Archive | Healthy Environments RSS feed for this section

History of Mental Health Treatment

6 Sep

For this blog post, we decided to write a potted history of the development of mental health treatment over the ages, having found an interesting article on this topic. It is amazing to see how treatment has progressed to where we are today…

Mental Health treatment has come a long way

The treatment and support offered to people suffering from mental health problemsthroughout history has been both complex and bizarre. Although well intentioned, the lack of understanding and knowledge often led to inhumane and distressing events.

Looking at early beliefs, we can see a pattern emerging. The most common cause was believed to be demonic possession or some other supernatural force. For example as early as 5000 BC, early man believed that mental health problems were the result of supernatural phenomena, as can be seen by   the discovery of trepanned skulls, where holes were made in the skull to release the ‘demon’. In ancient Mesopotamia, the sufferers were treated using exorcisms, incantations, prayer, atonement, and other various mystical rituals in an effort to drive out the evil spirit.

Hebrews believed that all illness was inflicted upon humans by God as punishment for committing sin, and therefore Priests would appeal to God as the ultimate healer to cure the sickness.  Ancient Persians attributed illness to demons and believed that good health could be achieved through proper precautions to prevent diseases.

As we move forward in time, there seems to be more understanding and attempts at therapy start to include engagement of the brain and thought processes. Indeed the Ancient Egyptians recommended that those afflicted should engage in recreational activities such as concerts, dances, and painting in order to relieve symptoms and achieve some sense of normalcy.

The Greek physician Hippocrates denied that people suffered from mental health problemsdue to supernatural forces and instead proposed that it stemmed from natural occurrences in the human body, particularly pathology in the brain. Although, of course a far more enlightened belief, this resulted in treatments such as emetics and laxatives being used or patients were bled using leeches. Not so enlightened!

By the time we arrive in the sixteenth century, the shame and stigma attached to mental health problems often caused people to hide their family members suffering from mental health problems or simply abandon them, leaving them to a life of begging and vagrancy. Asylums began to be established around the world, but living conditions were often deplorable and there were very little attempts at treatment or support of the patients.

Obviously reform was needed!

Philippe Pinel in 1792, showed that patients with mental health problems would improve, if they were treated with kindness and consideration. Further advances were made with the development of psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud. Freud believed that anxiety arose as different parts of the human mind battled each other, resulting in mental health problems. The resulting treatments created by Freud are known as psychoanalysis, or “talking cures” and began with hypnosis.

Other treatments about this time included electroconvulsive therapy and psychopharmacology, which were designed to correct a patient’s chemical imbalance. This was further developed with the first shock therapy using electricity in 1938. Anti-psychotic drug therapy became more common in the 1940s, such as thorazine, valium and prozac, although these treatments were only able to control the symptoms. This led to many people being convinced that all illnesses could be effectively managed with medication, and resulted in patients once again being left unsupported.

So having looked at this history as a whole, we find there have been much needed developments in mental health care but improvement was still needed…

In more recent times we have seen the evolution of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This took place in three stages.  The first stage was when behaviour therapy started to emerge independently, in both UK and America. The second stage was the growth of cognitive therapy, which took place in America during the mid-1960s. The third stage was the merging of behaviour and cognitive therapy into cognitive behaviour therapy, in the late 1980s. CBT is now widely accepted and is practised by a growing number of clinicians.  It is, probably, the most broadly and confidently endorsed form of psychotherapy.  CBT dominates clinical research and practice in many parts of the world. CBT is also advocated by the NHS as part of the treatment process. Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH), the combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Hypnosis, which is of particular interest to us at the college, is proving to be extremely effective in the treatment and support of patients.

Look out for another blog post coming soon with more on the evolution of CBT.

Back to School Worries

5 Sep

As the summer holidays draw to a close, it may not be the lack of sunshine that is in the forefront of many parents’ minds. After such a long break from the normal routine of attending school, many children can find the prospect of returning to school very daunting. There are lots of things to think about, such as, what will my new school be like, will I make some new friends, will my lessons be hard, will I be left out? These sorts of concerns can cause a great deal of anxiety.

Back to School can be stressful

Parents can also dread the start of the new term, if they anticipate their child will experience anxiety and distress. Fortunately for most children, once over the hurdle of getting through the school gates, the excitement of new friends, teachers and subjects takes over and they quickly settle down and enjoy the familiarity of school routines.

However, this is not always the case, as for some children, the anxiety can persist past the school gate, leading to psychosomatic symptoms or acting out behaviours. These can include feeling ill in the mornings and sleep problems, and if the anxiety problems are not resolved, the child may refuse to attend school.

To prevent an outright refusal to go to school, it is helpful for parents to talk with their child about their worries so they feel safe and secure. It is important to talk about school in a light and fun way, encouraging the child to talk about their thoughts and feelings, so any issues can be resolved quickly.

There are some simple but effective ways of allaying their anxiety such as:

  • When dropping children at school, parents should smile, hug, kiss and wave goodbye. It is important to create a light and positive atmosphere, so the child picks up on this instead of anxiety.
  • When shopping  for school supplies, take the opportunity to chat about school in a healthy, relaxed and fun way.
  • Make sure there is enough time in the morning to get your child to school in a calm fashion without rushing and shouting.
  • Let younger children know in advance what is happening. Nobody likes the unknown and  the anxious child struggles with it even more so. Surprises can be very hard to cope with when you are already in a state of anxiety.
  • Try to meet at the school gate with a fellow student so the child has company.
  • With a younger child, ensure they know where to look for you at the end of the day and make sure you are not late.

As we said earlier, most children quickly settle back to school without any major problems, but a child who becomes very withdrawn or experiences loss of appetite and lethargy may be experiencing depression. Any dramatic change in mood and behaviour, that does not seem to be diminishing as the term progresses, should be seen as a sign and it may be necessary to seek advice from a professional.

Emotion Blog Series #3: Anger and Annoyance

19 Jul

Unhealthy Anger is an unhealthy negative emotion provoked by holding an unhealthy belief or attitude about  i) you or another breaking your non moral rule  or ii) a threat to your self esteem or  iii) you experiencing frustration.

Healthy Anger or Annoyance is a healthy negative emotion provoked by holding a belief or attitude about i) you or another breaking your non moral rule or ii) a threat to your self esteem or iii) you experiencing frustration.

Anger is an unhealthy emotion but a natural one. Annoyance is a healthy anger

Anger is a common emotion and we all experience it.  There are two types though; healthy and unhealthy.  In this blog we will use the Anger to mean unhealthy Anger and Annoyance to mean healthy Anger

Both Anger and Annoyance can be intense.  You can feel Anger or Annoyance with yourself, with another person or with life and the world. 

You can feel Anger or Annoyance about all sorts of things.  The following are typical triggers.   This is by no means a complete list of triggers.

  • Rejection
  • Unfairness
  • Disagreement
  • Lateness
  • Rudeness
  • Criticism
  • Failure
  • Insensitivity
  • Hassles e.g. traffic jams, weather etc
  • Having an emotional problem
  • And so on


How do you know if you are feeling Anger or Annoyance?

The easiest way to understand your emotions is to check your thoughts and your behaviour or behavioural tendencies when feeling the emotion. 

When you feel Anger towards someone you will tend to exaggerate the actions of the other person, who has broken your personal rule.  You will think that the other person had malicious intent.  You will think that you are absolutely right and the other person is definitely wrong and you will not see the other person’s point of view at all.  You mind will be focused on revenge.

When you feel Anger towards you will like attacking the other persona physically or verbally.  You will feel like paying them back e.g. ignoring them or staying silent.  You will feel like recruiting allies against the other person.  Apart from feeling like doing all of these things, sometimes you will actually do them.

If you are feeling Anger with yourself you will tend to be extremely hard on yourself, call yourself ‘idiot’, ‘stupid’ and other self damning words.  You will feel like punishing yourself or you will indeed punish yourself.

If feeling Anger due to life frustrations then you will feel high levels of frustrations, be damning of the life and situations or God.  You may feel like taking your frustration on furniture, dashboard of your car.

When you feel Annoyance with someone your thoughts will be more balanced and you are less likely to see malicious intent behind someone’s actions.  You will be more open to the possibility that you may be wrong, able to listen to the other person’s point of view.  You mind will not be pre occupied with seeking revenge.

When feeling Annoyance you will feel like talking and behaving assertively but it will be with the right intent of solving the conflict.  You will feel like asking the other person to make changes to their behaviour but you do not demand it. 

When you feel Annoyed with yourself you thoughts will be focused on the wrong thing that you did but without damning yourself.  Your mind set will be accepting of the fact that some mistake was made but you also see yourself as an imperfect person who will learn and move on.

If you are feeling Annoyance with life’s hassles, your mind set will be accepting of the fact that there are hassles and frustrations in life but you also think that you can cope with it even though it is a pain in the backside.



Accept yourself as fallible and imperfect.

Accept that other’s as fallible and imperfect.

Accept that hassles and frustrations exist and are part of life and that you can cope with them even though you find them challenging.

Manage your expectations and stress levels during this Summer of Sport!

13 Jul

So, the 2012 Olympics are almost upon us! The event will be met with mixed emotions from many people as the ramifications impact on our everyday lives. To some, the initial reaction will be one of panic, as the worry of trying to get to work through the inevitable congestion hits home. Can I cope with the crowded trains, will I get to work late, and will I be able to get home to watch a particular event on TV? What about if a tube breaks down or my bus doesn’t even arrive or is packed? There seem to be 101 things to worry about.

Manage your travel during the Olympic games

Albert Ellis said we generally disturb ourselves about three major things

  • I must do well, greatly, perfectly, outstandingly and must win the approval of others or else it’s awful, I can’t stand it and I’m no good and I’ll never do anything well.  This can lead to anxiety, depression, despair and a sense of worthlessness, jealousy, hurt, unhealthy envy, guilt, shame and embarrassment and unhealthy anger with the self.
  • Other people must do the right thing or be a certain way or treat me well, or kindly or considerately and put me in the centre of their attention or else it’s horrible, unbearable and proves they are bad and no good.  This can lead to unhealthy anger, rage, hostility resentment, jealously, envy.

But the Olympics are likely to trigger this 3rd attitude in some people. 

  • Life must be easy, without discomfort or inconvenience or any hassle otherwise it’s horrible and unbearable.  This leads to low frustration tolerance and unhealthy anger.

 When we think about this third thing, we understand that it is not realistic, and the important thing is how we deal with more difficult situations.

In the case of transport hassles around London 2012, there are many ways we can cope with this and prepare ourselves. We do not want to feel frustrated and angry for the two weeks of the Olympics.  Basically, we need to manage our expectations and plan in advance:

  • Accept the hassle and inconvenience because we know it will happen. 
  • Remember, it’s only temporary and that it will come to an end. We can tolerate and stand the hassle. It does not kill us. It’s just a hassle.
  • Plan in advance and allow extra time so that you do not feel rushed all the time
  • Try to look at the positive side of the Olympics. After all, it is a major event for the country. A lot of people have worked very hard to make them a success and every effort has been made to minimise the impact on the transport system.
  • If you don’t support the Olympics in London and worry about the hassle, then focus on the fact that it will all come to an end and that you can stand the hassle of the games even  though you do not agree with them.

So, focus on the benefits of the Olympic Games, the enjoyment it will bring to millions of people, the efforts and successes of the athletes and the two weeks will pass all too quickly!

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.


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.

Changing of the seasons…

24 Apr

It seems that many of us notice a change in our moods with the changing of the seasons. Many of us find the winter, well a little depressing. It’s cold, the days are short and it can get very cold. We find that spring brings with it new hope…We have posted a number of blogs about how spring is a good time for us to clean out our minds and take up new challenges….In this post we wanted to have a look at the very real effect that Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Many of us suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder


What is SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is the scientific name for what we call winter depression, or the winter blues. However SAD is not just related to winter, it can be associated with any season, with many people getting depressed in the summer (suffering with the summer blues). SAD is essentially a mood disorder, in which people experience depressive symptoms based on a particular season.

Some of the symptoms

There are a number of symptoms associated with SAD, these can include difficulty waking up in the morning, morning sickness, tendency to oversleep and or to over eat. When over eating, this is typically craving carbohydrates which leads to weight gain. Other symptoms include a lack of energy, difficulty in concentrating on or completing tasks and can even include a withdrawal from friends, family and social activities.  Other symptoms can be found for “the summer blues”, such as insomnia, anxiety, irritability, decreased appetite and ultimately weight loss. No matter if you suffer SAD in the winter or the summer, these symptoms ultimately may lead to depression.


Help and treatment

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) can help combat SAD.  CBT aims to help individuals identify the expectations and interpretations that can lead them towards depression and anxiety; adjust to reality and break through their avoidances and inhibitions. Implementation of CBH can help people change their cognitive processes, which leads to changes in their feelings and behaviours.

Some of the CBT / CBH skills a therapist can deliver to an individual who suffers with SAD can include:

  • Development of a repertoire of wintertime leisure interests
  • Using diaries to record automatic negative thoughts
  • Improvement in time management
  • Solving problems that could potentially initiate negative thinking
  • Setting goals and plans for maintaining gains and preventing relapse



Why CBT to treat SAD

CBT is a great way to combat SAD because the effects have been shown to be long lasting for the individual. This longer lasting effect is brought about because the individual is given the skills and tools to delay or prevent relapse of depressive symptoms…For more information on treatment of SAD or on how to use CBT and CBH to treat SAD, please contact