What attracted you to become a therapist?
I have always worked in healthcare, but in a very different role. I began my career as a medical journalist, then worked for many years in pharmaceutical public relations – a job that involved communicating with doctors and the public about diseases and new medicines. After a career break at home with my children, I decided to train as a therapist as it allowed me to combine a fascination with health and how the body and brain work, with a useful role for society – that of helping people to improve their mental wellbeing and live their ‘best life’.
Where did you train?
I trained as a hypnotherapist with the UK College of Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy and as an EFT practitioner at the EFT Centre.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I practise cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy (CBH) and EFT. Both of these types of therapy have an excellent base of research to show their effectiveness. That is important to me and something I emphasise to my clients. In CBH, we combine the tools of cognitive behavioural therapy (assessment of thinking styles, for example) with relaxation, mindfulness and hypnosis to help a client to make meaningful changes in their life. While EFT is excellent at helping clients reduce stress and anxiety, at defusing phobias, at dealing with unprocessed thoughts and is something I teach all my clients to use themselves.
When I look back, I’m not sure if I chose hypnotherapy or if it chose me! It was an impulsive decision to join a course based on an email that arrived in my inbox. I hadn’t yet made a firm decision to train in hypnotherapy, I was still researching, but as soon as I started the course, I knew it was the right thing for me.
How does cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy help with symptoms of the menopause?
One of the areas that I specialise in is helping women to manage the problems that going through the menopause can bring. The benefits of hypnotherapy in this area are not very well recognised at the moment, yet it can be enormously helpful in helping women to reduce hot flushes, to better manage stress and anxiety, to sleep better and to offer motivation for weight management and exercise. Many people, including many doctors, are not aware that with hypnotherapy, a woman can learn to turn down her internal thermostat and thereby reduce the number and intensity of hot flushes. There is lots of useful research that has been done in the US.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I find that my clients tend to be either people in mid-life, both men and women, struggling with problems at work or with their families. Sometimes it may be something that has bothered them for a long time that has suddenly become ‘too much’ and they seek help. Often I find that when we are one or two sessions into therapy, a client begins to mention all sorts of other issues that they have battled with for many years that they now realise they could improve. It can be quite a revelation that life doesn’t have to be a battle.
The other main group I see are young people in their late teens and twenties. This can be a difficult time, as you work out what living as an adult means for you and how to cope with stress and anxiety that work life, for example can bring.
Of course, there are also people of any age who need help to tackle a phobia or a bad habit such as nail biting.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I love the challenge of working out what is contributing to a client’s problem and how can I provide the most effective help. It is very satisfying when someone comes to a session saying how much better they are now sleeping, or tells you how much calmer they now feel when speaking in front of a meeting at work. Or simply when someone comes out of hypnosis and says what a great experience they just had – that’s great!
What is less pleasant?
There is nothing about seeing clients that I don’t enjoy. But the less pleasant aspects are working out the admin, juggling my diary, and dealing with clients who cancel at the last minute!
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I have been with welldoing.org since the beginning of this year. I found the site by chance when I was doing some research and immediately loved the look and feel of the site. I love your ethos of helping people to find the right therapy for their problem – it can be so daunting knowing that you need help but then faced with a plethora of different types of therapy and having to work out on your own who will best be able to help you.
I have just joined the Facebook group and I enjoy the regular newsletters. I don’t regularly use the booking system – I only just signed up to it – as I juggle clients in two different areas who can access my services via different routes, so I am waiting to see how that pans out for me.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Yes, I do. Reading can help to consolidate the work we do in the therapy sessions and apps can be very helpful for relaxation or for helping people get to sleep, for example.
What you do for your own mental health?
I read a lot. I often find that when I am researching options for a particular client, I learn something that is useful to me as well. I use breathing techniques when I feel stressed and I love taking the time for a guided relaxation session.
You are a therapist in West London. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
West London is a beautiful place to live and work but it can be very pressurised. It can be highly competitive and I think many people find it hard to live up to their own expectations. That can often lead to stress and anxiety. People can become very involved in their children’s education, which can also lead to conflict or the generation of anxiety in either parent or the child.
What’s your consultation room like?
Practical and workable but not perfect! Generally quiet, pretty comfortable and informal. It’s more about the interaction between me and my client than the physical environment as even the noisiest room can be fine if you have a good rapport with your therapist.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
I wish people knew that they don’t have to be broken before they seek help. No issue is too trivial to get help for, no one is going to judge or criticise you for getting help. In fact, I would applaud someone for getting help when they first begin to struggle with anxiety as there are so many things that can help. I am often amazed at the work people have to put in to manage their life around their problem.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
When I began training as a therapist, I thought that I was fine and that I didn’t have any issues! I soon learned that I had always dealt with painful emotions by putting them in a box (mentally) and putting the box on a high shelf where I didn’t have to look inside. But dealing with those emotions when you feel strong enough is very important. Now I try and process things more quickly. But possibly the most useful thing that I learned was that I can hypnotise myself to find the noise of my husband snoring relaxing! It has been life-changing!