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Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy has gained increasing popularity due to it’s versatility and ability to help treat issues ranging from smoking addiction to emotional trauma. The image of dangling pocket watches, swinging pendulums and mysterious mind control, during which the person having treatment has no will or control over them self, is fast disappearing.

How does hypnotherapy work?

Hypnosis is a quieting of the conscious, busy, analytical mind and a focus of attention. This attention focus offers the ability to relax deeply and recognise and utilise resources that are within you that may otherwise be overlooked. It is not a state of outside control or unconsciousness or an altered state. It is a peaceful inner awareness, similar to drifting off or losing track of time. Something that we all do naturally when we daydream. During hypnotherapy you remain fully aware, both of your surroundings and everything that is being said to you.

Being in an hypnotic state allows you to pay closer attention to your own guidance; your unconscious mind is enabled allowing you to easily make positive changes.

Hypnotherapy can work for everyone. Some people find they go into hypnosis easily, others can resist letting go and want to have a sense of control – an issue in itself, but it is a skill anyone can learn.

What can hypnotherapy help with?

There are apparent fears such as fear of flying or motorway driving as well as less obvious ones; the fear of being alone or of rejection or of fearing being unable to cope. Fear affects us in many different ways and can lead to negative and limiting behaviours such as lack of motivation, remaining in a bad relationship, anxious thoughts or addiction.

Hypnotherapy can help you to remove old, negative ways of thinking and replace them with self belief and assuredness, confidence and assertiveness.

Hypnotherapy has gained in popularity as people are becoming more open to self improvement; mental self awareness is now viewed as a strength rather than a failing. Hypnotherapy allows you to examine why you are feeling the way you feel, to remove the negative feelings and change your default thinking.

If you want Hypnotherapy, then seek out a properly qualified UKCP therapist to ensure the best results.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week aims to address the fact that approximately one in ten people in the UK will, at some point in their life, experience depression. Mental Health Awareness Week aims to  increase consciousness of and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

We are all waking up to the fact that mental health needs to be discussed openly. If you know someone who is struggling you may feel unable or unequipped to help or offer your support, causing feelings of powerlessness, frustration, confusion and anxiety. Helping someone to recognise symptoms and seek professional help involves trust, patience and understanding.

Depression isn’t the same for everyone and varies from person to person.

Indicators can include

  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Preferring to spend time alone
  • Making excuses to not see friends
  • Showing less interest in things that have previously been a source of joy
  • Problems with concentration and focus
  • Increased irritability
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Increase in anger or short temper
  • Changes in sleeping habit

The list isn’t exhaustive and everyone can have bad days or a low period in their life. Depression isn’t feeling fed up or a bit down; depression is more than this and can carry on for weeks or months.

In Mental Health Awareness Week, encouraging a friend to visit their GP is a good place to start, if they don’t have a regular GP who they feel that they can talk to, a recommended and trusted therapist is another option worth seeking out.

Therapy is a process, it offers a safe space to talk, helps with understanding where problems come from and with developing strategies and tools for feeling better. Change doesn’t happen overnight and your support may be needed during the process. Therapy isn’t a quick fix, but it does work.

Learning More

It’s worthwhile reading official NHS advice and MIND is a brilliant resource, both for those wanting to help and those suffering with depression.

Being there

This is the main thing you can do. Ask how you can help; there will be times when gentle encouragement to talk is needed and times when your friend needs solitude. You may need to remind them to take care of themselves, to eat well, exercise and get enough sleep.

Depression is very real and not something that someone can ‘snap out of’, in the same way you wouldn’t tell someone who has a broken ankle to go for a run.

The simplest way to help someone with mental health issues

It’s important not to pressure someone suffering from depression or make them feel inadequate. Ask them how they’re feeling, listen with empathy and encourage them to seek professional help, but understand that someone suffering from depression may not want to do this or even be able to.

Psychotherapy is a resource for helping those suffering from depression, so seek help if you or someone you know needs it.

 

Psychotherapy open questions

Psychotherapy open questions is another extract from my 2016 presentation at the International Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy Conference.

While as therapists we all know about active listening and open questions, I’m often asked by students and colleagues about examples of such questions.

These are the kind of questions that can open up a discourse, and help a client to reflect in an area where perhaps clarity may have been lacking.

So to try and help, I’ve prepared a short list of interesting questions that although sometimes too challenging to be used ‘raw’ as it were, can be framed more gently by the therapist.

These psychotherapy open questions  have been gathered from various sources and I’ve used them (or versions of them) in therapy for some years, if any are of use then please feel free to incorporate them into your practice or self-reflection.

In no particular order then:

Why do you matter….? This question might initially ring some alarm bells but bear with me. Apparently one of Viktor Frankl’s questions with some depressed clients was to ask them why they had not taken their own lives? From that question, Frankl , it is said, could often find a thread (however slender) to begin to explore the meaning in the client’s life that kept them from doing that. This question comes from the same place, when self-esteem is challenged or low, a question in this vein can start a challenge to the negative self-talk and open up the client to challenge perhaps distorted beliefs.

What’s happened to you….? This is far subtler and touches upon how the client sees their own story. Have things happened to them? are they taking it personally when in reality they are collateral damage in something unrelated? Is the world unfair? Where does a lack of success come from, them or the outside pressures of the world? Again this question can open up many facets that may not have been visible before.

What do you want to achieve working with me….? I’m a great believer in sticking to the brief, what does the client want to achieve? This question can help clarify and set goals. It also has an element of de Shazer’s Miracle Question in there. The client can step even if only briefly into a future where the change has happened and ‘try it on for size’. Imagination is stronger than will after all.

What feels different…..? This is about seeing less in detailed pictures and beginning to connect with the feeling. That can be helpful in terms of chunking down to the root feeling that is driving the wish to change. Are you running away from something or towards something. It’s also a nice segue into the accessing of resource states for the client.

What am I doing to make life better for myself….? Here we begin to look at psychotherapy open questions centred around where we are at the moment. This comes from a solution-focused perspective, where are we now and where do we want to go? This can identify the differences between the two places and therefore sharpen that focus and highlight what’s missing.

What’s the one thing I can do today to make my life easier….? This has roots in the power of making a change today. It also touches on the step-by-step approach, if we tick off the easy things first, the little ones, we can begin to build the proverbial ‘yes ladder’ to achieve and create movement in the desired direction.

What does that fear need…..? From John Hartland’s theory that the client will only let go of symptoms when they feel ready to do so. This question allows the client to look at self-care, and what they already know about what they need to move on. Again it feeds into allowing the client to accept that they matter and that it’s ok for them to have needs. It can allow them perhaps to access the child within them and its needs.

And saving the best until last tell me about…?  This is my holy grail of open and encouraging  questions and is the glue that binds the rest of them together. If you only take one question from this blog, then I would suggest this is the one.

So hopefully these psychotherapy open questions will be of some use, please let me know any others you have that might helpfully be added to this list by email at info@talking-cure.co.uk.

Thanks

Stuart Cale

(Talking-Cure Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy)

 

 

 

Anxious thoughts

Anxious thoughts can be a problem when self-reflection gets out of hand and becomes negative rumination.

As a health professional I accept that the Mental Health Foundation place this issue as a cause of anxiety and depression.

In 2013 the University of Liverpool published a study that  said that rumination (a word for constant repetitive thinking or dwelling that comes from the action in cows of chewing the cud) far from being a player in the most common mental health issues, is the largest predictor.

So what does this mean for us? It means that when we dwell on things, not only do our thoughts tend to spiral downwards but that can lead us to poor mental health.

This will come as no surprise to therapists, but the extent may. Most therapists see the link between persistent negative thought and self-blame and anxiety and depression, but as a causative factor?

It also means that psychological issues can lead to problems at a mental health level. Replaying thoughts over and over again makes us sad and anxious.

There is also evidence that rumination is at play in OCD and eating disorders, in fact anywhere our negative thoughts are stuck on repeat, we find the potential for problems.

So… what can we do about it?

Well firstly, we can learn to relax. Relaxation is often the key in early therapy to opening up the space into which the client can grow and change can be made.

Think about the amount of time that anxious thoughts or worried thoughts take up, or as some say, the amount of space they rent in your head. With all that time and energy freed up, what would you be able to do?

After that, we can look at the sense of threat that generally underpins anxiety, often being able to identify that threat can help us move forward to explore it and perhaps re-frame it or find ways to cope with it.

Please don’t think that anxious thoughts, constant thought repetition or rumination are something that you have to ‘put up with’ or suffer. If you need help to overcome these patterns, then please reach out to a professional.

 

 

Bolton mental health update

Bolton mental health update is a quick look back over the last 5 years since I moved back to Bolton.

Although not from there, I went to Bolton School so I made friends and connections in the town. When Talking Cure was set up it was my aim to provide specialist expert psychotherapy and hypnotherapy based in the town.

As a UKCP psychotherapist, CNHC hypnotherapist and psychologist, I take self-referrals, GP referrals and clients from BUPA and other major insurers. It’s been an interesting and enjoyable five years and I think it’s interesting to take a snapshot as to what Boltonians seem to struggle with most, hence the idea for a Bolton mental health update came about.

As you might expect worry, anxiety, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic attack issues are high on the list. It isn’t surprising, we live ever more frantic lives, ever faster, more information and more pressure.

When perceived demands are greater than perceived ability to cope then we can slip into anxious thought patterns. If left untreated, these can worsen and may lead to depression. Many of the clients I see need some help to re-frame their lives or challenges.

Teaching them to relax and building self-esteem and emotional resilience lie at the heart of treatment. The interesting thing about anxiety is that it is impossible to be anxious and relaxed at the same time.

If you can learn to switch on relaxation you can switch off anxiety.

From there, in therapy, we work to examine the reasons behind the negative thought patterns in the first place. Using a selection of techniques and psychological interventions, often with hypnosis, a change happens.

So, if I was asked to give you one thing that troubles the mental health of Bolton, I would say anxiety underpins most issues.

My own experience with panic attacks and anxiety is what led me to learn to help others. Now I specialise in anxiety and offer therapy face to face and online, partnering with some charities to improve reach.

I’ll keep you posted as to how things develop.

Best

Stuart

 

 

 

 

self-esteem

Fearing Anxiety

Fearing Anxiety comes from how we shape reality. Our focus determines our reality, change the focus and as a result, change the reality.

You see,  your fear can  distort your reality. When we focus on avoiding uncertainty, we skew our logic, taking anything over dreaded uncertainty.

The good news is that you can create your reality.

Fearing anxiety makes the things you dread seem like things you know. We assume rather than reasoning.

As therapists, one word we use for this is ‘Awfulising’.

Fearing anxiety changes uncertainty from possibility to threat. The fear of fear works its way deep inside and prevents us from critical balanced thinking, often when we need that ability most. It blurs our ability to think rationally with emotion, The Chimp in our minds is in charge.

Fear can also make you inactive when there is an opportune moment, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This is a fictional version of the world born of and bred by fear, but it isn’t always the reality.

Confronting fearing anxiety behaviour within ourselves is key to relief from it and here are some useful tools:

Identifying assumptions  helps, what is real and what is assumed on the basis of the fear?

When is the poisoned parrot on your shoulder feeds negativity into your ears, silence it.

Are you rationalising? justifying? projecting beliefs onto unrelated situations, or simply making excuses?

Do you notice yourself jumping to conclusions while stuck in those familiar shortcuts to them?

Are you seeing fiction as truth?

Are you thankful for what you do have, or struggling because you’re counting curses rather than blessings? Can you identify the difference between your strengths and your weaknesses, and can you live with your weaknesses?

Can you let go of your pain or are you identified by yourself (or others) due to it?

Are you building your own reality from guesses and maybe untruths, or your fears?

Most importantly, what are you missing out on?

Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy aren’t magic wands, they’re spades, hard work in therapy challenges the above.

You as client do a job and so does the therapist, if the therapeutic relationship is strong then results are best when the right therapist, right client and right time coincide.

Using the questions above, and with professional focused help, you can identify the negative patterns in your thinking and begin work to check them out, perhaps challenge them…

… and maybe change them.

 

 

 

 

Anxiety perfectionists

Welcome to the second part of my anxiety perfectionists tools designed to help you feel better faster, if you missed the first installment, you can access it here.

OK, let’s carry on..

Really important this next one – You create the pressure in any given situation, it comes not from external pressures, but how you frame and respond to those pressures. You make pressure and if you make it, you can unmake it. Remember, If there is no perfect way to do something, then there is no pressure to do it any other way than your way, and you’re the world’s leading expert in doing things your way already.

 

Other peoples’ opinions do not have to determine how you feel, your opinion is most importantyou have the right not to have to justify what you do. Your opinion of how efforts are, is more important than anyone else’s.

 

You have the right to say, “no”, “I don’t care”, “I don’t want to” or ‘I don’t understand’. That’s empowering just in itself and deserves its own post but for the meantime, turn it over in your mind, maybe try it, maybe little things at first just to see how it feels…

 

Avoid words like ‘must’ ‘should’ and ‘ought’. These are judgmental words that paint you into a corner. They are not part of your anxiety perfectionists toolkit. More importantly, they set up pressure and expectation upon you to behave a certain way when you might not feel that way. We’re working toward authenticity, the conscious and subconscious being in harmony. Try ‘could’ instead and be more gentle with yourself.

 

Finally, just get on and do it. Putting things off and going over them endlessly feeds perfectionism. It’s the ‘Analysis = Paralysis’ equation. Remember the successful people mentioned above? Many of them failed many many times before they were finally successful in a goal.

 

Instead of aiming for perfection, try aiming for excellence, and remember that as long as you’ve done your best, then no-one can ask any more of you than that.