnotherapist

Another major advantage of Skype hypnosis is that it allows you to choose the right therapist for you without being bound by travel considerations. I specialise in a few areas, including children’s hypnotherapy, menopause hypnotherapy and working with women’s health. Because I have trained hard and achieved considerable experience in these areas, I attract clients from far afield who would be unable to visit me in person. My clients this year have included people as far away as the Czech Republic, Brazil and Canada. We’ve done some absolutely amazing work together and I’m so delighted that I’ve had the opportunity to be able to do hypnotherapy with these people – who I would never have met in real person. If any of them are ever in this country and fancy a hypnotherapy session perhaps we’ll meet up in person one day! Skype hypnosis – also known as Skypenosis – allows me to work with an extensive ex-pat community in a range of countries who find it beneficial to have a therapist whose first language is English.

 

Establishing rapport during a Skype hypnotherapy session

Before I started to work with clients by Skype, I felt that they – and I – would be missing something. I felt that it would be difficult to establish rapport in the same way that I do with the clients I see in Ayrshire, but that fear simply hasn’t manifested. Rapport is a key element of hypnotherapy, and providing a safe, ethical, respectful and comfortable environment for my clients is one of the most important things I can do. But, despite my worries, I feel that the rapport I have with my Skype clients is every bit as real and deep as the rapport I have with my in-person clients. At the beginning, it felt slightly unusual to be talking to someone by Skype, but that’s simply because I wasn’t used to it. I appreciate that some of my clients are less used to using Skype than I am, and it might feel slightly strange to them for the first few minutes. However, as soon as we start talking – and communicating through facial expressions, smiles, nods, looks of sadness – I see their awkwardness just disappearing. We get into the depth of the session in the same way that I do with all my clients, and I feel that everything which should be there in a good session, is there. It’s that simple. I would be very hard pressed to think of anything negative when it comes to Skype hypnosis – or Skypenosis.

 

Of course, Skype isn’t the only contender these days for online therapy and I have conducted hypnosis sessions using Facetime and other mediums. With the rapid growth in technology, ways of communicating are simply going to progress at a fast rate and more and more people will turn to online hypnotherapy. All this isn’t to say that in-person hypnotherapy doesn’t have a place. It absolutely does – and sometimes having somewhere to go which is separate from your own environment is a major attraction in choosing a hypnotherapist. However, Skype hypnotherapy offers you the choice. You’re not limited to finding a hypnotherapist in your town, who may lack the training and experience of someone who lives in a different town – or even different country. You can spend some time researching whether this hypnotherapist’s approach and experience are right for you and choose who to see on that basis, rather than simply whether they live close to you.

 

If you are considering Skype hypnosis but are still not sure, please feel free to get in touch with me. I’m happy to offer a free, half hour consultation by Skype so that you can experience it for yourself and see whether it is an approach which suits you or not. If you’re considering hypnotherapy for menopausal symptoms or women’s health issues, you may find it difficult to find someone with the necessary experience nearby geographically and I would be happy to work with you via Skype. If, like me, your initial experiences weren’t great and involved lots of shouting as to whether you could see and hear each other…don’t let that put you off! Things have really improved. And, to be honest, even if you wouldn’t choose it as your first means of communication on a personal level, the therapeutic relationship – which is so crucial to hypnotherapy – is very different to a personal relationship. I’ve had clients who would still prefer not to talk to their friends and family by Skype, but who find it works brilliantly for them in a therapeutic context.

 

If you’d like to visit me in Prestwick, South Ayrshire or would like to discuss the possibility of a Skype session, please contact me. And remember, I offer a free, half hour consultation during which you can ask any questions you have and which allows you to see whether I’m the right hypnotherapist for you. This consultation can be by phone – or Skype! It gives you a great opportunity to have a quick taster of Skypenosis before you commit – just remember to get your room nice and comfy first!

7 ways to develop emotional resilience with hypnotherapy

Emotional resilience refers to a person’s ability to adapt to stressful situations, and to recover more quickly and fully from stressors. Many factors can reduce a person’s emotional resilience, including childhood neglect and trauma, gender and age. But – even if you feel that you are a person who finds it difficult to handles stressful situations and takes a long time to recover from experiences which your friends or family appear to handle with ease – you can develop emotional resilience. Here are seven ways hypnotherapy can help you to develop emotional resilience.

1)      Identify your inner resources

Inside us all – no matter how bruised and battered they might be – we contain inner resources which can help us to be emotionally resilient. If you were neglected, criticised or abused in some way as a child, you might have forgotten that you have strength and knowledge within you. You may have learned early on not to trust in your own judgement, or you may have been taught that your ideas were wrong. One of the first things we will do together is to work to connect with your inner sense of yourself, to provide the time and space for you to quieten the critical voices, and to connect with what your body is telling you. Your body is an incredible storehouse of information and constantly tries hard to communicate with you what’s right and wrong for you – what we sometimes call our gut instincts. We often tend to get caught up in logical thinking and ignore what our bodies are telling us. Hypnosis provides a great way to listen to our bodies which, somewhere, have stored that awareness of our inner resources. By using hypnotherapy, you can learn how to identify these resources once again – and use them in a positive way.

2)      Imagine a positive future

Under hypnosis, you can imagine the future you want. Hypnosis provides a powerful way to make this future realistic. The brain finds it difficult to distinguish between what is real and imagined, and you will experience under hypnosis what it feels like to be more resilient. You’ll rehearse certain situations which you usually find difficult, and experience how it feels to tap into your inner self at these times. By using hypnosis in this way, when you next have to face a difficult situation, you will have a powerful experience of how it feels to have strong emotional resilience. In contrast to your future self being an abstract idea, hypnotherapy helps to make that idea real. Once you’ve felt and imagined it under hypnosis, it’s so much easier to pursue that future with yourself in it as a more emotionally resilient version of you.

3)      Develop a strategy to pursue that positive future

It’s always useful to have a plan in place so that you know exactly what is required in order for you to be more emotionally resilient. You need a strategy to work towards and a range of practical measures you can take to help build emotional strength. These measures might include identifying the situations which you usually find most challenging, and coming up with solutions – in advance – to help you cope with these situations in the future. It can also include identifying self care measures – such as exercising, developing a support network and pursuing interests and hobbies that help you to feel fulfilled – which will improve your mood and help you build emotional resilience. It may include developing a detailed timetable of helpful activities, and making sure you commit to the time each week to carry out these activities. It may involve identifying long term goals and life changes which you need to help you become more resilient. During our hypnotherapy/ life coaching sessions, I will help you to develop your own personal strategy for emotional resilience and will provide the support to help you stick to your goals.

4)      Change perspective

We all tend to become entrenched in our ideas, which is perfectly understandable. If, as a child, you were constantly put down and criticised, you will have learned that your opinion is ‘wrong’ and that you don’t deserve the respect of others. If you were subjected to trauma while you were growing up, you will have learned that the world is a difficult and dangerous place. When faced with stress, your mind and body will react accordingly and you might find it very difficult to cope or to recover from a stressful incident. Your perspective will be framed by these negative experiences, and the way you act will be informed by that perspective. Using a combination of life coaching and hypnosis, I can help you to reframe that perspective – which is unhelpful and limiting – to a more positive perspective. If you can go into a situation with a healthy idea of what may or may not happen, and how you may manage it, you will be far more resilient in the fact of a whole host of stressful and difficult situations.

5)      Increase awareness

If you come to see me and feel that your emotional resilience is lower than you would like, it’s possible that you may judge yourself quite harshly. You might feel you are stupid and incapable for not being able to manage certain situations as well as you would like. You may well blame yourself for feeling this way, and feel inadequate. In fact, there is nothing inherently wrong with you. You simply learned – probably a long time ago – that the world is a dangerous place, and that you are powerless to change it. Although this isn’t true at this stage in your life – and there is a huge amount that you can do to empower yourself and become resilient – it might have been true for you as a child, when you lacked a decision making capacity and were disempowered. If you weren’t properly respected and cared for in your early years, you can very easily reach a point where you find it hard to cope with life as an adult. It’s very important to accept that there are reasons for the way you react to things, and these are reasons which were probably out of your control for much of your life. It’s important to let go of self-blame, and to move forwards. Increasing awareness in this way is also not about blaming other people, but accepting that some of their actions perhaps had unintended consequences for you. It’s about identifying how and why your emotional resilience was first lowered, and then taking that knowledge to turn your situation around, to regain any control that you might have given away and to put into places any changes which now become apparent to you. Hypnotherapy can help you increase your awareness and let go of resentment and blame as you move forwards.

6)      Have a form of release

It is important that – as you commit to becoming more emotionally resilient – you have a form of emotional release. Sometimes it’s easier to continue to act as we always have, despite the fact that we can see it’s not doing us much good. It’s easier to avoid a social situation which may cause us stress, even though it prevents us from having fun or meeting people who could turn out to be nice. It’s easier not to apply for a new job, because the process will undoubtedly be stressful – although it could result in an improved quality of life. When you commit to becoming more emotionally resilient, you will find yourself confronting situations and digging deep emotionally, and you need to make sure you have some way of releasing the stress and tension which may accompany these experiences. Hypnotherapy and life coaching will help you identify suitable forms of release for yourself, and I will support you in maintaining activities and experiences which help you pursue that emotional release. Self-hypnosis is a wonderful way of providing emotional release, and you will learn some easy and highly effective self-hypnosis techniques as we work together.

7)      Provide support

As a hypnotherapist and life coach, one of the most important things I can do to help my clients become more resilient is to provide them with the right kind of support. Ultimately, the goal of any therapist is to work with a client until the point where that client becomes resilient and is able to manage their lives in a fulfilling way without the support of the therapist. The therapist is not like a friend or family member who will be there for the rest of the client’s life. The therapist’s job is to help the client become more independent and sure of themselves, ready to take the tools they have learned in therapy into their lives. Until that point, I will provide you with the ongoing support you need to become more resilient. I’m there to discuss your advances and set-backs, and to encourage you to take risks and try new things out to help strengthen your resilience. Making huge changes is scary – and having the right kind of support along the way will help you to achieve those changes which are necessary to become the emotionally resilient person you wish to be.

 

I hope you’ve found the above article interesting. Once you’ve developed emotional resilience, it is a skill and a way of looking at the world which you’ve got for the rest of your life. I work extensively in this field, and it’s always a wonderful moment when I see the scales tipping in favour of a client becoming resilient. If you’d like to visit me in my office in Prestwick, Ayrshire or would like a Skype appointment, please get in touch.

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