The Inconvenient Truth About Quick Fire Therapy

Squashed Food Cheeseburger

Walk into any of the big three fast food restaurants these days and the chances are the emphasis will be on getting you in and out as quickly as possible.

The technology is designed to allow you to order your food, pay for it and then collect it from a collection point when it’s ready.

In possibly the only instance where it was actually ahead of the curve when it came to retail trends, this ‘convenience’ approach to buying was originally pioneered by catalogue store Argos.

On the surface, this ‘hit and run’ approach is a good thing when it comes to the fast food industry because in principle – and the words in principle are the kicker here – it serves both ends of the sale process: you want your food quickly, the restaurant wants to move you on so it can sell its tasty burgers someone else.

And in principle, that should work regardless of what is being traded. A cheap and cheerful piece of furniture from a catalogue, a dress in M&S or trauma therapy from your hypnotherapist.

Except, we’re talking about principle rather than reality and reality and principle are a long way from being the same thing. Especially when it comes to how you treat and manage mental health.

How often, for example, have you walked into a Kentucky Fried McBurger King and your food turns out at best lukewarm and at worst downright cold? Why is that? The answer’s pretty simple: on average Kentucky Fried McBurger King has worked out it sells a certain amount of Tower King MacWhoppers every hour and so, to speed up the process of selling them to you – and to ensure you get your meal as fast as possible so the next person in line gets their Tower King MacWhopper as fast as possible – the food is cooked not to order but to an artificial expectation of what the next person in line is likely to order.

The result? Lots of people get what they ordered at the right temperature, many people get what they ordered at the wrong temperature and some people get something they never ordered in the first place.

Now apply those principles to the world of hypnotherapy and what you get are too many hypontherapists who make it their business to offer a quick fix to whatever ails you.

These are the people who completely dismiss regression therapy as slow and old-fashioned, requiring unnecessary time and – they would argue – heartache in unpicking the past to identify what’s causing the problem today.

It’s the equivalent of walking into a restaurant and having the wine waiter thrust a bottle of Blue Nun at you with the words: “You’ll like this. Everyone does.”

Regression therapy was the first thing I was trained in and many years and many clients later I’m even more convinced than ever that it’s simply impossible to treat complex, multi-layered issues such as abandonment trauma, narcissistic wounding, abuse, neglect, repetition compulsion and severe and complex trauma without first acknowledging the past and the impact it has on the psyche. 

At their very best, superficial techniques will only ever paper over the psychological cracks. Beyond the critical issue of whether the patient or client receives the treatment they actually need, there’s also a question of ethics here.

We live in a world where everyone wants a quick fix to everything and so when someone claims they can heal you in one session, the temptation to sign up immediately is enormous. But I think we have a duty of care that requires us to be brutally honest.

Masking symptoms is not the same as curing or healing and if you want to be a good hypnotherapist with a career that has longevity, you’re going to need to properly learn how to navigate a client through the shark-infested emotional waters of severe and complex trauma.

There is – and always has been – a slew of superficial techniques that are peddled by those looking to make a quick return. It’s the therapy equivalent of a gastric bypass. And for mild conditions and issues like nail biting, mild to moderate phobias and some anxieties, they can be fantastic.

Complex trauma is different.

It’s common to see clients who haven’t acknowledged the underlying trauma which is manifesting as the issue. But it’s the therapist’s job and responsibility to guide them to understand why the issue has manifested as it is.

People are great apologists for how they feel – “Yeah, but there are people out there with much worse childhoods than mine” – but this is a coping mechanism that helps them to avoid acknowledging their own emotions. As therapists we’re there to help them to recognise and deal with their own pain, which is the only route to good mental health. What other people experience is more irrelevant than they could possibly imagine.

By unlocking the emotions that are locked into us at the time of the event, we are able to then deal with their presenting issue.

But if the hypnotherapist involved is uncomfortable talking about the past or sees it as an unnecessary or dirty process, that release simply can’t happen. Worse, it’s tantamount to colluding with the patient in minimising and denying the past and helping to unconsciously reinforce the sense of shame they feel.

That in turn leads to further compartmentalisation – which ultimately is what the client is already presenting with. The result? The client feels temporarily better, but the real issue goes unacknowledged, untreated and, at worst, becomes further entrenched. 

It might be inconvenient to you to have a client who finds it difficult talking about painful things, but the answer is to give them time and build trust. The current, worrying trend of promising to resolve all trauma, regardless of severity, in one session isn’t just a joke, it’s a dangerous and irresponsible joke. 

If you’re in any doubt as to just how insidious this disingenuity has become, how about this: the other day I saw a practice advertising its services with the line Come and have therapy – it’s FUN!

There are great many things in this big wide world of ours that are undoubtedly fun, but whilst therapy doesn’t have to be unpleasant, it certainly isn’t one of them.

Here’s the thing. If you offer therapy-lite sessions, your results will also be lite. Plain and simple. It doesn’t work any other way.

I’ve lost track of the number of therapists boasting on online forums about resolving major trauma issues only to admit, when questioned further, that they had only just finished the first session. The poor client probably hadn’t even got back to their car before their therapist was jumping online to share the ‘good’ news.

The goal for any therapist shouldn’t be speed or the creation of great marketing material, it should be thoroughness. To know the job has been done properly and with the client’s best interests at heart. It should be about a process that’s owned not by the hypnotherapist but by the client. That’s not the stuff of one-session fixes.

I’m bored by hypnotherapists who make it their business to pour scorn on talking therapy and make out their speed-dating equivalent is the only way forward. I’m bored by hypnotherapists who have done a 2-week course and think they’ve earned the right to trash-talk psychotherapy and other really solid therapies when all they really seem to be qualified in is supreme ignorance.

Everywhere I look it’s about speed and an aversion to exploring the past. These people don’t seem to recognise that the subconscious has no concept of time.

Quick hypnosis has its place, but no client I’ve had in 15 years has been concerned about how quickly they are hypnotised. Yet now it’s become a unique and questionable selling point for therapists and some course providers.

Guess what? Regression really works. Inner child work really works. They’re game-changers in a game a lot of the players don’t seem to have the right equipment to play.

Is regression therapy everything?  No, absolutely not – just as the Tower King MacBurger isn’t the only burger. But being prepared to spend the time needed to choose the right therapy will always be the difference between success and failure.

Healing is messy and uncomfortable, which means therapy is messy and uncomfortable and recovery from trauma and addiction is definitely messy and uncomfortable – until it isn’t. Then comes relief and true freedom.

But if you’re uncomfortable dealing with a client’s emotions or hearing about traumatic events, or you get freaked out when a client breaks down and grieves, or you don’t have the time to provide the right care then the chances are that some day, somewhere, someone is going to choke on the Tower King MacBurger you just served them.


The Path Is Not The Punishment

Lovcen Mountains National Park At Sunset Montenegro

I have a friend whose favourite theory is that Hell isn’t a place you go to when you die, it’s the place you go to live. And you get to do it over and over again, until you become a decent human being.

He’s fond of arguing that reincarnation is simply the re-taking of life’s exams. Then again, he’s also fond of arguing that the people who learn the fewest lessons in life are destined to live in Middlesbrough, so I’m not sure how much credence we can attach to his ramblings.

But if you ignore the religious context for a moment, there’s something of truth in the notion that life will continue to give you the same lesson until you finally learn it.

Giving in to human nature and casting ourselves as victims of life ‘continually’ might elicit more sympathetic hugs on Facebook, but it’s also a sure-fire way to guarantee missing the key lessons we should be learning.

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Is Your Love Story A B-Movie?

Posterini 574196252839 (1)

As a concept, it’s a fantastic script. Two star crossed lovers wounded by a past littered with one failed relationship after another. Life gives them one last battle to fight: the battle to find each other.

It’s a sweeping, soaring, tear-fest of two people hampered by fate and shackled to a future they can’t yet see but which they both know lies somewhere just beyond their immediate reach. It’s Gable and Leigh, Bogart and Bergman, Tracy and Hepburn. It’s Keira Knightley and Andrew Lincoln in that scene in Love Actually. Except in your version, Keira doesn’t let him walk away.

You have the script and, because this is your love story, you have a ready-made cast. It’s an epic romantic blockbuster destined to smash all box office records.

The only problem is that your subconscious has been tasked with job of directing it.

As the director of your personal movie, your subconscious is more Quentin Tarantino than, say, Steven Spielberg. It’s opinionated and often comes with its own agenda, drawing on your past experiences to inform your present and future. If you grew up in a house of drama, your subconscious is more likely to push you toward dramatic love and tempestuous hit-and-run run hook-ups. 

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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.

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The Silent Agony Of Grief

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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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.