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

hypnotherapy

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.

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.