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).

For members of the public, welcome to the fascinating world of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy!

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  • 02 Nov 2020 11:41 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Jane Pendry
    Linda learnt to manage her chronic back pain with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy. And there’s plenty of clinical evidence that endorses her experience.

    Regular listening to a relaxation recording every evening, together with a series of six tailored Solution Focused Hypnotherapy sessions, helped Linda change the way she experienced pain. As a result, Linda was able to access physical therapy to help the underlying cause of her back pain.

    Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels“I was sceptical about hypnotherapy”, Linda explained. “My back pain was caused by a sporting injury many years ago. It seemed to be getting worse. Pain killers weren’t working very well. However, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy with Jane has made a real difference. I had been taking many more pain killers than I should, and now I only take them occasionally. I am in control of my medication, I get out more, I am more connected to friends and family, and do more exercise. All of which seem to have further improved my physical health and reduced my experience of pain. I am less depressed, isolated, and irritable too.”

    Linda’s pain didn’t miraculously disappear. It subsided to manageable levels. She was able to engage more in everyday activities, which created a virtuous circle of thought and action that reduced the experience of pain, and often enabled her to forget about it altogether.

    What causes chronic pain?
    Pain is sending a message to the brain that we need to take action – for example taking our hand out of the fire, or rubbing our nettle sting with dock leaves!

    Chronic pain however has no such useful biological function. When pain becomes persistent it becomes more complex. Pain research indicates that there are psychological, physical, emotional, and neurological elements to pain.

    Photo by Karolina Grabowska from PexelsChronic pain falls under anaesthetists for historical reasons, but in reality, medical science doesn’t fully understand the pathways of pain, and cannot completely resolve the issue with medication. In other words, conventional medicine is not always helpful for chronic pain.

    The NHS Chronic Pain page explains: “The brain and the nerves inside the spine make up the central nervous system. The spinal nerves carry messages from the body to the brain to tell it what's going on.
    “Short, sharp and well localised pain is known as acute pain, which is transferred to the brain via A-Fibres.

    “When pain is persistent and not localised, for example the experience of burning, aching or throbbing sensations, we refer to it as chronic pain. Chronic pain signals are transmitted via C-Fibres.

    “In short: A-fibres are fast transmitters and take precedence over C-Fibres, so acute pain overrides chronic pain. We may have chronic terrible back pain but if we burn our hand, the intense localised pain overwhelms the chronic persistent pain.”

    The Pain Gate Control theory hypothesises that some C-Fibres transmit signals from the brain down the spinal column. When inhibitory neurons are excited by neurotransmitters (eg serotonin and noradrenaline) they can produce endorphins and enkephalins which act as a ‘pain gate’.

    So, Pain Gate Theory looks to ‘close a gate’ on the pain signal. A relaxed positive state of mind encourages the production of serotonin, the naturally produced chemical that helps us cope with life. Serotonin can, in turn, interrupt pain signals received in the brain.

    How Does Hypnotherapy Help ‘Close the Pain Gate’?
    Simply, pain pathways can be blocked to ‘close the gate’ on pain.
    Hypnotherapy, and the Solution Focused practise that works alongside it, helps to create the steady flow of chemicals that help block pain. Many medications, including some anti-depressants work in a similar way. Only with hypnotherapy, there are no side effects or potential addictions.

    The sympathetic nervous system influences whether pain signals are sent back up the spinal cord to the brain. Neurotransmitters linked to stress hormones can increase the experience of pain. Any therapies that support the parasympathetic nervous system help to counter the activity of these neurotransmitters. That might include massage, reiki, medication, mindfulness and of course, hypnotherapy. In short, it’s important to stay relaxed and to manage your stress.

    Photo by Fa Barboza from UnsplashSolution Focused Hypnotherapy focuses on calming, relaxation techniques that change the way pain is experienced and perceived. Solution Focused Brief Therapy focuses the mind on the positive elements of the present and future. Rather than convince you your pain doesn’t exist – it undoubtedly does – Solution Focused thinking helps you focus on habits and behaviours that will ease pain, reduce stress, and relax the nervous system to reduce awareness of the sensations.

    All hypnotherapy helps to create a steady flow of serotonin, which helps to interrupt pain signals received by the brain. Hypnotherapy can train the brain to refocus attention on more pleasant scenes and experiences that produce the right chemical responses that help to ease the pain.

    For Linda, the sound of the ocean, the feel of sand, the warmth of the sun were all soothing experiences that took her away from her pain. Regular sessions and listening to a relaxation recording all helped her reduce her experience of pain.

    Clinical Evidence on Hypnosis for Pain Management
    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, and other forms of hypnotherapy, even self-hypnosis, have been proven to be a viable therapy for pain management.

    The earliest case reports describing hypnotic strategies for chronic pain management were published in 1950s; biofeedback technology was also helping to create similar physiologic states that reduced pain. A number of studies followed looking at hypnosis for chronic pelvic pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis confirmed those findings.

    Hypnosis is also shown to improve sleep and reduce stress; two factors that can exacerbate the experience of pain.

    As opioids* for chronic pain management have become contentious, concerns related to effectiveness, safety, and abuse have evolved over decades, the medical professional is seeking effective alternatives.

    Research conducted by the University of Utah* explored three different therapeutic interventions (meditation, hypnosis, and pain coping education) over a year. 244 patients who had reported experiencing unmanageable pain as the result of illness, disease, or surgical procedures took part.

    Those who received a hypnotic suggestion intervention experienced an average 29% reduction in pain, even though sessions were short (15 minutes) and couldn’t be tailored to the patient. This clinically significant level of pain relief is roughly equivalent to the pain relief produced by 5 milligrams of a drug called oxycodone. In this study, mindfulness resulted in a 23% reduction in the experience of pain, and the education intervention just 9%.

    Results from a study by the University of Greenwich* support those findings. Although some patients are more responsive to hypnosis than others, researchers found that therapeutic benefits exist across groups. Researchers’ findings detailed that pain levels fell by over 40% for patients who were described as being highly responsive to hypnosis and by 29% for those who were considered as only moderately responsive.

    Gary Elkins, Marp P Jensen, and David R Patterson in their article Hypnotherapy for the Management of Chronic Pain* reviewed controlled prospective trials of hypnosis for the treatment of chronic pain.

    The Researchers explained, “The findings indicate that hypnosis interventions consistently produce significant decreases in pain associated with a variety of chronic-pain problems. Also, hypnosis was generally found to be more effective than non-hypnotic interventions such as attention, physical therapy, and education.”

    Why CHOOSE Solution Focused Hypnotherapy?
    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy provides the benefits of hypnotherapy, proven through scientific evidence to reduce the experience of chronic pain. In addition, the Solution Focused questions that keep clients focused on what is good, better, or improving every week, also moves people towards managing their own general wellbeing and finding new solutions to reduce stress, increase activity, and enjoy activities more.

    With Solution Focused Hypnotherapy you retain your agency – that is you are in control. You are in a light to medium trance, but you are not completely ‘out of it’ or out of control.

    Jane Pendry DSFH, HPD, BA Hons (London), PGCE (Cantab)Reg CNHC, AfSFH, ABNLP, ABH, IARTT
    Sense-Ability Hypnotherapy & Coaching
    p: 07843 813 883


    Medical issues should always be directed to a fully qualified doctor and people with chronic conditions and any on-going type of pain should, if they haven’t already done so, see their GP in the first instance.

    Hypnosis, even when conducted by a trained accredited practitioner, isn’t for everyone. Some people are resistant to the idea, others object on the grounds of personal belief or have serious psychological disorders. It’s important, in the case of chronic complex or mental illnesses that practitioners contact the relevant medical professional to ensure that any complementary treatment is appropriate. Where hypnosis is not advised, clients may like to consider the biofeedback, meditation or mindfulness.

    Hypnotherapy for the Management of Chronic Pain, Gary Elkins, Mark P. Jensen, and David R. Patterson

    University of Utah Research

    University of Greenwich Research summary from the Nursing Times

    Opioids and the Treatment of Chronic Pain: Controversies, Current Status, and Future Directions by Andrew Rosenblum, Lisa A. Marsch, Herman Joseph, and Russell K. Portenoy details issues, controversies and benefits related to opiods and pain management.

    Nursing Times article on the pain mechanism.

  • 01 Oct 2020 8:30 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Caroline Smith Mclean
    Many of my customers recently seem to be showing more of an interest in the Law of Attraction (maybe not a coincidence??) and it’s been extremely interesting for me as I personally am a huge believer myself.

    Law of Attraction And the great news is that solutions focused hypnotherapy works even if you are a believer, or NOT... everything we do is backed up by science and/or research, so, it suits both non-spiritual, more logical thinkers and those who are big believers. (Personally, I’d say I’m a bit of both… I like my spiritual beliefs to be backed up with some kind of science/evidence!)

    What is the Law of Attraction?
    For those who believe in it, the Law of Attraction is a universal law, similar to that of gravity that is working all of the time. It is a belief that our thoughts or emotions are being brought into reality (both good or bad) – often without us even realising it.

    Law of AttractionYou may have heard some quotes similar to these:
    “What you think you become. What you feel you attract. What you imagine you create.” – Buddha

    “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way you are right.” – Henry Ford

    “You create your thoughts, your thoughts create your intentions, and your intentions create your reality.” – Wayne Dyer

    “Where attention goes energy flows. Where intention goes energy flows!” – James Redfield

    The belief is that everything consists of energy (vibrations, even the Beach Boys sang a song called ‘Good Vibrations’) and, therefore, our thoughts create our reality. You may remember a time when you were thinking about someone and the same day they sent a message to you, or called?

    Law of AttractionI have always been a very imaginative thinker and remember so many times when I have allowed myself to daydream and imagine things that later became reality... and this was before I even knew what it was. This includes homes and even finding cash on the floor randomly! (We are great at imagining when we are children.)

    Now I use the Law of Attraction intentionally, and use methods and techniques to attract customers, circumstances, money, etc into my life!

    And hypnosis is one of the most useful tools I use!

    How does solutions focused hypnotherapy help with the Law of Attraction?
    One of the most important parts, when using the Law of Attraction, is that your thoughts create your reality. During our sessions, one of our aims is to get you focusing more on the ‘good things’ and create a more positive-thinking program running in your brain. And this equals more positive situations/circumstances.


    To use the law of attraction intentionally, it’s important to set ‘intentions’ or ‘goals’. And during the ‘miracle question’ part of our session, not only do we set intentions or goals but we get really clear on the emotions of how we will feel once that has been achieved, which is super powerful in the law of attraction.

    And lastly, the actual hypnosis or trance part of the session taps into our subconscious brain and helps to get rid of any limiting beliefs that might be holding us back, and in fact helps to plant helpful and supportive beliefs. The trance also helps us to feel calmer and more in control. (Solution-focused hypnotherapists refer to this as ‘emptying the stress bucket’ so we can enjoy life more.)

    What can you start doing if you want to use the Law of Attraction?

    • Start visualising – using the power of your imagination to think about how you want things to be rather than how you do not want them to be.
    • Be grateful – I write a daily gratitude list. What we focus on we attract, therefore by thinking about what we are already grateful for we attract more of these things!
    • Use hypnosis to tap into your subconscious mind and change limiting beliefs into more helpful ones.
    • Do things you love and have fun – you must have heard of people being ‘high vibe’ or ‘positive vibe’ doing things we love or having fun keeps us in this state!
    • Act as if – play make-believe, talk, act, and think as though the things you want have already materialised. This is fun anyway!
    • Set intentions – you cannot receive whatever it is you want if you do not know or have not been clear about what it is! Write that stuff down with a pen and paper. ‘It is my intention to have three new ideal customers by the end of this week!’

    Caroline Smith Mclean
    Caroline Smith Mclean Hypnotherapy
    Winterbourne, Bristol
    p: 07843010421
    f: https:/

  • 01 Sep 2020 9:21 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Sarah Stanley
    Imagine if there was a pill that would make you healthier, smarter, and happier! A pill that made you age more slowly and even improved your memory! I think there would be a pretty long queue, even if you did have to stand 2 metres apart!

    Photo by Dominic Sansotta at UnsplashBut is there another way to achieve these fantastic outcomes?

    We human beings are complex beings. To function at an optimal level, a number of things are needed. Nutrition, sleep, meditation, continuous learning, stress reduction, and human connection all play a part.

    But there is one overwhelming factor that keeps us functioning at our best, and that is movement.

    The Brain-Fitness Connection
    Dr Ratey MD Harvard has established himself as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the brain-fitness connection. He says:

    ”Movement moving your body, moving the muscles, pushing yourself to do something more than you did before, boosts our capacity for focus and learning and lifts our mood, not unlike taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin”

    Exercise is proven to be one of the most effective ways of regulating our emotions.

    Exercise can:

    • Reduce stress and anxiety
    • Promote good physical and mental health
    • Optimise our cognitive function and our ability to learn and process

    Reducing Stress and Anxiety
    Physical activity is nature’s way of preventing stress. Exercise can ward off the negative effects of chronic stress and even reverse them.

    Studies show that people who add physical activity to their lives become more socially active, increasing their confidence and helping to build social connections.

    The recent government report from ‘Moving Communities’ shows that the growth of group exercise in the UK has provided much needed social connection and feelings of togetherness, which are so important in reducing loneliness.

    Improving Your Health. And Looking Younger!
    Exercise increases your heart rate, which means more oxygen is pumped to the brain. This increases the plasticity of your brain and encourages the growth of new brain cells.

    By increasing blood flow, sending more oxygen and eliminating waste, exercise also helps to keep skin healthy and looking younger. Plus, you get all the benefits of increased muscle tone and flexibility, and improved sleep quality.

    And of course, exercise also helps you maintain a healthy weight, reducing the risk of developing certain types of cancers, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

    It is also likely that your diet will improve as you become more physically active.

    Boosting Your Brain – Improving your memory and cognitive function
    For me, the most exciting benefit of more exercise is the activation of BDNF.
    What is BDNF? BDNF is ‘Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor’. Otherwise known as fertiliser for the brain!

    BDNF is a powerful little protein that stimulates the production of new brain cells and strengthens existing ones. It helps to increase the size of the hippocampus, an area of the brain that plays an important role in memory and learning.

    Low levels of BDNF can be associated with depression, anxiety, and memory and brain degeneration. Therefore, it’s not surprising that BDNF is a popular ingredient in mood elevating drugs.

    In order to increase our production of BDNF by natural means, we need to stimulate the cells. And research shows that the best way to do this is to establish a regular exercise routine.

    As little as 30 minutes intensive exercise three times a week can significantly increase brain function. For example, power walking, cycling, or running.

    This is a great starting point achievable for most of us! But, if you want to maximise your brain’s potential, add a skills-based exercise. The brain wants to learn. If we don’t challenge it, atrophy and shrinkage can set in.

    Skills-based exercise strengthens and expands neural connections. The more complex the movements the more complex the brain connections. Ratey 2010, states that skills-based exercise will activate areas of the brain areas that:

    “control balance, timing, sequencing, evaluating consequences, switching, error correction, fine motor adjustment, inhibition, and of course, intense focus and concentration.”

    Skills-based exercise includes dance, tennis, football, and boxing! If you prefer something more gentle, try yoga, Tai Chi, or Pilates.

    If you are struggling with a mental health issue, exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing. But if you can find the motivation to take that first step, the benefits can be really powerful.

    As with any new goals, the best advice is to start small. Build your fitness slowly. Walk before you run. Find an activity you enjoy and make it a regular part of your routine. One of the best things about physical activity is that there are many options. You just need to find the one that suits you.

    And get support if you can. Someone to share your challenges and achievements with. This can be a great motivator and help to keep you on track.

    Get in touch with a solution-focused hypnotherapist if you need help getting started with, or sticking to, an exercise routine.

    Sarah Stanley
    Sarah Stanley Hypnotherapy
    07850 995 869


  • 02 Aug 2020 12:03 PM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Trevor Eddolls
    As a solution-focused hypnotherapist and psychotherapist, I’ve been hearing more-and-more people mention that they have been feeling lonely lately. If that applies to you, you are not alone.

    It’s clear that a more-than-usual number of people have been feeling very lonely during their period in lockdown. For some people, like many elderly people, it was because they were on their own for many weeks. For others, there may have been people around them, but they weren’t the ‘right’ people or doing the ‘right’ things. Some people may miss one particular person, such as a spouse, sibling, or best friend. And others may simply wish to be part of a wider social network that they could interact with.

    Photo by Inzmam Khan from PexelsBut how common is loneliness generally? A 2018 report from the Office for National Statistics found that:

    • In 2016 to 2017, there were 5% of adults in England who reported feeling lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’.
    • Younger adults aged 16 to 24 years reported feeling lonely more often than those in older age groups.
    • Women reported feeling lonely more often than men.
    • Those single or widowed were at particular risk of experiencing loneliness more often.
    • People in poor health or who have conditions they describe as ‘limiting’ were also at particular risk of feeling lonely more often.

    It works out that there are more than 900,000 people aged 65 and over in the UK reporting feeling lonely all, or most of the time.
    According to de Jong-Gierveld and Raadschelders (1982), Duck (1992), and others, there are two levels of loneliness: chronic and transient. For people who are chronically lonely, their experience of loneliness is persistent, often extending to many years, and doesn’t change with what the person is doing. It looks like the cause of the feelings is internal. They may feel the intensity of the loneliness vary over time, but it is always there. Transient loneliness, as its name suggests, is experienced for short periods of time, and is usually the result of a specific situation.

    Courtney and Meyer (2020) published in the journal JNeurosci their findings that loneliness alters how the brain represents relationships. They suggested that the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) (near the very front of the skull) maintains a structured map of a person’s social circles, based on closeness. People that struggle with loneliness often perceive a gap between themselves and others. This gap is reflected by the activity patterns of the mPFC. Courtney and Meyer used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine people’s brain activity while they thought about themself, close friends, acquaintances, and celebrities. Thinking about someone from each category corresponded to a different activity pattern in the mPFC. There was a different pattern for the self, for the social network (both friends and acquaintances), and for celebrities. The closer the relationship, the more the pattern resembled the pattern seen when a person is thinking about themself. These brain patterns differed for lonelier individuals. Activity related to thinking about the self was more different from activity related to thinking about others, while the activity when thinking about others was more similar across social categories. In other words, lonelier people have a ‘lonelier’ neural representation of their relationships.

    Loneliness is definitely not good for you. For example, social isolation and loneliness:

    • Have a negative effect on the activities of daily living of older peoples, including a person’s ability to perform the normal daily activities that are required to meet their basic needs, fulfil their usual roles, and maintain their health and wellbeing.
    • Impact on health-related physiology, eg blood pressure and reduced immune functioning.
    • Lead to poorer sleep quality.
    • Are associated with a greater risk of a person being physically inactive and smoking (both health-risk behaviours).
    • Lead to lower self-esteem and limited use of active coping mechanisms.

    Loneliness and social isolation affect physical health. For example, loneliness:

    • Increases the likelihood of mortality by 26 percent.
    • Has the same effect on mortality as the impact of obesity, and cigarette smoking and substance-dependency.
    • Increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke.
    • Increases the risk of high blood pressure.
    • Is a risk factors for the progression of frailty.

    In terms of mental health, loneliness:

    • Puts individuals at greater risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
    • Increases an individual’s risk of depression.
    • Is predictive of suicide (in older age) or self-harm.
    • Is associated with poorer cognitive function among older adults.

    Studies have shown that adolescents who are lonely may be more likely to use drugs or alcohol and become sexually active at an earlier age than their peers. Lonely teenagers are also more likely to engage in risky and unsafe sex or exhibit aggressive behaviour.

    Things that can lead to feelings of loneliness include:

    • The loss of a loved one
    • A sudden breakup
    • Single parenthood
    • Retirement
    • Moving to a new area or going away for college
    • Health problems that limit a person’s ability to socialize
    • Surviving abuse.

    The distress associated with loneliness can be significant and may lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. People who are shy, experience social anxiety, or are reluctant to take social risks, and they may be more likely to describe themselves as lonely and may have difficulty forming lasting and satisfying relationships.

    It should be remembered, that while many people who feel lonely are physically alone, not everyone who is alone feels lonely. Some people simply choose to have few social connections. If a person chooses to be alone, they may well enjoy and welcome the solitude.

    One of the issues with loneliness is that many people are reluctant to admit it – they feel that it is a sign of weakness. The obvious solution to feelings of loneliness is go to out and meet people, but that can be hard. Obviously, during lockdown that was very difficult!

    So, what can people do to stop feeling lonely? The charity Mind offers some suggestions:

    • Take it slowly – go somewhere where there are other people, but you’re not expected to interact.
    • Make new connections – join a class or volunteer.
    • Try peer support – try a befriender service or join an online community, eg Elefriends (
    • Try to open up – reach out to someone or share a post on social media.
    • Try talking therapies – like hypnotherapy or CBT.
    • Social care – The Care Act 2014 places general obligations on local authorities to promote wellbeing and to prevent social care needs from arising.
    • Be careful when comparing yourself to others – people only post on social media and tell you about the high points in their life. It may not be like that.
    • Look after yourself – get enough sleep, eat healthily, get some exercise, get outside, spend time with animals. And avoid drugs or alcohol.

    When you visit a solution-focused hypnotherapist, we can help with any issues associated with loneliness such as depression, anxiety, or anger issues. We can help people to sleep better. We can help you to relax. And we can suggest that you treat any attempts to socialize as experiments. If an attempt at socializing, eg joining a badminton club, doesn’t work, then the information you get from the result of that experiment can simply help you when you plan your next experiment, eg join a bridge club (or whatever). The result doesn’t reflect in any way on you personally. And the very fact that you are able to share your inner thoughts with your hypnotherapist, may very well make it easier for you to talk to any new people you meet.

    Loneliness is a big problem, and it, in many ways, is a hidden problem. The good news is that solution-focused hypnotherapy can help.

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

  • 01 Jul 2020 8:27 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Sarah Stanley
    I always endeavour to keep my knowledge up to date, to evolve my methods, and to grow my skills as a therapist. My background as a nurse leads me to evidence-based practice, with the aim of improving client outcomes. Over the last year, I have been developing my skills with a key focus on the solution focused approach and have completed training in Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) with Brief. Brief is the world’s leading centre for Solution Focused practice in therapy and counselling.

    As the name implies, Solution Focused Brief Therapy is an approach to therapy that is brief and effective. Research shows that it brings about lasting change in less than 5 sessions on average, and is effective in up to 83% of cases.

    The therapy has two key elements:

    • Future-focused
    • Strength- based

    With this therapy we look to the future. No dwelling on the past. And we use the client’s own strengths to help them move forward quickly.

    Photo by Ron Smith from Unsplash Hope – A Key Part of My New Solution Focused Brief Therapy
    Brief therapy uses the word ‘hope’ quite specifically. Their choice of the word ‘hope’ is based on a sense of possibility. Rather than ‘wishes’ or ‘wants’ or ‘desires’, which can be anything. We can only hope for that which is possible.

    Therapists can help to foster hope in their clients. Many clients come to therapy with some of their hope diminished. Things are not going the way that they wish in their lives and their normal coping mechanisms have failed them. A major reason for coming to therapy is to increase one’s sense of hope and to expect change (Reiter, 2010.)

    Water The Flowers Not The Weeds!
    Nurture the hopeful signs and ignore the rest!

    The essence of Solution Focused Brief Therapy is to have a hope-filled conversation and to explore in detail a client’s preferred future. A future where their hopes have been achieved. We work together to identify the possible resources and strengths they have to attain that future.

    Identifying what the client wants from the therapy will always be the forefront of the conversation.

    ‘What are your best hopes from us working together?’

    This initial question invites the client to immediately focus on the outcome they desire, rather than trying to fix or understand the problem they arrived with.

    People come to therapy because they want to achieve something. It makes perfect sense to focus the conversation on what is desired, instead of what’s wrong.

    Beginning with the end in mind
    Solution Focused Brief Therapy has evolved from Solution Focused Therapy. Solution Focused Brief Therapy creates a hope-filled conversation. In this conversation we use language to describe things as they would be when the best hope was present. This subtly changes the nature of the client and therapist relationship. The client is now trusted. They are the expert and they know how best to help themselves. The therapist facilitates this process by co-constructing with the client the idea of ‘hopefulness’.

    I have noticed how clients start to thinking differently. It can be a new experience to be asked to think about what they hope for, instead of their problems. Once they see what is happening, the co-constructive conversation really begins to flow. This makes the process very positive and amazing to be a part of.

    And solution focused hypnotherapy adds the power of hypnotherapy to this very positive approach to helping clients.

    Sarah Stanley
    Sarah Stanley Hypnotherapy
    07850 995 869

  • 01 Jun 2020 11:58 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Sarah Stanley
    “Enjoy the little things. For one day you may look back and realise they were the big things,” Robert Brault.

    Photo by from PexelsI write this in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic and everywhere around us, the news is unsettling. Life continues to be very difficult for many of us. Things we used to take for granted are not there. Schools are closed, we can’t see our friends and family, we have to work from home or, even worse, suddenly find ourselves unemployed. All in the effort to stay well. To stay alive.

    It may seem crazy in this situation to be talking about feeling grateful. But in fact the practice of gratitude can really help us work through difficult times.

    One striking example of this our action of clapping every Thursday night to show our gratitude to NHS staff. It’s impossible to put into words how grateful we are to them, but this action is deeply symbolic and uplifting.

    Research conducted over the past thirty years has shown how the practice of gratitude can lead to surprising improvements in one’s sense of wellbeing.

    A study of Indonesian earthquake victims discovered that gratitude had a positive impact on their health and their symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This suggests that feeling grateful aids our recovery from traumatic experiences (Lies et al, 2014). Equally, a study of survivors of 9/11 showed that gratitude helped to improve their resilience (Fredrickson et al, 2003; Kashdan et al, 2006).

    What is Gratitude?
    Gratitude is a very powerful human emotion. It’s the way we acknowledge the good things in our lives. Psychologists define gratitude as:

    “A positive emotional response that we perceive on giving or receiving a benefit from someone” (Emmons & McCullough, 2004).

    There are so many good things about feeling gratitude! The brain reacts in a positive way when we are feeling grateful. So, we can use gratitude to become a happier person!

    Gratitude can lead to:

    Less Anxiety
    Gratitude regulates the sympathetic nervous system that activates our anxiety responses. At the psychological level, it conditions the brain to filter out negative thoughts and instead to focus on the positive ones.

    Better Sleep
    Gratitude also activates the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus plays a crucial role in many of the body’s key functions, including sleep.
    The University of Manchester (2009), looked at how gratitude might affect people’s sleep. The outcome suggested that practising gratitude was related to having more positive thoughts, and fewer negative ones, at bedtime. This was associated with getting to sleep easier and better quality sleep, and having the positive outcome of waking up refreshed and full of energy.

    Reduced Stress Levels
    Studies indicate people who felt grateful showed a marked reduction in the level of cortisol, the stress hormone. Feelings of gratitude and appreciation have been shown to result in a significant increase in levels of immunoglobulin A, which serves as the body’s first line of defence against viruses.

    Increased Resilience
    Gratitude may also benefit people with various medical and psychological challenges. For example, one study found that more grateful cardiac patients reported better sleep, less fatigue, and lower levels of cellular inflammation. Several studies have found that more grateful people experience less depression and are more resilient following traumatic events.

    A Happier You!
    Expressing gratitude not only to others but also to ourselves, induces positive emotions, primarily happiness. By producing feelings of pleasure and contentment, gratitude impacts on our overall health and well-being as well.

    Be Grateful!
    When we express gratitude, and when we receive it, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin. These are the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for the emotions that make us feel ‘good’. They enhance our mood immediately.

    By consciously practising gratitude every day, we can help these neural pathways to becomes stronger. And ultimately to create a permanent grateful and positive nature within ourselves.

    4 Ways to Practise Gratitude

    1. Practise grateful self-talk: appreciate yourself – your past achievements, your present efforts, your talents, your skills and strengths
    2. Keep a Gratitude Journal – there is power in written words. A gratitude journal is your personal space to write down all the things you are grateful for in your life. Small things and big things.
    3. Show gratitude to others – we all have someone whose unconditional support and love matters to us. Tell them! Write it down send them a note, exchange some good memories or offer your support to them.
    4. Enjoy your happiness. Sometimes we worry, when we are happy or things are going well(!) that it won’t last, that we don’t deserve it. Enjoy it. Being grateful for your happiness and celebrating it will make you stronger.

    The world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, Robert A Emmons, PhD, describes it as a choice. We can choose to create gratitude at virtually any moment in our lives. And the more we do that, the more it becomes an automatic response. Helping to rewire our brains in a lasting way.

    We all have the ability and the opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Being thankful for the good things in your life makes you feel happier and builds your resilience.

    Developing an attitude of gratitude is one of the simplest ways to improve your overall happiness and health.

    Sarah Stanley
    Sarah Stanley Hypnotherapy
    07850 995 869

  • 18 May 2020 8:50 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Trevor Eddolls
    Since the Coronavirus pandemic started, hypnotherapists have moved to online working only – this means using things like Zoom or WhatsApp for video calls or simply talking on the phone. The worry that many potential customers (for this kind of therapy) have is whether online hypnotherapy works as well as actually sitting in the same room as your therapist. Will it work if you can’t look into the eyes of the hypnotist? Will you really be able to stop smoking – or whatever change they envisage – if all you’re doing is sitting in your dining room looking at a computer screen or your phone for a couple of hours?

    The good news is that the answer is ‘yes’.

    Image by Junjira Konsang from PixabayOn the down side, you will need to have a reliable Internet connection. And you will need to have somewhere quiet where you can speak freely and relax without interruption.

    On the plus side, you save time by not needing to travel to see the therapist and get home afterwards. You also save on the cost of travel – whether that’s petrol or bus fares. And you don’t need to find somewhere to park and pay for parking. If you have mobility issues, this is a big plus. Of course, if you live in a remote area, then online therapy at any time makes life so much easier. Also, if you are worried about going outside – whether that’s because you want to continue self-isolating for a while or because you have agoraphobia – your worries disappear. It also works well for people who find it difficult to accommodate visiting a therapist into their busy lives, such as key workers on shift, parents, and full-time carers. And there’s no chance of getting someone else’s germs. So, it’s ideal for people who feel more safe-and-secure being at home rather than going out to a clinic.

    Another big plus is that you can work with a therapist anywhere in the country. You’re not restricted to local therapists. So, if you wanted a solution-focused hypnotherapist because you like the idea of working that way, you can choose anyone who is qualified and on the AfSFH register ( – no matter where they are based. Certainly, it is always worth choosing a therapist who belongs to an accredited organization, like the Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, and who is also a member of the the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). The CNHC is the UK regulatory body that provides a voluntary register of complementary, rather than alternative medicine, therapists.

    These days, people shop online – whether that’s Amazon, their local supermarket, and much else. They play online games. They ‘google’ plumbers and gardeners, etc. They book holidays online. So much of life is online that seeing a hypnotherapist is not that much different.

    Certainly, any hypnotherapist will tell you that the number of people asking about online hypnotherapy is growing

    Enquiries for online hypnotherapy sessions are growing in popularity. And online hypnotherapy can be very easy to access, even for people who previously might have described themselves as not very IT savvy. The technology, using Zoom and similar products, makes it all very straightforward and nothing to worry about. Most of the online meeting technologies are encrypted, so the communication and the whole session remain private and confidential.

    You also need to ensure that the technology works at your end, ie there is a high-speed broadband link, and the camera and speakers on your laptop or phone will work in a therapy situation. Your therapist will probably test this before the first session. In the event of something going wrong, eg a power cut, the phone line being disrupted, or anything else, it’s a good idea to have a phone near you that the therapist can call. But if you don’t have these things, then you can simply talk on the phone. For online/phone sessions, payment must usually be made before each session starts. You will be given bank details in plenty of time to transfer the payment.

    Since the lockdown started, many people have enjoyed online hypnotherapy, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of how well it works, but some people are still looking for evidence that an online therapy session is as good as a face-to-face session. The good news is that there is already some clinical evidence of the efficacy on online hypnotherapy. For example, there’s a 2014 study entitled "Internet-based versus face-to-face cognitive-behavioral intervention for depression: A randomized controlled non-inferiority trial" and published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. It found that treating depression using an Internet-based intervention is equally beneficial as regular face-to-face therapy. The study also reported: "However, more long-term efficacy, indicated by continued symptom reduction three months after treatment, could only be found for the online group." Similarly, a 2018 study entitled, "SKYPE HYPNOTHERAPY FOR IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME: Effectiveness and Comparison with Face-to-Face Treatment" and published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis said: "This study shows that Skype hypnotherapy is highly effective in refractory IBS".

    So, the anecdotal and the experimental evidence go to show that online hypnotherapy is definitely as good as the face-to-face version, and may, in some cases, be better! If you had concerns about giving it try, join the hundreds of people who are already benefitting from online hypnotherapy and let it help you.

    Trevor Eddolls
    iTech-Ed Hypnotherapy
    Chippenham, Wilts SN14 0TL
    01249 443256

  • 04 May 2020 11:37 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Jane Pendry
    Discover the extraordinary health benefits of sleep, and how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy helps resolve insomnia and other sleep disorders to improve your health and wellbeing.

    “Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer”, writes neuroscientist and sleep expert Mathew Walker in his book “Why We Sleep?”

    Professor Walker’s spoof advert refers to the benefits of sleep. It challenges us to believe that such an efficacious treatment could exist. We barely believe it. However, Walker goes on to explain the dramatic impact regular sleep has on memory, creativity, attractiveness, weight, cancer, dementia, heart disease, stroke, colds and flu, diabetes, and just plain happiness.

    Professor Walker’s book ‘Why We Sleep?’ is a collation of all the evidence that proves the benefits of sleep beyond any shadow of doubt.

    First of all, it’s clear that we need eight hours sleep. Collated research shows that any less will have an overwhelmingly negative impact. And too much more is detrimental too.

    I am sure you agree that we all need a good night’s sleep. That’s common sense. But for some of us that’s easier said than done.

    In the UK, restful sleep eludes one in two over the age of 65.

    Insomnia can become very frustrating, stressful, and lead to exhaustion, anxiety, and depression. There are many other sleep disorders that impact on our wellbeing too, and it’s always wise to see your GP to get a referral to a specialist sleep clinic if sleep issues are ongoing and causing you evident problems now. However, for many people, hypnotherapy addresses many of the key issues quickly and effectively.

    So how does hypnotherapy help sleep disorders?
    Hypnotherapy mimics Rapid Eye Movement dream sleep, when we process emotional memories and turn them in to narrative memories. During REM sleep, the brain moves in to the theta state, producing the same brainwaves we see during hypnosis and meditation. Dream sleep, or Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, allows the experiences of the day to be processed, turning emotional memories and upsets into narrative memories over which you have control.

    Both regular patterns of sleep and hypnotherapy help us resolve anxiety, depression, OCD, stress, and so forth. One of the most powerful and readily-observed phenomena when undertaking a course of hypnotherapy is that sleep patterns become more settled.

    By helping to get your sleep routine into a healthy pattern, Hypnotherapy has a powerful impact on a number of serious health issues, as well as improving your concentration, your performance at work, sex life, relationships, and so much more.

    For people with insomnia, hypnosis help the body and mind to relax enough to get to sleep more easily, and to stay asleep through the night. Hypnosis also helps to deepen sleep increasing the amount of time that you spend in delta wave deep sleep by as much as 80%. Deep sleep is important for learning, healing and memory.

    How common is insomnia

    Just woken up from a great sleep and ready to roll Insurers, Aviva, completed their Aviva Health Check UK following a survey undertaken by Censuswide in September 2017, and drawing from information from the National Sleep Foundation on Sleep Duration Recommendations. The company estimates that as many as 16 million UK adults suffer from sleepless nights. A third (31%) of the survey’s respondents said they have insomnia. In addition.

    • Two thirds (67%) of UK adults suffered from disrupted sleep
    • Nearly a quarter (23%) manage no more than five hours a night
    • Half (48%) of UK adults admit they don’t get the right amount of sleep
    • Improving sleep is the biggest health ambition for a quarter (26%) of UK adults but half (51%) don’t take any measures to help them sleep
    • More than one in ten take sleeping tablets (13%) or drink alcohol (13%) to aid sleep (a bad idea).

    How do we define insomnia?
    Many of us will experience times when our sleep is disrupted for one reason or another. However, insomnia becomes a problem when we experience prolonged periods of sleep deprivation.

    You know if you have insomnia when you are:

    • Finding it hard to fall asleep at night
    • Using medication or alcohol to get to sleep on a regular or frequent basis
    • Waking up in the night and struggling to get back to sleep
    • Experiencing extreme tiredness during the day
    • Irritable and have frequent headaches
    • Finding it hard to concentrate at work
    • Anxious about going to bed or trying to sleep.

    It isn’t always possible to spot the root cause of insomnia, but often it lies in the following. Here are just four of the main reasons we develop sleep issues.

    1. Stress, anxiety, and emotional distress
    Day to day stresses and worries can lead to difficulty sleeping. Thoughts of the past day’s events turn over and over in our minds, or we begin to ruminate on what is to come in the future.

    Obviously emotional concerns are linked to stress and anxiety. As Professor Walker explains, “One of the few times that we stop our persistent informational consumption and inwardly reflect is when our heads hit the pillow”. So, bedtime is the time we start to ruminate on what is wrong in our lives or with our relationships, and what might go wrong. It’s the time our concerns come to the surface and we toss and turn.

    Sometimes insomnia persists even after the stressful event has resolved. The brain has associated going to bed with being unable to sleep and this in turn results in anxiety about sleeping.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is founded on changing the negative habits and programmes embedded in our primitive minds, and on soothing and calming our central nervous system, reducing emotional stress, and increasing our resilience.

    If you listen to a professional hypnotherapy recording each night, you are much less likely to ruminate on things that have happened, or obsess about what might happen. Instead, you will be gently soothed into light to medium trance state, and will more seamlessly slip in to sleep.

    We know a good night’s sleep helps us deal with emotional distress caused by relationships, separation, divorce, or concerns about children. By sleeping well, you will find all your challenges easier to face and manage. However, when we are stuck, the Solution Focused questioning of an experienced SFH practitioner will help you uncover new solutions to seemingly intractable problems, and help you develop the resilience, critical faculties and energy for any challenges that may lie ahead.

    2. Poor sleep hygiene
    Inconsistent bed times, use of electronic equipment running up to bedtime, and limited time to relax naturally prior to going to bed all contribute to insomnia, or poor sleep hygiene. If you want to find out more about sleep hygiene, and for more advice on creating a good pre-sleep routine, see the National Sleep Foundation website.

    Social media is one of the biggest contributors to insomnia in modern times. It’s wise to leave your mobile downstairs and buy a good old-fashioned alarm clock, if this is proving an issue for you.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help you break disruptive or negative habits, and equally help you create new healthy habits including breaking your social media addiction, or changing your routine so you get to bed on time. Or apply a parental control app to control your own social media use!

    3. Lifestyle factors
    Excessive caffeine intake, nicotine, eating close to bedtime, recreational drugs, and shift working take their toll. Evidence suggests that alcohol significantly reduces the quality of your sleep, meaning you wake up even more tired and stressed the next day.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is an ideal therapy to help break bad habits like eating late, snacking, surfing the internet late in the evening, or taking occasional recreational drugs. Strong addictions may also need other medical interventions and support too, most particularly addiction support groups.

    Of course, one-off stop smoking hypnotherapy session may be just the ticket to break the smoking habit. You have to be ready to give up of course, and it’s important to sort out any stressful events that might be underpinning the smoking habit. The biggest issue with smoking is that, as we get older, the smoking habit creates anxiety. The longer your smoke, the more the anxiety builds, so, breaking this habit will really help you get your sleep back on track.

    4. Winter blues
    The NHS describes 'Winter Blues' as feeling depressed in the winter, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). When the clocks go back, Winter has officially arrived. It means getting up in the dark and heading out in the cold, dark and often rain. November and December might be the best time to escape on a long-haul wellbeing holiday.

    A short series of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy sessions can help you manage seasonal change by keeping your sleep regular. Winter can be a time when we want to hibernate, and we inevitably become deficient in vitamin D quite quickly. So, try to get out and walk in daylight hours, invest in a daylight lamp and explore taking vitamin D supplements or food rich in vitamin. Do your own research on vitamins and minerals that help calm the central nervous system and aid sleep, such as magnesium.

    Some physical and mental conditions worsen in cold, damp weather, most notably arthritis, increasing pain and impacting sleep. Sleep deprivation impacts on how much we feel pain too. Hypnotherapy in general can help reduce the experience of pain, which will aid a good night’s sleep so creating a virtuous circle.

    To help to address these issues, you can’t go too far wrong in following Professor Walker’s advice.

    Professor Walker’s Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

    • to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even after a bad night’s sleep or on the weekend.
    • Keep your bedroom temperature cool; about 65 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for cooling your body towards sleep.
    • An hour before bedtime, dim the lights and turn off all screens. Blackout curtains are helpful
    • If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and do something quiet and relaxing until the urge to sleep returns. Then go back to bed.
    • Avoid caffeine after 1pm. Never go to bed tipsy. Alcohol is a sedative and sedation is not sleep. It blocks your REM dream sleep, an important part of the sleep cycle.

    The central nervous system needs to ramp down towards sleep. Hypnotherapy, meditation, a bath, or soothing music can all help to soothe your central nervous system ready for sleep.

    Introduce soothing smells and soft lighting in the bedroom before bed, and aim to keep your bedroom tidy.

    In addition to the Professor’s advice, Solution Focused Coaching can help you work out new routines and patterns for yourself that help you achieve a regular 8-hours sleep and to identify the very real benefits as you get back in to a healthy routine. Painlessly and quickly. It’s the first stage of changing your life for the better.

    So, if you get your sleep routines sorted, and achieve your 8-hours optimal sleep, what benefits will it bring?

    Benefit 1: Sleep, Memory, and Learning
    Even missing a night of sleep can affect your ability think and plan. In an experiment, 18 men were given a task to complete. The first task was completed after a full night’s sleep. The next task after skipping a night of sleep.

    Researchers suggest that sleep is critical to the process of consolidating the things we consciously learn. In other words, we need proper rest to lock in new information and commit it to memory.

    Brain functions including memory, decision-making, reasoning, and problem-solving worsen, along with reaction time and alertness to a significant degree if you are sleep deprived. Many research projects support the observation that regular loss of sleep, even just one or two hours a night, impairs cognitive function (thinking).

    The idea that you need to work harder and longer couldn’t be more wrong. If you don’t get enough sleep, all research confirms, your ability to learn, remember, and function rapidly declines. The ability to solve problems or find solutions also declines.

    If you start a course of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy and find your sleep improves, you may also notice how it impacts on your ability to remember, think, plan, make decisions, and solve problems. Many people come to me for one issue, only to find, as their sleep patterns are sorted, their stress is reduced and emotional issues are resolved. They often report other benefits at work and in their relationships.

    Solution Focused Brief Therapy is all about the client finding solutions themselves, making and observing incremental changes, and building on them to create positive thoughts, positive actions and positive interactions. Good sleep habits help to underpin that process.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy also supports learning, memory and study not only by creating regular sleep patterns, but also by helping students to change their study and learning habits, to resolve limiting beliefs and reducing anxiety overall.

    Benefit 2: Immune System
    Losing sleep affects your body’s ability to fight illness. So poor sleep means it’s more likely you will get a cold or flu, and other viruses.

    The National Sleep Foundation states, “Without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep, causing a double whammy if you skimp on shut-eye. Chronic sleep loss even makes the flu vaccine less effective by reducing your body’s ability to respond.”

    So, there is a strong link between sleep and your immune system. Again hypnotherapy, by sorting your sleep, improves your immune system. A lack of sleep also affects how quickly you recover from illness. It doesn’t work to have short sleep in the week and try to make it up at the weekend either!

    Benefit 3: A healthy heart
    When we sleep too little (less than five hours a night) or too much (more than 9 hours per night) our heart is affected.

    According to an analysis published in the European Heart Journal, we are more likely to develop heart disease or to have a stroke if we have less than five hours sleep. The impact is exacerbated if those sleep patterns persist over time.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy not only sorts sleep and helps prevent heart disease by doing so, it helps you change your lifestyle. If you have heart disease or have had a stroke, you will be given a great deal of advice and guidance, some of which you may find hard to follow.

    Complementary therapies like hypnotherapy – as well as coaching, counselling, CBT and psychotherapy – can support you to change your lifestyle so you can be as healthy as you can be. But underpinning those healthy lifestyle changes that will make a difference, lies sleep.

    Hypnotherapy, as we know, is one of the most effective therapies for helping you get enough shut-eye.

    Benefit 4: Coping with Serious Illness
    The American Academy of Sleep Medicine explains that sleep is associated with higher rates of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer. Night shift workers are impacted most. Men and women who sleep 7 hours or more every night have the best mortality rates in the world.

    So, getting your sleep sorted really does become a matter of life and death, although we know that sleep is only one factor among many. Lack of sleep is not a causal factor however, but along with many others, it has been proven to be contributory.

    Of course, serious illnesses can disrupt sleep patterns so Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can be a helpful support for anyone chronically or acutely ill, helping manage anxieties and fears, as well as reducing the experience of pain and helping the recovery process or improving patients’ quality of life if the diagnosis is terminal.

    Benefit 5: Better Sex Lives
    Not getting enough sleep could reduce your sex drive. In one study from a trusted source (via Professor Walker), young men who lost sleep over a one-week period showed a decrease in testosterone levels. Sleeping 5 or fewer hours reduced sex hormone levels by as much as 10 to 15 percent. The men also reported that their overall mood and vigour declined with each consecutive night of interrupted rest.

    Professor Walker often shocks his audience of Alpha sleep-deprived men by stating that their penises may be smaller!

    Benefit 6: Weight Loss and Increased Fitness
    Lack of sleep can cause weight gain. A study examined the relationship between sleep and weight in 21,469 adults over the age of 20. Those who slept less than 5 hours each night, over the course of the three-year study, were more likely to gain weight and eventually become obese. Those who slept between 7 and 8 hours fared better on the scale.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is often used to support weight loss, effortlessly and naturally. Solution Focused Brief question process, which elicits a picture of the healthier, slimmer and fitter you, works well with hypnosis, which reduces the anxiety and stress that can lead to weight gain. Over time, habits are permanently changed, and new healthier habits are embedded resulting in healthy weight loss and increased fitness.

    Benefit 7: Preventing Diabetes
    Along with a bigger waistline, people who don’t get enough sleep (or who get too much) increase their risk of developing adult-onset diabetes. Researchers examined 10 separate studies focused on sleep and diabetes. Their findings uncovered that 7 to 8 hours of rest is the optimal range to avoid insulin issues that could lead to diabetes.

    Benefit 8: Safer Driving
    You’re three times more likely to be involved in a car accident if you get 6 or fewer hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The most vulnerable people are shift workers, commercial drivers, business travellers, and anyone else working long or odd hours. Think twice before getting behind the wheel if you’re not sleeping enough.

    Benefit 9: Keep Young and Beautiful one study, a group of people aged between 30 and 50 were evaluated based on their sleep habits and their skin condition. The results revealed that those with too little sleep had more fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin colour, and marked looseness of the skin. Poor sleepers were also less satisfied with their appearance.

    Before you stay up watching that box set, going to that all-night party, or obsessing over social media until the early hours, think twice. Those 8 hours of sleep each and every night are the key to health and happiness.

    So, there you have it. Sleep is good for you. Who knew?

    Jane is working exclusively online during the coronavirus crisis, through Skype, FaceTime, What’s App, or Zoom.

    Jane Pendry DSFH, HPD, BA Hons (London), PGCE (Cantab)Reg CNHC, AfSFH, ABNLP, ABH, IARTT
    Sense-Ability Hypnotherapy & Coaching
    07843 813 883

    Previously based at The Wellbeing Clinic, 1 Windmill Road, Headington, Oxford

  • 26 Apr 2020 9:39 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Jane Pendry
    As a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist and Coach, I help people resolve anxiety and traumas. That’s a challenge at the best of times. When there’s an ‘enemy at the gate’, it’s daunting.

    Are you arguing with the cat? Obsessing over the news? Just feeling overwhelmed, tearful, and want to stay in bed?

    You are not going mad.

    Photo by Kelly Sikkema on UnsplashDeep inside our brains, there’s an almond-shaped part called the amygdala. It has evolved to sound the alarm, telling us to fight, run, or hide when we face wild animals, warring tribes, or, indeed, pandemics. The alarm triggers a flood of chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol. Our heart rate goes up, our breathing becomes shallow, we feel shaky and sick. When we finally calm down, we feel mentally and physically drained.

    Once immediate danger is past, your active imagination can keep activating your amygdala, making you feel worse and worse, or it can help you adapt and survive.

    Here are ten ideas to help you stay calm and in control during the coronavirus crisis.  These are just tips and suggestions (not instructions) designed to help you steadily take back control.

    If you are under medical or psychiatric care, please take the advice of your medically-qualified practitioner over any generalised advice here or elsewhere aimed at a broad audience.

    1.     Keep to a routine:
    Aim to create a routine of work, mealtimes, rest, exercise, and, above all, sleep. Work towards waking up and going to bed at the same time. Get dressed every morning. Make your bed. The more of a routine you have, in general, the more you stay calm, relaxed, and in control.

    2.     Accept what you can’t control and take control of small things:
    Tidy a cupboard, sort your sock drawer, scrub your kitchen floor, wear your favourite dress, cook a good meal, call a friend. Small positive actions bring back a sense of being in control, give us focus and purpose, and move us gently into the problem-solving part of the mind.

    3.     Develop a good sleep routine:
    A regular 8 hours of sleep positively impacts our hearts, immune system, and mental health; but sleep can elude us when we are anxious. Avoid coffee and tea in the afternoons, or switch to decaffeinated. Avoid horror films, disturbing thrillers, and social media in the evenings. If you have been comfort eating, start cutting down on sugar and refined carbs, which also cause insomnia. Several studies indicate that chamomile tea really does help you get to sleep.

    4.     Focus on what’s good now: 
    Most of us have a roof over our head, a phone or computer, hot water, and even the luxury of pasta and toilet rolls! Focusing on what is good or working well will help you move out of your anxious primitive mind. You might jot down things you are grateful for every day and add them to a Gratitude Jar. When you or your family feel overly anxious, the contents can help you shift into a positive frame of mind.

    5.     Breathe:
    Breathing into the abdomen calms the central nervous system. Simple daily breathing exercises can help you stay calm and in control. Here’s a simple exercise to add to your daily routine.

    Sit in a chair upright. Make sure you are warm and comfortable. Let your arms be loose or rest on the chair arms. Place your feet hip width apart. Aim to breathe through your nose and out through your mouth.

    • Observe your breathing, letting it flow into your stomach naturally.
    • Breathe in gently, counting steadily from 1 to 5. You may not be able to reach 5 at first.
    • Don’t pause or hold breath, let it flow out gently through your mouth, counting to 5 again.
    • Keep doing this for 3 to 5 minutes.

    You will feel your anxiety ease, leaving you feeling calmer and more grounded.

    6.     Stay in the moment: 
    Being in a crisis increases our awareness. We wash our hands with focus; we are mindful of others in new ways. Mindful awareness can also calm the mind. This simple exercise will help you stay focused and calm in the moment.

    Sit quietly at home or in the garden. What can you see, hear, feel, smell, touch? Aim to notice five things. In the spring there is so much to appreciate: the warmth of the sun, nodding yellow daffodils or the soft touch of a breeze. Notice how your heart and breathing slow, your mind clears, and tranquillity sweeps over you.

    7.     Absorbing Stories:
    Since Beowulf, the original ‘overcoming the monster’ story, we have processed our fears through stories. Plan your day to include absorbing books, films, and audio books that rest your mind and resolve anxieties. Don’t be ashamed of watching unchallenging TV. Your subconscious mind needs soothing. Miss Marple can be a tonic.

    8.     Exercise:
    Run, cycle, or walk every day to raise mood-boosting endorphins and to help you remain mentally resilient. Just 10 minutes of gentle daily exercise will boost your mood. There are many fabulous online resources. For exercise designed by and for older people see

    9.     Ration the News:
    Decide when you are going to catch up on the news, ideally before 7pm. Catching up on essential news only once stops us obsessing throughout the evening, allowing us to ease down to bed time. Avoid the temptation to look at your phone before you go to bed too.

    10. Social Connections:
    We need to connect with others and to encourage and reassure each other. Luckily, there are so many ways we can stay in touch. You’ll find others feel just like you do; and that you are coping better than you think. If you need to, contact local volunteer services, remember they may need you as much as you need them.

    Anxiety, withdrawal, and exhaustion in a crisis is a normal human response. Staying mentally healthy doesn’t mean not feeling. It means experiencing your emotions, accepting them fully, and finding ways to process them and get them in perspective. I hope some of these ideas help you to stay safe and well, physically and mentally, during the coronavirus crisis.

    Jane is working exclusively online during the coronavirus crisis, through Skype, FaceTime, What’s App, or Zoom.

    Jane Pendry DSFH, HPD, BA Hons (London), PGCE (Cantab)Reg CNHC, AfSFH, ABNLP, ABH, IARTT
    Sense-Ability Hypnotherapy & Coaching
    07843 813 883

    Previously based at The Wellbeing Clinic, 1 Windmill Road, Headington, Oxford

  • 01 Apr 2020 11:42 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Elizabeth Newton
    As a Psychotherapist, one of the areas of brain science I get most excited about is that of Neuroplasticity. This daunting word is actually the concept of the brains' ability to change, and it is fantastically inspiring stuff! This organ has such a propensity for growth and survival, that even following significant brain trauma, where large areas of the brain have been severely damaged, it can regenerate itself to a point.

    Until about 15 years ago, Scientists largely believed that the brain and personality was pretty much fixed and stable, and Personality Theory was, in my opinion, overly emphasised in Psychology Degree courses, categorising and labelling ‘personality types’. But relatively recent advances in Neuroscience have shown that the brain is adaptable, like plasticine, and it can change throughout our life.

    An everyday example of Neuroplasticity is learning a new skill. Remember that first driving lesson? Certainly, for me there was almost too much to take in, the clutch, the steering wheel, changing gear, let alone navigating busy London roads. In that first lesson, I remember thinking it impossible I’d ever be able to do all of it at once. Yet here I am, many years later, tootling the kids around in the middle of rush hour, debating with both of them about whether the song on the radio is ‘cool’ or not whilst simultaneously thinking about what we’re having for dinner, whether my youngest has brought home their reading book, and keeping an eye on the cyclist 200 meters ahead. I am NOT thinking about what my feet and my hands are doing. That’s automatic now. I have wired in pathways in my brain related to that skill which is ‘driving’. But it took practice, repetition and time to establish those pathways. It also helped that I wanted to learn in the first place.

    neuronsIt’s the same with most of the ways we think and many of our behaviours and decisions. The more we do a specific ‘something’, we create a pathway for that ‘something’ in the brain. Whether it be snacking when we feel stressed and worried, biting our nails when we’re concentrating on a task, or perhaps thinking about what we feel confident and willing to do. As the chemicals in our brain travel down a familiar route, they flow across the same synaptic gaps in between brain cells as they did last time and the gates at the end of the brain cell open more readily in response to those chemicals. Quite literally, a structural path is formed which gets stronger and more resilient the more we repeat it. So much so, that its’ difficult, inconceivable even, to act or think in a different way. Essentially the brain repeats what is familiar and follows the path of least resistance and, tah dah, a habit is formed. Imagine pouring water down a brick wall. The water flows down grooves in the brickwork it has carved out over many rainy days.

    keep calmThe good news is that we really can make Neuroplasticity work in our favour to achieve something new. Even if this something new is to go to the gym more often, make a cup of tea rather than open a bottle of wine, or simply be kinder to ourselves or others. The second piece of good news is it’s never too late to do so. Whilst children and teens have an enviously plastic brain, we can still influence the connectivity of our grey matter well into late adulthood. In fact, my oldest client in her early nineties surprised herself by discovering she’s a great watercolour artist! Not only that, but she CAN be assertive and self-confident, much to the amusement and support of her family and friends.

    This, self-directed Neuroplasticity is why people chose my approach as a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist. We use our sessions to create the optimal environment for breaking down old unhelpful pathways and building new, albeit fledgling, helpful ones. Indeed, we can even generate new brain cells if clients are up for the challenge! With intent, repetition, practice, and time for nature to do its physiological thing, it really is possible to rewire your brain!

    Elizabeth Newton
    Clinical Hypnotherapist
    Fresh Leaf Hypnotherapy
    Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex CM24 8AA
    Tel: 07951 776608
    Twitter: @freshleafhypno

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