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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  • 05 Mar 2018 5:00 PM | Helen Green (Administrator)

    Written by Elizabeth Newton

    Thousands of people are stopping smoking every month and the good news is, you can too. Here are 10 things you perhaps didn’t know about smoking. All the more reason to make today the day YOU decide to quit for life.

    1.     We smoke as a result of both brainwashing and chemical addiction.

    2.     It is not as addictive as we are led to believe. Some scientists estimate the addictive element (nicotine) is only 10% addictive.

    3.     Most people who are hooked as adults disliked the taste of that first cigarette when they were adolescents.

    4.     There is evidence to show that substitutes for smoking, eg gums or patches, actually make stopping harder and pangs seem worse.

    5.     Cigarettes kill hundreds of thousands of people. This is more each year than heroin kills.
    stop smoking

    6.     The UK government makes £8,000,000,000 per annum out of nicotine addiction.

    7.     Smoking affects the brain’s feel-good chemicals. Regular smokers are up to 80% more likely to be diagnosed as clinically depressed than non-smokers.

    8.     Smoking is not a relaxant. It is a stimulant. Increasing blood pressure and putting extra strain on the cardiovascular system.

    9.     Smoking increases the chance of contracting 14 different types of cancer. (Not just the lungs)

    10.Cigarettes contain cyanide, lead, mercury, and carbon monoxide.

    Click here to find a solution-focused hypnotherapist near you who can help you to stop smoking.

    Elizabeth Newton – Clinical Hypnotherapist
    HPD, DSFH, AfSFH (Reg)
    Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex CM24 8AA
    twitter @freshleafhypno

  • 05 Feb 2018 5:01 PM | Helen Green (Administrator)

    Written by Trevor Eddolls

    Too many people decide that they want to make a change in their lifestyle and use the New Year as a way of making the required change. Or that’s what they plan to do. And sometime in January, too many people find that they haven’t succeeded in giving up alcohol, losing weight, stopping smoking, going to the gym, or whatever, and go back to their old lifestyle once more. So, how can people make and keep their resolutions?

    Firstly, many resolutions fail because:

    ·        They are based on what someone else (or society) is telling you to change rather than what you feel you want to change.

    ·        They are too vague.

    ·        You don’t have a realistic plan for achieving your resolution.

    The goal should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound).

    There’s evidence to suggest that a person’s chances of success are greater when they channel their energy into changing just one aspect of their behaviour. So, it’s recommended that people make only one resolutions rather than lots.

    It seems that humans are driven by ‘loss aversion’, ie people are more motivated to recover a loss than they are to make gains. So, resolutions should be worded to recover something lost, eg an old hobby or a former level of fitness. They also must be realistic. Also, people are more likely to keep resolutions if they can see them as being somehow important to other people, according to Dr John Michael, a philosopher at Warwick University. Making resolutions public can help people keep them because the fear that people will think worse of them if they don’t see them through adds to their resolve.

    It’s also important to plan for what you want to achieve, identify any obstacles that you’ll meet, and identify ways round them. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, suggests thinking of New Year resolutions as New Year plans. He suggests that rather than setting a far off goal, eg running a marathon, it’s better to set an immediate plan that you can start straight away. So your marathon goal might begin with the goal of running half a mile every Monday morning, and building on that.

    Duhigg suggests breaking down a new habit into its three parts: a cue, a routine, and a reward. For running, a cue could be just putting on your running kit, even if, to begin with, you don’t go running. And then you get a reward, which helps your brain to establish the behaviour. These small steps can then build up to running a marathon.

    Implementation intentions is a technique that uses an ‘if-then’ structure. So a resolution might be to run half a mile on Monday mornings. The implementation intention could be: “If it’s Sunday night, then I will set my alarm 30 minutes earlier, so that I have time to run”. The rule is to identify the situations related to the cue in order to find the ‘ifs’ and link them to appropriate responses to make the ‘thens’. A recent study by Chris Armitage, professor of health psychology at the University of Manchester, found that 15% of smokers who formed implementations stopped smoking, compared with 2% of those who did not.

    One of the obstacles that people face, for example with running a marathon, is that running a mile may be OK, but they still have to run 25 miles more. A 2012 study published in The Journal of Consumer Research found that focusing on the smaller number in reaching a goal kept people more motivated. So, instead of looking at the big number left to get to a goal, look at what’s already been achieved. Later on, when that goal number is much smaller, focus on what little remains to achieve the goal.

    It’s interesting to note that a study by Marion Fournier, a lecturer at the Université Nice Sophia Antipolis, found simple habits form more quickly in the morning than in the evening. Researchers believe this may be to do with levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which tend to be highest when we wake up. Apparently, cortisol elevation changes the mechanisms in our brain, blocking the prefrontal cortex, resulting in a behaviour becoming habitual.
    Gabriele Oettingen, professor of psychology at New York University and author of Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, suggest that people shouldn’t daydream about their future success because they’ll have less actual success. She suggests that it’s better to look at what obstacles are in the way and how to get over them – Oettingen calls this technique WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan):

    ·        Wish – what do you want?

    ·        Outcome – what would the ideal outcome be? What will your life look like when you hit your goal?

    ·        Obstacle – you know yourself. What will try to stop you? What has sidelined you before?

    ·        Plan – how will you get around it?

    Similarly, Gretchen Rubin, the author of Better than Before, suggests it’s crucial to avoid listening to the excuses that make our habits falter, such as the false choice loophole, eg you can’t go for a run tomorrow because you have to do X. Recognizing them in advance can make them less powerful, when you realize you’re doing it, you’re much more likely to resist.

    And should your New Year plan be flexible or rigid? In a 2015 study, researchers paid two groups of people to go to the gym for a month. Group 1 was paid if they started a workout within a two-hour window they chose in advance. The second group was paid whenever they went to the gym. The result after a month was that group 2 was more likely to stick with the gym habit. So be flexible with your new habit.

    In contrast, Prof Neil Levy at the University of Oxford suggests making detailed resolutions is important. For example, “I’ll go to the gym on Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings”, is more likely to be successful than simply saying “I’ll go to the gym more”.

    And treat everything like an experiment. If something doesn’t work, then treat that as more data for what will finally work. Remember Edison took 200 (in some versions 1000) attempts to develop a working light bulb. Treat any failure as a temporary setback rather than a reason to give up altogether.

    For a New Year’s resolution to be successful, it needs to be as easy as possible. A study showed that people who travelled 8km to the gym went once a month, whereas people who travelled 6km went five or more times a month. “That 2km makes the difference between having a good exercise habit and not. That is how our habitual mind works – it has to be easy.

    And be kind to yourself. For many people, according to Dr Jessamy Hibberd, a clinical psychologist, the biggest obstacle to new habits is self-criticism. Study after study shows that self-criticism is correlated with less motivation and worse self-control, in contrast with being kind or supportive to yourself, as you would to a friend – especially when confronted with failure.

    Whatever you set as your goal, solution-focused hypnotherapy can help you to achieve it.


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

  • 03 Jan 2018 5:03 PM | Helen Green (Administrator)

    Written by Marcelle Crinean

    New research shows that almost two thirds (64%) of Brits are on a diet to lose weight “all or most of the time”. Of these, many achieve some weight loss by trying different diets but often end up in a yo-yo cycle where they start a diet, lose some weight, and then ‘fall off the wagon’ – either because they have unrealistic expectations about the diet or their weight loss goals, or the diet is just not sustainable. And the reality is that over 98% of people who lose weight on a diet gain the weight back within 2 years, and then some. In other words, diets don’t work – at least, not in the long term.

    If diets did work, and there was a magic pill or formula that allowed us to lose weight and keep it off, we’d all be doing it. And we wouldn’t have an ‘obesity epidemic’ where, in the UK, obesity prevalence has risen to 26%, such that 58% of women, 65% of men and 1 in 3 children are now classified as overweight or obese.*

    The thing is, we’re thinking about weight loss all wrong. Most people want to lose weight simply to get the weight (or fat) off. But here’s the rub – most of the time the weight is there for a reason. Excess weight or fat is a symptom, not the cause. If you lose the weight but don’t address the cause, the weight will come back.

    So, it’s not just about eating less calories or doing more exercise, or being a willpower weakling – we need to address the cause of our excess weight.

    So, what are some of the causes of excess weight? They might include:

    ·        Poor food choices

    ·        Emotional hunger

    ·        Too much stress

    ·        Lack of sleep

    ·        Overeating or binge-eating

    ·        Loneliness

    ·        Self-hatred

    ·        Lack of awareness or ‘mindless’ eating

    ·        Financial worries

    ·        Fear

    ·        Hormone imbalance

    ·        Someone else’s belief that we need to lose weight

    ·        A misguided self-belief that we need to lose weight

    ·        Past sexual abuse

    ·        Toxic or ‘crooked’ thoughts about ourselves and others

    ·        And many more!

    It’s time to understand that our issues with weight require a whole new approach. To truly lose weight and keep it off, we need to address the underlying issues – and this takes time and patience. There is no quick fix.

    If you want to learn more about how Hypnotherapy can help you address your underlying issues with weight, and help you lose weight and keep it off please get in touch. You can find an AfSFH hypnotherapist in your area by looking here.

    *Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet – England, 2016 [NS]. Publication date: April 28, 2016

    Marcelle Crinean, PhD, DSFH, AfSFH, MNCP, MNCH Reg., CNHC Reg.
    Brain Reframe (Weybridge, Surrey and Oxshott, Surrey)
    07968 910 009

  • 01 Dec 2017 5:05 PM | Helen Green (Administrator)

    Written by Claire Noyelle

    As a practising pharmacist, people are often visibly surprised that I would also be trained in something as ‘alternative’ as Hypnotherapy. And I admit, I was slightly cynical when I first started studying it at The Clifton Practice; right up until I actually started working with clients as a student practitioner and was quickly impressed with the real improvements my volunteer ‘guinea pigs’ made in just a few sessions. And the truth is, while there’s still huge amounts of work to be done in studying its potential, our particular branch of hypnotherapy has a vast amount of scientific research to validate its efficacy. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy has its roots in the American technique of Solution Focused Brief Therapy, but has been supercharged by adding the ancient and mystical powers of hypnosis…joke… there’s no mysticism to what I do with my hypnotherapy clients! It’s a therapy rooted in neuroscience and uses an understanding of how our brains work at both a structural and a cellular level to explain why we can behave as we do and how we are able to influence that to make lasting positive changes. And that’s what sold it to me – hard science.

    Hypnotherapy really isn’t something mystical or mysterious, relying on superstition and sleight of hand, but something validated by the most modern of research techniques and with an evidence base that’s growing all the time. Whilst I don’t actually offer hypnotherapy during my hours of work as a pharmacist, I often wish I could. There are so many patients I see that I know could and would benefit from adding hypnotherapy to their standard NHS treatment, and the bonus for me – and them! – is that there are no known side effects to hypnotherapy. Modern medicine uses powerful, scientifically tested and effective drugs to treat many different health problems, but many of these drugs have significant side effects that limit their use, or reduce their benefit to the person being treated. In some cases, the patient may need to be prescribed other drugs to counteract these side effects when it’s vital to continue taking the original drug. Hypnotherapy on the other hand, is safe for just about anyone. Age isn’t relevant, neither is high blood pressure, heart failure or any other health issues such as cardiovascular problems, high cholesterol, asthma, diabetes or even cancer. In fact, there’s no real physical limits to its use, which is why it’s becoming such a valuable technique to those aware of its potential.

    Hypnotherapy, for me, really shines in the treatment of conditions such as depression, anxiety, insomnia and many other stress-related conditions – interestingly, the very conditions which standard prescription medication struggles to deal with. While it would be unethical (and potentially harmful in the short term) to suggest to all my patients taking medication for these conditions that they should simply stop them straightaway, and come to see me instead, there IS a real role for hypnotherapy in their treatment. For example, the current ‘NICE’ guidelines, followed by the NHS itself, recommend hypnotherapy as an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). As sufferers know, IBS is often triggered or made worse by emotional distress, so hypnotherapy can help sufferers deal with flare-ups more effectively than using the next best treatment of anti-spasmodic tablets and restrictive diets. And that’s the clincher. Hypnotherapy can be more than just a supportive add-on therapy, softening the impact of conditions like depression, eating disorders, anxiety & IBS – it is a real standalone treatment in its own right, often acting more rapidly and effectively than antidepressants, the current drugs of choice for such issues. Let’s look at the way depression itself is treated for a moment. More and more people are being prescribed antidepressants than ever before – I counsel several of my pharmacy patients on their new medications every day. A report from the government’s Health & Social Care Information Centre says the number of antidepressant items prescribed and dispensed in England has more than doubled in the last decade. In 2015, there were 61.0 million antidepressant items prescribed – 31.6 million (107.6 per cent) more than in 2005 and 3.9 million (6.8 per cent) more than in 2014. Unsurprisingly, there’s a huge cost associated with this – it’s risen by £19.7 million (7.4 per cent) to £284.7 million, meaning that in 2015, antidepressants cost the NHS £780,000 per day. There’s a huge social burden associated with this, too – many depression sufferers are unable to work for extended periods, causing problems with their employment as well as adding financial pressures to the stress of being unwell. It’s no wonder so many people visit their GP, desperate for support and relief, and after the briefest of chats with their stressed, time pressured doctor, end up with a prescription for ‘tablets’. These can often include sleeping tablets or other additional sedatives for anxiety as well as an antidepressant.

    In line with World Health Organisation guidelines, and those adopted by the NHS/NICE, most are on their medication for at least a year, (often several years) for fear of a relapse if they should stop. While it’s understandable to want ‘happy pills’ or a ‘quick fix’, antidepressants can actually take up to three weeks before they show an effect, while the side effects include nausea, drowsiness, sexual dysfunction, heart beat irregularities and, worryingly, suicidal thoughts, especially in younger patients. Taking sedative medicines for long periods can often lead to dependency and abuse, not to mention unpleasant withdrawal effects. Contrast this with hypnotherapy sessions – my clients report feeling better after their first hypnotherapy consultation with me, as I have been able to explain to them exactly what’s going on in their brain to make them feel so low, and how, by working together with me, they can help themselves feel better. And that’s the difference. Hypnotherapy teaches the client themselves how to make their brain work better, from the very first session onwards, in an environment where they’re not rushed in & out in 10 minutes, without any nasty side effects or potential dependency. After around four weekly sessions, when antidepressants are perhaps only just starting to kick in, at the time when most GP’s are issuing another antidepressant prescription, my clients have made real, positive changes and are feeling better about themselves and their ability to cope with things, making real progress towards a depression-free future. And whilst medication certainly has its place, I think we will see that Hypnotherapy also has a significant role to play – something I sincerely hope to see expanding in the future.

    Claire Noyelle / Clinical Hypnotherapist
    MRPharmS BSc.(Hons) DSFH HPD MNCH (Reg.) AfSFH (Reg.)
    Inspired to Change (Maidstone East)
    07712 220880

  • 03 Nov 2017 5:06 PM | Helen Green (Administrator)

    Written by Adam Pearson

    A mathematician recently noted that if you take six standard LEGO blocks there are 915 million ways of putting them together. And hence I suppose the choice: follow the instructions, or go solo – either way you’re bound to come up with something fun! Applying this to our lives, we can all no doubt remember times when things just seemed to fall into place … when out of the hundreds of millions of possible answers we just seemed to arrive at the right one … right?

    One way to achieve more is to USE the LEGO sets in our brains. There are three things we can do to make the most of the absurd collection of multicoloured blocks in our heads:

    1.     Understand it;

    2.     See ourselves using it; and

    3.     Enjoy the journey!

    It is useful to understand that the brain is a bunch of LEGO blocks. There are 100 billion of them and each one has thousands of connectors (known as axons and dendrites), so the possibilities are effectively endless.

    This is why we need focus. When we see ourselves doing or achieving the things we want, we are setting out specific and unambiguous instructions to the subconscious brain, which acts like a perfect team saying “OK boss, leave it to us. We’ll get it done”, and we are sometimes surprised at how quickly the team delivers. LEGO, the company, very nearly went bust in the 1990s, losing focus and control of everything from theme parks to the colours of its blocks. A new CEO saw the future quite differently (simple colours, social input into design, girls as customers). It’s now the No 1 toy company in the world.

    Finally, it’s when we enjoy ourselves that we are most effective and our visions most likely to come to reality. Enjoyment is essentially evolutionary encouragement. Positive activity, interaction, and thought are enjoyable precisely because they produce chemical responses in our minds that encourage more of the same – and that’s good for our survival. Perhaps the little people with removable hair and hooks for hands (who now outnumber humans in the world by the way!) are onto something – thanks to them there is now even a Professor of Play at Cambridge University.

    We all have lots of LEGO in our heads – let’s USE it!

    Adam Pearson
    Newquay Hypnotherapy
    1 Towan Heights
    St Georges Road
    Newquay TR7 1RD
    01637 852394


  • 06 Sep 2017 5:08 PM | Helen Green (Administrator)

    Written by Trevor Eddolls

    One problem that many people have is that they tend to think that the road to success starts here and ends there – ie, it’s a fairly straight route. The truth is, for most success stories, that people set out on one road and met failure, they then set out on another road, and met failure, and they kept giving it a go until they arrived at the success they were aiming at. And it’s important for people to bear in mind, when thinking about how successful they’ve been at making changes in their own lives, that this is so often the case.

    Don’t believe me? Well, let’s take a look at some examples…

    This person wasn’t able to speak until he was almost four years old, and his teachers said that he wouldn’t amount to much. Who was he? Albert Einstein. And you don’t need to be a theoretical physicist to have heard of him.

    Or this man, who was sacked from a newspaper for lacking imagination and having no original ideas. He was Walt Disney. Or this woman – she was demoted from her job as a news anchor because she wasn’t fit for television. She’s Oprah Winfrey. Or this person who was told by a teacher that he was too stupid to learn anything and that he should go into a field where he might succeed by virtue of his pleasant personality. That was Thomas Edison. Or the would-be author whose first book was rejected by 27 publishers. That was the best-selling children’s author, Dr Seuss. Or what about the man whose fiancé died, who failed in business, who had a nervous breakdown, and who lost eight elections? That was Abraham Lincoln, who went on to be the 16th US president. Or you might be more familiar with the guy, aged 30, who was left devastated and depressed after being unceremoniously removed from the company he’d started. That was Steve Jobs and Apple.

    If you like sport, there was the lad who was dropped from his high school basketball team, who went home, locked himself in his room, and cried. That was Michael Jordan, six times NBA champion, five times NBA MVP, and four times NBA all-star. Or the 11-year-old boy who was dropped from his football team after being diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency that made him smaller than most children his age. That was Lionel Messi, who became three times FIFA world player of the year.

    Then there was the high school dropout, whose personal struggle with drugs and poverty culminated in an unsuccessful suicide attempt. That was Eminem, who became a 13 times Grammy award winner. Perhaps, most famously, was the popular beat combo, who were rejected by Decca recording studios because they didn’t like their sound. Decca added that the band had no future in show business. That was The Beatles, arguably the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed band in history

    The argument is that if you haven’t failed, you’ve haven’t tried anything new. So maybe, you can get control of your life and go on to become a great success in some area of your choice.

    But how can you motivate yourself? The argument is usually between the carrot and the stick approach. You motivate someone away from pain and towards pleasure. With the stick you threaten them with something bad unless they start to improve. With the carrot you dangle a reward in front of them if things go well. But first it’s important to identify your particular goal and then work out the stepping stones along the way to achieving it, so that no step is too far or too hard, but all those small steps put together lead to a much bigger change in your attitude and behaviour, and soon your goal is achievable.

    And while not everyone can be an Edison or Einstein, It’s important not to write yourself off as talentless. Make sure you use every opportunity to explore what talents you have and what they can bring to overcoming whatever issues may seem to be preventing you achieving your goal. And then visualize successfully achieving each step on the way to your ultimate success.

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

  • 14 Aug 2017 5:09 PM | Helen Green (Administrator)

    Written by Silvia Boric Oakes-Wilson

    Why do people get trapped in a vicious circle of endeavouring to achieve and failing? Why does it happen that even when we lose weight, shine at our presentation, or get that job, we so often gain the weight back or still feel incompetent? Why does it often result in us losing what we have worked so hard to achieve?

    Whether we talk about weight management, low self-esteem or getting the job we desire, the key to attaining that goal is first assuring that we have the right mind-set and beliefs. Self-belief is one of the key ingredients of success. However, even when we work hard towards change and invest effort and self-discipline, we may still stumble and fall. Why is this the case?

    We know consciously what we want but we still can’t help imagining worst-case scenarios. When logic and imagination are in conflict, our imagination will almost always prevail! Our imagination can work for us in a positive way. However, it can also become an impediment to our success if the thoughts we have are negative despite our willpower.

    Our thoughts are what we actually tell ourselves. Unfortunately, some people were not brought up in happy, strong and supportive families. They did not have that special someone to tell them they are smart, beautiful and worthy, or to praise them and encourage them when they were doing well. Sometimes, they would be noticed only when they were mischievous and not ‘performing’ the way they were expected to.

    When we were children, we did not have a critical faculty to be able to discern the harmful ideas. So we believed what we were told and our subconscious mind recorded everything. Once the subconscious mind is convinced, it causes the individual to act upon that conviction.

    Now, when we are older, we may logically know what thoughts and habits are good for us and what we need to do, but change still seems to be so hard to achieve. Our subconscious mind resists change. Once it establishes a habit, every change is perceived as a threat. We may buy self-help books, throw away all the cigarettes within our reach or try yet another diet, telling ourselves that this time we will be even more determined. Unfortunately, the subconscious mind will resist even more.

    This is where hypnotherapy works best. It’s a gentle yet powerful technique that uses suggestions and guided imagery to reach the subconscious mind and change negative thought patterns. The mind cannot tell the difference between imagination and reality so the mental images that are formed during hypnotherapy become positive templates for future use. Consequently, the subconscious mind will refer to them as though as they are real, and as such facilitate a sustainable and long-lasting change that impacts both the body and the mind.

    Silvia Boric Oakes-Wilson
    Oakes-Wilson Hypnotherapy
    30 Alma Vale Road
    BS8 2HY
    07827 061637

  • 04 Jul 2017 5:11 PM | Helen Green (Administrator)

    Written by Geraldine Joaquim

    We live in a fast-paced modern world with a huge amount of distractions and pressures on our every day lives. It’s easy to dismiss our ‘first world problems’ as rather self-indulgent, and to some degree they are. The majority of us (the lucky ones) don’t have to worry about a roof over our heads or where the next meal will come from or physical threats to our existence.

    But we still have the same physiological makeup as our caveman ancestors. We still utilise the freeze-flight-fight mechanism irrespective of the cause, be it a life-threatening incident or simply being late for a meeting.

    Within our original Primitive Brain, the Amygdala (the fight/flight centre) kicks into gear and sends messages to the Hypothalamus which gets the body ready to act. The Hypothalamus floods the system with stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, this makes your heart beat faster, palms go sweaty, churning stomach, increases your breathing rate – all symptoms of your body being under stress. Eventually your issue resolves – you get to your meetings or find that parking space – and the more we use this system, the more efficient it becomes. And this is how we can spiral into panic attacks, road rage, tearfulness, etc. All in all, not being quite ‘us’.

    So how can we reign this back, how can we live with our stresses but not give in to our inner caveman?

    The good news is you can, with a little practise, train yourself to cope. It’s all about creating spare capacity to deal with whatever life throws your way. Imagine in your brain you have a space where all your stresses, negative thoughts, worries, fears, etc are stored – we call this the Stress Bucket. Every time you encounter a situation that your brain perceives as a threat or barrier, or you worry about something that’s going to happen (imagined or real), or dwell on past regrets, losses or sadness your bucket gets filled a little bit more.

    The problems arise when all these seemingly small things pile on top of each other until your bucket fills to the brim and you just can’t fit any more in. This wipes out any spare capacity you might have for dealing with new issues – and it’s when we flip out over a seemingly small incident such as not being able to find a parking space or going into road rage mode because someone didn’t wave a thank you when you let them in, or losing your temper at the children. Literally the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

    We very quickly become adept at focusing on all the negative aspects in our lives and forget to appreciate the good – in fact it’s hardwired into our DNA to be negative and to worry, it’s what kept our ancestors alive and why we’re sitting here today but it’s not helpful in our modern daily lives.

    So, in order to counter-balance this natural propensity towards negativity, the pessimist in us, we need to focus on the positives in our lives. And it’s not the firework moments, rather all the little things that we take for granted and don’t ‘see’ anymore: a bright sunny morning, birds singing, a hug from a loved one, a smile from a stranger, being let into traffic… these are the things that make up our daily lives and the firework moments (birthdays, parties, reunions, holidays) enhance our already enjoyable lives. This stops us piling things into our bucket and ensures we have plenty of spare capacity to cope when we need to, in times of real pressure.

    And in order to empty our stress bucket, we need to get good quality sleep – not necessarily longer but better. During our sleep we go through stages of deep sleep into REM (rapid eye movement) into light sleep, and we do this four or five times throughout the night.

    During the REM phase we re-run the events of the day and move it from our emotional Primitive Brain to our Intellectual Brain, so out of our stress bucket and into the memory bank. Slowly, any arguments or unpleasantness, losses, sadness, worries, anxieties, etc are released. They are of no further use to us and whilst we know these things have happened we don’t need to hold on to them anymore.

    When we don’t have good quality sleep we feel it physically and mentally: reaching for sugary foods to boost energy levels, slipping quickly into anger responses, or panic, wanting to pull the duvet over our heads and not have to face the day, being tearful… these are all signs of an over-full bucket.

    The hypnotic trance also replicates the REM state and helps with bucket emptying, and using hypnosis at the point of sleep can turbo-charge that essential REM making it super-efficient!

    This two-pronged attack (not filling and emptying your stress bucket) can help you regain control on the here and now.

    It really helps when we understand why we react in a particular way to certain stimuli, we get an insight into what is going on physiologically which can help us break that reactionary cycle. So, next time you feel the pressure rising, think about that stress bucket and gaining control over your actions instead of allowing your emotions to rule you.

    Geraldine Joaquim
    London Road, Petworth, West Sussex
    01798 344 879

  • 09 Jun 2017 5:12 PM | Helen Green (Administrator)

    Written by Trevor Eddolls

    In the 2000s, hypnotherapists began to combine the best of Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) with Ericksonian hypnotherapy to produce therapy that was goal focused (what the client wanted to achieve) rather than the more traditional problem focused approach (spending time discussing the issues that brought the client to seek help). A solution-focused hypnotherapy session may well also include techniques from NLP. But what is SFBT?

    Early in the 20th century, following the work of people like Freud, a client could be in therapy for a very long time. The thinking was that until you could understand the cause of a problem, there was no way that it could be resolved. It was very problem-focused. As the 20th century moved into its second half, people were beginning to wonder whether this approach was the best one to use.

    Milton Erickson is one of the originators of brief therapy. Erickson used the analogy of a person who wants to change the course of a river – if he opposes the river by trying to block it, the river will merely go over and around him. But if he accepts the force of the river and diverts it in a new direction, the force of the river will cut a new channel. Erickson also introduced a forerunner to the Miracle Question in which he would ask his client to look into the future and see themselves as they wanted to be, problems solved, and then to explain what had happened to cause this change to come about. A second technique he used was to ask them to think of a date in the future, then work backwards, asking them what had happened at various points on the way.

    Similarly, Bill O’Hanlon (who worked closely with Erickson) came up with other ways of getting a client to look to a future without their problem, eg a time machine, crystal ball, rainbow bridge, and a letter from a future self. In one version he would say, “let’s say that a few weeks or months of time have elapsed, and your problem has been resolved. If you and I were to watch a videotape of your life in the future, what would you be doing on the tape that would show that things were better?” O’Hanlon called his less structured approach Solution-Oriented Therapy and Possibility Therapy.
    There was also the Mental Research Institute (MRI) in Palo Alto, California, which used a form of brief therapy that was based on ‘the interactional view’. With this approach, problems were thought to happen ‘between’ rather than ‘within’ people. Problems would appear when people responded to everyday difficulties in ways that made them worse. The way that a therapist worked was to identify what the ‘attempted solutions’ were that had caused rather than solved the problems, and then help their clients to do something else instead.

    And then, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, at the Brief Family Therapy Center in Milwaukee, Steve de Shazer, Insoo Kim Berg, and their colleagues created the radical new approach of Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT). In addition to the people already mentioned, their ideas built on the work of people such as Gregory Bateson, Don Jackson, Paul Watzlawick, John Weakland, Virginia Satir, Jay Haley, and others. Their core idea was that whatever problem a client had come to therapy with, there always seemed to be an exception to the problem, a time when it didn’t happen, or happened less or with less intensity. And this led them to believe that the client already had the seeds of a solution and didn’t need the therapist to get them to do something different – all they needed was to do more of what they were doing during these exceptional times. The therapist’s job was simply to find out what people were doing that was working, then help them to do more of it.

    So, let’s look in more detail at SFBT’s key assumptions:

    ·        Understanding the cause of the problem is not necessary to resolve it. Attempting to do so may, unwittingly, lengthen or complicate therapy.

    ·        The client’s attempted solution (eg avoidance in the case of anxiety) eventually becomes part of the problem. Therefore, changing patterns of response – doing something different – is fundamental to the approach.

    ·        Change happens anyway. However severe the problem, there are times when it is absent, less severe or intense. The therapist must help identify and amplify this change.

    ·        Clients have resources and strengths that can be brought to bear in resolving the complaint. These are often overlooked in problem-focused approaches.

    ·        Clear, salient, and realistic goals are a vital factor in eliciting successful outcomes.

    ·        Poorly-defined or absent goals can prolong or complicate therapy.

    ·        A small change is all that is necessary. Clients are frequently able to manage alone if the therapist can ‘start the ball rolling’.

    ·        The client defines the goals and decides when therapy should end.

    ·        Rapid change is possible, even where there is a history of persistent symptoms.

    ·        The relationship between therapist and client is critical; collaboration and a ‘robust’ working relationship are more important than theory and expertise.

    ·        Each client is unique in their skills, resources, and the way they view their problem. There is therefore no ‘one size fits all’ solution.

    ·        The focus is on the present and the future, on where the client wants to go rather than where they have come from.

    ·        SFBT sees ‘resistance’ or hostility as a function of the relationship rather than the permanent disposition of the client.

    In the UK, Solution-Focused Therapy was pioneered by Harvey Ratner, Evan George, and Chris Iveson. They established the Brief Therapy Practice, which later became BRIEF. In 2003 this group established the United Kingdom Association for Solution Focused Practice (UKASFP).

    The Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (AFSFH) adds hypnotherapy to this approach to help speed up the process of positive change with clients.

    An SFBT session starts with the client being asked for their best hopes for the session. That way the client decides what they want to get out of the session.

    Problem-free talk allows clients to talk about what is going well, what areas of their life are problem-free. It can be useful for uncovering hidden resources, and often uncovers client values, beliefs, and strengths. From this, a strength from one part of their life can be transferred-generalized to another area where a new behaviour is required.

    SFBT principally uses questions and compliments to identify a client’s goals, and help the client create a detailed description of what life will be like when the goal is accomplished and the problem is either gone or coped with satisfactorily. By identifying ‘exceptions’, (ie times when some aspect of the client’s goal was already happening to some degree), the therapist can help the client come up with appropriate and effective solutions.

    SFBT identifies client competencies, ie any behaviours by the client that contribute to moving in the direction of the client’s goal. How did they manage to achieve or maintain their current level of progress, are there any recent positive changes, and how did the client develop new and existing strengths, resources, and positive traits?

    SFBT uses the acronym MECSTAT, which stands for Miracle questions, Exception questions, Coping questions, Scaling questions, Time-out, Accolades, and Task. The miracle question asks the client to imagine waking up in the morning and the issue that brought them to the clinic has gone. It then asks them to visualize what he would be doing, how they would be feeling, and who would notice. Exception questions look for times when the problem doesn’t occur or is less prevalent. Coping questions identify strengths that a person has to help them cope with their problems.

    SFBT uses a time-out to reflect on the developments of the current session. It’s preceded by the therapist asking the client if there is anything that the therapist has not asked that the client feels would be important for the therapist to know.
    During this break, the client is complimented for their efforts during the session (ie accolades).

    The task comes from a brainstorming session where the client suggests behaviours that will help them move towards their goal. The therapist can then ask the client to try this new behaviour – that’s their task (what we might call their homework).

    Solution-focused hypnotherapists use all these proven techniques and add the power of trance work to enable clients to make positive changes to their lives quickly.

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

  • 03 May 2017 5:14 PM | Helen Green (Administrator)

    Written by Elizabeth Newton

    So many times, we are told that sleep is SO important for us, and those old mantras ‘It’ll be alright in the morning’ or ‘Sleep on it!’ are all too familiar. But what IS actually going on during this mysterious phase of our day, which requires us to place so much emphasis on a ‘good nights’ sleep?’

    As a Hypnotherapist, an important part of my role in helping clients get a handle on their lives or achieve their goals is normalising their sleep patterns. In therapy, for many people, this is often the first place I start. If I can get you back to sleeping properly: falling asleep relatively quickly, staying asleep throughout the night, and enabling you to get up at the desired time the next day, then one of my most important tasks is done. But why? Why is it so important that we sleep well from a mental wellbeing perspective?

    We know more about the brain than ever before and advances in Neuroscience and brain scanning devices have enabled us to open up the black box of sleep and decipher what is actually happening. Sleep, as we know, is a circadian rhythm, part of our internal body clock. It is controlled by the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus in a region of our ‘primitive’ brain called the Hypothalamus. Changes in light levels and environmental cues stimulate the release of certain brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters which facilitate sleepiness.

    But like our waking physiological state, sleep has rhythms and cycles too. Over the course of a night, our brain fluctuates from periods of relative inactivity to working with almost a ‘turbo charged energy’. But what is going on in the ‘turbo phase’? Let’s first understand the stages of sleep before we understand the importance of this one, highly crucial stage for mental health:

    The brain cycles through four distinct phases during sleep: stages 1, 2, 3, (non-rapid eye movement), and 4, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep makes up about 25% of your sleep cycle and first occurs about 70 to 90 minutes after you fall asleep. Because your sleep cycle repeats, you enter REM sleep several times during the night. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep has been called ‘Paradoxical Sleep’ by some because the body is virtually paralysed, but the brain is incredibly active. During this stage, the brain is operating at almost a ‘wakeful’ state of arousal suggesting this phase of sleep has a specific function. This is especially likely, given that REM is essentially ‘rationed’, limited to only around 20% of our total nightly sleep.

    It is thought that each REM cycle becomes progressively longer, up to 90-120 minutes. It is for this reason that we need long, uninterrupted periods of sleep.

    But what do we think is happening during REM? Brain waves become rapid and it is now widely understood that we replay and process the mental ‘baggage’ from the day in either a clear or a metaphorical way, giving rise, of course, to dreams. Essentially it is thought that we move stressful memories from our limbic system (Amygdala, Hippocampus, Hypothalamus) into the intellectual mainframe of our brain. In effect, extracting memories, rationalising, and resolving decisions. This allows us to wake the next day with a sense of resolution to that ‘troublesome’ issue the day before. If we have insufficient sleep, therefore, we have limited capacity for REM and reduced ability to resolve and rectify any stresses and strains from the previous day, or come up with creative new solutions to move forward. In the short term, severe sleep deprivation can result in hallucination and paranoia. Over a sustained period, sleep deprivation has been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, risk-taking behaviour, and suicide.

    Additionally, we understand that sleep deprivation leads to reduction in decision making ability, learning, memory, problem solving, and emotional control. It’s no surprise then that children spend a much greater proportion of their time in REM sleep with babies, interestingly, spending up to 50% in REM – suggesting brain growth and learning with new neuronal connections being formed. This is evidenced again by research demonstrating we spend more time in REM after days learning new skills.

    Hypnosis has been referred to as the creation of an artificially induced REM state allowing new patterns of thought to be rehearsed without the interruption from the Conscious Critical Faculty. Perhaps it is no surprise then that many of my clients come round from trance reporting they feel much brighter, clearer, and able to think straight.

    If you’re wanting to understand how you can improve your own sleep without Hypnotherapy you may find the following links useful:


    Some References:

    ·        Griffin and Tyrell


    ·        National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2007). How much sleep do we need? In Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. Retrieved May 29, 2012 from [top]

    ·        National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2009). At-a-glance: Healthy sleep. Retrieved May 30, 2012, from (PDF – 1.81 MB) [top]

    ·        Talbot, L. S., McGlinchey, E. L. , Kaplan, K. A., Dahl, R. E., &  Harvey, A. G. (2010). Sleep deprivation in adolescents and adults: Changes in affect. Emotion, 10, 831-841. [top]

    ·        Taheri, S., Lin, L., Austin, D., Young, T., & Mignot, E. (2004). Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index. PLoS Medicine, 1(3), 210-217. [top]

    ·        Gangwisch, J. E., Malaspina, D., Boden-Albala, B., & Heymsfield, S. B. (2005). Inadequate sleep as a risk factor for obesity: Analyses of the NHANES I. Sleep, 28, 1289-1296. [top]

    ·        Spiegel, K., Knutson, K., Leproult, R., Tasali, E., & Van Cauter, E. (2005). Sleep loss: A novel risk factor for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Journal of Applied Physiology, 99, 2008-2019. [top]

    ·        Williamson, A. M., & Feyer, A. M. (2000). Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 57(10), 649-655. [top]

    ·        Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013, March 4). Insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. Retrieved March 21, 2013, from [top]


    Elizabeth Newton – Clinical Hypnotherapist
    HPD, DSFH, AfSFH (Reg)
    Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex CM24 8AA
    twitter @freshleafhypno

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


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