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14 Jan

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy; training at the College of Cognitive Behavioural Therapies.

At our college, we train people in CBH using cognitive and behavioural theories and frameworks such as Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) which was developed by Albert Ellis. We also use other cognitive and behavioural therapies such as Cognitive Therapy, developed by Aaron Beck. So, CBT is the base theory and framework for integration with hypnosis. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy. At the heart of CBT is the premise that what people think can affect how they feel and how they behave. Within this broad definition are a number of cognitive behavioural psychotherapies such as Behaviour Therapy (BT), Cognitive Therapy (CT), Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to name but a few.


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The two pioneers of CBT, Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck, shared the view that most disturbances arise from faulty thinking and that the remedy is to be found in corrective actions. Both concentrate on present problems and present thinking in contrast to the earlier forms of psychotherapy. Also, both recommended the inclusion of behavioural exercises as key in effective change.

The CCBT course covers Ellis’s REBT model of emotional disturbance first for three reasons; firstly Ellis’s model deals with symptom treatment and advocates a philosophy of healthy living, in contrast to Beck’s model which primarily focuses on symptom treatment only. Secondly, Ellis’s model does not shy away from targeting and disputing client’s most disturbing events from the outset of therapy, whereas Beck’s model focuses on reality testing. The REBT model deals with the client’s ‘what if?’ question. Thirdly, there seems to be a convergence among Beckian therapists towards following one of the central pillars of the Ellis model; that of disputing rigidly held beliefs.

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH)

CBH is the practice of hypnotherapy, using the structure and philosophy of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as the backbone of the therapy. It combines CBT and clinical hypnosis to become a form of psychotherapy. Counselling skills are also used, a full case history is taken, a therapeutic alliance established, problems and goals defined, any misconceptions dealt with, and therapeutic strategies clinically developed and implemented. A typical CBH session would comprise of both hypnotic and non-hypnotic parts. Hypnotherapists who work with CBH should develop a solid understanding of the theory and process of cognitive behavioural therapies and their therapeutic use in hypnosis. They also need to make a thorough clinical assessment of the client’s problem/s and learn how to integrate other psychotherapeutic approaches into the CBH framework. You can argue that CBH is integrative as opposed to eclectic hypnotherapy, in addition to the use of direct suggestions, the therapist may draw on inner child work, regression or ego states therapy to name but a few. However all of these approaches are firmly underpinned by the CBT structure and philosophy.


CBH also involves therapeutic work outside the trance state. From the outset, clients learn the core cognitive and behavioural skills of challenging unhealthy beliefs and strengthening their healthy counterparts. Other work may include the use of counselling skills, psychological education, assertiveness exercises and role playing. According to Kirsch et al. 1993, the average client receiving cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy, improved further than at least 80% of clients receiving cognitive behaviour therapy only.

To find out more or retrain in CBH please go to our website and request a prospectus.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

5 Oct

Guest Post by Moya Layton

Irritable Bowel Syndrome commonly referred to as IBS, is a widespread and distressing functional bowel disorder, which carries a considerable burden both for sufferers and the medical profession alike. About two in 10 people in the UK have IBS and it’s twice as common in women as men. Although not life-threatening, IBS can be extremely debilitating for those people who suffer from it. The pathophysiology of IBS is uncertain and currently no single cause explains the condition, which is characterized more by symptoms, suffering and disability than by any demonstrable organic abnormality.

IBS can develop at any age, but most people have their first symptoms between the ages of 20 and 35. Symptoms may come and go and you may not have any symptoms for months and then experience a sudden flare-up. Common symptoms include, abdominal pain, feeling sick, indigestion, headache, backache, combined with an altered bowel habit that can be either constipation or diarrhoea predominant or a mixture of the two.

Although specific IBS symptoms may respond to certain medications unfortunately to date no single medication or class of medications has been demonstrated to be consistently successful in relieving the full spectrum of IBS symptoms. Traditional treatments for IBS include dietary therapy, antispasmodic medication and antidepressants; however it is important to note that only 25% of people who suffer with IBS symptoms respond to these traditional treatments methods.

A new understanding of IBS

Currently IBS being redefined as a disorder of brain gut dysfunction that does not fit into a specific psychiatric or medical condition. Doctors therefore are now moving from the disease-based model to a biopsychosocial understanding of this disorder. This model proposes that biological, psychological (thoughts, emotions, and behaviours), and social factors interact to play a significant role in the initiation and perpetuation of the disease or illness.

Cognitive Behavioural hypnotherapy combines hypnotherapy, clinically proven to relieve symptoms, and cognitive behavioural techniques, to directly address the maladaptive thought processes and behaviours that emerge from and perpetuate IBS. This therapy approach exemplifies this biopsychosocial

Hypnotherapy for IBS is widely recognised as one of the success stories. Response rates to treatment have been identified as 80% or more in most published trials with evidence suggesting that individuals who respond to hypnosis treatment for IBS can generally look forward to years of reduced bowel symptoms.

It has been also been identified that many people with IBS frequently suffer from anxiety and depression and worry excessively about their illness and symptoms. The combination of cognitive behavioural techniques with hypnosis therefore allows the client to directly focus on changing these maladaptive thinking patterns. Clients learn how to modify their beliefs about illness, chronic pain and discomfort. They also learn how to challenge the catastrophic thought processes they may be experiencing about the social and occupational consequences of their gastrointestinal symptoms. This allows them to change their morbid pessimism about their condition and any perceived helplessness about their ability to cope with this disorder.

If you already work with clients who suffer from IBS or wish to see clients who present with IBS or are simply interested in the subject then the Moya Layton CCBH Master Class on IBS is for you.

IBS is a complex and multifaceted disorder and the effective use of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy will teach you how you develop a well-established effective therapy programme for your client. This therapy not only addresses the IBS symptoms themselves, but also challenges the distorted dysfunctional thinking patterns that underpin and perpetuate this chronic and distressing disorder allowing clients to understand that they can finally gain control over their symptoms.


IBS is a complex disorder

Of cold pizza and life’s recurrent demands

24 Aug

Guest Blog Article by Luke Shaw


So, picture me if you will, twenty years younger, several pounds lighter and full of the unbridled optimism that both these characteristics imbue. I had completed my three year acting course at LAMDA and our final day of term was spent in the prestigious Duke of Yorks theatre in London’s West End, giving our all (twice) in individually prepared and lovingly rehearsed solo speeches. My vision was naturally one of being cascaded with agents’ calling cards, all dying to represent me, and being waltzed off into the sunset. As I picked my way through the cold finger buffet that my dear Alma mater had spared every expense on, and waited for the inevitable tap on the shoulder, it eventually came just as I was picking bits of ham off the ‘non-meat’ pizza. I turned in anticipation and was greeted by one of London’s leading agents, “Hi, were you in the show?”, not a promising opening but I gamely responded in the affirmative, “Could you tell me where I might find Paul Hickey?”. And that, as they say, is show business!

Cold Pizza anyone?

The next day I was now considering life through the prism of having no agent and having to be master of my own destiny. My weighty life choices were balanced finely between whether to dress up as a dog for fifty quid for a mate or temporarily suspend any form of responsibility in finding a job by donning a backpack and disappearing round Europe for a month. A few weeks later and fifty pounds richer (woof!), as I was being strip searched on the Swiss-French border, I took a moment to reflect on how significantly 24 hours had changed how I viewed my life. On my last day of term as I marched confidently up as speech number 43 in front of a bored and diminishing audience, I had been a feckless and carefree drama student, safely cosseted in the lovingly protective arms of his nurturing college, the next day I was a wretched and troubled unemployed actor.

As I look back on it now I can laugh at the naiveté I displayed in my expectation of employment, like there was almost some entitlement to a living. Ha! Pathetic! I can hear the demands now, “I should have a job!”, “I have to be successful”, “I must do better than Paul Hickey!”. Even now I feel a growing wave of tension as I recall the historic catastrophising (how could anything in the world be worse than this?!). Of course now I am more mature and sanguine about such events, whereas at the time I naturally went out and blew lots of money getting paralytic and attempting to sleep with anyone who’d let me…. Ah halcyon days!

Fast forward to the present day and the safety of a new college, where my major discomforts were where to sit in the class each month and who will notice if I have too many of the biscuits that Beverley has lovingly provided. Of course I’m not trying to diminish the potentially troubling journey through the diploma, but as a comparison to actually qualifying and plying one’s trade in the same way, it is, when I look back, (even to the depths of weekend 7 when I spent most of Saturday blubbing like baby (apologies if you haven’t done that one yet!)), a considerably easier time. And so again having travelled the Rubicon through those critical 24 hours spent re-evaluating my circumstances during which I went from a cocky and largely comfortable CCBH student to just another troubled unemployed therapist, I have to report that the greatest challenges lie beyond the completion of the course. As I look back on it now I can laugh at the naiveté I displayed in my expectation of employment, like there was almost some entitlement to a living. Ha! Pathetic! I can hear the demands now, “I should have a job!”, “I have to be successful”, “I must do better than Paul Hickey!”…. wait a minute… something seems familiar here….

So my message, for anyone who cares, (and of course I don’t if you don’t, in a fallible way of course not a nasty way), is to enjoy the course, it is truly fantastic. And suspend any awfulising until after graduation (or better still, dispute the hell out of it before then!). Meanwhile I’m off to challenge my  limiting beliefs around self promotion and the procrastination that prevents me from trying to.

Luke Shaw (Class of 2011)



Panic Disorder

11 Jun

The term panic is derived from the name of the Greek god Pan.  According to mythology the cloven footed dwarfish Pan was lonely and moody.  He had an impish sense of humour and if a human passed his cave he would jump out with a shrill and terrifying scream.  The acute terror felt by the human came to be known as Panic.

Ok so we know where the name panic comes from, but what happens when we experience panic…

Many of us in our lives will have suffered with some form of panic attack. Panic attacks can be brought on by all sorts of things, but they typically begin abruptly, may reach a peak within 10 minutes and can last anything from a few minutes to hours.  Panic attacks that continue for a longer period are often triggered by a situation from which the sufferer desires to escape, with some making frantic efforts to escape, which maybe violent if others attempt to stop them. 

Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder: severe recurring panic attacks

The effects of a panic attack, for the first time, often lead the sufferer into fearing they are having a heart attack or a nervous breakdown, prolonging the attack itself. It is said that experiencing a panic attack is one of the most intensely frightening, upsetting and uncomfortable experiences of a person’s life. Now imagine, what it is like to suffer with a form of panic attacks on a regular basis? This is exactly what people have to endure who suffer from a panic disorder. A panic disorder is an anxiety disorder, which is characterized by the individual suffering severe recurring panic attacks.

It is estimated that at least 2 million people in the UK alone suffer from panic attacks, for some, these attacks become more regular and lead to more challenging cases of panic disorder.


Signs and Symptoms

Some of the common symptoms of an attack include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Perspiration
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling
  • Uncontrollable fear
  • Sweating
  • Chocking sensation
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Numbness or tingling,
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Faintness
  • A sense of altered reality

In addition, the sufferer also has thoughts of impending doom and catastrophe, this can be expressed as “something awful/terrible is happening to me, I’m in real danger.” 

According to DSM IV (American Psychiatric Association 1994) a panic disorder is defined by recurrent, unexpected panic attacks followed by at least a month of either:

  1. Persistent anxiety about having more attacks
  2. Worry about the possible implications or consequences of the attacks
  3. A marked change in behaviour as a result of the attacks (e.g. avoiding situations associated with attacks, such as quitting a stressful job)
  4. During the episodes, at least four of the sensations/feelings are experience as listed in the common symptoms of a panic attack above
  5. These attacks are not directly caused by a drug or a general medical condition


Beating Panic Disorder

Treatments that are best effective against panic disorder offer a full a response as possible, and minimise the chances of relapse – this is imperative. The American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association primarily recommend Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for treating panic disorder. Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) builds on the structure provided by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and introduces a hypnosis and hypnotherapy element. This use of hypnotherapy is another tool in the fight against panic disorder.

It is worth remembering that sufferers are individuals, and as such, a case by case approach to treatment is required. This is something the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CCBH) strongly believes in.

Therapists who attend one of the Colleges Master Classes in treating panic disorder are given not only the background knowledge they require in psychopathology and natural history of panic disorder, but information on how best to identify the right treatments for individuals. Therapists who attend one of the Colleges Master Classes in Treating Panic Disorder will learn:

  • Major theories when dealing with Panic Disorder
  • Available treatments and reviews of these treatments (including drug treatments)
  • How best to formulate an individual case
  • Hypnotherapy protocol – session by session treatment
  • Strategies and guidelines for dealing with challenging cases

CBT and CBH provide a full treatment for panic disorder and provide the sufferer with the tools to help them beat panic attacks and stop them re-occurring. By doing this, the individual has the tools at their disposal to beat panic disorder.

If you want to learn how to use Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy to successfully treat panic disorder, then you can attend one of the Master Classes that specialise in Treating Panic Disorder, held by the college.

How do you rate your own Self Esteem?

8 Jun

The College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CCBH) has carried out a number of surveys into self esteem over the past 12 months, and what is constantly interesting to see and understand is how people rate their own self esteem; what they believe self esteem to be and of course, the factors in our lives that we feel influence our self esteem. There is currently a Self Esteem questionnaire running on the CCBH website right now, so please take just a few moments to complete it, and then come back to this blog post.

If you are a keen reader of this blog then you will already have read a few posts on Self Esteem. You can have a look at some of the findings of a previous questionnaire and read the corresponding blog post here. That post focuses on the male or female differences and similarities in terms of self esteem, however this post is more about how we rate our own self esteem, and the factors we believe that influence it.

Solving Self Esteem: It's actually about Self Acceptance

Solving Self Esteem: It’s actually about Self Acceptance

How do I measure my Self Esteem?

Many of us believe we know what self esteem is, but can we actually describe it? Do we actually know how to measure our self esteem?

Self esteem is influenced by our beliefs.  It is based on beliefs that evaluate the self based on certain conditions like success, failure, negative judgement and so on.   For example if someone judges themselves as worthless or a failure because they failed at something then they will have self esteem problems.  This means that they only rate themselves as worthwhile if they succeed.  This all or nothing measurement of the self is at the heart of self esteem problems.  Can you legitimately measure the human self?


In the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy’s latest questionnaire on Self Esteem a number of key questions were asked to find out what impacts on our self esteem. 

Interestingly, there were 2 statements that had the biggest impact on self esteem, and these were the same for both males and females.

  • If I was wrong or made mistakes at work
  • When I am criticised or unappreciated

This means that many people put themselves down if they got things wrong or made mistakes at work and when they get criticised or were unappreciated.   Understanding these factors allows us to deal with problems of self esteem.

Self Esteem Problems

Low self esteem can lead to a host of mental health issues. Often low self esteem is linked to depression, self imposed isolation, feelings of rejection, insignificance and detachment, even a dissatisfaction with current social relationships.

It’s important to recognise low self esteem in oneself, but also in our friends and family members. A person with low self esteem may show some of the following characteristics:

  • Heavy self criticism and dissatisfaction
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism with resentment against critics and feelings of being attacked
  • Chronic indecision and an exaggerated fear of mistakes
  • Excessive will to please and unwillingness to displease others
  • Perfectionism, which can lead to frustration when perfection is not achieved
  • Neurotic guilt, dwelling on and exaggerating the magnitude of past mistakes
  • Floating hostility and general defensiveness
  • Pessimism and a general negative outlook
  • Envy

Solving Self Esteem: It’s about Self Acceptance

The concept of self esteem is psychologically harmful and wrong, striving for enhanced self esteem is quite unsound, and instead, we should strive for self acceptance. With this in mind, treating and solving self esteem problems is very possible by changing our responses to the factors that may influence our self esteem.  This is a concept that the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy has been instructing on in Master Classes over the past 18 months. These Master Classes are open to anyone with an interest in solving self esteem problems, and they help provide the tools that allow us as individuals to move to self acceptance.


Coping with the Recession using Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy

28 May

It seems quite a while ago that the “Credit Crunch” sent us spiralling into a recession, one which is proving rather stubborn to get out of. For many people recession can contribute to a number of mental health issues, the most common being anxiety and depression, triggered by the worry of uncertainty relating typically to job security and cash flow.


Recession can put us under a lot of stress

Recession pressures

Unfortunately just the word ‘recession’ contributes to any financial problems; this is partly due to our own thoughts and feelings. When we hear ‘recession’ we automatically become anxious regarding money. Recession evokes uncertainty in our minds, and though we deal with many uncertainties on a daily basis, such as “is the train going to be on time today?”, we generally don’t react well to long term uncertainty, especially about significant events such as “is my job secure?”, “will I be able to continue to pay the mortgage?”, “am I going to be able to provide for my family?”.  When the level of uncertainty in our lives is increased, we can experience an immediate threat to our well being, which can trigger negative stress responses (such as anxiety, frustration, anger and depression.)

In a recession all these negative stress responses can be seen right across the economy of a country. Those who are self employed become worried that businesses will hold off on employing them for a particular project; businesses are worried about consumers holding back on their spending; and consumers are worried about job security. All that negativity results in consumers holding onto their money, spending less, businesses revenue decreasing and therefore not employing other businesses / contractors to carry out work or projects for them. So all of the fears have become true, largely because of what people are thinking.


Breaking the cycle

Our state of mind dictates how we feel, so modifying our very own state of mind has massive impacts on how we actually feel about any challenges we may face.  Epictitus, stoic philosopher, neatly summarises this principle of emotional responsibility by saying “People are not disturbed by events but by the view they hold about them”. This is a poignant observation when applied to our state of mind about recession at both a micro and macro-economic level.

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy provides us with many skills and techniques that equip us to change our state of mind and ultimately how we feel, so we can handle any recession worries, and continue to move forward in our lives. If we let ourselves think the world will end because we may potentially lose our job, then we will be in a state of anxiety about our jobs. If though, we remember that the world is still turning, that supermarkets are still stocking food and the sun will rise tomorrow, then we are able to feel concerned rather than anxious or panicked about potential adversities.  Being in a state of concern helps us deal with these issues and move on but being in a state of anxiety leaves you stuck.

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy

In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH), we say that unhealthy beliefs are at the heart of our emotional problems and behavioural thinking problems. They simply don’t help us achieve our aims and goals, rather they leave us vulnerable to self sabotage, become irrationally angry, depressed and block us from actually finding solutions to our problems. 

An example is you may believe “I absolutely should not have been made redundant. I have been though, and it’s now the end of the world. It’s unbearable and proves I’m useless”. This type of belief is common with people suffering with depression following redundancy. In this state of mind, it becomes very difficult to think clearly or to think of possible solutions, it is even more difficult to actually motivate one’ self.

With Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy you have access to tools to that help you change that depressive and negative mindset. Using our redundancy example, think about this alternative: “I really would have loved not to be made redundant, but I have, and I accept that I have. This isn’t the end of the world though, I’m still alive and my worth does not depend on whether I am employed there or not”. This type of belief enables you to feel emotionally sad, but enables you to move on, think of a solution and motivate yourself to move forward.

People who suffer with depression as a result of financial worries can seek counselling to help them. Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) counselling builds on the proven techniques of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and teaches how to change the way we think, to move from a negative belief system and mindset, to a more positive one, enabling us to think clearly, address our problems and overcome depression and stop it from re-occurring.

If you are interested in learning CBH to help with counselling, then visit

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy and Addictions

23 May

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) can be used for a wide range of everyday problems, ranging from anxiety to depression, self esteem issues and procrastination. It can even be used to help individuals deal with all sorts of addictions, including smoking, gambling and drinking.


Controlling your mind will help beat addiction.

Using hypnotherapy to deal with addictions is quite common. In a recent article, Indian police hired a hypnotherapist to help many of their police officers from addictions to drinking alcohol and smoking.

Why do we become addicted?

There are many reasons why people become addicted to something, some of us have personalities that are naturally more open to becoming addicted than others. Remember that addiction doesn’t always manifest itself in the form of things we typically see as bad for us. There are many cases of people becoming addicted to keeping fit, or going to the gym for example. Some are addicted to TV or their XBOX’s, not the first things that pop to mind when we think or talk about addiction.

Typical reasons behind addiction though relate to a form of escapism from life, triggered by typical factors such as stress, anxiety or depression. In the case of the Indian Police, many of the officers struggling with addictions stated they felt their addiction was linked to stress, working long hours and depression.

Combating addiction

Addiction is a powerful thing, and so it takes some time to break the addiction ccycle. Often when we picture people dealing with addiction we think of circles of people talking through their problems, looking for support from others. Talking therapies are very powerful, especially when delivered in a structured format, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and with the added benefit of Hypnosis (Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy – CBH).  Both CBT and CBH are about a change in thinking and a change in behaviour.

CBH provides individuals with the tools that will help them break their addictive cycles and maintain a healthy life style.   For any therapist / counsellor, CBH is a powerful addition to any talking therapy.  For therapists wishing to learn these skills, there are a number of courses available from the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy, ranging from a foundation course in counselling, hypnosis and rapport skills, to advanced diploma courses. For individuals wishing to learn some of the skills CBH teaches, there are a number of Master Classes also available, each one focused on a particular skill, such as treating addiction, panic disorder, self esteem problems and more.

When it comes to combating addiction, CBH can be a valuable tool to your toolkit.