Meet the Therapist: Malcolm Struthers
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I had hypnotherapy myself about 10 years ago and again about five years ago. I found it very impactful and wanted to find out more about the tools and techniques used. I started training to find out more but I quickly realised this was what I wanted to do.
I had spent 20+ years working in PR and communications, so it was a big change and a huge leap, but I am so glad I did it.
Where did you train?
I trained initially with the London Hypnotherapy Academy.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I practice solution-focused hypnotherapy. I really like the collaborative and supportive approach and how well it works for a huge range of challenges and issues. Focusing on the present and the future, working towards goals, and embracing change, makes it a very positive experience.
It was Milton Erickson who really established and advanced solution-focused hypnotherapy. His tools and techniques (using indirect suggestion, metaphors and storytelling to alter behaviour, rather than direct suggestion) really empower, engage and energise clients.
How does hypnotherapy help with symptoms of IBS?
One of the areas I am particularly interested in is hypnotherapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This was one of the reasons I had hypnotherapy and it really helped me. I know all too well how distressing and impactful IBS can be, and hypnotherapy can really help manage the condition and alleviate many of the symptoms. Working with someone who understands the condition can be particularly useful for issues that many people find difficult to talk about.
What sort of people do you usually see?
One of the things I enjoy most about my role is the variety of people and range of issues I get to work with.
I do tend to work with a lot of LGBTQ+ people as I am also involved in a lot of campaign work around LGBTQ+ mental health and wellbeing more generally. For some people working with someone with similar lived experience can be really helpful.
Have you noticed any recent mental health trends or wider changes in attitude?
I think most therapists will have seen a rise in anxiety and stress levels with many clients. This is perfectly understandable given the wider context of what has been happening across the world in the past few years.
I also think during this time there has been a greater focus on mental health and an encouragement for people to consider their emotional wellbeing generally. I do think some of the stigma around therapy has been challenged and that people are more open to seeking help and support when required.
In particular I think men are more open to using therapy than perhaps they were before.
What do you like about being a therapist?
I love getting positive feedback from clients about how they have changed their life, achieved their goal, and made positive changes. They are surprised just how quick and easy it can be. Often, there is moment when things seem to click for clients, when they achieve the clarity and freedom they have been seeking.
What is less pleasant?
When many clients get in touch, they are curious but sceptical, with many pre-conceived ideas about what is (and what is not) involved in hypnotherapy. So, there is often a lot of myth-busting to be done initially.
How long have you been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I have been with welldoing.org for only a few months but it is great to be part of a wider community of therapists and to share ideas, resources, links etc. I like that it brings together the many different styles and types of therapy, providing potential clients with lots of information to help them find out what would be the best match for them.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I tend to find that many clients are very well read on whatever the issue is that they want to resolve. They have bought many books, downloaded many apps etc. So, I tend to ask them about this and talk about what they found useful.
For example, almost every single client I see for stopping smoking has read the Allen Carr book at some point, so I use this to talk through about what points resonated, and also why they think it perhaps didn’t work (or didn’t last).
What you do for your own mental health?
I took up running about 10 years ago and really wish I had started sooner. It's such a great way to clear your head and process various thoughts and ideas. I have even managed two marathons and I am now doing more trail running.
I also still listen to the hypnotherapy recordings I was provided with when I was a client, and these really help if I am feeling anxious or stressed, or simply can’t get to sleep. So, I ensure all clients get ongoing access to these types of resources to have available in the future.
You are a therapist in Dumfries and Galloway, and online. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area?
I recently moved to Dumfries and Galloway, so I am still getting to know the area. It is very rural and remote, which has many great benefits for people but also presents some challenges.
Working mainly online however means I get to work with clients from cross the country and in many other parts of the world.
What’s your consultation room like?
I work mainly online meaning the consultation room can be the client's own sofa or favourite chair for them, and my office at home for me.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
That it is a practical, structured and common sense way to resolve issues, and achieve real change. Hypnotherapy especially brings with it notions of magic, mysticism and of course stage hypnotism (chickens and pocket watches are mentioned regularly). However, it isn’t magic or mystical, the client is always in control and I don’t use a pocket watch. It really is a simple, straightforward and powerful way to make real changes.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
Investing in myself really made a huge difference for me and changed my life. I think I was scared or embarrassed to explore many of the issues I was facing. But hypnotherapy gave me a real sense of empowerment and control, and gave me the confidence I needed to make the changes I wanted. I benefit from that every single day.