AfSFH Blog

Welcome to the AfSFH blog page!

Our blogs are designed to further the aims of the AfSFH, which are to increase public awareness about Solution Focused Hypnotherapy and its benefits, and to support our therapists and their clients.

AfSFH members can send in their blogs for publication to, with their name, contact details, and website information (so readers can contact you should they wish to do so).

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  • 02 Aug 2021 11:04 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Emma Jones
    Ten years ago, I was a Detective Constable with Essex Police. I thought this was my career set for life. I enjoyed what I was doing with a true sense that I was helping people. I worked on murder investigations and eventually specialised in sexual offences. But, the trouble with being a police officer is the impact on a person’s mental health. As we all know, everyone reacts differently to trauma. We also know that our reactions are more to do with our thoughts rather than our environment, although it can be a trigger. But consider this too, think about the shear amount of trauma officers deal with on a daily basis, linked with the very worst humanity has to offer. Eventually, the role took its toll, accompanied by a lack of understanding and support of mental illness, I knew I needed to leave the police service. In all honesty staying would have cost me my life.

    I was offered a role as an Office Manager, something I did for over four years. It gave me a great insight into business, something you certainly don’t get while working within the public sector. But, I didn’t get that sense of belonging. There had been times as a police officer when I had felt it, but not in this role. I’d always wanted to have my own business, but what in? Security, independent investigations? The answer wouldn’t come to me. I did start to train as a counsellor, but this too didn’t sit right for me, and, at the time, I couldn’t say why. With hindsight, hypnotherapy had popped in and out of my mind on a number of occasions. I’d seen adverts for various courses, and enquired about one years ago, but, for whatever reason, the time was clearly not right and I didn’t pursue it any further.

    My brain kept rattling away with no solution in sight, until one rainy November day in 2019, when my life was literally turned upside down, suddenly and unexpectedly, as tends to be the case. My husband of 21 years had a mental health breakdown. He was subsequently diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD), with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). He basically became someone else for three months. We both came through the other side, but changed in many ways, some good... some not so.

    While the breakdown was happening, I received a lot of support. However, when we learned what the problem was and took those first tentative steps on the road to recovery, I was very much on my own. Of the many things I learned during this process, there are two areas I now feel quite passionate about. Firstly, I want to help others with mental illness, while working to challenge the stigma that surrounds it and the shear lack of understating that exists among people who’ve never experienced it. Secondly, I want to help support the supporter of someone with a mental illness, an area that I feel is often overlooked. I’ve been both, I’ve had clinical depression, I have chronic high functioning Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and I have supported my husband through a very serious, rare, and complicated mental breakdown and recovery.

    The question was how to do this while incorporating it into a business? I’ve had talking therapy to help me deal with my emotions following my husband’s breakdown, especially what his illness and his altered personality did to me, which was a trauma in itself. But talking therapy was making me worse. The sessions often left me triggered with no support. The thought of going to sessions made me even more anxious, and I withdrew from three therapists. I felt let down, isolated, and had a sense of fear that I was beyond the help of a professional. I lost faith in talking therapy. Now, I want to make it clear that I am not saying that talking therapy doesn’t work. It is a viable option for many people. It can work and help.

    But, like all therapy, it is about finding what is right for the individual, the trauma, or situation the client finds themselves in. I may have also been very unlucky with the therapists I found. One thing was very clear, none of them had an understanding of DID, which lead to poor and ill-informed advice or suggestions.

    Then, one sunny and very hot day in 2020, during the first Covid lockdown I was searching through the internet, researching some of the conditions hypnotherapy can help with. I came across the Clifton Practise for Hypnotherapy, and noticed the term Solution Focused... what did that mean? It didn’t take much to find out. One quick phone call to Gary, my now senior lecturer, and I was sold. Finally, I found a way to help people that was not about reliving or dissecting the trauma of past events, and, to top it off, the course was heavily based around neuroscience, explaining how hypnotherapy actually worked. I signed up immediately.

    On my first day in class, we saw a demonstration of an EEG (Electroencephalography) machine being used on a fellow student while in a hypnotic trance. This showed us first-hand the impact that hypnotic trance had on the brain, what areas became active and those that seemed to quieten down. If I hadn’t been sold beforehand, I was after this.

    We went on to learn about the areas of the brain that work when depressed, anxious, and dealing with stress. We also learned how we can change the patterns of our behaviour and beliefs within our brains.

    Having GAD, to an extent, I understood what the amygdala did. I used to refer to my brain as having two parts, the rational and irrational part. I never realised how close I actually was with this explanation, which I’d come up with to describe my anxiety to friends and family.

    Learning about the intellectual and primitive minds felt like everything fell into place for me. Finally, a clear and scientific explanation as to why I sometimes react the way I do. On top of this, I began to understand my husband’s dissociation better, how he’d become ‘unplugged’ as his brain had taken steps to protect him from severe trauma as a child and again as an adult.

    It felt like a weight had been lifted, but there was still more to come... hypnotherapy can help with anxiety, depression, and trauma, and can do so, as previously stated, without returning to the trauma. I am learning how to do this, how to educate our clients in understanding how and why their brains reacted as they did, and that I, as a hypnotherapist, could teach them to take back control of their lives. I was loaded up with new information to share with my friends, family, and anyone that was willing to listen. I couldn’t wait to get started.

    We learned how to deliver the hypnotic trance. I was pleased to get some great feedback, even from the sceptics such as my sons – my youngest embraced the idea and gave it a try. My eldest announced that he didn’t want me hypnotising him and emptying his bank account or making him tidy his room. It was at this point that I had to remind him that he had moved out! Perhaps he needed hypnosis more than his brother to aid with his memory or at the very least his performance in his dramatic responses! Interestingly, as I have progressed with my training, he has come round to the idea. He is waiting for me to complete the topic of sports performance and will then be starting his own journey and embracing hypnotherapy... especially as he gets it for free!

    As with any new venture there are always fears around your ability to achieve your goals, with questions popping into your mind such as: can I do the job? Will I be able to find clients, and am I making the right decision to leave my current role and changing my life? Let’s face it, even when we want to make changes it’s hard – fear sneaks in, and we will have those moments of doubt in ourselves and with what we have decided to do. I’ve had them, I’ve even had them after a weekend spent in class learning about becoming a hypnotherapist. One of the biggest fears was not being able to find clients, even more so while training and then not being able to finish the qualification. We need to submit 8 case studies and it’s my responsibility as the student to find willing participants. My lecturers reassured us as a class that we would find the clients we need, but there is always that doubt that you can’t do it. But, and please don’t tell them I said this, they were absolutely right. I started with a few family and friends, and this gradually started to grow. I put myself out there with the mum of my son’s friend. I mentioned in passing what I was training to do, she instantly said she’d had hypnotherapy before and asked if she could put herself forward to help with my training. She then told a friend, who told another and then another. Before I knew it, I had built up a busy little client base all with different areas to work on. I am loving learning. I’m interacting with new and interesting people, and loving it. And I’m helping people, which I am also loving. This could turn into the best job in the world.

    Once my training has finished, I intend to continue to grow my own practise, and eventually approach businesses with a package to support their teams’ mental health and performance with the use of solution-based hypnotherapy. I cannot wait to meet all the new people, clients, and peers on my new journey. The people I have met so far have all been amazing and inspiring. We all have the ability to change our lives for the better, and I intend to do so using solution-based hypnotherapy, for myself and my clients. “Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step in your life, tip toe if you must but take the step” (Naeem Callaway).

    Emma Jones (DSFH, AfSFH-reg)
    Clinical Hypnotherapist & Psychotherapist
    p: 07806 560834

  • 01 Jul 2021 12:01 PM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Elaine Neale
    A quick search of the internet will tell you that infertility rates in the UK are rising and about 1 in 7 heterosexual couples will have difficulty or be unable to conceive. So, I know my own personal experience is not unusual, but perhaps the route my husband and I ultimately chose to find a solution was less common. We chose hypnotherapy.

    At that time, I had yet to discover Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, and was still working in the stressful world of banking and IT. Initially I took the traditional route and consulted my doctor when it seemed something was wrong and was referred for tests. I have a healthy respect for our medical professionals, so I was more than a little shocked to be laughed at by the consultant when I explained that I was concerned that my apparent lack or at least highly irregular menstrual cycle could indicate a fertility problem. As you can imagine, this is an emotive and personal subject to discuss that had taken no small amount of nerve to share. So, her reaction was quite a blow – certainly not the reaction that any solution focused hypnotherapist would give when faced with a client in the same situation, I’m sure. Nonetheless, I persisted (with a different doctor) and was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). This is where the ovaries are not producing viable eggs and instead of producing a single egg, produce lots of tiny ones instead.

    Photo by cottonbro from PexelsThere followed many demoralising months of attending the fertility clinic at the hospital, where I would sit in a dingy corridor and await my appointment, surrounded by leaflets with helpful titles like “Facing a life without children?”, followed by appointments where I was repeatedly told I was too old and too heavy (even though I wasn’t that overweight), and left feeling that it was all my fault. As the months went on, I didn’t get any younger, took the medication, dieted, exercised, and got lighter very slowly, but it seemed it was never going to be enough. At the same time, my anxiety, depression, and focus on the problem increased until it was overwhelming. It was at this point, years after this journey started and while on a waiting list for a surgical procedure that might help, that it was suggested to me that I give hypnotherapy a try…

    … and there was the fulcrum on which my life would turn!

    There weren’t many Solution Focused hypnotherapists in Scotland nearly 12 years ago, so my hypnotherapist was not of the solution focused model. Nonetheless, it was a revolutionary experience and couldn’t have been more different to my visits to the fertility clinic. The one bit that I didn’t like and found very upsetting was having to recount a traumatic event from my teens during the initial consultation. That’s why, when I decided to retrain as a hypnotherapist years later, I chose to become a solution focused hypnotherapist. We know that there is no need to recount past trauma and that it isn’t helpful to put the client into such a negative mindset.

    The rest of the sessions felt nothing short of miraculous though. Hypnosis followed the format of progressive muscular relaxation, followed by a deepener of wading through warm, cleansing water before climbing out the other side to visualise my “womb-room”, metaphorically spruce it up and visualise the incoming soul. Even after all these years I could still give you a detailed description of what that room looks like. I use the present tense there because I still pop in and mentally sweep it out sometimes! I left the sessions armed with my hypnotherapy CD and positive affirmations, already looking forward to the next session the following week.

    Photo by MART PRODUCTION from PexelsEvery time I came home, my husband said it was like I was a different person. I was happy, relaxed, positive, and energised. I felt like that too. It was like I was lit up inside. I was hopeful.

    Now a solution focused hypnotherapist myself, I understand what was happening. I had been so anxious and depressed about not conceiving and the prospect of never doing so that my primitive mind was firmly in control, and my body was actively preventing conception into this perceived state of emergency as a result. The hypnotherapy put me back into my intellectual mind, made me relax, and take the pressure off. Bringing the anxiety down returned balance to mind and body, and not only did I feel better generally, the primitive mind’s state of emergency was called off.

    Never underestimate the power of the intellectual mind, relaxation, and hope.

    I walked into session 5 of my hypnotherapy and announced that I was indeed pregnant! My hypnotherapist was overjoyed. The hospital, less so. When I phoned to cancel my forthcoming surgical appointment, explaining that I was doing so because I was pregnant. It seemed that it was a massive inconvenience to them rather than a success story. No matter.

    I went on to have a beautifully calm and trouble-free pregnancy and was delivered of a beautiful and healthy baby boy almost 11 years ago.

    While I cannot say that the medication I received was ineffective, what I can say is that I’m certain that I would not have conceived without hypnotherapy to reduce the overwhelming anxiety and negativity. We hear stories all the time of couples who have been trying for a baby for years, with IVF or without, and had no success, only to fall pregnant the moment they “stop trying” and the pressure and anxiety dies down.

    Never underestimate the power of the intellectual mind, relaxation, and hope.

    Photo from PexelsI walked into session 5 of my hypnotherapy and announced that I was indeed pregnant! My hypnotherapist was overjoyed. The hospital, less so. When I phoned to cancel my forthcoming surgical appointment, explaining that I was doing so because I was pregnant. It seemed that it was a massive inconvenience to them rather than a success story. No matter.

    I went on to have a beautifully calm and trouble-free pregnancy and was delivered of a beautiful and healthy baby boy almost 11 years ago.

    While I cannot say that the medication I received was ineffective, what I can say is that I’m certain that I would not have conceived without hypnotherapy to reduce the overwhelming anxiety and negativity. We hear stories all the time of couples who have been trying for a baby for years, with IVF or without, and had no success, only to fall pregnant the moment they “stop trying” and the pressure and anxiety dies down.

    Perhaps it is no surprise that infertility rates are rising, given our modern lifestyle and high levels of stress and anxiety. These issues effect fertility in both men and women and the stats say that fertility issues are fairly evenly spread across male and female with one or other, or often both partners the cause. Medical issues must always be referred to the medical profession, of course, but I think there is also a role here for solution focused hypnotherapy and the holistic approach. We can't make any guarantees of success, but we can offer hope and help make the medical process less of a trauma while providing a means to cope with whatever the outcome may be. Who knows, perhaps like my experience, we may even help create a family.

    Elaine Neale
    p: 07976 661994

  • 01 Jun 2021 9:45 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Trevor Eddolls
    Half of all adults experience nightmares at some time, and they occur more often among women than men.  It also seems that children and adolescents experience more nightmares than adults. And nightmares can increase if a person is experiencing traumatic or adverse events. They also increase if a person is having irregular sleep or very little sleep or has jet lag.

    Photo by Felix Lichtenfeld from PixabayWhat do people have nightmares about? A 2016 survey of 2,000 people from AmeriSleep found that the most common nightmares involve falling, being chased, and death, despite the fact that Americans’ most common fears revolve around the government, the environment, and money.

    Can hypnotherapy help?
    The first question to answer is whether hypnotherapy can help someone with nightmares. And the research shows that the answer is ‘yes’. The anecdotal evidence also shows that the answer is a resounding yes.

    A 2007 study by Haun et al published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that one or two sessions of hypnotherapy might be an efficient first-line therapy for patients with certain types of parasomnias. Parasomnias are undesirable events or experiences that occur either during sleep or within close proximity to sleep and include nightmares, sleepwalking, etc.

    Other studies have also found hypnotherapy to be helpful for people experiencing nightmares, eg Gerard Kennedy 2002.

    Are nightmares bad?
    Are nightmares a bad thing? A 2019 study published in the journal Human Brain Mapping, demonstrates a strong link between the emotions we feel in both sleep and wakefulness. They concluded that when we wake up from a bad dream, the brain regions linked to emotional control tend to respond to fear-inducing situations much more effectively. Their findings showed a very strong link between the emotions we feel in both sleep and wakefulness and reinforce a neuroscientific theory about dreams – that we simulate frightening situations in our dreams to better react to them once we’re awake!

    Photo by Stefan Keller from PixabayHowever, researchers did wonder whether when a certain threshold of fear is exceeded in a dream, it loses its beneficial role as an emotional regulator. For example, a 2009 study by J Roberts et al analysed the dreams and stress levels of 624 high school students and found that those who reported being distressed by their dreams were even more likely to report suffering from general anxiety. This didn’t find whether the nightmares made the children more stressed or whether it prevented them being even more stressed. However, a small 2019 study by Louis-Philippe Marquis at al found that that nightmares could actually enhance waking-life distress.

    Mark Blagrove and colleagues at Swansea University concluded that the most intense dreaming activity occurs when a person’s brain is working hard to process recent, emotionally-powerful experiences. This suggests that dreaming acts like overnight therapy to soothe the emotional impact of a person’s experiences.

    Why do we dream?
    The next question is: what are dreams for? Freud in 1900 thought that dreams were simply to do with wish fulfilment. He thought they were manifestations of a person’s deepest desires and anxieties. And, like everything else, he thought every dream topic represented the release of sexual tension. That’s not the current theory. Deep non-REM sleep is associated with static thoughtful dreams, which are primarily driven by the hippocampus in the process of long-term memory consolidation and predominantly include memories of events ‘as they happened’ without the random novel combination of objects seen in REM sleep dreams.

    Dreams that occur during periods of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep can be vivid and bizarre, and they are the ones that people usually remember if woken up. REM sleep is also known as paradoxical sleep because of physiological similarities to being awake. REM sleep helps preserve certain types of memories, ie procedural memory, spatial memory, and emotional memory. And lack of REM sleep can inhibit learning. However, it has been suggested that acute REM sleep deprivation can improve certain types of depression. REM sleep occurs most often just after birth, and decreases with age. According to Markov et al (2012), 80 percent of dreams occur during REM. And it’s estimated that 95 percent of dreams are forgotten by the time a person gets out of bed.

    Nightmares occur while a person is dreaming. The signs and symptoms of nightmares, according to the DSM-5, are repeated occurrences of extended, extremely dysphoric (a profound state of unease or dissatisfaction), and well-remembered dreams that usually involve efforts to avoid threats to survival, security, or physical integrity and that generally occur during the second half of the major sleep episode. On awakening from the dysphoric dreams, the individual rapidly becomes oriented and alert. The nightmare symptoms are not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (eg a drug of abuse or a medication).

    Photo by Mikita Yo on UnsplashRecurring nightmares may not be identical each time a person has them, but they will have similar themes. A person who is stressed or anxious may very well have more frequent nightmares. Becoming worried about a particular event or situation – including only dreamed of situations – can result in a person needing to dream about it again and again until the situation is resolved or loses its emotional content.

    How can hypnotherapy help?
    So, how can solution-focused hypnotherapy help? The obvious way is to help a person deal with the stress or anxiety in their life – what your therapist will refer to as stress bucket emptying, ie helping to remove the stress that you have experienced during the day. Hypnotherapy can also help you to get a good night’s sleep, which can also help to reduce your stress levels. Of course, lack of sleep may be because you don’t want to go sleep in case you have a nightmare. Hypnotherapy can also help you with any negative thought patterns. Maybe, your accepted ideas of why a person (your boss, your staff, your children, your partner, etc) is behaving in a negative way towards you might be wrong. There might well be an alternative explanation for their behaviour that doesn’t involve you.

    Your hypnotherapist might advise you to no not eat immediately before going to bed as a way of stopping nightmares. They might suggest that you write down any concerns or worries you have before getting into bed, so you don’t keep thinking about them in while trying to go to sleep.
    Your therapist might discuss your recurring nightmare, and help you to rewrite the ending to be more positive. Perhaps someone turns on the light and the bad guys run away. Perhaps the aliens are called away to invade a different planet. Perhaps the water stops filling up and escapes through a hole leaving you warm and dry.

    Your therapist will definitely help you to relax. For example, they may show you how to breathe out for longer than you breathe in, which is called 7-11 breathing. And the hypnotherapist will share recordings that will help you to relax as you go to sleep or if you wake during the night.

    These techniques can be successfully used with children and adults.

    Trevor Eddolls
    iTech-Ed Hypnotherapy
    Chippenham, Wilts SN14 0TL
    p: 01249 443256
    t: @iHypno2004
    i: ihypno2004

  • 05 May 2021 7:05 PM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Jane Pendry
    Hypnotherapy is recognised by the medical profession as one of the most effective treatments for IBS.

    Over the course of their lifetime, one in five people is likely to be affected by Irritable Bowel Syndrome. So what is IBS?

    What is IBS?
    Usually, people diagnosed with IBS experience a combination of symptoms: one may be more dominant and intense than others, and symptoms may be mild to intensely debilitating, prompting sufferers to seek medical help. Living with these unpleasant symptoms can lead to anxiety, depression, or social isolation, creating a vicious cycle of stress and discomfort.

    Photo by Randy Fath on UnsplashIrritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms can be very uncomfortable but do vary enormously. Symptoms can include:

    • Abdominal pain and discomfort
    • Abdominal contractions, spasms or cramps
    • Backache
    • Bloating or swelling
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhoea
    • Excessive wind
    • Indigestion
    • Nausea.

    The NHS website records a full list of symptoms

    What causes IBS?
    It’s not absolutely clear what causes IBS. One explanation is that food may be passing through the gastrointestinal tract too quickly, causing diarrhoea. Equally, food may be passing through the GI tract far too slowly, causing constipation. In some cases, for much of the time, food may not be passing through at all.

    Oversensitive to messages from the gut
    Another hypothesis is the brain becomes oversensitive to messages from the gut. Mild indigestion is interpreted as severe abdominal pain.
    Often a flare up of IBS starts after a stressful event. Other triggers for IBS include: alcohol, fizzy drinks, chocolate, drinks with caffeine, processed snacks (crisps and biscuits), and fatty or fried food.

    No test for IBS
    Diagnosing IBS is difficult. There isn’t a specific test. Often the doctor will exclude other causes first, for example IBDs (Inflammatory Bowel Diseases) such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. Inflammatory markers in blood tests identify these conditions.

    Hypnotherapy can still help IBS as a complementary therapy, alongside prescribed medical therapies, but these are more serious conditions that require medical attention first. It’s one reason anyone suffering IBS symptoms should see their doctor in the first instance. However, psychological stress is most definitely an important factor for the development of IBS. More and more clinical and experimental evidence shows that IBS is a combination of both irritable bowel and ‘irritable’ brain.

    Photo by Ava Sol on UnsplashWhat role does stress play in IBS?
    There is no doubt stress plays a significant part in IBS. An episode may start after a particularly stressful episode in your life.

    What comes first, the IBS or the stress?  
    Does IBS cause anxiety; or does anxiety trigger IBS? According to the authors of the paper ‘Impact of psychological stress on irritable bowel syndrome’ in the World Journal of Gastroenterology: “There is strong evidence that IBS is a stress-sensitive disorder. Therefore, the treatment of IBS should pay much attention to managing stress and stress-induced responses.”

    Stress contributes to IBS
    There is no doubt that stress and anxiety are contributory factors in IBS. And equally, debilitating IBS is likely to cause stress and anxiety. They feed off each other.

    Stress and anxiety are the mind and body’s distress signals warning of imminent danger. Modern life is full of low-level threats and stresses: school, work, technology, not to mention pandemics and politics, mean we are surrounded by narratives or experiences that continuously trigger the stress response and have the potential to create prolonged anxiety.

    The brain and the central nervous system (CNS) automatically control your entire nervous system. The CNS consists of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. In addition, the enteric nervous system is thought to controls much of the gastrointestinal system.

    The role of the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems
    The sympathetic and parasympathetic systems usually work together. The parasympathetic system can be thought of as the “rest and digest” system because it automatically controls basic body functions like urination, defecation, digestion, tear production, and saliva production.

    The sympathetic nervous system controls fight, flight, and fright responses in an effort to keep us safe. The system is activated by real and present dangers. Unfortunately, stress and anxiety, which can develop over time, also activate the fight, flight, and fright response.

    The brain gut connection
    Stress and anxiety release hormones that increases the heart rate in order to pump more blood to our muscles when we are under threat. The same hormones seem to aggravate IBS symptoms as well as affect our microbiome – the balance of gut bacteria in our stomachs. Amazingly, hypnotherapy can also positively affect the microbiome.

    IBS causes disturbances in the balance between the brain and the gut, triggering the gut to become overactive. This may result in diarrhoea and the sensation of a stomach-churning feeling. In some people, brain signals become underactive, causing the gut to slow down and become sluggish. The result is inevitably constipation, gas, and abdominal discomfort.

    How does Hypnotherapy help IBS?
    Hypnotherapy relaxes the central nervous system, raises mood, reduces anxiety and stress, and helps people create new habits and healthy behaviours making it an ideal therapy to help IBS.

    Does that mean IBS is psychological?
    No. IBS is not psychological. However, psychological factors exacerbate the physical symptoms.

    Three researchers reporting in the World Journal of Gastroenterology (WJG) concluded, “Evidence from clinical and experimental studies showed that psychological stresses have marked impact on intestinal sensitivity, motility, secretion and permeability, and the underlying mechanism has a close correlation with mucosal immune activation, alterations in central nervous system, peripheral neurons and gastrointestinal microbiota.”

    As hypnotherapy changes the emotional triggers that reduce stress, this gentle drug-free therapy is likely to alleviate IBS symptoms. By inducing a deeply relaxed state and using suggestions that reduce anxiety and increase confidence and wellbeing, gut sensitivity is also likely to be reduced.

    What’s the evidence?
    Peter Whorwell, Professor of Medicine & Gastroenterology, University of Manchester, has analysed and explored the application of hypnotherapy to manage and treat IBS since the 1980s. Through his pioneering research, Professor Whorwell demonstrated that over 60% of IBS sufferers who undertake hypnotherapy see long-term improvement. In many cases, symptoms disappear with no recurrence.

    Hypnotherapy included in NICE guidelines
    Thanks largely to Professor Whorwell’s research, hypnotherapy is listed in the National Institute for Clinical and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines as one of the evidence-based treatments for IBS.

    NICE recommend that, “People living with IBS who do not respond to pharmacological treatments after 12 months, [should] consider a referral for psychological interventions, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), hypnotherapy, and/or psychological therapy.”

    The NICE recommendations also state, “Referral for psychological interventions (cognitive behavioural therapy [CBT], hypnotherapy and/or psychological therapy) should be considered for people with IBS who do not respond to pharmacological treatments after 12 months and who develop a continuing symptom profile (described as refractory IBS).” The difference between CBT and psychological therapies, and hypnotherapy, is that the latter requires rather less effort and is an enjoyable and relaxing process in and of itself.

    Of course, you don’t need to wait 12 months to try hypnotherapy, but your doctor may not suggest this until other therapies have been tried.

    Gastroenterology Research
    Three researchers reporting in the World Journal of Gastroenterology (WJG) state that, “Psychological stress is an important factor for the development of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). More and more clinical and experimental evidence showed that IBS is a combination of irritable bowel and irritable brain.” It makes sense, therefore, that a complementary therapy known to actively reduce stress and anxiety will have a positive impact on IBS symptoms.

    The review article in the WJG concludes: “Due to the failure of traditional pharmaceuticals, e.g., laxatives and secretagogues, to give permanent relief, non-pharmacological approaches are now getting more and more attention. They include physician-patient relationship and placebo, patient education, utility of hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, dietary modification including probiotics, exercise, and biofeedback.” Of these, hypnotherapy is proven to reduce anxiety and stress without drugs and with commitment, but little conscious effort. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy also helps people change habits such as modifying diet and increasing exercise.

    Photo by Önder Örtel on UnsplashStudies on hypnotherapy are unusual in the world of medical research, which is largely funded by government agencies or big pharma.

    Nevertheless, Cochrane, a journal producing systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and policy, confirmed that some studies do indicate that hypnotherapy was effective in treating IBS symptoms including abdominal pain. Although these small studies are interpreted with caution.

    Medical treatments and guidance
    Doctors diagnose IBS by eliminating any other medical reason for the symptoms. If you have a diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce the symptoms or offer talking therapies such as CBT on the NHS. The NICE guidelines also recommend Hypnotherapy as an effective drug-free treatment.

    Those with diarrhoea may need to cut down on the insoluble fibre (wholegrain bread, bran, cereals, and nuts and seeds). Those with constipation are likely to be advised to increase intake of soluble fibre and water. Where there is persistent or frequent bloating, a low FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyol) diet is often advised.

    FODMAP carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables, animal milk, wheat products, and beans) aren’t easily broken down and absorbed by the gut and can start to ferment quickly, releasing gases that lead to bloating. People with IBS may try keeping a food diary to identify those foods that appear to trigger an episode. Prebiotics and probiotics to increase healthy gut bacteria are also worth researching. 

    …and exercise
    For many moderately strenuous exercise also brings symptom relief. Anti-spasmodic drugs may be prescribed. The doctor may suggest laxatives for constipation or antimotility medicines for diarrhoea.

    Speaking to your doctor
    If you suspect IBS, or are showing some signs and symptoms, you may want to see a hypnotherapist to see if it helps. Your hypnotherapist will still advise you to speak to your doctor in the first instance to eliminate any other possibility.

    Because of the impact IBS, IBS sufferers may also experience depression and anxiety. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is also very helpful in helping to reduce anxiety and alleviate low mood.

    Choosing Hypnotherapy
    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy ensures the client remains in control.
    The Solution Focused conversation, which takes place at the beginning of each session, enables clients to explore, determine, and create essential incremental changes to their lifestyle, which are reinforced by gentle hypnotherapy with open suggestions that helps change thought, action, and interaction.

    Ultimately, re-engaging with life more fully and creating a healthier work life balance, with appropriate support, enables IBS sufferers to get their issue in perspective. As mental and physical health improve through Solution Focused conversations, so it becomes easier to make those necessary changes to diet while creating healthier habits that lead to optimum health, naturally and easily.

    Calming the central nervous system, increasing the flow of serotonin, and creating a more helpful cycle of positive thought, positive action, and positive interaction helps to keep IBS symptoms at bay, leading to a much better quality of life all round. 

    About six one-hour sessions of hypnotherapy usually makes a significant difference. Occasional follow-up sessions may also be needed. Progress will be monitored through the sequence of sessions. 

    Find a solution-focused hypnotherapist here.

    Jane Pendry DSFH, HPD, BA Hons (London), PGCE (Cantab)Reg CNHC, AfSFH, ABNLP, ABH, IARTT
    Sense-Ability Hypnotherapy & Coaching
    35 Farm Close Road, Wheatley, Oxon OX33 1XJ
    p: 07843 813 883


  • 01 Apr 2021 11:21 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Jane Pendry
    As a hypnotherapist, helping people with anxiety-related issues, I am often asked: “What are the most common fears and phobias you work with?”
    The answer is, indisputably, fears and phobias related to travelling.

    Note: although the ‘stay at home’ rule ended on 29 March, there are still many restrictions in place, which will be removed as we move into summer. However, many people are already planning to travel later in the year.

    Fears related to travel
    Fears related to travelling may be linked to everyday travel, or travelling overseas, which is even more out of our comfort zone.

    Travelling fears can include:

    • Fear of travel itself – hodophobia
    • Fear of flying – aerophobia
    • Fear of driving – vehophobia
    • Fear of being a passenger – amaxophobia
    • Fear of being ill – emetophobia, germophobia
    • Fear of insects – entomophobia
    • Fear of spiders – arachnophobia
    • Agoraphobia and Claustrophobia

    What causes these fears, what drives us to tackle them, and what can be done to resolve them?

    Above all, how do we get from the fearful place to here …

    Why do we create fears around travel?
    When we travel somewhere new, by definition we are out of our comfort zone. That makes us anxious.

    Photo by Ludovico Lovisetto on UnsplashAnd there are a host of other reasons why travelling becomes stressful.

    The most common reported causes in my clinic are:

    Becoming a Parent
    Being responsible for a vulnerable baby, and then driving with the baby in the car understandably can lead to heightened anxiety. This anxiety can develop into a persistent fear or phobia. I see a lot of young mothers with fear around driving.

    A lack of experience  
    Quite simply, if travelling is a new experience because there hasn’t been any opportunity to travel, it’s natural to be anxious and fearful. It may be that research and planning, practical knowledge, and skills will overcome those anxieties. However, when the fear feels overwhelming and debilitating, and it is stopping you from travelling, it may to time to seek help.

    Past trauma
    If someone has been in a car accident or in a particularly turbulent and dramatic flight, the fear of the experience can become embedded in the mind, creating persistent fear and anxiety, or a full-on flying phobia. This is a very common problem and quite easy to resolve.

    A build up of stress and anxiety over time
    Simply being very stressed or anxious makes anything that requires your focused attention, or any new activities, feel overwhelming. It may be that you are just stressed and overwhelmed in general. Then all you need to do is reduce stress and sort your sleep patterns, and travelling will once again become effortless and enjoyable.

    When fear of traveling becomes a phobia it’s called hodophobia.
    This phobia can manifest itself in many different ways, from procrastination and hesitancy, to avoiding travelling to any new places.

    Photo by Hanson Lu on UnsplashFor some people, the fear of driving or travelling on a bus can be so overwhelming, they struggle to a leave home at all. Such an intense fear or phobia can then lead to social isolation, generalised anxiety, depression, and even conditions like OCD.

    While some people’s fears are linked to specific modes of transport, such as planes or trains, others fear being a passenger in a car or driving.
    For many, fear of travelling is linked to another phobia such as agoraphobia (fear of wide open spaces) or claustrophobia (fear of small spaces).

    Self-limiting beliefs
    We carry with us self-limiting beliefs, often instilled from childhood. We believe things like: “I’m not good enough, I’m not clever enough, I’ll never be able to …”. We all have real physical limitations but many of these are in our mind.

    It’s all in the Mind!
    Being in a state of overwhelming fear moves people into their primitive minds, making it really challenging to manage all the organisation involved in travelling – checking-in luggage, going through check in, following security procedures, or dealing with delays.

    Every part of the journey becomes overly challenging.

    All of these issues are linked to how the brain works and how we move from the intellectual sensible part of the brain to the irrational primitive part when we are under threat. When that happens, we literally cannot think rationally, solve problems, or come up with new solutions.

    All of these fears can be resolved.

    The good news is that all of these issues can be resolved in most cases with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.

    Motivations for Overcoming Travel Phobia
    Here are some of the many reasons people are driven to overcome hodophobia and related phobias.

    Family life
    We don’t want to pass our fears on to our children – we want to be able to drive them to school or after school clubs. A family wedding or funeral and other family gatherings mean we may need to drive longer distances – out of our locality and out comfort zone.

    Work and Career
    We need to travel to work or to conferences and training events further afield. We want to move forward in our career and that may require driving or flying.

    Our partner, our family, or ourselves would like to travel to new interesting destinations with confidence and without fear.

    Social life
    Our social life has become restricted and we don’t want to be socially isolated; or we just want to make new interesting friends.

    Overcoming your Fear of Travelling
    Whatever the reason we know that it’s relatively quick, easy and cost-effective to resolve irrational fears, phobias, and even traumas linked to driving, flying, or travelling overseas.

    Most fears related to travelling are the result of general anxiety or a loss of confidence. In this case a short course of Hypnotherapy resolves most travel related phobias.

    Overcoming Phobias
    Phobias are remarkably easy to resolve with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.

    Photo by Wouter Naert on UnsplashI’m always amazed at how few people choose to resolve their phobias. Usually, they have simply adjusted their lives around their phobia. It feels part of who they are.

    When the phobia is shifted so quickly and painlessly, they are often astounded and wish they had done it sooner.

    Resolving Past Traumas
    We treat travel and phobias linked to traumas slightly differently. By literally ‘Rewinding’ the trauma and changing the way we tackle events, it’s possible to resolve the trauma completely.

    Reducing Anxiety Related Fears
    For any fear related to anxiety, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is usually the best approach. By calming the central nervous system and facilitating the client to change the way they think, act, and react at a subconscious level, hypnotherapy both reduces stress and anxiety and builds confidence and resilience

    Solution Focused Approaches
    All Solution Focused approaches focus on now and the future – the outcomes you want, NOT the problems you don’t want. So, with travel related phobias, clients are encouraged to create a vivid picture of how they want their life to be when their phobia or fear has been resolved.

    The Solution Focused Hypnotherapy works like this…

    I ask questions.
    Imagine this problem was solved for you, what would you notice?

    Will you be able pick up your children from school, to take the baby to hospital, or drop the children off to sleepovers?

    Will you go on holiday, travel somewhere really interesting, visit relatives overseas?

    Will you be able to go to a family event? What would it mean to you if you could? Why is that important to you?

    You create your Preferred Future
    The description of how things will be when you have resolved your travel fears and related phobias is called the Preferred Future.

    We want this to be as vivid as possible. Once you have defined the outcome you want, you are telling your subconscious mind what you want the outcome to be. Now your subconscious knows what you want, it can start helping you to get there.

    By shifting out of your negative problem-focused brain, and describing the wonderful vision of yourself driving, flying, or visiting somewhere new – and creating a vivid picture in your mind – you are already beginning to create that future.

    Scaling and Incremental Steps
    The Solution Focused scaling exercise involves measuring where you are on a scale between 0 to 10.

    We start with the idea that a score of 10 is your Preferred Future – the picture of how you want things to be.

    Let’s say your 10 is when you are inter-railing across Europe knowing everything is planned and feeling excited and joyful.

    Or your 10 might be simply being able to get in a plane, feeling calm and in control.

    Or your 10 might be driving down to the coast as naturally as you drive to the local shop.

    Where are you now?
    Once we have established what your 10 is, I ask:

    “If 10 is your Preferred Future, and 0 is as far away from that goal as possible… Where are you now?”

    You throw out a number. It’s subjective and instinctive.

    Perhaps you say 3.

    I ask, “Why are you a 3 and not a 0?”

    You reflect a little and consider all the things that are working well – things that make you believe you could successfully travel.

    Scenario 1: You have a passport, you’ve been in Europe before, you speak basic French etc. And together we explore everything else that’s in place that will help you reach your goal.

    Scenario 2: You can drive to the shops and work every day feeling relaxed, calm, and in control at the moment.

    The Miracle Question
    Then it’s the Solution Focused Miracle Question. It goes like this.

    “If you went to bed tonight, and a miracle has happened, and when you woke up you were 4 on the scale – that’s one step forward – what would you notice was different? “

    The idea is that you are starting to imagine and create that preferred future, one step at a time.

    Your preferred future is being manifested. You are making steady incremental changes that will take you to your vision of the ideal travelling experience.

    Hypnotherapy or Hypno-coaching
    The gentle, safe process of hypnosis helps you envisage and embed your preferred future, and trains your subconscious mind to be calm and in control in all circumstances, to confidently plan forward and to remain calm and in control.

    Imagination and reality
    Your travelling dreams are becoming a reality. The subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality. So, by imagining your perfect journey or journeys, you are rehearsing that reality.

    Photo by ardito ryan Harrisna on UnsplashYou create a ‘pull’ motivation that’s so strong it pulls you forward to your desired outcome (rather than away from your fears which doesn’t work so well as a motivation). 

    Start where you want to end.
    You can do this exercise now.
    Write down the month and year you want to travel. Now write what you are doing in that day, in the present tense and in vivid first-person narrative (I am... not I will be) what you will be doing.

    Create your Preferred Future
    “It’s Summer 2022.  I am in a train going across Europe. I am visiting [list countries] and staying in mid-priced hotels with friends. I have a comfortable budget of £3,000 and am enjoying making new friends, seeing new sites, and learning the basics of new languages.”

    Now take a few minutes to close your eyes and imagine you are at this ideal destination. Ask yourself …

    • What am I be seeing?
    • What am I doing?
    • What can I taste, smell, touch?

    Make the sensations very real in your mind. Linger there for a while. How does it make you feel?

    You have created a vivid, experiential vision of your future. A vision so compelling you are motivated to get there.

    That is the power of your imagination.

    Planning ahead
    Realising this vision will, of course, take some effort and planning. But now you have a clear vision to keep you focused and motivated.

    Discussing your plans with experienced travellers and travel experts will help you work out what you need to do to get there: passports, flights, booking trains and hotels, ensuring you travel safely, know what to pack, and so forth.

    Envisioning your dream journey will give you the motivation to do the work that will get you where you want to go.

    Your Preferred Future is Happening Now
    Notice, we write the Preferred Future or Goal as if it’s happening right now … but it is dated in the future.

    Pin your Preferred Future on the fridge and look at it every day. Every decision you make with regard to travelling takes you closer to this vision and keeps your mind clear and focused on the outcome you want.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy to Help you Realise your Dreams
    Imagining your future in this vivid way, will likely just give you the confidence you need to create your travel dreams.

    However, if you need some support or help removing or managing your self-limiting beliefs, fears, phobias, or anxiety, then Solution Focused Hypnotherapy might be the answer.

    Through Solution Focused Hypnotherapy you can learn the right strategies to stay calm and relaxed wherever and however you travel. In no time at all, you will be able to stay calm and in control when traveling by car, train, or plane; travelling to friends and relatives, and travelling to far flung exotic countries.

    Good luck overcoming your travelling fears and enjoy happy travelling.

    Jane Pendry DSFH, HPD, BA Hons (London), PGCE (Cantab)Reg CNHC, AfSFH, ABNLP, ABH, IARTT
    Sense-Ability Hypnotherapy & Coaching
    35 Farm Close Road, Wheatley, Oxon OX33 1XJ
    p: 07843 813 883

  • 01 Mar 2021 2:54 PM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Jane Pendry
    If you, or someone you know, suffers from OCD or obsessive ruminating, it’s likely that coronavirus, with the attendant barrage of press coverage, social media comment, and overwhelming pervasive presence, has made things worse.

    Luckily, obsessive thinking, ruminating or rituals can be overcome painlessly and relatively quickly with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, SFH.

    By addressing what’s happening in the subconscious mind, SFH helps sufferers to free themselves from distressing and pervasive obsessions and habits, and the accompanying generalised anxiety that underpins it.

    What is an obsession?
    An obsession is when unwanted and unpleasant thoughts, images, or urges repeatedly enter a person’s mind, causing anxiety, unease, or distress. When obsessions, ruminating, and repeated unhelpful rituals begin to dominate your life, it’s time to seek help.

    Photo by STIL on UnsplashBy resolving these issues, clients can get their lives back on track: improve work performance and relationships, create enjoyable social lives, and start new hobbies.

    What is OCD?
    Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD describes a condition where a person is overwhelmed by obsessive thoughts or compulsive and repetitive activities. When obsessions develop into pervasive OCD, all aspects of life are affected. The impact, of course, will be unique in every case but it’s likely that work, relationships, and friendships will be negatively impacted.

    How does obsessive thinking affect people?
    OCD, obsessive thinking, and ruminating, in varying degrees of severity, are very common. As our lives in the modern world become ever more stressful, our brains struggle to adapt to the increasing demands and challenges we face.

    If you, or someone you know, struggles with unwanted and intrusive negative thoughts, checks the front door is locked over-and-over again, has repetitive habits that bring no relief to anxiety, or has an obsession with germs and cleanliness, then every day is profoundly stressful.

    It’s important to distinguish here between increased hand-washing in response to government advice related to the coronavirus, and obsessive hand-washing that is out of proportion and out of control.

    We are all thinking more about our behaviour, and being more cautious. However, if you can’t ‘switch off’, obsessively watch the news, or frequently ruminate on what could happen or might happen, you have developed an unhelpful habit.

    When you manifest obvious damaging physical habits, eg your hands become red raw, or severely dry and cracked, or you start pulling your hair out, literally, you know you have a more serious problem.

    One effect of OCD is the constant worry that something terrible is going to happen. It’s exhausting.

    Over time, family and friends struggle to understand or give support. The long-term result can be social isolation and emotional torment, leading to generalised anxiety and depression.

    How does hypnotherapy work with OCD?
    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is proven to help sufferers gently resolve these challenges by steadily changing perceptions embedded in the subconscious mind, and breaking the pattern of negative and repetitive thinking, and catastrophizing.

    It’s important to stress here that I, and other Solution Focused Hypnotherapists, do not diagnose. We respond to each client’s assessment of their own issues, however they define them.

    The roots of OCD are founded in our primitive mind. Our hunter-gatherer subconscious mind sees the world from the worst possible point of view. It’s still primed to protect us from sabre-toothed tigers and warring tribes. It’s tries to do that by telling us to run, fight, or hide.

    In our modern times, our subconscious mind continues to try to protect us by obsessively trying to resolve things, order them, or create rituals we know make no sense. These negative patterns of thinking end up in our ‘stress bucket’, which over fills, and we can end up in a permanent state of stress and anxiety.

    Once stress pushes us to become constantly anxious, we are living in our primitive minds. When that happens, we are not able to think or act rationally. Perhaps some ritual or pattern of behaviour coincided with a good outcome, so we form an association and repeat the behaviour, even though our rational mind understands this makes no sense. Then the pattern of behaviour is repeated, modified, and becomes essential to our perceived survival.

    The good news is, if we had the imagination to create the problem in the first place, we have the imagination to reverse it.

    How can solution-focused hypnotherapy help?
    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a gentle process that works by changing subconscious thought patterns, forging new neural pathways that promote healthy ways of responding to stress, and creating positive patterns of thinking, acting, and reacting.

    Using Solution Focused coaching and therapy methods, clients can envisage the behaviour and patterns of thinking they would prefer; and the various SFH methods are then tailored to help clients realise their preferred vision of the future.

    In our initial consultation, Solution Focused Hypnotherapists will explain how the brain works and how it creates obsessive thinking in the first place (and how common and natural this). After a detailed assessment, we discuss how we will work together to resolve the defined problem. We also provide a free relaxation recording following the consultation, which is an important part of the therapeutic process.

    Case studies
    Helen had an understandable fear related to death after a personal tragedy. She was partly haunted by trauma; and partly caught in a pattern of obsessive thinking and ruminating linked to that trauma.

    A series of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy sessions enabled Helen to reduce her anxiety to manageable levels, improve her sleep routines, and break the habits and obsessive thought processes that caused her to feel overwhelmingly anxious when her children left the house.

    Sometimes obsessions are related to a specific issue. Harry (not his real name) was obsessing over something that had gone wrong in his relationship some time previously. He couldn’t stop thinking and obsessing about past events.

    For Harry, Solution Focused Brief Therapy helped him create preferred patterns of thinking which he embedded over time through hypnosis, while working to reduce his overall stress.

    Harry explained, “I just couldn’t move on, even though the original issue had been resolved. It was like a stuck record going round and round on the same track… I couldn’t forget. Images of past events were intruding on my thoughts. I couldn’t sleep. I felt more and more anxious. My Solution Focused Hypnotherapist helped me to break the pattern of thinking so I could put the issue firmly into the past and rebuild my relationship within three sessions.”

    Margaret and Fran (again not their real names) are two more clients who had more typical OCD-type issues. Margaret had a number of rituals she had to perform that dominated her life; Fran was trapped by patterns of behaviour and thinking linked to her generalised anxiety and a fear of germs. Both these issues were deeply embedded over a number of years.

    Both had sought solutions elsewhere for some years including CBT.

    It took a few weeks to change the patterns of thinking, acting, and reacting, however Solution Focused Hypnotherapy enabled Margaret and Fran to reduce the ruminating and obsessing habits, get their sleep habits sorted, and get their lives back on track.

    Margaret explains, “I went from obsessively checking I had locked the door, washing my hands until they were raw, and some strange meaningless rituals to ‘keep me safe’, to just getting on with my life. In just a couple of months, I stopped obsessively ruminating on what I’d done wrong or how I might be punished. I still check doors and ovens, but just once or twice, not ten times!”

    Margaret added that she has a tendency to feel anxious and that tendency tipped into OCD-type behaviours when she got too stressed. She now listens to her de-stress recording and has hypnotherapy every month to keep her stress levels down and her ruminating is kept in check.

    Solution-focused approaches
    We know that understanding what has caused your OCD, will not resolve the issue.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy focuses on your responses and behaviour now and in the future. We are not concerned with analysing the root causes of how the problem was created. The process works by helping clients to imagine incremental improvements through guided solution focused discussions, and gently embedding new preferred behaviours deep in the subconscious through hypnosis.

    The process starts by ‘emptying your stress bucket’ with deeply relaxing guided meditations, which are followed by suggestion-based hypnosis - no commands that the subconscious can resist - to gently ease the subconscious mind into healthier automatic responses.

    The initial consultation
    Fran had a serious and embedded problem linked to feelings of self-worth and childhood traumas. At the initial consultation, where we explored the nature of the problem and possible solutions, Fran explained: “I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure Solution Focused Hypnotherapy would work for me. My anxiety, constant ruminating, and obsessing about what I did and what people said or didn’t say felt like it was part of my personality and couldn’t be changed. But it was starting to affect so much of my life I was prepared to try anything.

    ”My initial consultation included a presentation on the neuroscience of OCD and obsessive thinking, which made so much sense and was so reassuring. Now I understood why I was thinking in the way that I was. I took a leap of faith and committed to the process. I’m so glad I did. I’ve got my life back.”

    Fran explains, “My obsessive ruminating was so bad it took me a month of therapy before I started to unwind and sleep well. Listening to my recording really helped me get to sleep. Once I’d broken the ruminating pattern at night, and was able to get to sleep and stay asleep, I started to make rapid progress with my ruminating habits and my obsessive thinking.”

    Therapy sessions
    At the beginning of each subsequent session clients are asked Solution Focused questions that move them to the part of the mind that creates solutions, and away from the problem focused anxious mind. Using scaling and detailed descriptions of the preferred future, in small steps, the client’s mind starts to imagine a more secure and stable future.

    The rehearsal room of the mind
    The imagination is the rehearsal room of the mind. Hypnotic trance, as induced by a Solution Focused Practitioner, is a very natural state of mind. We go into trance several times a day: when we drive, watch television, or walk the dog.Solution Focused Hypnotherapy induces the deeply relaxed trance state so that new, healthier subconscious patterns can be embedded.

    By focusing the mind on more positive thinking prior to entering the trance state, clients with OCD and similar issues are priming their subconscious mind to begin making positive changes, and to incrementally change the way they think, act, and interact. Clients go at their own pace, meaning the process is very unthreatening and gentle.

    Diagnosis or recognition
    You may or may not have an official diagnosis of OCD. You may just recognise traits or are concerned about a growing problem you want to tackle now.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapists are not qualified to diagnose you. If you’d like a formal diagnosis, then please see your doctor on the first instance. However, regardless of any formal diagnosis, a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist can help you with any issues related to obsessing, ruminating or compulsions as defined and recognised by you.

    How many sessions are needed?
    The number of sessions to resolve OCD or obsessive thinking and ruminating can vary. It depends how long the condition has persisted and the intensity of the problem. We would discuss the number of sessions which may be needed in the initial consultation.


    OCD Action

    Jane Pendry DSFH, HPD, BA Hons (London), PGCE (Cantab)Reg CNHC, AfSFH, ABNLP, ABH, IARTT
    Sense-Ability Hypnotherapy & Coaching
    35 Farm Close Road, Wheatley, Oxon OX33 1XJ
    p: 07843 813 883

  • 01 Feb 2021 2:55 PM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Andrew Major
    What is procrastination?

    Have you ever found yourself asking, “why do I procrastinate so much?” or “why do I keep putting things off even though I have so much to do?” Procrastinating is one of those things that we can all suffer from – even the most organised and driven of people procrastinate at one point of another.

    Photo from CanvaYou may have fast approaching deadlines or even have the opportunity to get important projects finished ahead of time, yet when you’re procrastinating, you put off these meaningful tasks or even avoid them because they feel difficult – deliberately looking for distractions such as scrolling though social media or answering unimportant emails.

    The problem is that procrastinating gets in the way of you following through on what you promised yourself you were going to achieve. It can leave you feeling in a downward spiral of negative emotions that only serves to cloud your judgement and prevents you taking action just when it’s needed. So, what can be done about it? Let us start by looking at some of the causes and discover what you can do to overcome procrastination.

    What is the main cause of procrastination?
    You may think that procrastination is simply a lack of motivation or self-discipline, or even laziness. However, in reality, there are a number of factors that can have a bearing on your emotions and mindset, which means you are far more likely to procrastinate and put things off.

    Essentially, you can think of procrastination as a battle between the two parts of your brain. The primitive limbic system and your intellectual prefrontal cortex. The primitive limbic system is concerned with your survival. Think of it as your ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ area of the brain. Your prefrontal cortex is solution focused, enjoys a challenge, and is involved with decision making. The more time you spend in that part of the brain, the more confident and determined you are to achieve your goals.

    So, when you overthink, for example having fears of giving a talk, worries about meeting project deadlines, negatively forecasting the future, or worry about what others may think, it all leads to some level of anxiety, which builds up gradually. As it does, your primitive brain steps in to help you survive and has a much greater influence of your rational thinking and determination. It encourages you to put things off, to think the worst, and do something that feels good instead – you procrastinate.

    Not only that, but it also encourages you to focus on all the negative aspects of you goals, such as how much work is involved, how will I start, I don’t have the right information, or am I good enough to get this done. This increases your stress levels further, which leads to further disruptions and stresses, making procrastination worse.

    So how can you put your intellectual prefrontal cortex back in the driving seat?

    Can hypnotherapy help you stop procrastinating?
    Absolutely, because hypnotherapy helps you reduce the stress and anxiety that can build up gradually and gets in the way of you taking action. As your stress levels fall, the more time you spend in your rational prefrontal cortex part of the brain, and so the more confident and determined you are to work towards and achieve your goals.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a fantastic approach because rather than trying to analyse the cause of the problem, it will focus on what you want to achieve – so you can identify your plan and goals. It will then support you in taking small steps towards your overall aim by combining positive talking therapy with hypnosis at each session, so you feel more motivated.

    Does hypnosis work for motivation?

    Hypnosis can work for procrastination because your mind is more responsive to positive suggestions that are designed to be beneficial and help you change the unhelpful thought patterns that can cause procrastination. That way, you feel motivated and more determined to succeed. It creates healthy new habits and thought patterns that encourage a shift in perspective, so you feel more confidence, more productive, and more motivated each day.

    How can I stop procrastinating?
    If you’ve been putting things off, here are my top tips that will help you get started today and feel more positive about taking action:

    1  Be clear about your objectives.
    It may help to write down your goals. Remember, objectives that make you happy will be meaningful, ones that reflect your true aspirations and you’ll feel more motivated to achieve them as you move forward.

    2  Plan every day in advance
    Write down the actions you need to complete! Breaking objectives into small manageable actions will help you clarify the steps required.

    3  Remember the 80/20 rule and apply it to your day
    80% of your results will come from 20% if your efforts, so always focus your daily efforts on the most important deliverables first.

    4  Be prepared before you begin
    Make sure you have everything needed to complete your work, such as tools, materials, and equipment. It also helps to prepare your work space, making sure it is clutter free and clean. It can make a big difference to how you feel before you begin working.

    5  Motivate yourself into action
    Look at the positive aspects and seize the day as a challenge. Focusing on solutions rather than the problem leads to optimism that will help you find the creativity you need to succeed.

    6  Celebrate your achievements
    Take time at the end of each day to reflect on what you have achieved rather than what you haven’t. Be kind to yourself, and recognise what has gone well or what you’re grateful for. It will help you feel calmer and think clearly about the next steps.

    7  Get professional support
    This will help you to manage and reduce your stress levels so you can stay on track and in control. For example, hypnotherapy helps you reduce the stresses that get in the way of you taking action and helps you take small steps towards your goals, so you feel better and more motivated.

    Help to stop procrastinating
    Solution-focused hypnotherapy can help with many emotional and physical conditions, which are made worse by or caused by some level of stress or anxiety (including insomnia, stress, anxiety, depression, fear, panic and much more), without the need to analyse past problems.

    Andrew Major
    Andrew Major Hypnotherapy
    Integral LIFE Centre, 44 High Street, Bagshot, Surrey GU19 5AZ
    p: 07464 682 389


    e: info@andrewmajorhypnotherapy


  • 15 Jan 2021 9:14 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Trevor Eddolls
    With the arrival of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID19 vaccine just before Christmas, the UK population divided into three groups. The first group were keen to get the vaccination as soon as possible in order to get on with their lives. The second group were people who just don’t like needles and, even though they probably want the vaccination, were not going to have it. And the third group were described as the needle hesitancy or vaccine hesitancy group. These are people who can't decide about having the vaccine, perhaps thinking that it’s not safe. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists this group among the top 10 threats to global health. The Wellcome Global Monitor survey, looking at 2018 data, found that, in France, one in three people believe that vaccines are not safe. In the Ukraine, just half of those surveyed trusted vaccines. Other surveys found that only 15 percent of people in Russia are willing to get vaccinated as soon as possible. In the USA, the figure is 59 percent. A YouGov survey in the UK found 80 percent of people are willing to have or already have had a coronavirus injection. The number of people against vaccination seems to be growing around the world.

    Photo by Karolina Grabowska from PexelsWith the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine now also being given to older residents in a care homes and staff in those homes, as well as people over 80 and frontline health and social care workers, let’s look at that second group. A 2003 survey by Nir et al entitled “Fear of injections in young adults: prevalence and associations”, published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, found that 3.5 to 10 percent of the general population have needle phobia anxiety disorder.
    For those of you who like this kind of thing, trypanophobia is the name given to an extreme fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles. You may also hear it called aichmophobia or belonephobia, which really mean fear of sharply-pointed objects.

    How do you know if you have needle phobia? According to Anxiety UK, if you can answer YES to the following questions it is likely that you do. During the last 6 months:

    • Have you experienced a marked, persistent, and excessive fear of needles?
    • Has exposure to needles almost invariably provoked an immediate anxiety response in you?

    To complicate matters, it seems that there are four types of needle phobia.

    • Vasovagal is where people fear the sight, thought, or feeling of needles or needle-like objects. This leads them to faint (vasovagal syncope) because of a drop in blood pressure. The condition starts with momentary high blood pressure and a fast heart rate (a fight-or-flight response) followed by heart rate and blood pressure both decreasing enormously at the moment of injection. In some cases, worryingly, the drop in blood pressure caused by the vasovagal shock reflex may cause death.
    • Associative is where a traumatic event causes the person to associate all procedures involving needles with the original negative experience.
    • Resistive is where a person doesn’t just fear needles or injections but also being controlled or restrained.
    • Hyperalgesic is where people have an inherited hypersensitivity to pain (hyperalgesia). So, the pain of an injection is unbearably great. Usually, some form of anaesthetic helps these sufferers.

    And, some people experience more than one kind of needle phobia.

    Needle phobia is unusual for a phobia in that it is a direct cause of death in many documented cases – and probably the cause in many more undocumented cases because of all the people who avoid medical and dental treatment because of the condition.

    So, how can solution-focused hypnotherapy help?
    Firstly, your hypnotherapist will tell you that a fear of needles is not uncommon and tell you that the people giving the injection will be perfectly used to seeing people with your particular fear. So, they will recommend that you tell the clinician at the beginning that you don’t like needles – it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Telling the staff means that they are better placed to help you. They will be able to answer any questions you have and put you at ease.

    If you have fainted in the past, the clinicians may suggest that you lie down while they give the injection. I expect that the other techniques suggested by your solution-focused hypnotherapist will mean that doesn’t happen this time, but it won’t do any harm.

    For people with associative or resistive types of needle phobia, solution-focused hypnotherapy can help by emptying a person’s metaphorical stress bucket – helping them to feel less anxious about some things and more confident about other things. For them, techniques such as rewind – where a person plays a video in their mind of an unpleasant event – really works. And they play the video forwards and backwards, faster and faster, even with added silly music, until all the emotion associated with the event is gone, and they no longer fear it. This works well, and is combined with a reframe – where a person imagines, so often, how they would like to behave in a situation that previously they had found scary, that when they next encounter the situation, they behave just how they imagined they would.

    Even with hyperalgesic needle phobia, relaxation and bucket emptying help reduce the sensation of pain that a person feels. Emla cream is often used at the surgery to numb the pain of the injection.

    But with vasovagal needle phobia, relaxing won’t help if a person is going to naturally lower their blood pressure so much that they faint. So, how can solution-focused hypnotherapy help this group?

    The most successful technique seems to be the applied tension technique. With this, a person can increase their blood pressure back to normal – so they don’t faint. Here’s what Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital suggest that people do:

    1. Sit down somewhere that’s comfortable.
    2. Tense the muscles in your arms, upper body, and legs, and hold this tension for 10 to 15 seconds, or until you start to feel the warmth rising in your face.
    3. Release the tension and go back to your normal sitting position.
    4. After about 20 to 30 seconds, go through the tension procedure again until you feel the warmth in your face.
    5. Repeat this sequence five times.

    If you can, practise this sequence three times every day for about a week, before being vaccinated.

    It’s suggested that if a person gets headaches after doing this exercise, they don’t tense the muscles in their face and head. Also, people should be careful when tensing any part of their body where they have any health problems.

    Although people with vasovagal needle phobia don’t want to relax and lower their blood pressure during the vaccination, they do want to be relaxed when travelling to get the vaccination and when waiting to be vaccinated. Your hypnotherapist can help with that with some of the following techniques.

    Breathing techniques such as 7-11 breathing or square breathing are ways of breathing slower and relaxing. You can watch your abdomen rise and fall rather than your chest. Your hypnotherapist will show you how to do these techniques.

    Your therapist may suggest that you smile! Research by Pressman et al published in 2020 in the journal Emotion found that smiling could reduce needle pain by 40 percent. They reported that “the Duchenne smile and grimace groups reported approximately 40% less needle pain versus the neutral group”.

    So, what’s a Duchenne smile? It’s the one where you not only lift the corners of your mouth but also lift your cheeks and crinkle your eyes at the corners.

    Your solution-focused hypnotherapist will also suggest that you use distraction techniques. This is a way of focusing on something else and not keep thinking about the jab! Your hypnotherapist will have given you a download or CD. You can listen to that as a way of relaxing before being called in. Or, you can listen to music that reminds you of dancing like mad in the mosh pit to your favourite band. Or you can choose music that takes you away to distant destinations.

    You can remind yourself of a holiday or family party and step through the events that happened in real time. You can picture the scene in vivid colour with everything bright and in focus. You can imagine the events are taking place on the largest cinema screen ever. You can listen again to sounds with crystal clarity. And you can feel again those feelings that you experienced at the time.

    Or you can lose yourself in a book. Or you can focus on a game on your phone.

    CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) uses an exposure technique to help people get used to something they were originally fearful of. If you think that this is the sort of thing you like, Anxiety UK has published a self-administered behavioural exposure program in a PDF called “Injection Phobia and Needle Phobia: A brief guide”, which you can find here.

    There are three steps in the self-administered behavioural exposure hierarchy:

    1. Relaxation – which could be by practising progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, or meditation.
    2. Constructing an anxiety hierarchy or ‘fear ladder’ – where a person writes down a list of all of the situations related to needles that they fear, arranged in order of difficulty.
    3. Pairing relaxation with the situations detailed in their hierarchy – where a person climbs the ladder (by thinking about or acting out each step) from bottom to top, exposing themself to the fear for a tolerable amount of time before taking time to relax.

    Whatever type of needle phobia you experience, it’s worth contacting a solution-focused hypnotherapist to help you overcome your fear and benefit from the vaccination against the Covid-19 virus.

    Trevor Eddolls
    iTech-Ed Hypnotherapy
    Chippenham, Wilts SN14 0TL
    p: 01249 443256
    t: @iHypno2004
    i: ihypno2004

  • 04 Jan 2021 9:25 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Jane Pendry
    Can hypnotherapy help children and adults overcome picky or fussy eating issues?

    Photo by cottonbro from PexelsJunk food, packed with sugar and salt, is notoriously addictive and feeds our natural cravings for salt and sweetness. Stress and trauma can lead us to choose these sorts of foods over others. Sometimes the textures, smells or tastes of particular foods can become unappealing in childhood because of negative associations laid down in childhood.

    We know picky eaters are not usually getting the variety of food they need to have healthy minds and bodies. That’s where Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can be helpful in helping ease you into healthier eating patterns without creating distress.

    How long does it take to create a new habit?
    According to the healthline website, “It can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit and an average of 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic.”. That sounds like a long time, but much of it depends on the client’s age, the length of time a bad habit has been ingrained, current levels of stress and anxiety and the support of friends and family.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy speeds up the process of forging new, heathier habits and makes the process of embedding them painless and relatively easy.

    Can hypnotherapists work with people of any age?
    It’s often when people reach their 20s that they decide they want to address their picky eating habits. These bad habits were formed in childhood and have become embedded. Sometimes something traumatic happened and became associated with certain food types. It may be as simple as having parents who themselves had limited diets, and an awareness of health and fitness leading them to want to eat better and be more healthy.

    Usually bad habits are related to choosing foods that are sweeter or saltier. Children and teens naturally crave sweeter foots and dislike bitter foods as their taste buds develop. We are all primed to seek out sweetness as our ancestors had to be motivated to search for, pick and dig for sweet fruits and vegetables. When the craving for sweet or salty food dominates, and becomes associated with emotional comfort then we have laid the foundations for picky eating and food issues.

    Naturally, fussy eating may then lead to other health problems linked to either under eating, or over-eating the wrong kinds of high fat, high sugar foods that lead to obesity and related health issues.

    So picky eating and overeating are linked more to the emotions associated with food than the food itself.

    Basic understanding of good nutrition
    It helps to have a basic understanding of good nutrition. But in order to move forward it might help to take one step at a time and simply break the negative associations and explore different foods to wider food intake.

    I treat weight loss and picky eating in a similar way. We explore the emotional associations linked to various foods, food habits, eating habits, eating times and sleep. By supporting clients to frame visualise incremental changes in their eating habits, we can work together to make those changes at the pace of the client. There’s no sense of force or unrealistic or achievable goals. The clients set the goals, which often become more ambitious as they become more confident. But they always come from the client; not me.

    How do we work together to resolve a fussy eating issue?
    We start by keeping a weekly record of what has been good and better. We begin by asking:

    • What do you currently eat?
    • What would you like to try to eat this coming week?
    • What would you absolutely refuse to eat at the moment?

    The phrase ‘at the moment’ is very important. No habit is embedded for every and there is always an opportunity for change. However, there may be some foods that never appeal – as is true for all of us – but client find they can still increase the variety of food they eat while feeling comfortable that their absolute ‘red lines’ will not be pushed too far.

    Hypnotherapy reduces the anxiety of trying new foods. If appropriate, we work with Rewind Trauma Therapy and hypnotherapy to change traumatic associations and dull triggers so the client can make new, healthier and more enjoyable associations. By reducing stress overall and improving sleep, clients feel more able to try new foods and create new associations – step by step.

    Sometimes progress is rapid; sometimes it takes time. The pace is set by the client taking the pressure off them to find a quick solution.

    It’s particularly important that the client is motivated to make the change themselves rather than feeling pressured by a friend, partner or parent. Solution Focused approaches – which keep you firmly anchored in the present and future and involve no analysis or digging into the past – ensure the client remains in control of the process at all times.

    How long does it take to resolve the issue?
    Firstly, the client needs to determine what success looks like. What are their best hopes for the process? Is it to eat a wider variety of foods? Is it to eat almost all food types? Is it to overcome a dislike of specific named food stuffs?

    One the client has determined a frame of reference for success, we might expect to work together for 4 weeks to 12 weeks, depending on the nature of the issue. Often, we work intensely together for the first few weeks and take stock of where the client is on their journey. In short, we take it session by session.

    Does hypnotherapy work with children?
    I can work with children over 10. Often this involves working the parent too, ascertaining whether the parent is putting too much pressure on the child, or has issues with food themselves. As hypnotherapy sessions are absolutely tailored to the individual the nature of the issue, and possible solutions would need to be discussed with the parent and child, along with safeguarding issues.

    If you have a child who is a fussy eater, it’s very important that mealtimes don’t become a battle of wills involving coercion, force and shame. I can help parents create a healthy eating environment. Eating meals at the table as a family, where possible, is helpful as is modelling healthy eating. Avoid using sugary or salty foods as rewards as this creates unhelpful associations which will create lifelong unhelpful habits.

    What does healthy eating look like?
    Healthy eating involves eating a variety of food types: protein, complex carbohydrates, vegetable and fruits. Scientists have explored the relationship between sweet, salty and fatty foods and how these create addiction-like effects in the human body and brain including the relationship between losing self-control, over-eating and subsequent weight gain. So sugar and salty snacks is often a good place to start.

    We keep nutritional knowledge very basic at this stage. The aim is to change habits and break negative associations. There is plenty of information out there about healthy eating and many nutritionists who can help with specific nutritional needs for sports performance, or to reduce symptoms in the case of chronic illness.

    How can parents help children who are picky eaters?
    Always offer the healthy option first and have plenty of fruit and vegetables to hand. Avoid buying cakes, biscuits and sweets until habits are broken. If they aren’t in the house, they can’t be offered. Our taste for sugar and sweet things does change quite quickly, once our body becomes more regulated. The whole issue of sugar and its impact on our bodies is, in itself a complex one.

    Firstly, parents need to educate themselves on the impact of refined carbohydrates and sugar on the system, including behaviour. Sugar is highly addictive. The NHS page at the bottom of this piece outlines some basic information.

    Sugar is associated with all sorts of health issues, from diabetes to dementia. It also impairs our cognitive abilities and self-control.

    The biggest piece of advice is to avoid using affirmations that link bad foods to behaviour, things like; “If you are good you can have some cake”. This sets up bad eating habits for life as bad foods become rewards for good behaviour! Equally avoid blame and shame, such as “There are starving children in Africa. Eat up.” Whether the comments are positive or negative, linking reward or shame to eating may create unhelpful associations which are difficult to shift.

    Stick to the mantra; “Eat what you can; leave what you can’t. Just do your best.” The same applies to adults trying to change habits. Just trying a new food type might be a step forward to start with.

    How does Hypnotherapy help?
    Hypnotherapy is simply working with your subconscious mind to support you to make new and healthy habits. We work with hypnotic suggestions, which do not involve direct commands which the subconscious mind can resist. Using guided meditation to help you get in to a deeply relaxed state, I then add in these suggestions, many of them in your own words, to create a state of relaxation, create a healthy sleeping and eating pattern and to create new positive associations with new food types.

    We can get you back to healthy patterns of eating in a relatively short time, and these changes will be embedded for the future improving your health, wellbeing and maybe even your life expectancy! 

    Jane Pendry DSFH, HPD, BA Hons (London), PGCE (Cantab)Reg CNHC, AfSFH, ABNLP, ABH, IARTT
    Sense-Ability Hypnotherapy & Coaching
    35 Farm Close Road, Wheatley, Oxon OX33 1XJ
    p: 07843 813 883


  • 02 Dec 2020 4:54 PM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Katherine Finn
    I appreciate that even for those of us who usually look forward to the festive season, 2020 continues to challenge us – requiring us to compromise and adapt our hoped-for plans. But does this mean we are also forced to lower our expectations and restrict our opportunities for creating and sharing the magic of Christmas? I suppose it depends on what ‘Christmas’ means to you.

    Photo by Anton Scherbakov on UnsplashPerhaps if 2020 does have a silver lining, it’s the opportunity we’ve had to re-evaluate, prioritise, and appreciate the simple things in life – an ‘attitude of gratitude’ for the things and people we can sometimes take for granted. Plus, our constant attempt to focus on what we can influence and our recognition of the benefits in doing just that.

    We’ve been asked repeatedly to practise thinking, acting, and interacting in a positive way – despite the pandemic – and what better time to reflect, acknowledge, and celebrate your personal strengths and the qualities that have helped you through this testing time?

    Christmas may not be ‘normal’ this year, but perhaps you can utilise your skills to create a different recipe using the ingredients you have to hand. Let’s take back control with our imaginations, our creativity, our sense of humour, and our values – all of which are priceless, yet can be gift-wrapped to share with others at no expense. Small acts of empathy, kindness, and compassion can make a big difference, and they can bridge a physical gap allowing us to reach out and connect with one another. And it doesn’t stop there – there’s often a wonderful ripple effect and you’ll notice a rewarding bounce-back, which, in turn, gives you a lovely boost.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy helps you to combat feelings of anxiety, frustration, and low mood and gives you the tools to find your way into the best mindset possible – so that you can cope better, whatever the situation. Solution-focused hypnotherapists work on the premise that “problem talk creates problems, solution talk creates solutions” (Steve de Shazer). Using your imagination to your advantage is therefore key because neurons that fire together wire together and map new neural pathways in your brain for your thoughts, feelings, and behaviour to follow.

    You can start now by putting any frustrations, stresses, or worries gently to one side and instead visualising what you wish for this Christmas – concentrating on what is possible and within your reach

    I hope you enjoy a peaceful, relaxing, and healthy Christmas.

    Katherine Finn
    BA (Hons), DipSFH, Reg AfSFH, CNHC, NCP
    p: 01403 597726

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