Whole-Being Hypnotherapy

Article by Nicky Holford

Published in Daily Mail newspaper, 3rd August 1998

Hypnotism has long been used to cure phobias such as fear of spiders, but now it is giving people the confidence to face more day-to-day dilemmas, like making a speech at a wedding or a presentation at work.

As the wedding day got closer, Debborah Barleggs found herself getting more and more nervous - and she wasn't even the bride. She had been asked to read an excerpt from The Prophet at a friend's wedding but the idea of standing up amd speaking in front of a roomful of people, although many were her friends and peers, was turning her into a nervous wreck.

"I realised I was getting disproportionately anxious. The whole thing was spoiling my anticipation of the wedding, which was a day I wanted to enjoy. I kept thinking that it could all go horribly wrong" says Deborah, 31.

She had heard about hypnotherapy through a friend, and thought that anything was worth a try. "I wasn't sure what I was afraid of because I wanted to do the reading. But the hypnotherapist has a way of talking to your subconscious to find out what's really standing in your way." she says. "I discovered I was so self-conscious about speaking in public that I spent most of the time thinking about what I would sound like, rather than concentrating on making a good job of the reading. But after just one hypnotherapy session I managed to get it all in perspective."

"I found the process of being hypnotised very strange. There is a point at which you allow yourself to relax, probably to a level you have never reached before, and some people might not like that. But once you are under hypnosis it feels normal, you can talk and are aware of things going on around you. Waking up is very pleasant, like after a nice long sleep. There's no hocus-pocus. You are fully aware of the hypnotherapist but you have your eyes firmly closed and there's no real desire to open them. You come up with suggestions or answers that you didn't make before the session, but you are aware of this."

"In the end, the wedding was great, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was nervous before the reading, my knees were knocking, but by all accounts I did a wonderful job."

Deborah has gone on to give presentations at work. She is now a director of a commercial conference company and gives briefings in front of 50 or more people.

Lack of confidence is the main problem preventing peopel from getting on with the things they want to do in life, says Deborah Marshall-Warren, who has her own practice and works at Chelsea's Harbour Club. [Deborah has since concentrated on her practice in West Hampstead.]

Many clients come for one-off events, such as a wedding or a job interview. Others come for a confidence boost or to get a grip on stress and anxiety caused by high-pressure jobs.

'Hypnosis is a deep state of relaxation, not a state of sleep or passivity, it's a similar state to meditation', she says. 'People who meditate say it;s very similar. In fact we go in and out of mini-trances throighout the day; a daydream is a trance, an automatic feeling of relaxation. Television is the best inducer of trance there is. To hyonotise someone I will use words that don't make sense. This is to confuse the left and right side of the brain.

For a nervous bride-to-be, Marshall-Warren will run through the whole wedding from beginning to end in hypnosis, just as an actor does in rehearsal. 'The subconscious cannot differentiate between a practice and the real thing', she says. Increasingly she sees people who have been made redundant. 'Even highly successful people can lack confidence and self-esteem', she says. 'It can be because they were told as a child that they would never make anything of their life or they were compared unfavourably with a sibling. Or they may come from a limited background so they never believe they are worthy. High achievers often immediately lose their raison d'etre if they have to change jobs. They need their confidence boosted to help them to go for interviews.'

Hypnotherapy can be seen as a shortcut to counselling. 'It might take you years to admit to a therapist what is standing in the way of your being a success', says Deborah Barleggs. By talking to your subconscious, a hypnotherapist can cut through all that and help you to be honest with yourself.'

TV executive Frances White, 44, went to see a hypnotherapist to conquer what she describes as 'insecurity in the boardroom. When the spotlight was on me, I would feel myself flushing and my hands would get sweaty. It seemed to get worse with experience rather than better. When I got to the point when I knew I would blush every time I spoke, I decided to get some help. Someone recommended that I see a hypnotherapist, so I took the plunge. She taught me to visualise that everyone else in the boardroom was naked. That helped because most of them were over 50 and unattractive. She also told me to imagine a thermometer and to drag down the temperature, to mentally make it cooler so that I wouldn't get hot flushes. That certainly was a great help.'

Deborah Marshall-Warren warns that hypnotism must be used carefully, and is the first to advise against stage hypnosis.

'A major worry about entertainment hypnosis is the humiliation of subjects. Stage hypnotists seek out the three-to-five per cent of people who are highly suggestible,' she says.

A hypnotherapist works with the other 97 per cent. Hypnosis is more than a party trick, it's a powerful tool with vast healing potential. But there are no guarantees: they come only with toasters and kettles.'

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