Edward’s fear of eating in restaurants and eating around others was having a significant impact on his quality of life. The thought of an invite to a dinner party would result in many sleepless nights and high levels of anxiety. Even work became affected as he would do his best to avoid work trips that would require staying away with colleagues. And if the trip could not be avoided, the anxiety would become debilitating.
He had done two CBT courses through the NHS but had felt little change in his anxiety levels. In his words, “This is ruining my life.”
Over the course of 6 months, Edward had a total of 10 sessions. He had a few sessions and then had a break to put what he had learned into place. This would then be repeated. This was because the issues leading to his anxiety had built up in layers. We would peal back some layers and give Edward some opportunities to build his confidence. For example, first going out for coffee. Then a light lunch etc. Each new breakthrough contributing to the confidence that the problem was reducing and he was making progress.
The final goal was to attend a wedding in Italy that would involve multiple restaurant visits as well as the wedding reception. This was something Edward could not have conceived of doing in the past.
Edward’s goal was to attend the pre-wedding reception and the wedding itself. Everything else would be considered a bonus. He not only achieved his goal but attended numerous other functions, managing to comfortably eat at each one and enjoy the occasion. And whilst there were short periods of mild anxiety, he had the tools to face the fear with a range of strategies to put himself back in a position of control.
In Edward’s own words, “Caroline has helped me reach a place where I feel I can now take back control of my life. Attending the wedding was something that was inconceivable in the past, but now I am planning more trips away and actually feeling excitement about them. I am now enjoying playing football and not worrying about anyone suggesting going for a meal afterwards. I can react positively to a spontaneous offer to go out. A whole new world of social engagement has opened up to me and alongside that, I am sleeping better and feeling more relaxed generally.”
Eating out is a big part of our social pleasures, but for people like Edward, it can be a source of huge stress. However, it needn’t be that way. If you can relate to his situation and fear being sick in public places, please know that there is hope and reach out for an informal chat with me.
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.
As a teenager/young adult, X had experienced numerous therapies after having anxiety from an early age and as she grew up, just learned to ‘suck it up. But she was finding socialising increasingly difficult, felt very self-conscious around other parents and just didn’t know why. A constant thought in her mind was, “Will it always be like this?”
As a mother of two young children she had become more aware of how her behaviour was affecting not only her life but also theirs and this was the motivation to seek help.
X worked with me remotely as this made it easier for her to have sessions around her two little ones and was very open to being hypnotised despite me not being physically present.
“I really appreciated having online zoom sessions as it enable me to fit the session around family life without stress or worry. Even though the sessions were online I still found the whole process very warm and open. Caroline enabled me to feel very safe. I liked being comfy at home with a cosy blanket too. Overall it was an incredibly positive experience.”
We had a total of 4 sessions spread over 3 months. In between sessions, X was given activities and exercises to help her build her own resilience and mental strength allowing us to take things up to the next level in our next session.
This is what X achieved:
“I feel more assured in myself in general. I now trust my decisions, actions and opinions. I am doubting myself less and no longer constantly comparing myself to others. This leaves me feeling a stronger sense of self. I feel stronger and able to try new things.
I have also found I am letting go of things quicker. Previously, I would spend ages ruminating about something I may have said or done wrong but this has really reduced.
I truly feel like a weight has been lifted. I have made mental notes of some of the things we discussed and covered, and I will continue to draw on these. I feel I have a stronger foundation now on which I can continue to build and grow. Just feeling more content in myself is a much lighter feeling.”
If you can relate to some of the experiences X was having prior to our work, please get in touch to discuss how her current situation could be achievable for you too.
Jenny’s request for help came from obsessive thoughts regarding a relationship problem. Whilst living apart, she was constantly over thinking, picking at every detail of every conversation. This led to her not being able to enjoy the time when they were together. This was putting a huge strain on the relationship and also very detrimental to Jenny’s overall confidence and happiness.
Jenny’s interest in hypnotherapy was stimulated by having seen dramatic changes in a friend whom had worked with me. Thus she felt more curious than nervous about the process of hypnosis. When later asked how she would describe the feeling of hypnosis to someone her answer was, “All it is , is a deep sense of relaxation. It’s as easy as falling asleep and effectively that is what part of your mind is doing. It’s a strange sensation of falling asleep yet being awake.”
Jenny chose to travel up to Salisbury for her 4 hypnotherapy sessions which were spread across 2 months. There were some large gaps in between some of the sessions, allowing Jenny to do some work on her own that didn’t need my guidance, helping her build her own ‘toolset’ and experience the impact of using them.
Our work together started with a focus on the relationship problem; what it meant to her in the past, and where continuing those patterns would take her in the future. We then switched to focusing on the future and recognising that she could influence it and create a future of choice.
At the end of our work together, this is what Jenny said:
“I now look at all aspects of my life in a completely different way. A far more positive way. I was able to leave a relationship that wasn’t healthy for me. I’m able to look back at our time together with a sense of gratitude that it happened and that I still have that person in my life.
I have started yoga which I have been meaning to do for ages; I absolutely love it and wish I’d started it sooner. After buying my house, a goal I had had since I was 16, I felt a bit lost. Through our sessions, I now have a new dream ..” and that dream is very clear for her.
Jenny still has the person in her life. Whilst their paths are now on very different courses, when they are in contact, it is still a very positive connection – no bridges burned.
In a follow up contact with Jenny a few months later, Jenny had also changed jobs – leaving one that was not making her happy and using the tools she had learned to now develop other areas of her life. Her story is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when you learn how to use the power of your mind.
If you can relate to this story and would like to have a chat, please get in touch
Laura was drinking more alcohol than she had become comfortable with. ‘Habits’ had formed that had got to a level that she knew were becoming detrimental to her health. She was concerned she was developing an alcohol addiction. She was particularly worried about a developing habit of coming home from work and drinking alone. But with an active social life, she didn’t want to become teetotal and never enjoy a cocktail with the girls again either.
Like many people, the decision to get help starts with taking a brave step! “I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from hypnotherapy and I was embarrassed about why I wanted the help,” said Laura when she first got in touch. However, as we got talking, Laura felt more able to relax and be honest about her habits accepting that she was in a safe environment where there were no judgements.
She, like many was also concerned about being hypnotised having seen various stage shows where people ‘performed’. We spoke through how hypnosis worked and the fact that it is a natural state of relaxation. The way that Laura now describes being hypnotised is, “It is very calming and relaxing – like when you are so tired you want to go to bed but can’t move…..without being really tired!”
Laura travelled quite some distance to the hypnotherapy sessions here in Salisbury so to make her journeys viable, we sometimes did double sessions which also allowed us to make swifter progress. The result of our work together was explained in her words:
“I no long drink on my own (big deal!!). I’ve lost a stone, I feel confident and happy ….and I’m finally in a really good relationship.” Laura’s experience reflects many of the secondary benefits of hypnotherapy. Whilst the focus is on helping one area of life – in her case, the drinking – improvements here can ripple out to other areas. Laura’s priority was not to lose weight, but the change in her drinking resulted in this, which has supported feeling more confident in herself also. It is a bit like the chain of dominoes – you knock the first one over and others behind it start to fall too.
Our aim however was not for Laura to give up drinking. Sharing a glass of wine socially is a source of pleasure for many. Our aim in working together was for Laura to be able to have those one or two glasses when out with friends and thoroughly enjoy them but also be aware of when she has had enough and be able to then swap to soft drinks comfortably. During the follow-up contact a couple of months after the last session, she was still happy with the changes she had made and confident they are the new habits.
Sports performance is often not associated with therapy, however most top athletes now use techniques derived from hypnotherapy.
Caroline was fit, regularly completing demanding gym sessions but when it came to running, she found herself giving up after just minutes. She was struggling to understand why her body would respond to the demands made of it the gym, but would not do so out on the track.
“I knew it must be something in my head but I just couldn’t work out what! Caroline Cavanagh was able to take me back to the age of 4. I was very badly asthmatic as a child and I recalled my Mum telling me as she dropped me off at school ‘not to run around or I would get wheezy’. My asthma was no longer an issue as an adult but I was amazed that this repeated comment heard has a child had had such a lasting impact.
Having realised that, the behaviour was no longer relevant, Caroline helped me to let go of that child like instruction and the next day I went out and ran for 30 minutes. The difference was incredible and it was clear that the problem had been totally in my head. I then decided to sign up for a half marathon. I quickly progressed to covering 5-6 miles but then met another block. At this stage I would start getting painful stitches. So I booked another session. This time I went back to a time when I was 9 or 10. I was training 6 days a week as a gymnast and my developing body was struggling with the demands being put on it and I recalled getting various random aches and pains that would stop me training for a bit.
I understood this was my body’s way at that time of getting its own down time and now that I was back to making higher demands of it with the running, this old pattern was clicking back in. Caroline helped my adult mind to understand that I was in control and had the ability to train responsibly and again the child like behaviour was no longer relevant. From that point on, the stitches also stopped.
As part of the treatment I learned how to hypnotise myself and found this a great technique when I was running – just took my mind off to another place and let my body get on with the running.
I completed the Reading marathon in a respectable time – something I don’t think I could ever have done without hypnotherapy.”
Rachel came to see Caroline with a desire nothing more specific than “I just want to feel better.” She found herself feeling very down and demotivated. Her eczema was bad and she was frequently tearful and over-emotional. And there were many days where it was a struggle to get out of bed. All signs of an increasing state of depression.
Rachel had a total of 5 sessions and her condition showed “significant improvement.” In her own words…
“There is way less intensity in experiencing negative emotions, definitely a ‘lighter’ feeling and the joy of rediscovering laughter. It is almost as though my range of emotions has broadened in number and variety…with less angst and intensity.
My goals and activities to achieve them are now crystal clear and my limiting beliefs are greatly reduced. This has led to increased motivation, a huge reduction in fear of failure and rejection and increased excitement in achieving goals. Also I am not put off by adversity along the way, am able to keep more balanced, deal with things and keep my eye on the prize…”
Everyone’s experience of hypnosis is unique to them, but new clients often ask what it is like. In Rachel’s case, “It actually felt like being completely awake but as a different part of me, if that makes sense? A focused part and a part that could not be presented in a non-authentic/self controlled light.”
Rachel is now motivated to build a new career and is finding that new opportunities are coming to her now that her energy levels have a direction.
I have a strong belief that the body and mind need to be on the same page for full health. And this is never more true than when someone is trying to conceive and experiencing unexplained infertility.
The story below comes from a lovely lady who had been trying for some time to conceive. She was visualising her life with a baby, created vision boards with all the lovely things that she would buy, but still no baby. We had one session together and her story, in her own words, goes like this…
“My husband and I had been trying to conceive for several months without luck and it was starting to get me down. I confided in a friend that even though I was desperate for a baby, that I was feeling these feelings of stress and overwhelm in my business and that I was worried how on earth I’d manage to juggle a baby as well. She suggested this was why I was not conceiving.
I spoke to Caroline, a hypnotherapist in Salisbury, about this and aside from working on the key issues of stress and anxiety we focused on conception for a short time at the end of the session. After the session I felt so much more relaxed, things which would have added stress previously didn’t bother me. I continued to use some of the visualisation techniques we’d used in the session, particularly after intercourse and I couldn’t believe it when just a few weeks later I took a pregnancy test and it was positive! After months of negative tests it felt like magic! I’m certain it wasn’t a coincidence and that feeling more relaxed and less worried about my business definitely released a lot of tension from my body.
When we were trying to conceive so many friends had said- ‘it will happen when you’re relaxed about it’, and any woman who has been in the position of having several months of negative pregnancy tests will understand that that does not lead to a feeling of relaxation about the issue, it only makes you more anxious and worried that something might be wrong. The hypnosis finally helped me to let go of the tension I was holding and the mental anxiety I was harbouring about how to juggle family life with my business. I could literally see a way for the two to work together harmoniously and I feel like I have a really clear vision to work towards. It really feels like the hypnosis was a key that unlocked something inside me.”
And one of the things I love about what my clients learn though the hypnotherapy we do here in Salisbury is that it helps them in other areas of their lives. Her story continues…
“I’m more relaxed about my workload. Instead of panicking about how to get it all done, or feeling overwhelmed I know I’m in control of it. And if the feelings do come back I have strategies to bring back the feelings of calm. And I’m pregnant!!
In addition, I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you Caroline! I was starting to just feel so depressed every month with another negative pregnancy test again. It feels like magic that I had only one hypnosis session, did some visualising and was able to fall pregnant just weeks afterwards, but I know it wasn’t. You were able to bring out of me some of the best qualities about myself which had somehow got lost in the midst of all the anxiety and stress of running a business. You’ve helped me to see how my life can be, without stress, a clear and realistic vision to work towards.
Kath had one child and had had been trying to give her a sibling for over 6 years. Not only had no sibling appeared but she had actually stopped ovulating. There was no physiological reason the doctor’s could find for the infertility and she was put forward for IVF but there was a long wait. At her whits end, she decided to try hypnotherapy.
Her story, in her own
“Prior to having ICSI treatment, I commenced a course of NLP with Caroline Cavanagh.
Caroline used time line therapy, with the aim of identifying the possible cause of my infertility. During the initial session it became clearly evident that when I was aged five there were several traumatic incidents. These were predominantly related to starting school and my mother giving birth to my second brother, releasing feelings of fear and insecurity. Other incidents that came to light were an issue of bullying at nursery school and a week long hospital stay, during which time I only saw my parents once a day.
I found the treatment very relaxing and was reassured that I was completely aware of my surroundings and in control at all times.
Following the sessions I was very relaxed and slept well, although I had quite vivid dreams.
Caroline gave me exercises to do regarding bonding and strengthening the relationship between me now and me aged five. I felt this helped relieve a lot of internal anxiety and also improved my confidence socially.
Shortly after commencing our work together, I started ovulating again.
When I commenced my ICSI treatment I felt quietly confident that it would work. I was also surprised at how calm I felt throughout the treatment and that I didn’t experience any physical side effects.
I am now 36 weeks pregnant and can’t wait to meet my baby.”
Caroline had suffered from asthma from an early age and had been hospitalised with it a number of times. She could not leave the house without having an inhaler with her. It had got to a stage where finding that she was without an inhaler would instantly result in her starting to wheeze. She had not considered hypnotherapy for her asthma until it was suggested she look into it by a friend.
Here is her story.
“I could understand why I could get wheezy when rushing about but I hated being so reliant on having a ventolin with me all the time. But I would panic and start wheezing if I realised one was empty or there was not one in my coat pocket.
I had read a bit on using suggestions in hypnosis but was surprised when visiting Caroline, a hypnotherapist in Salisbury. She started talking to me about anger! I didn’t consider myself an angry person but the more I thought about it, the more I realised I did have a pretty short fuse.
In the sessions we went back to things in my childhood and I realised that my dad had pushed me really hard to be successful. As an adult I could see that he was trying to live his life through me. He wanted deflected glory from my success. I had bottled up all this resentment at being made to do things I didn’t want to do as a child.”
“It was a very emotional experience but the difference I felt at the end of the session was amazing. I genuinely felt lighter as if a weight had been lifted. It was still tricky to go out without an inhaler close by at first but it didn’t take long to notice that I wasn’t using it. Slowly the confidence grew and I increasingly left the inhalers behind.
I also noticed that I just felt calmer. There is a much longer fuse before I ‘blow’ and my relationship with my Dad also changed for the better. I used to go through a ventolin about every 6 weeks. It has now been over a year since I went to the GP for a repeat prescription.
It’s hard to comprehend how an emotion I had unknowingly bottled up could have such a physical impact. However, the evidence is undeniable.
I suspect the boundaries for how hypnotherapy can help reduce illnesses are almost limitless and have encouraged lots of people to now look at alternatives to just keep taking drugs.”