Client Stories

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Jessica – Low Self Esteem

It was Jessica’s mother who contacted me as she had become increasingly concerned about her daughter (aged 19). When Jessica arrived for the first session she was not sure what she specifically wanted to work on, but was just aware that she was not feeling good about herself.

What emerged during that first session was that Jessica had very low self esteem and did not value herself. She also had no idea of where she was heading which was contributing to a lack of purpose.

Getting started

Like many people, she was sceptical about hypnotherapy. “In the movies, all you see is people acting like a chicken. And whilst I believe it is all staged, I am still sceptical,” she commented.

Jessica came to 4 sessions with me over a period of 6 weeks and when asked again how she viewed hypnosis, she had a very different answer. “Now I’ve done it, it’s so different. You can just talk about problems, but when you get them out of your own head, you can see things differently. It is like being completely in control of your own body but so relaxed that everything around you disappears and you can focus on you.”

The result

At the end of the last session I asked Jessica how she felt our work together had impacted on her. Here is her response:

“All the things that you didn’t think were relevant you realise actually are. My confidence is up. I don’t rely on others as much and am doing what I want rather than what others told me I should be doing. I am living my life the way I want to and not how others tell me to. It has helped so much, made such a difference.”

Jessica is now making a dream she has had for a while a reality and is planning on going travelling in Australia. Initially it was a trip planned with a friend but even though the friend has now dropped out, Jessica is doing what she wants – and making that trip half way across the world all on own. I’m looking forward to getting a postcard…

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Charlie – Self Harming

Charlie is 10 and was prone to outbursts of anger that were affecting both home life and school. His parents had appealed to doctors.  The school nurse had also got involved.  And they had contacted CAMHS without any luck as “He hasn’t been self-harming long enough!”

Getting Started

Charlie is a lovely young man but it became evident as we spoke that his reaction to any sense of injustice was to ‘go nuclear’ – ie utter outrage often including physically directed anger at himself and others.

One of the wonderful things about working with children is that they don’t have the ‘baggage’ that is collected over life. They have an incredible imagination and this can be utilised in hypnotherapy to achieve wonderful results.

We had one session where we worked to recalibrate his anger. Anger is not something you want to get rid of altogether, but Charlie was missing any form of degrees between calm and outraged.

The feedback after this one session was that he was a changed boy; life at home was better, and he was much more relaxed and most importantly, was no longer seeking to hurt himself.

The result

We then met again where Charlie told me with some surprise that all of his teachers seemed to have become much nicer.  He said, “Its a bit like they had all taken a happy pill!”

When it became evident that he was actually the happy pill and it was the change in HIS behaviour that was creating the result, the smile on his face was magical.

We went on in that session to look into the future and give Charlie some tools to use his newfound control and calmness to achieve some goals – which included doing well in his SATS and being the best football player in his team!

In two hypnotherapy sessions here in Salisbury, Charlie has gone from someone who was being destructive and disruptive to a calm boy who ‘wants to be seen by everyone as a kind person’; and that is what can be achieved when you use the power of the subconscious mind. The final word comes from Charlie’s Mum:

We can’t thank you enough for everything you have done for him. When I say he is a different boy I genuinely mean it. The way he copes in situations compared to how he used to is so much better. A level of calm has restored in our house and it’s all thanks to you.”

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Name withheld – Insomnia

A mum came to me for help with her child who was still bouncing off the ceiling in the evenings and despite being a very physically active young man, could not get to sleep. In her words:

Saviour of my sanity! Best money ever spent! My 9 year old son has always found getting to sleep very difficult and could lie in bed for over an hour each night without falling asleep. With young children of her own, Caroline made my son feel comfortable with their meeting immediately. Caroline’s method was simple and effective. I know very little about hypnotherapy, but there was nothing scary about the session. The only way I can describe it, is as the most calm hour ever spent in a chair. All through the power of a relaxing voice. Since his first and only required session, my son is now getting to sleep in about 20 minutes or less. My son is delighted with the result and I no longer need to dread bedtime.

Insomnia can affect people in one of two ways, either stopping them falling asleep or waking them throughout the night. The sub conscious causes are different but hypnotherapy is a very effective treatment in overcoming them, regardless of age!

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Brad – Self abuse

Brad is a teenager who came to see me after having worked with CAMHS for approximately 3 years. He had recently spent a night in hospital through self-abuse. His anxiety had resulted in him not only missing a significant amount of school, but his world was becoming very small; he struggled going into town with friends, getting to the point where he spent most of his time at home. Brad desperately wanted to move on in his life but felt “trapped by my anxiety.”

The result

Brad had a total of 3 sessions with me. Due to his age, details of our work together remains confidential.  His mother, however, wrote to me with the following words shortly after his last session:

“I just wanted to say thank you for helping Brad, he seems so much more in control of things, not all the time, but as they say, small steps, but in the right direction.

This weekend he was invited to go paintballing. He was excited to go, up early, picked up friends, dropped them off. We communicated with each other for about an hour or so and after his first text.  Initially he wanted to come home, but 4 hours later, I got a message to say could I bring a drink! He stayed, overcame his anxiety and had a great time. This is such a big achievement for him , I am so grateful for all your support.

Today he had his first driving lesson, which by all accounts went really well.

Thank you so much, you are amazing, you must make so many people more positive about themselves.”

Working with adolescents like Brad make what I do priceless. Brad will face challenges in his life, we all do. But he now has the resources to help him through those. One of my favourite sayings is, “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we deal with them.”

In the past this was more like 90% ‘happening’ to Brad and he had few resources to manage what most teenagers deem ‘normal’. He felt trapped and out of control. He may be a little way from getting to the 10% yet but as his Mum said, “small steps” and there is a wonderful thing about small steps ….. When you keep taking them, every day you move further away from where you were and closer to where you wish to be.

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Name withheld – School absenteeism

E (name withheld) was referred to me after finding it increasingly difficult to go to school over the summer term, leading to a total refusal to go as the new school year started. She had a desire to go, often packing school bags the night before, getting out her uniform but come the next morning, her emotional state made it impossible for her to leave the house. Beyond her anxiety, E’s  school absenteeism was resulting in a lot of arguments, frustration and distress within the home, impacting on the whole family.

As is common with anxiety, her fears increased leading to a situation where she was rarely able to leave the home. She had had two visits from CAMHS who had deemed her problem to be behavioural, and so felt unable to assist her further.

Getting started

Key to assisting E to get back to school was building a relationship of mutual respect and trust. “Caroline treated E as an adult at all times which my daughter thought was great and as such, E engaged with Caroline,” said her mother.

As with adult clients, my approach to moving E forward is based on partnership. I position myself as a partner in her achievements, but she has to be active too. Initially E struggled with this as in many medically based situations, children are passive, but as she started to experience the impact of our work together, her motivation to participate increased.

After our third session together, E made her first return to school. Just for 2 hours in the morning and a major threshold crossed. Having crossed that threshold we continued to build her confidence and increase attendance with the aim of attending school for a part of every day in a week.

The result

Within another 2 sessions, frequency of attendance was increasing. Within 6 sessions I received the following email from her mother: “We have our lovely E back with us at the moment. I have literally just emailed the school to say that we are very hopeful that E will continue with attending school for the rest of the week. I have also said that I would quite like her to stay there longer next week – something that I mentioned to E and she was fine with.”

That was also achieved and E is now progressing towards being in full time education again.

It will take time for E to rebuild her confidence but each threshold she crosses, she grows in confidence and becomes more resilient.

Final words from her mother: “E is now going to school with lots of positive notes and coping strategies that have been taught by Caroline. Caroline has always been very accommodating with both her time and financially.”

Working with teenagers is a passion of mine. The techniques learned at this age can create a skill set that they can continue to use into their adult life. If you have a teenager that is struggling with anxiety or stress, please do get in touch.

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Tom – Self Confidence

Tom’s confidence had been knocked after the end of a serious relationship. He had found himself feeling very alone but his lack of self confidence was hindering him going out with other people.  He was feeling very unhappy and isolated. Also contributing to the challenges was his fear of being judged by others; something very common to young men of his age.

In our first session together, Tom expressed that he was unsure about hypnotherapy but open-minded. The first session with clients is designed to inform about what hypnotherapy is and how it works.  Clients also experience hypnosis to help them understand how it feels and to understand that they are still very much in control – something that is a common misconception based on the use of hypnosis in stage shows.

When asked how he would describe the feeling of hypnosis to someone else, his response was, “Like falling asleep but sensing you are awake.”

Tom had just 3 sessions with me over a three week period. By then, he felt his self confidence was back at a level he was happy with. He had reconnected with friendships that he had allowed to lapse and was now going out most evenings. More significant for him was that he was no longer worried about what people may think about how he looked or what clothes to wear.

The final session Tom experienced was one on my favourites where he learned a wonderful technique that supports a great feeling of control over emotions and thoughts. At the end of that session his parting words were, “I am much happier and more confident. I feel lighter in myself, a lot more happier.”

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Philip – Depression

In 2013, Philip developed a condition in his foot that inhibited his mobility.  This led to the need to make adjustments in many areas of his life. He struggled with these changes and things took a significant downturn following the death of his brother in law. Feelings of loss, insecurity, anxiety, problems making decisions and concerns about his future culminated in an increasing depression.

From a person who had had full control of his life, he found himself, “Living my life in fear with the feeling that there was something inside my head that was stopping me moving forward.”

Getting started

Philip and I worked together over a few months.  I gave Philip some practical tools to analyse his emotions to get a better understanding of the triggers of anxiety.  He also started to notice what helped him feel better. This greater awareness of the external forces on his own internal state has helped him feel much more in control.  This also helped him to be far less influenced by the words and actions of other people.

The result

“I feel calmer in myself and more able to deal with situations as they arise.  I’,m no longer unduly concerned about the future as I try to live in the day and not look back.

Life has improved and almost back to where I was before my illness.  Whilst I still have moments of doubt/fear/concern, I am more able to deal with them and to not let them overtake/overcome me.”

Feelings of depression are experienced by most people at some time. The work that Philip has done does not mean that he will never feel depressed again.  The key difference is that he now has a much greater awareness of his emotional state.  This leaves him more able to take steps to prevent any decline back to that more clinical state of depression.  He has tools to pick himself back up quickly on those days where, as we all experience at times, the clouds come over!

“Initially I was unsure about contacting Caroline as I thought that I could resolve my problems myself without outside intervention but I realised that I needed professional help.

The decision to get in touch with Caroline proved to be one of the best decisions of my life.  If I had not done so, I would still be in that ‘dark place of despair’ with the potential consequences of that situation and its impact on my life and that of my partner.”

If you can relate to that ‘dark place of despair’ please know there is a light for you to find and I would love to have a chat with you .

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Jo – Weight Management

Jo contacted me because she wanted to develop a healthy relationship with food and to lose weight.  But she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life on a diet to have good weight management.

Whilst her own health was a high priority for her, her main motivator was to be a positive role model to her two beautiful young daughters.  Jo really didn’t want to pass on her own food issues to them. She had developed what we refer to as ‘the black lab syndrome’ – if there is food around, it needs eating!  Every day it felt she had a battle with food.

Getting started

In therapy, it is important to have a goal to work towards. Jo’s goal was to lose 2 stone and to get into a specific dress that was in her wardrobe. We had 4 sessions spaced over approx. 10 weeks. Hypnotherapy for weight loss involves developing new habits and these take time. I challenged Jo after each session to do some ‘homework’- simple activities that create new behaviours. Her success was strongly influenced by her commitment to doing the activities suggested.

6 months after our first session, Jo reported that she had lost 42lbs and the weight was still reducing. Here is her story in her own words:

The result

“I am now a healthier, more active person. I have become more in tune with my body’s needs and make simple daily choices that simply didn’t feel available to me before.

My daily routine was focused around food…notably, what I couldn’t eat battling what I wanted to eat and a destructive pattern of starving and stuffing.

I am now more contented, at peace with food and generally have a calmer, more confident attitude to life.Thoughts about food don’t dominate anymore.  I trust that what I put in my mouth will not only be delicious but also exactly what my body is telling me I need. As Caroline said, my body is not a bin.

We can now have crisps, chocolate and snacks in the house without the nagging fear that I might quickly stuff them all in in a bid to get rid of them. I can take or leave them and feel no guilt if I simply fancy a piece of chocolate.

Food has taken on a new place in my life. I think more about what I would like to eat rather than what I can’t or shouldn’t eat. Menus and flavours are suddenly more interesting. I drink more fluids and have a lot more energy.

Before I visited Caroline my life was on a very unhealthy destructive path. I feel like this process has not just enhanced my life by losing weight and starting to enjoy food but it has made me healthier and given my body a new form of protection.”

The thing that I love about hypnotherapy when it comes to weight management is reflected in Jo’s words – it is not about being on an eternal diet but having a relationship with food that is positive. ‘Treats’ can still be a treat and enjoyed but food ceases to be a constant focus.

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Lyn – Phobia of lifts

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!

Getting started

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.”

The result

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.”

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Sonny – Phobia of eating chicken

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!”

Getting started

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 result

“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.

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Catherine – Phobia of the phone

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.

Getting started

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.

The result

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.”

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Katie – Performance anxiety

Katie runs a business and also competes in female physique and fitness competitions. She commits to a punishing fitness regime and also holds a place on a top committee in her field. However, when it comes to being in the limelight, her confidence leaves her. Having to speak at her committee meetings is terrifying and the anxiety she feels when competing means she does not reach her full potential. Her performance anxiety leads to huge frustration after every competition knowing she could have done better.

The result

“I sought the help of Caroline Cavanagh because I was participating in a competition which meant taking to the stage of a large theatre. Feeling extremely nervous and self-conscious is typical in any setting where I am the centre of attention. I participated in this competition last year and did not want to feel the same negative feelings this year when I stepped off stage. The difference in my feelings between this year and last year was dramatic. In contrast to feeling disappointed and deflated I felt positive and happy and proud of my performance …. euphoric in fact! The hypnotherapy really did work for me,” said Katie.

The work we did together focused on previous instances of anxiety when being the centre of attention.  This work was supported by using the technique of visualisation. The subconscious cannot tell the difference between reality and imagination.  So by imaging her competition, her brain was literally ‘programmed’ into what to do and how to feel.

Visualisation is a technique now being used by many of the top sportsman as its efficacy is proven.

Katie had just two sessions to achieve this dramatic change in perspective and also practiced the visualisation technique herself.

Aside from her success, Katie also commented on how it felt to be hypnotised:

“I felt as if I was aware of what was happening at all times.  I could recall the suggestions that were made to me after coming out of the hypnotic trance. When I awoke, I felt as if I’d been in a deep sleep and very, very relaxed. I also felt very positive.”

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From anxiety to World Champion

This lady was struggling with performance anxiety. After a few sessions she became a World Champion.

Keith's experience of hypnotherapy

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