Trauma and Regaining Control

Trauma is considered today one of the world’s most urgent public health issues. As a hypnotherapist I often come across victims of trauma, who are coming to me to regain control over their feelings, emotions and behaviors. Trauma has the power to reshape both the body and the brain, confining us to the past despite any effort of the mind to leave it behind.
“The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain, and Body in the Transformation of Trauma”  is an essential read for anyone interested in comprehending and treating traumatic stress.

In The Body Keeps the Score, the author – Van der Kolk – explores innovative treatments that offer new pathways to recovery by utilizing the brain’s natural ability to heal, which is why I am a big fan of this book.
Trauma is universal and occurs more frequently than we tend to think. One doesn’t have to be a war veteran to experience it, trauma happens to our family members, friends, neighbours, it happens to us…

Trauma not only affects those directly exposed to it but those around them. Healthy relationships become extremely challenging to maintain, as people who have experienced trauma have to deal with all sorts of issues in life, ranging from substance abuse to emotional absence.

Van der Kolk asserts that:

The safest way to help traumatized children and people victim of trauma is to provide them with a safe environment, allowing them to connect with others, learn to self-regulate, and develop autonomy around their own lives.

Survivors are often triggered or forced (sometime through therapy!) to endure the powerful memories of the trauma. These flashbacks cause people to relive the trauma’s mental and physical experience.
According to Van der Kolk victims of trauma can learn to regulate their own physiology through movement and breath. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, Mindfulness meditation, yoga, dance, kinesiology, martial arts such as Thai Chi and Qi Gong, and new therapeutic interventions such as neurofeedback are vital tools for survivors as they discover how to accept, cope with and recover from their life-changing experiences.

Trauma says van der Kolk:

Drives us to the edge of comprehension, cutting us off from language based on common experience. Its effects are profound and lasting when it occurs before we have language to describe it or even hope to get the help we need. Like a splinter that causes an infection, it is the body’s response to the foreign object that becomes the problem more than the object itself.

One of the reactions to trauma is the so-called Numbing State. Numbing may keep us from suffering in the short-term, but long-term is another matter. Though the mind may learn to ignore the messages from the emotional brain, the alarm signals don’t stop. The emotional brain keeps working, and stress hormones keep sending signals to the muscles to tense for action or immobilize in collapse. The physical effects on the organs go on unabated until they demand notice when they are expressed as illness. Medications, drugs, and alcohol can also temporarily dull or obliterate unbearable sensations and feelings. But the body continues to “keep the score.” Through numbing, the survivor’s energy now becomes focused on suppressing inner chaos, at the expense of spontaneous involvement in their life.

Another reaction to trauma is that of being a Stimulus Seeker. Often survivors of trauma don’t feel quite alive if they aren’t in the middle of chaos. Somehow the very event that caused the victim so much pain had also become their sole source of meaning. They felt fully alive only when they were revisiting their traumatic past. That is why so many abused and traumatized people feel fully alive in the face of actual danger, while they go numb in situations that are more complex but objectively safe, like birthday parties or family dinners.
If an organism is stuck in survival mode, its energies are focused on fighting off unseen enemies, which leaves no room for nurture, care, and love. For us humans, it means that if the mind is defending itself against invisible assaults, our closest bonds are threatened, along with our ability to imagine, plan, play, learn, and pay attention to other people’s needs.

Treatment needs to reactivate the capacity to safely mirror, and be mirrored, by others, but also to resist being hijacked by others’ negative emotions.
The great challenge is finding ways to reset the victim’s physiology, so that their survival mechanisms stop working against them. This means helping them to respond appropriately to danger but, even more, to recover the capacity to experience safety, relaxation, and true reciprocity.

Mindfulness, or the ability to hover calmly and objectively over our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, is one of the primary tools. This ability allows the intellectual brain to inhibit, organize, and modulate the hardwired automatic reactions programmed into the emotional brain after the trauma. This capacity is crucial for preserving their relationships with fellow human beings.

 

Increasing self-awareness, is another important feature of recovery, because traumatized people often have trouble sensing what is going on in their bodies. They either react to stress by becoming ‘spaced out’ or with excessive anger. Whatever their response, they often can’t tell what is upsetting them. This failure to be in touch with their bodies contributes to their well-documented lack of self-protection and high rates of revictimization. And, to their remarkable difficulties feeling pleasure, sensuality, and having a sense of meaning. Noticing and then describing what they are feeling is a process van der Kolk helps his patients learn. He begins the process by helping them talk about what is happening in their bodies, not emotions such as anger or anxiety or fear but the physical sensations beneath the emotions: pressure, heat, muscular tension, tingling, caving in, feeling hollow, and so on. He also works on identifying the sensations associated with relaxation or pleasure…their breath, their gestures and movements. He asks them to pay attention to subtle shifts in their bodies, such as tightness in their chests or gnawing in their bellies, when they talk about negative events that they claim did not bother them.

Victims of trauma need to engage the safety system of the brain before trying to promote new ways of thinking. Ways to engage this part of the brain are:

  • Yoga
  • Solution Focused Hypnotherapy
  • Theatre Programs
  • Breath Exercises (Pranayama)
  • Chanting
  • Martial Arts
  • Qigong
  • Drumming
  • Group Singing
  • Dancing
    If people are either hyper aroused or shut down, they cannot learn from experience. Even if they manage to stay in control, they become so uptight that they are inflexible, stubborn, and depressed. Recovery from trauma involves the restoration of executive functioning and, with it, self-confidence and the capacity for playfulness and creativity.

In order to recover, mind, body, and brain need to be convinced that it is safe to let go. That happens only when you feel safe at a visceral level and allow yourself to connect that sense of safety with memories of past helplessness. Being traumatized is not just an issue of being stuck in the past; it is just as much a problem of not being fully alive in the present.

If we keep secrets and suppress information, you are fundamentally at war with yourself. Hiding core feelings takes an enormous amount of energy, it saps your motivation to pursue worthwhile goals, and it leaves you feeling bored and shut down.

What is great about the book is that in my experience one of the difficulties people have when trying to get over trauma is questioning their response to the trauma or their role within it. Gaining insight from this book in relation to the commonalities of how people respond to trauma helps the reader feel normal.

Van der Kolk, himself a survivor of early relational trauma is the Medical Director of the Trauma Centre in Boston, he is also a Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Medical School and serves as the Co-Director of the National Centre for Child Traumatic Stress Complex Trauma Network.

Are Your Human Needs Being Met? A Reflexion on The Human Givens (HG) Approach in Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.

Human Givens (HG) Therapy, a scientifically based approach to mental health treatment, asserts that all people share certain innate emotional and physical needs. When these needs go unmet, individuals may be more likely to experience stress and other emotional and mental health concerns.

The Human Givens approach is very much aligned with my Solution Focused Hypnotherapy practice, in that I offer support to people seeking help by teaching them ways to think and behave that may be more effective for getting their core needs met.

A bit of history

The Human Givens approach was developed by Ivan Tyrrell and Joe Griffin, who founded the European Therapy Studies Institute (ETSI) in 1992 to explore what effective approaches to psychotherapy had in common, with the goal of an integrated and effective model of emotional therapy.
Their research led to the creation of a journal called The Therapist and in 1996, Tyrrell founded MindFields College, offering presentations in emerging data about effective strategies in psychotherapy. By 1997 the name of the journal was changed to Human Givens.
In 2001, the Human Givens Institute (HGI) was established. A number of books have been published under the HG Publishing Imprint, such as Griffin and Tyrrell’s 2003 book, Human Givens: The New Approach to Emotional Health and Clear Thinking and a number of self-help guides for handling depression, anxiety, anger, addiction, and pain.
The Human Givens Foundation, a UK charity founded in 2004, further promotes education and research on psychotherapy and human nature. Human Givens College was established in 2010.

The Human Givens Principles

The Human Givens approach believes in continuous learning, which is something which I very much embed in my daily hypnotherapy practice by recommending clients books, podcasts and articles and by teaching them new techniques to address their emotional challenges. Learning is vital to human development and wellness, and this is very much embraced in my therapeutic method.

The theory behind the human givens approach holds that physical and emotional needs are inextricably linked, as emotions encourage people to connect with the external world and fulfil both their physical and psychological needs. In my personal experience it is impossible to isolate the body from the mind as emotions have a very powerful influence on the functioning of our immune system and vice versa, when our body is not well, our mental state is also suffering. For example, I notice in my practice how chronic disease often (and quickly) leads to anxiety and depression.

Mens Sana in Corpore Sano – a healthy mind in a healthy body

Some of the human necessities the Human Givens approach considers to be paramount are:

• Food, water, shelter and a safe environment.
• Emotional needs such as attention (both given and received).
• Feelings of efficacy and achievement.
• Privacy.
• The sense that one has control over one’s own life.
• Connection to a broader community and a sense of importance within one’s social group.
• An overall sense of life purpose and meaning.

When a person is having trouble in one of more of these aspects, it’s very important that the subject reaches out for help. In my Solution Focused Hypnotherapy practice I help my clients to identify challenges based on one or more of these givens and then develop solutions uniquely suited to the individual’s situation.

According to human givens theory, psychological distress occurs in three contexts:

Context 1 – When people live in a toxic environment that prevents them from meeting their basic needs, for example when people remain in an abusive relationship or living in poverty.

Context 2 – When a person’s conditioning or instincts inhibit their ability to meet their needs. For example, someone who grew up in an abusive home might end up in abusive relationships or if a child is never taught how to control her/his impulses, he/she may struggle to maintain good healthy relationships.

• Context 3 – When a person lacks knowledge about what they need or how to meet those needs.

A handful of studies suggest that Human Givens techniques can reduce emotional distress and improve coping skills. According to findings from PTSD Resolution, a UK-based charity, Human Givens is also effective as a form of treatment for trauma.

Therapists using the Human Givens method begin by identifying any neglected needs of a person seeking treatment. They then collaborate with the individual to get those needs met. For example, a person in therapy might, with the help of the therapist, determine a pattern of domestic abuse is the product of social isolation, ineffective stress management, or financial distress. The therapist’s goal, then, is to explore each of these issues and agree with the client proactive strategies that address each issue by working on the thoughts and behaviours that might have a negative impact.

No system of therapy is complete on its own, thus, Human Givens therapists – exactly as Solutions Focused Hypnotherapists do, blend several methods to create an individualised approach for each person they treat. In my practice I draw techniques from Human Givens, CBT, NLP, reflective listening, motivational interviewing, and of course Hypnotherapy.

If you are currently experiencing emotional and/or physical challenges and feel that you would benefit from Solutions Focused Hypnotherapy, you can email me on hello@elisabettalichyhypnotherapy.co.uk to book an initial consultation or visit the contact page on my website: https://elisabettalichyhypnotherapy.co.uk/

Coping With Loss and Grief

Our natural response to loss is grief and grief is the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away from you.

The pain of loss can feel overwhelming, and clients often come to me to find healthy ways to cope with the emotional roller coaster they are experiencing.

That’s right – when you lose someone or something you love, you may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions: shock, anger, guilt, profound sadness, panic, anxiety…The pain of grief can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight or causing physical symptoms such as nausea, chronic pain, palpitations and so on.

 

Coping with loss is one of life’s biggest challenges

The death of a loved one is often the cause of the most intense type of grief, but any loss can cause grief:
• Relationship breakup/divorce
• Losing custody of your child (even part of it!)
• Loss of health
• Loss of a cherished dream
• Loss of a friendship
• Losing a job
• Loss of financial stability
• A miscarriage
• Retirement
• Death of a pet
• A loved one’s serious illness
• Selling the family home

Whatever your loss, it’s personal to you, so never feel ashamed about how you feel, or believe that it’s only appropriate to grieve for certain things.

How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality, your life experience and current situation, your environment, your faith, and how significant the loss was to you.

No matter the cause of your grief, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can ease your sadness and help you find new meaning, and eventually come to terms with your loss and start to look to the future.

Expect the grieving process to take time – Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried…Some people start to feel better in weeks or months; others, in years. Be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.

Deal with the pain – The pain will not go away faster if you ignore it – Trying to ignore your pain will only make it worse in the long run.

Showing your true feelings can help you heal faster – Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss.

Moving on with your life does not mean forgetting about your loss – Moving on means you’ve accepted your loss—but that’s not the same as forgetting. You can move on with your life and keep the memory of someone or something you lost as an important part of you.

In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief:
1. Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
2. Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
3. Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
4. Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
5. Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

If you are experiencing any of these emotions following a loss, it may help to know that your reaction is natural and that you’ll heal in time. That said, not everyone who grieves goes through all these stages and not necessarily in that order!

Based on my personal experience and the interactions with my clients, I prefer to think of the grieving process as a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, highs and lows.

The difficult periods should become less intense and shorter as time goes by, but it takes time to work through a loss. Even years after a loss, especially at special events such as a family wedding or the birth of a child, we may still experience a strong sense of grief.

The pain of grief can often cause you to want to retreat into your shell. But having the face-to-face support of other people is vital to healing from loss. Turn to friends and family members. Now is the time to lean on the people who care about you. Accept that many people feel awkward when trying to comfort someone who’s grieving. Grief can be a confusing, sometimes frightening emotion for many people, especially if they haven’t experienced it themselves.

However, grief can feel very lonely, even when you have loved ones around. Sharing your sorrow with others who have experienced similar losses can help. To find a bereavement support group in your area, contact:

https://www.ataloss.org/

https://www.nationalbereavementpartnership.org/

https://childhoodbereavementnetwork.org.uk/

https://the goodgrieftrust.org/

When you’re grieving, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. The stress of a major loss can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves. Looking after your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this difficult time. Try therefore to maintain your hobbies and interests.

Finally, plan for grief “triggers.” Anniversaries, holidays, and important milestones can reawaken painful memories and feelings. Be prepared for an emotional meltdown and know that it’s completely normal. You can plan by making sure that you’re not alone, for example.

Here is a summary of the key things that can help you cope with loss in a healthier way:

• Acknowledge your pain.
• Accept that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions.
• Understand that your grieving process will be unique to you.
• Seek out support from people who care about you.
• Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically.
• Recognize the difference between grief and depression.
• See a therapist.

I’d personally suggest you get professional help from a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is all about moving towards a more positive future and can be of great support to people experiencing loss and grief. A recent book I have read on grief and how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can support the healing process was “Good Grief” by Dipti Tait. A good read I thought.

How To Create a Life on Your Own Terms

Do you want to conquer obstacles, make effective decisions, and create a life on your own terms?

“The Power of Agency”, by Paul Napper and Anthony Rao summarizes the essentials for managing your life by referencing and recapping the best ideas that have been written on the subject over the past few decades.

Many of us spend our lives seeking Agency. Agency is about being active rather than passive and planning effectively for your future. Call it empowerment or taking charge, agency sums up the traits and life skills we often don’t even know we lack.

Many of us feel stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted, and powerless. But rather than identify and build the skills we need to get and stay on track, we latch onto quick-fix strategies for change, such as binge eating, substance misuse and negative self-destructive behavior.

We wish to succeed, feel good, and enjoy our families, friends, and work but too often, we keep ourselves stuck by repeating the same mistakes we’ve made before while hoping for a different outcome or giving up entirely.

The authors of the Power of Agency make the point that, due to the pull of 24/7 technology, our obsession with comparing and competing, sedentary lifestyles, and work overtaking personal time, there are an increasing number of people who have lost their ability to respond to stress.

The result is overwhelming anxiety, eroding our ability to effectively chart our own course.

The book proceeds with laying out seven agency-promoting principles to guide our lives:

Control Stimuli — this is how you can ignore distractions such as constant cell phone scrolling, Netflix or fake news which clouds your judgement.

Associate Selectivity — This is around associating with people who will help you be your best self.

Move — Staying active with exercise and other stimulating social activities can help you be less depressed and lower anxiety and stress. Sometimes doing something simple as just taking a 30 second walk every 30 minutes can make all the difference in the world.

Position Yourself as A Learner —When you can take in multiple opinions and factual sources around a topic, then you will be able to store these opinions in your memory for use on future decisions you need to make.

Manage Your Emotions and Beliefs — Since we were kids, we have been subconsciously taught our core beliefs. This comes from our parents, schooling, political affiliations, religions, and other external groups that we have been surrounded by our entire lives. Even though we may have been brought up to think one way about a certain topic, we need to be able to take a step back, learn all the facts about the situation, and not jump to a conclusion just based off what we may have learned for the first 10–15 years of our lives.

Check Your Intuition —Our intuition allows us to be able to make quick decisions based on the information that is right in front of our eyes. This is great for decisions that don’t have large impacts; however, we need to be able to control our intuition when larger decisions arise and make a more informed decision.

Deliberate, then Act — This is a simple principle. Once you have decided, carry that through.

But what really resonated with me as a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist was the following advice from this book:

  • employ patience and persistence to make small changes
  • de-clutter your surroundings and minds
  • practice mindfulness
  • say no more frequently to take care of yourself,
  • choose mentally healthy people to be around and learn how to deal effectively with those who aren’t
  • recognize and curb your emotional triggers
  • pay attention to positive and negative shifts in focus or mood
  • stay open to new learning
  • and be wary of group think and culture

The authors’ advice is best summed up as encouraging the reader to

Think carefully about where your brain is at all times

Agency is having the feeling that you’re in control of the situation at hand, and of yourself always. The book offers 7 steps for you to regain this sense of control

  1. Keep a clear head and control the number of stimuli you get
  2. Associate selectively with people
  3. Exercise and move
  4. Always position yourself as a learner no matter where you are
  5. Keep your emotions in check
  6. Learn how to read your intuition
  7. Deliberate before acting

To KEEP A CLEAR HEAD

  • Practice meditation
  • Don’t multitask
  • Filter your sources of information
  • Reduce junk information (social media)
  • Put away your phone.
  • Embrace boredom, and use it as a moment for self-reflection

To ASSOCIATE SELECTIVELY

  • Mix around with positive people, and you will mirror them
  • Act positively and others will follow suit
  • Don’t fall into the herd mentality
  • Learn to say No
  • Being unpopular is okay
  • Break unhealthy relationships

To EXERCISE AND MOVE

  • Walk more
  • Stand more
  • Learn to understand the signals your body is giving you (Hungry? Tired?)
  • Go and experience new places
  • Make sleep a priority

To KEEP LEARNING

  • Learn to embrace failure with grace
  • Get feedback from others
  • Bounce and voice out your thoughts
  • Look from other peoples’ perspective

To CONTROL EMOTIONS

  • Watch beliefs from the past. They may not be valid
  • Identify emotions with names and words
  • Channel your emotions somewhere

To MAKE GOOD DECISIONS

Ask yourself 2 questions for each decision:

  • How did I arrive to that decision?
  • What other alternatives are there?

Go find your agency and enjoy your life you are living!

How to Get Rid of Bad Habits and Build New Ones

Are there things you wish you could do but don’t know how to begin? Do you struggle to understand how to break bad habits and start good ones? Do you wonder why you behave in certain ways even when you know you shouldn’t? Are you the person you want to be?

Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. Here are some tips on how to get rid of bad habits and build good ones.

1. Take the first smallest step and don’t get disheartened if you cannot see results straight away. Changes that seem small and unimportant will bring remarkable results if you are consistent and keep applying them to your life so

“You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.”

2. The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become. What habits the person you wish to become would have?

3. To build better habits: a) make it obvious…for example if you want to drink more water in the morning leave a jug and a glass on your bedside table (b) make it attractive…you know that after drinking your morning water you can listen to your favourite audio book for 10 minutes as a reward (c) make it easy….fill the water jug the night before so you don’t have to walk to the kitchen when you wake (d) make it satisfying….add a bit of cucumber or lemon to that water to make it more interesting

4. Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behaviour, if you want to make changes in your life, change your environment! If you want to stop eating sugar, remove the cookie jar from the kitchen top and lock it in a cupboard which is hard to reach…

5. Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits. Your knowledge is a lagging measure of your learning habits. Your clutter is a lagging measure of your cleaning habits. You get what you repeat…so repeat, repeat, and repeat!

6. Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it.

“Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy…Breakthrough moments are often the result of many previous actions, which build up the potential required to unleash a major change.

Habits are a double-edged sword. They can work for you or against you, which is why understanding the details is essential.”

7. There are three layers of behaviour change: a change in your outcomes, or a change in your identity. Outcomes are about what you get. Identity is about what you believe. With outcome-based habits, the focus is on what you want to achieve. With identity-based habits, the focus is on who you wish to become. It is a simple two-step process: Decide the type of person you want to be. Prove it to yourself with small wins. Ask yourself, who is the type of person that could get the outcome I want?

“The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity…The real reason habits matter is not because they can get you better results (although they can do that), but because they can change your beliefs about yourself.”

8. A habit is a behaviour that has been repeated enough times to become automatic. The ultimate purpose of habits is to solve the problems of life with as little energy and effort as possible.

9.  The process of behaviour change always starts with awareness. You need to be aware of your habits before you can change them. Writing a list of habits, you have from the time you wake up in the morning to the time you go to sleep is a good idea…you can then label them as positive or negative depending on whether they will help you become the person you want to be. The Habits Scorecard is a simple exercise you can use to become more aware of your behaviour.

10. One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behaviour on top. This is called habit stacking.

 

“The habit stacking formula is: ‘After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].’”

11. Creating an implementation intention is a strategy you can use to pair a new habit with a specific time and location. Gradually, your habits become associated not with a single trigger but with the entire context surrounding the behaviour. The context becomes the cue.

“The implementation intention formula is I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].”

12. It is easier to build new habits in a new environment because you are not fighting against old cues. Changing environment (or routine) to build a new habit or get rid of a bad one is generally a good idea.

13. People with high self-control tend to spend less time in tempting situations. It’s easier to avoid temptation than resist it. One of the most practical ways to eliminate a bad habit is to reduce exposure to the cue that causes it.

14. The more attractive an opportunity is, the more likely it is to become habit-forming. It is the anticipation of a reward—not the fulfilment of it—that gets us to act. The greater the anticipation, the greater the dopamine spike. Temptation bundling is one way to make your habits more attractive. The strategy is to pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.

“Habits are a dopamine-driven feedback loop. When dopamine rises, so does our motivation to act.”

15. We tend to adopt habits that are praised and approved of by our culture because we have a strong desire to fit in and belong to the tribe. We tend to imitate the habits of three social groups: the close (family and friends), the many (the tribe), and the powerful (those with status and prestige). One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where (1) your desired behaviour is the normal behaviour and (2) you already have something in common with the group.

16. Habits are attractive when we associate them with positive feelings and unattractive when we associate them with negative feelings. Create a motivation ritual by doing something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit.

17. The most effective form of learning is practice, not planning. Focus on acting as habit formation is the process by which a behaviour becomes progressively more automatic through repetition.

“The amount of time you have been performing a habit is not as important as the number of times you have performed it.”

18. We will naturally gravitate toward the option that requires the least amount of work. Create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible. For example, if you want to go to the gym after work, keep your gym bag in the car so you don’t have to pass through home.

19. The more you ritualize the beginning of a process, the more likely it becomes that you can slip into the state of deep focus that is required to do great things.

20. We are more likely to repeat a behaviour when the experience is satisfying. The human brain evolved to prioritize immediate rewards over delayed rewards. To get a habit to stick you need to feel immediately successful—even if it’s in a small way. One of the most satisfying feelings is the feeling of making progress. A habit tracker is a simple way to measure whether you did a habit—like marking an X on a calendar.

“Habit trackers and other visual forms of measurement can make your habits satisfying by providing clear evidence of your progress.”

21. Never miss twice. If you miss one day, try to get back on track as quickly as possible.

22. We are less likely to repeat a bad habit if it is painful or unsatisfying. An accountability partner can create an immediate cost to inaction. We care deeply about what others think of us, and we do not want others to have a lesser opinion of us.

23. Habits are easier when they align with your natural abilities. Choose the habits that best suit you. If you want to become fitter and you like socialising join a Rowing Team as opposed as spending hours jogging on your own.

“The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom.”

According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, the holy grail of habit change is not a single 1 percent improvement, but a thousand of them. It is a bunch of atomic habits stacking up, each one a fundamental unit of the overall system. Each improvement is like adding a grain of sand to the positive side of the scale slowly tilting things in your favour. Success is not a goal to reach or a finish life to cross. It is a system to improve, an endless process to refine. The secret to getting results that last is to never stop making improvements. It is remarkable what you can build if you just don’t stop….

James Clear is an American author, entrepreneur, and photographer whose work on habits and human potential focuses on how we can live better. He writes about habits and human potential and the art and science of how to live better. James believes the best way to change the world is in concentric circles: starting with yourself and working your way out from there. His newest book, Atomic Habits, was released in October 2018.

 

Managing the Battle Between Conscious and Subconscious

My clients often ask me whether there is a particular book I would recommend which can – in simple terms – explain the battle between the conscious and the subconscious mind and how to manage it.

The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters is a simple analogy describing exactly that.
So, what is the Chimp Paradox About?
The premise of The Chimp Paradox is that there are two separate entities in your head. A Chimp (the subconscious mind) and a Human (the conscious mind). The chimp is there to help you survive whilst the human is there to help you thrive. However, there are two problems:

• The chimp’s only goal is to keep you and your genes going, it is suited for survival in the wild.
• The BIGGER PROBLEM… We no longer live in the wild.

There are 3 key lessons that we can draw from the book:

Lesson 1:
There are two competing forces in your brain, so we must learn to recognize them. Peters describes our prefrontal cortex as the human part of our brain and our limbic system as our inner chimp.

The human acts rationally, based on facts, but the chimp only decides using emotions.
As you can imagine, this leads to problems whenever the two clash or the wrong one ends up in charge. Let’s say you got cut off in traffic and almost suffered a car accident. You come home to your partner and share this disturbing event. Trying to calm you down, they tell you that, luckily, nothing bad happened. If you’re still in monkey mode, you might take that as criticism and start an argument. However, if the human is in charge, you will calm down, and move on without making the situation worse. Therefore, the most important thing is to start observing your state of mind. When you feel the anxiety raising, ask yourself:

Who’s in charge here? Do I want to feel and act this way? Or is the chimp taking over?

Learning to observe this is the first, big step in mastering your inner monkey.

Lesson 2:
We communicate in four distinct modes:

• You’re using your human brain and so is your conversation partner.
• You are in human mode, but the person you’re talking to behaves like a chimp.
• You’re the chimp, while the other person’s human is in charge.
• Both of you behave like monkeys.

The first scenario is ideal, two and three are tough to figure out, but can be handled once you are aware of what you are dealing with, you can spot the signals and manage the chimp.
It’s the fourth scenario that’s to be avoided, because it most often ends in a bad and completely irrational argument.
How to avoid the fourth case scenario?

Explaining your reasoning in an assertive, calm, and respectful manner is the best way to avoid emotional responses and bring back others from the chimp to the rational human.

Lesson 3:
The chimp can become a fundamental obstacle to our long-term happiness if left unmanaged as it always wants to achieve more.

We should therefore stop to celebrate and appreciate our achievements as they come, no matter how small!

It’s great to always have goals, but when we achieve them, we don’t really take much of a break, and immediately dig into the next challenge.
Does it sound familiar? Well, that’s not healthy.
It’s also the chimp’s sneakiest trick. By always wanting more, he gets you to chase an illusionary, perfect state in which you can finally be happy – but only once you have achieved the next goal. Of course, there’s always a next goal and that feeling of relief never comes.

Your inner monkey will always dangle the next reward in front of you. Don’t let it ruin your long-term happiness. When you achieve something you’re proud of, take a break, celebrate, and learn to appreciate what you have.

Whilst it may sound it, the chimp is not inherently good or bad and if managed well can be a huge source of advantage – for example, if you’re struggling to complete a work task, you could get your chimp on board via negotiating with it and telling yourself completing this task competently will likely result in compliments from your work colleagues. As soon as the chimp recognises the possibility of external validation, it will help the human part of your brain to complete the work task.

Here are some examples of managing your chimp so your conscious and subconscious mind can coexist successfully.

Tactic #1 – distract the chimp

Let’s say your chimp has become uneasy at the thought of giving a public speech right before you are due to go on stage. Clearly you don’t have much time in this situation so a short-term solution can be to distract your chimp. For example, you may bargain with your chimp and say “once we’ve delivered this speech and done a good job, we can relax and order a pizza for dinner” – whilst this isn’t a long-term solution, it’s an effective option every so often.
Another distraction tip is to count to 10 before responding to situations in which you think your chimp might make an appearance. This gives the slower human part of the brain time to catch-up and weigh in before the chimp reacts in an unfavorable way.

Tactic #2 – exercise and then box the chimp

When your chimp (emotional part of your brain) begins to react to something negatively, you should first exercise it in an appropriate location.
For example, let’s say you’ve got upset over poor perceived treatment by a colleague – the first step would be to go somewhere private and exercise the chimp by allowing it to express its feelings, regardless of how irrational they may sound. This may be alone or even with somebody else who you trust but never with the subject of who is causing these emotions as the thoughts and feelings of the chimp could be damaging.
After your chimp has unloaded all the perceived issues, it will begin to tire itself out. At this point, the rational human side of the brain can step back in and ‘box’ the chimp with facts and truth to counter the emotional point of view.

You need to learn to live with and manage your chimp rather than fight against it as this is a biological fight you simply cannot win due to the limbic systems (chimp) power within your brain.

This is often misinterpreted as a sign that you cannot be held responsible for the actions of your chimp, but this is a fallacy – the book gives the example that the chimp is akin to a pet dog, you are responsible for its actions as the owner and can’t simply say ‘the dog ripped up your furniture, not me’ to absolve yourself of responsibility!

Finally, here are some of my favorite takeaways from The Chimp Paradox:

  • Your brain has an emotional centre ‘the chimp’ and a logical centre ‘the human’. The chimp is not inherently good or bad, but it is strong and must be nurtured and managed in order to live in a civilised society.
  • The chimp can be managed by distracting it with rewards or exercising it (expressing your feelings and emotions in a safe and neutral location) until it’s worn out and then boxing it with logic and rational facts.
  • The chimp is an evolutionary essential as it helps keep us safe and drives our other key needs via the fight, flight and freeze reactions. We simply cannot get rid of the chimp we can only manage it. We should therefore forgive ourselves when we fail to manage the chimp.
  • Your personality is the ‘human’ portion of your brain and whilst you are not responsible for the nature of the chimp, you are responsible for managing it.

Steve Peters is an English psychiatrist who works in elite sport. He is best known for his work with British Cycling. He has published four books, A Path Through the Jungle in 2021, The Chimp Paradox in 2012, My Hidden Chimp in 2018 and The Silent Guides in 2018.

Hypnotherapy and Fussy Eating in Children

Getting children to eat healthily can be challenging, let alone trying to get them to show enthusiasm to eat fruit and veggies.

I regularly help children over the age of 5 (and their parents!) overcoming the anxiety of trying new foods or getting over any traumatic experiences with food, such as food poisoning.

I treat my little fussy eating clients by using a mix of nutritional therapy and hypnotherapy.

Fussy eating is a widespread problem in the UK and altering a habit – without the help of hypnosis I dare say – is a challenge and involves commitment and consistency.

According to research fussy eating is the result of the child developing a sense of independence and control and how the parents react to it.

Anna Groom (NHS Pediatric Dietitian) and Claire Potter funder of www.stopfussyeating.uk have developed a great approach to fussy eating which has been fully adopted by the NHS in recent years and work very well alongside hypnotherapy.

According to this approach:

• The child should see food not just as a physiological requirement but also a time to converse with his family and experience new tastes, textures, smells and sensations. Food should be a positive experience and the dinner table should be free from tension, negotiations, arguments, punishments, and orders about food and eating.

New research recommends an approach which is not about making children non-fussy, but it is about developing positive, relaxed, open minded attitude to food.

• Children are not naturally fussy but when they turn 2-3 years old they start noticing that fussy-eating is attracting a lot of attention as parents really care about what they are eating, and that is when they start being “difficult” about food.

• Parents should try to avoid using phrases we heard from own parents such as: “you are going to sit here until you have eaten it” or “think of all the starving children” or “finish that last bit, it is not good to waste food”, “you won’t grow big and strong if you don’t eat..”. Unfortunately, this approach won’t encourage the child to eat and might only increase tension at the dinner table – the emphasis should be on the enjoyment of food.
• Children have very little power in their life, and eating is one area they soon learn it is easy for them to have a lot of power on! By rejecting certain foods and insisting on others they can control us emotionally and physically. So just simply give your child the food and act as if you don’t mind whether they eat it or not.
• Stay in control of the shopping and the cooking – parents oversee what to serve, children are in charge of whether to eat it or not…The aim is to present a variety of meals – the ones they love, the ones they hate and the ones they are not sure about.

It can take anything between 7 to 20 times before a child try a new food, they are exposed to and they are not sure about.


• Don’t use pudding as a reward or punishment “if you eat up your lunch you can have chocolate pudding” or “if you don’t eat up your lunch you won’t have chocolate pudding!”. The message we are sending this way is that the main course is not enjoyable, just something to endure to get to the good bit. The pudding! Instead than pudding try to give a piece of fruit or a yogurt and try to limit a sugary pudding to once a week as a treat rather than as a regular thing.
• Don’t force the child to eat anything (for example by spoon feeding them) as that will make the table a very unhappy place and could create some very deep long-term issue around food.
• Keep their diet as savory as possible (at least 90%). There are a lot of calories in sugar but nothing else and the more a child eats sugary food the less will be interested in healthy savory food.
• Keep offering them the food they don’t eat as I mentioned before it takes more than 7 times for a child to be curious enough to try a new food.
• Don’t make comments at mealtime – just give your child the food and say nothing. Talk about other stuff, not about food or eating. Don’t watch and monitor what they eat or don’t eat. Also don’t ask them what they had at school as constantly referring to the food or the meal put the child under a lot of pressure and gives him/her the power to react against it.
• Keep introducing them to new and unfamiliar food together with the food they are comfortable with – just in small portions so that there is not much waste if they don’t eat the new food.
• Try to offer the vegetables first when they are very hungry as it is more likely that they are going to eat them.
• Let the child eat at their own pace…even if they take very long! And try not to rush them.
• Don’t praise the child by saying “well done you have eaten it all!” as that sends the message to the child that eating is unpleasant and something they must do instead food must be seen as something enjoyable, pleasant and a wonderful part of life!
• Ban words like “yuk” or “I don’t like this”.

Claire Potter is the author of “ Getting The Little Blighters to Eat”.

 

Move Your Body – Move Your Mind: The Effects of Exercising on the Brain

Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? I always recommend my clients to try to fit exercise in their daily routine. The evidence is incontrovertible: aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance.

In the book “SPARK”, John J. Ratey, M.D., explores comprehensively the connection between exercise and the brain, presenting startling research to prove that exercise is truly our best defense against everything from depression to ADD to addiction to aggression to menopause to Alzheimer’s.

Everybody knows that exercise creates a fit body, but what many forget is that the brain is part of the body too. Modern science has been able to learn much about how the brain works, and has even tracked neurogenesis (i.e., new cell growth) in the brain in response to exercise.

The old saying, “Once your brain cells die, they can’t grow back,” is a myth.

It should be no surprise that humans respond positively to exercise. We’re descendants of hunter-gatherers who were optimized over thousands of years by evolution to walk and run around the equivalent of many miles per day.
I’ve decided to include in this blog quite a few excerpts from the book as I may need this info to motivate myself in the future!
I have faith that when people come to accept that exercise is as important for the brain as it is for the heart, they’ll commit to it.
Here’s how exercise keeps you going:

1. It strengthens the cardiovascular system. A strong heart and lungs reduce resting blood pressure. The result is less strain on the vessels in the body and the brain. There are several mechanisms at work here. First, contracting muscles during exercise releases growth factors such as VEGF and fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2). Aside from their role in helping neurons bind and promoting neurogenesis, they trigger a molecular chain reaction that produces endothelial cells, which make up the inner lining of blood vessels and thus are important for building new ones. Second, exercise introduces more nitric oxide, a gas that widens the vessels’ passageways to boost blood volume. Third, the increased blood flow during moderate to intense activity reduces hardening of the brain arteries. Finally, exercise can to some extent counteract vascular damage. Stroke victims and even Alzheimer’s patients who participate in aerobic exercise improve their scores on cognitive tests.

Starting exercise when you’re young is best, but it’s never too late!

2. It regulates energy. As we age, insulin levels drop; and glucose has a harder time getting into the cells to fuel them. Then glucose can skyrocket, which creates waste products in the cells–such as free radicals–and damages blood vessels, putting us at risk for stroke and Alzheimer’s. When everything is balanced, insulin works against the build-up of amyloid plaque, but too much encourages the build-up, as well as inflammation, damaging surrounding neurons.

3. It helps fight obesity. Aside from wreaking havoc on the cardiovascular and metabolic systems, body fat has its own nasty effects on the brain. Simply being overweight doubles the chances of developing dementia, and if we factor in high blood pressure and high cholesterol–symptoms that often come along with obesity–the risk increases six-fold. Exercise, naturally, counteracts obesity on two fronts: it burns calories, and it reduces appetite.

4. It makes you more resilient to stress. Exercise combats the corrosive effects of too much cortisol, a product of chronic stress that can bring on depression and dementia. It also bolsters neurons against excess glucose, free radicals, and the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, all necessary, but they can damage cells if left unchecked. Exercise makes proteins that fix the damage and delay the process.

5. It makes you happier. More neurotransmitters, neurotrophies, and connectivity shore up the hippocampus against the atrophy associated with depression and anxiety. Staying mobile also allows us to stay involved, keep up with people, and make new friends; social connections are important in elevating and sustaining mood.

6. It boosts your immune system. Stress and age depress the immune response, and exercise strengthens it directly in two important ways. First, even moderate activity levels rally the immune system’s antibodies and lymphocytes, which you probably know as T cells. Antibodies attack bacterial and viral infections and having more T cells make the body more alert to the development of conditions such a s cancer. Those who are physically active, for instance, have a 50 percent lower chance of developing colon cancer.

7. It prevents osteoporosis. Women reach peak bone mass at around thirty, and after that they lose about 1 percent a year until menopause, when the pace doubles. The result is that by age sixty, about 30 percent of a woman’s bone mass has disappeared. Unless, that is, she takes calcium and vitamin D (which comes free with ten minutes of morning sun a day) and does some form of exercise or strength training to stress the bones. Walking doesn’t quite do the job. But as a young adult, weight training or any sport that involves running or jumping will counteract the natural loss. the degree to which you can prevent the loss is impressive: one study found that women can double their leg strength in just a few months of weight training.

8. It increases motivation. The road to successful aging really begins with desire, because without the desire to stay engaged and active ad alive, people quickly fall into the death trap of being sedentary and solitary. One of the problems of getting older is the lack of challenges, but with exercise we can continually improve and push ourselves. Exercise counteracts the natural decline of dopamine, the key neurotransmitter in the motivation and motor systems. When you move, you’re inherently boosting motivation by strengthening the connections between dopamine neurons, while at the same time guarding against Parkinson’s.

And by far my favorite benefit of exercising:

9. It fosters neuroplasticity. The best way to guard against neurodegenerative diseases is to build a strong brain. Aerobic exercise accomplishes this by strengthening connections between your brain cells, creating more synapses to expand the web of connections, and spurring newly born stem cells to divide and become functional neurons in the hippocampus. Moving the body keeps the brain growing by elevating the supply of neurotrophic factors necessary for neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, which should otherwise naturally diminish with age. All these structural changes improve your brain’s ability to learn and remember, execute higher thought processes, and manage your emotions. The more robust the connections, the better prepared your brain will be to handle and damage it might experience.

Dr. John J. Ratey, M.D., is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and has a private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

If You (Don’t) Snooze, You Lose! Hypnotherapy in the treatment of insomnia and other sleeping disorders.

“Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker is the most compelling book on the importance of sleep.
After reading the book I became even more certain, that being able to sleep well and long enough is one of the most powerful cures and prevention medicine for most ailments.
The book is a summary of scientific research on sleep to date, providing insight on how sleep affects cognitive and physical performance in both the short and long term, and what you can do improve your own sleep.
Any individual, no matter what age, will exhibit physical ailments, mental health instability, reduced alertness, and impaired memory if their sleep is chronically disrupted.
Sleep is therefore the most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day and hypnotherapy can help a great deal with improving quality of sleep.

What happens if we don’t sleep long enough?
Obtain anything less than eight hours of sleep a night, and especially less than six hours a night, and the following happen:

• Concentration failures – Playing out most obviously and fatally in the form of drowsy driving.
• Cognitive impairment – Humans need more than seven hours of sleep each night to maintain cognitive performance.
• Emotional and psychiatric problems.
• Memory loss.
• Increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, dementia, diabetes, and cancer—all have recognized causal links to a lack of sleep.
• Weight gain – short sleep will increase hunger and appetite, compromise impulse control within the brain, increase food consumption (especially of high-calorie foods), decrease feelings of food satisfaction after eating, and prevent effective weight loss when dieting.
• Immunodeficiency – sleep deprivation vastly increases your likelihood of infection and reduces your response to flu vaccine.

Trance or Hypnosis is a very powerful therapeutic tool to address sleeping issues and prevent ailments.

How do you know if you are sleeping enough?
If you didn’t set an alarm clock, would you wake up on time?
Do you find yourself re-reading things?
Do you need caffeine to function optimally before noon?
If the answer to any of these three questions is yes, then it is very likely that you suffer from sleep deficiency.

What are the benefits of sleeping well?
• REM sleep exquisitely recalibrates and fine-tunes the emotional circuits of the human brain; help up empty the stress bucket and be more in control of our emotions.
• Sleep fuels creativity.
• Of the many advantages conferred by sleep on the brain, that of memory is especially impressive, and particularly well understood. Sleep has proven itself time and again as a memory aid: both before learning, to prepare your brain for initially making new memories, and after learning, to cement those memories and prevent forgetting.
• Post-performance sleep accelerates physical recovery from common inflammation, stimulates muscle repair, and helps restock cellular energy in the form of glucose and glycogen.

What’s Stopping You from Sleeping?
Six key factors have powerfully changed how much and how well we sleep:
(1) constant electric light as well as LED light. A good start is to create lowered, dim light in the rooms where you spend your evening hours and stay away from screens. Maintaining complete darkness throughout the night is equally critical, the easiest fix for which comes from blackout curtains. Finally, you can install software on your computers, phones, and tablet devices that gradually de-saturate the harmful blue LED light as evening progresses.
(2) regularised temperature. Room temperature, bedding, and nightclothes dictate the thermal envelope that wraps around your body at night. A bedroom temperature of around 18°C is ideal for the sleep of most people, assuming standard bedding and clothing.
(3) caffeine.
(4) alcohol
(5) long working hours
(6) excessive stress

So how can you improve you sleep?
Rule #1 – Stick to a sleep schedule.
Rule #2 – Exercise is great, but not too late in the day. Try to exercise at least thirty minutes on most days but not later than two to three hours before your bedtime.
Rule #3 – Avoid caffeine and nicotine.
Rule #4 – Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed.
Rule #5 – Avoid large meals and beverages late at night.
Rule #6 – If possible, avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep.
Rule #7 – Don’t take naps after 3 p.m.
Rule #8 – Relax before bed. Don’t overschedule your day so that no time is left for unwinding. A relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music, should be part of your bedtime ritual.

Rule #9 – Take a hot bath before bed whenever you can.
Rule #10 – Dark bedroom, cool bedroom, gadget-free bedroom.
Rule #11 – Don’t lie in bed awake.

If you are already doing all of this with no luck, try Solution Focused Hypnotherapy. No past or current sleeping medications on the legal (or illegal) market induce natural sleep. One of the most effective way of treating insomnia is Solution Focused Hypnotherapy. Working with a hypnotherapist for several weeks, patients are provided with bespoke tools intended to break bad sleep habits and address anxieties that have been inhibiting sleep.

Matthew Paul Walker is an English scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a public intellectual focused about sleep.

Tackling Children’s Anxiety with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy

Anxiety in children can manifest in three different ways: psychological, physical, and behavioral. And it’s important for parents, teachers, and carers to look out for the signs:

  • Psychological: anxious thoughts, maybe real or imagined about anticipated or present events.
  • Physical: shortness of breath, dizziness, increased heart rate, increased heart rate, trembling, muscle tension, sweating, numbness, dry mouth, tingling, abdominal discomfort, nausea, fatigue, panic attacks.
  • Behavioral: crying, screaming, tantrums, avoidance behavior, sleeping difficulty, separation anxiety, obsessions, compulsions, irritability, restlessness and eating disorders.

Lynda Hudson in her book “Script and Strategies in Hypnotherapy with Children” explains how the origin of anxiety in children might be due to several factors including genetic predisposition; reproducing parents or relatives’ anxious behavior; a life changing event such as the death of a parent, a divorce, or the arrival of a new sibling; withdrawal from prescription drugs or protracted illness.

Why anxiety is not short-lived though, why does it tend to carry on and on and sometimes get worse?

Anxiety can be maintained by:

Association: when something relatively harmless can become associated with something scary. For example, a doctor uniform can be associated with fear of injections and so a child can become frightened every time they see a doctor.

Avoidance: if a child avoids putting themselves in a situation, they consider frightening, they will never give themselves the chance to cope with it. For example, a child that falls from his/her bike and never wants to cycle again.

Reinforcement: If a child is scared of going to nursery and once, he/she gets to nursery the parent takes him/her back home without entering the building, the child’s feeling of relief will reinforce the fear.

How can Solution Focused Hypnotherapy help?

Hypnotherapy can eliminate or reduce anxiety and phobias by dispelling the fear by explaining to the child how his/her brain work (the fight or flight response); reframing anxiety as an overenthusiastic reaction by the child’s inner mind which is designed to protect them; building confidence and self-esteem; increasing calm and relaxation; encouraging thought stopping and positive self-talk.

In addition to hypnosis itself the Hypnotherapist can teach the child one or more coping strategy which are appropriate to their age should they need it, for example breathing techniques. Lynda Hudson, summarizes two of the most effective ones including:

Ratio breathing
Close your mouth and count to yourself as you breath in, to the count of 3 and out to the count of 6. Continue to do this until you feel more in control again.
Brath in 1-2-3…Breath out 1-2-3-5-5-6.

Cupped breathing
If you feel very panicky, put your cupped hands over your nose and mouth and breath in the air you have just breathed out. This can help to bring back up the levels of CO2 and make you feel calmer. It is best to do it with your moth closed and you can do it everywhere without people taking notice.

Another coping strategy is to challenge your thoughts for example:
I have been in this situation before and I was fine afterwards…I will be fine this time too!

Using a coping statement of your choice can also help reduce anxiety:
I know I can stay cool calm and in control…
I don’t like this think but I can cope with it anyway…
Although these feelings are a bit scary, they will soon pass….
Everyday I’m getting stronger and stronger…braver and braver…

The last coping strategy worth mentioning is anchors. They are essentially powerful triggers for a behavioral response. In real life anchors are accidental and we respond to them naturally – for example I’m suddenly happy when I smell home made pizza baking in the oven as it brings up good memories from childhood back in Italy. In hypnotherapy we deliberately aim to take the power away from negative anchors that underlie many fears and phobias, and we aim to empower children by giving them positive anchors to trigger their resourceful states. For example, we can ask a child to associate a good memory and feeling (e.g., the child parent giving them a big cuddle) to a gesture, so they can repeat that gesture whenever they feel alone and miss their parent to bring back that feeling of comfort and safety.

Lynda Hudson is a former teacher is a clinical hypnotherapist practitioner who specializes in working with children. She is a lecturer in clinical hypnosis at the London College of Clinical Hypnosis (LCCH) and the ISIS Hypnotherapy Centre in Brighton, UK.