Past Life Healing

bullet waves 12 mauve aa-img030Past life healing (regression) in Bristol

If you explore far enough, life contains strange and wonderful experiences. Past lives are among a whole range of experiences with meditators, shamans, and other inner explorers may encounter.  They are not just dream-like images, but real and vivid experiences in the inner world. The impact on everyday life can be dramatic and uplifting. As with experiences such as meeting angels, I don’t worry whether they are “real” or not or whether historical evidence can be found. The healing is real and that is all that counts.

True and pseudo past lives

True past lives are the realm of karma – choices and decisions we make which affect our destiny. It is the realm of harm which befalls us which we create ourselves, unlike childhood regression which is the realm of hurt done to innocence, which we are not responsible for.  Typically in therapy you only get to the stage of looking at how you create your reality y your choices after your have healed your childhood in this life. So true past lives are rarely the business of the beginning of therapy. For this reason I nowadays mostly do not seek them out at the beginning of therapy in the way that I used to.

I do regard some past life memories as “true past lives” – they have a clear, distinctive quality and are often spine-tingling to encounter. The feeling is “I did this, and I am paying the price.” These are often agonising matters of adult decision – for example, in a famine, deciding which child to feed and which to let die. It really doesn’t matter about historical reality, because it is indeed difficult to see how a child born today could receive an imprint from any source of such a strong emotional crisis. So no matter whether historical or not, something strange is going on. Others, while also profoundly healing, strike me as being family memories from the first months of life, before the brain is fully developed. While not “before birth,” they are in the realest sense, “before everything – before ‘I’ came into existence.” Others are generational memories which happened to grandparents or great-grandparents.

I don’t normally start by looking for past lives, but wait until they come up naturally. Otherwise, you risk getting one of two things:

  • A pseudo-past life, which is daily life events disguised in a historical skin. The healing achieved can be done more directly.
  • A true past life which doesn’t resolve. Inner child healing is about the pain we carry due to being hurt as innocent children. Past life healing is ultimately about the pain we carry as a result of our choices and responsible actions; in other words, our karma. Only at an advanced stage in a person’s development are they ready to say “This situation is my responsibility – I created the mess I’m in by my choices.” If you do an exercise which opens up past life experiences before the person is ready, they gain information on what went wrong, but they aren’t ready to re-choose their decisions. There is no value whatever in believing “I was Nefertiti in a past life.” The question is, how did the choices and actions you made in that life affect your everyday life now? And do you now have the maturity to re-live that situation differently?

That said, it is also true that often the first past life to come up contains innocent suffering and is not the one containing the karmic choices. It may take some time before the root past lives, where you can re-choose your destiny, emerge. Contrary to almost universal belief, there is commonly more than one of these. That doesn’t make sense, but there it is.

An exception to not starting with past lives is that sometimes a person will come into the room and carry a past life with them – the whole room fills with a certain vibe. One client comes to mind who as he spoke of unrelated matters, filled the whole room with a vivid impression of being a prisoner in solitary confinement. He was surprised when I suggested past life work as the starting point, but agreed, and we resolved many things rapidly.

If you are sceptical about past lives or spirit releasement, I offer a quotation from someone who we think of as a scientist, but who was also a great modern mystic, Albert Einstein. He’s referring to the time when radio waves were first discovered, and were laughed at as self-evidently ridiculous:

Do you remember how electrical currents and “unseen waves” [he means radio waves] were laughed at? Our knowledge about man is still in its infancy.
Albert Einstein

Breakthrough sessions – explanation and fees

A bullets 3 red stripes on yellow aa-img028_crIntensive (breakthrough) sessions in Bristol and London

An intensive session, often called a breakthrough session, is an extended-length session, normally between 5 and 8 hours (with breaks!), designed to make a real breakthough in a concentrated time.

If you live close enough to Bristol to do regular 1.5 hour sessions, then I do not usually do breakthrough sessions. I prefer in that case to do normal sessions.

And in London, I curently do only breakthrough sessions – though many people from London find it is cheaper and easier to come and visit me in Bristol.

I wish in all cases to advertise honestly. I aim to offer “hope without hype” – to give the inspiration that radical change really can happen, and, at the same time, there are realities to be faced. No matter what their claims, no therapist can guarantee a breakthrough. I do however have a good degree of success.

Not all issues are suitable. Weight issues in general are normally not suited because weight takes time. Many other issues including emotional and confidence issues of all kinds work well in this format. Relationship issues, when a couple come along, are very suited.

To book an extended-length session we first need to talk at length on the phone.

Obviously we have a good lunchbreak, not charged, during such a concentrated process.

In Bristol: I work from Unity St, near the Council House (ie town hall) and close to a great selection of cafes and restaurants.

Fees for intensive / breakthrough sessions in Bristol are simply my standard hourly rate times the number of hours.

In London: Please see here for my London fees and venues.

Family Constellation Therapy in Bristol

C bullet 10 light ochre swirls aa-img023_crIndividual Systemic / Family Constellation Therapy in Bristol

Please note: Unlike many constellation therapists, I don’t contract to do one-off constellations. Please see under “Individual Constellations” below.

Did your parents divorce? If so, that’s possibly to this day the most important event in your life. Did your mother, before you were born, have an abortion or a late-term miscarriage? If she did, that also may be one of the most important events in your life. Did your father’s father risk death or kill the enemy face to face in WWII? That also may be one of the most important events in your life.

We live in an individualistic culture and most often think that our problems are our own, or at most we attribute our problems to our “bad” parents. That’s a shallow view. Family / Systemic Constellation is a relatively new form of family therapy. It places our lives and our problems where they belong, in the context of the wider family, or “system”.

I use constellations extensively (if you wish to work with me, please see the contact information at top right.) This appreciative critique explains what I’ve come to feel are it’s strengths and limitations.

Problems echo across generations. For example, if you are someone whose mother’s mother died in childbirth, then your mother is likely to have grown up with a buried sense of deep sadness and loss. And as a tiny baby being nursed by your mother, you are quite likely to have felt that deep and buried sadness and drawn it into yourself along with the love of life which mothers give to their babies. And you too may grow up with a vague, inexplicable sense of loss and depression. Your life extends beyond you to the whole family, and your grandmother’s tragic death is a real and present event in your own life.

As a another example, let’s suppose that a young woman falls deeply in love for the first time, but before she can marry, war intervenes and the man she loves does not return. The grief is too terrible and she can’t grieve properly for her loss. Still, life goes on, and a few years later she finds a new man and marries him, and she has a son. And as she nurses the tiny baby and feels how much she loves him, she just can’t help also remembering the first great love who she lost.

And because babies are very, very sensitive, a strange thing happens: a confusion sets in, and the baby grows up thinking on some unconscious level that he is the lover who died. In the language of family constellation we say the baby is “entangled” with the dead soldier. And it can happen that as that boy grows up, he wants to die, and as a young man may become depressed or suicidal. That may sound unlikely, but in fact it is a not uncommon dynamic in suicidal feelings.

Family Constellation therapy is one of the most profound and innovative of the new generation of therapies. It works directly with the cross-generational nature of life. While it is best known as a family therapy, the techniques can be used to gain insight into an enormous range of issues.

Along with related trauma healing work, constellation therapy also extends to extremely painful and difficult areas such as when torture victims and torturers have the possibility to meet one another, or other kinds of severe victim / perpetrator wrongdoing. This is pioneering healing work of the greatest importance, and Hellinger deserves great honour for creating it.

Workshop and individual Systemic Constellation work

There are two forms of Family (aka Systemic) Constellation work, workshop and individual.

In the individual session, which is the kind of constellation therapy which I do, the person exploring their family places markers of felt or paper on the floor of the room in the position where family members would be standing. Then the clients stands on the markers in turn, feeling what it is like in each position, and feeling how the markers might speak to each other or might move. (Or smaller markers can be placed on a tabletop, and the person exploring touches each one in turn.) Gradually, in small steps, the situation unwinds and soon the feelings found in each location, the things the markers say, and the positions they move to, step out of the realm of what is already known, and begin to be fresh and unexpected.

As people place the markers initially, they feel they are placing them spontaneously, with no particular rhyme or reason. Yet it soon become apparent that they have placed them in a way which reveals hidden family forces. It is as if we carry in our bodies a subtle source of information which we’re not aware of, different and deeper from what we access when we speak. I do such constellations with many clients and most often they are rich and revealing about the client’s issues, not uncommonly very surprising, and always helpful to move life forward.

Please note: Unlike most constellation therapists,  I do not contract in advance to do a one-off constellation, nor indeed do I contract in advance to do any given specific one of any of the various methods that I use.  I use many methods, and the discovery of which one is right in a particular moment can only be a discovery in the unpredictable truth of that moment.  Where and how  constellation work (or anything else) may fit into the process of evolution and healing cannot be predicted in advance.

In a workshop family constellation, instead of placing felt markers, the person exploring their family positions other workshop participants to stand as “representatives” where it feels right to have their mother, father, etc stand in the room. Then for a while the explorer sits next to the therapist and does nothing but watch. And a quite strange thing happens: in slow steps, the representatives begin to re-enact the dynamics of the family.

They may intuit events such as abortions or deaths which the explorer is aware of but has not mentioned, and they may at times intuit things that even the explorer is unaware of. While these new events can’t always be verified later on, sometimes they can, giving a strange and striking example of a level of deep and hidden connection between people. In any case, the expression is always experienced as relevant and emotionally real – neither clients nor participants feel that things are made up – and the healing which results is real.

In my own experience, when I’ve been the client exploring my family in a workshop constellation, I’ve several times had representatives say things, or use gestures familiar in my family, which they couldn’t possibly have known. It is truly strange. It is as if we are all linked on a wider level of the mind than we realise. In the Family Constellation field this is referred to as the “knowing field”. If it sounds strange, it is, yet it is also perfectly grounded and commonsense and I don’t know of anyone who has been a representative who doubts that it is real.

There are many different variations on Constellations work. The work was largely developed by the German therapist Bert Hellinger. While he is a creative genius in the field of therapy, there is much in his approach that I don’t feel sympathetic to. I’m instead inspired by the work of another German therapist, Franz Ruppert. Ruppert places more emphasis on emotions and on the way that severe trauma, such as abuse, rape, tragically early death or infanticide can be transmitted across generations. He uses the term “trauma constellations” but I refer to the work I do as “emotional family constellations.”

Strengths as a stand-alone psychotherapy: One of the deepest therapies for family-related emotions and family issues. This includes many situations commonly regarded as individual problems. Recognises that problems often do not “belong” to an individual, but in fact reflect events which may have happened to grandparents or great-grandparents. Understands the essential necessity of acceptance better than some therapies, yet also action-oriented. Profound vision of human life. The techniques can be used to gain insight to an enormous range of issues. Family/systemic constellation therapy contains a very rich treasure-house of profound insights about families and about life.  The individual version of the work (the one I  use) is an exceptionally flexible  process. It invites endlessly fertile creativity in ways to explore and resolve issues of every type, not just family issues. This work is is already developing in such a rich way that it’s better referred to as a class of therapies than just a therapy.

Weaknesses:

—– Family / systemic constellation comes in many different flavours. I’m very inspired by Franz Ruppert’s school which combines constellations, trauma, and  bonding theory. I have some criticisms of specific elements developed by Hellinger which some facilitators use.

  • Hellinger’s “Orders of Love” has deep insights about family life. But some facilitators apply these as a kind of rule, disconnected from the actual inner emotional state of the client in the moment the insight is offered. Such disconnected imposition of insights risks being useless, disrespectful, or harmful.
  • Indeed, some facilitators ask clients to do things like bowing to [the representatives in the constellation of] their parents. If the parents are wounded and abusive, this can amount to therapeutic abuse or re-traumatisation.
  • The workshop version of the process often involves the client sitting passively and watching as the constellation unfolds. He or she becomes an active part of the work only at the very end. This unfoldment involves the “representatives” picking up the hidden dynamic of the family. It is indeed a thing of mystery and wonder to watch and to be a part of. But is it actually useful for healing? In my experience, not necessarily.
    Deep wounds are represented by deep emotions which people block out of consciousness. They do this because those emotions were agonising, terrifying, overwhelming or forbidden for a small child to experience. These need not be negative emotions, it’s possible for joy and happiness and feeling safe and loved to be forced into unconsciousness.
    Healing these will not happen by being an onlooker. The person needs to feel profound love and safety to begin to allow the blocked-out feelings back into the body. Hellinger’s original style of therapy does not rely nearly enough on physically living the healing. It also does not relate it enough the the client’s here-and-now everyday life.
  • For the same reason, the client as onlooker, the constellation process can be disconnected from the moment-to-moment inner life of the client during the therapy session. Then, the client can easily fail to make the loving inner connection to themselves which brings healing.

A note on language. The Franz Ruppert constellation school use the language of “healing splits in the soul.” My language is different. I speak of feeling safe to re-experience life in the body, and connecting to the inner self. But I am talking about the same thing, healing splits in the soul.

—– In general Family Constellation needs to be integrated with a more pragmatic therapy to provide a complete package of everything which a person needs for change or healing.

Please note: Unlike most constellation therapists,  I do not contract in advance to do a one-off constellation, nor indeed do I contract in advance to do any given specific one of any of the various methods that I use.  I use many methods, and the discovery of which one is right in a particular moment can only be a discovery in the unpredictable truth of that moment.  Where and how  constellation work (or anything else) may fit into the process of evolution and healing cannot be predicted in advance.

Hypnosis for insomnia in Bristol

bullet waves 16 sharp pink aa-img024_crHypnotherapy for insomnia in Bristol

With regret, my diary is currently full and I am not able to accept more clients for insomnia at the current  time. Please see the “Contact” page for an update on the latest situation. 

This is the handout which I give my clients who come to me for help with sleeping. Outside of treatment for actual medical syndromes, these tips constitute just about all the practical advice known to the human race about getting a good night’s sleep. Although there is an enormous amount of research into sleep, very little has come out of it beyond these tips, plus the fact that therapy can be extremely helpful. (Added July 2016. See bottom of page for a couple of interesting new discoveries.)

If your sleeplessness is only caused by poor “sleep hygiene”, then these tips are all you need. While many are only commonsense, they work well. Very often however, insomnia results from a self-feeding pattern of worry about sleep, or an ingrained unconscious mental habit. Further, it is often a symptom of stress, depression or anxiety. In all these cases, hypnotherapy is a very good method for banishing insomnia and restoring sweet restful sleep.

In my sessions I work on a far level than these tips. The medical profession recommends CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) for sleep. Like other hypnotherapists, I believe that hypnotherapy for sleep covers everything useful that CBT covers, plus much more. CBT only deals with the rational, logical everyday mind, and it just is not the case that that is where problems originate from. It is the routine experience of hypnotherapists that when we talk to people in a normal conversational mode, as CBT therapists do, then the problem appears to be one thing. But when we invite people into hypnosis, it is revealed to be something quite different.

“Broken” sleep may be as normal as unbroken sleep

If you sleep for a few hours and then wake up, there may be nothing wrong. Psychiatrist Thomas Wehr studied volunteers who were plunged into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month. By the fourth week the subjects had settled into a very distinct sleeping pattern. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before falling into a second four-hour sleep. Historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech has found evidence that until the late 17th century, people regarded it as normal to sleep in this pattern. There are historical references in many cultures to “the first sleep” and “the second sleep”, referred to as if this was the norm.“He knew this, even in the horror with which he started from his first sleep, and threw up the window to dispel it by the presence of some object, beyond the room, which had not been, as it were, the witness of his dream.” Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge (1840)” So it’s not necessarily abnormal to wake in the night for an hour or two. Don’t stress, get up and read, go back to sleep.

However it is also true that this is not the standard pattern in societies remote from civilisation. The commonest pattern is what you expect: to stay awake after dawn by a fire, then to sleep until down in a single stretch.

How to get a good night’s sleep

Added July 2016: please see two “genuinely new” insomnia cures at bottom of this article.

Always check any physical symptom, including insomnia, with your GP. You can make a responsible and informed choice about whether to accept any drugs which are offered: but always go and check.

You don’t need to do all of these tips! Different ones apply to different people. Pick the two or three which seem relevant. Do them consistently for a few weeks. Sleep needs consistent simplicity.

  • Remember, you can’t make yourself sleep. Sleep comes naturally. So don’t get into bed cudgelling yourself to sleep. Lie there and enjoy relaxing. If you do the “counting sheep” or “Betty Erickson” exercises below then do them in a spirit of enjoyment, not effortful striving. This is really, really important. If you use this list to create ways to make yourself sleep, you’ll make things worse, not better. The idea is rather to identify things that you are already doing, that get in the way of sleep. There are a few suggestions in this list which are more active, for the simple reason that they do work for some people. These are marked with a star [*] and should be recognised as being in a different spirit.
  • Historic records show that in England it was once regarded as normal for people to wake in the night, then go back to sleep again. There are numerous references to “first sleep” and “second sleep” as normal routine.  (see text above.) So waking or periods of lighter sleep are normal, and if you just lie quietly and relax, you’ll go back to sleep again. If you tell yourself that being awake is wrong, or damaging, and strive to get back to sleep, you’ll make things worse. Often all you need to do, is to just relax and pay attention to enjoying your immediate physical surroundings – this helps stop the mind from racing.
  • It’s useful to keep diary for a week or so, recording how much you sleep and noting your daily routine, to pinpoint relevant factors.
  • Go to bed when you are feeling sleepy, not before.
  • Cut out caffeine completely in tea, coffee, and cola. For a couple of weeks, have none of these drinks  at all. Even a cup of tea at breakfast can affect sleep. Once sleep is better, cautiously start to drink these early in the day. Chocolate may well be OK – but start by cutting that out too. Anyway, I reckon you can’t beat Horlicks at bedtime!
  • Do not smoke before bedtime. No matter what it feels like, nicotine is a stimulant. It disturbs sleep and can cause nightmares.
  • Eat a carbohydrate snack (not sugary)  around 45 minutes before bedtime. A banana and milk is ideal. Make sure your last big meal is at least two hours before bedtime, preferably also carbohydrate based.
  • Don’t eat too late.  Try moving your evening meal back earlier in the day. Especially if you are over 45 – 50, indigestion can be a significant source of insomnia. As we age we have fewer digestive enzymes and heavy food such as steak or even fish can sit in the intestines and not digest. It is well worth making a trial of eating very early, or only light food such as fruit, in the evening for a couple of weeks.
  • Do not have naps during the day. (Exception – if driving or otherwise important for safety.) Don’t get into the habit of a siesta during the day.
  • Consider food intolerances. This is a big area, and I am not an expert, but I have known people who got much better sleep when certain foods were excluded from their diet.
  • Consider a late-night drink of valerian tea. Valerian is soporific. (Note many other herb teas are diuretic and may increase needing to get up in the night to pee.) You can also try chamomile and passion flower.
  • A good many people who think they have “insomnia” actually have their body clock (circadian rhythm) running early or late. Teenagers and young adults can notoriously be semi-nocturnal, and don’t feel sleepy until 1:00 am. This also affects shiftworkers, and others. Research proves that it helps a lot it they are exposed to bright light, either bright sunlight or from a light box or bank of bright lights, from 6 – 7 am each day. Likewise elderly people may feel sleepy as early as 6 pm. They can be helped by bright light in the early afternoon. The light re-sets the circadian rhythm.
    The light needs to be bright, say 10,000 lux for 30 mins early in the morning. This is the brightness of morning sunlight. Normal indoor lighting may be as low as 70 lux.
    The procedure is simple – you sit near a portable bank of fluorescent lights. You can read, watch TV, eat or work on the computer as long as the light bank is big enough that you can move around a little.
  • If you can’t sleep, do not toss and turnDO NOT TOSS AND TURN! When you can’t sleep for long enough that it begins to disturb you (say 15 minutes), get out of bed, ideally go to another room, and do something restful (such as self-hypnosis or listening to music or reading) until you clearly feel sleepy. Then return to bed.  Don’t do productive work – this sets a habit in the mind, “it’s useful not to sleep, I get some work done.” There is some research from the Sleep Research Laboratory at Loughborough University that jigsaw puzzles or craftwork are the perfect things to do, but reading is also excellent.
  • Or you can stay in bed and relax with the sleeplessness. But once again, DO NOT TOSS AND TURN. Insomnia is a kind of buzzing feeling. It works to feel this buzzing, as a sensation. Don’t curse it and don’t get carried away by it in racing thoughts of other times and other places. Remain “mindfully” or “with neutral awareness” in the sensation of the buzzing. This is a knack, and helps if you have meditated before. When your mind races, pull it back to the pure sensation of the buzzingness. You just let the buzzing be there and stay with your attention neutrally in it. You will sleep more than you think you are sleeping.  You’ll wake up much more rested than if you either hate the buzzing, or indulge it and spend the night with racing thoughts.
  • For many people, sleep consolidation can be very useful.
    1. Get up at the same time every day, including weekends and don’t lie in bed more than 15 minutes after you wake up.
    2. Don’t nap unless mission-critical, eg while driving
    3. Go to bed later than usual, so that you are tired. If you have been sleeping for example around six hours on previous nights, then you go to bed six hours before your getting-up time. However, you should schedule a minimum of five hours between going to bed and getting up. The idea is that you get the same amount of sleep as on a normal sleepless night, but in a block. Over a couple of weeks, the sleep mechanism gets reset. Once you start to sleep more soundly, you can go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night. [People’s estimate of how long they are awake for in the night is extremely unreliable, so in practice this really means “go to bed a couple of hours later.”]
  • The extreme version of sleep consolidation is “if you can’t sleep, don’t sleep.” This is the method favoured by the Sleep Research Laboratory at Loughborough University. It starts of with the earlier advice, don’t toss and turn. However, the Loughborough team applies this very rigourously – if you go back to bed and still don’t sleep, once again, get up and read or do jigsaws , even if you are still doing them an hour before the alarm goes off. In tests, people who did this were sleepy the next day – PERHAPS TOO SLEEPY TO DRIVE SAFELY – but the following night, they slept very well. For safety reasons, such as driving, I advise caution with this method. You may wish to check with your doctor first.
    In general, “less sleep promotes more sleep”, and this is an excellent and proven method. However, it will not help where there is an underlying cause such a trauma, depression, stress or anxiety. In my experience, many people with difficulty sleeping are just too afraid of not being able to function the next day to even attempt “heroic” treatments such as this. And the good news is that hypnotherapy, combined with the less dramatic advice on this page, in my experience provides a gentler alternative which is just as effective.
  • Do not exercise in the hours immediately before sleep, but do get vigorous aerobic exercise during the day, at least three hours before bedtime. Ideally, get half an hour per day in the later afternoon / early evening. (Exercise heats up the body, but a decrease in body temperature is one of the signals that brings sleep.) It’s simple – the more exhausted you are, the better you sleep.
  • Have a bath. In one study, a hot bath was more effective for some people than sleeping pills.
  • Consider filling your bedroom with lavender fragrance. Research has shown that this too can also work better than sleeping pills for some people. An electric aromatherapy vaporiser is safer and simpler than a candle-based aroma lamp, and lavender essential oil may be cheaper over the internet. Place a half-dozen drops of oil on a little water in the vaporiser a few minutes before you go to sleep, and again if you wake up. You should know within a week or so whether this helps you.
  • Don’t work or do active things right up to bedtime. Wind down before going to bed. Have a relaxing everyday ritual – a bath, reading or listening to music. Do this every night after switching off the TV. In particular don’t look at any form of screen for an hour or even two hours before bedtime.
  • Stress and emotional factors have huge impact on sleep. Most often, insomnia is a symptom of something mental or emotional, not an isolated thing on its own. There is evidence that following advice such as in this handout, and changing how you think about your situation, is better than at least one specific sleeping pill which was studied (Ambien / Zolpidem). So deal with stress.
  • If necessary, learn relaxation or self-hypnosis. Or, listen to a relaxation CD. Some people like to stretch for ten minutes before getting into bed. You can do relaxation / self hypnosis either earlier on in the evening, or in bed. In that case, some people like to do it lying down as part of sleeping, others prefer to sit up and do the exercise until they feel sleepy.
  • Listen to soft music of your choice for 45 minutes before sleep. Research in the Journal of Advanced Nursing Study reports that this can improve sleep by up to a third.
  • If your mind is full before bedtime, write down a worry list each evening. List  – actually write down – each and every thing which is on your mind, and then tell yourself there’s nothing you can do until the morning. It is OK to sleep!!! – you will sove the problems better if you sleep, and right now, there is nothing you can do about the,
  • If you are a shift worker, then if all else fails, seriously consider finding a way to work days again. Shift work is bad for sleep.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, cool, and quiet enough. These all promote sleep. Have thick curtains which keep the morning light out.
  • Turn your alarm clock round so you can’t see the face if you wake up. Knowing the time makes you anxious about sleeping.
  • In bed, only sleep and make love – do nothing else. If you really must read, read sitting up. You want the clearest possible association: lying down in bed equals sleep and nothing else.
  • [ Active – see (* ) above.]  An optional exception to the “if you don’t sleep, don’t work” rule is that you can make a deal with yourself that if you are not asleep in a certain time, you will get up and do some job you totally hate, such as dusting or deep-cleaning the kitchen. But it has to be a job you hate, and you have to keep your commitment. This is not popular, but it works.
  • [ Active – see (* ) above.]  Counting sheep works! Just don’t do it while tossing and turning or in the spirit of making sleep happen Either do it as soon as you put your head on the pillow, or, if you have once started to toss and turn, then sit up in bed to do it. Or count backwards from 5000. Imagine each number in detail and then let it fade away. Choose to remain focused on the exercise. Don’t lie down until you feel sleepy; if you don’t, get up and read until you do.
  • Another variant on counting sheep is “Betty Erickson self-hypnosis.” You imagine yourself in a calm, peaceful place you would like to be and you tell yourself five things you can see in that place, five things you can hear, five things you can feel or touch; then four things you can see, four things you can hear, four things you can feel or touch; then three of each; then tw0 …. zzzzz. (On a practical note, it’s OK if you hear or see the same thing over and over, eg … I can hear the sea … and I can hear the sea … and I can hear the sea. Just don’t repeat it by rote, actually check each time what you imagine hearing and if you discover it is the same as last time, fine.)
    Some people like the quiet peaceful place to be their own bedroom, and the imagine what they would see and feel and hear if the lights were on.
    Again, this does not work if you do it in a spirit of desperation and effort to defeat sleeplessness. It works if you do it in a spirit of gently withdrawing co-operation from mindspinning tossing and turning and provide a gentle occupation for the mind, a bit like doing a jigsaw but while still lying horizontal with your eyes closed.
  • [ Active – see (* ) above.] Some people find the following effective: instead of striving to sleep, vividly imagine that it is time to get up. Bring to mind that feeling of being dragged out of bed, the hateful noise of the alarm clock, calculating how often you can push the “snooze” button and still get out of the house on time, the groggy pre-coffee feeling, cold floors and bathrooms. Vividly imagine how those feel like, look like, sound like, smell like – how awful it is to have to get up. Some people find that they next thing they know – the alarm really is ringing.
  • And finally – what about that joking quotation from the top of the page – “People who say they sleep like a baby generally don’t have one?” Even here, there is hope. There is persuasive research that both parents and children sleep better when young children sleep in their parents’ bed or bedroom – and the children grow up healthier and happier.
  • July 2017. It is surprising how very little of the research on sleep is any use in practical terms. So It’s good to see two recent insomnia cures which are completely new and look promising.
    —– If you think of genuinely random things, you fall asleep. The part of the brain that controls sleeps can detect when you are following a train of thought, and assumes that means you don’t want to sleep. Hence, the feverish restless chasing thoughts “I want to sleep, I need to sleep, I must sleep” directly keep you awake.  Canadian researcher Luc Beaudoin has invented what he calls the “cognitive shuffle”.  His app, MySleepButton, slowly plays lists of random objects for you to imagine, and this random imagining disrupts feverish thinking and puts you to sleep. Or you can imagine as many things as you can beginning with “A”, then as many beginning with “B”, etc. Some more details.
    —– Thirty ml of tart cherry juice concentrate taken an hour before bed makes you sleep longer. There two good small-scale studies that if your problem is not enough sleep (as opposed to eg trouble getting off to sleep), tart cherry juice will help to get up to 90 minutes more sleep. I checked with one of the researchers, Glyn Howatson at Northumbria University, and he said to take 30 or 60 ml one hour before sleep, not twice a day as you read sometimes. (Cost is around £19 per litre.) He explained that the research only applies to Montmorency cherry juice, and it is worth pointing out that the studies were paid for a cherry juice manufacturer. This does not invalidate the results, but it is good practice to note it.  Also, take care if you are taking any medications. Cherry juice appears to have numerous health benefits; however, if you look at the very bottom of this page, you will see that it can potentially interfere with the uptake of drugs, or supplements. Unless advised otherwise by a pharmacist, I’d say not to try cherry juice if you are taking any drugs of any kind.

If you would like to take the first step to heal your insomnia and have a good night’s sleep with the aid of hypnotherapy, then just give me a ring. Leave a message, and I’ll call you back.  I’m happy to answer questions or arrange, in Bristol, a free, no-obligation half-hour initial meeting. My approach is friendly, respectful, and very effective. Please click here for contact information.

Hypnotherapy for fear of flying in Bristol

bullet waves 15 green and yellow aa-img024_crHypnotherapy in Bristol for fear of flying

With regret, my diary is currently full and I am not able to accept any more clients for fear of flying at the current time. Please see the “Contact” page for an update on the current situation.

If you are afraid of flying, you are not alone. There are many others with the same fear. And many of those other nervous flyers have fully and permanently overcome their flying phobia though the power of hypnotherapy and cognitive-behavioural hypnosis. So can you.

A phobia of flying is several fears, not just one. Few people have all of these, but most have several:

  • Fear of heights
  • Claustrophobia – being enclosed in the crowded, confined, airless space of a plane. Indeed, a feature of all panic attacks is the overwhelming need to “GET OUT HERE – NOW!” and when you just can’t do that, it acts as a pressure cooker for the fear.
  • Fear of loss of control
  • Underlying difficulty with trust – it takes considerable trust to allow yourself to be hurtled through the skies at high speed by people you don’t know
  • Ignorance or misunderstanding of the normal noises which planes make, and not realising how very resilient and strong planes are. See: Some reassuring facts for fear of flying, below on this page.
  • Catastrophising – entertaining catastrophic but exceedingly unlikely fears of a crash or terrorist attack

How fear of flying starts

One common way flying anxiety originates is from a turbulent flight which was unpleasant, but not dangerous. Or perhaps there was a journey-from-hell experience of being stuck on the ground for many hours in tropical humidity.

The inner mind has a way of worrying away at such minor events in the background and ramping them up into major fears.

Or the flight may have been made at a particularly stressful time in a person’s life, and the mind unconsciously transfers the general anxiety and upset onto the particular situation of flying.

Or the fear may just come from unbalanced reporting of crashes in the media – crashes are of course exceptionally rare, and even those almost always happen to inferior airlines you would never fly on anyway. Yet dramatic press reports tend to give a different impression.

This last factor is so important that I’ve created a list of some reassuring facts for fear of flying. Of course, on their own, mere facts are not enough – you can know all this and still be afraid. But if you don’t know all this, then it is that much harder to get rid of the flying phobia.

Whatever the cause, it is one hundred percent possible to take control of you own mind. A combination of hypnotherapy to find the hidden roots of the fear, cognitive-behavioural hypnosis  to change your core beliefs and conscious thinking, and relaxation is very effective.

Results can be gratifying – I well remember the postcard from the very first person I ever helped with this condition saying “Thank you so much – the flight was boring!”

If you would like to take the first step to flying wherever you want and enjoying the flight, give me a ring today.  I’m happy to answer questions or arrange, in Bristol, a free, no-obligation half-hour initial meeting. My approach is friendly, respectful, and very effective. Please click here for contact information.

  • Adele’s River Lea: Finding love, but not letting love in - Finding love but not letting love in: Adele’s River Lea Adele’s River Lea  is one of the rare songs where the protagonist talks about herself. It’s not, as most pop songs are,  just about her emotions.  It’s about her internal choices and what she’s learning about herself. From the point of view of real relationships, […]
  • Reassuring facts if you are afraid of flying - I had a client once who really wanted to know the facts about flying. And here they are - flying really is very safe!

 

Bingeing and emotional eating

B bullets 5 borage flowers on white aa-img026_crHelp for bingeing and emotional eating in Bristol

Bingeing, emotional eating, diet restriction and other mild to moderate eating disorders are very common. I use hypnotherapy and other advanced tools to find the root cause, and solution-oriented behavioural hypnosis to change eating behaviours. My approach is warm, human, and sympathetic. I emphasise self-love and self-forgiveness combined with behavioural steps.

What is emotional eating?

Disordered, emotional or just plain unhappy eating includes:

• food obsession • bingeing / binge eating disorder • food addiction • secret gorging • compulsive overeating • overeating due to depression • over-eating due to feeling worthless • intermittent binge-vomiting and binge / purging (ie mild to moderate symptoms of bulimia nervosa) • extremist dieting and obsession with being thin (in effect, mild to moderate aspects of anorexia nervosa, but where the person is still eating enough and, if a woman, still has periods) • unrealistic body image, and excessive concern with body image • exercise addiction / obsession • obsessional calorie counting • orthorexia (obsession with healthy foods) • spontaneous vomiting • “diet trauma syndrome” (my term for when someone has yo-yo dieted so often they become afraid of eating) • … and up a scale of severity to full-blown eating disorders.

It is entirely possible to heal these feelings and have a happy, relaxed relationship with food and with your body.

To make an appointment, or for more information, just give me a ring.  Leave a message and I’ll call you back. I’m happy to answer questions or arrange, in Bristol, a free, no-obligation half-hour initial meeting. My approach is friendly, respectful, and very effective. Please click here for contact information.

What causes emotional eating?

Some chaotic eating, or exercise addiction, has no underlying emotional cause, but is a self-sustaining habit, feeding off the endorphins it produces. More often there is an emotional root and the key is to understand, using hypnotherapy (if needed, inner child regression), what that root is. Sometimes, accompanying changes of life and lifestyle may be needed.

  • “Diet trauma” is my term for what happens when someone yo-yo diets and fails, so often that they become almost terrified of food and frantic around losing weight. This can feel hopelessly out of control but typically there are no deep emotions underneath and with simple suggestion hypnosis they easily start to relax and can begin to eat happily again.
  • The good feelings released by exercise can set up a self-sustaining behaviour cycle with no emotion underneath – the more you exercise, the better you feel, until you over-exercise and can’t stop. Hypnosis is ideal for gently but firmly interrupting this stuck loop so you get your life back.
  • Orthorexia, an obsession with eating healthy food, is often a similar self-sustaining cycle.

In some situations, getting eating under control goes hand in hand with making accompanying life changes, for example discovering the willingness to say “No,” giving your own needs higher priority, or discovering self-respect, among many others. For example:

  • Not being “the real me.” A common cause of overeating. Changing the relationship with food must go hand in hand with expressing more the real you.
  • Overwhelm. Overwhelm is also commonly associated with overeating; eating can come to somehow seem the only area of life where the person has time and freedom to get pleasure free from the demands of work and family.
  • Depression can cause both weight loss and weight gain. Typically you need to start to lift the depression in order to end the emotional eating.
  • Binge / vomiting and binge / purging (intermittent or mild to moderate bulimia nervosa) are very common. Sometimes the actual binge-vomiting behaviour can be cured in very few sessions using simple methods, and there are many hypnosis websites advertising this. However there are almost always feeings of conflict, self-criticism and low-self esteem underneath the behaviour which such simple methods cannot possibly heal. (See following item.)
  • Diet obsession ie mild anorexia nervosa. This is when thinness becomes an overriding goal in a person’s life, thought they still eat adequate nourishment, and, if a woman, still have periods. The reasons are basically the same as for anorexia – for example, cultural pressures hammering on an inner feeling of inadequacy, self-fulfilling feelings of control and attainment, and hidden family emotions. As with anorexia, a person may not see obsessional dieting as in any way a problem, but may be very proud of how thin they are.
  • Need to control or triumph over eating and exercise may reflect a feeling of needing to control or triumph over inner feelings of vulnerability or weakness or needing love which are too painful to acknowledge.
  • Low self-esteem, and self-comfort to keep pain or distress buried, in particular feeling worthless.
  • Self-hatred directed towards the body.
  • Sexual abuse can have as a consequence both the previous types of feeling, and can be a powerful cause of emotional eating.
  • Sexual attractiveness. Some men and women overeat because if they are slim, they will have to compete for the attention of the opposite sex, and that scares them.
  • Childhood emotions around food, for example from being the child of parents who faced starvation or having a mother who tried to control through food.
  • For some children saying “No” to food is almost the only autonomy they are allowed. This can produce and conflict about losing weight: the person reacts to eating less by feeling they are being ordered not to eat, and unconsciously says “No!!!” to the very thing they most need.
  • …. and many others. Every person is unique.

Solutions for emotional eating

In my experience, people want to get direct control of their everyday eating, and they also want to heal the root causes. (If any – some problems are just entrenched habit). And they want both of these together, not an either / or approach. This is what my approach is based on: a flexible combination of hypnotherapy and direct behavioural change to help you feel both good in yourself and in charge of your eating.

My approach with emotional eating is warm, human, and sympathetic, with an emphasis on self-love and self-forgiveness. I combine true healing for the emotional roots with direct behavioural change to help you start to bring your everyday eating habits directly under control right from day one.

I use methods including hypnotherapy, hypno-psychotherapy, mindful eating, cognitive-behavioural hypnosis (which means empowering self-talk), discovering the power to choose, and behavioural interventions to dissolve unwanted habits. A key is always for people to take a very gentle, self-forgiving attitude to themselves and their eating.

It is entirely possible to heal distress around eating and have a happy relationship with food and with your body.

For an appointment or more information, please just ring. Leave a message and I’ll call you back. Andrew White 0845-3510604 / 0117-955-0490. I’m happy to answer questions or arrange, in Bristol, a free, no-obligation half-hour initial meeting. My approach is friendly, respectful, and effective.

EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and TFT (Thought Field Therapy)

B bullets 2 ornge stars on yellow aa-img026_crEFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)

(More coming soon on EFT.) EFT is a very good method which I like a lot, though I don’t use it all that often as I have other methods which cover the same ground. It helps people turn towards their experiences and get into their feelings, it helps them stand back from a situation and make choices, it helps feelings to unfold, and to explore underlying feelings in depth. But I regard it as mostly an excellent and easily-taught combination and systematising of existing elements, rather than something fundamentally new. As such, it is a genuine step forward. I know EFT afficionados won’t agree with me, but that’s how I see it. It is a form of meditation-by-numbers.

One really great aspect is that EFT understands the importance of two key things:

  1. Turning to face and experience your experiences. The fundamental truth of healing is that when you do this, in a neutral, accepting way, the painful experiences flow away and dissolve on their own – without EFT, without TFT, without anything. (See meditation).
  2. It understands how “meta experiences” get in the way. Meta experiences are attitudes at the back of your mind towards your main experiences. These range from the simple “boys don’t cry, girls don’t get angry” to feeling “I don’t want to be feeling this! (eg sad, angry, panicky)” to feeling “I don’t deserve anything better than to feel like this” and many more. Such attitudes really block the basic healing process. Few other therapies understand this. (These attitudes are what EFT terms “reversed polarities.”)
    For example, it seems so natural, if you are panicky, to think “I don’t want to be feeling this.” Yet this attitude can be what is keeping the panics happening. If you turn towards the experience and feel it acceptingly, it too will flow though and away.

Hypnosis in Bristol for driving anxiety

C bullet 8 blue swirls aa-img022_crHypnosis for fear of driving and motorway phobia in Bristol

Do you have a fear of driving in general, or a fear of motorway driving? Few people will admit to it, but if you do, relax – you are in good company. Research into driving anxiety (also called “driving anxiety disorder”) by the RAC Foundation shows it is surprisingly common, especially fear of motorway driving. And it can be enormously benefited by hypnosis and CBT-style self-help tools. As Sheila Rainger of the RAC Foundation states: “Driving anxiety is entirely treatable and there is lots of help available.”

Whatever type you are, good news! I’ve used hypnosis and other effective methods to help many people with motorway anxiety in Bristol to be relaxed and safe drivers. In fact I’ve had people on the phone in tears telling me how grateful they were. Don’t be afraid if your fears seem stupid or shameful. I work gently and respectfully.

If your confidence has been knocked by being in an accident, you may be suffering from mild or severe post-traumatic shock (PTSD). Again, therapy can be gratifyingly effective for this. The way you think changes from “After the accident I don’t like driving and I’ll have to avoid it” to “I have a degree of PTSD and I can do things and resolve that.” I use methods including EFT and solution oriented hypnosis to re-programme the unconscious mind, to change your core beliefs and to release old feelings.

I aim to be honest in my advertising. Driving anxiety is like performance anxiety: I can help a pianist to enjoy performing, but that won’t automatically make the person a better pianist. They still need to practise. So some drivers need more practise, or a few driving lessons. The difference after working with me is the level of confidence and relaxation which they begin to approach driving with.

The RAC foundation (see link below) did some research and divided anxious drivers into “anxious avoiders,” “stressed survivors” and “phobic forsakers.”  Whichever you are, take the first step towards driving safely and confidently: contact me today to arrange a free, no-obligation half-hour initial meeting. My approach is friendly, respectful, and effective.

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  • RAC research into fear of driving - RAC Foundation research has revealed a spectrum of drivers whose anxiety affects their daily lives and prevents them driving where they would like.

 

Food, weight and eating

A bullets 4 blue rings on yellow aa-img028_crHypnotherapy and counselling in Bristol for weight and eating problems: “Brilliant at any weight”

If you want help with food and eating, you’ve come to the right place. I offer practical and insightful help with behaviours, with emotions, and with habits around all kinds of weight and eating issues. However, because my belief is that people are brilliant at any weight, I no longer work with clients who have the pure and simple goal of weight loss. Please read on to find out why.  If that is your goal, you may find I’m offering you something much more useful.

Brilliant at any weight

The first reason that they way I work is eating is not conventional weight-loss hypnotherapy is this. My experience is that far too many people want to lose weight because they hate their bodies at the weight they are, and desperately need to lose weight to feel good about themselves. And they think desperation is a really good motivation for losing weight. No, it’s not.

Obviously, there’s a common-sense level where we all want to look our best. This is normal and natural. But beyond that, body weight and body shape can develop into a spiral of self-loathing and low self worth. People desperately want to feel better – again, that’s natural – and think they can do so by making desperate efforts to lose weight. The trouble is, it never works to make outward appearance such a fundamental basis of our self-worth. To do so that makes our self-worth into the hostage of other people’s opinions. “If they approve, only then I’m OK, so I MUST have a body that others approve of.”

What is more, this kind of desperation creates an internal split inside a person’s being. There is a critical part saying “You MUST lose weight, you bad, out-of-control person” to a criticised part whose eating is out of control. And the criticised part feels just terrible, terrible, about being such a bad, wanton, out-of control eater. And do you know what that bad, out-of-control part does to feel better? Yes, the only thing that part knows how to do to feel good  … eats more.

The remedy is for behavioural change in eating actions to go hand in hand with the attitude “I’m brilliant at any weight”. Or, at least, with the beginning of that attitude. All that’s needed is a willingness to explore the attitude that “Maybe, just maybe, I can respect myself, even be proud of myself, at my present weight; and it would be useful, or healthier, or feel even better, to lose some weight.” [Or if very underweight, to explore gaining some.]

Eating behaviours, not weight

The second reason that I work with weight in a different way than most hypnotists is that I really want sustainable, relaxed, long-term change. My experience is that there are serious problems with weight loss as a goal. It is far more effective to have eating behaviours as the goal. Beyond a certain point, weight is not in general easy to have as a target. Some people never put weight on (I am one), many others lose weight to a certain point, but not beyond that. The few who feature in headlines like “I lost 10 stones” and who keep it off long term, are a minority. Chasing a weight-based goal can end up chasing the wind. In real life it is far wiser to aim for the achievable goal of simple, long-term-sustainable healthy eating habits. These will bring your weight down to a healthy range; then, give yourself the gift of accepting the weight you find yourself at even if it is not your dream ideal.

So I am delighted to work with people who are unhappy with their eating and who are
(a) at least open to the possibility of believing “I am brilliant at any weight”
(b) are willing to look at goals of long-term sustainable changes in eating behaviour, with weight loss or gain, while of course important, as a consequent result.
(c) are interested in a  flexible combination of direct solution-oriented behaviour change and emotional healing.
If this may be you, please click here to explore further with a no-charge, no-obligation half-hour initial meeting.

Behaviours and emotions

For both weight loss, weight gain, binge-vomiting and all other forms of unhappy eating, direct behavioural change is vital. That means finding  simple direct  actions that fit in with your lifestyle and can be sustained long term. A very simple example (maybe too simplistic for some) would be “Three square meals a day and no snacks.” And then you stick to these actions 80% of the time, again with clear exceptions and relaxations eg “except for parties and airport days.” This is different from what many people expect of a traditional hypnotist (magic spells that make everything easy!)  but, it is what works. Being extremely, though not entirely, solution-oriented, I don’t pull these arbitrarily from a list. I help you find behavioural changes of your own that really fit with your lifestyle.

At the same time, emotions matter too. People give themselves a really hard time around eating and weight. Whether over- or under-weight,  they feel some or all of shame, failure, secrecy, ugliness, powerless to change, and indeed sometimes pure self-hatred.  Whether bingeing, purging, dieting or yo-yoing, almost always they feel desperate and out of control That’s obviously so at the extreme end of the scale with an eating disorder needing psychotherapy. At the other end of the scale there is habit overeating caused by high-calorie food advertising and needing only simple weight-loss hypnosis. Even then, people still feel out of control and often give themselves a very hard time. (See below, “I’m great at any weight.”)

It may seem strange to speak of such different things as losing weight and eating disorders in the same breath. But I deal with a wide spectrum of unhappiness around food and eating. (If you have serious or health-threatening anorexia, you need to be getting treatment in the Bristol NHS STEPS program. Clients give me good reports of this.)

“I’m brilliant at any weight” – some more examples

Self-criticism and self-dislike never, ever help life to change. It’s essential to make friends with your over- or under-eating self in a safe, warm, understanding way. My starting point is respecting and liking yourself even though you are overeating and even though you are overweight (or under-eating and underweight, or bulemic, or whatever else.) Then the unhelpful eating behaviours can be dealt with very much more easily. People who are, for example, overweight often think “I can’t love myself, or have anyone else love me, until I lose weight.” So they are desperate to lose weight, and seek therapy out of desperation. But what actually works, is to be open to the radical self-love and radical self-respect that “I love myself whatever my weight. I respect myself whatever my weight. I’m great at any weight. And, I’d prefer to be several stones lighter.” That’s the opposite to how people mostly think. But with emotional eating, it’s what works.

There are numerous websites offering weigh loss hypnosis in Bristol and eating disorders counselling in Bristol. Therapy research shows that what matters is your relationship with the therapist, and you can’t judge that from a website. So I am happy to arrange a no-charge half-hour initial consultation so you can meet me and ask your questions.

I use various methods in my sessions. Solution-oriented brief therapy (SOBT)hypnosis and meditative awareness (“mindful eating”) are an excellent combination for everyday weight loss. We try those first and if they work, no more is needed. If there are unconscious factors, for example using food as an attempted solution to stress, unhappiness or, sometimes, serious issues like abuse, then I use a wide range of emotional healing techniques.

If you would like to find out more about the kind of weight loss therapies in Bristol and eating disorders counselling in Bristol which I offer, just give me a ring.

 I am delighted to work with people who are unhappy with their eating and who are
(a) at least open to the possibility of believing “I am brilliant at any weight”
(b) are willing to look at goals of long-term sustainable changes in eating behaviour, with weight loss or gain, while of course important, as a consequent result
(c) are interested in a  flexible combination of direct solution-oriented behaviour change and emotional healing.
If this may be you, please click here to explore further with a no-charge, no-obligation half-hour initial meeting.

  • Adele’s River Lea: Finding love, but not letting love in - Finding love but not letting love in: Adele’s River Lea Adele’s River Lea  is one of the rare songs where the protagonist talks about herself. It’s not, as most pop songs are,  just about her emotions.  It’s about her internal choices and what she’s learning about herself. From the point of view of real relationships, […]
  • Bingeing and emotional eating - Bingeing, emotional eating and other mild to moderate eating disorders are very common. In my experience, what works is a mixture of self-love and self-forgiveness, looking at the underlying causes, and direct hands-on change of everyday eating behaviours.
  • Adele’s River Lea: Finding love, but not letting love in - Finding love but not letting love in: Adele’s River Lea Adele’s River Lea  is one of the rare songs where the protagonist talks about herself. It’s not, as most pop songs are,  just about her emotions.  It’s about her internal choices and what she’s learning about herself. From the point of view of real relationships, […]
  • Do I have an eating disorder …? - Take this well-know medical eating disorders self-test for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and discover if your eating habits may amount to an eating disorder.
  • Adele’s River Lea: Finding love, but not letting love in - Finding love but not letting love in: Adele’s River Lea Adele’s River Lea  is one of the rare songs where the protagonist talks about herself. It’s not, as most pop songs are,  just about her emotions.  It’s about her internal choices and what she’s learning about herself. From the point of view of real relationships, […]
  • “Stop hassling me!” – the voice of eating disorder - Routinely, people suffering anorexia (and its milder form, diet obsession) do not feel they have any problem. They like being thin and feeling in control and in women a good many like the cessation of their periods.

What you really need to quit smoking

A bullets 13 blue rings on white aa-img024_crSmoking

I now have a new specialist website,
www.bristol-stop-smoking-hypnosis.co.uk

This tells you some truths about quitting smoking that few if any other hypnotherapy sites are honest about. And it presents my CBT-hypnosis-mindfulness quit smoking method, based on my extensive experience of what actually works.

Hypnosis for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

C bullet 10 ochre swirls aa-img022_crHypnotherapy for IBS in Bristol

IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is an major success story in medical hypnotherapy. NHS research proves hypnosis offers an excellent likelihood of giving you welcome and permanent relief from this most unpleasant condition. (Not sure if you have IBS? – See here for a list of typical symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and red flag warning symptoms. But, do not self-diagnose.)

In severe cases IBS can have a crippling effect on someone’s life, and leave them at their wit’s end to know how to cope. When diarrhoea is the main symptom, the sufferer’s life can in the worse cases be wrecked by fear of an uncontrollable explosive urge to use the toilet. Sometimes people are unable to leave the house or ever be far from a toilet.

Yet clinically, “nothing is wrong.” And for quite a number of patients, there is not much that doctors have to offer.

Happily, if you suffer from IBS there is good news. The pioneering research of NHS consultant Dr Peter Whorwell in the UK (and also Olaf Palsson in the USA) has now shown that hypnotherapy can have an impressive success rate.  It can work in cases where all other forms of therapy have failed.

There are various websites offering IBS hypnotherapy in Bristol. Research in all therapies shows that the relationship with the therapist is important. So you are welcome to come in for a no-charge initial consultation to meet me and ask any questions you have.

Whorwell’s NHS research shows that the improvement continues long-term. Click here for reports from the BBC website including interviews with Dr Whorwell and his team on how they use hypnosis to treat irritable bowel syndrome.  Whorwell’s research indicates that up to 12 sessions may be needed, but it can be much less.

It is important to note that this is a self-help method: you have to do self-hypnosis exercises at home. They are easy and enjoyable to do, but you do have to do them. As Whorwell emphasises, the people the method works less well for include those who are passive and want things done for them.

Hypnosis is not a cure-all …

Also, hypnosis is not a cure-all. To quote Professor Whorwell once again, “A lot of hypnotists … say they can cure anything. I don’t.” I agree. In IBS as in all other issues, I aim to advertise honestly and to offer “hope without hype.”

… and, there is good research

Yet the research is significant:

  • 71% success with 250 patients   – Gonsalkorale et al, 2002, 2003
  • 89% success with 27 patients   – Vidakovic-Vukic, 1999
  • 95% success with 50 patients  with classic IBS – Whorwell et al, 1987
  • 93% success with 18 patients   – Palsson et al, 2002 (study I)
  • 61% success with 33 patients   – Harvey at al 1989
  • Superior to standard medical care on Bowel Symptoms, Disability, Health care Utilisation, and Quality of Life with 25 patients – Houghton et al, 1996
  • 100% success with 15 patients     – Whorwell et al, 1984
  • 76% success with 25 patients   – Forbes et al, 2000
  • 87% success with 24 patients   Palsson et al, 2002 (study II)

How does hypnosis for IBS work?

The greatest fear of an IBS sufferer is that their body is out of control. GPs are well-intentioned when they tell people that “nothing is wrong.” Unfortunately, this sometimes accentuates the out-of control feeling. It means there isn’t even an explanation for why the symptoms are happening.

The medically-researched hypnosis procedures for irritable bowel syndrome puts your mind in charge of your body. No longer are you helpless. You can take charge of your symptoms.

In India, yogis can control body temperature and heart rate by the power of their mind. In a very real way, the Whorwell approach for IBS is a scientific version of these yogic powers adapted to be easy for you to use.

For some news reports on the success of hypnotherapy for  IBS, see here.

What causes IBS?

There are many possible causes for IBS. Almost certainly it is not a single condition, but several conditions with similar symptoms. What Whorwell’s research indicates is that the guts are hypersensitive. When you eat, it is normal for the bowels to become more active. But in IBS, the guts tend to become hyperactive. For sure some specific foods may trigger IBS, and each sufferer has their own avoidance list. But it is often the very act of eating which triggers the symptoms.  Some sufferers mistakenly place too many foods on the list as a result. It may be better to experiment with smaller, more frequent meals.

At the end of the guts, the colon removes water from the digested food. This leaves it a suitable consistency for excretion. As a result of the hypersensitivity, the colon doesn’t contact smoothly and rhythmically. Instead it contracts almost randomly, and painfully tightly. Some parts of the colon may remain in contraction for long periods.  Then the fecal material is so dried out that it is hard to evacuate, causing constipation. Or gas is trapped, causing bloating. At other times the colon is almost inactive. Then the digested food remains loose and liquid until it is evacuated as diahorrea. The hypnosis targets and heals exactly this hypersensitive and chaotic operation of the colon.

You can talk to your bowels

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to to just talk to the bowels. “Bowels! Bowels, calm down now! – relax, take it easy, everything is OK.” Quite amazingly, you can do exactly this. It is provenly effective is to communicate with the bowels, not through words, but via imagery. If you visualise the bowels being calm, then, rather wonderfully, they will become calm.

Really it’s not so strange. After all, if you go to the cinema and see a scary film, you’ll feel scared. Your muscles will tense, you won’t be able to relax, your heartbeat will speed up. Those are real, physical body changes. And from what? – nothing but visualising images. So it makes sense that the opposite applies: picturing calms things makes you calm, picturing the gut being peaceful makes it so.

Professor Whorwell’s outstanding research shows that this treatment methods has excellent potential. If you are looking for IBS hypnotherapy in Bristol, give me a ring: 0845-3510604 / 0117-955-0490. I’m happy to answer questions or arrange, in Bristol only, a free, no-obligation half-hour initial meeting. My approach is friendly, respectful, and very effective.

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  • Don’t self-diagnose! – the symptoms of IBS - Have you got IBS? This page explains the symptoms which may lead a doctor to a diagnosis of IBS. If you have any upset in your bowel function, it is ESSENTIAL that you visit your GP.

Life coaching

A bullets 7 green flowers on yellow aa-img027_crLife coaching

Life coaching is a vigorously action-oriented personal development tool aimed at achieving goals and accountability. It has a great overlap with the spirit of NLP and methods such as solution-oriented therapy. It is a parallel evolution with these, but in a workplace setting. It is not really a psychotherapy, but does overlap with therapies and, having a less intimidating image, is thought of an alternative by some people.

Advantages of life coaching

A typical life-coaching question might be “What’s the crucial thing you need to deal with here today? If you don’t resolve it, what will happen?” You might take a moment to answer that – it’s a good question. When the situation really is how to stay positive and to achieve goals, it’s a valuable tool. More than most therapies, understands the value of regular outside support to keep us going in the right direction, “accountable” in the American jargon. Has a coherent vision which is attractive as far as it goes (“you can achieve whatever you want if you go about it right”) but in my view doesn’t go far. Good at the end of other therapy, when the conflicts are cleared away.

Disadvantages of life coaching

At worst, a shallow Americanist vision of life – all change, change, change, action, action, action and no acceptance, let-go, relaxation, inner peace or transcendance. Weak when personal or family issues enter the workplace situation. You can obviously have hidden conflicts which cause you to fail to achieve goals. But the very drive to want to super-achieve those goals in the first place can in some cases arise to cope with painful childhood experiences. Coaching  doesn’t recognises the first kind of conflict enough, and the second kind not at all.

Low self-confidence and poor self-esteem

A bullets 2 orange rings aa-img028_crHypnosis and psychotherapy for low self-esteem in Bristol

We live in a strange world. Many people function brilliantly as nurses, surgeons, plumbers, artists, mothers, fathers, teachers. Yet they lack self-confidence. In a secret place inside they feel terrible about themselves; weak, unattractive, vulnerable. They fear their achievements are fraudulent. Even with people they love, they hide their innermost selves out of crushing shame, a feeling that “if you only knew me, you could never, ever love me.”

If you are reading this page I assume you’ve made the first, key step. It’s one that so many people with low self-esteem never make. You’ve realised “It doesn’t have to be like this.” Indeed it does not. You can gain, or re-gain, your self-confidence and self-esteem. My combination of hypnosis, solution-oriented psychotherapy and other therapies has helped very many people to do so.

There are numerous websites offering hypnotherapy for low self-confidence in Bristol. Therapy research proves that a key factor is the relationship you have with the therapist. So you are very welcome to meet me, in Bristol, for a free half-hour initial meeting.

I want to advertise honestly and to offer “hope without hype.” Every week I see people making life-changing breakthroughs from longstanding low self-confidence after a handful of counselling sessions. And, other people take longer. A seed doesn’t take long to germinate,. But then each seed flowers in its own time. Some forms of counselling or are indeed more effective than others.  But no therapy can change the basic fact that some things happen quickly, some things take time.

But it is possible to step into self-esteem because deep inside you, that capable, attractive, confident you is there already. Nothing in us is ever destroyed by criticism, failure or lack of love either as children or as adults. It is only buried. I am skillful and intuitive in helping people to find that lost or forgotten feeling of “I’m great” or “I can do it” or “I’m lovable even if I…”

Don’t worry if it feels impossible for you to reverse low self-worth and feel self-confident. Of course it feels impossible – that’s exactly what I help you with.

I use four main treatment methods. Solution-oriented therapy, hypnosis, meditative awareness (“mindfuless”) and a wide variety of emotional healing therapies. They are described in the links in my Consumer Guide to Types of Psychotherapy.

Life can change and you can gain, or re-gain, your self-confidence and self-esteem. To make an appointment in Bristol for hypnotherapy and other treatments for self-confidence, or find out how I can help you, just give me a ring.  I’m happy to answer questions or arrange, in Bristol only, a free, no-obligation half-hour initial meeting. My combination of hypnosis and psychotherapy is warm, human, respectful, and very effective. Andrew White 0845-3510604 / 0117-955-0490.

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  • What causes low self-esteem? - Here are three common scenarios causing low self-esteem. There are many more - everyone is unique.
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  • A self-esteem test - How much do you like yourself? Take this test, the Rosenberg self-esteem scale, and find out.
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  • A consumer’s guide to types of psychotherapy - Here's an overview of a good many of commonly known types of therapy, evaluated in the light of my own experience of what works and what supports love, life, laughter and learning.

Solution-oriented therapy

B bullets 1 yellow stars on yellow aa-img026_crSolution-oriented therapy in Bristol

Solution-oriented brief therapy (SOBT) is a cousin to CBT (cognitive-behavioural therapy). It’s less famous, but is in my view it is more inspiring and more life-affirming than CBT. Perhaps as a result, it is proved by research to be as successful as CBT but in half the time.

I’m a huge fan of the solution-oriented brief therapy school. Their premise is simple: you already know how to solve your own problems. SOBT therapists may not even ask you what the problem is; they may never find out! They ask, if you made the first tiny step towards solving it, what would you do? If a miracle of the human heart occurred inside you and the problem vanished, what is the first step you would take? When you are at your best, what is different? – and in general just step right past the problem and focus on your innate ability to solve it.

This is a hugely refreshing change from a century of Western problem-oriented psychology. I make extensive use of SOBT, and totally share their view that people have inside them all that they need for happiness.  In a way I’d call my work ITOBO – “Inner treasures oriented brief therapy”. Even when I am not searching for “solutions” – specific everyday behaviours – I am searching for “inner treasures”, the joy, strength, beauty, acceptance, aliveness and inner peace which are in the essence of every person, however manifested.

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being. Goethe

Strengths of solution-oriented therapy

Very action-oriented; amazing how much SOBT achieves with such simple tools (puts some therapies to shame); especially good in schools, families and other “system” settings; works very well with children; wonderfully respectful, optimistic and empowering philosophy which creates the success of the method; impressive range of application.  SOBT is unique in that it is popular both with difficult public-sector clients and as a high-level staff development tool in organisations.

Weaknesses of solution-focused therapy

Limited access to the unconscious mind; does not work with emotions; reduction in the therapist’s role is in my view excessive and dogmatic; willfully avoids giving the client new tools and information; does not always get to the emotional heart of the matter; wrongly assumes that no problems have hidden roots; in the end too simple for many issues much of the time. May well more support action-oriented strengths above relaxation-oriented ones such as letting go. Despite all of this, Solution-oriented Therapy is a unique beacon of effectiveness with an empowering vision which deserves the highest respect.

Depression and negative thinking

A bullets 1 red rings aa-img028_crPsychotherapy and hypnotherapy in Bristol for depression and negative thinking

More than any other problem, depression and negative thinking sing you the song: “Nothing will ever do any good, nothing will ever get any better.” Happily, this is wrong. It is entirely possible to lift negative thinking and connect, or re-connect, with joy, energy and motivation. For psychological depression, research proves talking therapies, not anti-depressants, are the best way to help.

Depression may be a crushing despair, a feeling that life is cursed and that every hand of cards you’ve been dealt is a losing hand and always will be. Negative thinking may be a recurrent fear that you are not wanted as you are, a fear, maybe a terror, of revealing yourself to the world or to people you love for fear of being found not good enough. Painful though these experiences are, real and compelling though they seem, these feelings are in the end bad dreams. We can wake up from these nightmares, wake up and emerge into a daylight full of possibilities and potentialities for joy and love. I know that’s true – as a teenager, that was me!

There are numerous websites for psychotherapy in Bristol for depression. But therapy research shows that what counts is your relationship with the therapist, and you can’t know that from a website. So you are welcome to come for a free half-hour initial consultation to meet me and ask any questions. (Currently Bristol only.)

What treatment for depression works?

For many years there has been a heated debate between two schools of thought. Therapies such as psychodynamic psychotherapy think negative thinking comes from buried emotions and past events. CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and related forms of counselling for depression think it comes from how to talk to yourself in the present and from not being active in life in the right way. It’s obvious to anyone not invested in a particular school that both are true, and I combine both type of approach flexibly according to what is useful for you.

I use solution oriented brief therapy, hypnosis, meditative awareness (“mindfulness”), and, if there are indeed buried emotional and subconscious issues, various forms of emotional healing.

I wish to advertise honestly and to offer hope without hype, inspiration based on realism. Every week I hear people sitting in my recliner telling me of significant breakthroughs they are making. At the same time, realism is that some changes happen slowly, some situations are very difficult, that’s just how life is.

But is it also realism that the voice that says “Nothing will ever do any good, nothing will ever get any better,” is almost always wrong. You can lift and overcome psychological depression even if long-standing and severe. You can recover your aliveness and enjoyment of life.

If you are looking for a hypnotist in Bristol or psychotherapy for depression in Bristol, give me a call today: 0845-3510604 / 0117-955-0490. I’m happy to answer questions or arrange, in Bristol only, a free, no-obligation half-hour initial meeting.

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