Sunday, 1 September 2013

Hypnotherapy and sports

As the Summer draws to a close, here in the UK, I’ve been reflecting upon the events of Summer 2013. One stand out highlight, for all of Britain, has to be Andy Murray winning Wimbledon. It was a nail biting game and, following his emotional defeat last year, everyone was rooting for him. His win helped to up lift the mood of the whole country.

It’s wonderful to witness this success, but have you ever given much thought to the physical and mental training that precedes such a success?

I know I had not, until I recently started to work with some professional tennis players in my hypnotherapy clinic. Working with professional sports people has been an eye opening experience for me. In addition to the physical endurance required for training, the determination to adhere to strict diet plans and the sacrifices which need to be made in their social lives, professional sports people also have huge mental challenges to overcome.

So, how does hypnosis help with sport? To be the best at what they do, people have to truly believe they can be. They need to be able to visualise winning. To do this they must handle any defeats in a certain way. It’s tough to do this.

In addition to this, the travelling involved in being a professional sports person can create a lot of anxiety. Meeting lots of new people, travelling on planes, spending long periods of time away from home, especially when you’re quite young can all create anxiety. Sports people also face a lot of socially difficult situations. Unless you play a team sport, being a professional can be quite lonely. The tennis players I have worked with describe how it is difficult to approach the other competitors and ask them to warm up with you at a tournament. Many of us find it difficult to approach strangers and start conversations but that difficulty is multiplied when those strangers are also your competitors. I teach techniques to my clients which alleviate this anxiety and allow them to maximise their sporting potential.

I also help my clients to cope with the immense pressure they are under. Most of us have a long extended career in which to achieve our goals. For many sports people, achieving their goal depends on their performance on a single day. That’s an enormous amount of pressure. I teach my clients various calming techniques to enable them to handle the pressure.

One of the biggest fears of the general population is public speaking. Are you one of the people who would do almost anything to avoid giving a speech? A typical audience for a speech would be about 40 people. Compare that to the thousands or even millions of people watching a professional athlete. That is some serious stage fright to overcome!

Hypnotherapy is wonderful for helping with all of these challenges, faced by sports people. Hypnotherapy is very relaxing and you can use hypnotherapy to overcome anxiety and stress, help you to achieve your goals and also to manage pain. For these reasons, hypnotherapy is being increasingly used within the world of professional sport.

Of course we are always impressed with the achievements of professional sports stars. Upon reflection of the additional obstacles they must overcome, I find myself increasingly in awe of them.

If you’d like to find out more about sports and hypnosis then get in touch here.

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Monday, 19 August 2013

Alleviating pain using hypnosis

Pain is a familiar problem for many of us. It’s an unpleasant sensation that has such a detrimental effect on your mood and wellbeing, as well as restricting what you can do, in your day to day life. Pain, especially chronic pain can lead to depression, irritability, insomnia and a range of additional problems.

A huge vocabulary can be used to describe pain such as:
Pain that comes in waves

We all experience and react to pain in different ways. There is a lot of mind - body interaction involved with pain. For example, if you are distracted, you are less likely to notice it. Also, if you are worried about the cause of it or, if you are concerned that it will get worse, then you are more likely to experience the pain more intensely.

The good news is that this mind-body connection can be utilised to minimise pain, using hypnosis. Being in hypnosis is a very similar sensation to falling to sleep at night, or daydreaming. When you are in this very relaxed, focussed state, you can use the techniques described here in detail, to help you to feel better.

Hypnosis is a wonderful way to manage and eliminate pain. It is very safe and natural. It also has no side effects and people using hypnosis often require less medication, which is healthier.

What are the benefits of pain? It alerts you to avoid painful stimuli, such as hot or sharp items. It also prevents excessive movement, if you are injured, so that you can heal more quickly. It’s very important that you only use these hypnotic pain management techniques for pain which has been diagnosed. If you have any new or undiagnosed pain or, if existing pain worsens then you must contact your doctor.

The Cold Hand Technique and the Changing Qualities Technique described below are fantastic and can be easily learned and used.

Cold Hand Technique

This is a great technique to manage localised pain, which is pain in one area of the body. It gets better with practice.

1.       Enter a deep state of relaxation by focussing on your breathing. Imagine breathing in relaxation and breathing away any tensions or stress. Close your eyes. You can also download a free MP3 guide to entering hypnosis here.

2.       Picture the word numb in your mind. See the letters, floating in front of your eyes.

3.       Visualise a bucket of icy water, blocks of ice floating around in the water.

4.       Imagine putting the fingertips of your right hand into that bucket. Really feel the sharp coldness of the water.

5.       Slowly put your whole right hand into that bucket.

6.       Do you remember how your face sometimes goes numb when you are very cold? Well, notice this now happening to your hand. With every breath you take you hand gets colder and colder, more and more numb.

7.       Take the time to really allow this to happen, until you cannot feel that right hand anymore.

8.       When that right hand is completely numb and feels as though it has been injected with local anaesthetic lift it out of the bucket.

9.       Now place the hand on the painful area. Really do this. This is not just done in imagination. You actually move your hand and place it on the painful area.

10.   Allow that numbness and coldness to spread from your cold hand into and through the painful area.

11.   That area of your body becomes numb.

Changing qualities technique

Another way of managing pain is to imagine your pain has a shape or object. This is a slightly unusual concept but works brilliantly.

Using the power of hypnosis and your own wonderful mind you can then change the qualities of the pain and reduce it, using the following steps:

1.       Enter a deep state of relaxation by focussing on your breathing. Imagine breathing in relaxation and breathing away any tensions or stress. Close your eyes. You can also download an MP3 guide to entering hypnosis here

2.       Vividly imagine the pain as an object. See its shape and colour

3.       Notice if the pain has any texture or if it moves.

4.       And any temperature

5.       When you can vividly picture the pain as an object, you can change it

6.       If it has a colour start by changing its colour to a calm colour such as white or yellow. Do this gradually.

7.       Imagine it getting smaller and smaller

8.       Imagine the texture changing to be less fierce

9.       If the pain jumps or moves imagine that movement slowing down and gradually stopping

10.   If it’s hot imagine it cooling down, gradually getting cooler and cooler.

11.   Continue to change all the qualities of this pain until it bothers you less. You can continue to enjoy the effects of this technique for as long as you wish

Although pain is a very debilitating problem which can affect your sense of wellbeing, there are natural ways to minimise pain. Both of these techniques get better with practice and will allow you to gain a greater control over your well being.

To find out more about how hypnotherapy can help you to manage pain please get in touch here. 

If you would like more information about hypnotherapy, well-being and personal development, please subscribe to my newsletter in the top right.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Top Tips for Anger Management

Lately I have been helping a lot of people with anger issues. This is a surprisingly common problem. Lots of people struggle to manage their anger but because it is an aggressive characteristic it is very difficult to admit to and to talk about.

 Anger can manifest itself in various ways. Some people find they shout when they are angry, others become physically aggressive, and others withdraw and become quiet. Many of my clients who tend to withdraw describe it is “going into their cave.”

Anger can be a very physical sensation. Sometime you can feel anger as a heat or a pressure. It might manifest itself as recurring thoughts. Where in your body do you experience anger when you feel it? People often feel their anger in their chest or head.

Anger is a particularly problematic issue because it has so many detrimental effects. As well as being bad for your own physical[1] and psychological health, it also destroys relationships. Many marriages are ended because of anger issues. Relationships between parents and their children can also be very damaged by anger. Excessive anger is also very inappropriate in social situations and the work place, so you can see that being unable to manage your anger can affect all areas of your life.

As part of the hypnotherapy I offer, we identify the causes of anger. Sometimes anger is borne out of a lack of self-esteem or negative experiences from your past. Often anger is a result of frustration. Once we have identified the causes of the anger we can work together to resolve these issues.

Having a good way to release anger is a wonderfully useful skill. The Hand Release Technique described below is easy to do and will really help you to alleviate anger.

Hand Release Technique

1.       Enter self-hypnosis or simply close your eyes, focus on your breathing and relax. You can download a free MP3 to help you achieve hypnosis here.

2.       Think of a recent situation which caused you to feel angry

3.       Allow yourself to remember and experience that situation again as if you were right there again.

4.       Feel the anger building up

5.       Notice where in your body you feel that anger. Does it have a shape? How big is it? Does it have a colour? Is it spiky? Is it hot? Does it bounce around? Really connect with how you experience your anger and notice any other properties it has.

6.       Now, as you continue to visualise that anger, imagine it getting smaller and smaller with every breath you take.

7.       If it is hot, imagine it cooling down. If it is spiky imagine it softening. Imagine its colour changing to white or yellow.

8.       Keep imagining it getting smaller and smaller until it is about the size of a ping pong ball.

9.       Now, imagine that small ball of anger moving through your body and up to your right shoulder.

10.   With each breath you take, imagine it moving along your right arm, eventually ending up in the palm of your right hand.

11.   Open up your right hand and imagine a breeze passing through. The breeze carries away your anger.

12.   Watch your anger float away into nothingness and enjoy that liberating sensation of being free of your old anger.

 If you would like more help and advice on anger management then do get in touch here.

[1] Chronic anger activates the sympathetic nervous system which increases blood pressure. If the sympathetic nervous system is chronically stimulated the high blood pressure can lead to cardiovascular problems.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

A Simple Guide to Self-Hypnosis

In my hypnotherapy practice, I teach my clients self-hypnosis techniques. Self-hypnosis is a wonderful skill to have. Using self-hypnosis you can:
focus your thoughts,
relieve stress,
see things from a new perspective and
have a greater clarity of thought.

Hypnosis is often seen as slightly mystical, or as being a difficult state to achieve. However, in reality, hypnosis is similar to daydreaming and we enter hypnotic states many times during the day. Therefore, learning to enter hypnosis yourself (self-hypnosis) is actually surprisingly easy and I'm going to give you a couple of methods here.

Self-hypnosis method 1 – read through all the instructions before starting

1.       Get yourself into a safe and comfortable position. Make sure that it is safe close your eyes and that you are unlikely to be disturbed. Lying on a sofa or a bed is ideal.

2.       Close your eyes and make yourself as comfortable as possible

3.       Take deep, slow breaths. With each breath imagine breathing in calmness and relaxation and breathing out any tension or worry.

4.       Continue for a few minutes, breathing in calmness and relaxation. Breathing out any tension or worry.

5.       Some people like to imagine the calmness and relaxation as a white colour they are breathing in.

6.       You could also imagine the tension and worry to have physical qualities as you breathe them away from yourself.  

7.       Your mind may wander, and that’s fine. Whenever you notice your mind wandering just bring it back to your breath.

8.       In your imagination, imagine yourself at the top of a flight of stairs. You are stood at the top of the flight of stairs, looking down. As you look down you can see ten steps leading gently down. Take the time to make this image as clear as possible in your mind.

9.       Walk down the stairs one by one as your count down in your own mind from ten to zero.

10.   With each step you walk down and with each number you count down, imagine that you are relaxing more and more.

Self-hypnosis method 2 – read through all the instructions before starting

1.       Get yourself into a safe and comfortable position. Make sure that it is safe close your eyes and that you are unlikely to be disturbed. Lying on a sofa or a bed is ideal.

2.       Close your eyes and make yourself as comfortable as possible

3.       Imagine, just imagine don’t actually do it, tensing every muscle in your body. Imagine tensing your whole body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Hold that feeling of tension for a couple of seconds.

4.       Now imagine letting go of all that tension and relaxing the whole of your body. You can allow your body and all your muscles to really relax and let go. Actually relax all the muscles.

5.       Imagine tensing all of the muscles in your feet. Imagine curling your toes and tensing all the muscles in the feet.

6.       Then, just relax the feet as much as you possibly can. Allow all the muscles in the feet to just relax and let go.

7.       Allow the feet to remain completely relaxed. Now tense all the muscles in your legs. Tightening the muscles in your calves and thighs. Hold that tension for a couple of seconds.

8.       Then, let go. Allow all the muscles in your legs to relax.

9.       Continue to imagine tensing and then actually relaxing all of the muscles in your

a.       Abdomen

b.      Lower back

c.       Upper back

d.      Chest

e.      Arms and hands

f.        Shoulders and neck

g.       Face and head

10.   Let your mind relax too and think of a place where you feel really comfortable, safe and secure. Really vividly imagine yourself being in that comfortable, safe, secure place.

Coming out of hypnosis

Once you have finished your hypnotic technique your can bring yourself out of hypnosis by counting from one to five in your mind. As you reach the count of five your eyes will open and you will feel awake and energised.

Mastering self-hypnosis has many wonderful physical and psychological benefits. If you would like more information do get in touch on

Useful tips and advice are also on my Facebook page. Join the Facebook community

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Hypnotherapy for nightmares

Within my hypnotherapy practice, many clients come to see me because they are suffering with nightmares. Often, they have had recurring nightmares since childhood and sometimes the nightmares only begin in their adult life.

Most of the clients I have treated recently have recurring nightmares, so the content, events and storyline of each nightmare follows a pattern.

One lady I treated had nightmares about being trapped or chased. Sometimes she was chased by an evil presence and sometimes by characters from well-known horror films. Another had recurring nightmares about being unable to help someone who needed saving. The themes of being chased or trapped are very common.

So, why do we have nightmares?

There are many theories about why we dream and what dreams mean. However, so far there is a lack of scientific evidence to fully explain dreams. My personal theory is that when we are dreaming, our subconscious mind is sorting through and arranging all the information inside our minds. I believe that nightmares are often caused by the subconscious mind sorting through things that we have perhaps been avoiding thinking about, or perhaps we worry about and feel that we don’t have a solution to. The nightmare may simply be the subconscious mind trying to process the fear or worry and find a solution to it.

Suffering with nightmares can be very debilitating. They disrupt sleep making the person experiencing the nightmares feel generally fatigued. If a nightmare evokes some very negative emotions then the anxiety or fear you feel when you awaken can take some time to disappear.

Nightmares often start in childhood, when we do not have our adult understanding of the world. When we are children it can also be much more difficult to change anything in our world which frightens us.

There are many ways I help my clients who are suffering from nightmares. Often, people do have an idea about the origin of their nightmares. Sometimes a person suffers more when they are feeling particularly anxious or stressed. Sometimes nightmares result from a traumatic event in childhood.  Even if we have consciously resolved these issues, our subconscious mind may not have done. Using hypnotherapy I help people to resolve issues or problems in their subconscious mind. Dealing with stress, anxiety or problems from your past, using hypnotherapy is hugely beneficial to your whole life as well as your sleep.

Another great way of tackling nightmares is to use the following technique. 

1)      Enter hypnosis, either using self-hypnosis or with a hypnotherapist

2)      Allow your recurring nightmare to form in your mind but remain detached from it, as if you are watching it from above.

3)      Make the nightmare really vivid.

4)      Take control and change the nightmare. There are various ways in which you can change the nightmare. You can either change yourself, or change the environment. If you are being chased, imagine that you grow to be 20 feet tall and then turn around and face your attacker.  If you are trapped in a room imagine all the walls falling away to free you.

Remember, you are in control and using this technique you teach your subconscious mind that it can overcome the nightmare.

I find that my clients often only need to do this technique once to stop their nightmares.

If you would like more information about hypnotherapy, well-being and personal development, please subscribe to my newsletter in the top right.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Hypnobirthing – It is good enough for royalty

Hypnobirthing – It is good enough for royalty

As the date approaches for the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s baby, it has been reported that the Duchess is planning to use hypnobirthing.

You may have heard about hypnobirthing, using hypnosis to make childbirth easier. But how does it actually work?

The connection between our minds and bodies is more powerful than you could imagine and you can use this power to your advantage. Even aspects of your physiology which you would consider as being automatic are influenced by our minds.

A good example of mind/body interaction is the way that we blush when we think of something embarrassing. This is an example of a simple thought changing the blood flow in our face.

Within my practice I often create numbness of the right hand. This is to enable clients to use their right hand to alleviate pain. While their right hand is numb the right hand is totally pale, a completely different colour to the left. This is a fascinating example of how the mind can control the body

Hypnobirthing is a fantastic way to give birth. Using hypnosis you can change your perception of pain, you can relax more deeply than normal and you can let go of any anxiety.

Lots of women (and their partners) can understandably feel very worried or anxious about childbirth. The first part of my hypnobirthing program uses relaxation techniques and diminishes anxiety about childbirth.

Relaxation techniques are also incredibly useful during the birth. When you are tense, your muscles tense up and your adrenal glands release adrenaline. All of which can slow down the birth process. If you are relaxed, your muscles are more relaxed and you feel calmer, then birth can be a much easier, quicker experience.

I teach a variety of pain relief techniques to my clients. These techniques work fantastically well and are the most important element of my hypnobirthing programme. Being able to manage pain is such a valuable tool and minimises the need for other interventions such as epidurals and pethidine during childbirth.
I provide my clients with CDs to listen to at home in the last few weeks before the birth and also during labour. This allows you to really master all the techniques before the big day. Please do get in touch if this wonderful method of childbirth appeals to.

Various studies have supported the wonderful benefits of hypnobirthing. Labours are shorter for women who use hypnobirthing compared to those who do not. Women using hypnobirthing also require less drug intervention than those who are not using hypnobirthing. It has also been suggested that an easier birth can lead to a happier baby and better bonding between mum and baby.[1]
If you are expecting a baby and would like to find out more about how hypnobirthing could work for you do get in touch at

[1] Hao TY, Li YH, Yao
SF. Clinical study on shortening the birth process using psychological suggestion therapy. Zhonghua Hu Li Za Zhi. 1997 Oct; 32(10):568-70. (General Military Hospital of Jinan, P.R. China.)
Jenkins, M.W., & Pritchard, M.H.
Hypnosis: Practical applications and theoretical considerations in normal labour. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 100(3), 221-226, 1993.
Harmon, T.M., Hynan, M., & Tyre, T.E.
Improved obstetric outcomes using hypnotic analgesia and skill mastery combined with childbirth education. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 58, 525, 530, 1990.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Public Speaking at a wedding. A fate worse than death?

In theory public speaking should be easy, right? You can speak coherently, can’t you? You can be in a room with your family and friends, right? So why does the idea of public speaking fill some of us with the sort of terror great enough to be willing to sell our soul to the devil in order to avoid it?

If you are a groom, best man or father of the bride, who is currently seeking out the devil’s phone number to avoid the trauma that is your speech, then rest assured that you are not alone. Fear of public speaking is an incredibly common phobia. The good news is that it’s also an easy phobia to deal with.

Firstly, speak to yourself as if you were your own best mate. The way we speak to ourselves, our own inner monologue, has a massive impact on our feelings and behaviour. So every time you notice yourself say something negative such as,

“I’m dreading this speech. I’m going to be crap at it and start shaking and sweating.”

Replace it with a more useful suggestion as if you were talking to your best mate such as,

“I know the people I’m speaking about so well. I have lots of funny and interesting things to say that the guests at the wedding are looking forward to hearing.”

Often people who are afraid of public speaking find that their voice trembles, their heart rate races, their breathing quickens and their face goes red. These are all classic physiological signs of being in a state of high anxiety. As this state has been brought on entirely by the mind, it can also be calmed entirely by the mind.

A good technique to achieve this is to practise getting yourself into a state of deep relaxation in the weeks and months before the wedding. Close your eyes, focus on your breathing and allow yourself to become completely relaxed. When you are in a completely relaxed state imagine yourself doing the speech competently and confidently. If you find yourself getting anxious just focus once again on the relaxation. Repeat this as often as you can and you will find that your mind pairs relaxation with the scenario of public speaking. As it is impossible to be both highly anxious and very relaxed at the same time, this technique removes the anxiety related to the situation.

I am a hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner in Dorset, and I have developed my own specialised Public Speaking treatment plan. I have great success with clients who fear public speaking, as well as clients who suffer from other worries and anxieties. I offer a free initial consultation. If this sounds like something you’re interested in then, do get in touch.
You can download a free MP3 here to help you to become a more confident speaker.
Most of all, a speech at a big occasion such as a wedding should be an experience to relish. Let’s make sure that it is.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

How to choose a good hypnotherapist

 So, you decide that a certain issue in your life, be it your weight, anxiety or a phobia, is getting in the way of you leading a happy and fulfilling life. Having made the decision to have hypnotherapy, you are then faced with the unenviable task of choosing a hypnotherapist.
If you google hypnotherapists you will be greeted with pages of them in the local area. So, how to you go about choosing the one that is right for you?

 It’s an important decision to get right. Hypnotherapy is a very safe form of treatment. However, it does carry some risks and needs to be done by a competent professional. Many hypnotherapists regress clients back to their childhood, regardless of the problem. This is a bad practice for a number of reasons. Firstly, many of our issues do not stem from deep-rooted childhood issues. Secondly, regressing people back to childhood events or traumas can re-traumatise them. Thirdly, memory is reconstructed. Things that people “remember” in hypnosis may be imagined or distortions of the truth. For these reasons I am very careful with when I use regression techniques in my practice and only use them when it is appropriate to do so.

Hypnosis and hypnotherapy are very broad subjects and range from stage hypnosis and magicians, to hypnosis being used in a very clinical NHS setting to treat IBS, to past life regressions and the more psychic/occult. I come from quite a scientific background and apply a scientific approach to my practice. I am very much against using hypnosis for past life regressions. I do not believe in past life regressions and believe that performing them can cause more harm than good. I saw a young man some time ago who had a recurring behaviour pattern which was causing him many issues in life. He had been to see another hypnotherapist who had performed a past life regression. During this regression this young man ‘saw’ or imagined that in all his previous lives this same issue had been a problem. This led him to believe that it was part of his very core and could never be resolved. He believed he was a victim and was doomed to always suffer with this problem.  Clearly, this belief was very destructive and had prevented him from overcoming the issue.

There are a number of ways you can make an educated decision and chose a hypnotherapist who is right for you. Firstly, look at their qualifications and the professional bodies to which they belong. There are various qualifications a hypnotherapist can hold, all of which allow them to practise. The most highly accredited qualification is the Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma (HPD). There are also various professional bodies looking after hypnotherapy in the U.K.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) is a particular well regarded professional body and its members adhere to a strong code of ethics.

In addition to looking for these qualifications in a potential hypnotherapist, it’s also vital to trust your instincts. Most hypnotherapists offer a free consultation. Before making a decision, try visiting a few different hypnotherapists and see which one makes you feel most at ease and who you have the most rapport with. Often, you will be telling a hypnotherapist quite personal information, so it’s important that you feel comfortable with them.

I believe in educating my clients and explaining how treatment works and what we are doing as we go along. Any hypnotherapist worth his or her salt will explain and educate you in the techniques and processes they are using.

When you are undergoing therapy, remember you are always in control. Although the therapist is there to guide you, ultimately you know what you want to achieve from your sessions. If something ever doesn’t feel right, you don’t need to go along with it.

I hope this has been helpful. If you have any further questions  please do get in touch via my website: +Catherine Swatridge Hypnotherapy