Monday, 3 June 2019

Hypnotherapy for Sceptics

Hypnotherapy for Sceptics

Are you unsure about hypnotherapy? Would you call yourself a sceptic?

A sceptic is someone who doubts something. If you are a sceptic you might question many things in life such as hypnotherapy. You might remember horror stories that you have seen in films or on the TV about hypnosis. That is normal. You are entitled to be sceptical because hypnosis is about your mind and body. You don't want to be threatened with anything or feel under pressure. So, you do have a right to question things and get the answers you need.

But all sceptics don't necessarily have closed minds. In fact many sceptics are intelligent people who question things to develop their knowledge and skills in life. If you are a sceptic related to hypnotherapy that's OK because you are the same as many other people. You might be scared of hypnosis. You might be concerned that the hypnotist will make you do silly things like you have seen on TV shows. You might feel that hypnosis is against your religion or you might just worry about being out of control. That's understandable but...

You make decisions in life built on your past experiences and beliefs yet things might be very different today and maybe your beliefs are wrong. Let me tell you a story...

Years ago when I was a nurse many people would talk to me about their problems. Relatives might confide in me about the difficulties they were having looking after a relative, staff would come and talk about the pressures that they were feeling at work, and friends would also find comfort in talking about difficult issues. You see I was known for being very confidential. I didn't gossip. I helped people to relieve their anxieties and sort out their problems. So I decided that I wanted to train as a counsellor. I wanted to do this so I could develop my skills and get a recognised qualification.

So that's what I did alongside my nursing. I enrolled on a three year course where I trained at weekends to become a counsellor/psychotherapist. But the course included hypnotherapy. I was sceptical. Just like you I thought I don't hear of doctors being hypnotists.  Just like you I was very wary. I didn't know what to expect and just like you I recalled stage hypnotists and the evil Svengali in films. You see I had little knowledge of hypnosis. I wasn't taught it in my nurse training. I only had my previous experiences to draw upon and they were limited.

Things started to rapidly changed when I started to learn about hypnosis. I discovered new skills and I learnt that hypnosis could help a range of issues. I even experienced hypnosis on the first weekend of training. I found research and evidence to support the practice of hypnosis and I saw for myself how hypnosis could help people to achieve amazing things. I was sceptical, but I soon changed my ideas as I now had so much more compelling evidence that hypnosis was real- it wasn't just placebo and it did work for many people. Through training and practice I learnt a huge number of hypnotic skills, so today I now teach others hypnotherapy. I even discovered that some doctors do use hypnosis and that it has been endorsed by the British Medical Association and the American Medical Association since the 1950s. Furthermore, my clients give me that ultimate evidence that hypnosis is powerful through the changes I see them make.

So if you still feel sceptical about hypnosis let me answer your questions. I can provide you with knowledge and evidence to demonstrate that it is an amazing tool that helps many people in life to change something.  If you need help with a problem such as fear of public speaking, IBS or a lack of confidence and much more, perhaps hypnotherapy is your answer. Contact me for a complementary initial consultation when you can find out more.

Kind regards

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Is anxiety increasing your blood pressure?

Did you know that stress and anxiety can increase your blood pressure readings?

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is considered to be when your blood pressure readings are too high for your age. An average healthy blood pressure is around 120/80 mmHg., but this will vary at different times of the day with our lowest blood pressure being when we are asleep and our highest blood pressure being in the morning.  

The normal range can increase as we get older.  Only a doctor can diagnose high blood pressure. It's usually assessed after a general health assessment and several blood pressure readings.

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, isn't good for health as it increases the risks of heart attacks, strokes and other serious conditions. There are two types of high blood pressure

  • Primary hypertension. The cause is unknown but it can be related to poor lifestyle choices and stress and anxiety.
  • Secondary hypertension. The cause is known in secondary hypertension. For example, kidney disease, heart conditions, some medications and blood disorders can cause secondary hypertension.

One form of high blood pressure that is related to anxiety is called 'White Coat Syndrome'.

White Coat Syndrome

White Coat Syndrome causes a spike in blood pressure when a patient goes to see the doctor or nurse in the health centre or doctors rooms. It doesn't happen to everyone but we do know that is is related to nervous patients. The high blood pressure is picked up when you have your blood pressure checked. It's linked to stress and anxiety as feeling anxious can increase body tension as well as confounding negative thoughts. This is because we know that there is a link between how we think, feel and behave and that influences the physical body.

So if you are nervous when you go to see the doctor or nurse and they take a blood pressure reading, it could be higher than normal.

Once a high blood pressure reading is found you will be asked to have it repeated. Often a 24 hour blood pressure machine is recommended as it can record your blood pressure at home throughout a 24 hour period. This will give the doctor a better idea if the blood pressure is high or if it was your anxiety that raised it in his or her rooms.

So what can you do to maintain a healthy blood pressure?

You need to reduce the risk factors to prevent or control raised blood pressure.
Things you can do are:
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet that includes a variety of foods.
  • Exercise. This could be walking, cycling or swimming within your limits.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption.
  • Reduce caffeine that is contained in coffee and fizzy drinks.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Reduce your stress and anxiety through regular relaxation.
Finally don't ignore high blood pressure. Its a very common problem that can be helped.

Linda from Awaken the Change is a qualified and experienced hypnotherapist, counsellor and coach. She provides help with stress, anxiety and primary hypertension.

This is what one happy client who presented with White Coat Syndrome said:
'The aspects of the therapy that helped most were the relaxation from having hypnosis and the coaching to change a negative way of thinking about a situation.
Mrs M. from Ferndown, Dorset.

For a free initial consultation contact Linda at Awaken the Change today. /

Monday, 15 April 2019

10 Things you should know before being hypnotised

If you want something to change, maybe you want to stop smoking, to reduce your stress and anxiety or get relief from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and you are thinking of hypnotherapy here are 10 things you should know first.

Woman focusing as she relaxes and goes into trance
  1.  The practice of hypnosis has been around for hundreds of years but it wasn't always called hypnosis. A similar treatment called Mesmerism was the fore runner of hypnosis. The word hypnosis was first coined by James Braid, a Scottish doctor who studied hypnosis. 'Hypno; comes from the Greek word to sleep as hypnosis may look like sleep. Hypnotherapy has been endorses by the British Medical Association since 1955.
  2. No one can force you to change so ensure that if you want to change something you are 100% committed before agreeing to therapy. Some hypnotherapists are doctors, dentists or psychologists and some are lay hypnotherapists. If you use a lay hypnotherapist check if the hypnotherapist is a member of a professional body, ask them what they do with your information and if they have any testimonials or evidence of good results. You may even discuss hypnosis with your healthcare professional first. This is to ensure that you get the right hypnotist for you that is well trained, experienced and able to help you. You need to feel comfortable with the person that you choose.
  3. There are lots of myths surrounding hypnotherapy. You do not lose control, in fact you gain control of your life when you decide to change something. You do not tell the hypnotherapist all your secrets unless you want to. You can move, cough and open your eyes in hypnosis but most people are so relaxed that they sit or lie quietly. Generally hypnosis is a very pleasant experience.
  4. The majority of people can be hypnotised. Its a natural phenomenon. People who cannot understand or focus on the hypnotist are not suitable for hypnotherapy, although people with hearing problems can usually be hypnotised.  Children can be hypnotised from about 5 years of age but it does depend on the child and the ability of the hypnotherapist. Generally people with epilepsy or people suffering from mental health issues that result in psychosis should not be hypnotised. Some people are more hypnotisable than others.
  5. There are thousands of ways to induce hypnosis so that you can take up positive suggestions that the hypnotherapist uses to help you change. For example, trance could be induced by fixing the gaze on an object or place, by systematically relaxing parts of your body or by telling you  stories. Sometimes the hypnotherapist will use techniques that are slower and take 10-15 minutes while other hypnotherapists might use techniques that may only take a minute or two. 
  6. You are not asleep when you are hypnotised although you may feel very relaxed and think that you may have fallen asleep. Some people hear every word the hypnotist says and some people don't. It doesn't really matter which end of the spectrum you are at.
  7. Hypnosis is not considered to be a dangerous practice if you have a qualified practitioner who adheres to ethical practice. It is not just a placebo.
  8. Some hypnotherapists use Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) alongside hypnosis as some research studies have shown that it can enhance therapy with some issues.
  9. Uncovering techniques such as regression may be used by some hypnotherapists to get to the cause of the issue, however memories could be distorted and are unreliable at finding the truth. Not all hypnotherapists use regression.
  10. There are many things that hypnotherapy can help with. Its a fast and effective way to help lots of people. Problems that a client may need help with include, low confidence and self-esteem, fear of public speaking, fear of flying, other fears and anxiety states, help with medical conditions such as IBS or skin problems, pain management, motivation or help with decision making and much more.
Linda Witchell Hypnotherapist Counsellor and Coach
Linda form Awaken the Change provides hypnotherapy, counselling (CBT) and coaching to help people change the things that they want to change. She is a Fellow of the National Hypnotherapy Society and a member of the General Hypnotherapy Council and Professional Hypnotherapy Network. She is also a member of the National Counselling Society. As a complementary therapist she is a local champion for the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).

Linda teaches hypnotherapy and counselling skills and is a supervisor to other therapists.

Hypnotherapy is provided face to face in Bournemouth or for some people a remote service via Skype maybe possible.

For more information about hypnotherapy or to book a free initial consultation contact Linda today. /

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Need Help for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Do you get symptoms such as awful stomach cramps, wind, bloating, diarrhoea or constipation? Does it stop you from going out socially? Maybe you feel anxious about always needing the toilet. For some people the abdominal pain may even stop IBS sufferers from going to work. IBS not only causes physical symptoms it can also have a significant affect on quality of life.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common functional disorder. Its not a disease, rather its your bowel not working in the way that it should. Its a condition that must be diagnosed by your doctor as some other conditions have similar symptoms.


Treatment is very individualised as different people have different symptoms. Some people take antispasmodic tables and that might help. Other people need to take medication to stop the diarrhoea or for those with constipation laxatives will help. As people can feel depressed with IBS sometimes antidepressants are prescribed. For some people changing their diet will help. The low FODMAP diet developed through Australian research works for some people as eating some short-chain carbohydrates is thought to make IBS worse. Some people take pain killers, but there isn't the prefect medication that will remove all IBS symptoms for all patients.

But its not all doom and gloom. If you have had a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) from your doctor there is proven help available.  Its a different approach that has been shown to be successful; its all about mindset.

It may seem strange that our minds and gut are connected, but they are. Think about someone going for a driving test or other exam. This person may have a 'butterflies' in their tummy. If they are really worried about the test they may feel sick or even vomit. Anyone who is very anxious can experience these things even if they don't have IBS, because there is a mind-body and gut connection.

When IBS suffers are more stressed and anxious their symptoms can get worse. However, modern life is stressful. The problem is that we all have many demands on out time and energy so just saying that you will keep away from things that make you feel stressed isn't always possible. This is is where helping IBS suffers to think, feel and behave in a different way has been proven to help.

Change your mindset and you will help to reduce your symptoms

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

A recent research study, led by Dr Hazel Ann Everitt, has compared telephone Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and web based CBT and has shown that CBT is better than the standard treatments at reducing the symptoms of IBS.  This was a big study of 558 patients and was carried out by researchers from Kings and Southampton Universities and reported in the journal called Gut.

CBT is a type of counselling where together you explore your negative thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and behaviours.  You might briefly discuss past experiences, beliefs or triggers that make your IBS worse. You then work out ways to make changes. This may require 6 or more sessions.


Hypnotherapy also helps IBS suffers. Gut focused hypnotherapy has been found to be successful in helping people with IBS in clinical trials. It is endorsed in the UK by the National Institute if Health and Care Excellence (NICE), however not many people are aware that it can help and its difficult to get funding for hypnotherapy on the National Health Service (NHS). 

A research study by Hassan et al., compared hypnotherapy for IBS when delivered face to face in a clinic to remote hypnosis via Skype.  Using a symptom severity scoring tool they were able to show a 65% reduction of IBS symptoms for people who had Skype hypnotherapy compared to a 76% reduction with face to face hypnotherapy.  The study showed that not only were patients helped in the clinics with hypnotherapy to reduce their IBS symptoms, but they could also be helped with hypnotherapy for IBS via Skype.

Hypnotherapy is not like stage hypnosis. It should be carried out by a professional clinical hypnotherapist who has had training in using hypnosis for IBS. The aim of therapy is to combine relaxation and positive suggestions to assist the suffer to make changes in how they think and behave. The number of hypnotherapy sessions will vary for individuals but 5 or more sessions are likely.

In conclusion, there are two proven therapies for IBS, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Hypnotherapy. Both treatment methods involve focusing on relieving the symptoms through a positive mindset.

Awaken the Change has been established since 2007 and offers Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and gut focused Hypnotherapy for people who have been diagnosed with IBS. These therapies can be offered separately or together depending on the clients needs. Therapies can also be delivered via Skype or face to face in Bournemouth.

Find out more and book a free initial, no obligation consultation.

Hassan S., Pearson J., Morris J., Whorwell P. 2019. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 67, (1) 69-80.

Everitt H. A., Landau S., O'Reilly G., Sibeli A., Hughes S., Windgassen S., Holland R., Little P., McCrone P., Bishop F., Goldsmith K., Coleman N., Logan R., Chadler T., Moss-Morris R. 2019. Gut. 68 -5

Monday, 8 April 2019

Exam Anxiety: how can you help?

Do you know someone who seems to be stressed before exams?

At this time of the year many school children, college students and university students are studying and feeling stressed. Maybe they are revising for long hours and you know that they really want to pass. But exam stress isn't just confined to young people and people in formal educational settings. Everyone can feel stressed during exam time, that's normal.

Exams and tests are everywhere in life. People who learn to drive do driving tests. At work people do tests whether its accountancy, nursing, or banking or some other career. Exams and tests are necessary as we need to know what people can do, what standards are across an industry and to help us to know our own levels of knowledge and skills.

Exams and tests are measures that assess the person's knowledge and skills at a set point. But they can never measure everything that a person has learnt. 

If you are a parent, other relative or friend you can help the person that seems stressed with exams or tests by showing them that you care.

How would I know if someone was stressed about exams?

People who are stressed can show emotional and physical signs. They feel under pressure. Perhaps they are overwhelmed with the amount of work that they have got to tackle. Some people ignore the fact that they have an exam coming up. Other people sit down to study but end up procrastinating so never getting anything done. Some people keep negative thoughts going by keep telling themselves that they won't pass because they are not good enough. They might say these things to you.

A lot of stress can lead to anxiety issues. But you are not expected to diagnose or be an expert. However you may have noticed things such as the person isn't sleeping very well or they are moody or just studying so intensely that they have stopped all the things that they like doing in life. Maybe an adult might drink more alcohol or smoke more when they are studying. The person may also tell you that they are feeling stressed about their exams.

How can you help someone who is stressed with exams?

Good communication is vital. Here are 5 tips to make it easier to communicate.
  1. Choose a good place and time to talk to the person and know your purpose.
  2. Listen. Really listen so you can pick up any difficulties that the person has.
  3. Check that you have heard what they have said and acknowledge it. For example, say 'Thanks for telling me that. It seems to me that you are having difficulties with XXX.'
  4. Help the person to know where they can get help from or if you are an expert in a subject offer to help. If they need help from someone else don't give advice, rather give options. For example, you could say that a teacher might be able to help with that, or have you thought about talking to your doctor about your headaches. Obviously if there are health issues and you are a parent taking your child to the doctor is an important step. Finally, ask if there is anything else that you can do to help.

Remember that you are helping that person by being there. Communicate well with this person because you care about them. And if you feel that they need more help find out who else could assist.

Awaken the Change is a hypnotherapy, counselling and coaching service that specialises in helping people with exam and test anxiety. For more information

Friday, 29 March 2019

Mothers Day isn't a happy day for everyone

Are you still grieving for your mum after her death?

Some people tell me that their mum has died and that they dread Mothers Day. Is that you? Are you expecting that it will be an emotionally difficult day for you? Thoughts and feeling s about Mothers Day might make you feel sad, anxious or guilty and it may stop you from doing the things that you would like to do. Anniversaries and national days can bring back sad memories and that feeling of loss. But it doesn't have to be that way. Over time you can find ways to feel better.

If you have lost your mum I want you to know that you are not alone as many people dread Mothers Day. I'm sorry that you are feeling sad, but today I would like to give you a 7 tips on how you can get another perspective on your loss.

Talk to someone

If people don't know how you are feeling they may avoid talking about your mother. If you need someone to really listen, empathise and help you through your grief then a bereavement counsellor can help. If you are having health issues speak to your doctor.

Decide to celebrate your mother's life

It can be difficult, but deciding to be happy on Mothers Day and do happy things that might give you a purpose are worth considering. How about having a party to celebrate mum's life, going out to a place that she liked or doing something that is fun.

Plan to go out and exercise

You could go for a walk, meet some good friends and family or go to the gym. Any way that you can increase your activity will be good.

Set aside a time to grieve

This could be a short time in the day when you are going to think about everything related to the loss of your mum. During this time, lets say an hour, you may cry, you may feel angry that she isn't around or many other emotions might come to the surface. After your allocated time tell yourself that you will feel better and do something that you will enjoy. Choose to be happier.

Give to someone

If you know of a mother who has lost their child offer to take them out or give them something for Mothers Day. Give to a charity that you or your mum would support. Give your time to something that you find worthwhile. Give to other members of your family who may also be grieving.

Write a journal

This could be a diary of how you are feeling as getting your thoughts and feelings down on paper helps you to get the thoughts out of your head and feel better.

Make a memory area in your house

This could be pictures of your mum with beautiful flowers on a table. You could put a photo in a photo frame and put it on the wall. You could also do something a bit more creative like write a poem about your mum, write a story about her or paint a picture of her. You might even feel that lighting a candle can help.

So from today make yourself a promise that you will try to look at Mothers Day from a different perspective.

Kind regards

Linda is a bereavement counsellor offering face to face, telephone and online bereavement counselling

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

10 Tips to Better Public Speaking

If you are nervous about public speaking you are not alone. Approximately 75% of the population has some fear of public speaking. This fear might cause you worry before and during an event. Public speaking can be at a wedding, at work or in some other social gathering.

Fear of public speaking is an irrational fear, but it makes you feel awful. Your heart might race, your mouth might feel dry and you could even feel sick. Sometimes it can get so bad that it becomes a phobia (Glossophobia) and this is when you would tell yourself that you would never do any form of public speaking!

But life often means that we do need to speak in public. Sometimes you just can't avoid it anymore.

Here are my 10 'P' tips for helping anyone with a fear of public speaking.

1. Purpose. 

Know why you are going to speak in public. Is it to sell something? Is it to give people information? Or is it for some other purpose. Consider how it could help you if you carry out this task. You need to know what your goal is.

2. Prepare

You need time to work out what you need to say. What are your objectives? How are you going to structure your speech? Will you use props or visual aids? Are you going to talk for 10 minutes or 45 minutes? Think what you have to prepare. You will need to prepare yourself mentally and physically as well as preparing the content of your speech. You will also need to prepare the room that you are presenting in if you can.

3. Practice

As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. Practice your voice projection. Practice getting the structure right. Practice speaking without notes if you can. Practice deep breathing as calming your breathing will help you to relax. Practice feeling good not practising feeling awful!

4. Pay attention to your audience

Who are you going to speak to? If its a group of children your speech and language will be different to a formal work presentation. What you do audience like? What do they need from you? How will be the best way to deliver your message to them?

5. Positive thinking

If you hate public speaking this might seem difficult but just keep telling yourself that you can do it. Every time a negative thought comes into your mind change it to a more positive thought. For example, If you keep hearing yourself say 'I can't do it' change it to 'I couldn't do it before but I'm going to learn how to do it now.'

6. Posture

Consider how you will stand, or sit. Think about open body posture. Smile. Relax and look like you want to speak. Slow down and if appropriate move across the stage.

7. Personalise your message

Whatever you are talking about make it relevant to the audience. Sometimes telling stories from your life experiences helps people to understand more and get a real feel for the subject. Personalising your message also makes speeches more interesting.

8. Passion

If you can talk about something that you are passionate about do. 

9. Paint a picture

Help your audience to imagine what you are saying. Maybe you can use words that can help them to feel you story. This can work for any speech. At work it might mean helping staff to imagine the benefits of a product or organisational change.

10. Pursue

Seek out resources to help you. Maybe you need to ask for funds if its a work presentation so you can rent a room. Keep going, but if you really feel scared then get some help. You don't need to do this on your own. Get help from work if its available. Go to speaking groups. Talk to a counsellor or get the right mindset with hypnotherapy. You can do it!

If you want someone who speaks in public every month, has many years experience, and uses proven  tools to help you succeed then contact me at Awaken the Change. Focusing minds for positive results.

Face to face help in Bournemouth and for some people online help via Skype.