Friday, 7 December 2012

Talking hypnotherapy

What a week this has been. Started with my hypnotherapy training (Module 3 now) in Bournemouth. 2 long days of theory and practice culminating in an assessed treatment using the Milton model of deliberate permissive language (e.g 'you may feel that...', 'I wonder if, now or in a moment, you will begin to feel x...'), This opens up the possibility for people to experience hypnosis however they want to. It takes the power away from the hypnotherapist (not like Derren Brown then!) and back to the client. Hypnosis, it seems is not magic, but simply an applied skill which uses the knowledge of how the mind creates and stores memories, emotions (which can be attached to those memories) and replays them for us whenever we encounter something familiar. This is why our subconscious emotions (many of which were learned in childhood) can be so destructive. We have no control over them and we do not even know what we are operating from..

And I was reminded of this personally too as my cat Sidney, my little companion, fell ill this week and I was struggling to cope with the notion of losing him (he stopped eating and drinking and there was a possibility he wasn't going to survive). My fear and sense of loss was so huge - even though the worst hadn't happened yet I was operating as if it was. The term 'as if' is used a lot in hypnosis communication. We ask someone to imagine something 'as if' it were happening. The subconscious mind doesn't know the difference between reality and imagination - the response will be the same. So, if I ask you, to imagine that your hand is stuck to your knee as if it was stuck with superglue, if I really get you to engage your imagination it becomes impossible to move! This is called the hand-stick routine and it is fascinating!

Hypnotherapy is more therapy than hypnosis in my opinion. It elicits information from the client, devises a strategy to help them and then uses hypnosis to deliver the intervention. But you need all the skills of an empathetic counsellor and more to be effective. Rapport is essential in hypnosis or the client will be not willing to follow your suggestions. So, we are learning so much more than how to induce hypnosis. We are doing a full session of therapy too. Using tools such as Socratic questions e.g 'what would happen if you did?' to get the client to analyse their own thinking critically. So much of this is used in self-help books eg check out Byron Katie's 4 questions which ask you 'turn it around' but with hypnotherapy there is more evidence based guidance and a full training.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Chrysalis Effect Training

Yesterday attended a workshop organised by a company called the Chrysalis Effect - run by recoverers of chronic fatigue syndrome and Fibromyalgia - which are different expressions of the same problem. The workshop was for Practitioners to learn about the radical new approach that they promote of online coaching for sufferers and team working guided by practitioners who really understand the problem and can take people through an individualised Program for recovery. As this is considered incurable by mainstream medicine it is very interesting to find people who not only believe that you can recover but are here to prove it!

They talk about the 6 stages of recovery from Phase I  (Denial) where you have many seemingly unrelated symptoms for which you will probably be seeking medical advice (headaches, fatigue, frequent infections, etc), Stage 2 (crash) - a trigger event will force the person to stop curtail their normal life - maybe a virus, an accident or a loss - this can often be months or even a few years later.  Stage 3 is where the person having tried to overcome the problem with willpower is now disheartened and very much defined by their condition - they are an 'ME sufferer' with a diagnosis and a 'treatment' regime which is largely about managing symptoms. The search for external solutions (different therapists/treatments, etc) has begun but it is very ad hoc hoppin from one therapist to the next until loss of hope sets in. This can last indefinately if you are following the conventional route 'managing' the illness with pain killers, anti-spasmodics, sleeping tablets and anti-depressants.

Phase 4 is the internal search - whereby with support and help from a trained professional you can look holistically at your lifestyle - all the elements of beliefs, values and behaviour which have got you where you are (A-type personality, driven, always giving to others, self-critical, highly sensitive but put on a good face, adrenal fatigue - stress response 'always on the go'). in this phase you are encouraged to find your connection with life again - the thing that 'akes your heart sing' and attempt to bring this back to some extent (depending of course on your capabilities), If you always wanted to write but were forced in to a desk job to pay the bills, this is a time to embark on something to do with writing - even it's only a blog or perhaps a diary. You are supported nutritionally, emotionally and physically with this gradual transition until you are able to enter Phase 5 where your symptoms have all but gone. Phase 6 - full recovery is defined as symptom free for a year.

What most impressed me about the approach is not only it's basis in holistic wellbeing not just quick fix but its multidisciplinary approach. No one practiitioner can do it all and here the model is one of collaboration with a number of related practitioners who co-refer within the framework of one leading practitioner who designs the program for the client so they know - upfront- how much it will cost, how many visits they require - who what when how much. What they get in return is a clear program that they can start from the beginning - with online training and regular support from their team of therapists to guide them on the path to recover. It's a very streamlined and targeted intervention and I am very excited byt the approach which seeks to both empower and encourage the client to heal themselves and to support the practitioners in a team rather than feeling alone and overwhelmed by the seeming impossibility of the task at hand..

To learn the full protocol I need to go on another series of training sessions lasting 6 months and costing £2500.  I haven't made up my mind yet what to do but one thing is certain. This model of collaboration and wellbeing coaching is unique in my mind - perhaps there is the equivalent in cancer care but it is very much more difficult as the conventional treatment for cancer has so much more complexity. If I do choose to go this route I would be a specialist rather than a generalist - something I have been thinking about for a long time. It is no good telling people what you use (Massage, Reiki, EFT, etc) it is results that count (I relieve your pain, and enable you to recover). If by focusing on something specific you get really good at getting results then that is what truly counts to the client.
Watch this space then for my decision..

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Fibromyalgia, CFS and ME Recovery

Today attended the annual CAMexpo at Earl's Court in London. The usual mixed bag - some good some not so good. Luckily the first workshop I attended was a good one - run by two women who have recovered from ME  and Fibromyalgia respectively and gone ahead and set up a company to train therapists in how to help sufferers recover. They call it the Chrysalis Effect and it seems to be based on the 8 pillars of health they they feel contributes to the disease when out of balance. This is not news to me although I've not heard of it in this context.

A couple of years ago I also set up a company with a friend and we were going to sell online health and wellbeing training. We called it Intelligent Health Solutions.We had designed an online questionnaire and wellbeing training based on 7 pillars of health which were slightly different but shared some overlap.  Ours were things like hydration, nutrition, emotional health, exercise, personal responsibility, relationships etc. Our company sadly never made it off the ground but the lessons I learned from that experience are vast.. The Chrysalis Effect's 8 pillars of health relevant to fatigue syndromes (of which Fibro, CFS and ME are the most common) are; nutritional support, thyroid and adrenals, emotional health, envrionment, lifestyle and pacing, relationships, movement and life purpose. You can see the overlap very clearly. You cannot 'quick fix' your health particularly if you are already suffering from one of these conditions - it is multi-factorial and needs a multi-factorial approach.

One of the directors of Chrysalis Effect, Elaine Wilkins, has set up a not for profit support group dedicated to recovery from ME, CFS and fibromyalgia This and the website set up by the former dentist and naturopath Alison Adams are doing similar things - showing you there is a way to recover but it is about tackling all the issues that contribute to the illness via natural means and not looking for managing the symptoms or the quick fix pill/treatmet. this one takes a complete overhaul of your life to do properly. tinkering round the edges with a few supplements and a bit of reflexology, etc aren't going to do it. She explained that eventually people stopped looking for an external solution and began to look inwards as to what patterns they had developed in life contributed to the illness. Common ones are; childhood trauma, unresolved grief (for instance she had lost a child and had gone straight back to work 3 weeks later), an A-type personality with it's perfectionism and work drive, putting everyone else first before yourself and never saying 'no'.  Finally and probably most importantly are you in the wrong life? Have you got the wrong job/relationship for your authentic self. Are you stuck doing something you don't believe in any more but are too afraid to change. Sometimes it is easier to stay ill than to tackle these issues. Elaine is now a life coach and she recognises that there are secondary gains for staying ill - if you can't have security (the illlness takes that away from you) then another of the 7 human needs is significance and the illness can give you that (see Carolyn Myss's book 'Why people don't heal' you become the sufferer and lose the person.

One other piece of good advice they gave me was 'stay away from the online support forums' as they actively seek to support the illness not the recovery and can be quite negative. This concurs with what my clients with Fibro/CFS have told me. They can take over your life and support the very thing they should be tackling. Sounds like sensible advice to me. When they tried to run a workshop to show others how they can recover they were told they could not advertise in the ME magazines as they cannot claim to 'cure' anyone. Well all they are trying to do is show how they cured themselves. It truly is amazing that groups that pupport to want to help actually hinder because they are fearful of backlash and litigation. Elaine said that even some individuals had written to them on Facebook callling them witches and saying they should do it for nothing if they really cared. The vitriol is scary.

So, along with Alison Adams (previous blog) that's two Fibro suffers who I've now come across who have recovered. They each claim to know many, many more. (Check out for postive fibro support). So it's not incurable.. which is good news for those of my clients who suffer from it and good news for me as I want to set up a clinic whereby we can promote these ideas and offer treatments that take people away from the negative messages they receive from the NHS (e.g. 'you'll never recover') and allow natural healing. So, that's all for now - will be doing further training with them in November so will report back then.

A revolution in healing..

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Am reading a wonderful book by an recovered sufferer of Chronic Fatigue  Syndrome. The book is called the Natural Recovery Plan by Alison Adams. She was a dentist for 20 years and then fell ill with CFS and wanted to find out more.

In it she discusses this and and Fibromyalgia and related auto-immune syndromes like Raynaud's. Her approach is distinctly holisitic and naturopathic which piqued my interest but, importantly, having a medical training, it is also very scientific which allowed the biochemist in me to get interested in the nitty gritty of cellular function.
For the first time I had an explanation for both the Raynaud's which I suffer from (apparently this is a result of toxicity being dumped in the extremities and then blood flow restricted so that it can't be distributed to the more essential organs! Also an explanation for Fibroids - the uterus being a non-essential organ this also is allowed to be a dumping ground for heavy metals - in the very fatty tissue there. Again, a Eureka moment for me as they simply told me it was 'simply one of those things when I asked why I had them when I had a low estrogenic intake (never having been on hormonal contraception or HRT). Will update again soon when I have finished it. So far it's very impressive.