Author: Paul Hancocks – Journalist for the Daily Echo: 4th January 2009
BY THE time you read this I will no longer be a journalist. I will have ended my 22-year association with newspapers to concentrate on my parallel career as a hypnotherapist. Like thousands of other workers across the south, I picked up a redundancy cheque and my P45 in time for Christmas as the credit crunch continues to bite. The prospect fills me with a mixture of excitement and fear – after all, since 1986 I’ve enjoyed the financial security blanket of being a staff journalist.
During that time I’ve worked as a reporter in South Wales, Gloucestershire, the Isle of Wight and Hampshire. In 1990 I joined the-then Southern Evening Echo and in 1998 I swapped the pleasures of chasing around various parts of the south in all weathers to become a desk jockey, working as a subeditor in Redbridge.
That “blanket” is now gone. While I have more financial security than many, there’s no doubt that some economies will have to be made. Impulse buying will have to be rationed while other spending, such as the children’s swimming lessons, will have to be scrutinised even more carefully. On the plus side, my family reassures me that I’ll have much more time to spend on the various DIY jobs that I’ve neglected over the years, while it will be good to be able to see more of my wife and children.
I’ll be keeping myself busy, though, as I’ll have more time and energy to devote to my hypnotherapy business. I realised years ago that it’s wise to diversify and the spectre of redundancy is seldom that far away, no matter what industry you work in.
To that end I qualified as a hypnotherapist earlier this year and have been spending most of my free weekends since seeing a wide variety of clients, ranging from people suffering chronic pain to smokers wanting to quit the habit or others with debilitating phobias or anxieties. It’s been fascinating and rewarding to help people and it has some similarities with reporting, in that you’re interacting with the public, admittedly for different reasons.
Why did I choose hypnotherapy? I’ve always been interested in hypnotism and I was inspired to train for the profession after being treated for stress by a therapist after my father had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
I studied in Bristol at a place called the Clifton Practice, spending some 600 hours studying inside and outside the lecture room. During my training, scores of my friends, family members and others consented to being put into trance.
Sadly, my mother died suddenly just a few days before my qualification, severely testing my equilibrium as a therapist. That said, it enables me now to say with confidence to clients that inner harmony is ultimately determined not by what happens to clients, but by their reactions and thoughts surrounding those events. For example, there are plenty of examples of celebrities who appear to have it all but are still miserable, whereas I have encountered people who have surmounted huge challenges and been content.
For someone used to being on a salary, the logistics of being self-employed have also been a revelation. Filling in tax forms and deciding which professional associations to join have been part of the process.
My biggest stroke of luck, so far, has been to discover The Grove Natural Therapy Centre in Grosvenor Road, Southampton, where I rent a room. This has spared me the headache of either having to convert part of my house or trek far and wide for home visits. Cutting down on home visits also means I can treat more clients. Another bonus of being at The Grove is being able to mix with therapists from a wide range of disciplines.
Reactions to my new-found profession have ranged from approval to occasional suspicion and hostility. All I can say is that the major reason I trained as a hypnotherapist was because I wanted to help people, and in many cases I have. One thing’s for sure – anyone who works with the public, in whatever capacity, whether it be journalism or bus driving, has to develop a degree of mental toughness to be effective.
As for others facing redundancy the only advice I can give is to try to keep your spirits up, remember it’s the job that’s being lost – not you, and it can be a blessing in disguise – at least that’s what I’m aiming for.