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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  • 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

  • 01 Aug 2019 2:39 PM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)
    Written by Tania Taylor
    It is more than likely that all of us will have trouble sleeping at some point in our lives. This blog is all about how to improve our sleep hygiene and get some ZZZs so that bedtime is one less stress we have to worry about. We all know that a good night’s sleep can make us feel on top of the world, so let’s look at how we can make a good night’s sleep be the norm for us.

    1) maybe you can consider a time when sleep came more easily to you. You might want to think about what was different then, what was good about that sleep, and how did it change your day-to-day behaviour? Are there any behaviours or actions you can replicate in the future?

    2) a healthy sleep routine before bedtime can help your body get into a regular pattern of knowing when it is time to start winding down. If we use electronic devices before bed, the natural melatonin our body produces may be blocked, so our body doesn’t think it is bedtime yet and getting to sleep can be a real challenge. You may want to minimise drinks and exercise before bed too because these can cause disruptions to our sleep. Consider now, what your 1-2 hours before bedtime routine could involve.

    3) having a regular set time for getting into bed and getting out of bed helps our body to create a habit. A healthy amount of time would be from 7-8 hours, but you know what is right for you and your body.

    4) when we feel anxious, frustrated, or angry, we get adrenaline, cortisol and other stress hormones released into our bodies. These are also given to us to help us during a fight/flight situation to give us a burst of energy and strength. Not so helpful if we are trying to sleep or if we wake during the night. You may want to consider how you would like to feel or think if you were feeling a 10/10 and you were waking in the night. How would your thoughts/feelings differ if you were on Cloud 9? What kind of thoughts help you to feel good and relax normally? Could you then try and have these particular thoughts/feelings practiced and ready to go the next time you struggled to get to sleep or wake in the night?

    5) our fight/flight part of our brain is also in control of our habitual behaviours. Habits can, at first be ‘one-offs’, but, before we know it, turn into a regular pattern of behaviour for us. This part of our brain is purely focused on our survival, it isn’t connected to our intellect, so it can’t be innovative. Intellectually we know a few hours’ sleep isn’t good for us, but our fight/flight brain (also known as our limbic system) doesn’t connect with this. Instead it assesses that we are alive today and so examines what behaviours we used yesterday, last week etc, and encourages us to use the same behaviour patterns again. Why? Because it knows those previous behaviour patterns kept us alive because we woke up again today to face another day.

    6) we often focus on the problem. When I speak to people and ask how I can help, the first time we see each other, we often hear phrases such as ‘I don’t want to do...’ or ‘I want to stop doing...’. When we focus on what we don’t want, we are still telling our brain to focus on the very thing we don’t want. So, what helps our brain is to instead focus on what we might like to happen in an ideal situation. Focusing on for example; getting xx hours of sleep, instead of x hours – small, achievable steps. Giving our brain a destination or goal, enables us to identify ways of getting to that point. Think about a sat nav, with no destination it cannot tell us which direction to go in. Achievable goals are very important, we don’t want you to ever set yourself up to fail, because that is counterproductive. If we tell ourselves we will still wake up at x time, or we will still only get x hours of sleep, we are reinforcing that behaviour to our fight/flight brain and reinforcing that habit.

    7) using hypnotherapy tracks to help you get into a deep state of relaxation to encourage and enable a better-quality sleep is what all of my clients who come to me with Insomnia will use.

    Using it as part of your healthy sleep routine can have you falling asleep, and staying asleep, in as little as a week. For some people it can take longer, usually because there are some other things they have to work through first that are causing them stress.

    I have a several free tracks on YouTube (no ads, I don’t get paid for you to listen to them) that I have made especially for people who are struggling with Insomnia, sleep difficulties, anxiety, stress, frustration, pain and anger.

    It is always best to find one that you like and stick to the same one (to help create that habitual behaviour our fight/flight brain loves so much).

    Here’s a link to my YouTube channel: It doesn’t have to be mine that you listen to though, YouTube has an array of hypnotherapy tracks you can choose from. Please do ensure that you check the content is what you would like to listen to beforehand, and please ensure you’re listening in a safe place where you won’t come to any harm should you fall asleep.

    I really hope you found these tips useful. Sticking to them for a good 2-3 weeks, every night without fail is how you will get the most benefit. A little like if you broke your leg and had exercises to do every day so you could walk again. You would do them, as you really want to be able to walk again and the physio told you how the more you do them, the sooner your recovery would take place. We often place more attention on our physical health and neglect taking care of our brains. So, treat this as you would a physical health recovery, do your exercises that you choose for yourself and stick to your healthy sleep routine etc) and you will reap the rewards.

    Tania Taylor
    07442 169 033

  • 03 Jul 2019 11:39 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Sarah Stanley
    Hypnosis is known to most people merely as a form of entertainment. Making people do things they don’t want to do while in a hypnotic ‘trance’.  In earlier times hypnotists offered miracle cures and hypnosis was associated with the occult. All a bit ‘woowoo’ in many people’s minds!

    In fact, hypnosis is the oldest Western form of psychotherapy. it is a very powerful way of changing how we use our minds to control perception and our bodies. Most clinicians now agree it can be an effective therapeutic technique for a wide range of conditions, including pain and anxiety.  And it can help in improving confidence, reducing phobias, and developing heathy habits.

    MRI Scans – the Key to Our New Understanding

    Modern science has enabled us to understand the power of hypnosis more fully. Scientists are finding out more and more about how the brain works and our understanding of the benefits of hypnosis and hypnotherapy increases apace.

    The invention of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, has been an enormous step forward in researching how the brain works. Magnetic resonanace imaging allows us to see the impact of hypnosis on the human brain.

    Using MRI technology, David Spiegel, a scientist at America’s prestigious Stanford University, has conducted research showing that hypnosis actually changes the way blood flows to different areas of the brain.

    What the Science Shows About Hypnosis...

    Under Hypnosis:

    • Activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate is reduced. This is the part of the brain that is active when you are worried.
    • Certain areas of the brain become better-connected, specifically the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (responsible for planning and organization) forms a stronger connection with the insula (which gathers information about bodily sensations and our emotions).
    •  Other areas of the brain lose some connectivity. In particular the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex becomes less connected to the part of the brain which is responsible for self reflection.

    Combined together, these changes mean that under hypnosis you are more relaxed and less self-conscious. You are living in the present moment, more open to new ideas and less concerned about what might go wrong.

    These changes in brain function can be used in a constructive way to alter thought patterns and so make behavioural change easier to achieve.

    Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy – What’s the Difference?

    Hypnotherapy makes use of the effects of hypnosis to enable patients to make positive changes in their thought processes and behaviours.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, which I practise, maximises the opportunities provided by hypnosis to bring about change and improvement.

    In my clinic I ask the client to lie or sit comfortably on the couch and close their eyes, if they are happy to do that. Then I guide them into a relaxed ‘trance’  state, followed by a progressive ‘body scan’ during which they focus on each part of the body in turn, leading to further physical relaxation.

    I then use positive, indirect suggestion to encourage new ways of thinking. Any suggestion can be disregarded if it is not consistent with their values, interests, or judgement.

    I enhance this state by using a ‘deepener’ using visualization or guided imagery to help clients focus on becoming even more relaxed, while using their imagination to reinforce the change we want to make.

    Usually I include metaphor. A metaphorical situation is different from the conscious problem you are struggling with and allows your conscious mind to relax. At the same time, the unconscious mind will register the behaviour pattern being followed, and it will use the metaphor for therapeutic change.

    It is now acknowledged that we dream in metaphor and metaphor is often called the ‘language of the unconscious.’ Metaphor is ‘hypnotic’ because it speaks to the unconscious mind.

    Hypnosis is quite safe when it is practised like this with a trained professional. You remain completely in control throughout.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy and Positive Change

    The combination of coaching therapy to help you identify a positive way forward in your life, and hypnotherapy, using your subconscious to consolidate the changes you want to make, is very powerful. I have seen it work for so many clients.

    With support from a trained coach or therapist, people under hypnosis can bring about real positive change in their lives. Negative self talk is diminished. Positive suggestions are accepted more readily.

    Sarah Stanley
    07850 995 869

  • 03 Jun 2019 5:21 PM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Georgia Riley
    There are approximately 34 known symptoms of menopause, and they're largely due to changes in the brain. Oestrogen is the main chemical that changes during the menopause and affects the same brain regions that also regulate:

    • Temperature
    • Sex drive
    • Sleep
    • Emotions
    • Attention
    • Memory

    Up to 85% of women in the UK report hot flushes during menopause. Body temperature is regulated between set thresholds within a few tenths of a degree above or below 37C.

    Like a thermostat, the brain detects when our core temperature crosses one of these limits and triggers the body into action. If you are too hot you sweat, flush red, take off layers, kick off bedclothes, etc. If you're too cold, you shiver, seek heat, and cover up. During the menopause, these thresholds move together, so your thermostat narrows and becomes very sensitive to tiny variations in temperature. You will sweat and shiver more easily.

    Disrupted sleep is a frequently-reported complaint in menopausal women. Getting a good night's rest seems to be harder during this time of life, just as it can be during puberty and pregnancy, due to hormone fluctuations.

    You may be sleeping or wanting to sleep but your oestrogen levels are still up dancing all night long, and that continual action can interrupt healthy sleep. This, in turn, reduces both the quantity and quality of your sleep. And when that happens, hormones can go further off kilter, filling your waking hours with even more symptoms, particularly emotion-based problems.

    Disturbed sleep can cause no end of troubles, no matter what age or gender we are. When a child has a bad night's sleep, they can become emotional, irritable, and have poor concentration the following day. When a man has poor sleep, he can be moody and forgetful. Night sweats and anxiety can be a cause of sleep disruption but in turn be caused by lack of sleep!

    While hormones influence your mood and your temper, what can make everything seem worse is a lack of sleep. One of the first benefits commonly experienced from solution focused hypnotherapy sessions is an improvement in sleep quality and this can occur quickly.

    You are not losing your mind!

    Menopause is a time of increased vulnerability to foggy thinking and memory issues. Many fear it’s the start of dementia, which can lead to a great deal of anxiety. However, as we have seen this may be due to poor quality sleep too, compounded by stress, mood, and life circumstances.

    Oestrogen maintains sharp thinking by keeping synapses healthy. Therefore, as oestrogen-levels drop, forgetfulness, brain fog, and fuzzy thinking are normal in menopause. Functioning from the intellectual mind with an empty stress bucket will make dealing with a foggy head so much easier, and you will readily be able to come up with ideal solutions.

    Oestrogen helps to control body weight. With lower oestrogen levels, we tend to eat more and be less physically active. Oestrogen may also lower metabolic rate.

    Research suggests that the drop in oestrogen changes how effectively the brain uses glucose, which is why the risk of Type 2 diabetes increases. However, as women age, many other changes contribute to weight gain. You're less likely to exercise and lose muscle mass, which lowers your resting metabolism, making it easier to gain weight.

    The rate at which you can use up energy during exercise declines as you age.  Therefore, to achieve weight loss, you may need to increase the amount of time and intensity of exercising, no matter what your past activity levels were. An awareness of these aging factors can help reduce negative feelings, like guilt or shame for gaining weight or negative feelings like “exercise is pointless because its not working anymore”.

    Serotonin (our feel-good chemical) regulates sleep, energy, mood, and libido, and is central to our wellbeing.

    Serotonin requires oestrogen for its production in the brain. So, when oestrogen levels drop abruptly, so does serotonin, and mood changes can be fairly sudden and dramatic. During this time, women are vulnerable to developing concerns such as anxiety, depression, low confidence, mood disorders, and cognitive change. As well as health fears, embarrassment, and forgetfulness, a frequent cause of anxiety during the menopause is losing your temper or being seen as moody with loved ones or work colleagues.

    The low serotonin levels caused by menopausal loss of oestrogen can sometimes be offset by vigorous exercise or use of a lightbox. Low serotonin levels can also be treated with antidepressant medication. The SSRIs, the newest category of antidepressant, work directly on keeping the serotonin in the brain longer. This is where solution focused hypnotherapy can offer you a natural way to increase your own serotonin production and improve symptoms.

    There is much fear and negativity in our society fears around health and memory loss caused by the onset of dementia; fears about Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), taking it, not taking it, does it cause cancer, does it cause dementia; loss of confidence and looks – weight gain, hair growth or loss, spots, saggy boobs; divorce, relationship issues, and mood wars in duelling hormonal households with hormonal teens going through puberty as mum goes through the menopause.

    Take into account: mood swings, anxiety, and depression are common at this time whether you are male or female! Midlife is a time of busy lives, jobs, managing kids, teenagers, elderly parents needing more help, problems in long-term relationships, and financial issues. There is often a lot of reflection and ‘what ifs’.

    There are a few key things you can do that might make a huge difference in managing this change. Among the most important is to reduce the stress in your life. According to a Harvard University stress expert: “the effect of stress on hormone activity can be so profound that it is capable of inducing symptoms, reducing stress can have the opposite effect”. Other studies report that women who participated in organised relaxation saw a 30% decrease in their hot flushes, plus a significant drop in tension, anxiety, even depression.  They also reported fewer mood swings and more stable emotions overall.

    Think about what’s going on in your life
    Be aware of what is piling into your stress bucket.

    • What is happening in your life?    
    • What is happening in your brain?   
    • What is happening in your body?

    Acknowledging the contents of your stress bucket can be a vital first step in dealing with menopause. Being self-aware can help you to understand why you are feeling the way you are, and give you the tools to manage menopause effectively.

    You are not alone
    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can increase your understanding of menopause and change your perspective from being overwhelmed to building the confidence to maintain a normal, healthy lifestyle.

    Georgia Riley BSc, MBPsP, DSFH, CNHC, AfSFH, NCH, NBMP
    Solution Focused Hypnotherapist & Modern Psychotherapist
    01704 601010
    0743 2154 586

  • 02 May 2019 10:39 AM | Trevor Eddolls (Administrator)

    Written by Jane Pendry
    Anxiety in teens and young adults is on the rise.

    Why is it a worsening problem? And how can young adults manage and resolve anxiety related issues and flourish in our ever changing world?

    Frontal lobes in adolescent brains, needed for executive function, impulse control and judgement, are not fully formed in young adults. In fact neuroscientists agree that brain development continues until at least the mid-20s, and possibly until the 30s.

    Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

    The young developing brain is much more vulnerable to stress and anxiety than the fully developed adult brain.

    We know trainee adults need to work out the answers for themselves. But they are facing an unprecedented number of challenges and they need our support more than ever.

    It’s a Problem That Can Be Fixed
    Solution Focused approaches use skilled open questioning to help clients work out what they want and how to get there. For adolescents this feels respectful, supportive and empowering.

    As a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist, I know that even the most anxious adolescent can learn to manage their anxiety and take control of their thought processes.

    Young minds are more plastic than adult minds. New wiring and connections are being made and unmade all the time. So what has been learned and is unhelpful, can be unlearned.

    When Laura, aged 16, came to see me, with her concerned mother, she was terrified of travelling to school and back. She was tearful, and extremely anxious about walking down the street; even accompanied by her family.

    Yet, three sessions later, Laura was travelling to school on the bus, walking along her street at night, and even travelled to a music festival.

    These incredible results were due to the plasticity of her young mind.

    Why do young people get anxious?
    Anxiety triggers the production of stress hormones that make us take action; study harder, prepare more carefully for a meeting or presentation, or focus our attention on an important social event such as a wedding. But that’s a healthy level of anxiety. We can manage it and resolve it once the exam has been taken, the meeting is over or we are off on honeymoon.

    For adolescents, emotions are, as you may have noticed, WRIT LARGE.

    Frances Jensen M.D, and Amy Ellis Nutt in ‘The Teenage Brain’ explain what is different about the adolescent brain and what that means for managing anxiety and stress. Hormones impact on the teenage mind, and result in moodiness, impulsivity and sometimes poor choices. Jensen and Ellis Nutt add, - “… there is more at play in the teenage brain, where new connections between brain areas are being built and many chemicals, especially neurotransmitters, the “brain’s messengers,” are in flux.”

    This mind ‘in flux’ has some benefits. Teenagers see wonder and excitement in events and experiences about which middle-aged brains can barely muster a flicker of interest, from boy bands and Ariane Grande, to heavy metal and rave; from go-karting and paragliding to pink hair and Doctor Martin boots. Whatever their interests, their experiences, good and bad, are heightened. 

    When we are young, we see Romeo & Juliet as the greatest tragedy of two young lovers kept apart by warring families with tragic consequences. As an adult, remembering Romeo first loved Rosamund hours before he fell for Juliet, we know that the real tragedy is that this young love is a passing fancy founded on nothing more than pheromones, the thrill of climbing a balcony, and the frisson of the elicit.

    Jensen and Ellis Nutt go on to explain, “Because of the flexibility and growth of the adolescent brain, adolescents have a window of opportunity with an increased capacity for remarkable accomplishments. But flexibility, growth, and exuberance are a double-edged sword because an “open” and excitable brain also can be adversely affected by stress, drugs, chemical substances, and any other number of changes in the environment.” They conclude that these influences can have dramatic consequences.

    So we know a young mind is both open to learning and new experiences, but much more vulnerable to stress and environmental change.

    The Stresses of a Changing World
    We also know that the world in which adolescents now live is changing at a dramatic pace. Let’s look at some of the challenges our young people face:

    There is the old ones – been there, done it:

    • Social anxiety; a desire to fit in and find your ‘tribe’
    • Sex hormones; the unspoken complexities of the dating game
    • Exam anxiety; choosing subjects, revising, university interviews
    • Career choices; thinking about careers, interviews, training and so forth

    And the new - thank goodness we have never had challenges to deal with:

    • Social media: air-brushed images and friends or celebrities with ‘perfect’ lives; cyberbullying and endless gossip; the sheer volume of tweets, and the constant flip, flip, flip of images and snippets of text.
    • Computer games; often highly addictive and stimulating; violent and highly realistic images may help process feelings, or over stimulate their young minds.
    • The internet: easy access to extreme and sometimes violent porn, hyper-sexualisation of some young people, which creates further anxiety in their social lives
    • TV: endless fascinating TV shows on all channels; when do you go to bed?

    Need I go on. You all know what the external stressors are because you see the impact on the young people you love and care about. Or you experience them yourself.

    Anxiety is a Natural State
    As a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist, my first free initial consultation focuses on how the brain works. 

    Anxiety is a natural state; a signifier that there is danger. For tribesmen living in a rain forest or a jungle, the danger will be real, present and physical; snakes, tigers, alligators. Tribesmen in these environments need to be on high alert. If they see an animal they know to be dangerous, they fight, flee or freeze. But when they respond to danger they are not using their intellectual brain. The responses to anxiety and fear all come from the primitive mind, which we know cannot innovate or create solutions.

    The Primitive Mind
    The pea-sized amygdala is the ‘flight, fight, freeze’ part of the mind. It is closely connected to two other primitive parts of the brain: the hippocampus that stores the patterns of behaviour, both helpful and appropriate, and unhelpful; and the hypothalamus, which regulates hormones in the brain. When the amygdala is responding to stress or fear, the hypothalamus floods the body with stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol, giving enough short term energy to take instant action.

    Now if our adolescents were living in the jungle, that would be hugely useful for their survival. But in our more complex modern world, anxiety can develop over time. Stressors, such as exams aren’t just related to the day the exam is taken, but impacted by many months of revision prior to the exam. Social anxiety isn’t experienced on the tribe’s festivals and holidays, but every day at school. Many stressors are experienced daily.

    Freddy, aged 17, couldn’t stop playing computer games. Some were violent; all of them had an addictive quality. His mother was concerned that his obsessive playing was impacting on his mental health, and on his future as he was not sleeping, nor studying for his A Levels. He became ‘wired’ and developed chronic sleep issues and, almost inevitably, chronic anxiety.

    When Anxiety develops over time, it no longer has any useful function. It becomes debilitating, and can lead to exhaustion, chronic depression and obsessive behaviours.

    What can we do about it?
    Nothing. That’s right. You can’t do anything.

    But your trainee adult child can do something. The good news is that the teenage brain is particularly plastic. Their young brains continue to make connections and they have the capacity to learn extraordinary quickly, whether academically, creatively or practically.

    Solution Focused Brief Therapy and Hypnotherapy
    As you know from the adolescents and young adults in your life, you can’t tell them anything. And that’s great for a Solution Focused Therapist as we don’t tell them to do anything.

    Nothing. De Nada. Zip.

    The great thing about Solution Focused approaches is that they don’t require the practitioner to dig in to the past or to ask lots of personal and penetrating questions, nor do they require the therapist to give any advice.

    “So how does that work then?” I hear you ask.

    We all know that lovely, warm, affectionate children seem to wake up one morning and turn in to mono-syllabic, uncommunicative, eye-brow raising teens that find parents just the most annoying, pointless and frustrating people on the planet. Just like Harry Enfield’s Kevin, for those of you old enough to remember.

    That makes young teens very hard to help. They know everything; you know nothing. Yet you see them suffer with anxiety about things they either don’t want to discuss, or can’t articulate.

    Instead of exploring ‘problems’ and looking for reasons, Solution Focused therapies and coaching turn that idea on its head.

    We don’t worry about what caused the anxiety. We don’t need to know if the boy who caused the pain and despair is called Ryan, Brian or indeed, Romeo. We don’t need to know who said what to whom and when. We don’t need to know anything (although I am happy to listen when clients need to talk but it isn’t actively part of the therapeutic process).

    Exploring Best Hopes
    I ask specific questions that focus on, ‘What’s been good about your week’. These questions move a young client out of their primitive mind, and into their left pre-frontal cortex - the intellectual mind that searches for solutions.

    Through tears, and after a series of skilled questions, Laura said, “I want to be able to go to school on my own without feeling anxious. I want to feel calm and in control. I want to be able to see my friends and come home without being terrified about getting home.”

    You can imagine it much easier for her to focus on what she wanted, rather than what she didn’t want. Her subconscious mind began to create a picture of what was possible and what might be better, and the tears dried. She was not focusing on what was causing her distress. That’s the first shift in thinking.

    For Hamza, aged 19, he wanted to rid himself of his crippling social anxiety. He wanted to be able to go to the pub or parties without feeling his heart thumping in his ribs, and without finding it hard to breathe and feeling a hard lump in the pit of his stomach. Now that was a good description of what he wanted but it was still framed in negative terms.

    What did Hamza really want?

    I asked him to turn his thinking around, and a few questions later, this is what he said, “I want to look forward to going out with my friends. I want to be at ease and to not worry about what I am going to say, or whether I am liked or not. If I see a girl I like I want to be able to speak to her in a normal way…” Through further open questions, he was able to build a full, colourful, experiential picture of what he wanted.

    Now we were ready to make the changes Laura and Hamza wanted.

    Hypnotherapy: rewiring the brain the painless way
    Parents and their older children often have concerns about hypnotherapy.

    But I am not Derren Brown, or Paul McKenna. They use hypnotic techniques and are highly skilled. But they are entertainers. I cannot make your child do anything they don’t want to do. The trance state created through suggestions is similar to the dreamy feeling of watching an absorbing film or listening to a favourite album.

    The SF Hypnotherapy uses Ericksonian language, which is hypnotic language primarily centred around suggestions that can be accepted or rejected by the subconscious mind.

    After a brief relaxation script to help the body unwind and the mind let go, I deliver a script focused on walking down stairs to a room where ‘nobody goes but you’. This is an imaginary place where your son or daughter can ‘rehearse the person they want to be’. Once they are in a state of deep relaxation, similar to being absorbed in a book or film, they remain conscious and aware, but deeply relaxed.

    I then deliver tried and tested scripts focusing on creating firm boundaries, or being in control of their thoughts or whatever is appropriate to their circumstances.

    Patents are most welcome to stay in the session with their children and often enjoy and benefit from the experience.

    Prior to the first active session, clients listen to a recording of a hypnotherapy relaxation session daily to prime their minds for the tailored  hypnotherapeutic process. Usually we then have two to four sessions, sometimes more in the cases of OCD, embedded anxiety, sensory overload due to Aspergers’ or depression.

    So for Hamza, it took just the initial consultation and three hypnotherapy sessions before he was able to comfortably socialise. For Laura, it was three sessions in total before she was able to go back to school on the bus.

    Laura’s mother wrote the following, “I have had the experience of getting support from Jane Pendry, at Sense Ability, for Laura and I would highly recommend trying her approach to unblock issues. She has helped Laura feel more in control of her situation and reduced her anxiety to an appropriate level”

    “After two or three sessions each, Laura has had, what I would term as, a remarkable improvement. She now feels comfortable taking the bus to and from school every day.“

    For my client Tammy, her issues were more profound. She had been diagnosed with BPD and in her early twenties found she was unable to work full time, frequently felt dissociated and was often tearful and depressed. Ten months later she was a feisty mentally healthy young woman on her way to university. So the process still works for profound and embedded issues.

    From Anxiety to Calm and in Control
    There are many ways to help your older children with anxiety issues, including CBT, which is highly effective with a well-trained therapist who can tailor their approach to your child, and some hard work on their part. Counselling and more traditional talking therapies, and medication as a last port of call (to be avoided if possible), are all effective. But Solution Focused therapies are uniquely suited to help young minds create resilience and overcome anxiety related issues, without drugs, and with relative ease.

    The names used in this article have been changed to protect the identity of my clients.

    Jane Pendry

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


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