You may be wondering why I do not publish testimonials. This is because:
- They are considered unethical by many therapy related bodies (particularly the UK Council for Psychotherapy).
- They can be fabricated.
- The Advertising Standards Authority require any testimonial to be verifiable and that would conflict with the confidentiality I offer my clients.
- As a society we are getting used to review sites such as Which? or Reevoo, but the difference is that those reviews are independent. Practitioners are responsible for the content of their website and would naturally only publish good reviews.
- A good, well trained therapist will have a wide range of approaches that they use to match to each particular client’s needs. Hypnotherapy and hypno-psychotherapy are quite flexible. However therapy is not like buying a washing machine or getting walls painted, and one person’s experience is unlikely to match your own. So reading other peoples’ experiences may be misleading rather than helpful.
I have helped people with with a range of issues from all walks of life. And not just from Central Scotland but from all over the UK and Europe too. If you’d like to achieve similar results, please contact me.
However instead of testimonials, I am allowed to publish case studies from my therapy practice. Case studies serve to not only present real examples of therapy to potential clients but also for other therapists to gain some inspiration. Clients gave me their written permission to publish these. The names have been changed to protect privacy.
Danielle, now a young lady in her early 20’s, developed a fear of getting sick some years ago. She experienced a lot of anxiety and she missed a lot of school as a result. When she was a teenager she was referred to CAHMS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) and received 2 sessions of psychological therapy (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), however the issue had continued.
When people around her became ill, she was convinced she would become ill herself. She worried a lot, experiencing intrusive thoughts and feelings about becoming sick herself pretty much every day. This started having a negative impact on other areas of her life. She found socialising with her friends difficult and would leave early in case they got drunk and vomited. Seeing people vomiting reminded her of feelings of nausea she sometimes had. She worked with young children and when they became ill she found it very difficult to cope with it. She also did not like shopping centres or crowds and would try to avoid them. The anxiety was affecting her sleep too.
The first session focused very much on building trust and a therapeutic relationship with Danielle. We talked about her history and experiences with the anxiety. We also touched upon the importance of diet, as an imbalanced diet and a lack of nutrients can contribute to poor mental health.
We then did some hypnotic imagery work – Danielle created a “safe place” in her mind where she felt calm, safe and comfortable. What this means is visualising a space that may be real or imagined (or a combination) and mentally ‘taking yourself there’ so that your mind can experience that sense of security. We then used some symbolic imagery work to release negative emotions and help Danielle connect with the inner resources that she already had as well as creating those she felt she lacked. These would aid in the therapeutic process.
What does all this mean? Well, it can sometimes seem that our feelings are overwhelming and embedded – things we can’t rid ourselves of. However, if you can imagine those feelings as an object then it can help you to deal with it. An example could be imagining your negative emotions as a pebble and visualising yourself throwing them into the sea.
Inner resources? Your conscious mind could be telling you that you lack the skills or ability to cope with a certain situation but in a hypnotic state your subconscious may remind you of times when you did just that. It could also help you to come to solutions or strategies that you wouldn’t otherwise have reached.
I taught Danielle a breathing exercise which is particularly useful for anxiety. Her homework involved doing the breathing exercise, connecting with her safe place and listening to an MP3 designed to relieve anxiety and build confidence too. She also had the option to use the symbolic imagery for releasing negative emotions. We mutually agreed to space out the sessions so Danielle could take her time and put the strategies into place.
When Danielle came for the second session a couple of weeks later, she reported positive changes. For the first time in ages, she had not become fixated on the fact that a child at her work was sick. She was pleased with how well she coped with the situation – which would normally have made her very anxious. She also reported that she felt better in shopping centres and did not feel as panicky.
The day after our first session she had gone to a concert, was not anxious and stayed till the end.
She also improved her diet, took time to eat properly rather than rush and felt that this was helping too. She said that her sleep had improved and she was listening to the MP3 about 3 times per week.
We did ‘Time Road Process’ therapy which allowed Danielle to revisit the situation where she experienced her fear and anxiety for the first time without actually reliving it. Unlike a classic ‘regression to cause’ in which the client actually relives the original event and the emotions attached to it, Time Road Process allows the client to experience the situation from a detached perspective. This allows for a change in emotional and cognitive appraisal of the situation.
A month later we had our third session. Danielle reported more improvements. Even though she had become ill, she did not panic about it as much and just accepted the situation. She also went out for dinner, which she would normally decline. Her sleep was still improving and she had also started going to the gym which she felt was useful and she had enjoyed.
We did some imagery work where Danielle imagined how she would ideally like to behave in certain situations – she firstly imagined herself on a big screen and ran the ideal scenario (dissociated mode) and then she ‘flew’ into the screen and took on the feelings and behaviours as if she was experiencing them for real (associated mode). We repeated the process a few times. This particular method allows the client to ‘rehearse’ the scenarios in their mind so that, when it comes to the real situation, their brain is more ready to act in the rehearsed way. This technique is similar to mental rehearsal which is commonly used by sportsmen. We also did some cognitive reframing work on beliefs and thoughts. This means consciously examining and challenging some of the ways a person thinks and, where appropriate, working to find alternatives that better enable them to manage the challenges they face.
Danielle mentioned she also had fear of flying. As the thought of it made her anxious we decided to work on this too but to leave it for the next session.
On her fourth session Danielle reported that she had been dining out more often and enjoying it, going out with family, hadn’t felt nauseous, and generally felt steady, and ‘good going’. Her friend’s grandfather was hospitalised and there was a Norovirus in the hospital but this did not bother her, which it would have in the past. She said she hadn’t been fixating on small things and was able to put things into perspective. Her sleep was also pretty good.
We did the ‘Timeroad Process’ again but this time we dealt with the original situation that created her fear of flying. After emotional reprocessing (changing your emotional reaction to something) under hypnosis I guided her to create an ideal step by step scenario of how she would feel, behave and cope at the airport, from arriving in there, checking in, going through the scan, waiting in the lounge and the flight itself. We repeated this in associated and dissociated mode again.
On her fifth and last session Danielle reported that everything had been going well. She felt she had made a huge improvement as she was unexpectedly asked to go for a dinner to a place she had never been before; she’d normally feel very anxious about this but this time, she felt fine and actually enjoyed her evening out.
In addition, she took a train to the city centre and then back home to meet up with a friend and felt comfortable. This would also had been an issue in the past and she’d rather drive to places.
She found using breathing exercises useful and regularly practised elements of ‘Time Road Process’ whenever she felt she was getting a tad anxious. Her sleep was still good and she’d sleep 8 hours at night. Overall she’s felt able to manage her life so much better and has been able to do things she enjoyed in the past but hadn’t felt up to for the past few years.
I feel this case study shows that when hypnosis is combined with psychotherapy (also known as hypno-psychotherapy) it can be a very useful and effective method of psychological treatment. I’d also like to point out that Danielle was committed to the therapeutic process and worked really hard to achieve these positive changes.