Trauma Is Chemistry

Ice Cube In Flames On A Spoon

Hands up if you ever played doctors or nurses – and focus at the back, there … we’re talking about role-play when you were six, not cosplay when you were, well … older (that’s a whole different article).

Most of us acted out the part of a doctor or a nurse or a dentist when we were kids, and I bet that even though you probably won’t remember or associate it in this way, when you did, it was often just after an appointment with your own doctor or dentist.

More than that, I’d be willing to stake a little money on the fact that on those occasions, you acted out whatever treatment you’d just received. An injection, maybe. Or drilling a tooth.

Even now, you probably think that was just a simplistic process of taking a ‘new’ childhood experience and contextualising it in your own relatively new world.

Actually, what you were really doing was detoxing a negative and potentially traumatic experience. Maybe you succeeded, maybe you’re still nervous around needles and the dentist’s chair.

But regardless of the outcome, that time you spent immunising a doll or perhaps an unwilling sibling was practical, tangible evidence of your subconscious processing your ‘negative’ experience to try to resolve it. Because in resolution lies immunity.

When trauma goes unresolved, the process of trying to deal with it never actually stops. Instead, your subconscious quietly gets on with trying to find a mental hack that will finally allow it to lay to rest the ghosts of the past. This can and often does take place over many years, without you ever being aware of it.

The simple, unavoidable truth is that trauma is actually chemistry – and it’s a chemistry that’s as addictive as any when it comes to messing with your head.

Take love, for example.   

We like to think that when we fall in love it’s something akin to the planets aligning, an unstoppable destiny-defining force of nature that we always interpret as something unremittingly positive.

Spoiler Alert: it’s not.

Well, not always, at any rate, and not always in the way we think it is. Without wishing to be unnecessarily forensic and unromantic about it, love and relationships are often like a petri dish … full of really interesting things but riddled with fungus and bacteria.

Having stumbled upon such a delightful analogy, let’s wring it dry.

Some of the fungus and bacteria is good – for example, the challenging partner who’s the pragmatic Yin to your wild-hearted Yang (or vice versa). This is the guy or girl who’ll calmly ask you what you’ve done with your parachute before you jump out of the plane. 

He or she is the Actimel or Benecol in your relationship – doing you good even if it’s not the tastiest thing in your fridge.

But for those of us who’ve been laid bare by serious trauma, some of the darker, more damaging emotional fungus is only visible under a microscope. And as unromantic as it sounds, when people in this group fall in love, it’s often not love at all but rather our damage locking into theirs.

If you grew up in a loving family with parents who loved each other, loved themselves and loved you and who, crucially even if accidentally, taught you that it was all right to love yourself, too, then you’re likely to have a much smoother route to romantic happiness.

But people who’ve been affected by trauma (and especially trauma with a capital T) may begin to notice patterns in their behaviour which, if they ever get the chance to lift the bonnet on their own wellbeing, they’ll find are the product of the subconscious trying to heal the past.

That may play out as tending to attract people who display the same character and behaviour traits of whoever was responsible for hurting them – emotionally, physically or both – all those months or years ago.

It’s an unconscious, but very resolute, attempt to relive the past in the hope of a better outcome that heals the wounds inflicted in childhood or youth.

To achieve that end, the subconscious seeks out and pushes you toward what is ‘familiar’, even if ‘familiar’ is a toxic neurochemical cocktail that starts with a combined oxytocin/dopamine high and is followed by a massive cortisol adrenalin dump crash that’s accompanied by dynastic levels of drama.

The end result? Horror-struck friends and family who can’t understand why this otherwise rational and grounded human they know so well always seems to wipe out on love’s great surfboard. 

What are the signs that something’s wrong in your own personal petri dish? You may find yourself passing up or passing over really good women/men because they don’t give off that familiar neurochemical cocktail that matches the drama (actually, trauma, but you just don’t know it yet)  of childhood, and they feel ‘dull’.  

When your damage connects to someone else’s (I’m done with the petri dish analogy now), you enter a cycle where the toxicity of the traumatic relationship in your past is reinforced. That may be defined as abuse, emotional toxicity, abandonment or something else – and it’s known as a trauma bond.

Trauma bonds are addictive and they’re addictive because they trade on the powerful – almost superhuman – brain chemistry that’s created by equally powerful emotional experiences.

Breaking that connection is really hard to do on your own, because those connections are so much stronger than the connections you form with other people in your life – and so the pain of giving them up by ending the relationship (or having it ended for you by the other person) is infinitely more painful.

Simply, we’re not done with trauma until the work to resolve it is done – and until then we unconsciously ‘fetishise’ our trauma in the now by recreating the traumatic dynamics of our childhood.

So, the principle is much like that role-playing of the doctor in childhood, but with often catastrophic outcomes.

When both people in a relationship are ‘unprocessed’, it’s a bit like going to the Grim Reaper for a cuddle: it’s not going to be pretty and you can bet your bottom dollar on cosmic levels of drama.      

So what are the danger signs of a trauma bond relationship?

1.  Massive intensity – I often describe this as the process of trying to hotwire intimacy. It’s the mutual first-date oversharing of the gory details of each other’s childhood

2. On/Off cycles: The relationships that are unpredictable and involve regular making up and breaking up. This is intermittent reinforcement hell.

A 1950 study using rats discovered that reward plays a large part in reinforcing behaviour. The experiment found the rats pressed a lever for food more steadily when they didn’t know when the next food pellet was coming than when they always received the pellet after pressing. This proved that consistent rewards for a certain behaviour actually produce less of that behaviour over time than an inconsistent schedule of rewards.

3. You just can’t say goodbye: Even when your friends and family are Whatsapping WTAF? about you and you know you should be ending the relationship, you just can’t bring yourself to do it.

The good news is that if you have big T trauma and this has played out across your relationships, resolving the problem is entirely possible – though it’ll take time and effort.

Here’s what you can expect when you do the work:

The healthier you are the healthier the partner you will attract. Relationships are always mirrors and as you heal you’ll feel a natural chemistry for healthy available people.

The potential to find an amazing and conscious relationship: Partners who’ve been through trauma and worked on their trauma prior to meeting will usually continue to work on their trauma in the relationship, which also involves working on the relationship itself.

We’re hardwired to heal: We need the right conditions to do it, but some of the most amazing people in the world are those that have overcome trauma and come out the other side with compassion, wisdom and positive awareness of their own flaws 

Relationships are the most amazing vehicle for growth: When you can see them as being less Mills & Boon and more as a reflection of where you are in your emotional journey, you’re much more likely to be able to recognise and stick with something really good when it comes around.

A wonderful reality check on the past: When you’ve done the work, you’ll see your toxic relationship for the s**t-show it really was and realise its ending was just the beginning for you.   


Infertility, PTSD…..and me

Ivf Acronym On Colorful Wooden Cubes

We tried for a baby before turning to IVF for three years. In that time we had nothing for 18 months and then two missed miscarriages and an ectopic.

To say we were pretty desperate by the time we made the decision to go for IVF would be an understatement, and we had four cycles in 2014 that culminated with the transfer of Baby Bee on December 29th that year.

It would probably come as no surprise to know that I was unbearably anxious throughout my pregnancy, and so we scheduled a C-section for his due date so I could avoid any  additional labour anxieties.

As it happened, the dramas were few and far between. His due date came, I was unzipped and – at last! – there he was. My beautiful, bouncing, baby boy.

Music swells. Curtain falls.

The End.

Except it wasn’t.

They handed me my baby and all those years of expectation, of wanting, of keening, of pure gritted teeth determination were over. Because the child that I had imagined for so long was finally here: the baby come true.

I looked at him. And I looked at him. And I looked at him.

And I felt nothing.

I left it for a little bit. Looked again.

Still nothing.

He was just … a baby.

Things ticked along with no big dramas – we did baby groups together, took nice smiley photos together, watched a lot of CSI: New York together; but it was like I had a gaping hole inside where everyone else seemed to have an overflowing well of love. I couldn’t feel it. I knew I should. I knew that I was a terrible mother for not feeling knuckle-gnawing love for my baby. Because how could I not? I had been obsessed with having a baby and with each loss I had become more and more dedicated (sociopathic) in making that happen.

There had been periods of time when I hadn’t been able to work because Having A Baby had utterly consumed me. ‘We don’t just want a baby,’ I remember saying when I was trying to convince my husband to look at adoption. ‘We want to be a family.’ And I believed that.

But when we finally became that family of three, all I wanted to do was go home, have a cup of tea and watch Pirates of the Caribbean (I have no idea why I was jonesing for that film, but I was).

What the hell was wrong with me? My little boy lay in the bed next to me for those first few hours of his life, and I just wanted to be on my own.

With hindsight, what I needed was a moment to catch my breath. I had careened for five years through failure after failure in a permanent state of high anxiety and hyper-vigilance – four years of trying, four losses (I had a chemical pregnancy with the third round of IVF), four rounds of IVF, 40 weeks of terror.

Of course those numbers added up to me being totally not ready to be a loving mum. How couldn’t they?

I now believe I was suffering from a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. If I’d been through a five year long traumatic event where my emotions had been under siege every single day, most people would concede that I needed time to recover.  But when your infertility journey ends, there’s absolutely no time for that because motherhood kicks in. Immediately. No handbook. No training. No time to learn other than on the job.

And the result, for me, was that after all those years of planning, it turned out that I just wasn’t ready. I was exhausted, emotionally spent and all I wanted to do was retreat: yes, the baby was here but I was still dealing with the agony of every negative pregnancy test, every empty sac on a scan, every patronising ‘I’m sorry’.

I had never believed that the baby would ever arrive safely, right up until the moment they passed him to me. I had never been able to give up the belief that I was never going to be a mother.

And I’m not alone in thinking this a possibility. While the traditional symptoms of PTSD as usually described don’t necessarily fit what I was experiencing, in researching this post, I came across a study of 142 women who had experienced infertility in 2012 suggests that close to 50 percent of participants met the official criteria for PTSD, meaning they could be diagnosed with the condition.

Another paper, published in 1997 by a New York collective of hospitals, supports this position:

‘We have observed the development of PTSD in women who have experienced a variety of reproductive problems, including infertility, miscarriage, complicated pregnancy or delivery, and multiple births’.

It goes on to say:

Symptoms may manifest as extreme distress under seemingly innocuous circumstances, such as seeing a pregnant woman, menstruating, or visiting the doctor’s office …’

The physical pain I’d experience from an out-of-the-blue pregnancy announcement was so awful, I became phobic of being in any environment where I might hear or see one. When I was pregnant, I would experience panic attacks before and during scans and would go into freefall at the sight of the midwife’s doppler.

‘Avoidance [one of the symptoms of ‘traditional’ PTSD]’, says the paper, ‘may result in failure to bond, or a delay in bonding, with a newborn’

That risk. The risk of not bonding? That’s present with all pregnancies, but the odds are clearly stacked against you if you’ve been through trauma. And yet, not a single fertility clinic that I could find in the UK offers post-birth support: they consider their job done when you get to your 12-week scan. The assumption is that your pregnancy, birth and motherhood is now the same as anyone else’s. But how can it be? The emotional savaging an infertile couple can endure simply getting to that point just isn’t the same as starting a pregnancy through natural conception.

When you’re in the IVF bubble, you can be as supported as you need: clinics offer counselling services, there are forums and websites and friends who have been through it. You may feel isolated from those not going through IVF, but in the digital world and at your clinic, if you want a sympathetic ear, there are thousands of them out there who want to hear you.

When you become a mother after IVF, the expectation – not just your own, but that of every single person around you – is that you’re going to be even more over the moon because of what you went through to become a mother. How can you disappoint your audience by saying that you’re not? How can you be so bloody ungrateful to say, you know what, this is not what I expected?

None of the health professionals I met with after my son was born saw his origin story as particularly interesting, psychologically speaking. In fact, if I mentioned it, it was treated like an anecdote.

None thought it was relevant to my motherhood.

I eventually sought help when my son was six months old because I was tired of feeling numb towards my baby and shit towards myself. I knew that he deserved more (even though I had managed to convince myself at that point that he didn’t like me very much anyway).

I spoke with my GP who directed me to the NHS iTalk website where I could self-refer. As a new mum I was seen really quickly for CBT, a process I found somewhat helpful but which was interrupted when I found myself inexplicably pregnant with a surprise second baby at 41.

Once I was beyond the first 16 weeks, my second pregnancy was far less traumatic and when my little girl was born, I felt such a distressing, primal need to protect my son that I realised that I could feel. Just like normal mothers.

It was as though she opened the door, and now I tell my children I love them all the time – and I really, really mean it.

I never expected to fall apart after I had my IVF baby. But I did.  And those studies show me I’m not alone: for too many women, motherhood collides with the culmination of a hugely traumatic experience, one they are not given the space or time to recover from.

We need to start talking about this, giving voice to these women whose distress is going unacknowledged by not just themselves, but everyone around them.

I want other mothers who might be struggling in those first few months following the birth of their IVF baby to know that it’s okay to not feel that every day is a miracle. You’re normal if you don’t take to motherhood straight away, just as you’re normal if you do.

But if you feel like you’re struggling and are ashamed to say anything because you’re supposed to be so happy? Throw caution to the wind and talk to someone. Having a baby after IVF has its own complexities and, honey, you are not alone.

Lucy Barker is the baby sleep specialist at Zoe Clews & Associates. To book a session with Lucy, please click here. If you have been, or continue to be, affected by the issues Lucy discusses in this blog and would like to talk to someone in confidence, please contact us

Resources:

‘Examining PTSD as a Complication of Infertility’ – New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, New York City; Manhattan Psychiatric Center, New York City; New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, Cornell University Medical College;  Advanced Fertility Services, New York City DISCLOSURES  Medscape General Medicine. 1997;1(2) 

2012 study by Allyson Bradow, director of psychological services at Home of the Innocents, a nonprofit organization that helps families in need in Louisville, Kentucky, USA.


Why This Government’s Stance On Mental Health Is Nothing More Than Tokenism

Have You Got A Mental Health Issue….Or Is It Your Lifestyle?

Doubtless the Whitehall apparatchiks thought themselves terribly clever when they sold the Prime Minister the notion that using World Mental Health Day to launch the Government’s new mental health would be a brilliant PR coup.

Enter Jackie Doyle-Price, stage political right. A junior minister within the Department of Health, Mrs Doyle-Price is probably more celebrated for her apparently bottomless supply of hairstyles than for any great political achievement in her 8-year Parliamentary career to date.

Yet this week she finds herself paraded before the world as the UK’s dazzling solution to the problem of suicide. Sadly, though, our very first Minister for Suicide Prevention is unlikely to be the last participant in a very grand tradition of political tokenism and bureaucratic grandstanding.

Perhaps the sharpness of Mrs Doyle-Price’s haircuts is matched by her political acumen. She may be terribly good company at dinner parties, a raconteur of some repute over an amuse bouche or two, a selfless benefactor of good causes and a lover of defenceless animals.

What she most assuredly isn’t is the answer to the problem of suicide in your village, town or city.

I have found, over the years, that the sheer scale of the mental health crisis not just here, but across the world, is simply unquantifiable. No adjective yet exists to adequately describe the size of the problem this country faces in its ongoing provision of social and mental care. Choose any word you like – gargantuan, monstrous, enormous, huge, humongous, massive, colossal – and you’ll find it is a mere David to the Goliath that rains continuous blows upon a failing NHS system.

Equally indescribable is the amount of cold hard cash it will take to make even the smallest of dents in that problem.

The total Government annual spend is currently estimated at around £800bn (£772bn, if you want to be slightly more accurate). In the context of the true cost of treating mental health in the UK – as opposed to what the Government currently spends on it – that figure is chickenfeed.

To put it into some context, only a week or so ago the Health Secretary Matt Hancock was all over the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, like a well-cut but somewhat cheap overcoat, shouting about £20bn of new investment for the NHS. Money which, by the way, he intends to spend updating the service’s computers and reducing wait times for appointments.

So, when a junior Government minister is suddenly wheeled, wild-eyed and sporting a new haircut, into the limelight as the answer to all our prayers on suicide, you’ll forgive me when I ask just what Coco and his big-shoed friends in the dusty offices of Whitehall think the scale of the problem actually is.

Because if £20bn only allows one computer to talk to another, it doesn’t take membership of MENSA to work out that we’ll need a boatload more cash than that to even scratch the surface of the mental health issues that cause desperate people to take their own lives.

But I can hear you already. Oh Zoe, you’re saying, don’t be so negative! At least the Government has taken a positive step in the right direction.

Well yes, but only if the limit of one’s ambition stretches only as far as accepting that anything is better than nothing.

And by the way, just how positive is the appointment of a Minister for the Prevention of Suicide, anyway? No one will argue the fact that even one suicide is a tragedy, never mind more – and least of all me. But the fact is that 4,500 people committed suicide last year – and the rate actually falling.

So, it’s tempting, if possibly unfair, to conclude today’s news is a cynical attempt to make hay in the sunshine of World Mental Health Day and invest not very much in fighting a battle that statistics suggest is already being managed.

That doesn’t mean we don’t need to tackle the issue or that we should ignore the underlying causes – and in fact, this article argues for greater Government investment in that endeavour rather than less. But if you want only to further reduce the number of deaths by suicide, give the money to the Samaritans.

Jackie Doyle-Price was paid the thick end of £76,000 last year. The Samaritans could do quite a lot with that sort of money, I’d imagine.

More interesting, perhaps, is the question of why the Government has targeted the suicide rate specifically. It seems so incongruously arbitrary.  Why not a Minister for the Prevention of Alzheimers Disease (850,000 UK sufferers), or depression (6 million), or anxiety (3 million), or eating disorders (1.6 million) or any number of other, serious mental health issues that affect huge tranches of the population on a daily basis?

Surely the Government is missing the point here and ignoring the apparently obvious fact that something has gone terribly wrong long before someone decides to end their own life. If we’re going to prevent someone’s suicide, surely to goodness we need to be intervening much earlier in that individual’s mental decline, don’t we?

We need to raise awareness of the issues that sit behind the needless end of a life: generations of stepped down trauma, childhood trauma and other hidden triggers that lead to mental health issues, anxiety, depression and addiction from which suicide eventually seems the only escape.

Which brings us back to the tricky subject of money. The reality is that this Government and its predecessors of various colours have been either unwilling or unable to invest the necessary cash to support intervention where it’s needed – on trauma awareness, rapid support and ongoing treatment. So, and as usual, it focuses on a sticking plaster solution.

Whichever way you look at it, one can’t help but feel this appointment has come in the backwash of a passing bandwagon, a sop to ease the growing clamour for a plan – any plan – to deal with the mounting social care crisis. Something sporting an interesting haircut and which a beleaguered Government can point to and say, look, we’re really doing something about mental health.

When really it’s doing anything at all.

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, recently quoted a figure of ‘£40bn and counting’ when asked the cost to date of Britain’s painfully drawn-out exit from Europe. Compare that figure to the £215m investment in school mental health support which Theresa May announced this time last year. The Government spent four times that amount just on libraries last year, for pity’s sake!

Are we really to believe that the Jackie Doyle-Price represents an administration which is serious about arresting the parlous decline of mental health in this country? Or should we succumb to the nagging suspicion that her unveiling is redolent of a government which lacks both wit and wisdom and is busy pulling up a chair in the fast-emptying Last Chance Saloon?

There is no easy solution to the mental health crisis and those answers that may be options come at an eyewatering price. We should all be thankful for the myriad free services that do their best to meet growing demand for mental health services. It’s invidious to name some and not others, but whether for addiction, PTSD, trauma, depression, anxiety, the volunteer-led recovery and support programmes that are there to catch people when they fall do more every day to address the issues than a Minister for Suicide Prevention can ever hope to achieve in a lifetime.

And if you’ve made the mistake of interpreting this as a denouncement of Jackie Doyle-Price’s integrity as a politician, it’s absolutely not. The chalice from which she has been encouraged to drink is unquestionably poisoned, but there is no reason to question her intentions.

What is in question is the integrity of a Government that plays fast and loose with such an emotionally raw subject as suicide by stooping to grubby PR stunts with no hope or intention of matching its words with the budget required to be true to them.


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.


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.