Thursday, 15 January 2015

Present and Past life regression.... Just what exactly is that all about?

Regression is something I get asked about a lot! What do I think about it? What is it? Is it real? Do we really have past lives? Do people really suppress memories? Do I use it? Can I teach them how to do it? 

I Hope this blog post answers some of those questions....

Current Life Regression:

Current life regression comes in many forms and as hypnotists we use it all the time, even something as simple as creating a safe place for a client or setting up an anchor is a form of regression, "remember a time when you were safe, you were happy" etc are all regressive prompts for a client to access a past memory. Regression has come under a lot of fire over the past decade or so, mainly down to the problems with false memory syndrome, clients looking for memories they think they have, clients being lead by a therapist by unhelpful questioning or voice emphasis. But like all techniques used in hypnosis, regression has earned its place in our tool kit and when used appropriately and skillfully can have powerful results. Most people understand current life regression, to mean that a person is regressed back to a certain time, when an event occurred, or a seed was sown for a particular behaviour, reaction or symptom to occur in later life. This is known as regression to cause, the idea being that by going back to this point, the cause will be released or better understood and all will be well. I am a big believer in just because you might have a better understanding of how something happened, its doesn't mean it will stop happening in the future unless you do something with the information you gather. So when I need to regress someone to the cause of their issue I tend to use the method of Transformational replay developed by my friend Drake Eastburn which is documented in his book "The power of the past". This way the client can identify all the key aspects of their issue and release them, change them, take control of them and react differently in the future. As therapists we are about creating positive change for our clients, not just helping them understand how they ended up with the problem in the first place.
Techniques such as inner child, are also a form of regression, but in this case its accessing a part of us that has got stuck along the way somewhere, we all experience this from time to time. For example we might have a difficult boss who makes us feel and sometimes behave like a naughty or shy school child again. Or a part of us that feels very vulnerable in a particular situation just like we did as a child, or we may seek recognition or approval from others like a child might. If we can access that inner child and re parent it as an adult, we can cause positive changes that allow us to let go of the insecurities of the past and that allows us to react in a different way in the future. The inner child can also be used to access the part of us that is much more carefree and accepting of ourselves and others, than perhaps our adult self is.
Regression can also be used to access skills and resources we already have in us, to access and reactivate muscle memory for example, to remind a person what a pain free body feels like for instance, as part of a rehabilitation programme. Or  an athlete or musician who gave an amazing past performance that they wish to recreate in the present and future. By regressing a client back to those positive and helpful memories, they can remember not only how they felt emotionally but also physically. As well as the atmosphere, what they did just prior to the event or performance, what made the difference that particular time. Sometimes we spontaneously regress to a particular song that might start playing on the radio, or a news item on the TV might take us back to a time, where something similar happened to us.

Which ever regression technique is used within hypnosis, regression when its used carefully can be a valuable tool in helping people overcome some of lives major hurdles, even EMDR (eye movement de-sensitisation and reprocessing) the gold standard treatment of post traumatic stress disorder (flash backs are also a form of spontaneous regression), relies heavily on a regressive element in the process, so that the emotion can be taken away from the distressing image.

False Memories and Leading:

The term false memory syndrome was 1st used in the Early 1990's, after there were several claims of people accessing previously suppressed  memories of childhood abuse in a therapeutic setting. Many people were prosecuted on the back of this recalled evidence. Several studies have shown that memory can be influenced both in and out of hypnosis, and people especially if questioned about an event fictitious or otherwise by a person they see to be in authority (therapist, teacher, parent, police), will unconsciously fill in the gaps. Memory implantation is a technique used in cognitive psychology to investigate human memory. In memory implantation studies researchers make people believe that they remember an event that never actually happened. The false memories that have been successfully implanted in people’s memories include remembering being lost in a shopping centre as a child, taking a hot air balloon ride, and putting slime in a teacher’s desk in primary school. Memory implantation techniques were developed in the 1990's as a way of providing evidence of how easy it is to distort people's memories of past events.   The possibility of false memories and or distorted memories when using regression is always there, it is paramount that the therapist does not lead the client in any way, either by leading questions or by intonation in voice and language patterns. when ever I use any regressive technique with a client I spend much of the session pre-talk explaining that, if their unconscious mind does in fact produce a memory that its important to remember several key points:-
The unconscious mind does not like gaps- so it fills them,
The filler is not always what happened, in fact nothing may have happened at all.
The memory itself is the clients interpretation of the event, not a video record of fact. someone else may have a very different memory of the same event.
Anyone that has been taught by me will know that I insist that both the therapist and client understand the purpose of the therapy, "I just want to know what happened or if anything happened" is not a sound purpose, unless it is linked to the resolution of a problem or issue. In this setting the unconscious mind is not to be trusted, if you go looking for something, the chances are you will find it, or create it, its really uncertain which it is unless it can be verified by someone else. That said, in my day to work as a hypnotherapist hardly a day goes by that regression isn't used in some form, therapists that use Milton Erickson's early learning set as part of their deepening patter, give the suggestion of regression without even realising it, creating a safe place or an internal bolthole for a client often has its basis in a memory of safety even if the regression is only to access a feeling and is fleeting.

Past Life Regression

This is an interesting one, if the media is to be believed countless people have discovered they were were Cleopatra or some other famous person in a past life, I know therapists that only do past life regression and nothing else, I know others that think its a load of hogwash and wouldn't dream of doing anything with it. I lean more towards the latter, not because I think its hogwash, but because I don't know what it is and neither does anyone else really. All Therapists know (or should do) that the only important beliefs system in the therapy room, is that of the clients - the Therapists belief system should be left at home, along with religion and  judgement. If I have a client that wholeheartedly  believes that their issues is something to do with a past life, who am I to tell them that it isn't?

I have to admit that I find the whole idea of past lives fascinating, I also find some comfort in the idea that when we die we do not cease to exist and that every life has a purpose or goal. Brian Weiss' books ( Many Lives and Many Masters - Only love is real) and Micheal Newtons books (Journey of souls) certainly make an interesting read, and I admit that I quite like the idea of the same souls interacting with each other in different relationships in different lives.  I have conducted lots of "past life" regressions on friends, clients and students and have been regressed in this way myself, but I still have no proof or evidence that it is real, but I also don't have any proof to say that it is not. When I was regressed I accessed several past lives, including a jolly and fat Italian women with lots of children, a native American Indian, a young french boy who was an orphan and a game keeper on an estate who was running for his life from the land owner after been found in a compromising situation with the lady of the house!. During the regression process the images in my mind were very vivid and seemed very real, I could answer some but not all of the questions I was asked, I was able to give very detailed descriptions of my death and departure from each life and where I was in between lives. However, there was nothing that could be independently verified or researched, and I believe all most all of my recall in hypnosis could simply be my unconscious mind showing me different aspects of my personality or accessing things that I had seen or learnt previously. No one I have ever regressed to a past life has ever claimed to be the reincarnated soul of a famous person, no one has claimed to have been abducted by Aliens, but many did report some of the most horrible and gruesome deaths. There have been reports of lives from roman times, Viking times, people from all walks of life, and the thing I find really fascinating is when people recognise people from their current life in a past life, I have still no idea what this is though, but I guess that's whats makes it interesting.

Thank you for reading this blog post, I think the debate on regression of all kinds will carry on forever. For me its a useful tool, but one that is to be used carefully and respected.

Keep on Trancin ...

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Debunking a few hypnosis myths- world hypnosis day 2015

Hypnosis is a wonderful amazing thing, it really is... It seems very simple ( more about that later) but can be so very powerful. After so many years as a clinical hypnotherapist is surprises me sometimes that there are still so many myths and misconceptions about something, every single one of us experiences on a daily basis. From the process of falling asleep, to day dreaming, driving and even just concentrating, we all experience light trance states (and sometimes deeper ones) many times every day. The power of our minds is strong and can help us or hinder us, depending upon the circumstances in which we find ourselfs, our current "state of mind" and our past experience. Fear of hypnosis, is really fear of losing control, but like most fears -its a false fear,as hypnosis is about empowerment. Hypnosis itself is actually very simple, however, what needs to be done while someone is in it can be complicated, a good therapist makes it look simple! On a daily basis I come across many misconceptions of what people think hypnosis is, how it works and why it might not work for them, so here are a few of those misconceptions and the reality. 

I have a strong mind, you can't put me under..... Of course you have a strong mind, that's how you've ended up here. But having a strong mind is very useful to a persons therapy, going into hypnosis isn't a test of how strong your mind is, it's about going into a state of mind where you can make changes,  that must be easier with a strong mind. All hypnosis is self hypnosis, but like anything, having an expert to guide you makes it quicker and easier, not to mention its what's done within it that matters. 

I've read loads of self help books so I know all about this stuff...... I once read a book about sky diving but I am not about to leap out of a plane! I really don't mean to sound rude but a good hypnotherapist will have spent many years training, passed lots of exams, had thousands of hours practice, spent a lot of time observing, refining and developing their style and technique. Reading lots of self help books will  help you to understand yourself much better, certainly give you insight, but it does not give you the experience a trained, practiced hypnotherapist has.... Sorry but it doesn't. Even therapists have therapists because we all need a bit of help sometimes. 

I think what I am feeling isn't real, it's just all in my head...... Hmmm just what makes you think that the pain, anxiety, perception etc you have isn't real? A pain in the chest whether caused by a blow to the chest, or an anxiety attack is still pain, you still feel it, it still takes your breath away, it's hurts!  Psychosomatic means starts in the mind, it doesn't mean not real! Nor is a psychsomatic illness any less valid than one a doctor can find a cause for..... Years of bottling stuff up, living on your nerves or internalising can cause so many dysfunctions in the body.. Chest pain, IBS, anxiety, skin rashes and unexplained chronic pain to name just a few. 

A stage hypnotist tried to put me under but couldn't .......... Hypnosis and hypnotisability is situationally dependant, you will only go into hypnosis if you want to. Not everyone is up for doing silly things on a stage being watched by other people, in that situation you won't go into hypnosis, but if you then go into a clinical setting because you have pain, you want to control the pain so it's likely you will go into hypnosis. Also I have people visit my office that have taken part in clinical trials of hypnosis, the were deemed to be not very hypnotisable, but went happily into hypnosis in my office- I think hypnotisability is situational and purpose driven, as a clinical subject there was no purpose to the hypnosis, in my office there was, makes complete sense when you think about it-  it can be measured but will be different in different settings for each individual. 

I cannot clear my mind..... Buddhist monks spend a life time working towards that goal, you don't need to clear your mind, that internal chatter is your conscious mind.... The one we are working with is your unconscious mind.... Let your conscious mind chatter away, let it do its thing, if you get your unconscious mind on side, your conscious one will get a whole lot more positive anyway. 

I don't want someone messing with my head.... Too right you don't, frankly neither would I, but helping you mend your mind is quite a different thing. Learning to deal with something a new way, learning how to control your reactions, not being scared, having more confidence, ridding yourself of your hang ups and worries, is mending not messing. Just make sure you get a qualified professional to help you- we really are not in the habit of poking around in people's minds for fun, it's our job to help you. 

Can you help me stop eating...... No you would die! But I could help you make better choices. 

I know that I can do X, Y, Z, but when it comes to the crunch, and  I find I'm unable to do it. .......That simply because, what you know what you believe is not the same thing. And when what you  know what you believe Is not the same thing, what you believe always wins! That's because, what you believe is controlled by the unconscious mind on what you know by the conscious . The unconscious mind is far more powerful than the conscious mind and that's why the conflict takes place. So the key to helping you to do XY and Z is simply to bring the two Minds together so what you know and what you believe are the same thing.

My wife, husband, son, daughter, girlfriend, etc. needs your help to do XY and Z....... But in reality your wife husband son or daughter or whoever it is, actually needs to want to make those changes themselves. As as much as you want to help them to make a change, they actually need to want to change,it's really that simple.

Are you going to use the swinging watch with me? .... Well I could, but I tend to find other methods to work better, this has always been synonymous with  a hypnotist, but It is something this hardly used these days.

Are you going to make me dance like a chicken? Well, I've never found that to be therapeutically necessary. 

In Hypnosis will I tell you all of my secrets? Hypnosis is not the truth serum, otherwise it would be used by the military, police forces etc. Hypnosis is about a trusting, working relationship between therapist and client, so you'll tell me just what you want to tell me and if you wanted to lie to me, or to keep something from me, then you are able to do that in Hypnosis just as you are in a normal wakeful state.

The last time I was in Hypnosis I didn't feel relaxed at all.    Is important to point out here, that hypnosis and hypnotherapy Is not relaxa-therapy, often when people are using hypnosis or are working with Hypnosis they're dealing with the clients innermost fears, worries and most anxiety provoking moments. Really it makes sense that sometimes during this process, relaxation is not an obvious part of the process at all. 

When I was in Hypnosis I could hear everything going on around me? Of course you could, we don't become deaf when we go into Hypnosis,just as we don't become deaf when we go to sleep. Things out of the ordinary often wake people in the deepest of sleeps, people often find when they're in Hypnosis however, that they become less bothered by the noises that they have around them and they become more and more focused on the therapists voice and the feelings of Calm and comforts within the body.

So hopefully, I have managed to debunk some of the myths that surround hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Happy world Hypnosis Day 2015 everyone, in my world Hypnosis rocks.

Monday, 20 October 2014


I seen many different phobia's over the years, everything from spiders and flying, to phobias of children, pregnant women and even the colour white. You can have a phobia of anything, you can get one at anytime. People that have a true phobia can find that they interfere with day to day life, I once treated a lady who was trapped in her car for 4 hours because there was a cat sat on her garden wall. She was sat there completely unable to move, at least until the cat did. All a phobia is, is that you have made a faulty connection that a certain thing or situation is totally threatening - even though your rational mind knows that it isn't. It's a process that happens at an unconscious level, at lightening speed causing a whole range of distressing symptoms. So treating a phobia is actually a simple procedure - it's really just a case of making the stimulus non- threatening again. Simple when you know how eh? 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Anxiety - when what we know and what we believe are not the same

One of the biggest causes of anxiety is a mismatch of what we know to true and what we believe to be true, to make matters even more confusing sometimes the belief is a subconscious one and out of conscious awareness. This mismatch of knowing and believing can cause phobias, Ibs, various anxiety disorders, and a host of other things. Someone who has a phobia knows that their trigger cannot harm them, they know that a particular thing or situation isn't actually threatening, they can be completely logical and rational - until the moment they are faced with the thing or situation they are phobic about. At that moment logic and reason are pushed aside by the fight-flight response and fear and anxiety take over, why? Because they believe at some level they are in a truly bad situation and are in danger. The subconscious mind has a lot to answer for in this situation, we can hold onto faulty beliefs all our lives, just because of a throw-away comment made by someone when we were young, something we saw on TV or even just by watching someone else react with fear to something that had never bothered us in the past. I find it astounding that the most prominent power of our mind (the subconscious) can in fact be so illogical and so easily filled with faulty information. People also often know that they are good, kind people, but at some level believe themselves to be inadequate in some way, causing issues such as anxiety, social issues and low self esteem. So the next time you find yourself feeling anxious - ask yourself what do I know and what do I believe ? If there is a mismatch you then know where your anxiety has come from, which is a good place to start moving forwards. 

Being a dyslexic Hypnotherapist

There are many misconceptions about being dyslexic - I can actually read, my vocabulary is good, I am not stupid and people with dyslexia do have a good grasp of language. My spelling is hilarious, and as a mother of 2 dyslexic kids playing scrabble or hangman in our house is an interesting experience - especially for our non-dyslexic guests! But I think being dyslexic is an advantage in my job, having my neutrons firing off in a different way to many of the general population, I think allows me to see the bigger picture more easily, to identify the patterns of behaviour or to see how a sequence of events could lead to a persons symptoms. In fact I wouldn't change being dyslexic for anything. The only time it's ever been a problem was at school, which now as watch my kids go through the school system, has made me realise, dyslexia is not the problem, how the educational system views it is. I work with words, language and communication, there are many words I wouldn't  have a cat in hells chance of spelling but I know what they mean and where to use them. More importantly I understand the pattern of language and how to use it to help others, help themselves, yet if I were in the school system now, my poor spelling would cause me to fail the most basic English exam. Dyslexia isn't a disability, it's a gift, I hope my kids grow up knowing that, rather than worrying that they may not score well on tests or can recall times tables at speed. We live in a world where even our phones have spell checkers -spelling is not an issue, communication is, understanding is, creativity is. 

It's okay to not be okay.

Every week I see clients that are experiencing some kind of trauma - be it a bereavement, divorce, redundancy or something else. 
It never ceases to amaze me how hard folk are on themselves, beating themselves up because they feel like rubbish or they are not coping with the situation. They always seem surprised when I tell them, they feel crap about a situation, because it's a crap situation - so why would you expect to feel anything other than crap about it? They seem even more amazed when I tell them it's okay not to be okay sometimes, not being okay often means that you care, you have feelings, and it bothers you that a thing or situation is crap. Some times we need to be not okay, to feel emotional pain- because it's part of the process we are going through. In fact it's often a fundamental part of the healing process, granted it's not nice, but burying it away, avoiding it, in the long run just makes a bad situation worse. So people sometimes, it's is essential to not be okay, so be kind to yourself and stop beating yourself up!