Hypnotherapy: A mental health solution?

A solutions-focused hypnotherapy aims to address mental health concerns.

by Portia Ladrido

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The space at Calm Waters Hypnotherapy. © Stephanie Waters
Stephanie Waters picked up a book at an airport called “Cure” by Jo Marchant about alternative therapies.”In the book, the author had travelled the world visiting and collecting data on many clinical trials that were all based around alternative therapies, it fascinated me and the more I read the more my excitement grew,” she says.When Stephanie returned from her holiday and went back to her office job, she grew hungry for more information about hypnotherapy. During a casual discussion with a friend, she found out about the Clifton Practice of Hypnotherapy Training (CPHT) in Bristol.

“My friend had been to see a Solution Focused hypnotherapist for her depression and anxiety and was so blown away by her results that she decided to train as a hypnotherapist herself,” she shares.

“As soon as I heard about the course I booked my place. I was able to learn and train around my working hours and I loved every minute. The more I learned the more my passion grew.”

Stephanie trained at CPHT to be a certified hypnotherapist, then she started Calm Waters Hypnotherapy. “I am so incredibly lucky and grateful to be doing a job I am so passionate about, whilst also being able to help people ¬overcome obstacles in their lives, achieve their goals, become happier, healthier and more positive people.”

Stephanie talked to INKLINE about how solutions-focused hypnotherapy works and how it has helped people.

INKLINE: What do most people go to you for? Are there common issues that you’ve seen in the UK?

Stephanie Waters: I would say 90% of the clients I see suffer from anxiety of some description. It seems to be a common theme and I have had anxiety in the past myself, I know just how awful it is.

Anxiety can be so debilitating to people’s lives and can have a huge impact on whether they can leave the house, go to work or even function at all. Some clients may come to me for low mood or a phobia of some kind, but in general discussion, it becomes apparent that anxiety is another symptom lurking in the background.

Reassuringly though, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is fantastic for overcoming anxiety and anxiety-related disorders, in fact during a client’s initial consultation, they will learn in great detail all about how their brain works in relation to their symptoms, this information is fundamental to helping the client understand how they can help themselves change the unhelpful patterns that have developed.

I have seen an influx of younger clients within the last year, some as young as five years old. I personally believe that this is because kids these days are under huge amounts of pressure, not just at home or at school, but also on social media.
I: How does Calm Waters work exactly?
S: I am a fully qualified Clinical Solution Focused Hypnotherapist. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy uses practical, modern and well-researched strategies to help people make significant, positive changes in their lives. With Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, we focus on the here and now and where the client would like to be in the future, we do not focus on the past or the problem. This makes the therapy a very positive and relaxing one.
Throughout the sessions, we use positive conversation, positive language and positive lines of questioning to allow the client to set themselves small achievable goals. We also use deep relaxation – when our brain is in a deeply relaxed state we have access to the subconscious mind. Using positive suggestion and metaphor during deep relaxation can help create new neurological pathways in the brain, enabling the client to make the changes they wish to make in a relatively short space of time.

I: Are there mental health issues that you think are unique to the UK?

S: I can’t say that there are specific mental health issues that are only relevant to the UK, however, I have seen an influx of younger clients within the last year, some as young as five years old. I personally believe that this is because kids these days are under huge amounts of pressure, not just at home or at school, but also on social media.

It’s no secret that children are spending more and more of their time in front of screens, whether it’s gaming on consoles or the internet with their tablets or phones etc. Their worlds are becoming more virtual, more instant, more anti-social than ever before and I believe that this plays a huge part in our children’s wellbeing and mental health.

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Stephanie Waters, the founder of Calm Waters Hynoptherapy. © Stephanie Waters

I: What are the common misconceptions of people on hypnotherapy?

S: Clients tend to associate hypnotherapy with stage hypnosis, 3,2,1 and you under, now cluck like a chicken! It’s a common misconception and unfortunately, I think that association puts some people off hypnotherapy.

The truth is Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is very different to stage hypnosis, it’s a combination of positive psychotherapy (talking therapy) and deep relaxation (almost like guided meditation) The client is always in control, even when they’re in a deeply relaxed state, if they need to scratch their nose or sit up, they will simply be able to do that. It’s an extremely enjoyable and relaxing process, not one of my clients have left my room clucking like a chicken!

I: How is hypnotherapy an effective way to address a mental health issue?

S: Hypnotherapy was once deemed an unsubstantiated, airy-fairy approach to some, but luckily there is now a lot of research, studies and neuroscientific evidence in support of the therapy, in fact, some doctors are now referring their patients to hypnotherapists which is fantastic as it means it’s also gaining recognition from medical professionals themselves.

It is a wonderfully positive and relaxing way to overcome many mental health challenges, it can help with such a vast number of problems, such as low mood, chronic pain, anxiety, even fibromyalgia and IBS to name but a few! There are three key reasons behind the effectiveness of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy:

1. We teach the client how and why their brain functions in the way that it does, once they have an understanding of what is happening in their brain they are effectively able to change it. When we’re able to recognise and understand the unhelpful patterns that keep emerging, we’re able to challenge ourselves to override those patterns and to create new positive ones.

2. We only focus on the present, the future and how to get there, we don’t dwell on the past or the problem, we use positive language and positive lines of questioning to guide the client in a positive direction, by doing this the client is using the left prefrontal cortex, this part of the brain is more active when people are happy or thinking about happy events, so by continually asking our client to focus on and talk about the positives, we’re directing them to a new positive way of thinking.

3. We also use deep relaxation – when our brain is in a deeply relaxed state we have access to the subconscious mind. Using positive suggestion and metaphor during deep relaxation can help create new neuro-pathways in the brain, enabling the client to make the changes they wish to make in a relatively short space of time.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing clients of all ages and backgrounds, I’ve seen people in the depths of despair on the very first session, but to see them grow and leave completely different, vibrant and positive people is such a privilege.

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