Katherine had been struggling with spiders for years. During most of the year it was something that caused her discomfort, however she dreaded the autumn months knowing that there was a high likelihood of her going into a room and finding one.
Her main motivation to address her phobia however, was the fear of passing it on to her children. This was a very realistic fear as often phobias are learned behaviour, passed from generation to generation.
Katherine elected to do a ‘deep dive session’ – an extended session where we use 3 key therapeutic tools that are proven to be effective with acute anxiety. We start the session by paving the way – learning about the science behind hypnosis and developing awareness of how the mind works. This can be very powerful in recognising that a phobia is not an illness, but more of a mental hypervigilance to protect.
Katherine commented, “I didn’t fully understand hypnotherapy before seeing Caroline and wasn’t sure how successful it would be. Caroline fully explained everything.”
Many people have an impression of hypnosis developed from seeing stage shows or films. This can lead to a fear of loss of control or lack of awareness. So we spend time to dispel these myths and gain clarity on what hypnosis actually is – in Katherine’s words, “A deep state of relaxation.”
After the session, Katherine left with an optimism that she certainly felt different. She quickly had exposure when a spider was on her son and she did not react in the way she would have done previously.
“I have noticed that I am already more confident at dealing with spiders and I am more conscious of my thought processes around spiders and my reaction to them.”
Katherine was also given a personalised recording that has two key objectives: It helps develop the ability to relax which can reduce generalised stress and anxiety, and it also builds on the tools used in the session to help embed that work. Whilst the autumn was a few months away from our work together, using it will help maintain this changed mindset, however Katherine added, “It is still early days and the true test will be in the autumn but I already feel I have more tools to deal with the 8-legged creatures!”
Phobias tend to respond really well to hypnotherapy. People often do not get help for them as they feel embarrassed at their reaction to what they consciously know is not dangerous. However, a professional will help you understand how your mind is working and work sensitively with you to reduce and potentially remove your phobia. It you would like more information, please get in touch for an informal chat.Let's Talk
Clare had a debilitating fear of spiders leading to her being unable to go into parts of her home, such as her conservatory, when alone in the house incase there was a spider in there.
Her motivation to gain support was not only the impact on her life, but an awareness of how her fears were starting to be picked up by one of her young sons.
Clare had not experienced hypnosis before but was willing to do anything to help resolve her problem.
Clare had just one session. There are a number of techniques that reduce phobic reactions and the one that was used with Clare was a visualisation based technique.
Whilst many phobias, such as fear of flying or heights, can have a controlled exposure to the risk – ie you can control when to fly or go up a skyscraper, the risk of seeing a spider, especially at Autumn time is faced daily. Therefore, this requires an approach that is easy to implement so it does not drain the mental resources.
Clare is a very visual person. The subconscious mind, where fear is managed from, is very playful and we used this playfulness to imagine any spiders she saw as having wellyboots on. This gave her a mental strategy to apply at the trigger of seeing a spider, rather than her mind defaulting to the fight or flight response. Her technique was to mentally boot up each of the 8 legs.
This technique supports the fact that the mind cannot tell the difference between reality and imagination and in Clare’s mind, seeing a spider with wellies on was not something that instilled fear.
Clare is still not a fan of spiders, however….. “Although I still don’t like them, seeing them with coloured welly’s on takes the fear away.”
This is a significant result in one session and enough for Clare to be happy knowing that any exposure to spiders is something she can deal with. She can now spring clean those corners of the house that in the past would have been avoided and garden without fear of spiders emerging from the shed – and her husband is happier not to have to do those jobs now too!!
For more information on techniques used for resolving phobias, please read on hereLet's Talk
Annabel is a very bright young lady and performing very well at school. However, despite her good grades, she constantly felt she was not good enough. The standards she set herself led to high levels of anxiety that were then affecting her sleep.
She also had some physical challenges that were leading to fears around both her own and others’ mortality. She required an operation and was experiencing very high levels of anxiety around the procedure.
As she was coming close to her GCSE exams, the initial motivation was to get her anxiety back under control. We needed to improve her sleep and help her to fulfill her full potential in her exams.
Annabel came to the first session with a very open mind. She had had some counselling before but whilst she felt it had helped with coping strategies, it had not helped her change her low opinion of herself.
She took on board the science behind hypnotherapy, after her first experience of hypnosis, she described it as, “A deep relaxing sleep.”
Over the course of 6 months we had 8 sessions together. Initially the focus was on perfectionism and she started to feel a pride in the results she was getting in exams. This was a big change from anything below her perceived perfect score, being not good enough.
After her mocks, our focus then moved to preparing her for an operation she needed – something that she naturally felt very anxious about.
Shortly after her operation I received a message from her Mum saying, “She was amazing – really positive and calm.”
Annabel is now looking forward with excitement to a summer where she can fully enjoy her social life. And beyond that, making more progress towards fulfilling her dream of becoming a dentist.
In Annabel’s words, our work together “relieved a lot of anxiety and helped with a phobia (of medical procedures)”
I am confident that this lovely young lady is going to use her new skills to create a very exciting future for herself.
If you can relate to the challenges Annabel faced, please get in touch and we can chat moreLet's Talk
Jeremy had a fear of public speaking, largely focused around running large team meetings.
Like many, he had reservations about hypnotherapy. “I didn’t think it would work,” he said.
The first step in exploring working together is typically an informal chat with Caroline so that concerns such as these can be discussed. It helps people make an informed decision as to whether this form of therapy feels worth exploring more. Jeremy was based outside of the UK which also added another element to our work as it would all be done over zoom.
Jeremy was experiencing high levels of anxiety whenever a need to present was on the horizon. This had not been made any easier during the Covid pandemic and everything going online. His sleep was also being affected prior to doing any talks.
In the first session, clients have an experience of hypnosis so that they know how it feels before plunging in any deeper. Jeremy’s description of this experience was; “It feels deeply immersive and out-of-body at the same time. The body is in a deeply relaxed physical state while the mind is somewhere on a venn diagram between meditative sleep, alertness and deep introspection.”
During the 4 sessions we had together, we worked on uncovering the root to anxiety which went back to college days for him, and then developed some strategies to boost confidence when presenting.
The result in his own words: “I believe working with Caroline helped my mind re-categorise how it perceives public speaking. Now I have significantly less anxiety, more confidence and can perform better than before. 100% worth it.”
A fear of public speaking is often a source of anxiety but one that many overcome. However, if a fear of something starts to affect your sleep, your ability to eat or you feel that it is a level of anxiety disproportionate to the activity, then please do get in touch.Let's Talk
M is an 11 year old child who was struggling with a phobia of being sick. This triggered high levels of anxiety when feeling any form of nausea or stomach discomfort.
Her anxieties were leading to her struggling to settle into the new Secondary School environment, which in turn was creating a high level of anxiety for all at home. Things were rapidly spiralling downwards.
One of the key things in supporting younger children is creating trust. M was a very bright child and also emotionally intelligent which helped us to create a platform of understanding of the science behind hypnosis and also the impact her thoughts and experiences were having on her. From here, she felt more able to ‘open up’ about not only her anxieties but her feelings in relation to how it was affecting her family.
Children tend to be a bit ‘marmite’ with hypnosis – they love it or hate it. M was very open to it however the experience of allowing her to focus on those fears did cause her to feel a lot of emotion as those pent up feelings were released. We allowed large periods of time between sessions to allow M time for the mental healing process to occur and to start using the new skills we were developing. In total, M had 3 sessions with me over a period of nearly 2 months.
Here is what her Mum said:
“Caroline has really helped my daughter cope with her phobia of being sick or feeling sick. Whilst M still occasionally gets anxious about new situations, her fear of going to school has completely vanished. She is happy and thriving there.
As a parent, the thing that has been the most helpful to me is the follow up emails Caroline has written to me, to guide me through what has been a very distressing time. She’s a mum too, so really understands what we as parents go through, as children negotiate their way through their anxiety issues. I have also really appreciated her advice on how often she sees M and which different methods she will use – it’s always been about what has been right for M, not about Caroline earning fees.
Children are often highly responsive to hypnotherapy and by gaining the tools to use their mind in this way at an early age, have a skill set that can be applied for the rest of their lives.
If you have a child that you are concerned for or would like to know more about hypnotherapy, let’s chat.Let's Talk
P is a 14 year old who had be experiencing increasing levels of anxiety when having to face any medical interventions. It had led to three adults having to hold her down when a blood sample needed to be taken. Extremely traumatic for her and everyone else too!
Since then she has refrained from any medical interventions which added to the stress of trying to manage ongoing medical treatment.
When working with teenagers, accepting that parents have a significant role in the process too is important. P’s Mum expressed her concerns regarding hypnotherapy. “Having seen the hypnotic ‘shows,’ I was concerned that my daughter would end up clucking like a chicken. I was also concerned about meddling with the mind of an already complex 14 year old.”
P however took a different viewpoint saying, “I was quite excited because I have always wanted to be hypnotised.”
Having helped Mum understand the difference to the stage use of hypnosis and the science that is behind the therapeutic use, we went ahead and did a chemistry session with P. This was done over zoom as we were in lockdown due to the Corona virus. P dealt really well with working remotely and after having her first experience of hypnosis went on to say, “ I felt really relaxed and sleepy. I really liked the feeling.”
There was a bit of a time delay until the second session where we addressed the phobia. The ‘testing’ of the results however, took a little time as unlike phobias of spiders etc, we could not just take her to a medical appointment! A few weeks later however it was holiday time and P had to have a Covid test before entering France which she managed, to her family’s surprise, with ease. “I would have been terrified and hysterical had I not seen Caroline,” she said.
Phobias are relatively easy to deal with as they are a very focused form of anxiety, however, as clients learn to use the power of their mind in a new way, there are often secondary benefits. Her Mum added, “P had a stress free and intrusive medical intervention and her school attendance has improved with no time off for ‘anxiety.’ She has been going out with her friends more and going to the shop alone which she was scared to do before.”
Many people struggle with phobias for life and the reality is that they can be reduced in a short period of time. “I was delighted that it took only two sessions to see a difference. We are well on the journey to helping our daughter deal with her anxiety,” Mum concluded with.
So if you have had a phobia that is impeding your quality of life or just want to know more, please get in touch.Let's Talk
Phobias are something that many people ‘suffer in silence’ with. Sufferers are often to embarrassed to visit their GP about it, often going to extreme lengths to hide it from friends and colleagues. However, Lyn experienced an end to her phobia of lifts which she’d had for years. And it took about 90 minutes!
Phobias are usually created through one of two roots – trauma or learned. Lyn hadn’t been a massive fan of lifts but then suffered the trauma of being trapped in one for over an hour. Needless to say, from that point on, lifts were not an option!
Many people will avoid hypnotherapy because they misconstrue how it works. Here is how Lyn describes it:
“It was just a very relaxing and peaceful experience. I was aware of sounds around me at the time but they were not intrusive, your (Caroline’s) quiet and gentle voice was the only thing that I was really tuned in to. I was a bit worried about being put into a trance but it wasn’t anything like the hypnosis I had seen on TV shows: it was a really pleasant experience.”
Lyn had one therapeutic session only. She left the session and drove straight to the local department store that had a lift. Within an hour, I received a text to say she had ridden up and down in the lift on her own several times. I did wonder what the staff were thinking!
The mind is an incredible powerful resource. Due to Lyn’s traumatic experience, part of her mind had made the link between a risk to her personal safety and lifts. The primary role of the subconscious mind is survival and so the mind came up with a reasonable decision – to stay safe, stay out of lifts!
However, the subconscious can also be very myopic. It was unable to see that this focus on personal safety was actually harming her emotional security. It couldn’t see that she was missing out on lots of things that would bring her happiness.
And this is one of the roots of how hypnotherapy works. It introduces new information and evidence to the subconscious mind creating new mental associations. It’s a bit like changing the points on a train track – a simple flick of a switch and the train heads off in a different direction.
“I cannot thank you enough for your help, I just with that I had visited you a long time ago. It has been such a positive experience.”Let's Talk
Sonny is in his mid 70s. He contacted me to ask if I could help him overcome a phobia of eating chicken – a meat he had been unable to eat since very early childhood. The mere thought of eating it created nausea and revulsion.
The aversion had caused him some minor embarrassments at social functions over the years. However, a recent medical diagnosis had resulted in the need to drastically change his diet. He had been advised to adopt a high protein, low fat diet. He was not keen on beef, could not eat pork for religious reasons, and lamb was too fatty. Thus the variance in his diet had become very limited making it even harder to stick to the new regime.
Sonny had some preconceptions about hypnosis but had been encouraged by neighbours and family to, “Give it a go, as after all, what have I got to lose!”
In the first session we successfully recalled an experience directly relating to chickens. Reviewing that memory (known as regression) allowed a significant change in his attitude to eating chicken. At the end of this first session, he felt as if the issue had been “75% resolved”. The remaining 25% however did not have anything to do with the aversion – and this is very common. This new problem was related to what we call the “what if monkey” – that part that lives within most of us that jumps up and asked, “What if I …..” and in Sonny’s case, “What if I fail?”
The second session addressed this issue and the following feedback was received from Sonny shortly afterwards.
“The problem is now resolved. The fact I eat poultry now after over 70 years abstinence must mean a significant change has occurred. In addition, my wife, adult children and grand-daughter are so pleased with the change in my phobia of eating chicken.”
Like many people, Sonny was nervous of the concept of hypnosis. His thoughts post the two sessions;
“I had expected the hypnosis part of the process to be completely unconscious as seen on TV shows. Instead, I experienced some heaviness particularly on eye lids but was completely focused on the dialogue with the Therapist. I was aware of ambient noise but this was disregarded as attention to the dialogue was the principal requisite.”
Sonny has since recommended Caroline Cavanagh to a neighbour, referral being the highest form of recommendation.Let's Talk
Catherine contacted me in relation to high anxiety levels every time the phone rang. Over time this had escalated to feeling anxious at looking at emails and also answering the door.
This kind of escalation in anxiety is very common. Part of the role of the subconscious mind is to protect us. At a subconscious level, Catherine’s mind was linking all contacts from the outside world to something that had scared her.
Catherine was very open-minded to the concept of hypnosis but even she was surprised: “Being hypnotised felt no different to feeling very relaxed and comfortable, I retained a full awareness and felt in control throughout. If anything, it felt surprisingly normal and natural.”
The work with Catherine spanned 4 sessions. During these we identified key instances in her past that had led to this reaction being developed. There were a number of traumatic experiences relating to close family members, whereby she’d received the news via a phone call. Whilst there are many techniques that can desensitise such traumas, activity done under hypnosis is very effective. It is the connection between the events is at a subconscious level that needs to be addressed – the level we work at in hypnotherapy.
Catherine experienced an improvement during our work together. In the follow-up call 6 weeks after the last session, she confirmed that she had, “Experienced a significant improvement.”
Whilst we focus on a specific goal in the therapeutic work, the knowledge gained can often be used to affect other areas of life. Catherine already had a keen interest in areas such as meditation but she added,
“My understanding of why my body responds in the way it does is now greater. I also have a higher awareness of how to perceive things more accurately. I feel that I have a tool to develop my responses in a direction which benefits me and an increased awareness of how powerful my mind really is.”
Catherine’s closing words:
“I would like to thank you, Caroline, for your kindness and professionalism as well as your generosity with your time. I know that I feel better and that I do have the resources to overcome anxieties before they embed and become problematic. This couldn’t have been achieved on my own and this whole experience has been 100% positive.”Let's Talk
Debbie has an incredibly demanding role in a high pressure environment. In her work role she is strong and confident when working with her clients. But she struggled when it came to the managerial element of her role and had been avoiding opportunities for promotion. Once she left her place of work, low self esteem prevailed. However, her main reason for contacting me was due to a developing driving phobia.
She had noticed it was escalating. She had started to experience panic attacks and realised she was starting to avoid going out to certain places.
Debbie had a total of 6 sessions with me spread over 3 months. In this time she achieved a “significant improvement” with the problems she was experiencing.
“Caroline is unique! She was able to help me ‘peel back the layers’ and address some deep rooted issues which quietly niggled away in the background. In the first session with Caroline I was apprehensive but after that, I couldn’t wait to see her again to have the next one!” said Debbie.
This is also quite common and I often refer to some of my clients as onions! Layers build up over time and the one at the top becomes the dominant one. As you work through these therapeutically, others then emerge which have been ‘buried.’ But they are still ‘niggling away’ in the back of the mind and impacting on the quality of life.
During our last session together – a special one that I love doing as it really ‘hands over’ the tools to clients to use in their life going forward, Debbie noted numerous differences in her life. She felt more relaxed and had taken action on a legal matter that had been weighing her down for a long time. She was driving – and enjoying it! Even driving at night which was one of the things she had started to avoid. In work, she had noticed that she was no longer feeling vulnerable in management meetings and, “My senses are more alert. I even think I am standing taller!
Quite simply, I’ve found my mojo! I am less anxious, more confident and feel big smiles inside!
This lady was struggling with performance anxiety. After a few sessions she became a World Champion.
William was doing well in his career and life in general but knew there was another level - and together, we found it!
It is still common for men to believe they don't need help and Keith only came after his wife had had sessions. His experience is shared in this short video
Lilli shares her story of how a diagnosis of anxiety had led to medication that she was not happy to stay on. So she explored other routes.
Sometimes it is not about being in a bad place, but knowing that if life does through challenges at you, there is somewhere you can go where it is safe to be vulnerable.
Carol talks of what being in hypnosis feels like and what results she was able to achieve after PTSD.
Alix had a phobia of the phone - and it was having a massive impact on her life. After two sessions she talks about the results she has had and how that has affected her.