Tag Archives: hypnotherapy

Breathing and Emotions

Those of my clients who have had other forms of therapy often tell me they were taught about “the breathing.” When I ask them what exactly they were told, they generally say “to breath deeply.” It’s not surprising that these clients did not benefit from the instruction, because it’s simply WRONG!

Breathing is very important. Well obviously- we die if we don’t breathe- but I mean it has a powerful effect on our emotions, not just our physical survival. Breathing patterns are the most powerful link between the mind and body, and the easiest way to control our feelings is through altered breathing. By changing our underlying feelings we change our thought patterns and our memory.

However, it’s not quite as simple as “deep breathing.” There are two ways by which we can alter our breathing. We can breathe faster or slower, and we can breathe deeper or more shallow. So there’s a total of four main breathing patterns we can do. I will now describe each pattern and its effects.

SLOW AND DEEP. This allows deep relaxation of the mind and body, especially if we focus our attention on each body-part in turn and feel the natural muscle relaxation as we breathe out. Muscle relaxation generally makes that part of us feel heavier at first, later we may feel weightless, or lose awareness of that body part completely.

SLOW AND SHALLOW. We naturally fall into this pattern when we’re asleep. If we use this pattern while still awake, we will fall asleep quite easily.

FAST AND DEEP. This pattern intensifies emotion and can unlock traumatic memories. It is a powerful technique but I don’t advise you doing it on your own as it could cause a panic attack with peculiar physical symptoms that cause further increase in anxiety, setting off a “vicious circle” or feedback loop of increasing anxiety

FAST AND SHALLOW. This pattern holds back emotion- as when we’re trying not to cry- but we should not make a habit of it.

For better control of our emotions, we can learn to breathe out slower than we breathe in. When we breathe in we divert more blood flow to certain areas of the brain that stimulate the “fight-or-flight” response. When we breathe out, the blood is diverted away from those areas. So by spending more time on the out-breath than the in-breath we can turn down the fight-or-flight response and be able to think clearly and rationally in difficult or even dangerous situations.

Questions I get Asked

At my first meeting with any client, the client generally has a lot of questions about how I work and how hypnotherapy could help them. I always enjoy answering these questions, and supplying useful knowledge that people aren’t getting from the media. My clients’ questions are always relevant and intelligent.

Outside of work, though, I do get asked some silly questions by people whom I meet. The one that quite annoys me is “does it work?” I mean seriously, would I have been doing it as a job for 23 years if it didn’t work? what job satisfaction could anybody get from that? and why would I get so many clients referred to me by their friends and family whom I’ve previously helped, and people whom I’ve previously helped coming back for help with a different problem? Quite apart from the scientific evidence- scientists have been studying hypnosis and its benefits since the Eighteenth Century.

The other old favourite is “can you make me cluck like a chicken?” Of course people are usually joking but one or two are asking seriously. So let’s get this one straight.

No, I can’t, in fact I can’t “MAKE” you do anything, and neither can Paul McKenna, despite what it says on the covers of all his books! Hypnosis is a powerful tool to help YOU make the changes that YOU want to make. The willingness to change has to be there already.

That doesn’t always have to mean 100% willingness. Change is scary. A problem you have had for many years becomes your “normal,” your comfort zone. Even prison can become a comfort zone if people stay there long enough.

That’s why the first step in successful therapy is realising how much better and bigger life is going to be, once you’ve cleared away the problems that have limited your life.


The Truth about Hypnotherapy Training

thinking about hypnotherapy training

I’m sometimes contacted by people who want advice about training as a hypnotherapist. Many of these people are very disappointed in the hard facts I’m able to supply. They’ve read the seductive adverts from the various training schools, which tell them that hypnotherapy is one of the “fastest growing” professions. But what is actually meant by this? To be sure, the number of qualified hypnotherapists is growing very fast indeed, but how many of them actually practice, and how many of those remain in practice for any length of time- even long enough to gain real confidence in their abilities?

The truth is that hypnotherapy in the UK is a “saturated market.” Many people will deny this, but you’ll generally find they’re running training schools and therefore don’t want to put off potential students.

Today I surveyed the websites of the 28 institutions listed on the National Council for Hypnotherapy’s website as having been approved to offer the Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma. These are by no means the only hypnotherapy schools, just the ones that have sought and obtained NCH approval. These 28 institutes are this year offering a total of 45 diploma courses. Let’s suppose that six people graduate from each course (a conservative estimate, as some have far more). 45 x 6 = 270 newly-qualified hypnotherapists per year. Let’s suppose that each hypnotherapist would reckon to stay in practice for 20 years on average (I began practicing aged 38, I’m now 60 and have no plans to retire). So 270 x 20 = 5,400 hypnotherapists practicing in the UK, if they all remained in business. How plausible does that figure sound? Well, Devon contains about 1/60 of the UK population, so 5,400 divided by 60 = 90! I invite you to spend a while on Google and see if you can find ninety hypnotherapists practicing in Devon! Even those you do find are mostly part-timers, although this will not be apparent from their websites.

The fact is that the majority of hypnotherapy graduates never practice long enough to become proficient or to make a full-time living. The great majority will quit after one to three years. Some won’t even stick out their first year, and many- perhaps the majority- won’t even attempt the daunting task of setting up their practice.


Getting Over It: The Problem of Bad Memories: Part 1

Many people feel tormented by things that happened in their past. It’s like the memory is sitting in some corner of their mind, ready to jump out at them, as vivid and powerful as if it only happened yesterday. Quite trivial events and experiences in the present can trigger memories so powerful that the present-day trigger is forgotten, washed away by the surge of negative feelings. Bad memories leave us questioning- and the questions are another torment. “Why did that happen? Why did I let that happen? Did I deserve it? Will it happen again?”

Unless they’ve caused physical injuries, or ongoing problems like a criminal record that stays with us, most of these past events exist only in our memory. Everyone else who was involved may have forgotten or even died. Yet the memory remains powerfully alive.

How should we deal with such damaging memories? Should we just forget about them and get on with our lives, or should we dig them up and examine them in detail? Or is there a third possible solution?

“Just forget about it” is the traditional solution. Unfortunately it’s nonsense. We can’t simply forget a horrible event, the way we might forget the name of some kid we went to school with. That’s because these are two completely different types of memories, which are stored in different ways.

Memories of things that don’t affect us emotionally- like the names of every kid in our class in school- are stored like the old files in an office. They’re kept for years just in case they’re needed- but probably in some basement or lock-up space, not even in the main office building. Those memories are easy to forget- because the mind feels no need to remember them.

The “problem memories” are kept close to hand because the mind thinks they could be needed at any time. They’re in a place where time doesn’t matter- everything is right here, right now. Something that happened 20 years ago is remembered every day, while things that happened yesterday are already forgotten.

This is why “just forget it!” is useless advice. And it’s even worse when we’re told to “forgive and forget!” Many people use the word “forgive” to mean “pretend it didn’t happen.” This is very convenient for someone who has wronged you- they can do it all again and take you by surprise, just like the first time!

In my next two posts I shall look at other possible answers to the problems caused by “bad memories”.

New Hypnotherapy for Weight Loss Programme

I have now redesigned and upgraded my hypnotherapy for weight loss programme. I’ve been interested in nutrition for over 30 years, and from my nursing background I’m well aware that being overweight is the biggest single health problem in this country. It also has huge impact on many peoples’ emotional well-being. When people lose significant amounts of weight they often make other big changes in their lives. My hypnosis for weight loss programme includes the following special features:

  • Hypnotherapy to address the underlying causes of comfort eating
  • Full support with diet planning and keeping your food diary using the myfitnesspal.com free website.
  • Ongoing support between sessions via telephone, text or email
  • Individualised CD or MP3 to reinforce your hypnosis sessions at no extra charge
  • Pay as you go- no demand for advance payments.

Call me now on 01752 829 436 to book your free initial assessment! Or use the contact form by clicking HERE.

Hypnotherapy Plymouth: Weight Loss: Eating for Two Three and Four

In my Exeter and Plymouth Hypnotherapy practice, I find that many people gain weight because they simply cook far more food than is actually needed. They then eat the food up because they’d feel bad about throwing food away.

Let me say first that I totally agree that we should not throw food away! Millions and millions of tons of perfectly good food are thrown away in this country- and producing all this food needed water, fertiliser, fuel and so on- all wasted! This is a modern thing. My parents had married during World War Two, when about 30,000 members of our merchant navy were killed while bringing food to this country. My mother’s grandfather was the son of refugees who had come to England to escape a famine in Ireland in which a million people died. People of that generation did not waste food and insisted on plates being cleared and leftovers being used in the next day’s meal.

Nonetheless, the fact is that if you’re trying to lose weight, eating more food than your body needs is just as wasteful as chucking it away! It will only be turned into unwanted fat, rather than being burned in a waste disposal plant. The obvious solution would be to prepare only as much food as will be needed, and since this isn’t rocket science we need to ask why many intelligent people don’t do this.

One reason is something I realised about 15 years ago when a client mentioned “people happening to drop in” during meal times. The client said she would always invite them to stay and eat, and took it for granted there’d be sufficient food to feed the extra person.

On further questioning I found that the client had two children who had grown up and moved away, yet she still cooked almost as much food as when they were at home. And I later found this was quite common. Often this is merely a habit that is easily corrected. But sometimes more complicated factors are involved. Cooking for four can be a way to subconsciously “tell yourself” that there are still four people living in your home, even though consciously you know there are just two.

For more information onn weight loss click HERE for article on weight loss and genetics on my Hypnotherapy Exeter site.

Weight Loss Hypnotherapy: Why Crash Dieting Does not Work

In my Plymouth hypnotherapy practice I’ve researched several online tools for helping people to design healthy and realistic weight loss programmes for themselves.

This one calculates your “Body Mass Index” (BMI) which is the ratio of your weight to your height, and also your “Basal Metabolic Rate” (BMR).

Be aware though that BMI can be misleading- if you’re very muscular your BMI might appear excessive when you’re actually very fit. It’s only a rough guide- body fat measurements are better.

Let’s look at an example. Jane is 1.6 metres tall, weighs 70 kilos, and is 35 years old. (Metabolism slows down a bit with age). The calculator tells us that her BMI = 27.34, which probably means she’s overweight and at increased risk of serious illness.

So how can she best lose weight? If we turn to the BMR calculator on the same website, and put in the same figures, we find that Jane’s BMR is 1450 calories. That’s how much she would need to eat for her weight to stay the same, neither gaining nor losing, if she was laying in bed doing nothing all day.

But of course she won’t be lying in bed all day unless she’s seriously ill. We can use the “Harris Benedict Equation” on the same website to find Jane’s actual calorie needs. It’s just a number by which we multiply Jane’s BMR. Obviously the number varies according to how much exercise she gets. Let’s say she’s an office worker who takes little exercise. The chart says that her Harris Benedict number is 1.2. So 1450 x 1.2 = 1740 calories per day. This is how many calories she needs to eat to stay the same weight, neither gaining nor losing. To lose weight she has to eat less than 1740 calories per day.

Suppose Jane wants to lose 7 kilos- this would bring her down to 63 kg with a BMI of 24.61, just within the healthy range of BMI. It takes roughly 7000 calories to make one kilogram of fat. So over the course of time Jane needs to cut out a total of 7000 x 7 calories = 49,000 calories.

Most people want to lose weight as quickly as possible but I’ll explain later why that’s a very bad idea. Experts recommend that women don’t go below 1200 calories per day and men don’t go below 1500. If Jane cuts her daily intake by 500 calories, eating 1240 calories per day, she’ll keep within these safe limits.

So how long will she take to reach her target weight? 49,000 calories divided by 500 calories = 98 days. So Jane will take just over 3 months to get down to a healthy weight. If she prefers a less drastic reduction and only cuts by 250 calories daily, her weight loss will take twice as long, about 6 to 7 months.

Many people want to lose as rapidly as possible. This is because our brains can focus much easier on immediate rewards. However, this rapid weight loss requires much greater sacrifice- twice as much reduction in calories to lose weight in half the time. Many people are prepared to make that extreme sacrifice to gain quick results. But there’s a problem here too, because of how our bodies work.

Our bodies are designed to survive frequent food shortages. So when we cut our food intake severely, our body automatically goes into “famine survival mode,” adjusting to minimise energy expenditure. When we start eating normally again our body takes a while to “catch up” with us, and remains in “famine survival mode” for a while even though we’re eating normally. Result is that because less of the energy in our food is being burned to keep us going, more of it will be stored as fat.

This is why you so often hear of people losing huge amounts of weight through crash dieting, then putting all of it back on and more as soon as they return to normal eating. Because of this, and for other reasons, the slow and steady approach to losing weight is much better if you want to keep the weight off permanently.

The good news is firstly that even moderate exercise would make a big difference to Jane’s dietary needs. You can do the calculation again for different “Harris Benedict” numbers to see how much fewer calories she would need to cut out if she took more exercise.

Secondly, because modern factory-made “junk foods” contain so many calories, reducing intake by even 500 calories a day is not that difficult. This site contains a huge list of foods showing the amount of calories in normal portions of each food.

Click HERE for another free online weight loss resource and my latest post on “Weight Loss Hypnotherapy and Body Image”.