How ‘Therapied’ Is Your Hypnotherapist?

Medical hypnotherapy

In the grand scheme of things, you know something might have gone wrong when you’re heating something up in a microwave and there’s a sudden loud bang, a shower of sparks and the house is plunged into sudden darkness.

Like most ordinary people, I know what electricity does, but not how it does it. I can change a lightbulb and, if the circumstances are right and there’s a diagram to work from, a plug. When there’s a normal power cut – in other words, the sort that isn’t accompanied by loud noises and sudden fireworks in the kitchen – I also know where to look to see if a fuse has blown (though what to do next would elude me).

But that’s pretty much as far as my expertise goes and you’ll probably agree that when the Fourth of July is going on in the middle of your kitchen, that probably isn’t quite far enough.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I was fairly reluctant to investigate whatever electrical mayhem had suddenly befallen my kitchen and robbed me of a bag of popcorn. I did, however, manage deduce two key facts:

First, the loud explosion was not, as you may have been thinking, the dying moments of an implausibly large popcorn kernel; and second, the circuit breaker steadfastly refused to be reset, giving rise to a suspicion that this was an electrical problem of a magnitude several times larger than the one caused a few months back by a pair of overheated hair straighteners.

This, I quickly realised, was the domestic equivalent of a Defcon 1 situation and fully deserving of a bonafide Expert, with, as you will note, a capital E.

So I called my butcher, David, to come and have a look at it.

I know there are some of you now thinking that this is a strange course of action to take, given the mysterious and quite possibly lethal situation in which I found myself and I have a certain sympathy with your point of view, if I’m being completely honest.

But you need to understand that David has been on – and passed – a 20-week electrician’s course held every Saturday and so holds a recognised and certified electrical engineering qualification. Crucially, he’s also really, really cheap, charging me £30 an hour rather than the £90 an hour plus £125 call out charge that an electrician registered with the Electrical Contractors Association would charge!

It’s a no-brainer, right?

Wrong. A decision so far wrong it couldn’t be more wrong if it marched up your garden path and knocked on your door brandishing an enormous piece of card with the word WRONG printed on it.

If my microwave really had blown up my kitchen and taken the entire electrical supply to the house with it, I would obviously have called out the best-qualified electrician I could possibly find and the cost be damned, because why would anyone cut corners with their personal safety?

Yet people do, all the time. Perhaps the circumstances aren’t always as spectacular, but the false economy of scrimping on cost is common in all areas of life. Sometimes saving money is a good thing but there are sometimes in our lives where a perceived saving actually costs you more.

I’ve long worried that my own profession doesn’t do enough to offer protection from people like David the Butcher. Well-meaning though the Davids of this world undoubtedly are – often to the point of fundamentally believing they are perfectly qualified to offer treatment for even the most acute problems – the fact is they are likely to do more harm than good, especially when it comes to vulnerable patients who have experienced serious trauma.

Just as David the Butcher can get an electrical engineering qualification in what amounts to no more than four weeks, so it is also possible for someone to get some form of recognised hypnotherapy qualification in a fortnight.

At Zoe Clews & Associates, I and my colleagues have spent years training in hypnotherapy methods and then practising them and I’d argue that the best and most qualified therapists are those who, like us, have practised first on themselves.

So, what do I mean by that? Well, for me that’s about having done the necessary processing work on our own emotional state to ensure we’re not taking any of our own ‘stuff’ into client sessions. 

Unfortunately hypnotherapy is still an unregulated industry. If you look at psychotherapists, they not only have to train for five years but they also have to have five years of their own psychotherapy too. And there are good reasons for that. It means they are, for want of a better phrase, emotionally ‘clean’ and therefore highly unlikely to transfer their own issues or agendas onto the clients. They’re also less likely to be triggered emotionally themselves by the client’s presenting issue.

So at its heart, the reason why psychotherapists and other practitioners working in the field of mental health have such rigorous training is safety – for their clients, and for themselves.

This isn’t currently the case in hypnotherapy, which means that there are a lot of unprocessed – often well meaning and well intentioned, but nevertheless unprocessed – people working as hypnotherapists who haven’t worked through their own issues and are consequently way out of their depth.

The concern I have over the prevalence of practitioners who don’t have a high level of training and who aren’t what I might describe as ‘therapied’ themselves has nothing to do with the added competition in the industry, either. It’s a concern about the potential to cause greater emotional damage to someone rather than to heal them.

There are a great number of examples where inadequate training and practice conspire together to have a shocking effect on a patient.

I have beef with much of the public promotion and advertising around hypnotherapy, but the one that fills me with cold dread is the promise that all issues will be resolved in one session. That’s a massive over-promise which no credible hypnotherapist would ever make.

Smoking or nailbiting cessation? Yes,  and depending on the client and the underlying issues, they can be resolved with a single session. But serious and complex trauma? Quite apart from the ethics involved here – and they are at best seriously flawed – what is the impact on the client when they are not miraculously fixed in one session from something that was never going to be fixed in one session?

The legacy of that is a client who is even more despondent than ever that they are incurable or beyond help – and having had to do a lot of fixing around people who’ve had this experience, I know only too well the damage it causes. 

What really gets my goat, though, is the current vogue to peddle a ‘bish-bash-bosh’ Del Boy-style of hypnotherapy that proudly claims not to delve into the past or dig up old memories, all gift-wrapped in a wafer-thin veneer of ‘we’re-serious-therapists-and-we-don’t-do-fluffy stuff’ packaging.

It’s as if talking about the past and honouring and acknowledging the deep impact it’s often had on the client is somehow harmful.   

There are some issues, such as weight loss, smoking, habits and stress, where laying bare the past is unnecessary; but for other, serious issues, true healing – by which I mean real, long-term freedom from the issue and not just feeling good after the session (which is easy, because we all feel good after hypnosis) – the past absolutely has to be acknowledged, grieved for and released.

One of the worst horror story techniques I’ve experienced came from a client who had been abused as a child. Her previous hypnotherapist’s solution? To put it into a box marked the ‘past’ and ‘shove it away’.   

Another client came to see me after her child suffered a severe injury because of a drunk driver. Her previous hypnotherapist had told her in her first session that she needed to ‘forgive’ the driver. We never ask anyone to forgive and no hypnotherapist ever should. Forgiveness is the choice and prerogative of the client and I have a serious issue with hypnotherapists who push for what I call the ‘forgiveness bypass’ 

That’s not to say there isn’t a place for some sort of ‘lite’ version of hypnotherapy – though I absolutely believe there should be restrictions and regulations in place that prevent such a service being available to all.

But care certainly needs to be taken when choosing a hypnotherapist to work through your issues with you. At Zoe Clews & Associates we are always very pleased to share details of all our associates’ training so you can be sure of receiving the very best care from us.

None of us is perfect. I doubt there’s a person alive who can honestly say they’re totally without their own issues. But at the very, very least any hypnotherapist who wants to be considered credible should have gone through a some sort of meaningful process of self-healing and discovery.

Just as you wouldn’t ask someone with a month’s training to rewire your house, neither should you give responsibility for your mental and emotional well-being – your psyche – to someone who hasn’t extensively trained and practised – on themselves as well as others.


The Silent Agony Of Grief

All of us have, at some time or another, experienced grief. While it’s an emotion we most commonly associate with death, it’s not limited to the loss of a life. We can grieve for friends or family who move far away, for a lost item that had powerful sentimental worth or for an opportunity we should have taken but didn’t.

As children many of us have lost treasured pets or older relatives. And as we get older, death’s footsteps fall closer to our daily lives, claiming friends, parents, siblings and others we cherish.

Grief in all these circumstances is entirely normal. In fact, it’s also entirely healthy. And most of the time it’s transitory, a process with a beginning and an end that we move through on the way to reclaiming emotional equilibrium at some undefined near-future point.

For some of us, though, the sense of loss is so great and so overwhelming that it’s impossible to find what we often describe as ‘closure’ – that point where we can allow ourselves to close the door on the past and concentrate again on today and tomorrow. Often this inability to move beyond grief has strong links to guilt.

Just as chronic grief can manifest itself in all sorts of ways, so different people will find different coping mechanisms for it – a process that often involves compartmentalising the raw emotion and boxing it up out of sight of our conscious self. Our subconscious, though, is adept at opening up those boxes from time to time, sometimes most unexpectedly; and unless we deal with the root cause of the grief, we can never be completely free of it.

Most of us experience grief in a relatively safe environment made up by people who know and love us, understand us and with whom we are comfortable sharing pain. Talking about loss is an integral part of healing because it allows us to articulate how we feel and, more importantly, why we feel the way we do.

Others, though, have to live through their grief in a very public way, never finding the personal space needed to recognise, acknowledge and deal with the pain they feel.

When it comes to grief in the public eye, there can surely be no greater example than the experiences of Prince William and Prince Harry following the death of their mother, Princess Diana, in a car crash as she and her consort, Dodi Fayed, fled paparazzi through a Paris tunnel.

Listening to Prince Harry talking this week about the two years of what he describes as ‘total chaos’ in his late twenties probably did more for raising awareness around grief and its effect than this blog or any newspaper article or interview could ever do.

Admitting to spending the last twenty years not thinking about his mother because ‘why would that help?’ will have resonated strongly with the thousands of people who are still living with grief long after the loss itself occurred.

As he spoke of feeling anger, of succumbing to dark periods where he felt violent tendencies and of struggling to cope with his grief in the public eye, it turned out that Harry, who always seems to have been something of a barometer for normality within the Royal Family, is, well, exactly that: normal.

In a podcast with The Daily Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon Prince Harry talks about how the pent-up grief affected his ability to work, aspects of his personal life and how it was his brother who eventually persuaded him to seek help.

He also describes how talking about grief makes you realise you’re part of a very large club and that it’s okay to feel the way you do. And that’s why hypnotherapy for grief is a really effective way of removing the subconscious blocks that prevent people from coming to an acceptance of their loss and then moving beyond it.

Coincidentally, yesterday we received some wonderful thanks from a mother whose 11-year-old son was not only being bullied at school but was also experiencing acute grief trauma following the sudden loss of his grandad.

In her note to our amazing associate Elaine Hodgins, who treated her son, the mother wrote: “We cannot thank you enough for the help you gave him. He enjoyed seeing you and you made him aware that it’s okay to feel certain ways and that he can control things. We think you are awesome. Much love.”

If you, or someone you know, is suffering from chronic grief please get in touch and see how we can help you come to terms with your feelings and rediscover the happy life you deserve.

Grief may feel like agony, but you really don’t have to – and shouldn’t – suffer it in silence.

All New Things Are Weak & Tender – A Word On Recovery

All new things are weak and tender. This can include the beginnings of a romantic relationship or friendship, a business partnership, a new creative project, a move to a new location, job or country or even the learning of a new skill. Whenever we make a change it is important to also recognise that even positive changes are often challenging. It takes time, energy and focus to adjust. So in a way we could say all beginnings possess a delicacy that is important to respect.

However the beginnings I am particularly focused on here are the beginnings of recovery; recovery from heartbreak, anxiety, divorce, addiction, trauma, depression, an abusive relationship, chronic illness, grief. Recovery from whatever it is that has pole-axed your soul and left you wondering whether your world will ever be the same again, let alone whether you even want to be a part of it anymore.

Continue reading…

Are You Wasting Your Life Living Other People’s Programs?

Did you know that we live 95% of our lives led by the beliefs of the subconscious mind, and that 70% of those beliefs are negative? By the time we reach the age of 7, we have downloaded and installed a set of programs and beliefs from our parents that become our software for the entirety of our lives, unless we change them. Our subconscious is the part of our mind that stores our emotions, memories, skills, instincts and behaviours, as well as running biological functions.  If we are trying to change anything in our lives with the conscious mind, and it goes against our previous unconscious conditioning, then we might as well conserve our energy. Basically, to be blunt, those early programs will direct the course of your life, whether you like it or not. The Matrix movie was totally on the game, either we follow the program that has been previously ordained, or we opt out and become a self aware and conscious participant in our destiny. Unless we do, we exist within the matrix of other peoples programs, if they’re not working for in our favour, it is time for some new, and life enhancing downloads.  With the conscious mind we can only hope to achieve limited change, as we rely on willpower, reason, positive thinking and motivation. It is a bit like making those New Year’s resolutions; the determination factor has a short shelf life unless it is aligned with the embedded beliefs held within our subconscious. They affect every area of our life, health, self esteem, relationships, prosperity and deepest spiritual understandings. If those beliefs are self defeating, de-valuing, fearful and create stress, then we are running a negative program that will reflect in our lives, it has to, because anything that is not an accurate reflection of our internal reality will cause our subconscious to disregard it and we will be cut off at the knees, it is devoid of compassion or humour, just like a computer. It will just do what it is programmed to do. It see’s the world literally, through our 5 senses, and houses all our memories, every single experience has been filed away in the archives, even the basic ones, like how to walk! The subconscious thinks in the present moment, so the most effective way to communicate with it, is to make a present tense statement that a 7 year old can understand. Re-write the software of your mind and you change the printout of your experience.

Continue reading…

Family Hand Me Downs – When The Issue Isn’t Yours ….

We are all familiar with the treasured items that get passed down through a family from generation to generation, perhaps a piece of jewellery or a painting, they can possess great financial or sentimental value. These items are family heirlooms and can become part of the lives of consecutive generations, paying homage to our perceived roots.

However the same applies to the non-physical – and not-so treasured – familial patterns.  These are the unconscious burdens and inherited belief systems we carry from generation to generation.  We can inherit not only their genes but also their self-limiting beliefs, their psychological shadows, their anxieties and much more across generations.

You may see this in the way you have worked extensively on your issues but they simply refuse to budge. You probably have a great awareness of your issue which makes it all the more frustrating as whilst you are acutely aware of it’s presence and subsequent restrictions on your life, it’s showing no sign of dissipating anytime soon. If this is the case it’s well worth asking ‘is this baggage even mine?’ It’s no secret that a lot of behaviour is learnt behaviour from our parents and caregivers. But perhaps it’s lesser known that there is also behaviour which is the result of the unconscious absorption of the emotional burdens that were simply too big for our parents and caregivers to carry all by themselves.  In this case you may have unconsciously agreed to take some of this on to help them carry it.

Continue reading…

If You’re Going To Make One Resolution This Year……

Make it this:

Trust yourself.

It’s simple, yet admittedly not always easy. Trusting and acting upon your intuition can be frightening, yet if we don’t we end up buffeted about by the winds and wills of others’ desires and advice. If we continue to ignore or override our inner voice we will end up feeling dissatisfied at best, deeply resentful and unwell at worst.

Your intuition is actually an unflinching truth-teller committed to your well-being; it’s your own best friend. If you allow yourself the time and space to practise listening to, and most importantly acting upon, your intuition you can begin to rely on it as the most incredible vehicle to navigate you through life’s waters.

So how do we access this potent form of inner wisdom? Well, it’s not about the intellect or logical conscious mind, rather it’s the still, small voice inside. It’s accessible to us all and because the voice of ‘quiet’ gut is exactly that, we need to allow the space in our lives and within our selves to be able to ‘hear’ it.

Continue reading…

The Law of Reversed Effect – Are you trying too hard?

There are many physical laws that we live by. Jump off a building (that’s not a suggestion!) and you’ll experience the physical law of gravitation. As we have physical laws there are also mental laws. These laws are just as real and we can use them for either our benefit or detriment. When it comes to the mind, especially the subconscious mind, one of the most important mental laws to get to grips with is ‘The Law of Reversed Effect’:

The Law of Reversed Effect states; “The greater the conscious effort, the less the subconscious response” or understood another way “Whenever the will (conscious mind) and imagination (subconscious) are in conflict, the imagination (subconscious) always wins.”

It’s helpful to understand that the subconscious is infinitely more powerful than the conscious and it is your ‘inner protector’. Its primary function is to prevent you from getting hurt and it learns and remembers rules and behaviours in order to do exactly this. These rules and behaviours are created from emotional responses to events which, more often than not, occurred in childhood. Each situation that reminds the subconscious of the childhood event gets treated according to the rule that was created back there, back then. This rule is then reinforced and becomes a habit, something you just do automatically without thinking.

Continue reading…

The Law Of Attraction & Hypnotherapy

Ever wondered why the Law of Attraction is not working for you in your life? No matter how many times you ‘think’ about your ideal life, somehow nothing changes. Do you believe that magic seems to happen for other people and not you? If only it was as simple as they all make out, all you have to do is think, daydream, be and act happy and your life will change! So after consistently trying over a period of time, you may still find yourself at the starting post, with nothing but a new pair of shoes to show for your deliberate effort. Eventually you may lose hope and decide that all this positive thinking doesn’t work for you. However, there is a reasonable and logical explanation. When it comes to creating significant change in our lives, it is essential that we have our subconscious minds on our side. Wanting with our conscious mind is one thing, but our subconscious may have a totally different agenda, holding at bay, everything you desire.

We come to understand that the most important part of creating our reality is being in the right place emotionally to let whatever it is we want, IN. We can spend our lives deciding and defining what we want. But if we are still caught up in the past by holding onto those negative feelings and beliefs, our lives will remain the same. Our energy is somehow stuck, swallowed up by something that no longer exists. The past is therefore creating our reality. All those positive, well meaning, thoughts cannot override that. Your subconscious and the beliefs you are holding within your being are defining your life as it is right now, in this moment. This is a state of being that shines the spotlight on the fact that there is no space for old beliefs, bitterness and resentment, if feeling good is our ultimate goal. Hypnotherapy changes old beliefs and clears out obsolete, negative programmes that no longer serve us in the present moment. The Universe reveals the truth to us, in a way that we can finally get real, and stop trying to force life to work for us from a past paradigm.

Continue reading…

Additional Credits

Video by Weeks360.

Photography by Liz Bishop Photography.

Production by Mark Norman at Little Joe Media and Joanne Brooks.

Hair by Jonny Albutt.

Make up by Olly Fisk and Nabeel Hussain.