News

Exam Stress

May 24, 2016

Many people will suffer moments of stress and often feel overwhelmed when having to sit an exam. Many of us will also be able to recall how nerve-racking it can be to take a test. Weeks before the exam, we can experience the sensation of butterflies in our stomach. Our palms get sweaty, our hearts race and we fear our memory will let us down.

Feeling stressed and anxious before an exam is expected and feeling nervous is a natural emotion. Lots of people will find these feelings a motivator and a way to focus on the task, but some of us will find the pressure overwhelming. When these feelings become intense, they can threaten performance. Sometimes the stress can cause a person to achieve below their true potential.

Who will experience exam stress?

Exam nerves can affect anyone, at any age. It doesn’t matter how much a person has revised or how much experience they have, the chances are they will still have a feeling of panic.

There is a great emphasis in today’s society to use exams to measure a person’s ability (for example, to drive a car, to study or for a certain job). We may expect it, but the pressure can be overwhelming. When nerves become out of control, they can lead to anxiety attacks and stress. If a person does not know how to cope with these feelings, they can create a vicious circle of more intense emotions. Over time, this can have a negative impact on the unconscious mind and result in more general, longer term performance-based anxiety.

Preparing for an exam and successfully completing it is not just about how knowledgeable you are, but also your state of mind. Feeling calm, relaxed, focused and confident when studying and sitting the exam means you will be much more likely to achieve your full potential. While accessing this state of mind is a skill, it can often be learned by implementing new ways of thinking.

How hypnotherapy can help you cope with exam stress

Hypnotherapy is a common method used for helping control exam nerves as it can help boost confidence and reduce feelings of anxiety. It can help you develop the ability to access the calm state of mind needed to sit an exam, or cope with a potentially overwhelming situation.

The power of suggestion and visualisation techniques can encourage an individual to clear their racing mind and approach the exam with a cool, focused head. Your mind knows the information you need to pass the exam, but when experiencing exam stress or anxiety, your ability to focus and concentrate will suffer. Hypnotherapy will help you recall the information easily and correctly, as well as help restore your self-belief.

What to expect from a session

Hypnotherapy has proven effective for many people dealing with anxiety and fear. This is why many of those suffering with exam nerves consider the idea of hypnosis as a form of treatment, generally, the treatment will begin with an initial consultation. This is often a short meeting before booking a session.

After the initial consultation, I will begin by helping you to enter a relaxed state of mind. I may then ask you to focus on the exam. You may also be asked to focus on the physical sensations you feel when stressed, anxious or under pressure. Once you have recognised these feelings, I will offer calming words and ‘suggestions’. These suggestions will differ for your individual needs and situation. For example, if your mind goes blank when you enter an exam room, the suggestion may be, “You are in control, you know the information and you can do it.” Or if you are experiencing exam stress during a driving test, the suggestion may be a way of coping, such as “slow your breathing, remain calm and focus.”

The idea behind the suggestion method is that when you start to feel under pressure, overwhelmed or stressed about an upcoming exam, the suggestions and visualisations will enter your conscious mind and help you cope. You may also be taught valuable techniques that can help you relax and remain calm when you start to feel worried.

Hypnotherapy can also be used to overcome fear of failure. It can encourage you to focus, believe in yourself, increase motivation and boost concentration.

You may find that one session if enough to help you overcome your exam nerves and stress, or you may feel you need more. We can discuss this and work together to decide what techniques and how many sessions will be most effective for you. I may also offer self-hypnosis techniques for you to practise at home.

Staying calm

An important part of hypnotherapy for exam stress is knowing how to remain calm and relaxed, even when the pressure is building. A little bit of stress is good for us and can give us the boost we need, but too much stress can hinder our abilities.

Alongside your hypnotherapy sessions and self-hypnosis techniques, it is important to remain healthy. In order for your mind and body to function properly and cope with the nerves that come with exams, you need to be well rested, continue to eat a balanced diet and remain hydrated. Stress can affect us at any point in our lives. It can sometimes appear unexpectedly, causing us to lose sleep, lose our appetite and forget to take care of ourselves. If you feel your exam stress is affecting your daily life, hypnotherapy can also be effective for sleep disorders such as insomnia, panic attacks and relaxation

Add Neck Problems to Reasons Not to Smoke

March 21, 2016

Add Neck Problems to Reasons Not to Smoke

Tobacco use hastens wear and tear of cervical discs, study suggests — Here’s yet another reason to snuff out that cigarette: Smoking can damage the cervical discs in your neck, a new study contends.

The discs, located between your vertebrae, absorb shock to the spine. They become dehydrated and shrink with age, and this degeneration can lead to neck pain.

This new study found that smoking seems to worsen this natural wear and tear.

The researchers analyzed CT scans of 182 people. Current smokers had more advanced cervical degenerative disc disease than nonsmokers, according to the study.

The findings were to be presented Thursday at the Association of Academic Physiatrists’ annual meeting, in Sacramento, Calif.

“This is another example of the detrimental effects of smoking. Tobacco abuse is associated with a variety of diseases and death, and there are lifestyle factors associated with chronic neck pain,” said lead investigator Dr. Mitchel Leavitt. He is a resident at Emory University’s physical medicine and rehabilitation department, in Atlanta.

“Pain and spine clinics are filled with patients who suffer chronic neck and back pain, and this study provides the physician with more ammunition to use when educating them about their need to quit smoking,” he added in an association news release.

Previous research has linked smoking with disc degeneration in the lower spine, but this is the first to do so in the neck, the researchers said.

Smoking damages blood vessels that the spinal discs need for nourishment, according to Leavitt.

“There are more and more high-quality studies coming out that show an association between healthy lifestyle and improved quality and quantity of life as well as better disease management. Spine health is no different, and this study adds to existing studies that have looked at blood vessel health as it relates to chronic back pain,” he said.

Further research is needed to assess how other lifestyle factors such as diet, alcohol use and obesity affect chronic back and neck pain, Leavitt said.

Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until it has appeared in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The North American Spine Society has more about degenerative spinal conditions.

SOURCE: Association of Academic Physiatrists, news release, Feb. 18, 2016

How you can erase painful memories just by moving your eyes

March 11, 2016

How you can erase painful memories just by moving your eyes: An increasingly popular type of therapy can diminish negative memories and help your wellbeing

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is used for a number of serious conditions, including anxiety and depression
  • It involves moving your eyes from left to right between 20 and 30 times
  • Devotees say it can diminish negative memories and increase wellbeing 

The small room is quiet, warm and functional. Two women are sitting in chairs. One is moving her right hand backwards and forwards in front of the other’s eyes, which follow her hand intently.

It might sound like a budget hypnosis session but this strange eye flicking ritual is an increasingly popular therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) which is used for a number of serious conditions, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and common stress.

Devotees say simply moving your eyes from left to right between 25 and 30 times can diminish negative memories and, therefore, their impact on your wellbeing.

This, done repeatedly with a trained psychologist – up to 40 times in an hour session – can change your life immeasurably for the better, so experts claim.

And there’s a good reason why processing negative memories can improve your mental wellbeing. Most normal memories are processed by the brain, put in context and then fade with time, but the same is not true of bad memories.

‘Memories are processed according to previous experience and assumption and then assimilated,’ explains chartered clinical psychologist and former president of the EMDR Association in UK and Ireland, Dr Robin Logie.

‘We learn from memory: hot items aren’t picked up, certain foods avoided. These are all filed away and, on the whole, memories from long ago are vague.’

But if you have a bad experience, that negative memory is frozen in time.

‘Your brain can’t process it and the memory returns in dreams and flashbacks, often with a physical response such as feeling sick or actual pain.

‘Rather than fading, it stays as vivid as the day on which it occurred. It hasn’t been correctly processed.’

Brain scans have shown that when a traumatic event occurs, there is increased activity in the part of the brain which stores memories associated with sound, touch and smell, but not in the rational frontal lobes where reasoning occurs.

So trauma is stored in the brain as vivid images, sensations and sounds. Once lodged, this memory doesn’t fade and exerts a disproportionate influence on subsequent behaviour.

Everyone has at least one example of unprocessed memories floating in their heads: an ex-partner whose infidelity affected a relationship; an overheard comment which challenged confidence in friendships; or a teacher’s damning assessment.

Francine Shapiro, who founded the therapy, suggests there are approximately ten or 20 unprocessed memories responsible for most of the pain in our lives.

EMDR is based on putting these bad memories in the right place. Those who have tried it, like Hannah Cooper, 38, who works in supply-chain logistics and lives in Leicestershire with her engineer husband, David, cannot speak highly enough of the process.

With a history of anxiety going back to the breakdown of her parents’ marriage when she was 11, Hannah decided last December that she needed help.

Everyone has at least one example of unprocessed memories floating in their heads: an ex-partner whose infidelity affected a relationship; an overheard comment which challenged confidence in friendships; or a teacher’s damning assessment

‘There were little signs that things weren’t right: I was being snappy with my husband, I felt very tired for no reason,’ she says.

Hannah had previously suffered depression and had counselling so she consulted her therapist, clinical psychologist Dr Alexandra Dent. Dr Dent, who had trained in EMDR, suggested she try it. Over the first three sessions, Hannah identified some stuck memories.

‘Rationally, I know it’s not my fault my parents split up. But there were certain vivid memories that really stuck, such as the time, aged 11, I heard them arguing.

‘My mother threw my father out the door and smashed a mug after him. I’d given him that mug for Father’s Day and it said Dad on it.’

Every time she thought about it Hannah felt sick with tension.

During the fourth session with Dr Dent, they began desensitising the memories using eye-flicking. This starts by focusing on key aspects of the memory, following the finger from left to right and at regular intervals asking the client what they are noticing.

‘I didn’t really notice the left to right hand movements,’ says Hannah. ‘I was utterly intent on living through the memory, which was so vivid I could smell my father’s aftershave.’

Afterwards, Hannah recalls feeling a great lightness.

‘Now, I feel positive and have started running again. People have noticed my happiness.’

She says that had she tried to describe this memory before EMDR she would have broken down in tears. ‘It’s still there, but in the right place, not affecting my life.’

How on earth did somebody come up with such a concept?

It was a chance observation. Clinical psychologist Francine Shapiro, an American, was agonising over a distressing personal problem in 1987. She noticed that as she moved her eyes from one side to another, her disturbing thoughts faded without any conscious effort. She tested the theory by deliberately thinking horrible things while moving her eyes. To her amazement, the same thing happened.

EMDR has a body of scientific research behind it that proves it to be effective for the treatment of severe trauma. Not only is it available on the NHS, but training is compulsory for Ministry of Defence mental health personnel on the front line.

Still think it sounds ludicrous? Jane Steare, the mother of Lucie Blackman, who was murdered in Japan 16 years ago, has benefited from the therapy, as has a PTSD sufferer who had been in the same Tube carriage as one of the 7/7 bombers.

The patron of the UK and Ireland EMDR Association is former hostage Terry Waite.

Dr Logie says: ‘When you move your eyes, you’re reducing your emotional reaction to an event and you are more able to evaluate and process it in a detached way. Secondly, the event is reprocessed, and you can think of it in a more rational way.’

So why does it work?

Some believe the eye movements allow you to process memory in the same way as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, when you dream but your eyes flick around.

When asleep you can’t decide to focus on one event but when you’re awake and flicking them around you’re more in control.

A second idea is called the ‘working memory’ theory. You can only hold so much in your head at one time. Distracting yourself by moving your eyes helps you work through the trauma without it – metaphorically speaking – hitting you between the eyes.

Dr Logie believes everyone can benefit, revealing, that in training everybody receives EMDR and they all find something unresolved.

There are, as with everything, rogue therapists, he warns. You should ensure you only see one trained to EMDR Europe guidelines – see emdrassociation.org.uk to find your nearest.

In some cases, just one session can help you slot a traumatic memory into your normal pathways, where it stops affecting your life.

Patients say they do think about it but as something from the past that is no longer distressing. It becomes rationalised.

It seems EMDR may also help with more common problems such as eating disorders.

Physiologically, it fits neatly into a science buzz word: neuroplasticity, which refers to the fact that we can retrain the brain.

In EMDR, patients redirect their own neural pathways to store memories correctly.

For years resolving the pain of bad memories was the stuff of sci-fi, but now, in the blink of an eye, it seems it’s finally possible.

EMDR, PTSD & Trauma

October 5, 2015

I happy to announce that I am now trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprogramming) and BLAST(Bi Lateral Analysis and Stimulation Treatment)  techniques.  These techniques are extremely efficient in dealing with trauma and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  Most people class trauma as something horrific or extreme but every person is different, so what appears to be minor upset to one person can be devastating to another. So what is PTSD?

The NHS describe Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.
Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt.
They may also have problems sleeping, such as insomnia, and find concentrating difficult.
These symptoms are often severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on the person’s day-to-day life.

The type of events that can cause PTSD include:
serious road accidents
violent personal assaults, such as sexual assault, mugging or robbery
prolonged sexual abuse, violence or severe neglect
witnessing violent deaths
military combat
being held hostage
terrorist attacks
natural disasters, such as severe floods, earthquakes or tsunamis
PTSD can develop immediately after someone experiences a disturbing event or it can occur weeks, months or even years later.
PTSD is estimated to affect about 1 in every 3 people who have a traumatic experience, but it’s not clear exactly why some people develop the condition and others don’t.

People with PTSD experience three different kinds of symptoms. The first set of symptoms involves reliving the trauma in some way such as becoming upset when confronted with a traumatic reminder or thinking about the trauma when you are trying to do something else. The second set of symptoms involves either staying away from places or people that remind you of the trauma, isolating from other people, or feeling numb. The third set of symptoms includes things such as feeling on guard, irritable, or startling easily.

It’s normal to experience upsetting and confusing thoughts after a traumatic event, but most people improve naturally over a few weeks.

You should visit your GP if you or your child are still having problems about four weeks after the traumatic experience, or if the symptoms are particularly troublesome. The NHS recognise that EMDR is proving very effective in cases of PTSD

The BLAST technique is an accelerated method of using EMDR can also be used for phobias,  cravings, guilt and anxiety to name but a few.

Miserable menopause? How hypnotherapy could help

September 24, 2015

Interesting article in the Telegraph……..

Miserable menopause? How hypnotherapy could help

Forget trendy alternative therapies – according to a new report, hypnosis is one of the few proven to help women through the menopause. Ruth Wood finds out how:

Like many women going through the menopause, marketing director Amanda Jones often suffered hot flushes at the worst possible moment.

At one crucial business meeting last year, she felt so hot and sweaty that she had to nip to the loo and dry her hair with paper towels.

Shortly afterwards, she acted on a friend’s advice to try hypnotherapy.

“It was fantastic,” said the 55-year-old, who lives near Leicester. “Within four months, the hot flushes had gone. It’s very difficult to say categorically that it was the hypnotherapy, but it was very powerful and cathartic and I do believe it helped.”

Many women might be sceptical about being hypnotised out of menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats, which are caused by a change in the balance of the body’s sex hormones. However, a new report published this week suggested that of all the alternative treatments offered to women – from herbal supplements such as black cohosh, evening primrose oil and ginseng to yoga and acupuncture – hypnosis was almost uniquely effective in alleviating symptoms of the menopause.

Having reviewed the results of rigorous clinical studies on the topic, a panel of experts commissioned by the North American Menopause Society concluded there was solid evidence that both clinical hypnosis (hypnotherapy) and cognitive behavioural therapy were beneficial. One study showed that women who had hypnotherapy five times a week had a dramatic reduction in the number and severity of hot flushes.

By contrast, there was little evidence that exercise, vitamins or ‘known’ herbal remedies, gave any relief at all.

Having had a bad experience with weight-loss hypnotherapy 20 years ago, Amanda was nervous about being hypnotised, but took the plunge when her friend recommended Rutland based practitioner Kim Thomas.

“The first session was about getting to know me and clearing out my emotional baggage,” said Amanda, who is married with two grown-up sons. “I sat in an armchair and Kim got me to imagine walking down steps, each step taking to a deeper level of relaxation. I wasn’t asleep, but I was very comfortable and relaxed. Then I imagined walking into a barn in the middle of a field, and in there were all the things I wanted to get rid of. Things I thought I’d forgotten, such as bad experiences at work from 20 years before popped back into my head. I packed them all into a ‘suitcase’ and got rid of them. It was a very weird experience

In subsequent hypnosis sessions, Amanda was asked to imagine stepping into a cool sea or feeling a cool breeze and then coached in self-hypnosis so that she could visualise that same body-cooling sensation when hot flushes struck her in her everyday life, leading to actual relief of her symptoms.

Broadcaster and journalist-turned-clinical hypnotherapist Lowri Turner uses a similar technique with her patients. “Consciously, you may say to yourself: ‘I really don’t want to panic when I have a hot flush.’ But then the hot flush hits and your unconscious kicks in, making you worry that people will see you’re sweating or red in the face,” said Ms Turner, who runs three clinics in north and cental London specialising in hormone balance and weight loss.

“Hypnotherapy is like a massage for your mind. It allows you to address those unconscious mechanisms that are playing on your symptoms and quieten them down.”

In the run-up to the menopause, oestrogen levels decrease, causing the ovaries to stop producing an egg every month. As well as embarrassing hot flushes, this can disturb sleep and cause mood swings, vaginal dryness and loss of libido.

However, fewer than one in 10 women seeks medical advice, with most either grinning and bearing it or resorting to alternative therapies.

Dr Janet Carpenter, who led the expert panel for the North American Menopause Society, said: “Many women try one thing after another, and it is months before they stumble on something that truly works. This information will be critical in maximising the selection of the most effective therapies.”

Turner said she was not surprised by the society’s findings. “The menopause is not an illness, it’s a transition,” she said. “It’s not like you can just take a pill for it because it is as much about your emotional and spiritual wellbeing, especially your self confidence as you age and your changing role when the kids are leaving home.”

Kim Thomas, the hypnotherapist who treated Amanda, agrees.

“Hallelujah that this is finally being recognised,” she said. “In Japan, they don’t have a word for ‘menopause’ because middle-aged women are highly valued. It is not seen as a negative phase, but a positive transition in which women are older, yes, but wiser, too.”

* Some names have been changed

Testimonials

I would like to thank you so much for all the work you have done and I’m so pleased I  came to you because I’ve changed so much. Thanks to the hypnotherapy I no longer have negative thoughts about myself and I’m eating healthier and more controlled and have more energy .

I can honestly say now that I like who I am

So thank you .

- L.St

Like almost everyone else (I imagine) I had very little idea what to expect when I first contacted Kim about hypnotherapy, but she put me at ease very quickly.  Kim has the rare gift of being highly professional in her manner but also treating you as a friend; she’s a genuinely lovely person.  My four sessions with Kim have, quite simply, changed my whole life.  I find that my way of thinking is completely different now, and it’s all positive!  The things which used to weigh me down are so much more manageable.  I really feel I’m a happier person, better mum, better wife, better friend, more effective at work…the list goes on and on!  My self-esteem is dramatically improved, and I’ve got more energy and motivation.  I’d have no hesitation in recommending Kim’s work to anyone.

- B.L

After one session with Kim for troubling sleeping and slight pain management I was so relaxed! Well aware of things going on around me but able to focus on the words without being distracted by it all. Amazing.

- L.S.

Kim has helped me so much with my nerve damage pain following spinal surgery. She listens to your needs and hopes and made me feel very relaxed and also gave me the confidence I needed to get through every day. Thank you Kim

- K.W.

Since having hypnotherapy my mind has settled, calmer way of thinking. My confidence is higher then before. I’m less stressed at looking for approval and constant reassurance for my ideas. I’m taking in pieces of information from lots of different sources and making my own decisions and not second guessing myself all the time. After the first session, I’ve already seeing results, waking up refreshed and full of good positive thoughts and energy.

- K.M.

Kim Rowan has helped me through hypnotherapy for depression and anxiety over the last 6 months and her technique has proved invaluable.

At first I was apprehensive at using hypnotherapy for my depression, but after the first session I knew this was definitely a way forward.

Kim gave me some excellent advice on how to calm myself when I became nervous that worked extremely well when on my own, previous to this I would become extremely anxious and would need to come home and take medication.

We talked through some tough periods in my passed life and my stresses of today, and after each session I always felt calmer and able to cope with my busy demanding lifestyle.

Kim is such a caring, calm professional person and is always on the end of a phone when needed – I would recommend her to anyone who has issues where hypnotherapy would definitely help.

- L.C

I had a number of sessions with Kim Rowan to help me with my anxiety prior to an operation. I felt this helped to relax me and get me through my operations. I would recommend Kim.

- I.W.

Although not vastly overweight, for most of my adult life my weight has fluctuated and I have always felt the need to diet to keep on top of it. Last year I was feeling on the heavy side and a bit fed-up with myself. I have always been a bit of a sceptic, so when Kim suggested hypnotherapy I was unsure. However, I thought ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’ so decided to give it a try.

I had a couple of sessions with Kim, where she tried different techniques to establish which were most effective, with a follow-up audio track, which I try to listen to on a daily basis.

I couldn’t honestly say whether it has been the hypnotherapy, willpower or a mixture of the two but for the first time in years I have lost the weight I wanted to and, more importantly, kept it off. In any case, the hypnotherapy sessions are a really relaxing and enjoyable experience that I would recommend anyone to try.

- M.A

I approached Kim to see if she could help me overcome a couple of issues I had at the time. She was very welcoming and non-judgemental, putting me at ease with the situation.

She was professional at all times yet managed to make the experience personal to me. I do feel that I was helped to face and deal with my issues through this process and would have no problem in revisiting or recommending Kim to others.

- N.M

I have used Kim’s services over the last year. I feel we all have the ability to help ourselves but we do not always have the tools. Talking with Kim gave me the tools I needed in which to change my outlook on how I saw people, and how I thought they saw me. Kim’s therapy has given me the confidence to change my life in a positive way.

Kim had me feeling relaxed and comfortable at all times and the different forms of therapy that Kim has taught me I will always use or refer to.

I highly recommend Kim to help anyone overcome a change within themselves, a fear they have or to help with relaxation. Kim has changed my life and she could change yours too, thank you Kim

- E.A