Frequently Asked Questions
What is your approach?
I take a pragmatic, flexible and solution-focused approach determined by the needs of each client. To better meet the needs of my clients I’ve trained in a variety of complementary and related techniques/methodologies including: counselling, coaching, brief/solution-focused techniques, NLP and hypnotherapy. Because no two people are the same adopting a single approach with every client is unlikely to get the outcome a client is looking for.
How long does a consultation last?
Each session is usually an hour in duration, occasionally longer if required.
How many consultations will it take?
After an initial consultation, in which we identify what it is you want to work on, I usually work on a three session basis and then continue on a per session basis if required. Some of the reasons for people seeking assistance require more than three sessions, on a weekly or fortnightly basis, and some require follow up sessions at later dates e.g. at one month, three months and six months. My work with individual clients rarely lasts more than six sessions for the original reason they sought assistance.
What sort of things do people come to you about?
A whole host of things really, but I would say that clients generally come for one of three reasons:
- They’re doing something they DON’T want to do
- They’re not doing something they DO want to do
- They want to improve something they already do
Another way of putting that perhaps is to say that people want their lives to be different, usually because something has triggered a realisation that it needs to be or can be. Much of the time we go through life (unconsciously) interpreting moment-to-moment experience through the filters of past experience and accompanying beliefs, living by the patterns of the past rather than the possibilities of the present and the potential of the future. In doing so we deny ourselves the opportunity of things being different. Such an approach to life generally continues throughout a person’s life unless one or more of three things happens:
- There’s a crisis – sometimes to the extent of a complete breakdown or illness
- There’s an insight or an awakening of some sort in which a person recognises that something they’re doing, or how they are being, no longer serves them or is no longer helpful.
- There’s a decision to take action to overcome a challenge or achieve a goal
All three are often accompanied by a deep and profound realisation that things don’t have to be the way they’ve been, that the present and the future are not determined by the past and with that comes an opening for change.
What is coaching?
Coaching is an approach that combines conversation and focused questioning to identify and explore areas in which clients have become ‘stuck’, or they wish to change some aspect of their personal or professional lives. Coaching is generative, forward focused, and action oriented so an essential aspect of working together is the identification of goals and the actions to achieve them.
What is the difference between coaching and therapy?
A simple distinction might be that the coaching focus is present to future oriented, on what the client wants to achieve, is solution-focused and generative i.e. what do you want to change or achieve and how might you go about doing that? In contrast many of the (talking) therapies take an approach that seeks to enable the client to gain insight into a ‘problem’ in the belief that intellectual understanding will enable change. In my experience, whilst not denying the positive value of having a safe space in which to explore something; insight or understanding of past or present difficulties rarely enables a person to move on, make changes and build a fulfilling life. Learning from the past is helpful but living in the present through the experiences of the past isn’t. Its a little like trying to drive a car forwards whilst only looking in the rear view mirror. Crashes are inevitable.
What is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is described as a type of complementary therapy that uses hypnosis, an altered state of consciousness (NHS Choices, 2014). Hypnosis is a state of relaxation and concentration along with a state of heightened awareness. You are unlikely to ‘feel’ hypnotised but you are likely to feel mentally and physically relaxed, a state in which your memory and power of recall is greatly enhanced.
We all experience altered states throughout the day, sometimes unintentionally and without realising so e.g. when listening to a boring presentation or lecture or when captivated by a film or favourite soap; and sometimes intentionally e.g. when meditating, practicing yoga or visualising. We also experience hypnosis just before falling asleep at night (hypnogogic state) and just as we’re coming out of sleep, just before waking (hypnopompic state). Contrary to common belief, in hypnosis you are not asleep or unconscious.
Is hypnosis and hypnotherapy safe?
Both are considered to be safe, effective, non-addictive and have no harmful side-effects. It’s worth remembering that virtually everyone experiences altered states, that could be defined as hypnosis, many times every day. In fact if you were to explore some of the definitions and characteristics of hypnosis it could be argued that most of our daily reality is made up of altered states. Whenever we’re caught up in thinking about the past or the future (and that’s most of the time) we’re essentially in an altered state. Probably the most beneficial altered state you can experience is one that brings your awareness into the here and now, the present moment. One term for that could be mindfulness and another might be meditation. There is a growing evidence-base for the benefits of both.
Does being hypnotised mean you have control over me?
No. Beliefs such as that arise from sources such as books and films, sensationalist media reporting and also from traditional styles of authoritarian hypnosis and hypnotherapy in which the hypnotist is deemed to be the expert and the client is told what to do and how to do it. The approach I practice is known as permissive or Ericksonian hypnosis. The client is the expert in a collaborative relationship and my role is more that of a facilitator and guide. O’Hanlon (2009) states that “…a cornerstone of the permissive approach to hypnosis: the person knows the way. The hypnotherapists task is to keep them moving.”
Does being hypnotised mean I’ll share things I don’t want to?
Not at all. It’s a very common fear, shared by many, that their deepest darkest secrets will be revealed. That isn’t the case and at all times you have complete control over what you do or do not share. If something were to come to mind that you didn’t want to share then you’re always the one who makes that decision.
How can hypnosis help?
Many of the things people want to work on stem from past experience and/or habitual behaviour, both of which become reinforced through repetition and as such become unconscious, automatic processes i.e. we do them without thinking about doing them, or even how we do them. They become processes outside of conscious awareness. Many of the things we do without having to think about doing are beneficial and our daily lives would be very difficult without having that ability. But sometimes they’re not and get in the way of living healthy, productive and fulfilling lives. Hypnosis is a vehicle to working directly with the unconscious mind.
Do you use hypnotherapy with all clients?
No not at all. Only when what the client wants to work on is unconscious or automatic in nature i.e. it isn’t something they give thought to doing, the opposite in fact, it’s something they don’t feel they have any control over. A related reason might be that a client has ‘been everywhere, seen everyone and tried everything’ to no avail. Even then hypnotherapy is only used with the agreement of the client.
What is NLP?
NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming to give it its full title, grew out of the study of how we do what we do, how we create our moment to moment reality and how we interact with the world in which we live.
Is it therapy?
NLP can be very therapeutic and it has its roots in a number of therapy models but it wasn’t defined as therapy by the originators of NLP. They regarded it more as a method of teaching or helping people to learn how to change. The field of NLP has grown significantly over recent years and is used in a wide variety of contexts including health, teaching and business.
How does it help?
By exploring the ways in which a client relates to the world it is possible to identify and change patterns of behaviour. It can help build self-awareness, self-confidence and self-belief, improve relationships with others and enable personal growth, achievement and success.
O’Hanlon, W. H. (2009) A guide to trance land: a practical handbook of Ericksonian and solution-oriented hypnosis. London: W. W. Norton and Company Ltd.
NHS Choices (2014) Hypnotherapy, available online at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/hypnotherapy/Pages/Introduction.aspx