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What makes a great hypnotherapist?

On a regular basis, I speak to people who are set to benefit from hypnotherapy: they have a compelling need to make those changes in their lives, they take responsibility for the outcome and they’re looking forward to enjoying the benefits. Often, they get a bit stuck at this point as they try to find the right therapist for them at that time.

So, what make a hypnotherapist the right hypnotherapist for you at the moment?

 

The over-riding factor is your gut instinct: rapport between therapist and client is so important in achieving the best outcomes. What are your feelings as you look through their website and speak to them?

Beyond that, consider the following – any credible hypnotherapist would be happy to confirm any of these:

  • They are open about what certifications they have, from where and what continuous professional development they do. Remember that the term ‘diploma’ is, in itself, meaningless. The key things to look for when assessing a certification are how much work did it take to obtain, who accredited it and what competence does the accreditor have?
  • That they are required to undertake a level of continuous professional development.
  • They are members of recognised professional organisations. There are many of these – The key thing to look for is the organisation’s affiliation with the National Council for Hypnotherapy and / or the Complimentary and Natural Health Care Council.
  • That they have Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII). This is not to expect anything to go wrong but it does give a degree of assurance as to the quality of their qualifications. Each broker offering PII to hypnotherapists has a list of certifications they accept as being suitable – and they are pretty shrewd about who they insure.
  • They have lived experience of the issues you have chosen to resolve.
  • They are clear about their overall balance between therapy and hypnosis.
  • They allow you to set your own goals and they work to your (rather than their) agenda.
  • They encourage and support you to become proficient in self-hypnosis and managing your wellbeing for the long term.
  • They are happy to share content, resources and references with you to give a deeper understanding of what they, and you, are doing.
  • They focus on you achieving your goals efficiently – there are no signs of them spinning things out for extra sessions.

 

 

Introverts and anxiety

 Anxiety.

That emotion warning us something threatening is just about to happen. Life-saving when we are genuinely threatened, damaging when we become constantly anxious: anxiety is tiring – it is meant to be. We are only meant to be anxious for very short periods. When prolonged, it isn’t just tiring – it is exhausting. Sound familiar?

Introverts.

Those of us who prefer calm situations and environments. We prefer to re-charge on our own. We often enjoy losing ourselves in our own thoughts. We tend to prefer small, close-knit, social lives. It doesn’t mean we’re anti-social!

Not all introverts experience anxiety, and you don’t have to be an introvert to struggle with it. Many introverts deal with anxiety, though, so this is quite common.

Here are the key signs you’re an introvert with anxiety:

 

  • You’re more prepared than most others because you’ve already thought through the worst-case scenarios.
  • You have a tendency to over-think things and pay too much attention to your negative self-talk.
  • You feel you always have to be doing something – being busy (which is often different from being effective) may be a means of trying to cope with the anxiety.
  • You tend to prefer routines to novel situations. While this can be fine for periods, boredom and unexpected issues arising can easily throw you in to a spin.
  • You’re often nervous without showing it – many become very effective at masking their emotions as a defence mechanism.
  • You are more likely to perceive situations as being more dangerous than they really are – anxiety primes us for the fight, flight, freeze response making us more likely to over-react to a low-risk situation.
  • You have tendencies towards perfectionism. This is often allied to beliefs such as ‘I need to please everyone’, ‘I need everyone to like me to be a worthy person’.
  • Nervousness can throw your chatter in to over-drive: while you normally only speak when you have something significant to say (and you’re normally sure of your facts before speaking), nerves can have you chattering away in an attempt to over-compensate.
  • You often have trouble sleeping – either getting to sleep a-tall, waking through the night or waking way too early

 

Being an introvert with anxiety can be hard. Thankfully there is help at hand. Anxiety in its many guises is one of the most common issues Solution Focused Hypnotherapy helps people with.

 

Ask yourself: What have I learned from this article that I will adopt today as my own? What is the one thing that has grabbed me, and what will I do about it NOW?

 

And who do you think you are?

I’m a fraud.

I’m not worthy.

Is this really me?

I don’t belong here.

I’m not good enough.

Who do I think I am?

Who am I getting ideas above my station?

Sound familiar?

Welcome to Imposter Syndrome. You’re in good company. Nigella Lawson, Michelle Obama, Lady GaGa and Lily Allen have all shared their imposter syndrome experiences publicly. But what is this demon?

It’s an umbrella term, under which lives one or more limiting beliefs such as those generalised ones above. They may be accompanied by more specific beliefs. These are typically formed rationally in childhood and, as children, may serve us well. For example;

 I need everyone to approve of me.

To be a valued I must succeed in everything I do.

I shouldn’t have to feel sadness, discomfort and pain.

It is not OK for me to make mistakes. If I do, I am bad.

Someone, somewhere, should take responsibility for me.

Everyone needs to rely on someone stronger than themselves.

In can feel happy in life without contributing back in some way.

What would your own list look like?

However, time moves on and things change. As we become adults, our childhood beliefs serve us less well – and the resultant behaviours may be incongruent with the situation we are in. This leads to the conclusion that one of the things it means to grow up, is to develop out of our childhood beliefs and adopt a new set of beliefs that will serve us better as adults. This progression follows a broad pattern of developing from dependence as children to independence as young adults to interdependence as mature adults.

 

 

Our overall set of beliefs are developing all the time. However, most of us will carry some of our childhood beliefs with us in to adulthood. Most of these will be innocuous most of the time but some of them will, sometimes, impede our performance as high functioning, inter-dependent, adults. As adults, we benefit from identifying our limiting beliefs, and growing in to more valuable beliefs.

By way of an example, a common limiting belief sitting under the Imposter Syndrome umbrella is ‘I must compare myself to others’ which can be re-framed to ‘I live my own life on my own terms’ or ‘I have a unique set of character strengths, as do others’. In turn the re-framed beliefs can underpin valuable affirmations such as ‘Because I live my own life, I enjoy the successes of others’ or ‘I choose to celebrate my successes without reference to other’s accomplishments’ or ‘The fact that I choose to live my life authentically means I only compare myself against my own standards’.

 

A standard element of working with PERMA Hypnotherapy is developing a high degree of self-awareness via exploring your characters strengths, values, beliefs and limiting beliefs which paves the way to defining your identity. In turn, this leaves you ideally placed to choose your own best future and use trance to support you in getting there.

Working with a hypnotherapist is particularly well suited to personal development in this area as – by its very nature – it opens up the pathways between the parts we know and recognise as ‘us’ and the deeper levels of our wisdom: ideal for when we need to take those big steps forward.

 

Are you Bothered By Unhelpful Thoughts?

It can happen so easily. You’re trying to concentrate on your work, and your mind wanders off to a completely unrelated topic. Or, maybe you’re about to go on a first date, and all you can think about is how horrible your last few dates have been.

Unhelpful thoughts can be distractions or be destructive.

Your mind is incredible. When you manage your thoughts, you have your mind working for you. Imagine how powerful you would become if you could ignore or replace your negative thoughts! You could accomplish more and get greater enjoyment from your life.

 

 

These strategies can help manage thoughts that don’t support you:

Maintain space between yourself and your thoughts. You don’t have to engage with your thoughts. You don’t focus on every person, tree, and car you pass when you’re driving down the road. Most of these things pass through your awareness without you pursuing them further.

● You can do the same thing with your unhelpful thoughts. Allow them to simply pass on by.

● Your thoughts are simply something that you experience – you are not your thoughts.

 

Recognise that it is your brain’s nature to produce random thoughts. The thoughts you experience say little about you. It’s the nature of your brain to produce thoughts. It’s always going to give you something to think about.

● Occasionally those thoughts are useful. Frequently, they’re frivolous. Sometimes, your thoughts can be quite disturbing. We have evolved to pay more attention to negative thoughts: with self-awareness we can see them for what they are and then move on.

Meditation is a helpful tool for understanding the nature of your mind. The first thing you notice when you attempt to meditate is the random and restless nature of your mind.

● Focus on your breathing. When you find yourself fuming about your boss, wondering what happened to your high school friends, or making a mental grocery list, simply redirect your attention back to your breathing.

 

Focus your attention on a thought of your choosing. You can think about anything you choose to think about. You can think about riding a flying bicycle, eating a lemon, or what you have chosen to accomplish today.

● When you’re experiencing an unhelpful thought, you can decide to think about something more useful. Recognize that you have the ability to direct your thinking as you see fit.

 

Apply logic. Poor thinking leads to poor decision making. When your thoughts are leading you astray, put your logical mind to good use. Ask yourself what a sensible person, or your role model, would do in this situation. What would you advise a friend to do?

Are negative or distracting thoughts getting in your way on a regular basis? You’re not alone. The human brain loves to stay active and will wander from one idea to another until you take control of it.

The key is to focus your attention on what you choose, recognize your random thoughts for what they are and allow them to pass.

For many, these tips are enough to get back on track. For those needing a little extra help, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can build the platform for getting you back on top of things and sustaining your well-being.

 

Ask yourself what you will do differently than last year and what abilities will you need to make changes that will last for the rest of your life?

Changing From The Inside Out

There’s little we can control in the world. Other people, the stock market, weather, or the world events are outside of our influence. However, we can control ourselves, and that’s all we need to control. Changing our inner world leads to the changes we wish to see in our lives.

 

It may be hard to believe that changing our thoughts or attitude can make us healthy, wealthy, and wise. However, making inner changes can have dramatic effects on every part of our lives.

Enhance your life by making these internal changes:

How you view failure. Do you view failure as an embarrassment? Is it something you should avoid at all costs?

● What if you viewed failure as simply a step along the way to success? Failure just means that the approach you used didn’t work. It’s an opportunity to re-think your process and try again. If you keep learning and making improvements, how can you possibly fail in the long-term?

● The way you view adversity plays a big part in your overall wellbeing. How do you view setbacks? – are they personal, permanent and pervasive or temporary situations to be built upon? What view would be most useful to you?

Values. Suppose someone valued charity, kindness, and modesty. What type of life would they lead? Suppose someone else valued freedom, adventure, and courage. Now, suppose a third person valued money, power, and greed. It’s easy to see how these three people would lead very different lives.

● What are your values? Do they support the life you want to live? Or, is your life in line with your values?

Beliefs. Beliefs frame how you view the world. What you believe about yourself may be limiting. Beliefs evolve through time: do you believe the same about Santa Claus now as you did when you were six years old?

● List some of your beliefs about the world, yourself, and life in general. How are those beliefs helping or hurting you? What beliefs would be helpful for you to develop and enjoy the life you desire?

Attitude. Do you expect things to work out for you, or are you primarily pessimistic? You’ll be less likely to try to do something if you have negative expectations. A positive attitude can help with your patience and ability to persevere when things aren’t going well.

● Consider how your attitude is impacting the results you’re generating in your life.

Gratitude. Giving yourself a reminder of what is already working in your life can positively impact your attitude and expectations. It can also reduce anxiety and benefit your perspective.

● Take a few minutes from time to time to list the things that make you’re grateful for. Notice the small things – they’re often, actually, the big things!

Thoughts. Our thoughts are under our control, though it might not seem that way. It’s easy to prove this to yourself. You can choose to think about an ice cream cone or a green cow. You can choose to think about anything you like.

● It’s valuable to take control of your thoughts. If you’re predominately thinking about negative outcomes, you’re going to struggle.

● Monitor your thinking, keep things in perspective. Note those recurring, unhelpful, thoughts: challenge yourself to challenge yourself.

 

 

Changing yourself internally can support you in living your best life. Without making those inner changes, any behavioural changes are likely to be superficial. You’ll be constantly fighting yourself – and that’s hard work!

Inner changes align your thoughts with your behaviour: you with the world around you.

For many, these actions can be transformative. For those needing a little extra help, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can build the platform for getting you back on top of things and sustaining your wellbeing.

 

Ask Yourself: What am I excited about transforming in my life…and what improvements will I implement…today?

So What is PERMA?

PERMA has become one of most widely used models of wellbeing. The name is an acronym for the basic framework.

               Positive Emotions

Positive Engagement

Positive Relationships

Positive Meaning

Positive Accomplishments.

 

Those who have these elements in their lives are more fulfilled, healthier and happier. This is my personal version of the PERMA model. The basic framework leaves plenty of flexibility to suit each individual’s needs.

 

Positive Emotions – comprising three sets of emotions. Firstly, the pleasures: rapture, ecstasy, warmth, comfort, pleasantness. The pleasures can be externally stimulated, can often be bought, tend to require little effort. They typically experience diminished returns and their pleasures are short lived. Secondly, gratification: that feeling of time stopping, being totally absorbed in an activity as we effortlessly lose our self-consciousness. Finally, purpose: belonging to and serving something we value and perceive to be bigger than ourselves – often involves creating a legacy.

Positive Engagementflow, being in the zone, being totally absorbed in doing something you value for its own sake.

Positive Relationships – We’re social animals: the quality – not necessarily the quantity – of our relationships is hugely influential on our wellbeing. In particular, the relationship we have with ourselves.

Positive Meaning – belonging to, and / or serving a cause bigger than our-selves which we, personally, value.

Positive Accomplishments – those outcomes we cherish, that we’re proud of having achieved, that are meaningful to us, that we are motivated to achieve.

 

 

 

 

This framework can be used to develop a bespoke personal development program for any individual. PERMA, combined with the solution focused approach and the transformative abilities of hypnosis is ideally suited to sustaining your long-term wellbeing.

PERMA is attributed to Martin Seligman, here he introduces the basic model. I have a transcript of this video, available on request.

Ask yourself: Which of the key points in this article will I immediately apply to improve my life…change my circumstances…and make a difference somewhere…to someone?

 

Self-Esteem V’s Self-Worth

Self-Esteem: is about the actions we take in the outside world, how we portray ourselves and how we compare ourselves to others (invariably negatively), how we think others perceive us. It is externally focused.

Self-Worth: by contrast is internally focused. It is the value we place on ourselves. It comes from living authentically, living the life that is right for us – consistent with our identity, values and beliefs – all those things that are inside us: living out own lives and being our best selves.

Without self-worth, we will never have self-esteem. Once we know our authentic selves, our actions become consistent with our identity. We no longer get caught up with chasing and running away from the perceptions of others.

 

 

So, shift your focus away from self-esteem. Focus on you – your values, beliefs and your identity to live your authentic, best, life: develop your self-worth and self-esteem will follow.

 

Ask yourself: what key piece of information have I taken from this note that I’m going to make work for me today?

Going With The Flow?

Most of us have experienced it.

That feeling of being totally absorbed in the moment. So immersed in what we’re doing that we’re not aware of time passing or what’s going on around us. In fact, we’re almost completely unaware of anything.

This is Flow – being ‘in the zone’.

Mostly, flow happens spontaneously. However, the conditions for encouraging flow are known:
• You know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other.
• You get immediate feedback.
• You know that what you need to do is possible to do even though difficult.
• Sense of time disappears.
• You forget yourself.
• You feel part of something larger
• What you are doing becomes worth doing for its own sake.

 

The pioneering researcher in this area is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced cheeks-sent-my-high) and in this video he introduces flow as only he can. I have  a transcript of this video that I’d be happy to pass on – you can reach me on the contact page.

 

 

 

In the PERMA model, flow maps over most closely to positive engagement. Now, while Martin Seligman is the name everyone associates with the PERMA model and Positive Psychology (a name even its ‘inventors’ do not like!) more generally, Mihaly was one of the small group who met in that first week of 1998 to agree the substance of this new field of psychology: to use what we know to help people live their best lives.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy combines the best of this new understanding with the Solution Focused approach and the transformative capability of trance to best support you in building and sustaining your own best life.

Ask yourself: How will I take action immediately in creating the best life I can?

Visualisation

Hi – and a warm welcome to those who have recently followed this page. In continuing to build this place of useful learning, I’m going to share some short excerpts from the excellent ‘How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body’ by David R. Hamilton, PhD. I’ve become increasingly fascinated with this area since a number of my clients have reported ‘collateral’ benefits e.g. less aches and pains, reduced alcohol consumption and just ‘feeling better’. I can highly recommend David’s book.

At the outset, we need to be clear on two things. Firstly, the plural of anecdote is not evidence. One person’s experience won’t necessarily map over to another’s. However, the evidence does suggest the emergence of common themes – that regular trance / meditation can provide health and wellbeing benefits. Secondly, complimentary approaches are intended to be deployed in addition to any medical care being received: not as an alternative.

From David’s book:

‘’Six Visualisation Pathways

1. A person’s practice impacts their immune system.
Visualisation seems to impact the immune system, and in a selective way. People visualising their immune cells multiplying or their immune system destroying invading pathogens or cancer cells tend to have increased immune function. Thus, visualisation of the immune system might assist in the healing and recovery of a large number of medical conditions. In addition, whether a person visualises the action of the immune system or not, if there’s a positive effect on health, it may be that the immune system has been stimulated in some way as a direct or indirect consequence of the visualisation.

2. Direct effects via the nervous system.

When a person repeatedly visualises something, it creates physical changes in the brain through neuroplasticity. For rehabilitation from a stroke or improving performance at a sport, this is accompanied by a physical change in the body, particularly in the region that a person’s attention is focused upon, but also on other systems of the body that are relevant to the change.

In effect, there’s a cumulative effect of a person’s consistent focus, just as muscles grow cumulatively stronger as we exercise them. It’s likely that this will increase blood flow to an area visualised, which will carry nutrients, growth factors and immune cells to the area as required.

3. Direct effects via neuropeptides.

Just as feelings of stress produce stress hormones, so some mental and emotional states produce different hormones, or neuropeptides. Neuropeptides are substances that play roles in the body as well as in the brain, hence neuropeptides.

As an example, love, kindness, affection, compassion and emotional warmth produce oxytocin, a neuropeptide that, as well as acting in the brain, also has physical effects throughout the body. Oxytocin receptors are found in multiple locations throughout the body, including the heart and arteries. Using these, oxytocin impact the arteries, lowering blood pressure, as well as having roles in wound healing. It also impacts the gut and plays a role in digestion.

A person whose visualisations are characterised by these warm, positive emotions is likely to produce oxytocin and thus have beneficial effects throughout these systems. Other mental and emotional states may produce neuropeptides that bring about other specific beneficial effects in the body.

 

 

4. A person feels empowered rather than hopeless.

It’s all too easy to feel hopeless when you’re sick or injured, especially if the illness or injury is physically or emotionally debilitating. I often hear people say that understanding the mind-body connection gives them a sense of empowerment: that using their mind is something they can do to assist in the process of moving towards wellness.

It may be that a sense of empowerment produces an as-yet-unidentified healing effect. At the very least, it can reduce stress and give birth to hope. Furthermore, a reduction in stress helps the immune system work more optimally.

5. The impact of positive belief.

Expectation and belief have direct physical effects. Although sometimes dismissed as something that only affects symptoms of illness, research into the placebo effect is revealing that the effects of expectation or belief are much broader the we first realised.

Belied creates chemical changes in the brain and throughout the body, impacting on many more systems that we initially thought. It may be that some of these effects have a direct bearing on the course of a person’s condition, accelerating the move towards wellness.

6. The focusing of a person’s willpower.

I done think we should ever underestimate the power of a person’s will to live. Will to live is a determination to survive and is often characterised by hope of a positive expectation of the future.

Will to live can impact a person in many ways, not just in their psychological state. But it can reduce stress and fear, and may also stimulate a person to make necessary, sometimes subtle, but significant changes required for their health. Visualisation can impact on a person’s will to live by aiding their focus on health.

Overall, common to all these pathways is repetition: I believe that repetition of a visualisation process refines brain circuits. In other words, repetition causes neuroplasticity. I believe that at some point, given that in some ways the brain doesn’t distinguish real from imaginary, the brain will ‘wire in’ a picture of wellness. In time, perhaps the brain circuits of this imagined wellness become more dominant than those related to the presence of illness.’’

 

Ask Yourself: Which of the key points in this excerpt will I immediately apply to improve my life…change my circumstances…and make a difference somewhere…to someone? What is going on in my life…that has gone on too long…and what will I do about it…now?

Are you an Introvert with Anxiety?

”Anxiety causes a nagging thought that something terrible is going to happen. Being an introvert means you prefer calm situations and environments that aren’t stimulating. To be an introvert with anxiety means that you deal with both of those things at once.”

 

 

 

”Introversion means that you prefer calm environments without too much stimulation. Not every introvert experiences anxiety, and you don’t have to be an introvert to struggle with it. Many introverts deal with anxiety, though, so it is common to be an introvert with anxiety.”

 

Are you an Introvert with Anxiety?

 

Being an introvert with anxiety can be hard. Thankfully there is help at hand. Many find Solution Focused Hypnotherapy to be highly effective in helping with anxiety and getting back on top of things again.

 

Ask yourself: What have I learned from this article that I will adopt today as my own? What is the one thing that has grabbed me, and what will I do about it NOW?