Hypnotherapy brings relief for IBS sufferers

Got a dodgy stomach? Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gut problem which can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in your toilet routine. IBS is an ongoing chronic disorder which can last for your full lifetime.

IBS is estimated to affect between 10 and 20% of the population in the UK with an average onset age in their mid 20s.  Characterised by abdominal pain or discomfort, many people are reluctant to admit that they are suffering because of cultural taboos around talking about toilet habits. 

Although the condition is often regarded as minor, the symptoms can seriously affect quality of life. The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) says IBS can be debilitating, preventing people from achieving simple tasks such as going shopping or enjoying long walks. It may also cause serious discomfort on a regular basis.

Gastrointestinal disorders are complex, and the causes are different for every patient. Emerging research has shown that sensitive nerve endings in the gut can become inflamed, leading to visceral hypersensitivity which causes people with gut related conditions to experience more pain and motility problems.

NHS guidelines allow doctors to refer IBS patients for hypnotherapy or other psychological therapies if medication is unsuccessful and the problem persists. Greater use of hypnotherapy to ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome would help sufferers says gastroenterologist Dr Roland Valori.

Studies dating from the 1980s show that hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for IBS and other gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Chrons.  However, the medical community has been slow to implement these research findings due to a lack of general understanding of how the mind body connection works.

Gut-directed hypnosis works by addressing a ‘miscommunication’ between the brain and gut. Using suggestion, relaxation and imagery techniques the client is guided into a focused state of awareness where they can learn skills which help calm and soothe their symptoms. 

As IBS is a medical condition it is important to consult your doctor for a diagnosis. Unlike many medical conditions that have specific tests in order to confirm a diagnosis, IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion which can be considered 6 months after symptoms first begin.

A growing number of NHS clinics now offer hypnotherapy for IBS and your GP can provide you with a referral or you can you can find a NCH-registered hypnotherapist near you by clicking here.

NCH Conference 2018 – Michael Mahoney – ‘Offering help to cancer patients through clinical hypnosis’

Michael Mahoney

Since the 1990’s the incidence of cancer in the UK has risen sharply with Cancer Research UK reporting that a new diagnosis occurs every 2 minutes.  There is growing evidence that the mind-body link can be used to positively affect both a person’s prognosis and their experience of cancer treatment.  The medical profession so often focuses solely on the physical recovery of their patients, perhaps feeling unable or ill-equipped to deal with their emotional recovery. 

Michael Mahoney is one of the pioneers using hypnosis to assist UK cancer sufferers, using his knowledge to aid cancer patients to reconnect and re-learn the link between mind and body, encouraging them to spend quality time with themselves and focus on their emotional journey, giving them back a sense of control over their lives.

 A clinical hypnotherapist since 1986, Michael has spent years within a medical centre environment, working closely with GPs, consultants and other health professionals.   He is a member of the Complementary Medical Association, associate member of the Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology, and the Royal Society of Medicine and holds membership with the European Association for Cancer Education. Michael has also spent many years conducting research and patient trials on the efficacy of hypnosis for several medical conditions, leading to an impressive list of articles published in peer reviewed medical and complementary health journals. 

Michael has also conducted two studies using specific therapy processes, now used in his programme ‘An Aid to Emotional Recovery After Breast Cancer’.  These studies tracked nearly 40 breast cancer survivors over a period of several years, assessing post-traumatic emotional issues including, anxiety, fear of reoccurrence, uncertainty and vulnerability. Both studies found that hypno-therapeutic interventions mitigated both the severity and frequency of with subjects reporting increased optimism, confidence and self-esteem as well as a sense of taking part in their own healing.

He is the recipient of several research and innovation awards for his ‘Emotional Recovery After Breast Cancer’ audio programme.  Since its release in 2005 this programme has been recognised and promoted within over 100 NHS breast cancer clinics as a resource for their outpatients.

Michael will be speaking at the 2018 NCH conference on Saturday 23rd June  at the Birmingham Council House Banqueting Suite. There are still a limited number of tickets available. Don’t miss out! Buy your ticket here.

UK faces biggest health challenge yet: nearly 50% of population forecast to be obese by 2045

Almost 1 in 3 Brits are now believed to be obese according to a recent study released by University College London.  The number of morbidly obese people in England, Scotland and Wales is set to double over the next 20 years, according to a recent study. And if the current trend continue, almost half our adult population will be classed as obese by 2045.

Recent figures show more than half of children leaving primary school are overweight or obese in some parts of England, males aged between 45 – 60 are also a high risk group for morbid obesity. Morbid obesity – which is a BMI of greater than 40 – is linked to heightened risk of chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, mental illness and some cancers.  Recent research has linked obesity to as many as 12 different forms of cancer.

Experts said that without radical action the NHS will be “overwhelmed” – with one in eight suffering from type 2 diabetes.  The current cost of diabetes is around £10 billion annually with costs looking like increasing exponentially.

The UK’s largest professional organisation for hypnotherapists, the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH), says hypnotherapy is very effective at controlling weight..

The NCH says, hypnosis helps people get in touch with why they unconsciously eat, rather than just encouraging them to diet and reduce calories, interventions that have been proven to only work in the short term.  Hypnosis can help you get you in touch with the reasons why you unconsciously eat. “If you are the type of person that struggles to stop after a small piece of chocolate and feels compelled to finish the packet then a hypnotherapist can help you understand why and help you create new healthy self-management techniques,” says the NCH.

Working together with your hypnotherapist, you will focus on making healthy choices – both food and lifestyle related – which will help you feel good about yourself.  It is impossible to work out how many cancer-free years a better lifestyle could bring, but it is known that around 40% of cancer cases are preventable and that not smoking, eating a healthy diet, being more active each day and maintaining a healthy weight are the most effective ways you can reduce your cancer risk.

To contact an NCH therapist near you, click here

Hypnobirthing soars in popularity after the new prince arrives.

After just 5 hours of labour, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton and Prince William, welcomed their third child on 23 April 2018. The arrival of Prince Louis sparked a frenzy of media attention, with many reports focusing on the Duchess of Cambridge’s choice to use hypnobirthing to support her through the birthing process, reporting that nurses at the Lindo Wing, where Kate gave birth, were recently trained in hypnobirthing.

Hypnobirthing is rapidly growing in popularity in the UK, being used to aid fertility and ease birth, with many NHS trusts now offering courses and some midwives training as hypnotherapists.

Hypnosis has been used as a technique to support labour for many years, with the written records dating back to the mid 1800s. The National Council for Hypnotherapy says that modern hypnobirthing practices can “help overcome fear and anxiety around conception, parenting or birth itself. It can reduce stress and anxiety (not just for you, but also for your baby), boost your confidence to be a parent and give mothers a feeling of control so the birth experience is the best it can be”.

Hypnobirthing teaches the mother specific pain control techniques along with relaxation exercises which leading to significantly faster births with fewer medical interventions and faster recoveries; this type of birth experience is believed by many to reduce the risk of post-natal depression.  Partners who are involved with the hypnobirthing training also report a significant reduction in stress and anxiety surrounding becoming a parent.

Melissa Ayling – a new mum and hypnobirthing practitioner ended up giving birth in a car on the way to hospital  – described her experience of birth as “I just allowed my body to give birth and my mind had to stay calm and trust and surrender.”  She credits the good nature of her baby to how calm she was during his birth.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy agrees, stating that babies born to mums who have practiced hypnosis and deep relaxation techniques during labour may also be calmer, sleep better and feed better. This mind body connection can also be used in other ways as another new mother who used hypnobirthing writes. Ms Doenges wrote that she spent her pregnancy telling her baby its due date was the first week of July in order to avoid being induced.  Her baby was born on the 5th of July in what she describes as an “awesome experience”.

With over 1,800 therapists around the UK in its directory, the National Council for Hypnotherapy is an excellent resource for finding a qualified hypnobirthing practitioner.  Search now to find  practitioner near you.

NCH Conference 2018 – Christa MacKinnon – “Bridging the Worlds of Shamanism and Therapy”

In the Western world, it’s common to be uninformed when we encounter the word shamanism; perhaps we may have a mental image of a costumed tribal person dancing around a fire, mysterious rituals incorporating chanting and drumming, but we don’t really know what their purpose is. 

Shamans are healers, distinguished by their ability to achieve visionary states of consciousness where they access hidden, inner worlds, bringing back wisdom and healing for their clients.  It is this ability to connect with the inner worlds of things hidden and the beings that reside there that differentiate shamans from other religious practitioners; their connection to the spirit world is used mostly to provide healing.

Christa Mackinnon is a social psychologist, family counsellor, clinical hypnotherapist and group facilitator who specialises in combining shamanic healing with traditional therapy. Christa lectures internationally in psychology and hypnotherapy, and holds an Honorary Fellowship at the University of Exeter, Medical School, where she teaches special study units in clinical hypnosis and trauma. She has worked internationally as a therapist for over 20 years, specialising in complex trauma, child abuse, PTSD and related mental/emotional issues.  In parallel with her work as a trauma specialist, she spent 12 years as the South West course director and a senior lecturer for the London College of Clinical Hypnosis, which trains Hypnotherapists to MSc level in partnership with a London University. 

Christa’s interest in consciousness, altered states of perception and spirituality has led her to apprentice to indigenous shamans in South America and to train and work with spiritual and shamanic teachers in many countries. 10 years ago Christa changed the focus of her therapeutic work, incorporating psycho-spiritual shamanic approaches into her work as a trainer, offering courses for therapeutic professionals on the subject. The publication of her first book ‘Shamanism and Spirituality in Therapeutic Practice’, which followed from this work, proved to be groundbreaking within the fields of psychology and therapy.

The author of three books, Christa combines her vast therapeutic and psychological professional knowledge with the indigenous and contemporary shamanic teachings she received over the last 20 years.  She believes that traditional and contemporary shamanic ways, teachings and techniques, adapted to contemporary life, offer us a rich repertoire to develop and to explore, connect with, and utilise the realm of spirit in everyday life, giving it meaning and purpose. When combined with contemporary therapeutic and coaching approaches, shamanic rituals allow participants to shift and expand their consciousness; when consciousness is expanded clients can connect with, and utilise realms beyond their everyday experience for learning, guidance, healing, development, creativity and finding meaning, purpose and joy.

The 2018 NCH conference will be held at the Birmingham Council House Banqueting Suite on Saturday 23rd June from 9.30 AM to 5.00 PM. There are still a limited number of discounted tickets available at a cost of ₤109; you can buy a ticket by clicking here.

NCH Conference 2018 – David Newton – ‘Solution Focussed hypnotherapy and the treatment of anxiety’

1 in 4 adults will suffer from some form of mental disorder each year, yet it is still hard for individuals to get the right support during these times. Often feelings of hopelessness and loneliness start to set in and anxiety or stress are an uncomfortable topic for the vast majority of people out there yet these feelings are a natural occurrence.

Solution Focused Therapies are fast becoming the treatment of choice for a society beset by pressures and a world in which people increasingly feel unable to cope.  David Newton HPD DHP SFBT(Hyp) SFBT Sup(Hyp) FAPHP MNCH MNCP SHS SQHP Sup Hyp, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist, is Chairman and Trustee of AfSFH and Director and Senior Course Lecturer of CPHT and is the senior practitioner of The Clifton Practice which he co-founded in 1995 and which has developed into a leading multi-discipline clinic.

He can be described as the father of present day Solution Focused Hypnotherapy. David will be speaking at the National Council for Hypnotherapy 2018 Conference in Birmingham on Saturday 23rd June about Solution Focused interventions in the treatment of anxiety.

Steve de Shazer’s first contact with psychotherapy was Erickson in nature and it can perhaps be thought that from the outset that Brief Solution Focused Therapy (BSFT), created by by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg, was rooted in hypnotherapeutic techniques.

The basic tenets of SFBT are well known and are different in many ways from traditional forms of treatment. It is a competency based model and the focus is on the clients’ desired future rather than on past problems or current conflicts. It assumes that no problems happen all the time, there are exceptions and that small changes can lead to large increments of change. The setting of specific, concrete and realistic goals is an important component.

In SFBT it is the client that sets the goals. Once formulated the therapist will use a number of specific responding and questioning techniques to assist the client construct the steps that may be required to reach the ‘preferred future’. Solution Focused Hypnotherapists note Steve de Shazer’s often repeated assertion that solution work is “the same whatever problem the client brings”.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy does not ask the client to re-visit past traumas or move at a pace they are not comfortable with, instead it uses a combination of techniques from psychotherapy and neuroscience to bring joy back into a person’s life so they can find meaning and happiness in their work and play.

The 2018 NCH conference will be held at the Birmingham Council House Banqueting Suite on Saturday 23rd June from 9.30 AM to 5.00 PM. There are still a limited number of discounted tickets available at a cost of ₤109; you can buy a ticket by clicking here.

Expand your horizons: cure your fear of flying with hypnotherapy

Summer holiday season is fast approaching and with that comes decisions about where you are going to go – stay in the UK or head off somewhere sunny? Many people are terrified at the thought of flying; fear of flying affects 1 in 10 of us, although some studies suggest the numbers are even higher, according to the national charity Anxiety UK.   Maybe it’s the take offs and landings, perhaps it’s claustrophobia or it could be for some other reason like feeling like something bad is going to happen.  You might not think that your fear of flying is a phobia, after all phobias are irrational fears…. And there’s plenty to be scared of when it comes to flying, right? 

Perhaps you hate flying and avoid all trips, or it’s just the long ones which stress you out.  Maybe you end up self-medicating with alcohol or tranquilisers in order to be able to get on a plane. While all these methods work in the short term, none of them are long term or particularly healthy solutions.  Learning relaxation techniques including breathing and mindfulness exercises can be far more effective, as can distracting yourself with a good book, movie or puzzles.

The fear of flying is so common that several airlines have responded by creating ‘fearless flyer programmes’.  These programmes offer advice, education and support to help stop your brain running a loop of your most feared outcomes.  


It may seem that an obvious way to deal with the fear of flying is to simply avoid it, but according to Dr Simon Petrie, a clinical psychologist, this simply reinforces the fear and over time makes it stronger. As well as education about the technical aspects of flying, these courses offer practical techniques such as mindfulness exercises to help promote feelings of calmness while on the plane. 

Hypnotherapy is often extremely effective in removing phobias or fears about flying.  By tapping into the unconscious mind, information is able to be processed more effectively allowing for rapid desensitisation of the phobia.  .  A range of different techniques may be employed, depending on whether you know when the phobia first started, how you view it and how receptive you are to change, including guided visualisations which specifically target your fears in form of mental graduated exposure therapy.

If you are scared of flying, make contact with an National Council for Hypnotherapy  using their directory of over 1,800 qualified hypnotherapists throughout the UK and get ready to jet off on your summer holidays stress free.

NCH Conference 2018 – Gut Feelings: Gut Bacteria, Cravings, Chocolate and Poo!

Do the bugs in our belly control us? Come hear Emily speak at the NCH Conference and find out!

Emerging research suggests that our gut bacteria influence what we eat and how we feel, altering not only our cravings and appetite, but changing our moods and how we behave.  Our keynote speaker at the 2018 National Council for Hypnotherapists conference is scientist, Dr Emily Grossman, a highly respected expert in molecular biology.  Emily has a Cambridge Double First in Natural Sciences, a Ph D in cancer research and an impressive speaking engagement resume including TEDx UCL and the British Science Festival.

Most of us regularly see clients in our practice who want help with weight control, mood issues and food cravings.  Dr Grossman investigates how gut micro-organisms could influence how we feel and how we behave… and why; she became interested in this area after a friend talked to her about toxoplasma gondii, the third most common parasitic protozoa to infect warm blooded creatures. This parasite controls the behaviour of the animals that it infects, causing them to stop fearing their natural predators – cats, causing them to be eaten.  In this way the toxoplasma gondii ensure that it is replicated and survives.  This lead Emily to explore how our own gut bacteria could be influencing our mood – causing anxiety or depression – and also affecting what we choose to eat – encouraging us eat too much or to crave certain foods.


So are the bugs in our belly controlling our clients? And what can we do about it?

Dr Grossman will discuss the use of probiotics and dietary interventions to alter gut bacteria, and thus affect mood and stress levels and prevent weight-gain, and explores the exploding field of fecal microbial transfer – more commonly known as poo transplants! So could a poo transplant kick chocolate addiction? Or help our clients lose weight? You’ll have to come to hear Dr Grossman to find out!

The 2018 NCH conference will be held at the Birmingham Council House Banqueting Suite on Saturday 23rd June from 9.30 AM to 5.00 PM. Everyone is welcome, from hypnotherapists to members of the public; you can buy a ticket by clicking here

Depression and anxiety growing among young people.

Depression and anxiety among young people is a growing phenomenon, not just in the UK but globally.

 Twenty years ago depression in children was almost unknown. Now the fastest rate of increase in depression is among young people; recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed one in five 16- to 24-year-olds had symptoms of depression, anxiety or stress. Earlier this month the Government released a green paper focusing on early intervention and mental health awareness training for school staff as well as incorporating mental health awareness into the curriculum.

The National Health Service (NHS) says the problem for parents is that mental health problems in children and adolescents can be difficult to spot. The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) believes it is important to reduce anxiety in one’s life as research shows that prolonged exposure to the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol can cause memory problems, a weakened immune system and many other negative health outcomes.

This is particularly relevant as exam time approaches for many students and pressure mounts.  This increase in stress for our teens was discussed during Question Time and Childline reported that demand for counselling services focused on exam stress has increased 11% in the last 2 years.

Sarah Kendrick, of children’s mental health charity Place2Be, said more than half of all mental health problems start before the age of 14.  She believes that early detection and intervention can significantly improve mental health outcomes. 

“It is by picking up on problems early and helping children and young people to build their resilience that we can equip them with the tools they need to cope with life’s difficulties and to thrive as adults,” she said.

“Continuous support, and an open environment in which  children are encouraged to talk about their feelings, enables early identification of any problems or challenges." 

What you can do to help:

  • Open a dialogue with your child about mental health; make sure they know that they can talk to you or other adults about their feelings and struggles without judgement.
  • Provide a healthy environment with good food and a routine which allows for down time and regular sleeping patterns.
  • Encourage your children to get daily exercise, perhaps you can go for a walk together or find some other mutually enjoyable activity that gets them moving.

If you think your child is not coping with their stress levels or having other mental health problems it is important to find them someone they can talk to.  In clinical hypnotherapy, the underlying emotions that feed the anxiety or depression are addressed and effective hypnotherapy can bring fast and effective relief.  The NCH has a register of over 1,800 therapists across the UK, many of whom specialise in working with children and teenagers.  Use the NCH directory to find a therapist near you.

Is workplace stress affecting your health?

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 526,000 workers in the UK suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17, and 12.5m working days were lost as a result over that period.  A survey of 3,000 workers conducted by an employee benefits platform found that work was the biggest cause of stress, followed by family pressures (45%) and money worries (45%).

The number of fit notes issued for mental health conditions, including workplace induced stress and anxiety, have been on the rise for a number of years. They accounted for a third of all fit notes written by GPs in England between December 2014 and March 2017.  Chronic workplace stress can lead to a wide range of negative health outcomes, from physical health issues to signs of anxiety, depression and low mood.

Overwork was given as the biggest reason for workplace strain, and a significant percentage of respondents turned to stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol to help them manage.

Supporting the call for better mental health care, the National Council for Hypnotherapy says that about one in seven people are suffering from stress or anxiety at any one time in the UK currently. And while some people manage, more and more people are struggling with significant impacts on the quality of life and well-being.

There are many practical steps you can take to help you cope better with workplace stress including seeking out and building supportive relationships both inside and out of work, making sure you are eating and sleeping well and exercising regularly. If these steps are not enough to alleviate your stress, the NCH is well-placed to assist with over 1,800 registered hypnotherapists who can teach you tools and help you work through your problem.

A hypnotherapist can help assess your anxiety, identifying the root of stress or anxiety and helping you to set goals for how you would like to feel and the things you would choose to do in your life if you were free of the stress and anxiety. They will then work with you to reach your goals using a range of different techniques. Every therapist may use slightly different techniques, but working towards the same goal.

Stress is one of the major reasons people take time off work and, by investing in stress reduction schemes, companies can increase productivity, happiness and subsequently loyalty in their employees, comments the NCH.

Many hypnotherapists offer special offers to businesses for stress reduction schemes at work. It is worth talking to your employer or to a local hypnotherapist to see if that this is a possibility.