Effective treatment for Anxiety, Habitual and Obsessive Behaviours, Depression, Phobias, Insomnia,
Weight Loss, IBS and other conditions related to Mind/Body interaction
Everyday life can often present challenges that can sometimes overwhelm us. It can be a
juggling act to balance family life with work commitments and continue to feel
good about ourselves and the things that we do. Sometimes, our expectations are
overambitious and exceed our physical abilities and striving for success can
come at a cost.
When stress gets its hold on us and becomes a chronic stress, it can cause a range of
debilitating conditions as a result of the effect of adrenaline and cortisol on
the body’s immune system. When the mind preoccupies itself with anxieties and a
lack of positive focus the vicious spiral of negative emotions can affect
sleep, the digestive system, can cause headaches, skin and eating disorders. A
lack of motivation and energy may also be apparent, depression can manifest
itself as well as many forms of inflammation.
It is a skill to retain equilibrium when we are responding to all kinds of stress and it is so easy to be self-critical and
feel a sense of underachievement. Looking after ourselves is essential for our
wellbeing. The more we look after ourselves, the more we have the capacity to
look after others and, as mums, we do have many others to look after.
How incredibly empowering it would be to have coping strategies in order to lead to
a fulfilling and a happy life. I believe that we can achieve the best in ourselves
by being actively engaged with what is meaningful to us as individuals. By
best, I don’t mean achieving perfection, but rather actively striving to have better
experiences and enjoy life, sleep peacefully at night and to wake up in the
morning feeling excited about a new day. Events in our lives will continue to
happen and sometimes we can influence these and sometimes not. What we can influence
is the attitude that we have towards them. This way of thinking has helped me materialize
many of own personal my goals. I truly believe that these skills can be learned
so today I am helping others to achieve their goals and I think I have the best
job in the world!
I would therefore like to introduce to you a pathway to tranquillity and a way of creating
strategic coping mechanisms that create a support network of healthy positive
processes day in, day out.
Far from the widely believed media portrayal of mind control and myths that circulate to
make good TV entertainment, hypnosis is an incredible therapeutic tool. Hypnosis
is a state that we all experience consciously to some extent. When you drift
into a thought and your focus is internal – a daydream state – you are
experiencing a form of trance. This is when the limbic system of your brain is
consolidating information and laying it down in long-term memory stores. This
is an automatic process and we do not ‘choose’ to enter it. On average, it
happens every 7 minutes but the length and depth vary. It is a state that
happens within each person and although it can be triggered by interactions, it
cannot be externally controlled; trance is a subjective experience and
therefore the control is always within self.
Hypnosis, as a state, can be practised and developed, just like any other states such as
confidence, empathy, care.* The hypnotic state can be consciously experienced,
with awareness of thoughts and emotions. These ‘active’ trance states are very
effective in treatment. We do not use deep trance states in most hypnotherapy
treatments because these don’t allow the patient to utilize consciousness. In
therapy we mostly use light to medium trance states in order to allow our
clients to learn from their own processes.
In hypnotherapy treatment the focus is on the positive aspects of experience and the
therapist will guide the thoughts and emotions towards the strengths and
resourcefulness of each person as these will often not be realized consciously**.
It is important to know that every part of this therapeutic interaction
requires an internal validation process by the client. For the treatment to
work, it has to be validated and agreed with. If the information is not
validated by internal self-belief, it will be rejected. For example, if I say
that the best ice cream flavour is strawberry, you have absolute right to
reject it. Your experiences and preferences may be different and if so, you
would reject mine. In all interactions
amongst humans there is this internal check about the validity and
meaningfulness of information. Hypnosis is no different. It is a part of our
everyday life and all interactions. In sessions we may focus on whatever
experiences are wanted to be improved by the client and these are always
self-selected by the client. This focus may for example be on confidence in
specific social interactions or every-day eating habits or motivation to
achieve desired goals. The hypnotherapy technique allows for the process of
self-validation to actively resource from the client’s own experiences.
Unlike other treatments that occupy themselves with intellectual processes,
hypnotherapy uses a state of relaxation and clarity of internal focus to create
emotional change that, in turn, help with cognition and rational thought
processes. Many have called this a bottom up approach. It is the only therapy
that accesses the long-term behavioural patterns within a relatively short
period of time as its primary focus is on physical relaxation. The relaxed body
creates a relaxed state of mind; a crucial element to form a long-term habitual
changes. To understand this more clearly, habitual behaviours and long-term
memories are laid down in a part of the brain that is called the hippocampus,
one of the centres of the limbic system which together with the amygdale and
hypothalamus is often referred to as the flight, fight and freeze part of the
brain. Our physical survival depends on these responses and these are not
choices of behaviour but are protective mechanisms that keep us safe against
threats. These may be real in our environment but also imaginary. This isn’t a
logical part of the brain but a part that scans the environment as well as our own
thoughts for threats. This can cause a vicious circle of negative emotions and
behaviours. Real or imaginary, if a limbic part of the brain senses a threat,
it will respond in any way it can to protect the self and it has habits to tap
into as its resource. This may be by reaching for sugary treats or for a glass
of wine. The limbic part of the brain is a pleasure seeker and dopamine is the
neurotransmitter that drives us towards pleasurable activities. These may not
always be logical and rational but will provide a short-term relief. ‘Survival’
can for example also be ‘ensured’ by blushing, loss of temper or withdrawing
from social interactions. Hypnotherapy treats habitual patterns by creating opportunities
to establish new neural networks by engaging with the best possible outcomes.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy can be combined with most other styles of treatments. I have been trained in
several therapeutic approaches and use a combination of these with my clients. At
the centre of my treatment is a Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT). SFBT is a
neuroscience-based process that encourages the activation of rational thoughts
in order to give the intellectual part of the brain the coping tools it needs
to deal with stress. Clients themselves establish realistically achievable
goals recognizable by them as an achievement. This is a step by step process,
helping the client to create the best possible future expectations. I am able
to practice with clients conscious processes that give them the tools they need
to help themselves. These are personal as well as social tools, such as
relaxation techniques, creative thinking and self-resourcing from own
experiences, visualizations etc. ***All aspects of the treatment focus on resourcing
from the very best of each person’s abilities. Most treatments last between 4-7
sessions. Phobia treatments are only 3 sessions, which is usually all that’s
needed. When a client leaves the treatment, they don’t just feel better but
they have long term strategies and know how to implement them. This is the same
for confidence building, presentation skills, exam success, improved
relationships, insomnia, eating habits, self-esteem and so on. The whole
process is guided and nurtured and it evolves naturally. There is no
expectation other than making each experience the best that it can be. The solution
focused process is neuroscience-based and allows for activation of rational
thoughts that give the intellect the coping tools it needs.
Each client measures they own outcomes and processes using a progress chart. In this way
they also measure the effectiveness of the approach that is used for treatment.
Hypnotherapy is for wellbeing, hypnosis is a state of internal calmness and
resourcefulness whilst SFBT gives intellect effective planning and
self-reflective processes. It is good to know that we can look after our minds
as well as we look after our bodies. I would be happy to welcome you to my
clinic at Integrated Health in Sevenoaks. Please look at my website for more
My colleague Gabrielle Nicholls is a specialist on Hypnobirthing. Gabrielle is a
qualified midwife and a hypnotherapist. Please contact her if you would like to
find out more. www.zenbirth.co.uk/gabrielle
* Dr Zeig, Hypnosis as elicitation approach
**Dr Erickson, Application of hypnosis within psychotherapy
*** Dr Rizzolatti, Learning by observation and the function of mirror neurons
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You may feel that nothing ever changes. You may think that you are at a mercy of your habits and repetitive thoughts. You may think that it is pointless to try to change for the better because you don’t think you can. How little you know. Your brain is capable of new learnings, your brain cells are ready to expand their communications, and you are capable of change. You are capable of change in a way that is positive for you. The brain keeps rewiring itself continuously whether you are aware of it or not. Every day is an opportunity to do something you have not done before; something that is positive and encouraging and something that will make you feel better. You can stand on the positive side of change if you become an active participant and make decisions that are good for you. Your brain will respond to all actions even to thoughts alone. You may choose a new book to read, you may choose to go out for a nice walk, you may choose to cook a special meal for the family or just for yourself, or you may decide to call an old friend. You have obviously decided to read my Blog. These decisions are important because your brain is responding to these actions by releasing neurotransmitters that make you feel good. Doing things that tell you that you are taking care of yourself are enabling your brain to function at its best. You are actively participating on the constant chemical responses in your brain with the choices that you make. You active participation starts with the smallest of things. Should you wear blue or green top? The choice is yours. Which do you prefer?
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I wonder if you have noticed how quickly your perceptions can change. I wrote an email recently, asking a friend for help. To my surprise they did not respond. So I wrote another email to which they responded with a few days delay. I was not upset when I wrote the first email because I felt safe to ask a friend for help. I was certainly upset when they eventually responded because in those few days I questioned our friendship. Are they still my friend? I realized that my perception has started to change and I was experiencing negative emotions of rejection. Sounds familiar? So it is good to ask what causes this perception shift. There is a primitive part of our brain that looks after our physical survival and it does it by responding with anxiety, anger and sadness. All of those experiences are negative and are full of powerful negative emotions. This part of the brain is not our intellectual reason; it is behavioural, habitual and emotional. It can be triggered into action by real physical danger or by our own imagination. It protects at all costs. Fear is a form of self-defence. Evolution of human species relies on this automatic defence mechanism. So there we have it, perceptions are conscious representations of our understanding of ‘what is’. It is like choosing what to wear in the morning. Sometimes you like red, sometimes blue, sometimes green, other times you can’t decide at all and some other times you start blue than change into red and the day ends in wearing a yellow. If logic stops functioning when a friend does not respond, be aware, your perceptions are in for a fashion ride. By the way, they are still my friend; my perceptions say so today at least.
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There is still much that remains a mystery about sleep. Neuroscientists are still trying to work out the real purpose of sleep. We know it is vital for life. Sleep helps to repair body tissue, enhance growth and help with consolidation of memory. We all know how negatively affected we are if we don’t get enough sleep. The lack of sleep reduces our immunity, affects our appetite and creates a myriad of negative emotions. Some conditions such as diabetes 2 and obesity can be linked to the lack of sleep. Mental health illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Depression and Schizophrenia can also be result in disruption of sleep. Research tells us that in Britain adults get on average an hour less sleep than we need (UK Royal Society of Public Health). In the US studies show that 1/3 of adults experience the symptoms of insomnia. I believe it is very important to learn about sleep and how we can positively affect its quality so we can stay healthier into the future.
You may remember being taught that 8 hours of sleep per night is the correct requirement. That hypothesis seem to have been disputed now by various research studies that claim that the ‘sweet spot’ is about 7 hours (National Sleep Foundation). Too little or too much sleep can cause deterioration of health. If sleep is shorter than 4 hours, the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone)go up and the immune system suffers. Recommended sleep varies according to age too. Children and teenagers really do need more sleep, no matter what mum and dad thinks.
We have a 24 hour sleep/wake pattern that is called the circadian clock. This means that those who do not sleep regularly ie.shiftworkers will be disrupting their biological pattern. Smoking disrupts sleep as it affects the circadian rhythm. Drinking alcohol in the evening will affect the metabolism during the night. The chemical adenosine is released in the brain and builds up towards night time and helps us to fall asleep. If you have a cup of coffee, it will block adenosine. The sleep hormone melatonin is also produced at mid-late evening and helps us to fall asleep. If you are on a computer, phone or other electronic devices up to two hours before bed, beware that the blue light emitted reduces the amount of your melatonin by nearly a quarter.
Melatonin is a hormone that helps our body to cool down at night. This is why also temperature of the room is important. Too hot or too cold are not good for sleep. Ideally the room should be between 18-21 degrees.
We go through 5 or 6 light and deep sleep cycles each night. How effective your sleep is, very much depends on how long you spend in each cycle. REM (rapid eye movement) is a form of light sleep and forms about 25% of our sleep. Time in REM increases throughout the night. This is the time of sleep when we dream and also can often remember our dreams. The reason why our dreams feel ‘real’ to us is because our cognitive, rational, pre-frontal lobes are switched off when we sleep. Our subconscious however, never sleeps. It is busy rewiring neural networks and embedding learning and memory. The REM phase is used by the brain to consolidate emotional experiences and learning, comparing recent experience with old ones. The deep sleep cycles on the other hand strengthen memories. Dreams are no longer thought of in Freudian analytical terms. REM dreams tend to be more emotional and negative whilst deep sleep dreams have friendlier scripts.
Short daytime naps can boost performance and alertness. They can also help with memory. A 45minute nap helps with emotional recovery. 60-90 minute naps help with memory, which also include motor memory, so it is good for sport performance. Due to our circadian rhythms morning naps help with emotions and afternoon and evening naps help with memory and physical strength.
As a Solution Focused therapist I always look at sleep patterns with my clients. I aim to restore quality sleep by enhancing the ability to relax. Although our conscious mind doesn’t decide on the depth and quality of our sleep, it can do much for the sleep quality throughout the day by helping to create healthy and balanced experiences. Self-care with positive thought processes, effective and productive focus builds a network of connection within the subconscious mind that help the brain to make most of the sleep time. Hypnotherapy puts the brain into the subconscious state of a daydream where we mimic REM states. It is therefore dealing with emotional processes both directly and indirectly. Hypnotherapy also helps with consolidating new memories and positive goal setting for the future. Hypnotherapy is utilising the power of a daydream state to enhance many aspects of the client’s experience.
Enjoy your good night sleep and gain protection from negative influences. It will in return keep your body healthier and your mind happier.
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When we get stuck in the vicious circle of negative thinking, we often think that we have no control over it. We feel exhausted from our negative thoughts as they affect the way we feel. Negative thoughts slow us down and we stop doing things that make us feel good. Negative thinking is obsessive and the emotional brain is very good at reminding us about previous patterns of thoughts. We are encouraged to think negatively by our emotional brain automatically. The emotional brain recognises a pattern and it copies previous behaviour. This is a subconscious response and that’s why we feel we have no control over it. This learnt behaviour comes on automatically often without any conscious decision. The intellectual part of our brain is slower to respond and sometimes does not respond at all. This is how the vicious circle of negative thinking can continue for a very long time and increases our chance of depression or anxiety.
Positive thinking is an accessible possibility for anyone. This includes everyone who might have suffered from negative thoughts for a very long time. Brain has the ability to change the responses of the emotional automatic mind by learning and by active participation. To do that, we need to re-engage the intellectual part of our brain. Brain cells are amazingly adaptable and are designed to make new and fresh connections. Brain cells love to learn. It is their function. When you set about to learn a new thing, it may take you a little while but by repetition you will achieve change. Like with anything new, you will have to pay attention and focus to what it is that you are trying to learn. Repetition is the key element in success. This is when we take active part in changing our lives for the better. The emotional mind will respond to the new communications from the intellectual brain and new patterns will be created. After a while this becomes a part of the automatic response, making you feel positive and much happier.
If you would like to learn more, SFH will help. Please contact Veronika on 07825 761873.
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What is happiness, where does it come from and where does it go when we don’t feel it? Happiness has a different meaning to each of us. Its definition will depend on the person’s ability to feel their happiness and form their understanding what makes it come and go. Happiness is felt rather than logically understood. So if happiness is a feeling then it will have its place in the emotional centre of our brain which is closely linked to our survival instincts. This may explain why we sometimes feel the lack of happiness if we are threatened by the survival mechanism of anxiety, anger or depression.
So how does the feeling of being in control fit into this? How does it relate to the feeling of happiness? Are those two related in any way? I think they are. If we make choices that are positive for us, we feel in control and that control is felt as well as understood. This is when the intellectual part of the brain engages with happiness. Does the decision making ability enhance happiness? I believe it does because we take control of what we do. And when we take control of what we do, this ultimately affects the way we feel.
The brain has a wonderful capacity for learning and we learn new things every day, whether we are aware of it or not. Good luck in your search of happiness. It may be worthwhile to make a decision or two.
For more information on Solution Focused Hypnotherapy call Veronika on 07825 761873
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Yes, it does.
Tension, stress and anxiety are major contributors of weight gain and unhealthy dietary patterns. The pressures of daily life leave too little time for relaxation unless we make a special effort to make the time. Busy lifestyles are not always healthy lifestyles. It may lead to a feeling that we cannot afford the time to relax and focus on our mind and body; we are too busy with other things. If we add chronic stress into the equation, we get a wide range of medical conditions as a consequence, amongst these are obesity, diabetes, hypertension, headaches, anxiety, depression, low immunity to infections.
So is it about priorities? Yes. To be able to look and feel well, we need to spend time to look after ourselves. The mind as well as the body needs to have maintenance scheduled in, otherwise we can end up stuck in a vicious circle of negative thoughts and unhealthy behaviour patterns that affect our wellbeing. If you are gaining weight or if you are on a diet and it does not seem to be helping, you can learn a little about the way your brain functions to understand why this is so. Relaxation and a positive mind set are just as important to your wellbeing as exercise and healthy diet.
Weight gain is directly related to the chemical responses in your brain. These chemical responses, neurotransmitters, regulate the functioning of your body. When we are stressed we produce higher levels of cortisol; stress hormone. An increased level of cortisol often leads to increased appetite and enhanced fat storage. Excess body weight is a direct result of an imbalance between energy intake (food) and energy expenditure. Cortisol increases blood sugar, aids in fat storage and suppresses immunity; so high levels of it are bad news. Insulin is responsible for regulation of blood sugar. It encourages the storage of energy in cells for later use. However, excess energy is toxic to a cell. If we overeat, our cells may become desensitised to insulin and this could lead to Type 2 Diabetes. We can decrease stress levels by relaxation and exercise.
Dopamine, on the other hand, is a neurotransmitter that makes us feel good. This is produced in our brain when we engage in positive activity and thoughts. Dopamine release is essential to our feeling of happiness. So how does it link to overeating? Food is linked to brain activity that releases dopamine as a reward. Food is linked to feelings of pleasure and has been experienced by humans since early man successfully hunted and looked after his tribe. We live in times where food is plentiful and we no longer need to worry about a sufficient supply. Overeating is a modern issue, which can lead to desensitization to dopamine. In other words, to achieve the same satisfaction from food, we need to increase food intake to feel the same comforting pleasure delivered by dopamine release.
How can Solution Focused Hypnotherapy help? I can help you to focus on the positives in your life and by establishing new thought and behavioural patterns, you will be able to change your relationship with food. By addressing the way your mind works and by learning how to relax, you will not need food as a tool to survive the stresses of daily life. You will once again experience food as a pleasure that enhances not corrupts your wellbeing.
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Want to hold a Workshop dedicated to the mystery of human mind with Veronika Geeson MNCH(Reg.)
Focus On: Anxiety, Stress, IBS, Sleep Disorders, Weight Management, OCD, Addictions, Phobias and more
Contact Veronika if you want to hold a Hypnotherapy Workshop for your Business, Club or Group.
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Trance is a natural ‘brain state’. We go into trance many times a day and it does not mean that we lose control. It is when our mind goes into ‘automatic’ mode when we engage in a routine activity such as driving a car, cooking, going for a run etc. The mind does not focus on the task at hand but it will focus internally – reflecting, contemplating, planning, rehearsing, remembering …
It may be referred to as a ‘dream like state’. It is not a sleep. Clients are conscious to a lesser or higher degree when receiving hypnotherapy. No one individual will respond the same to hypnosis and each will have their own individual experience. What tends to be a fact which happens in most cases is the feeling of relaxation and the feeling of lightness upon trance termination. The process of trance engages both the intellectual and primitive mind and focuses on one thing. At this stage everything else recedes and awareness for example about time passing. Noise can be very restricted as the conscious mind relaxes and turns ‘inwards’ reflecting and pondering over events, feelings, experiences. The mind in hypnosis drifts in and out, being guided by the hypnotherapist speaking to them using positive language patterns which stimulate the brain’s activity, calming it down and encouraging the body’s relaxation.
It is harnessing the focus of the person being hypnotised that is the key to hypnotherapy. This is where the skill of a hypnotherapist can enhance the client’s thought processes by carefully selecting appropriate suggestions in a form of language patterns and metaphors. The visual images that are created by the client serve as a new experience and can be used in their daily lives. The repetitive process of trance and focused visualization is a key to creating new mind sets and behaviour. These will after some time become part of the client’s subconscious and new responses will become automatic. It is important to note here that there are limits to hypnosis and the success of hypnotherapy lies in the client’s determination and focus between the therapy sessions to allow for positive changes to really take place. Hypnotherapy is not magic and client needs to be aware of that they themselves play an important part within the therapy.
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