Client Stories

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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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Jennifer – Depression

In my experience depression and anxiety often go hand in hand as one condition leads to the other. This was the case with Jennifer.  She was feeling depressed because many elements of her life were not panning out the way she anticipated.  This was leading to an anxiety about what her future would be; and the two led to a downward spiral.

In her mid thirties, she’d had a series of short-term relationships and desperately wanted to be a mother. She was in a work environment she didn’t enjoy and struggled with insomnia.

Sometimes the work I do with clients can be likened to them being onions – as you cut through a layer, you find another one below. Jennifer was very much like this. We discovered part of her challenge with forming lasting relationships came from very early childhood.  Her father had abandoned her mother when Jennifer was very young but the memory had stayed with her. She then learned that she had been one of a twin who had unfortunately not made it into this world but Jennifer had sensed that loss even at those very early stages of life. These learnings allowed her to see things with a new perspective that changed this downward spiral of depression and led her to make new decisions in her life.

The result

“Thank you so much for all your help and support. I feel I have come such a long way from who I was when you first met me. With your help I have been able to put my past into perspective and not let it control me anymore. I am so much happier now than I have been in a long time. My new job couldn’t be going any better and I feel this is the next chapter in my life. I don’t beat myself up as much and am more confident.”

When asked to if there was anything about hypnotherapy that surprised her, Jenny’s answer was, “How easy it was to be hypnotised and how quickly feelings surfaced that I didn’t realise were there.”

Jenny has now changed jobs, moved house and is also getting her finances back in order and looks to the future with a fantastic positivity. In her words:

“You have helped change my life for the better, thank you!”

If you feel I can help you too, please get in touch and let’s chat.

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Paul – Stress management

Paul lives a very stressful life and this, combined with shift work, affected his ability to relax and sleep. He sought a hypnotherapist in Salisbury without a specific goal in mind.  However, he was interested in learning how to relax more as a way of increasing his stress management.

In his words…

“My experience with hypnotherapy has been very positive, I was intrigued with what it may be able to do for me. I approached it with an open mind but I must say it was a far more beneficial experience than I could have imagined. At all times I was talked through and reassured by Caroline. It was a completely relaxing experience and after one session the issue I had been living with was substantially better.

On top of that I felt more relaxed in my everyday life too. I have and will recommend Caroline Cavanagh to friends and colleagues. In fact I have introduced a friend who also has had a great experience through her hypnotherapy practise in Salisbury.

Caroline’s work surroundings are very calming and she puts you at ease from the moment you get to your appointment.

I personally have had more than one session and had significant improvements each time.”

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Adam – Fear of giving presentations

This story of his fear of giving presentations comes straight from Adam.

“I have always felt a high level of fear when giving presentations. In my early to mid twenties, I had to regularly present various topics to my colleagues at work. I found this very stressful. The idea of being out of control and to be forced to present to a room full of people triggered panic attacks in me. Over time, these attacks got worse.  I started to feel anxious in a whole range of public situations. For example, bumping into someone unexpectedly in the street used to be an ordeal. I would instantly panic and be unable to speak.

About 5 years ago, I decided to do something about it. I knew of Caroline’s hypnotherapy services in Salisbury having met her at a workshop she was hosting. She explained what hypnotherapy could do for someone like me and I gave it a go.

I met with Caroline about 6 times. We focused on my anxiety and explored what made me feel out of control. The information she shared was fascinating. I was taught techniques to focus on how to remain in control, and we explored memories, new and old, and analyzed what they meant.”

The result

“I did not feel an instant change in how I responded to presentations and similar such situations. However, over time my concerns seemed to just die away. I have since started a business venture and employ over 30 staff; as such I have to regularly chair company meetings, presenting our vision and managing group discussions.

I no longer find this challenging and it no longer triggers panic attacks. When I think back to how I was 5 years, ago, it seems like looking at a different person. NLP wasn’t a magic solution, it was a process that helped me put things in perspective and gain a greater sense of control.

As much as anything I realized a bit of nerves is perfectly normal, and as a result I no longer panic when I feel nervous!”

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Debbie – Driving Phobia

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.

Getting started

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!


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Emily – Self-sabotage

Emily came to me after being referred by her singing teacher. Whilst giving the external impression of being a confident singer, inside she was experiencing anxiety about letting people down. She had become aware that she was starting to self-sabotage things she know she could do.  She was sabotaging her relationship also.  The need to control everything dominated, leading to, “a constant battle in my head about not letting go”.

Largely due to all of these emotions, Emily experienced a sick feeling in her stomach a large percentage of the time.  She was also experiencing problems with weight control.

As is typical with anxiety, things had escalated over time and she had experienced her first panic attack.  This was the catalyst to getting some help.

Getting started

“I didn’t really have any expectations before I came to see Caroline.  But some of the things that my subconscious mind revealed were surprising.  They were  so deeply hidden that I couldn’t have predicted or tried to ensure that they were part of the process.”

Again, this is quite common as so much is stored away at a subconscious level that we are not consciously aware of.  That is one of the benefits of being in a trance state – it allows access to different parts of the mind. Many people are very wary of this and have developed misconceptions of hypnosis from seeing stage shows. I asked Emily to describe how it felt when she was hypnotised:

“It was a feeling of total relaxation, on the edge of sleep but conscious.”

The result

Emily had 5 sessions with me and deems her situation to now be “resolved”. Here is her story in her own words.

“I am now able to consider my responses to other people’s behaviours in a way that gets me the response or change that I want. I have my confidence back which has enabled me to seek out a dance class that I have now joined, something I never thought I would be able to do as an adult. My relationship with my husband has also significantly improved as I have been able to be more considerate of his feelings which in turn brings out a more positive side to him too. I have now lost 3 stone even though that wasn’t’ the initial reason for seeking therapy.”

These additional benefits are quite common with clients. The mind is such a powerful resource that when it is not functioning at its best, the ripples spread out through the body. When emotional problems are resolved, a more ‘homeostatic’ situation is restored.  In this, people often experience new levels of energy, new desires to eat differently, exercise etc.

Emily had one last comment to make:

“I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you for a fantastic experience, the wonderful support and for giving me the tools to seek a path I’m happy to journey forward on. Plus the added bonus of forging a new friendship.”

The feeling is mutual!

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Kara – Coming off Anti depressants

Kara came to me with the explicit wish that she wanted to be free of taking anti depressant drugs.  She had a goal of “reaching the happiness I’ve always been chasing”. She had been taking Citalopram for 4 years following being diagnosed with depression.

“Before having hypnotherapy, I tried several times to come off of anti-depressants. I tried weaning myself off gradually (as directed by my GP) and I also tried ‘cold turkey’. Every time I ended up having a break down and would end up taking the anti-depressants again. Because I tried and failed so many times, I lost confidence that I would ever be free of the tablets and I believed I was reliant on them.”

The result

Her story continues in her own words…

“Caroline took me on a journey to allow me to overcome this belief that I was dependent on anti-depressants. In fact, the anti-depressants were actually preventing me from achieving my goal of reaching happiness! Thanks to Caroline, coming off anti-depressants was achieved and I’ve never looked back!

Since having hypnotherapy my life has changed in every way possible – ending a bad relationship, new home, new job… But thanks to Caroline, during this challenging time I have remained free of anti-depressants, have continued to be focused and have made my own choices using the techniques she has taught me. Not only has Caroline allowed me to achieve a life free of anti-depressants, she has also helped me to be able to live a happy life without depression, anxiety and stress controlling it. I now have a clear, positive outlook of life, with visions, goals and choices.”

“Caroline has exceeded my expectation in every way possible. I have achieved more than I could ever have imagined after my hypnotherapy sessions with her. Hypnotherapy was almost a last resort for me and I couldn’t see any other option. I knew I couldn’t achieve what I wanted to achieve without help. Without Caroline’s professionalism, patience and integrity I would still be living a life controlled by depression, anxiety, stress and pure misery! Thank you for not only giving me my life back Caroline, but for also allowing me to see life in a completely new light!”

I always ask clients if they have any suggestions on how the my services in Salisbury could be improved. Kara’s answer to this question…..”A glass of prosecco on arrival!” Hmmm, Kara, I will have to think on that one for a while!

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Sharon – Low Self-esteem

Sharon first came to me with a list of things she wanted to work on. This is not uncommon.  The starting place for me is to work out if all of the areas she was wanting to change were being supported by one single root. What became evident was this root was very low self-esteem.

Her childhood had not been the happiest.  A struggle to form lasting friendships/relationships had been a consistent theme throughout her life.

The work Sharon and I did together was to address some of the deep rooted beliefs that were no longer serving her.  We also included a lot of practical exercises and activities for her to build skills that her family situation had not supported her learning naturally. These exercises were then things that she took away with her to work on between sessions.

Key, was for her to now take charge of her own life rather than feeling as if she was always destined to be a victim. For her, placing trust in someone was a huge ‘ask’ but session by session, that trust grew and so did she!

The result

Sharon’s work with me spread over 7 months, culminating in 13 sessions. We would have a number of sessions close together and then a time period when I didn’t see her. These quieter times allowed her to work on the exercises we’d discussed.  She increasingly became more comfortable with the new skills she was developing.

Here are Sharon’s own words:

“Caroline helped me put a lot of things into perspective. Her exercises helped me to focus on my individual anxieties and stresses.  Our sessions also allowed me to finally come to terms with how I chose to react to the things I could not change.

Her understanding, patience and guidance throughout my hypnotherapy with her helped me understand myself.  I believe I changed my perceptions of my issues more than a talking therapist could. Through our work, she encouraged me to abandon procrastinating words such as ‘but’ and ‘try.’  Although frustrating at first, once I began to change my language, it helped me to refocus my way of reacting to adversity.  I realised it was myself who had become my biggest barrier!  I no longer had the excuse not to evolve into a more centred person with better clarity in my life. For that I highly recommend people come to her for the focus and calm that they need.

That, and her beautiful dog Sapphire is a joy.

Sharon has now joined a choir and is exploring her options of changing career.  She is also re-igniting an incredible artistic talent she has been suppressing.

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David's story

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How Alix overcame her lifelong phobia

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