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Pain Awareness Month

Pain Awareness Month is observed in September each year. It’s designed to raise awareness about problems connected to chronic pain, which impacts hundreds of millions of people globally. The month aims to make the public aware of how prevalent general pain is, educate them on how to deal with pain, and inform them about the research into the causes and treatment of various forms of pain.

Now, let’s start with a few things about pain. What is chronic pain? Chronic means persisting for a long time. So, if you break your arm, yes it will hurt. But if it continues to hurt after it has healed, them that is chronic pain. Chronic pain is usually caused by some initial injury.

Is it normal to be in pain all the time? If you exert yourself then some aches are normal. Constant pain is not normal and needs addressing.  It is thought more than eight million people in the UK alone suffer from some form of chronic pain. Many of these will be taking prescription pain killers and so suffer unwanted side effects and risk addiction. It’s thought globally that the figure may be as much as 1.5 billion people.

Chronic pain has more than just physical symptoms. It can cause depression, isolation, insomnia and many other issues. Saint Augustine (354 – 430. Theologian and philosopher) put it very well when he said, “The greatest evil is physical pain”.

I know from personal experience how debilitating chronic pain can be. A few years ago I hurt my back and was prescribed powerful pain killers and anti-depressants. Both of these carried a high risk of addiction and dependency. Thankfully, I was able to recover through physiotherapy and then finally reduced and eliminated these prescription drugs. But it was a long a difficult road filled with withdrawal symptoms and side effects. It’s not something I would wish on anybody.

I have been doing a lot of work recently with pain reduction and management.  Clinical trials have shown that Hypnotherapy can eliminate, or at least reduce, pain and it does so without side-effects. Even better, you can learn to use these techniques yourself so you are self-reliant and in control.

And traditional clinical hypnotherapy is not the only way hypnosis can help with pain relief. I am qualified in the Arrow pain reduction technique developed by Freddy Jacquin. Also, as part of Introspective Hypnosis sessions the root cause of physical ailments can be revealed. I have made a short video, talking with a client, who experienced relief as a result of such a session. So if you are suffering and want help to manage the pain and associated symptoms then contact me.

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Arrow Technique

I recently qualified in a new pain management modality called the Arrow Technique. It was developed by Freddy Jacquin who founded the Hypnotherapy Training College in 1999. He has, for more than 25 years, been at the forefront of Hypnotherapy, especially in the area of pain management.

Pain is a massive problem in this modern society. It is thought more than eight million people in the UK alone suffer from some form of chronic (long term) pain. Many of these will be taking prescription pain killers. It’s thought globally that the figure is more like 1.5 billion people.

I know from personal experience how debilitating chronic pain can be. A few years ago, before I was a Hypnotherapist, I hurt my back and was prescribed powerful pain killers and anti-depressants. Both of these carried a high risk of addiction and dependency. Thankfully for me I was able to recover through physiotherapy and was able to finally reduce and eliminate all the prescription drugs. But it was a long a difficult road filled with withdrawal symptoms and nasty side effects. It’s not something I would wish on anybody.

As with all hypnotherapy techniques it involves engaging the subconscious. This one addresses chronic pain and reduces or resolves it completely. Using Hypnotherapy has many advantages over traditional medicinal approaches to pain. Namely, there are no side effects or risk of addiction. Also, the client can be taught to be self-reliant by being able to repeat the method themselves when required.

Because of the way hypnotherapy works there are a number of additional benefits. These include it having an impact on the effect of the pain as well as the pain itself, reduces stress and anxiety associated with pain and avoid or reduce the need for opioids.

A 2000 analysis of hypnotherapy studies in clinical settings showed 75% of participants showed substantial pain relief across a wide range of treatment types including pain from cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and surgery.

Quality of life is paramount and long term pain can have a serious impact on it. As Walter Anderson (American Playwright) said, “Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself”.

If you have long term pain, Hypnotherapy can help. You don’t have to suffer. Contact me to find out more.

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Hypnotherapy for Pain

Hypnotherapy can be used to treat a wide range of conditions. One which I have been doing a lot of work with recently is pain reduction and management.  Clinical trials have shown that Hypnotherapy can eliminate, or at least reduce, pain and it does so without the side-effects of pain killing drugs. Even better, you can to use these techniques for yourself so you can become self-reliant and in control of your pain.

Over 8 million people in the UK say they are in chronic / persistent pain 19.5 million people in the UK are in pain at least once a day. And the older we get, the more we are affected by chronic pain. A recent survey found 20% of over 55s are in chronic pain, with an additional 19% being in pain at least once a day, though they would not describe it as chronic.

It’s a little known fact that all pain, no matter where or how it is felt, is produced by the brain. When you injure yourself, the nerves of your body can only tell your brain that something is wrong. So when you sub your toe, it’s your brain and not your toe, that interprets this and says to you, ‘Ow, this hurts’.

Because of the way hypnotherapy works there are a number of benefits. These include it having an impact on the effect of the pain as well as the pain itself, reduces stress and anxiety associated with pain and avoid or reduce the need for opioids. A well-known example of this is hypnotherapy can be used to reduce or eliminate the need for pain relief during child birth. This is called Hypnobirthing and there are a number of well know people who have used it, including Jessica Alba and the Princess of Wales (Catherine Middleton).

Now this is fantastic news, but a word of caution. Before you can use hypnotherapy for pain relief you need to try to understand the cause of the pain. Pain is essentially a side effect of something else. Removing the pain without trying to understand it can be a problem. Once the cause of the pain is diagnosed or understood hypnotherapy can be used to reduce or eliminate this flow of information. It can also be used to address pain that has no obvious cause but only once obvious causes have been investigated.

BBC’s One Show medical presenter, Michael Mosley, investigated hypnosis for pain relief with Dr Stewart Derbyshire (Psychologist and pain researcher) of Birmingham University. The results illustrate how effective it can be.  As Wim Hof (Dutch extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand low temperatures) said, “Your brain has the power to modify your pain perception”.

And traditional clinical hypnotherapy is not the only way hypnosis can help with pain relief. As part of Introspective Hypnosis sessions the root cause of physical ailments can be revealed. This can often be from a previous experience.

So if you are suffering and want help to manage the pain and associated symptoms then contact me

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Pain Management

Hypnotherapy can be used to treat a wide range of conditions. One which I have been doing a lot of work with recently is pain reduction and management. Clinical trials have shown that Hypnotherapy can eliminate, or at least reduce, pain and it does so without side-effects. Even better, the client can learn to use these techniques themselves so they are self-reliant and in control.

More than eight million people in the UK alone suffer from some form of chronic (long term) pain. Many of these will be taking prescription pain killers and so suffer unwanted side effects and risk addiction. It’s thought globally that the figure may be as much as 1.5 billion people.

I know from personal experience how debilitating chronic pain can be. A few years ago I hurt my back and was prescribed powerful pain killers and anti-depressants. Both of these carried a high risk of addiction and dependency. Thankfully for me I was able to recover through physiotherapy and was able to finally reduce and eliminate the prescription drugs. But it was a long a difficult road filled with withdrawal symptoms and side effects. It’s not something I would wish on anybody. As Julius Caesar (Roman Emperor) put it, “It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience”.
Because of the way hypnotherapy works there are a number of additional benefits. These include it having an impact on the effect of the pain as well as the pain itself, reduces stress and anxiety associated with pain and avoid or reduce the need for opioids.

A 2000 analysis of hypnotherapy studies in clinical settings showed 75% of participants showed substantial pain relief across a wide range of treatment types including pain from cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and surgery.

Now this is fantastic news, but a word of caution. Before you can use hypnotherapy for pain relief you need to understand the cause of the pain. Pain is essentially a side effect of something else. It’s information the body needs to be aware of a problem. Only once the cause of the pain is diagnosed and understood can hypnotherapy be used to reduce that of eliminate this flow of information.

And traditional clinical hypnotherapy is not the only way hypnosis can help with pain relief. As part of Introspective Hypnosis sessions the root cause of physical ailments can be revealed. I have made a short video, talking with a client, who experienced relief as a result of such a session.  


So if you are suffering and want help to manage the pain and associated symptoms then contact me

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Addiction

Addiction is something that, historically, has been stigmatised and looked down upon. Those who suffer from addiction are often ignored, criminalised, treated as outcasts and even sent to prison. This cultural view of addiction is that it is some kind of personal defect, moral failing or a lack of willpower. These views also come with the, often unspoken, assumption that addiction is a conscious life style choice. These are all damaging and unhelpful attitudes. Condemnation and judgement are usually born of ignorance, but understanding can brings about a more compassionate view. As Sheldon Whitehouse (US Senator) says, “Addiction is a tough illness, and recovery from it is a hard but noble path. Men and women who walk that path deserve our support, encouragement, and admiration”.

One very useful and popular method to treat addiction is the twelve step model. This had a revolutionary effect on treatment as it changed the thinking about the nature of addiction. It taught that addicts have an incurable disease that can be managed. It provided a framework for addicts to refrain from using substances, attend regular support meetings and work a thorough programme in order to restore a functional life and free them from their substance addiction and the chaos that it causes.

This twelve step approach has ideas such as taking a personal inventory, accepting and working on personal shortcomings as well as seeking forgiveness and enlightenment. I believe this a tremendously powerful and effective approach. And if you or someone you know has an addiction I strongly suggest starting the journey to managing it with this approach.

But, I do not feel this is the whole story. I believe there is a part of the puzzle of addiction missing in this model. For me there needs to be an understanding of trauma and the role it plays in self-soothing behaviours and addictions. As Gabor Mate (Hungarian-Canadian physician) says “Every addict has trauma, but not everyone who has trauma becomes an addict”.

An addiction is a behaviour where by a person is unable to stop an activity despite harmful consequences. There is a wide spectrum of these compulsive behaviours but I believe they almost always start with the subconscious trying to protect us from harm or discomfort. Addictions often, at least initially, bring relief or distraction from the pain being faced.

When we feel in a state of threat or pain or dysregulation we often exhibit the Fight or Flight response to combat or run away from that which is harming us. Trauma, especially an emotional one, is not easily resolved by this response and so we become stuck in this fear state. Our minds then seek ways to mitigate, lessen or pacify the trauma and this is where addictions can take root.

Now some addicts have argued that they have not suffered a trauma. But if we look at traumas from the perspective of the subconscious or auto nervous system and how it responds to pain (both physical and emotional) we can see that addictions is often driven by a trauma of some kind.

This trauma based view of addiction has started to transform addiction management and treatment. A trauma-informed approach to addiction, and mental health, is a more compassionate, realistic and scientific approach. And Hypnotherapy has a key role to play in this. It has a number of techniques to help clients explore the origins and root causes of addictions, phobias and other unwanted behaviours. If you feel that hypnotherapy could help you or someone you know then contact me.

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World Cancer Day

4 February is World Cancer Day. It’s a global initiative created and led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). The idea is to raise awareness, improve education and influence governments and other organisations about cancer. Many cancers and the resulting suffering and deaths are preventable.

There have been massive strides forward in the treatment of cancer in recent years. But while there have been awe-inspiring advancements in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment, many who seek help with cancer do not get the best possible care. Factors such as income, education, geographical location and discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability and lifestyle are not uncommon and can negatively affect care, treatment and outcomes.

So this year’s the World Cancer Day’s theme is “Close the Care Gap”. Its all about raising awareness of this equity gap. Today, nearly two thirds (65%) of cancer deaths happen in the least developed parts of the world. But even if you live in a higher income country, inequities still exist among lower-income, indigenous, immigrant, refugee and rural communities. As Sylvie Meis (Dutch television personality and model) said, “Whether you are rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, young or old, cancer knows no boundaries”.

As with so many things, prevention is better than a cure. Tobacco and alcohol use are a major contributor to cancers. Did you know that tobacco causes eight million deaths every year and accounts for about 25% of all global cancer deaths? Stopping smoking at any age can make huge a difference. Doing so will increase your life expectancy and improve your quality of life.

Also, limiting or eliminating alcohol use can help guard against mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, bowel, liver and breast cancers. Another factor that can improve your chances of remaining cancer free is making physical exercise part of your daily routine. Additionally, no matter where you live or your skin tone, moderating your exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds will reduce your chances of developing skin cancer.

There is no doubt that early detection saves lives. Many cancer show early signs and symptoms that if caught will massively increase your chances of survival or avoiding serious problems. Each of us can be empowered with the right information to know what’s normal for our bodies and recognise unusual changes – and importantly, seek professional medical help promptly.

So, if you are struggling to lose weight, reduce you alcohol intake or stop smoking then Hypnotherapy can help with breaking habits, will power and support. If you feel this could be for you, then contact me.

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Fear of Needles

A phobias is a continuous, irrational fear of a specific thing or situation. It makes you want to avoid that thing despite there being no real danger. Some phobias may have little impact on your life or you can adjust to them so you are not in a position that you would find triggering. But some phobias can cause real problems.

Most phobias are based in a previous experience which you may not even remember or understand. Hypnotherapy can help you change how you feel about the object of your phobia and help you overcome it. It can also help you to change your emotional response to the fear. This will help you to feel more comfortable in the situation and live your life without fear or limitations.

One particular phobia that I have seen increase in frequency and importance is the fear of needles / receiving injections. Many medical and dental treatments include using needles to either inject medication or take blood. So, having a phobia of needle can be a real problem. The art of giving injections has changed little for decades now, so a fear of needles will remain a problem. And as you get older you accumulate more and more ailments and these often include blood tests and injections.

I, personally, dislike needles, giving blood and receiving injections. When I was a child, I went with my mum to get a flu vaccination. When the nurse dabbed the cold disinfectant on my arm I screamed with such alarm that a doctor burst in to find out what was happening asking, “Nurse! What have you done to this child?”. To which she replied drily, “Nothing, yet”. And I am not alone, Lauren Cohan (British – American Actress) said, “Giving blood, or being near a needle, is the absolute worst”. And she spent a lot of time in the Zombie Apocalypse.

This is such an important issue that I have made a short video about it. 

If you need help to overcome a fear of phobia that is effecting your life then contact me for a free consultation.

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Suicide Awareness

10 September is World Suicide Prevention Day. The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) was started it in 2003 and is co-sponsored by the World Federation for Mental Health and World Health Organisation (WHO).

Suicide is a growing problem in the world and especially amongst the under 30s. The statistics are truly frightening. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), every 40 seconds someone successfully takes their own life. That equates to approximately 800,000 people every year (globally) or one in a hundred of every death. And for each successful suicide it is estimated that there are 40 attempted suicides. The sad thing is, as Phil Donahue (US media personality) put it, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”. Suicide is largely preventable as undiagnosed, or untreated, mental illness is the largest contributor to it.

Each suicide is a tragic waste of life and devastating, sometimes life changing, to those left behind. So, by raising awareness, addressing the stigma around suicide and encouraging well-informed action, it is hoped that the instances of suicide around the world can be reduced. World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity to do these things and reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts. There are five key messages:

1. Creating hope through action. This is a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide. Our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling. Through action, you can make a difference to someone (as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague or as a neighbour) in their darkest moments. We can all play a part in supporting those experiencing a suicidal crisis or those bereaved by it.

2. Suicidal thoughts are complex. The causes of suicide are complex and many. There is no one size fits all approach. We know that certain life events can make someone more vulnerable to suicide. Also mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression can also be a contributor. People who are suicidal can feel trapped or a burden to their family and those around them and thus they feel as though they are alone and have no other options. The COVID-19 Pandemic has greatly contributed to increased feelings of isolation and vulnerability. By Creating Hope Through Action, we can signal to people experiencing these thoughts that there is hope and that we care and want to support them.

3. You can help give someone hope by showing that you care. We can all play a role, no matter how small. You do not need to tell them what to do or have solutions, just make the time and space to listen to them. Small talk can save lives and create a sense of connection and hope in somebody who may be struggling.

4. Stigma is a major barrier to help-seeking. I have written before battling stigma and prejudice around all forms of mental illness. Changing the narrative around suicide through the promotion of hope will help to create a more compassionate society where those who need help feel comfortable in coming forward.

5. The insights and stories of people with a lived experience of suicide. Personal stories of someone’s experiences of emotional distress, suicidal thoughts or attempts, and their experiences in recovery can inspire hope in others. It illustrates that they too can move through the period of crisis. Also, individuals sharing experiences of being bereaved by suicide and how they came to live their ‘new normal’, can help others experiencing suicidal loss make sense of their devastation and believe they will be able to live through and with the loss.

So, if you know someone who make be anxious, depressed or suicidal help them to get the professional assistance they need. And be an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.

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Grief Awareness Day

30 August is National Grief Awareness Day. If you have not experienced grief yet in your life you have been very fortunate, but it’s highly likely you will at some point. This day is about examining grief and raising awareness both of how to cope with grief yourself and how to help others.

Grief is a complex response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone you loved. Although usually less extreme is can be a response to the loss of something else, such as a large amount of money, a job or a cherished pet. Grief is usually thought of as an emotional response but it can have physical, cognitive, behavioural, social, cultural and philosophical dimensions as well.

Many believe in the five stages of grief and this is a good way to describe the process. The stages are;
• Denial. The first reaction is disbelief. Some sort of mistake must have happened. It is natural to cling to some hope no matter how unrealistic it might be.
• Anger. When denial has run its course then frustration and anger at the situation is common. Responses such as ‘Why has this happened?’, ‘Who is responsible?’, ‘Why me?’.
• Bargaining. This involves the hope that the crisis can somehow be avoided. This may include negotiation with god to have time to achieve something, perhaps attend an important event, in exchange for a lifestyle change.
• Depression. You despair at the reality of the situation. In this stage you may become withdrawn, sullen and mournful.
• Acceptance. You embraces the reality of the situation and the inevitability of the outcome. In the case of people who are dying, this acceptance often is reached before the loved ones around them.

What these steps don’t convey is that the stages are not always sequential. A grieving person may not always go through them once and you can bounce between them for minutes, hours, days or even months. For example, when my Partner’s father died, he was extremely busy with work. He dealt with practical aspects, arranged the funeral, etc., but did not really grieve. It was the first anniversary of the death that triggered a grieving process. Each person is different, as is their methods of grief and coping.

Grief is a normal reaction to a loss and in most cases will lessen over time and not cause any lasting problems. The amount of time spent grieving and in each stage of the process can vary from person to person and depend on the nature of the loss. But, some people find it difficult to move on and this can cause problems that may need some additional help. Hypnotherapy can help to:
• Reduce the symptoms of grief
• Organise their grief so that you can grieve but not all the time
• Find a way to grieve that doesn’t overwhelm you
• Change your perception of the loss
• Deal with feelings of (survivors) guilty or regret
• Reconnect to memories of the person, without painful feelings or distress
• Allow you to access feelings of calm and strength
• Assist you to socialise and reintegrate into society
• Empower you to achieve necessary goals and tasks

When someone has experienced a loss it can be hard to know what to do or say. I know when I have lost close relatives, some of friends withdrew not knowing what to do or say and not wanting to make things worse. But in fact, a helping hand, a laugh and a joke or a comforting presence can go a long way. So, offer that helping hand, lend an ear or a thoughtful message and be there for them. Help, how and when you can, and if they are struggling then encourage them to seek expert help. If you or someone you know could benefit from hypnotherapy then contact me.

And finally, remember, as George Elliot (British Author) said, “Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them”.

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IT’S OK TO NOT BE OK – Part 2

“Despite being commonplace, too many people with mental health problems still face stigma, prejudice and discrimination”. Luciana Berger (Former MP for Liverpool Wavertree, UK).

A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance of seeking help early on when you are struggling with mental health, and indeed physical and emotional health. I struggled to write that post as I had so much that I wanted to say on the subject. I found a way through it by splitting what I have to say into more than one post. This time I want to focus on stigma and discrimination around mental health.

Stigma and discrimination can contribute to worsening symptoms and reduced likelihood of getting treatment. This can, in turn, leads to a range of symptoms including reduced hope, isolation, lower self-esteem, increased psychiatric symptoms, difficulties with social relationships, reduced likelihood of staying with treatment and difficulties with family and work.

This can be all the more common in men. As Mauro Ranallo (Canadian Sports Announcer) said, “I believe the biggest stigma right now, with mental health, is that a lot of men are not talking about it”. Typically, men are slower or less likely to seek medical help with physical and mental health issues.

Mind (UK mental health charity) provide support for those with mental illness or those caring for them. Meanwhile, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (a US based group) has some useful suggestions about what we can all do to help reduce the stigma of mental illness. These include:
* Talk openly about mental health. It’s not something to be ashamed of.
* Help to educate others. Challenge misperceptions or negative comments by sharing facts and experiences.
* Be aware of language used. Words matter. Avoid and challenge the use of derogatory, judgemental or stigmatising language.
* Promote equality and parity between physical and mental illness. For example, draw comparisons to how someone with cancer or diabetes is treated.
* Show compassion and care for those with mental illness.
* Be honest about treatment. Normalise mental health treatments, just like other health care treatments.

One further, very powerful, approach is to choose empowerment over shame – “I fight stigma by choosing to live an empowered life. To me, that means owning my life and my story and refusing to allow others to dictate how I view myself or how I feel about myself.” Val Fletcher (Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health).

If you, or someone you know, is feeling stigmatised, here are some ways you can deal with it. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, get the treatment you need. Try not to let the fear of being labelled with a mental illness stop you from getting the help you need. Sadly, mental health issues are rarely something you can deal with on your own.

Do not believe the hype. When you hear or experience something often enough, you start to believe it. Do not let other people’s ignorance influence the way you feel about yourself. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and is not a sign of weakness. Talking about your mental health issues with healthcare professionals will help you on your road to recovery or management. Even understanding what the issue is, that it’s not unique to you, and that there are well used treatment options can help to reduce anxiety and isolation.

Many people with mental illness choose to isolate themselves from the world. This can be a block to getting the help they need. Reaching out to people you trust, such as family, friends or religious leaders, will mean you get the support you need. Some companies offer confidential help and advice to their employees. Connecting with others can be very valuable. Doing so, either online or in person, can help you deal with feelings of isolation and make you realise that you are not alone in your feelings and experiences.

Remember, your illness does not define you. You wouldn’t say, ‘I am cancerous’. This simply change to the way you talk about your illness can be very powerful. So, instead of saying ‘I’m a schizophrenic’, say ‘I have schizophrenia’. It’s a condition, it happens, it’s not what I am. There is real power in language.
Don’t give up on people who seem judgemental or insensitive. It’s rarely personal. Their language or judgements often come from a lack of understanding or information rather than anything else. If you feel able, then education and inform them. Importantly, do not believe that their views have anything to do with you personally.

So, as Mark Twain (American Writer) said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started”. Reach out, talk to someone and get the help you need.