S was struggling at school. His Mum contacted me to help with his high levels of anxiety which were being exacerbated by ticks and she had also noticed an escalation in obsessive compulsive habits.
When first meeting S, he also explained that he had a couple of phobias, one of which was a high trigger of anxiety, and also struggled with self motivation, finding the temptation to give up all too easy.
This variety of manifestations of anxiety is not uncommon. A more generalised anxiety can also become acutely attached to specific things leading to phobias. OCD can often be a subconscious coping strategy to control anxious thoughts by doing something that is real. And low motivation comes from the fact that anxiety is very draining on energy levels. Cumulatively, they result in a downward spiral. And this is what we had to reverse.
S had just 3 sessions. The first session with teenagers is a very gentle session where we don’t do any therapeutic work but build a strong foundation to progress from. S had an experience of hypnosis and noticed that during it, his ticks reduced significantly which gave him hope. We had two more sessions which were spread out over time, allowing S to apply his learning to his day-to-day life.
In Mum’s words:
“S is absolutely amazing! He’s been so much happier and his increase in confidence has been absolutely astounding. I did notice quite a difference very soon after his last session with you.
It’s so lovely to see such am improvement, and obviously such a relief!”
Teenagers tend to be what I call ‘marmite’ with hypnotherapy – they either love it or hate it! And if it is for them, the results tend to come quickly. The benefit of teenagers learning these skills is that they then have access to them for life. S will be facing the challenges of exams and more in the years to come but having changed his relationship with anxiety, he will have a mental strength that can support him through those tough times.
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.
Vlatko was experiencing high levels of anger that were affecting his relationship and causing him concerns regarding his employment as he was finding it harder and harder to control his outbursts. Along with the anger, he was also starting to feel a lot of physiological pain in his chest, feelings of nausea and bloating and regular headaches.
Vlatko had grown up with a very controlling father who often belittled him as a child. He also dictated what career he went in to preventing Vlatko from following his heart’s desire. His Mum tended to back his Dad up leaving Vlatko feeling very alone.
We had a total of 5 sessions over the space of 6 weeks.
In between each session Vlatko was experiencing improvements and each session moving him further forward towards his goal.
During our work together, Vlatko’s sleep improved significantly. Throughout the process he started to notice himself not reacting to situations that would previously have caused him to flare up. He found himself feeling happier and many of the physical symptoms had dramatically reduced.
His relationship improved and his partner commented, “I feel much more relaxed with him now, I dont feel like I have to ‘walk on egg-shells.”
A significant change for him was to then be able to talk about his father without feeling any negative emotions – talking from a place of calmness.
He was able to return to the gym and all the breathing discomfort, headaches and nausea disappeared.
Anger can be more common in men but women can experience high levels too. If anger is impacting on your life, and that of those you love, let’s chat.
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.
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:
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 Cavanagh 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!
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!”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
“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 .
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.