Reflecting on an eventful year
So, things took an unexpected turn in February when I took up the challenge to submit a portfolio of work to gain the Advanced Hypnotherapy Diploma, which is the equivalent level of a foundation degree. The hard work paid off and I was amongst the first hypnotherapists in the country to be awarded the new qualification.
Opportunities to run two more Clifton Practice Hypnotherapy schools presented themselves, and from 2018 I will be running CPHT Guildford and CPHT Southampton with my colleague and friend, Sharon Dyke, and CPHT Manchester with our buddy, Nicola Griffiths. We go back a long way as the three of us were instrumental in setting up the Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapy in 2010. We run each course one weekend a month for 10 months and part of the fun is the nattering, planning, reflecting and giggling we do on the long journeys.
Clearing the decks
Rummaging through the box file of CPD course notes to provide reference material for diploma essays sparked a long overdue period of filing, clearing out, shredding and organising my work space. As I often explain to my clients, unfinished business sits there saying ‘do me, do me’, and clearing the decks was immensely satisfying.
As anyone who has carried out a similar purge will know, it enhances mental clarity as well as providing a more pleasant working environment.
Then it was the turn of the garage with many a trip to the recycling centre.
Next up – the loft!
In amongst all of this activity I have, of course, continued to practise Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH). This year has been as busy as ever at each of the therapy rooms in Axminster, Ottery St Mary and Sidmouth, and I have enjoyed meeting and helping people throughout East Devon and beyond. Word of mouth recommendations have introduced clients from further afield, as well as closer to home, each with their own unique set of circumstances.
Underlying anxiety is at the core of most of the issues that clients present. Fortunately, with its focus on drawing solutions from the client’s own resources, SFH is highly effective at moving people forward quickly. Even though it is the client who identifies their own solution, it isn’t always obvious when they first arrive for a session.
Using SF questioning techniques we work together, moving the client towards their ‘preferred future’. Although a seemingly simple process, it can sometimes be quite challenging for clients to focus on what needs to happen for things to get better.
As one lovely client put it, ‘That’s a really, really good question, and I have the feeling it’s important for me to find an answer’. It was, and she did!
I love the Solution Focused approach and I am really looking forward to helping many more people find their answers during 2018.
Happy New Year!
It's 10 years to the day since I started the HPD course at CPHT Bristol. I looked a lot younger then, as the photo below shows.
I couldn't wait for the course to start and thoroughly enjoyed every course weekend. We were encouraged to see volunteer clients for relaxation practice from the first weekend and I (and they) were hooked.
It's been so rewarding seeing clients progress, overcoming debilitating anxiety, regaining a sense of purpose and a zest for life, or conquering a life-long fear or phobia.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is such an uplifting form of therapy, we help people move from where they are currently to where they want to be. We focus entirely on identifying positive steps towards their preferred future, which means sessions are upbeat and energizing, for both the client and the therapist. I often joke that it's the only job I have had where I feel more lively at the end of a working day than at the beginning.
The course was a life changer. I wonder what the next 10 years has in store...
Sounds like a straightforward question, and it’s an approach that appeals to clients who prefer to move forwards, either because they have already come to terms with issues from their past, or because they simply don’t feel the need to revisit them.
The Solution Focused approach was developed in the US in the early 1980s by husband and wife team, Insoo Kim Berg and Steve de Shazer. These two pioneering psychotherapists led a team working with families at the Milwaukee Brief Family Therapy Centre. The team noticed that their clients improved more when they were asked to focus on solutions to their problems, rather than the problems themselves.
After analysing the outcomes of many thousands of hours of therapy, they developed the therapy and devised a brief programme of treatment, with the aim of moving clients forward quickly. Over the years ‘Solution Focused Brief Therapy’ (SFBT) has evolved and the Solution Focused approach has been adopted by organisations, not only for therapy but also for business purposes, such as personal development, organisational management and change management .
In Solution Focused Hypnotherapy we use the best of the SFBT approach to evoke a positive state of mind in our clients and enhance that positivity with the effects of trance.
How do we do that? Well, we encourage problem-free talk by asking Solution Focused questions and helping clients to find positive answers. So, rather than saying ‘I wouldn’t be stressed’, we encourage our clients to explain what it’s like to be free from stress – expressed positively. That might be ‘I would be calm’ or ‘I would be coping better with the children’ or ‘I would be making time for me’.
It’s so important that we focus on what we want, rather than reminding ourselves what we don’t want.
So, what do you want?
Did you answer with a negative or a positive statement? If it was negatively expressed, turn it around into a statement of what you do want.
With practice, you’ll find yourself naturally focusing on the positive. It’s an immensely empowering habit to develop.
I am really delighted to announce that I have been awarded the Advanced Hypnotherapy Diploma (AHD) by Clifton Practice Hypnotherapy Training (CPHT). Yippeeeee!
The AHD has been accredited by the NCFE as having measurable learning outcomes that have been benchmarked at level 5 (using Ofqual’s Qualification and Accreditation Framework). It is at an equivalent level to a Foundation Degree.
To qualify I have attended a number of CPD courses over the years on subjects as diverse as:
Hypnotherapy for Childbirth
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Working with Children
Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)
Another prerequisite was tracking clients' progress through therapy sessions using specially written software. I first used an early version of the software several years ago and now use the up to date version, which provides useful reports on my results compared to the industry average (all client data is anonymised of course).
More recently I have been kept mighty busy preparing written evidence of my experience and learning from the CPD courses. I was pleased to hand in my completed portfolio to CPHT Bristol for verification by external assessors, and was delighted when I heard that I have passed.
It was hard work, but like anything worth doing, was immensely satisfying. I am delighted that I can now put the letters ‘AHD’ after my name.
I attended a fascinating course last weekend about Body Language (or non-Verbal Communication to give the subject its more formal title), run by fellow hypnotherapist and former Police Officer, Andy Workman.
During the day, Andy capably demonstrated how much of our communication is at a sub-conscious level, and how little control we actually have over these automatic responses. The difference between what we say and what we are thinking can be striking, and after aeons of evolution, we have become incredibly adept at interpreting and responding to these sub-conscious messages from others.
We can, for instance, tell if a smile is genuine. We can get a sense of whether someone is upset, or excited or confused, even if consciously they are trying to hide their feelings. Andy gave us an insight into how to ‘read’ what is actually going on, so that, as therapists, we can respond appropriately to the non-verbal communication from our clients.
It is amazing, how dramatically our posture, facial expressions and even movement can be affected if we feel anxious. This is fine in the safety of our own homes or a therapy room, but not so good if we are trying to create a good impression at a job interview or when giving a talk to a large group.
So, what’s to be done?
Well, for a start, we can use a feature of the mind which means that it cannot tell the difference between reality and imagination. By repeatedly imagining how we want the interview or speech to go, we can actually replace the fear template with this more helpful response. So, because we are no longer fearful, there is no risk that our micro-expressions will let us down.
There’s another feature of the mind-body connection that we can tap into, too. As well as the impact our thoughts have on our physiology, the feedback from our body has an effect on our minds.
One of my favourite motivational speakers is Jack Canfield, who you may know as co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, and many other books about positive thinking and success. I came across him in the early 90s when a friend introduced me to a set of self-esteem cassettes, recorded at a live seminar, that we played on our long journeys to our IT client’s premises until they wore out.
I remember one exercise that Jack had the audience try out. He asked everyone to hunch over in their chairs, making themselves as small as they could and say the words ‘I feel terrific’. Then he asked them to posture with their arms in the air, as if they had just won a gold medal at the Olympics, and say the words ‘I feel depressed’.
It caused great amusement, but made a very good point. Simply posturing like a champion makes you feel good.
This enjoyable talk from social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, demonstrates the tremendous impact just a few minutes of altering your posture can have on your performance. It’s very thought-provoking.
So in the words of that Val Doonican song, remember to:
‘Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye’.