Tag Archives: Hypnotherapy

What are you afraid of?

22 Apr

Most of us a little bit scared about one thing or another: scared of things that, for fairly rational reasons, we just don’t like, or would prefer to avoid. But, for some people, it’s something way more than being scared, it’s something beyond their control and it’s called a phobia.

A phobia is an anxiety disorder that’s commonly referred to as a persistent fear of an object or situation, one that the sufferer will either go to great lengths to avoid, or endure with marked distress. It’s a fear they recognise as irrational and one that is typically disproportionate to the danger actually posed by the thing itself.

The word comes from the Greek, Phóbos – meaning ‘fear’ or ‘morbid fear’ – and is itself a derivative of Phebomai – meaning ‘to flee’ or ‘withdraw’ – hence the running away from the thing that scares you.


In Greek mythology, Phobos was the god of fear and terror. It’s also the name of the largest of the two Mars moons.

In psychotherapy, there are three main types of phobia: social, specific and agoraphobia.

Social phobias are broken down into two types, generalised social phobia (or social anxiety) and specific social phobia (where the anxiety is triggered only in specific situations).

Specific phobias cover almost anything and everything else including fears of flying, animals, catching a specific illness, water, heights, clowns, buttons, injections, thunder, bridges and, even, work.


Each specific phobia has its own name. The fear of clowns, for instance, is called Coulrophobia (and no, it’s not just restricted to evil clowns, but covers the nice ones too) while the fear of work is known as Ergophobia.


There’s even a phobia that is culture specific, in that it’s almost exclusively experienced by Japanese people: Taijin Kyofusho, a fear of offending or harming other people.

Agoraphobia gets its only special category however, as it’s a much more complex affair (or multi-phobic, to be precise), and can include a generalised fear of leaving home or other safe places, coupled with a fear of having a panic attack, a fear of open spaces, of being socially embarrassed and more.

However, CBT is considered to be the gold standard treatment for anxiety disorders (including phobias) by the NHS.

Not only that, but lots of research highlights the efficacy of hypnotherapy in the treatment of the same.

Put the two together and not only are you are looking at a more effective treatment package, but also faster results too (studies have shown that the two therapies together can be more effective and more rapid than when either one is used alone).

CBT has a very definite viewpoint on emotional problems, including phobias, namely it’s not the thing that disturbs you, but what you tell yourself about the thing that provokes your disturbance.

Unhealthy beliefs about a situation or an object will lead to an unhealthy and phobic you, whilst a healthy set of beliefs (whilst not quite having you fearless in the face of your thing) will lead to what we call healthy concern – a much more manageable emotion in which you realise, whilst you may never be comfortable around it, you can most definitely handle the ‘thing.’  (You can learn about these different types of emotions and what provokes them from our previous blogs or you can also check Visual CBT on Amazon by Avy Joseph and Maggie Chapman.)

Hypnotherapy in the context of beliefs can help support the work that CBT is trying to do.

However, it can also be used to gradually desensitise you to various aspects of your phobia (for instance, someone with a wasp phobia might have a phobic reaction on seeing pictures of wasps or even the word itself) as you build up to confronting the main event.

It can also be used to change your self-belief, mood and get better (typically, phobia suffers can suffer from depression and self esteem problems as a consequence of the phobia).

By-the-by, whilst the Office of National Statistics claim that 1.9 per cent of the adult UK population are phobic at any one time, animal phobia is the number one phobia in women, followed by heights; whilst heights is the number one phobia for men, followed by animals.

Finally, there are four states that are incompatible with fear: hunger, thirst, relaxation (which is why hypnotherapy works so well) and sex.

So, if you’re hungry, thirsty, under hypnosis or just plain …erm … “excited”, your phobia is not going to get a look in.

CBT and long-term health conditions

19 Mar

Although Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be an effective way of treating a number of different mental health conditions, another important way CBT can be used is to treat people with long-term health conditions, such as arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Although these are physical complaints and CBT cannot cure them, it can be very successful with helping people cope with their symptoms. As CBT is a practical therapy, it can focus on particular specific problems. These strategies can then be used for a lifetime. CBT can also be used alongside medication if the condition is severe. If used with hypnosis i.e. Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH), for some people, the combination can also be extremely effective.

It is well established that hypnosis, for IBS, is an effective treatment.

Any harmful, unhelpful thoughts which may trigger health problems, or make them worse are identified. The aim is then to change the ways of thinking to avoid these ideas. A certain amount of dedication and persistence by the individual is required to achieve optimum results.

shutterstock_83348110 calming

In the case of IBS, CBT and CBH usually involve teaching the individual specific strategies for calming the body and reducing their anxiety. They learn to cope with the unpleasant symptoms of IBS and to be able to face the difficult situations in life that can cause stress and trigger an attack of IBS. This can involve people monitoring which foods impacts negatively on their condition. They would note how they felt while eating, anxious, happy, relaxed, stressed etc to see if they can see a pattern emerging.

CBT combined with medical treatment has been shown to be more effective than medical treatment alone in reducing IBS symptoms.

CBT has also been shown to significantly improve sleep and reduce pain in arthritis sufferers.

People learn how to control their pain. This can be through diverting their attention and practicing relaxation techniques. The reduction in pain enables them to enjoy a more active lifestyle and this improvement in their quality of life can be maintained. They also find after their course of CBT they are less depressed and have more energy.

A big responsibility is for the client to carry out the work required themself. Literature such as our book ‘Visual CBT’, written by the founders of the College, can be very helpful, as it has been designed to help anybody apply Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to change their life, in a very visual way, using imagery and illustrations. This visual approach makes the CBT very clear and easy to follow.

The Healing Power of Humour

9 Dec

Oscar Wilde once famously wrote that life was far too important to be taken seriously, whilst one of the most often used sayings ever is that laughter is the best medicine.


Studies have shown that laughter can have a positive effect on the immune system, blood pressure and cholesterol; that it can massage vital organs, aid digestion and release those happy hormones called endorphins.


A good bout of laughter has been likened to a 20-minute cardiovascular workout and has been shown to help people deal with a vast range of emotional problems including anxiety, stress, depression, confidence and self-esteem issues, guilt, obsessive thinking and more.


In India, they have laughter clubs, where people report a wide variety of positive effects from the use of repeated daily laughter.


There are even organizations, such as the American Association for Therapeutic Humour (AATH) and the International Society for Humour Studies (ISHS) that actively promote its healing power.


The notion of humour and its effects on our mental and physical health come to us from out of antiquity, and is even mentioned in The Bible, where it says, “a merry heart hath a cheerful countenance, but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22 King James version, if you really want to know).


However, Plato considered humour a form of malice, whilst the 15th century philosopher Thomas Hobbes called it hostile and aggressive.


That said, the Ancient Greeks thought that laughter made their crops grow and were famous for two types of drama: tragedy and comedy. The former provided catharsis whilst the latter provide relief.


Until the 19th century, the body was said to be composed of four basic substances or “humours”, namely (and somewhat disgustingly), blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm, that were responsible for your health and disposition.


A balance of these fluids made for good humour, whilst an imbalance made for bad. Black bile, for instance, was seen as the cause of black moods or depressions.


In psychology, one man who devoted a lot of thought to the subject of humour was Freud, who considered it a release from repression and regarded it as a form of healing.


Albert Ellis, who was the founder of a branch of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) known as Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), took this view a lot further.


Perhaps in a nod to Oscar Wilde, he believed that people disturbed themselves not just by taking themselves seriously, but by taking themselves too seriously.


To that end, Ellis used every kind of humour possible, including taking things to extremes, reducing them to absurdity, paradoxical intention, puns, rational songs, witticisms, irony, whimsy, evocative language, slang, swearing, obscenities and more.


Many therapists today believe that humour can help you laugh at your problems, accept yourself more readily, clarify self-defeating behaviours in a way that is non-threatening, offer insight, distance yourselves from your problems, interrupt dysfunctional thought processes, show you the fun, absurdity and enjoy-ability of life and even help relieve the monotony of therapy itself!


Over the years, there have been many, many advocates of its use and very few detractors. The question is, would you want your therapist to use it with you and, do you think it would help?


After all as the saying goes, “Laugh and the world laughs with you; but weep, and you weep alone.”



Daniel Fryer is a practising Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist. He has an MSc in RECBT from Goldsmith’s College, University of London and runs private practices in Southwest London. He also works as a specialist for Medicentre and The Royal Brompton Hospital. He presented the use of humour in psychotherapy at this year’s Association for Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (AREBT) conference.


Hypnotherapy and Weight Management

30 Oct

From being a previously little used word, obesity is now a word we hear almost every day. Barely a day goes by without the topic appearing in the national news. Not only is it common place in news articles and stories, it is the subject of much research and many surveys.

The NHS definition of obesity is ‘a term used to describe somebody who is very overweight with a high degree of body fat’. It’s a problem that affects both children and adults.

The 2011 Scottish Health Survey results showed that obesity “has increased significantly since 1995”. It showed obesity is a major problem for many people in Scotland, with a growing number of children being classed as overweight.

There was also an article in the BBC news magazine in September, on child obesity, asking the question ‘why do parents let their children get fat?’ Of course, nobody is suggesting parents are to blame, as there are many factors that contribute to the problem. Some of which include; more sedentary lives, bad eating habits, a lack of education about food, a lack of exercise and even not realising there is a weight problem to begin with.

Obesity is also a global problem….Researchers in America, where there is a huge level of obesity, suggest they have strong evidence that sugary drinks play a leading role combined with high calorie fast food and a sedentary lifestyle.

Here in the UK, just over 33% of 11-year-olds are now overweight or obese and 22% of four and five-year-olds, according to the most recent figures from the National Child Measurement Programme, which assesses the height and weight of primary children in England. Similar figures were found in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. As in America, a sedentary life style and staying indoors watching television compounds the problem.

Adults experience similar problems. Things like eating to excess, using the car instead of walking, spending the day doing inactive work, not exercising or playing sport all contribute to weight gain.

So, does it matter if we gain weight? Well, the simple answer to that is yes, a large number of medical conditions have been associated with excessive weight gain. These can include osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes, some forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
It would seem prudent then to ensure a correct body weight. But how can we achieve this?

The statistics and research show that most diets simply do not work for long-term weight loss. There is no ‘magic pill’. The undeniable truth is that the secret to maintaining a healthy weight for life is by keeping a balance between what you eat and how much you exercise. But that is often more difficult than it sounds.

This is where the techniques of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy can help in the weight management journey. These techniques can help with:
• Understanding the role of negative beliefs about succeeding in losing weight
• How to harness motivation to exercise
• How to recognize the triggers to emotional eating
• How to develop effective strategies to deal with emotional eating
• The effect of the mind-body connection and how it impacts on body image
• Development of a personal health plan

If you would like more information on how Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy can help to support you and your clients through the weight -loss journey, we would invite you to attend our one day Master Class on Weight Management in January 2013. Or you can ask us any questions here….

The Evolution of CBT

22 Oct

We thought we would pose the question, what is CBT and how did it get to be what it is today?

Well, let’s start with expanding the acronym CBT. We can see straightaway, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, is a treatment but what for? Best to start at the beginning….

The evolution of CBT took places in three stages. The first stage was back in the 1950s, when behaviour therapy emerged in both the UK and America. The second stage, the growth of cognitive therapy, took place in the US in the mid 1960s onwards. The third stage, the merging of behaviour and cognitive therapy into cognitive behaviour therapy, gathered momentum in the late 1980s and is now well advanced in Europe and in North America.

Behaviour therapy was very successful in the treatment of anxieties like phobias. However, as is still the case, most adults complain of both anxiety and depression. Whilst behaviour therapy was successful in treating the anxieties, it was not very successful in treating depression. This opened the door for cognitive therapy that provided education, explanation, rationality, common sense and showed that beliefs such as ‘I’m worthless’ were untrue and distorted. Two of the most productive and influential pioneers of cognitive therapy, Ellis and Beck, shared the view that most disturbances arose from faulty thinking or faulty cognitions. The remedy was to be found in correcting such attitudes, beliefs and thoughts.

Beck’s form of cognitive therapy was based on the rationale that an individual’s feelings and behaviour was largely determined by the way in which he viewed and structured the world. Ellis believed emotional or psychological disturbances were largely a result of thinking illogically or irrationally. It may be easier to understand these ideas, if you view problems and symptoms as stemming from unhealthy beliefs and thoughts. With the cognitive approach, you take on the role of a detective and examine the problematic beliefs and thoughts, which you are holding on to so tightly.

Beck’s early work was on understanding and treating depression, a clinical problem that remained essentially unsolved by behaviour therapists. Depressed people are subject, to what Beck described as the ‘cognitive triad’ in which they have feelings of pessimistic helplessness about themselves, the world, and their future. Understandably, clinicians turned to the work of Beck for guidance in trying to help people overcome their depression. Ellis, provided a scientific as well as a philosophical theory that could be applied to the treatment of anxiety, depression, guilt and other emotional, symptomatic and behavioural problems.

Both Ellis and Beck showed that in addition to proving the connection between cognitions and feelings, challenging erroneous and unhealthy attitudes and beliefs and replacing them with their healthy realistic alternatives, people need to take corrective actions and behave in accordance with their new healthy cognitions. Homework assignments and behavioural changes form a vital part of the therapy and hence the name Cognitive and Behavioural Therapy.

Development of other CBT influenced therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy
CBT has continued to develop and there are other schools that come under its umbrella. There are such therapies like Mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy that advocate meditation and being in the present. There is also valuable research that demonstrates the effectiveness of CBT and Hypnosis.

Even though cognitive therapy was developed during a time in which psychology was rapidly moving towards cognitive explanations, there was a gap between CBT and cognitive psychology. One main difference was that both Ellis and Beck’s therapies are concerned with conscious processes (thoughts and images). However, in cognitive science, it is assumed that the majority of cognitive processing is not experienced as consciously accessible thoughts or images. This is the area that cognitive behaviour hypnotherapy can bridge. Many of our beliefs outside of our conscious awareness and hypnosis is used to access deeper held beliefs. Hypnosis can also lend itself to strengthening healthy beliefs and attitudes and weakening their unhealthy versions.
CBT is now widely accepted and practiced all over the world, and enhanced by developments such as Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy. If this post, has piqued your interest, check out some of our other blogs on the applications of CBT and CBH.

Psychogenic Pain

24 Sep

A psychogenic pain is a physical pain that is caused, increased or prolonged by mental, emotional or behavioural factors, with headaches, muscle, back and stomach pains being some of the more common types.

Psychogenic Pain can be helped with Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy

You might think that the term pretty much encompasses any kind of pain that you can think of. However, as a therapist you will rarely, if ever, have someone referred to you because they’re suffering from psychogenic pain.

Technically, it’s a form of chronic pain that is itself a variant of a somatoform disorder (a mental disorder characterised by physical symptoms suggesting physical illness or injury but that cannot be explained by a medical condition or mental disorder or by the effect of a substance).

In pain circles then, psychogenic is a dirty word and one not to be bandied lightly. Using it courts controversy.

However, by the time a pain sufferer is referred to a therapist, either by themselves directly, or though a doctor, physician or pain clinic, it is usually because they have been dealing with it for quite some time, conventional medical treatment has failed, the professionals are stumped and the client is at their wit’s end.

As the medical doctor and hypnotherapist Dabney Ewin says, “Constant pain is nearly always psychological in my experience, almost any physical pain can be temporarily relived by medication, rest, sleep or positioning.”

Pain control, thankfully, is one of hypnotherapy’s success stories.

It is an excellent tool for the treatment of many acute pain conditions. However, with chronic pain conditions, things get a little more complicated and a multi-modal approach, such as the one offered by cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy, becomes a more elegant tool.

As a therapist or hypnotherapist, you don’t need to use the term ‘psychogenic’ with anyone (least of all the patient), but you do need to keep it very much in mind.

What cognitive factors and unhealthy beliefs are influencing that person’s perception of pain and how? Does the client present with emotional problems in other areas of their lives that are having an impact upon the pain and how they perceive it? Does the client exhibit maladaptive coping mechanisms to guard the pain that need to be addressed and, what on earth do you focus on first?

As the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) says, “pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.”


If you are already working in pain control, wish to see clients who present with pain problems or are simply interested in the subject then the CCBH masterclass in psychogenic pain control is for you.

On it, you will learn how to effectively formulate a treatment plan on a case-by-case basis, confidently assess pain levels, accurately work out how their emotions affect their pain and vice versa, break down typical unhealthy beliefs that increase the perception of pain, and better understand the various hypnotherapy techniques that can manipulate the symptoms of pain.

The treatment of pain can be a complicated business. The effective use of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy allows you to tailor a pain control program to the individual rather than take a prescribed approach to the treatment of the symptom.

As with any other client walking in through your door, you are treating a person, not a symptom and you need to find out as much about them as you can.

Find out how to treat the person, and you find out how to treat the pain.

Why is Counselling helpful to Hypnosis?

18 May

At the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy we believe that teaching counselling skills are an important component of becoming a proficient hypnotherapist; we also believe the combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Hypnosis is a potent one. All psychotherapy is based in good counselling skills so CBT employs counselling skills as does the psychoanalytical/dynamic schools of psychotherapy. So it is fair to say that basic counselling skills are an integral part of all “talking therapies” including hypnotherapy.

Counselling and Hypnotherapy

Counselling is helpful to hypnosis

It could be said that Hypnotherapy, is a special case. Most effective hypnosis is based on well- developed levels of rapport.  It is unlikely that effective altered state of consciousness or relaxation will occur if you are in the least bit anxious; most hypnosis, but not all, asks clients to have their eyes closed and relax, often on a first appointment!  Without rapport what is the likelihood of this happening, how many of us feel comfortable enough to close our eyes and zizz off for a few moments unless we are amongst close friends or family?

Milton Erickson, a leading figure in the world of hypnosis is stated as saying 90% of all hypnosis is rapport. So I think we can safely say rapport is pretty fundamental to gaining a state of hypnosis.  Maintaining rapport throughout a therapy session is essential for effective therapy.  So what is rapport?

Rapport is the mainstay of therapy and is a relationship which has mutual trust and emotional affinity at its core.  Rapport is a fundamental counselling skill that has specific components that can be clearly identified and learnt, practised and refined. To gain rapport, two important components are Attention and Active Listening.

Giving and showing attention to clients can be carried out in a number of ways.  Counsellors communicate to clients and show their empathy and compassion by choosing their words, voices and body language.  Listening Actively is an activity. It is NOT, Non listening, Partial listening, or Tape-recorder listening

It is, in the words of Carl Rogers (1980)

“entering into the private perceptual world of the other and become thoroughly at home in it. It involves being sensitive, moment by moment to the changing felt meanings which flow in this other person, to the fear or rage or tenderness or confusion or whatever he or she is experiencing. It means temporarily living in the other’s life”.

When we actively listen we can Hear what is being said, as well as the music behind the words. This skill is important within hypnosis, as we give suggestions or enable a client to visualise a concept, by using client language accurately we are able to feedback suggestions in their own language which are more impactful than if created by a “third party script”.  Suggestions that are congruent with a client’s world are more effective and are more readily accepted than language which is not.  To be able use client language hypnotically to the greatest effect awareness and knowledge of basic counselling skills are of great benefit.

Because use of language is the key tool for the hypnotherapist using words and language to its greatest effect for the clients benefit is important.   To do this being able to listen and empathise with constancy and accuracy during any session is vital to becoming successful as a hypnotherapist. Basic counselling skills when well taught give a strong structural foundation to hypnotherapeutic work as well as learning how to refine language skills to become the “persuasive communicator” that Michael Yapko describes in his book Trancework.

It takes years to become proficient at counselling .  Successful counselling is a process made up of stages and elements that can be identified.  The counsellor is required to learn specific skills to apply the counselling process.  The counsellor listens and responds in ways which accept the feelings of the client and uses questions to allow the client to say whatever is on his mind.  The purpose is to help the client explore and clarify his own feelings, perceptions and beliefs and later take goal oriented actions. The counsellor demonstrates acceptance and a non- judgemental attitude to help the client to freely explore his issues and feelings.

At CCBH we aim to combine both basic counselling skills and hypnosis on our Foundation course so students learn how to integrate both skills in the most effective manner from the very beginning of their training.

The Foundation course aims to:

1.  Increase your understanding of the counselling process and the skills needed including ethics.

2.  Practice and improve basic skills, such as, open ended questions, active listening, empathy, boundaries and signposting.

3. Understand the hypnotic process and learn basic hypnotic skills.

4. Acquire observation skills for counselling and hypnosis

4. Integrate counselling and hypnotic skills.

5. Practise reflection and reflective thinking skills.
If you have any queries call us on 0207 034 7051. You can find out more on our Foundation course on our website.