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!

Don’t forget to join us on Social Media - simply click on the Facebook or Twitter icons below!

  • 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

  • 02 Mar 2020 11:45 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Nicholas Shatti
    At the heart of it, weight is determined by the balance between how much we eat and how much we exercise. Food is energy and if we don’t use that energy, either because we’re consuming too much food or we simply aren’t getting enough exercise, the body will store the excess as fat, ready to be used when needed.

    Yet, if it’s really as simple as eating less and exercising more, why do people ignore this and do the opposite, especially when the benefits of a healthier weight are widely known? What is it that’s happening within us that’s contributing to weight gain and to problems losing weight? We can then ask, “does hypnosis work for weight loss?” To answer these questions, we need, first of all, to look at the role of one of the most primitive survival mechanisms of all: stress.

    Stress is the body’s primitive defence mechanism, which is activated as a response to situations the brain perceives to be dangerous. When we feel stressed, our heart may race, our thinking may become distorted, our palms may get sweaty, and our breathing may become faster and shallower. Some people may experience stomach pains, others may feel sick, while some may feel the urge to use the toilet.

    The stressed feeling is a result of the brain flooding the body with stress chemicals, notably adrenaline, cortisol, and noradrenaline. In more primitive times, these would have provided us with the energy we needed to fight or flee a particular threat. However, the stresses of the modern world do not match those of the past: we aren’t fleeing danger, we don’t have to worry when we will eat our next meal, and we aren’t continually fighting with other people for resources. Instead, the stresses of today involve traffic jams, missed appointments, a sick parent, an exam, or a bill that needs to be paid. Yet the body’s response to a perceived threat remains the same.

    Negative self perception, pressure to lose weight, idealisation of the perfect body, as well as our own day-to-day worries are major contributors to stress. In neurological terms, the brain can’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s imagined, and that can be a problem for us because our thoughts play a significant role in our stress level. Every negative thought we have increases our level of anxiety, and the more anxiety we have, the more likely we are to fire the stress response.

    So, if we’re thinking we’ll never lose weight, worrying about future, thinking we’ll never be in a relationship, thinking about how much we don’t like our manager, thinking we don’t have the perfect body or whatever our thoughts might be, our anxiety goes up. The more negative our thoughts, the stronger the stress response.

    Over time, this can have a significant effect on our health as we become vulnerable to high blood pressure, heart disease, reduced immunity, decreased feelings of self-worth, sexual dysfunction, poor sleep, gastrointestinal problems, and weight gain.

    If we make a decision to lose weight, we will need to change something about our behaviour: we might choose a particular diet, perhaps we join a gym, maybe we buy a healthy-eating cook book, or we might follow a weight loss expert on social media. Sometimes, however, our aim is to achieve a lot in a very short space of time and our own expectations may be unrealistic. If we don’t see results as quickly as we would like or, perhaps, we’ve missed a day or two of our diet, we might feel discouraged from continuing with our efforts and give up on achieving our goals.

    There is also no shortage of pictures of people with tiny waists, perfect breasts, ripped abs, and chiselled physiques on TV, in magazines, and on social media feeds, which might lead us to think that to be healthy, that’s how we need to be. Yet often what we see isn’t what’s best for us and attempting to achieve such a body can lead to disappointment, further increasing our anxiety.

    Advertisers of weight loss products often relate a slimmer waistline to a happier self. While achieving a goal of losing weight may make us feel better about ourselves, if we’re having difficulty becoming that slimmer self, we might begin to believe that we can’t be happy or that happiness will only result when we’ve lost weight.

    There are five main ways in which stress can have an effect on our weight and our attempts at weight loss. We might think of this as the stress/food cycle:

    1. When our stress level increases, so too can our appetite.
      The role of stress chemicals is to prepare the body and provide it with the energy it needs to deal with a threatening or dangerous situation. In the short term, the stress chemicals can shut down the appetite, temporarily putting eating on hold. However, once we begin to calm down and the stress chemical levels have begun to reduce, cortisol remains in the system to ensure we replenish the energy store. The body thinks we’ve used the calories to deal with stress, so we are encouraged to eat more to replenish the calories, even though they haven’t been used.
    2. Stress can lead to fat storage, which can lead to further stress.
      If the level of cortisol remains elevated in the body over a long period of time, instead of providing energy, it will favour fat storage. Cortisol appears to promote the formation of fat in the abdominal areas, which contains more cortisol receptors, meaning we produce even more stress. The more stressed we are, the greater the fat storage.
    3. Stress can increase the appetite for fatty and sugary foods.
      When stressed, the body prepares itself by ensuring there is enough energy available. The fuel our muscles require is sugar and, as a consequence, our appetite for fatty and sugary foods can increase, since it is these foods that provide the energy. If elevated cortisol levels become chronic, then we can continue to crave these foods, further adding to weight gain if consumption remains high.
    4. Stress can lead to comfort eating.
      Eating sugary and fatty foods can dampen down the feeling of stress because eating them causes an increase in dopamine levels. This promotes pleasant feelings and reduces tension, which is part of the brain’s reward system. The behavioural response is, then, to eat these foods whenever the body reaches a certain stress level. Over time the amount of dopamine released when eating these foods decreases, so that we require more food to gain the same feel-good response.
    5. Stress can lead to a feeling of helplessness.
      Stress can make us feel we aren’t in control of our own feelings, especially when we overreact to situations or see others dealing with similar situations in an outwardly calm way. If we don’t feel in control, we might begin to feel helpless in changing our situation and perhaps even give up trying to improve ourselves. Engaging in physical activity will almost certainly not be a priority at this point. Limited physical activity means fewer feel-good chemicals are released in the body, which can exacerbate the stress eating cycle. If we aren’t motivated to engage in physical activity, we won’t be burning the calories from stress eating.

    Because stress can be a major factor in both weight gain and weight loss, stress management has a critical role in helping to regulate our weight. Anything that is really going to help us must be targeted towards how we feel about ourselves, so that we are using the resources of the mind for us, rather than against us. If we only focus on losing weight, then we disregard stress as an underlying cause of weight gain and in difficulties in losing weight.

    Perhaps it is better not to ask ‘how does hypnosis work for weight loss?’ but instead ‘how does hypnosis work for stress reduction?’, since if weight gain is influenced by stress, then we must consider what we can do to reduce the effects of stress in our life.

    Rationally, we know what we have to do to lose weight, so it isn’t the rational, thinking part of the brain that hypnosis is directed toward. We are instead concerned with the stress centre, where survival templates are stored, which can sometimes cause us problems rather than being of help. Stress is a survival technique and each of us will have individual survival templates ready to be accessed when in the presence of a perceived threat. Our aim, then, is to reduce the incidence of the stress response firing up, so that we can remain in control of our thoughts and actions.

    To do this, we have to replace our negative thinking with more positive thoughts, so that we can begin to create less anxiety and significantly lower the level of stress hormones in the body. Rather than think about how difficult it might be to lose weight, or think about past attempts at weight loss, or imagine a future in which we haven’t lost weight, our attention is instead directed toward achieving our weight loss goals and seeing the difference that will make to our life.

    By focusing on how we will feel when we’ve lost weight and differences that will make, we create a powerful picture in our mind of what we want to achieve. This is where hypnosis for weight loss is such a powerful tool. We can use it to help us visualise:

    • a life in which we are no longer overweight
    • how we will feel physically and mentally when the weight is gone
    • how we will feel having achieved our goal, which will further motivate us to achieve other goals we set ourself
    • what we will be able to do having lost the weight
    • any other differences losing weight will make to our life.

    If we can create as clear a picture as possible in our minds of what success is to us, then it becomes a motivational force and the brain will work hard to ensure the picture we have becomes reality. We can then develop healthier behavioural templates for situations that might have previously seemed stressful, thereby creating new neural pathways in the brain, so that we no longer default to the sabotaging behaviour of the past.

    Suggestion techniques can also be used in hypnosis to encourage us to develop a positive relationship with food and exercise which is key to a healthy diet and long-term weight management.

    If we consider weight loss as one of the consequences of reduced stress in our lives and we use hypnosis to help reduce that stress, as well as for enhancing our efficacy of visualising success, then we can begin to:

    • think more clearly and make better choices about the food we eat
    • feel motived to include more physical exercise into our daily routine
    • reduce our reliance on food for the production of the body’s feel-good chemicals
    • sleep better, which will help to naturally reduce stress chemicals
    • feel in control of our lives and better understand what we can do to create change so that we make the necessary lifestyle changes,

    Ultimately, eating fewer calories and burning more of those calories will result in weight loss. However, as we have seen, a sole focus on eating less and exercising more might not be the solution. When we’re feeling better about ourselves, when we’re focused on what we want, rather than what we don’t want, and when we’re starting to take part in activities that make us feel good, then we reduce the harmful effects of stress. If we are less stressed and feeling more in control, then we open up the possibility of making the necessary lifestyle and behavioural changes needed for weight loss.

    Nick Shatti
    Hypnotherapy with Nick
    The Clifton Practice, 8-10 Whiteladies Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1PD
    0117 901 2282

  • 03 Feb 2020 9:53 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Caroline Evans
    Don’t worry if your memory is not what it used to be, sometimes forgetfulness is essential for a healthy brain.

    When a name, face, appointment, or memory escapes us, it can cause embarrassment and frustration. But understand, these lapses are completely normal. In fact, they are often a sign that our brain is in perfect working order.

    memoriesModern life and mobile phones mean that we are exposed to a barrage of information throughout the day. Not only is it normal for our brain to discard most of it, it’s also desirable. If it didn’t, our system would be overloaded. Not holding onto all the information is the brain’s way of tidying up and working functionally.

    Our memories are formed by the action of neurotransmitters and the connections of neurons in our brain. When we pay attention to an emotional experience, the neurons fire together and then, wire together and store the memory into our hippocampus. This is the area of our brain that stores our memories, emotions, and behavioural patterns. Our hippocampus chooses what is deemed important to us and the rest of the information is lost. It’s like a screening service.

    keysSo, if you can’t remember where you’ve put your keys, don’t be too cross with yourself. Putting our keys down is a mundane activity that doesn’t require concentration. If you’re not aware of what you’re doing, the information can’t enter your long-term memory.

    After all, if we didn’t forget the unremarkable, it would be harder to notice and retain important information. Our hippocampus tends to keep the specific and special or things that stand out and are different, and this takes a lot of resources. So, our brain has to prioritise.

    Our memory holds onto events that frighten us to avoid us repeating them, and our emotion can work as a glue. It glues the experience into our brain so that we may learn from them. That’s why we remember dramatic and negative stuff so well.

    The real risk to memory can be an unhealthy lifestyle, and worrying is one of the enemies of memory. We fill up our working memory with negative thoughts about the future, the present, and the past and then our stress levels remain high.

    Also, poor sleep has a negative effect. A lot of memory consolidation goes on while we sleep. Memories are being laid down, rearranged, and put into the right place or in perspective. Therefore, a lack of a good night’s sleep can cause memory problems.

    Evolution does not strive to make our memory the perfect hard drive, it’s not the functional way of adapting to the environment. The past is mostly forgotten – all the little details of every single day.

    So, what can we do to help our memory?
    Hypnotherapy can help by accessing the memories in our hippocampus to help process them and move them into perspective. By using pieces of information from the past, we can construct simulations of our preferred future. We can use our memories to guide us and help us to plan.

    Hypnotherapy can also help us to get a good night’s sleep because it helps the mind to relax and let go of the anxieties that are triggering our flight or fight survival responses. It allows our parasympathetic system to rest and relax our bodies, and allows our mind to empty our metaphorical stress bucket.

    So, if you have to use Google to look things up when in the past you could remember them, don’t despair, it’s just your brain cleverly adapting to the aids at its disposal.

    If you feel your memory is deteriorating more rapidly than it should be, or your loved ones or friends are becoming concerned, then it’s always advisable to see your GP.

    Caroline Evans DSFH HPD
    Chamberlain House
    10-11 High Street
    Bagshot GU19 5AE
    07765 692 072

  • 02 Jan 2020 2:20 PM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Jane Pendry
    Accepting you have an addiction problem is the first step towards resolving it.

    If you are reading this for yourself, you are facing up to the problem of addiction. You are on your way to recovery and a new and better life.
    Overcoming addiction can be very challenging. Keeping the secret from your family, fearing you might lose your job, and the strain of living in denial all create stress and take their toll. You may need a network of support to help you through.

    If you suspect you have an addiction problem, your GP may be a good starting point. Your doctor can advise you and refer you to local addiction services which will support you on your journey to sobriety.

    You may also choose to contact a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist through, or another accredited hypnotherapist for complementary support and therapy (If you live in Oxford, do get in touch with me directly to find out more).

    There are mixed emotions linked to addiction - shame, despair, anger, frustration, and deep sadness. A qualified and accredited Solution Focused Hypnotherapist will never judge you. They are there to support you, to believe in you and your recovery, and to acknowledge your bravery in asking for support.

    The main difference with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, compared to other forms of hypnotherapy, is that Solution Focused questioning enables you can create a powerful vision of a better future that pulls you forward towards your goal. This is considerably more motivating than the negative motivation of moving away from something harmful and will really help you maintain your resolve by creating a rich and vivid vision of a richer, more vibrant future.

    Smoking and Vaping
    Smoking and vaping are fairly easy addictions to break. The key is to make sure you are not under extreme stress when you aim to give up – going through a divorce, moving house, or going through the break up of a relationship. In that circumstance, I would work on reducing your stress and anxiety levels before undertaking the two-hour Stop Smoking Session. For most people, however, the one session is sufficient. It works, in essence, by convincing your subconscious that you are a non smoker.

    smoking My client Alan (not his real name) reported not only giving up compulsive vaping after one session, but alcohol with absolute ease. They were clearly associated in his mind so breaking one compulsion impacted the other bad habit. A few months later, Alan was still free of nicotine and just had the occasional drink. He was enjoying a new level of fitness and improved family relationships.

    In the Grip of Addiction
    If you have a more serious addiction problem, however, such as alcohol, prescribed opiates, or gambling, you may consider joining an appropriate support groups, such as Alcholics or Gamblers Anonymous. There is a list at the end of the blog.

    Some addictions lead to serious health issues, debt and marriage break-ups so if your addiction is seriously impacting you now, do seek professional medical support or contact one the relevant addiction agencies.

    gamblingSolution Focused Hypnotherapy can ease your passage through to sobriety, strengthen your resolve, reduce cravings, and help you combat the seductive messages of your addiction. The chemistry of your brain will have changed throughout your addiction, and so we need to help you rewire the brain and that can take time. It’s important that you see Solution Focused Hypnotherapy as a support mechanism and not an instant resolution by some trick or magic.

    Some addictions have less of a powerful effect on the mind so it’s important we have a full and frank discussion in the initial consultation to determine that you have a genuine desire to give up your addiction, that you have decided to give up yourself (and are not being coerced or pushed to do so by a third party), and that you are happy with the level of support you have.

    In our initial consultation we can discuss the nature of your issue, and decide together the level of support you need and whether this is an issue that can be stopped overnight, whether Solution Focused hypnotherapy alone over several sessions, or whether hypnotherapy is just one intervention among others.

    How do you know you have a problem?
    When an obsessive habit or behaviour is impacting on daily life, you may be addicted.

    There’s an episode of Doc Martin, where Martin says to his receptionist, Pauline, “Are you in control of your gambling, or is your betting in control of you?”  Often the first sign you have a problem is when others point it out to you. Even though you may initially resist it or deny there’s a problem.

    Many of us experience obsessive, uncontrollable and sometimes harmful attachment to substances or activities. You may be addicted to nicotine, drugs, alcohol, food; or gambling, the internet, sex, work, and even computer games.

    According to the NHS about two million people in the UK struggle with addiction.

    When we think of an addict, we may picture a heroin addict living rough on the streets; and that requires a very special kind of intervention. But addiction is all around us and very common. You or someone close to you may be drinking half a bottle of wine or more a night, smoking twenty a day, or compulsively buying scratch cards.

    Someone may appear to be functioning well, while their negative and compulsive behaviours are simultaneously dramatically and negatively impacting their lives and the lives of those close to them.

    What’s the impact of addiction?
    If you are concerned you might have an addiction problem, but you aren’t sure, stand in the shoes of your closest family member and ask, “Are they concerned about me? Is my behaviour affecting them?” If the answer is yes to either or both questions, then you have your answer.

    In Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, I begin all sessions with an explanation of how the mind works, and, in this instance, how addiction is created and embedded. We then work from your Best Hopes for overcoming your addiction. Solution Focused Hypnotherapists ask open questions to help you imagine how your relationships might change, how your work-life could improve, and how good you would feel when you are back in control. This vivid picture acts as an anchor to keep you focused on the ‘prize’, which in turn helps you deal with withdrawal symptoms.

    Through hypnosis, we can help you create new more positive patterns of behaviour, reduce general stress, counter withdrawals, and keep you feeling positive and motivated.

    The ultimate motivator is believing that you have a better future without your addiction, and I can help you strengthen the visualisation of your goals, aspirations, and hopes.

    We ask questions like, “What parts of your life are working well? What can you build on? Who is supporting you? How will giving up your addiction improve your family life, work life, and health? What or who is standing in your way? How can you manage any obstacles?”

    Hypnosis also helps to keep the flow of serotonin steady, which will help you fight any cravings as you move forward. Each session helps to strengthen your resolve or helps you overcome set-backs.

    Don’t give up on giving up
    It is natural to have mixed feelings about giving up your addiction. The addiction may have served a purpose for you once - got through a difficult time, numbed pain, or drowned sorrows - but now it’s a problem. The reality is a hard reality to face.

    Wanting to give up your addiction
    It is very important to really want to give up your addiction; and to believe you can do it. It’s important your therapist is right beside you, believing you can overcome it too. It’s also important you are realistic.

    One client, I will call him Frank, came to me with a serious gambling addiction. He wanted an overnight cure and indeed, after one session he did stop gambling instantly and dramatically. However, I explained to him the huge chemical changes that have taken place in his mind and the need to join a support group to counter all those persuasive and equally hypnotic suggestions in adverts and outside betting shops.

    Three weeks later Frank started gambling. He then understood the need to commit to a series of sessions, the value of signing up to Gamblers Anonymous and an appreciation of the time it takes to embed new healthy patterns of behaviour in his addicted mind.

    Identify the Problem
    Addiction is about loss of control. What might begin as a habit, a pattern of behaviour that is frequent but not damaging, can, over time, turn in to a powerful compulsion. Habits can be positive or negative. But any habit or behaviour that is impulsive and compulsive is likely to be a significant problem.

    What is the pattern or behaviour you think you have a problem with?  We will call this The Problem.

    Here’s the Sense-Ability Addiction Checklist – answer yes or no

    1. Do you feel in control of the Problem? Have you stopped the Problem before?
    2. Does the Problem override your feelings and emotions?
    3. Does the Problem distract you from day-to-day responsibilities?
    4. Have you abandoned other activities you used to enjoy because of the Problem?
    5. Does the Problem feel like a compulsion that you can’t stop?
    6. Do other people get upset about the Problem?
    7. Have you let down people you love because of the Problem?
    8. Do you have financial difficulties as a result of the Problem?
    9. Has a relationship broken up because of the Problem?
    10. Does the Problem currently impact on intimate relationships, friendships, or family relationships?
    11. Are you having nightmares or sleep issues because of the Problem?
    12. Has the Problem escalated over time?
    13. Was the Problem once an enjoyable activity you felt in control of, but now overwhelms you?
    14. Do you hate the Problem and want to be rid of it?
    15. Does the problem impact on your mood and sense of self worth?
    16. Does the problem impact on your physical or mental health and well-being
    17. Is the Problem underpinned by stress and anxiety?
    18. Is the Problem causing the stress and anxiety?
    19. Is the Problem related to chemicals or alcohol.
    20. Is the Problem related to behaviour such as compulsive working, gambling, or exercise?

    If you scored 5 or more, that’s an indicator a problem is brewing. A score of 10 and you need support to break the patterns and get help now. More than 10, and you may need a series of interventions to help you.

    Note this isn’t a scientific questionnaire, but just an indicator that helps you determine whether you identify the Problem as something that needs to be addressed.

    The stages of addiction

    • Trying something new, which has the potential to be addictive. Many people drink, smoke occasionally, or are occasional drug users, or they love exercise, or work or sex, but they never become addicted. But addiction always starts with an activity linked to pleasure.
    • Experimentation. There is curiosity to try a substance or behaviour that could lead to addiction.
    • Regular use. The original experience was pleasurable and either helped to dull pain and anxiety, or created an unusual high, and there is an impulse to try it again. At this stage, overall quality of life and wellbeing is not affected.
    • Increased use. The temporary form of relief or pleasure is often repeated. At this stage, there may be warning signs, risky behaviour, impact on work (being late for example) and relationships (unreliability, impact on finances) but it is still possible to stop the behaviour for periods. This is a good time to seek an intervention like Solution Focused Hypnotherapy to stop the issue developing in to the Problem.
    • Dependence. The behaviour or habit becomes a need. Users can no longer function normally or happily without taking the particular substance or carrying out the activity. Withdrawal symptoms are strong, mental health begins to be impacted, other people are affected and, despite the negative consequences, the user cannot give up. You have the Problem, and you may need a series of interventions and a network of support.

    Factors that can impact on Addictions
    Certain behavioural traits, influenced by genetic or environmental factors, can increase the likelihood of becoming addicted to activities or substances. These include:

    • Trauma. A history of traumatic experiences, attachment disorders, or neglect can increase the risk of addictive behaviour.
    • Genetics. Some genetic traits could delay the impact on how an addiction develops, and how much support you might need to overcome your addiction.
    • Mental health. There is evidence that people who are anxious and nervous are more vulnerable to addiction. Individuals struggling with stress, or dealing with narcissistic abuse may lean towards addictive behaviour patterns or substances to cope.
    • Chemical Factors. Some addictions create a chemical dependency which is rather more difficult to resolve. Nicotine is mildly addictive, but is relatively easy to give up.

    The Chemistry of Addiction
    With the advent of MRI scans, neuroscientists have observed the impact of addictive substances and activities on the pleasure centres of the brain.
    An addictive behaviour triggers the creation of dopamine, an neurotransmitter that creates feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, or a mental high. The brain remembers the experience and wants to repeat it. You can imagine how those people who use substances or habits such as gambling to escape uncomfortable feelings like anxiety or depression, may be particularly susceptible to seeking pleasure and escape.

    Take gambling for example, which is an addiction that is not substance related. This BBC Video, Inside the Brain of a Gambling Addict, illustrates just how powerful an addiction can be, and why not being able to give up alone is not a sign of weakness. Habit centres and parts of the brain are switched on by gambling, and once you are addicted, you need support to give up and to stay gambling free.

    The problem with seeking a pleasure high is that taking a substance regularly, or undertaking a habit frequently, can create a high level of tolerance. Even eating chocolate creates a dopamine high at first, but frequently eating chocolate dampens the high over time. So some people want to eat more-and-more to experience the original high, which eludes them. As tolerance to a substance such as alcohol or drugs increases, withdrawal symptoms become severe which in turn increases the likelihood of addiction.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy - Complementary SUPPORT
    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy doesn’t involve analysis nor does it seek to find the underlying cause of the addiction. Instead, we focus on how you want to feel, what you want to overcome, and what wonderful things you will be doing once you have faced your addiction and overcome it. This creative process uses a different part of your brain to help you focus on creating your Preferred Future, and then helps you keep that future picture firmly in the front and centre of your mind.

    Some addictions are not hard to break. Smoking is a case in point. Smoking is just an unwanted habit and usually one two hour session can stop you smoking for good.

    Other addictions are deeply psychological, or involve a chemical dependency and they are harder to resolve.

    The key is to understand and believe that addiction is something you can control and overcome.

    Help and support for Addictions in Oxfordshire and the UK
    If your addiction is serious and you need help straight away here are some more sources of help and support:
    Oxfordshire City Council Alcohol and Drugs
    Addiction Services near Oxford
    Alcoholics Anonymous
    For families impacted by addiction
    Gamblers Anonymous
    NHS Young People’s Gambling Addiction Support
    Supportline: Listing many sites for addiction issues
    Healthline: Exercise Addiction support.

    Other sources of help and support
    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a complementary healthcare. I do not diagnose nor claim to cure. I never claim to perform miracles, although some of my clients do.

    There are many factors involved in managing and overcoming addiction and we recommend in the case of serious addictions that you contact your doctor or a dedicated support group.

    However, Solution Focused Hypnotherapists can support you, and reduce your anxiety and withdrawal symptoms by helping you change your thinking about your unwanted habit.

    You may respond very quickly to hypnotherapy and find you can overcome your addiction quickly, or you may need to commit to a series of sessions to support you, alongside other interventions, as you work to change your behaviours, habits, and the chemical responses in your mind

    Any Solution Focused Hypnotherapist can help. Contact me if you live near Oxford and would like to chat through the options, or to find out how I can help you.

    Jane Pendry
    Sense-Ability Hypnotherapy & Coaching
    07843 813 883

  • 02 Dec 2019 9:13 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Caron Iley award Written by Caron Iley

    So, I won an award!! I never intended to win an award but somehow here I am with a trophy inscribed with my name.

    Mental Health Coach / Mentor, WINNER at the Bolton Health and Wellbeing Awards 2019... WOW... and yes, I am still reeling from the nomination let alone the win!

    When I started practising Hypnotherapy it was because I completely believed in the wonderful changes that Solution Focused Hypnotherapy could make to people’s lives.

    Now, two years later, here I am with a trophy and a milestone I never even dreamed of.

    Those who know me will know that I am not boasting when I write about this – I believe passionately in what I do and have always been happy to share my passion and knowledge with anyone who listens (whether they wanted to hear it or not!!).

    The last two years haven’t come easily. There have been many moments of anxiety, self-doubt in my own ability, and lack of sleep, not to mention how incredibly hard I have had to work! Hours and hours of studying neuroscience, research, and history. I was completely out of my comfort zone during training, but, thankfully, had superb tutors and three fab friends who I car-pooled with. There were many hours spent in the car commuting to Leeds and back rehearsing techniques, consultations, and practising our ‘soothing’ voices. We had lots of laughter and some tears.

    I came to Hypnotherapy through my own anxiety. When I stumbled upon it, it made complete sense, and the more I delved and researched the more excited I got. I remember telling my husband that I wanted to train to be a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist. I was at that time an ex Casino Manager working as a full-time HR assistant. His initial reaction was a look that had no words, but said everything. It didn’t take much to talk him round – I am well known for my enthusiasm when I truly believe in something. I am also aware that I can be very annoying when I am enthusiastic – so maybe he just wanted to shut me up, who knows. My daughter was initially embarrassed as teens usually are of their parents, especially when we draw attention to ourselves. Now she happily tells everyone and is a great promoter of my business (Havisham Hypnotherapy) on social media. Maybe I’m finally a cool mum? Thankfully, none of us have any regrets.

    So why Solution Focused Hypnotherapy? Well it does what it says on the tin, and again anyone that knows me knows that I like things to do what they say (who doesn’t?).

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy helps a person refocus on the positives in their lives instead of dwelling on the negatives. We all have moments of being negative, but can usually turn that around and move on. For some, when they are battling with mental health issues, there is no easy way to just switch off negative thoughts or negative forecasting of events that may or may not happen. They slowly get drawn into a vicious cycle of negativity, anxiety, and thinking the worst in all aspects of their lives, which can eventually manifest into other unhelpful issues such as: insomnia, low self-esteem and confidence, depression, OCD, phobias, and for some, slowly make their worlds smaller and smaller – constantly living in fear of all the things they imagine could hurt them or their loved ones.

    In sessions with a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist, you will be encouraged to focus on what’s good in your life, small things. This may be difficult at first, but it becomes easier and easier and eventually you notice more and more positive aspects of your life, feeling excited and looking forward to sharing them at your next appointment. The session continues and focuses on your best hopes and helps you realise the small steps you can take to get there – slowly building a strong foundation of positivity and perspective that will stay with you. Once you are feeling pleased with your work, you hop on the couch. Here is where you are rewarded with a deep relaxing hypnosis session, or trance as it is commonly known. Slowly drifting in and out of a conscious state of mind, following beautiful guided imagery, while allowing your Hypnotherapist to fill your subconscious mind with lots of lovely positive language encouraging self-ability and confidence in all that you do.

    I love what I do and it’s not just my hard work that got me here. I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for my clients, past and present, that trusted me to get them to be their best selves looking forward to a future with hope again. When a client comes to me, we build a rapport – I couldn’t be successful without this bond. I know instantly in the Initial Consultation whether we will have a great partnership, working together as a team to get the results the client deserves and will work hard for. My clients are superstars! They trust me and work with me and together we smash negativity to pieces! I give my clients 100 percent, and they know this. They feel this in their Consultation. I love when a client leaves the Consultation and messages later to say how much better they are feeling already and that they can’t wait to get started.

    I do not claim to be the ‘expert’ Solution Focused Hypnotherapist, but with each client I learn more and more. I am completely honoured that my work has been recognised in my community and even more so that Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is starting to get the recognition it deserves. I have my clients, past and present, to thank for this. Without their trust and support, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

    It’s an adventure I never imagined and has opened a whole new world of friendships, business relationships, and social media buddies.

    So, as I take off the false eyelashes and make-up, and hang up my posh frock for another special time, I sit and look back in amazement at how my life has changed and how at the age of ‘ahem’ I have finally found what I want to do when I grow up and become the best that I can be.

    If you would like more information as to how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help you to feel positive and hopeful about your future, please contact us.

    Caron Iley
    Havisham Hypnotherapy
    Lostock, Bolton
    Greater Manchester BL64EN
    07580 041394

  • 04 Nov 2019 9:04 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Jane Pendry

    Emetophobia Emetophobia is the fear of vomiting, or watching others vomit. The condition can be terrifying and debilitating. Even anticipating vomiting can cause significant anxiety or panic. Those affected can feel trapped and terrified because they can’t escape situations that cause panic and fear.

    Sometimes emetophobia is rooted in a terrifying childhood experience, but this isn’t always the case. When we are physically sick, we activate our sympathetic nervous system which raises our heart rate and triggers sweating and shaking just as if our fight, flight, fright response had been activated. That’s why this phobia can be so persistent and debilitating.
    The treatment for emetophobia is not the same as for other phobias, which are usually removed through the NLP or hypnotherapy rewind and reframe sessions in 1 to 3 sessions.

    What’s the difference between emetophobia and other phobias?
    Sufferers of emetophobia often experience the classic symptoms of panic attacks: rapid heart rate, churning stomach and breathlessness. The condition can affect self-esteem, relationships, social interaction and even careers. Consequently, the condition is defined as a complex phobia.

    Ordinary phobias cause distress, fear, and panic, but usually only when people come into contact with the thing or situation that causes their fear (ie spiders, dogs, dentists, needles). The reason emetophobia can feel so crippling is that the fear and anxiety can be continual, pervasive, and frequent.

    Many people suffer in silence, either believing nothing can be done to resolve it, or fearing treatment will involve exposure to vomit and traumatise them further.

    How can Solution Focused Hypnotherapy help?
    Hypnotherapy has been proven to be highly effective for emetophobia, reducing anxiety and easing the fear response to normal healthy levels.

    The basic feature of any phobia is a conflict between the conscious and unconscious minds. Working at a deep subconscious level, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy helps clients re-programme their thoughts about food, socialising and other negative or fearful associations with being sick.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy steadily dissociates feelings of fear, anxiety and panic from any and all associations with vomiting. Then, using the imaginative part of the mind, you can create a safer and more secure response to situations where you or someone else might be sick.

    Hypnosis undertaken with a qualified and accredited hypnotherapist is safe, relaxing, and natural. We use guided visualisation and Ericksonian suggestions - not commands - to gently ease our clients into a trance-like state where they remain conscious and in control but deeply relaxed and suggestible.

    Our scripts have been developed by experts and are tried and tested. Descriptions of more appropriate behaviours elicited through the Solution Focused element of hypnotherapy sessions can be added as you progress.

    What clients appreciate most about this approach, is that they don’t have to re-experience the trauma during therapy.

    What triggers emetophobia?
    As a complex phobia, emetophobia has a number of possible triggers. One of my clients was triggered by hearing or seeing other people being sick and another was frightened of being sick herself and was triggered by hospital visits and sickness bugs going around.

    Below is a list of further triggers that can cause a panic and phobic reaction:

    • Feeling nauseous or unwell
    • Vomiting or watching or hearing other people vomit
    • Previous experience of chemotherapy
    • Seeing animals vomit
    • Feeling out of control
    • Hearing about an illness going around that includes vomiting
    • Watching a television show or a movie where someone vomits
    • A visit to the doctor or dentist
    • Having to check into the hospital or visiting someone in hospital
    • Fear of germs or infection
    • Consuming food that you have an idea might make you sick

    I am sure there are many more.

    Some people will fear all and any vomiting, whether caused by alcohol consumption, morning sickness, medication, or a virus. Others’ fear is linked to infections and viruses only.

    What is the impact of having emetophobia?
    Emetophobia can make people nervous about having medical treatment or going to hospital because sufferers don’t like to be around anyone who is sick or who might be sick. Sometimes people refuse to go to pubs, clubs, and restaurants and are even nervous of eating all or some foods in case they make them sick.

    When the phobia is this intense, it can have a serious impact on everyday life. Ordinary activities such as drinking, eating out, travelling, visiting relatives, having children, or visiting the doctor or dentist are all potential issues. Sometimes the disorder results in persistent and intense anxiety and panic disorders. Quite often, emetophobia leads to depression, generalised anxiety, and in severe cases to agoraphobia, social phobias, and OCD.

    No need for analysis or reliving traumatic experiences
    Solution Focused Brief Therapy, which lies at the core of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, works with your Best Hopes. SF Therapists do not need to dive into your past to uncover or analyse the cause of your emetophobia. If you are a sufferer, you don’t need to discuss your phobia in detail or relive traumatic events. We gently work with where clients are now, helping them take steady steps forward by asking carefully framed questions that help them imagine new ways to feel, new solutions and alternative possibilities even before we begin hypnosis.

    How long does it take to get better?
    Emetophobia is a complex condition that may require several weeks of therapy, a minimum of three weekly sessions, and possibly up to ten or more when the condition is thoroughly embedded and lifelong.

    If you suffer from emetophobia, and choose a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist to help you, you will always leave sessions feeling refreshed and uplifted, and each week you will notice your general stress levels subside and your anxiety about vomiting and related activities lessen until, finally, the problem has been resolved for good.

    To find a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist please see the Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapist ( or if you live or work near Headington, contact me for your initial consultation.

    Jane Pendry
    Sense-Ability Hypnotherapy & Coaching
    07843 813 883

  • 01 Oct 2019 7:26 PM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Trevor Eddolls
    Why is it the most natural thing in the world to think about painful situations over-and-over again? Why do people spend more time on negative issues than positive ones – the things that make us happy? I’ve seen posters (no source is quoted) suggesting:

    • 40 percent of all the things we worry about never happen.
    • 30 percent have already happened, so we can’t change them.
    • 12 percent are needless worries about health.
    • 10 percent are minor miscellaneous worries.
    • 4 percent are real worries that we can’t do anything about.
    • 4 percent are real worries that we can do something about.

    Somehow, those figures just feel right when you look at them rationally – which means that most of what people worry about is not worth the time spent worrying. Other figures are claiming that 80 percent of our thoughts are negative, and 95 percent are repetitive. Worryingly, in the Dhammapada, a collection of sayings of the Buddha, it says: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought”. So, if we are repeatedly thinking negatively, what kind of person are we turning into?

    There are thought to be three leading causes of negative thoughts.

    • Fear of the future. The future is unknown and no-one knows what will happen. This can lead to ‘catastrophizing’, which is predicting failure and disaster.
    • Anxiety about the present, eg what people think of us, whether we’re doing a good job at work, etc. This can lead to ‘worst-case scenario’ thinking.
    • Shame about the past. Feeling embarrassed about past mistakes and failures – things that cannot be changed.

    It may be that by going over painful experiences or worries in our minds, we hope to find new insights or understandings that will reduce our distress and allow us to move on. However, quite often, instead of finding some kind of understanding and moving on, we constantly replay the same scenario, making us feel sadder, angrier, or more agitated, each time the scenario repeats. This brooding or rumination isn’t good for a person because it increases the distress they feel.

    Rumination can be almost addictive. The more people ruminate, the more compelled they feel to carry on. Rumination can also increase the likelihood of a person becoming depressed, And it is also associated with a greater risk of alcohol abuse and eating disorders. Brooding over one thing can increase a person’s risk of thinking negatively about other aspects of their life. Rumination can impair thinking, causing people to be slower to take steps to deal with an issue. Lastly, rumination increases a person’s psychological and physiological stress responses, putting them at greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

    You can understand the evolutionary drive to have negative thoughts. Learning from past mistakes can make life safer for you in the future. But, clearly there is a tendency for many people to focus on the negatives. Rumination is a kind of negative thinking in which we go over-and-over the same thoughts. Rumination can make a person more-and-more anxious as they come up with more-and-more negative outcomes that could possibly happen. Ruminating can also make you feel depressed. You may focus on how bad you feel, why you feel so bad, what you did wrong to get in this situation, and how things could get worse and you could mess things up even more. This extended negative thinking can reduce a person’s motivation to take steps to solve the problem.

    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) came up with the idea of cognitive distortions. These are ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are then used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions. By learning to correctly identify this kind of thinking, a person can then refute it. And by refuting the negative thinking over-and-over again, those negative thoughts will get less-and-less over time. Here is a list of cognitive distortions:

    • Filtering – a person takes the negative details and magnifies those details while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation.
    • Polarized thinking (or ‘black and white’ thinking) – there is no middle ground. A person with black-and-white thinking sees things only in extremes.
    • Overgeneralization – a person comes to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence.
    • Jumping to conclusions – a person knows what another person is feeling and thinking as though they could read the other person’s mind.
    • Catastrophizing – a person expects disaster to strike, no matter what.
    • Personalization – a person believes that everything others do or say is some kind of direct, personal reaction to them.
    • Control fallacies – a belief about being in complete control of every situation in a person’s life.
    • Fallacy of fairness – a person feels resentful because they think that they know what is fair, but other people won’t agree with them.
    • Blaming – holding other people responsible for your own emotional pain.
    • Shoulds – should statements appear as a list of ironclad rules about how every person should behave.
    • Emotional reasoning — if I feel that way, it must be true.
    • Fallacy of change – assuming other people will change to suit them if they just pressure or cajole them enough.
    • Global labelling – a person generalizes one or two qualities into a negative global judgment about themselves or another person.
    • Always being right – continually putting other people on trial to prove that your own opinions and actions are the absolute correct ones.
    • Heaven’s reward fallacy – the false belief that a person’s sacrifice and self-denial will eventually pay off, as if some global force is keeping score.

    These negative thoughts can be stopped by noticing what events trigger them and looking at what other ways of thinking might fit the situation better.

    The big question is, what can a person do to stop this excessive negative thinking? Here are some ideas:

    • Become aware of what you’re doing. Start noticing when you actively choose to revisit your pain.
    • Acknowledge that you’re thinking negatively.
    • Get up and do something else, eg go for a walk, read a good book.
    • Challenge your thinking. Is this really what you think or is it an inherited belief from your past?
    • Ask yourself, is this thought helping or hurting you? If it is hurtful, consciously choose a thought that is more supportive, understanding, or positive.
    • Give yourself a pep talk.
    • Ask yourself whether this thought is useful.
    • Bring your attention back to the present, and see that your negative thoughts are just that – thoughts not reality.
    • Be forgiving. Forgiveness is a necessary part of releasing negative emotions such as bitterness, resentment, and anger. When we truly forgive someone, we also heal ourselves.
    • Focus on ways to show compassion and understanding toward others.
    • Say “just because” and reason with yourself, eg, “Just because I’ve struggled to find a good job doesn’t mean I will never find one in the future.”
    • For negative thoughts that are linked to a specific strong emotion like fear, anger, or jealousy, write down all your pent-up negativity. Then destroy the paper, symbolizing your commitment to moving on.
    • Don’t phone a friend and moan to them (ie continue with your negative thoughts) and don’t drink alcohol.

    Positive Psychology suggests that memories of bad events (eg low test scores, social gaffs, etc) can continue to impact our emotional memory. Their way of dealing with this is to use positive reappraisal (positive reframing), which was shown to work well by King and Miner (2000). Watkins et al (2008) looked at grateful reappraisal. People were asked to remember an unpleasant open memory (like a police open case). Those people who were asked to do grateful reappraisal, wrote about the beneficial consequences of the event for which they might be grateful. This led to more psychological closure, fewer unpleasant feelings, and the memories became less intrusive.

    Before we leave the subject, negativity isn’t all bad. Some psychologists believe that pessimism has its advantages. People who expect the worst often are more resourceful because they are better prepared when things go wrong.

    It seems that people are hardwired to worry, but most of what they worry or ruminate about are things that they cannot change – which makes it seem like a waste of their time, especially because it can have a negative impact on their life. It helps if you can identify when you are falling into the trap of using any of CBT’s cognitive distortions. And if you do find yourself ruminating for any length of time, then, hopefully, some of the techniques listed above will help you to stop.

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

  • 04 Sep 2019 11:50 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Sarah Sollom
    Life is a series of transitions. Most are manageable and enjoyable, but the ride can often be bumpy. I can truly empathise with many of life’s phases having experienced them myself with varying degrees of joy.

    A phase that I can particularly identify with is later middle age. For many, turning fifty can be a time of  feeling a little uneasy.  Are we past the halfway point?

    One’s fifties often coincide with massive changes. You may be trying to help your moody teenagers facing  their own challenges, as well as ageing parents needing increasing amounts of care and attention. Life can become frenetic, as you drive your youngsters here there and everywhere, help with their school to further education or work transition, or their preparations for leaving home. Meanwhile you dash off to attend to the needs of your parents, while your own hormones are coursing around your menopausal body causing mood swings, hot flushes, and sleep problems. And for some, a marriage or relationship may have collapsed. As chief cook, housekeeper, taxi-driver, counsellor, and probably sustaining a career, you may feel exhausted, put upon, resentful, and guilt the last person to receive any respite or TLC. 

    Does any of that sound familiar? You need to look after your own needs in order to be everyone else’s rock. Apart from that, don’t you deserve to enjoy life?

    That’s where Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can come to the rescue. Learning about how the brain works and why you feel at breaking point is the first positive stride towards a turnaround. It also helps you to manage your relationships with those who are relying heavily upon you, as you learn to draw on your own inner strengths, unlock solutions and coping strategies, and rediscover your joie-de-vivre.

    Sarah Sollom
    01793 750180

Registered Office:
8-10 Whiteladies Road Bristol BS8 1PD


The Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (AfSFH) is a not-for-profit organisation
Company Registration no. 7412098 © AfSFH
All rights reserved