Category Archives: Blog

How a Napping Subway Commuter’s Brain Knows When It’s Their Stop

Author: Stephanie Bucklin – Science of Us, 29th June 2017

Perhaps you’ve seen them, those mysterious people who can fall asleep on the bus or the train and then, somehow, rouse themselves exactly at their stop. Perhaps you’re one of them. It’s as if the subway napper’s brain can sense exactly where and when it is in time and space, rousing the sleeper so she can exit at the right time.

How is this possible? While there’s little research about this apparent superpower, a few doctors were game to offer their insights about it. Science of Us spoke to Dr. Marc I. Leavey, a primary-care specialist based in Lutherville, Maryland, and Dr. Ronald Chervin, a neurologist and director of Michigan Medicine’s Sleep Disorders Center, to hear possible reasons why some people are able to wake up at exactly the right stop:

Because your body’s internal clock is synced up to that particular stop.

When you set an alarm, your body becomes primed to wake up at a certain time each day. The same thing might be happening here: It’s possible that your body gets used to waking up at a certain point each time during your commute, Leavey explained. That holds especially true if you commute at the same time every day, so that your body’s internal clock becomes used to timing a wake-up at the same point each morning.

“Your body is able to learn a routine as long as it’s a routine,” Leavey said. This suggests that if you were to get on at a different time, or if the journey was delayed, your internal clock wouldn’t wake you up at your stop.

It’s an intriguing theory, but Chervin doesn’t fully buy it. Circadian rhythms can help explain why you might wake up at the same time every morning, but he’s skeptical that they can also explain why you wake up after a brief nap.

Because you’re still hearing the announcements of the stops, even while you sleep.

It’s also possible that you’re able to wake up for your particular stop due to an oral cue, like the conductor stating the name of the subway stop over the PA system, or a musician at that station playing the saxophone. Such cues alert your brain that you’ve arrived, Leavey said. Just as with the motion of the train, in this case it’s the external forces, rather than internal cues, that make you wake up.

“The brain does screen out some stimuli during sleep,” Dr. Chervin noted. But your brain is actually primed to hear some stimuli more than others. For example, Dr. Chervin said, some research shows that you’re more likely to hear your name than any other name while you sleep — even if the words are spoken at the same volume. For example, a 2013 study published in the Public Library of Science found that, during sleep, our brain reacts differently when hearing our own name versus other people’s names. The results indicate that our brain may inhibit certain sound processing during sleep, but is still attuned to others.

So this suggests that your brain doesn’t turn off during sleep — it just screens for certain stimuli, Chervin explained. That means that it may be able to pick up on the announcement of your stop.

Because you’re actually waking up more than you think you are.

Another intriguing possibility: You may not be sleeping until exactly your stop — in fact, Chervin said, you may wake up at each stop, check if it’s yours, and go back to sleep, all without remembering it. “You have to be awake for a certain amount of time to remember,” he explained.

Chervin says that he sees this all the time in cases where patients are suffering from sleep apnea. Patients may come in chronically sleep-deprived and unsure of why they feel so sleepy all the time. But they may be waking up as many as 200 times in the night, even if they don’t remember a single instance. Instead, they’re falling right back asleep, before their brain has time to process their experience into long-term memory, he said.

Similarly, you could be waking up every time the subway or train comes to a stop, or every time you hear a new stop called. But you just don’t remember it until you stay awake at your stop — leading you to believe that you’ve slept the whole way through and miraculously woken up at the right time.

Still, not everybody can manage the subway nap without missing their stop …

If you can’t pull off this commuter trick, your body may not yet be primed to wake up at that particular time, or you may be sleeping too deeply to respond to oral cues.

“Sleep is a very interesting thing,” Leavey explained. “If you’re in REM sleep, it’s much harder to wake you up.” REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is essentially a deeper stage of sleep when you’re dreaming, and you enter this stage after about 20 minutes of snoozing, Leavey said. “If you’re in a deep REM sleep, you’re liable to miss your stop or sleep through it,” he added. You’re more likely to be tired or disoriented when you wake up from these dreams, so if you’re sleeping for longer than 20 minutes, you may find it harder to wake up out of this dream state. (That’s why a power nap, Leavey said, is typically considered about 18 minutes.)

You also may have trouble waking up if you don’t get enough sleep. “Many, and probably most of us, walk around in a sleep-deprived state,” Chervin said. “Those of us who are more sleep-deprived than others will be more likely to go into deeper stages of sleep faster … and may have more trouble waking up at a designated or specific time.”

… but you can teach yourself.

If you tend to snooze through your stop, though, don’t despair: You may actually be able to train yourself to wake up at your appointed destination. In order to do so, you have to get into a routine, so your body can start responding to the pattern, Leavey said. Make a conscious effort to get on the train at the same time each day, since your body is more likely to wake you up at a specific time each day, like 7:30 a.m., rather than after a specific amount of travel time, such as 15 minutes.

If you want, you can even set your phone alarm for about three minutes before your stop, until your body gets used to waking up at the same time, Leavey said. Once you do this repetitively for a certain amount of time, your body will start to naturally wake you up at this point. We all have an internal clock. By commuting at the same time every day, your master internal clock will kick in and help you wake up at the specified time.

Ultimately, though, napping on your commute may not be a great thing, whether or not you can train yourself to wake up at the right stop.

“If you’re falling asleep the minute you’re sitting down for 20 minutes, there’s probably something wrong with your sleep health,” Chervin said. Try spending more time in your actual bed — a change we can all get on board with.


Brain areas altered during hypnotic trances identified

Stanford University Medical Center – July 28, 2016

By scanning the brains of subjects while they were hypnotized, researchers were able to see the neural changes associated with hypnosis.

Your eyelids are getting heavy, your arms are going limp and you feel like you’re floating through space. The power of hypnosis to alter your mind and body like this is all thanks to changes in a few specific areas of the brain, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered.

The scientists scanned the brains of 57 people during guided hypnosis sessions similar to those that might be used clinically to treat anxiety, pain or trauma. Distinct sections of the brain have altered activity and connectivity while someone is hypnotized, they report in a study that will be published online July 28 in Cerebral Cortex.

“Now that we know which brain regions are involved, we may be able to use this knowledge to alter someone’s capacity to be hypnotized or the effectiveness of hypnosis for problems like pain control,” said the study’s senior author, David Spiegel, MD, professor and associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

A serious science

For some people, hypnosis is associated with loss of control or stage tricks. But doctors like Spiegel know it to be a serious science, revealing the brain’s ability to heal medical and psychiatric conditions.

“Hypnosis is the oldest Western form of psychotherapy, but it’s been tarred with the brush of dangling watches and purple capes,” said Spiegel, who holds the Jack, Samuel and Lulu Willson Professorship in Medicine. “In fact, it’s a very powerful means of changing the way we use our minds to control perception and our bodies.”

Despite a growing appreciation of the clinical potential of hypnosis, though, little is known about how it works at a physiological level. While researchers have previously scanned the brains of people undergoing hypnosis, those studies have been designed to pinpoint the effects of hypnosis on pain, vision and other forms of perception, and not the state of hypnosis itself.

“There had not been any studies in which the goal was to simply ask what’s going on in the brain when you’re hypnotized,” said Spiegel.

Finding the most susceptible

To study hypnosis itself, researchers first had to find people who could or couldn’t be hypnotized. Only about 10 percent of the population is generally categorized as “highly hypnotizable,” while others are less able to enter the trancelike state of hypnosis. Spiegel and his colleagues screened 545 healthy participants and found 36 people who consistently scored high on tests of hypnotizability, as well as 21 control subjects who scored on the extreme low end of the scales.

Then, they observed the brains of those 57 participants using functional magnetic resonance imaging, which measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow. Each person was scanned under four different conditions — while resting, while recalling a memory and during two different hypnosis sessions.

“It was important to have the people who aren’t able to be hypnotized as controls,” said Spiegel. “Otherwise, you might see things happening in the brains of those being hypnotized but you wouldn’t be sure whether it was associated with hypnosis or not.”

Brain activity and connectivity

Spiegel and his colleagues discovered three hallmarks of the brain under hypnosis. Each change was seen only in the highly hypnotizable group and only while they were undergoing hypnosis.

First, they saw a decrease in activity in an area called the dorsal anterior cingulate, part of the brain’s salience network. “In hypnosis, you’re so absorbed that you’re not worrying about anything else,” Spiegel explained.

Secondly, they saw an increase in connections between two other areas of the brain — the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the insula. He described this as a brain-body connection that helps the brain process and control what’s going on in the body.

Finally, Spiegel’s team also observed reduced connections between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the default mode network, which includes the medial prefrontal and the posterior cingulate cortex. This decrease in functional connectivity likely represents a disconnect between someone’s actions and their awareness of their actions, Spiegel said. “When you’re really engaged in something, you don’t really think about doing it — you just do it,” he said. During hypnosis, this kind of disassociation between action and reflection allows the person to engage in activities either suggested by a clinician or self-suggested without devoting mental resources to being self-conscious about the activity.

Treating pain and anxiety without pills

In patients who can be easily hypnotized, hypnosis sessions have been shown to be effective in lessening chronic pain, the pain of childbirth and other medical procedures; treating smoking addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder; and easing anxiety or phobias. The new findings about how hypnosis affects the brain might pave the way toward developing treatments for the rest of the population — those who aren’t naturally as susceptible to hypnosis.

“We’re certainly interested in the idea that you can change people’s ability to be hypnotized by stimulating specific areas of the brain,” said Spiegel.

A treatment that combines brain stimulation with hypnosis could improve the known analgesic effects of hypnosis and potentially replace addictive and side-effect-laden painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs, he said. More research, however, is needed before such a therapy could be implemented.

Journal Reference:

Heidi Jiang, Matthew P. White, Michael D. Greicius, Lynn C. Waelde, and David Spiegel. Brain Activity and Functional Connectivity Associated with Hypnosis. Cerebral Cortex, July 2016 DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhw220

Story Source:

Materials provided by Stanford University Medical Center. Original written by Sarah C.P. Williams.

Stanford University Medical Center. “Brain areas altered during hypnotic trances identified.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2016. <>.

Life-changing experience leads Tierney to hypnotherapy

Author: Julie Blum: – 18th March 2017

COLUMBUS — Cathy Tierney was living in fear.

She finished her treatment for breast cancer, but still couldn’t shake the thought that the disease might return. It wasn’t so much a concern for herself, but for her family. “The cancer experience changes everything. I had completed my treatment. I had chemotherapy and surgery, but I didn’t feel well. I had a fear that it was going to come back, and I couldn’t get past it,” Tierney said.

She wanted to get back to where she was before her diagnosis in the spring of 2013, both emotionally and physically. Following a friend’s suggestion, she tried hypnosis. The experience, she said, literally changed her life. “I had no fear of the cancer coming back,” Tierney said of her mindset after undergoing hypnotherapy in Omaha.

The difference it made in her life led her to become a certified hypnotherapist. She wants to help others through her business, Abundant Health & Hypnosis, which she started about a year ago. Tierney is a registered nurse with a master’s degree. She taught for 10 years at Central Community College-Columbus and currently teaches at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing Northern Division in Norfolk.

Hypnosis is complementary medicine, Tierney said, and something health care providers are becoming more open to. “I don’t diagnose or treat any medical condition, but this is a therapy you can use in conjunction with what you are working on with your counselor, your health care provider, your primary provider,” she said. Hypnosis can be used to help people control their weight, stop smoking, manage stress, resolve fears and address other issues.

Tierney said hypnosis isn’t for everyone, and she is upfront about that with potential clients. A free initial consultation helps determine if hypnosis might work. If so, one to four sessions typically follow. During a session, clients can sit in a recliner at her 3763 39th Ave. business. The lights are dimmed while soothing music plays to help them relax.

Tierney said hypnosis is a very-relaxed state that opens a person’s subconscious to suggestions and changes. She likens the experience to cleaning out files on a computer. “Your mind is like a computer with all kinds of files in there. Essentially, you tell me what files you don’t want anymore that are no longer serving you, and we replace them with things that you want. If you want to be happier and feel less stress, that is the goal for the session,” she said.

Tierney is certified through the International Association of Counselors and Therapists.



Hypnotherapy: How It Actually Works, and Should You Try It?

For thousands of years, altered states of awareness—such as hypnogogic trance— have been employed for their psychological benefits. Using an individual’s subconscious mind, a hypnotherapist will attempt to bring about change through the power of suggestion. Dealing with emotional issues, health problems, insomnia, phobias, and weight loss are just some of the therapy’s applications.

Forms of hypnosis were practiced by many ancient civilizations, including the Romans and the Druids of ancient Britain. As scholars gained a deeper understanding of human psychology the concept of hypnosis was refined from the 15th and 16th centuries onward.

It was the work of Austrian physician Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer in the 18th century that popularized hypnosis, though his methods were somewhat dubious. Indeed, the word “mesmerize” is derived from his name. Dr. James Braid, Dr. Emile Coue and Sigmund Freud did much to authenticate the practice and advanced our understanding of its applications.

William J. Bryan Jr. became the first full-time practitioner of hypnotherapy and created the American Institute of Hypnosis in 1955. Today, hypnotherapy is readily available and has been shown to offer a considerable range of health benefits.

The term “hypnosis” comes from the Greek word hypnos, which means “sleep”; however, people have described the hypnotized state as feeling more like daydreaming. A hypnotherapist will help a patient to enter a trancelike state by inducing deep relaxation. Then the therapist will direct beneficial suggestions (previously agreed with the patient) directly to the patient’s subconscious mind. The patient remains in control while hypnotized and can bring themselves out of the hypnotic state at any time.

It is thought that hypnosis works by altering a patient’s state of consciousness in such a way that the analytical left side of the brain is turned off and the nonanalytical right side becomes more alert. As the subconscious mind is deeper-rooted and more instinctive, this is the part that has to change for a person’s behavior or physical state
to alter. A person who is terrified of flying, for example, might consciously try everything they can to overcome this. However, the phobia will remain while the subconscious mind retains this terror.

Hypnotherapy is used to help with or alleviate a wide range of conditions. There is some evidence that it helps people suffering with cancer and other serious illnesses deal with the pain, stress, and anxiety of their disease. The therapy can be used alone or alongside prescribed pain medication
 for pain management. Among the problems it has been used to manage are irritable bowel syndrome, sciatica, burns, joint pain, neck pain, and other injuries and illnesses. Studies suggest that using hypnosis to treat chronic pain resulted in a significant reduction in perceived pain, which was often maintained for several months.

There is even evidence that hypnosis can be used to treat warts. One report cites a seven-year-old girl with 82 warts that disappeared after hypnotherapy, despite having failed to respond to other treatments for 18 months.

For hypnotherapy to be effective, a good rapport between client and therapist must be established. It is essential to feel at ease. Wear comfortable clothes and visit the bathroom before your appointment. And don’t be afraid to ask questions before you start.

A hypnotherapist will begin by taking a detailed case history to establish your mindset, personality type, the problem you wish to address and the desired outcome. Next comes the hypnosis itself. The hypnotherapist’s gently guiding voice will lead you into a state where body and mind are relaxed and almost asleep. At this stage, the therapist will introduce the things you wish to change or work on, as previously discussed and agreed on with you.

Finally, following the hypnosis, the therapist will encourage you to discuss your experiences during the session and any insights gained.

In addition to attending sessions with a qualified hypnotherapist, self-hypnosis can be used to modify behavior, emotions and attitudes. Many people use self-hypnosis to help deal with everyday problems, to boost confidence and develop new skills. It can
 be used to relieve stress and anxiety, overcome problems such as overeating or smoking, or to boost the immune system. It is popular among athletes to improve performance. Self-hypnosis techniques include eye fixation and guided imagery.

Hypnotherapy should not be
 used on anyone suffering from psychosis 
or with a personality disorder, as it could
 make these conditions worse. If you do use a hypnotherapist, check that they are accredited and ensure they are trained specifically to work with your particular condition. Children should only be hypnotized by therapists trained to work with their age group.

Written by: Reader’s Digest editors


Hypnosis: An Underused Technique

Robert London MD in Pyschology Today – 23rd April 2010

Hypnosis helps tremendously with many mental health conditions 

It’s been 30 years since I first began using hypnosis. For me, it’s been a great therapeutic tool. As an adjunctive technique, hypnosis has allowed me to integrate several behavioral therapies that often form the basis of my treatment strategy.

My early education in its use taught me that hypnosis is a method of sustained, focused concentration. Hypnosis allows the subject to process information in a manner different from the way it is processed in the regular alert state. Because of the power of hypnosis, when integrated into a behavior modification strategy it can be used in various ways to treat many disorders.

For many people, including plenty of mental health professionals, hypnosis brings to mind mental weakness, mind control, sleep, or loss of consciousness. Women are often considered more hypnotizable than men. Those are myths. Hypnosis is neither mind control nor a strategy for the weak-willed. Clearly, women are not more hypnotizable than men, and finally, the old wives’ tale that people go to sleep or lose consciousness when they are hypnotized is just that-an old wives’ tale. On the contrary, a hypnotized person enters a highly alert state in which the person’s focus or concentration is heightened.

Hypnosis allows patients to focus and sustain concentration so they can be taught a well-thought-out behavior modification program. Hypnosis should be viewed, however, as an adjunctive part of an ongoing therapeutic plan. For example, a dentist who uses hypnosis for pain or anxiety control is aiding his primary therapy-the practice of dentistry-in an adjunctive way.

Hypnosis can help patients working on issues such as smoking cessation, weight control, nail biting, phobia mastery, insomnia, anxiety, including PTSD, poor sexual function, obsessive thinking, and stress-related problems that might be rooted in such physical problems as hypertension, headache, or chronic pain problems. Hypnosis can be an effective aid in treating these problems. But not enough psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists use hypnosis or understand what it can and cannot do.

An example of how I use hypnosis involved a gentleman who had been stuck in an elevator for many hours and subsequently suffered post-traumatic stress disorder with incapacitating flashbacks, agitation, and depression. He came for help after having tried several traditional therapies and one approach involving cognitive-behavioral therapy-all of which had failed.

I decided to try a different approach using hypnosis and guided imagery. Within a period of four sessions, I was able to get this man to project his flashbacks and anxiety onto a large movie screen that we designed together. Essentially, we were able to start on a road to get those memories out of his thoughts and onto the screen. When he needed to relax himself, he learned to “flip the visuals” on the screen and go to another set of imagery with pleasant associations for him. I taught him this strategy so that, after our sessions ended, he could continue practicing it on his own. I believe the focused concentration that he developed through the hypnosis allowed this imagery to work. In a short time on his own he conquered the PTSD.

In my experience, if hypnotic strategies are going to work, they will be effective within a few sessions. If they do not work for a problem, it might be time to move on to other approaches. There’s no need for gadgets or drugs when hypnosis is used. If the patient is hypnotizable-and many medical practitioners can conduct a simple test or tests to determine this-all that’s needed is the person’s willingness and the practitioner’s skill in guiding them into their own hypnotic state.

Those of us in psychiatry and psychology are best equipped to handle hypnosis, but other disciplines may be able to do this work as well. In general, the goal is the same, regardless of who is conducting the hypnosis: a positive therapeutic result, using the primary specialty as the basis of the treatment, as in the dental example.

Patients should beware of the stage hypnotist who hypnotizes just for the sake of doing so. That’s entertainment-not health care. As a formal procedure, medical hypnosis takes training and experience, and needs to be used by those who are aware of the appropriate uses, strengths, and contraindications. In the mid-1950s, the British Medical Association and the American Medical Association issued a policy statement that recognized hypnosis as a legitimate treatment in medicine and dentistry.

Debates surrounding the psychological, physiologic, neurochemical, or emotional responses prompted by hypnosis continue. Up to the present time, though, the mechanism that makes hypnosis effective is either unclear or unknown. Documentation of scientific proof of its effectiveness is based on clinical experience and often anecdotal. Culture, motivation, trends, belief systems, and hope often enter the clinical picture.

Many fine educational programs offer seminars and courses in medical hypnosis. Contact the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis to learn about programs offered across the United States and around the world. Of the many books and articles I’ve read and learned from, “Trance and Treatment: Clinical Uses of Hypnosis,” by Herbert Spiegel, M.D., and David Spiegel, M.D. (New York: Basic Books Inc., 1978), is still one of the most clinically relevant and easily understood.

More psychiatrists should be trained in hypnotic techniques. Hypnosis should be part of general psychiatric education, because these strategies add a valuable dimension to the psychiatrist’s and the mental health professional’s toolbox.


5 Science-Backed Health Benefits Of Hypnosis

Written by: Sarah Klein – Senior Editor, Health & Fitness; Certified Personal Trainer for The Huffington Post. Updated version posted 8th July 2014

It sounds like the work of sorcerers and scam artists, but hypnosis can play a very real role in protecting and promoting health.

This isn’t the “You are getting very sleepy…” hypnosis you’re used to seeing in pop culture references, but a clinical procedure used in conjunction with other therapies and treatments, according to the American Psychological Association. Hypnosis for health benefits “should be conducted only by properly trained and credentialed health care professionals (e.g. psychologists) who also have been trained in the use of hypnosis and who are working within the limits of their professional expertise,” according to the APA’s website.

The “state of inner absorption, concentration and focused attention” brought on by hypnosis may help us use our minds more powerfully, according to the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH). And harnessing the powers of the mind has inspired researchers and clinicians in various fields to explore the use of hypnosis in a number of health outcomes.

Medical hypnosis, sometimes called hypnotherapy, uses verbal repetition and/or mental imagery (facilitated by a hypnotherapist or one’s self) to induce a “trance-like state” of increased focus. It’s typically described as feeling calm and relaxing and usually opens people up to the power of suggestion, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Once disregarded as a parlor trick, hypnosis is increasingly believed to improve many of those outcomes. The American Medical Association approved hypnosis as a therapy in 1958 (although it later rescinded its position, according to the ASCH), and the APA followed suit three years later, according to Harvard Medical School. That’s not to say it’s a panacea: In fact, more research is needed to prove lasting benefits of hypnosis for certain facets of health, such as weight loss or smoking cessation. But more promising results exist in other areas of study. Here are a few of the science-backed benefits of hypnosis to consider.

Hypnosis can help improve deep sleep.
In previous studies of the effects of hypnosis on sleep, study participants were simply asked to report back on how well (or poorly!) they felt they slept after hypnosis. But in a recent study, Swiss researchers were able to measure its effects by monitoring brain activity in a group of healthy, young women as they took a 90-minute nap after listening to a hypnotic suggestion tape. The women who were deemed the most susceptible to hypnosis spent 80 percent more time in slow-wave sleep (the deep, restorative phase of our shut-eye) after listening to the hypnosis tape than they did after listening to a neutral spoken text. “[T]he results may be of major importance for patients with sleep problems and for older adults,” lead researcher Maren Cordi of the University of Zurich said in a statement. “In contrast to many sleep-inducing drugs, hypnosis has no adverse side effects.”

It can ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
In a 2003 study, 71 percent of 204 irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients reported improved symptoms after 12 weekly hour hypnosis sessions, the APA reported. Of those who reported improvements, 81 percent continued to feel better up to six years after the hypnosis treatment had ended, according to the study. In a 2012 study, 85 percent of IBS patients who reported improvement after hypnosis still felt better up to seven years later. “The conclusion is that hypnotherapy could reduce both the consumption of healthcare and the cost to society, and that hypnosis therefore belongs in the arsenal of treatments for IBS,” researcher Magnus Simrén said in a statement.

Hypnosis can quell hot flashes.
Among postmenopausal women who reported at least 50 hot flashes a week, five weekly hypnosis sessions cut hot flashes by 74 percent 12 weeks later, a 2013 study found. Meanwhile, women who did not receive hypnosis but instead had weekly sessions with a clinician only experienced a 17 percent drop in hot flashes.

It can ease pain.
Hypnosis is perhaps most well-researched in the context of managing pain. Two meta-analyses of existing pain and hypnosis research, published in 2000 and 2009, deemed hypnosis effective at lowering pain associated with a number of conditions, including fibromyalgia, arthritis and cancer, but noted that few psychologists were using it, and those who were had little standardization in administering hypnotherapy.

Hypnosis can calm nerves.
Because of its ability to harness the powers of the mind, hypnosis is often employed to relieve anxieties related to other medical procedures, like surgery, scans or even giving birth, called state anxiety. “The mechanism may be similar to the placebo effect — in which patients’ expectations play a major role in how they feel,” Melinda Beck wrote for the Wall Street Journal in 2012. “Hypnosis, in turn, can help patients adjust those expectations to minimize pain, fear and disability.” More research is needed to determine if hypnosis might alleviate generalized anxiety disorder or what’s called trait anxiety, or anxiety relating to personality rather than a specific event, according to a 2010 review of the research. Preliminary studies have started to examine hypnosis in depression treatment as well, but more research is needed.


Journalist Paul Hancocks sets out on a career in hypnotherapy

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.


The Secret of Happiness

Posted on 1st April, 2009 by Karen Martin – National Council for Hypnotherapy website

There’s been a lot of guff written about happiness in recent times. On the one hand, you’ve got the positive thinking gurus peddling their often simplistic fast track to deep joy and on the other you’ve got the doom-mongers telling us we’re richer, healthier and unhappier than we’ve ever been.

Despite being somewhat cynical about the way happiness is regarded as the panacea for all ills, I confess to being part of the industry which promotes it as a life-affirming goal. Some see happiness as sentimental dream or fleeting fantasy. But I realise through my work as a hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner that it is possible to create a happy state of mind and spread a little of this magical ingredient.

What makes you happy is only relevant to you. A loving partnership and strong friendships are more highly prized than material things by most of us. It’s a given that happiness is not necessarily about millions in the bank, a yacht on the Med or any of those affluent trappings. Many are the tales of how lottery winners lose their friends, community, identity and even their loved ones over arguments about new found loot.

There’s no question, cash equals freedom of choice. More to the point, earning it equals a healthy sense of self worth which no trust fund kid will ever know (hence the less than life-enhancing addictions that often fill the gaps in their lives).

In a wealthy western culture, few of us go hungry or lack material goods. The poorest and most disadvantaged have access to housing, healthcare, education, the welfare state, iPods, mobiles and flat screen TVs.

What makes the starving happy is a good meal. It takes more than that to sate an emotionally starved but nutritionally nourished appetite. Whilst not life-threatening, such a condition undermines energy, motivation and focus, impairing the ability to set and achieve goals. High flyers in both primitive and technological societies often start out the hungriest and succeed simply because they try harder.

So it seems that the old fashioned Protestant principle of good old hard graft leads to a very secular kind of satisfaction. And being a bit peckish is no bad thing. It makes those little snacks in life so much more tasty. In this indulgent era of comfort and excess, those who make an effort and choose energy over inertia, those who curb their appetite enough to truly savour all that is plentiful and those who take the time to nurture their loved ones are the winners in the happiness stakes.

See for information about hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner Karen Martin. She is a confidence and weight control specialist who is also in great demand in Tunbridge Wells, Kent and surrounding areas by sufferers of conditions including anxiety, addictions and phobias. A member of The National Council for Hypnotherapy, she has also trained in CBT.


Why train as a hypnotherapist?

Trevor Wales – 12th February 2017

Why undertake hypnotherapy training? A career as a hypnotherapist can be very rewarding….. to know that you are making a positive difference to people’s lives. Sometimes it can be challenging with many twists and turns along the way, but, those challenges are often the most satisfying… know that you have helped another along the path of life.

Sometimes you may feel elated, because there is a real sense of satisfaction and joy in knowing that you have helped someone change the course of their lives, sometimes you may full feel full of energy and excitement, and sometimes you may be challenged and have to go that extra mile. The hours can be long, or just a few a week, but you set your own goals and agenda and you can make it whatever you want it to be.

As long as you have good integrity, good intentions and people’s best interests at heart, your sincerity will always shine out for those who find the time to see what you are about and the ones who need your help,……the ones who you can help complete the jigsaw, or help to put the pieces of their life back together…… or simply move forwards to meet their personal goals, they will seek you out. They will find you.

If you want a new career in a highly rewarding field, get in touch and find out how our Cornwall hypnotherapy training, based in Truro, can help you achieve this with a Professional Diploma in Hypnotherapy.

How Can I Be More Confident?

Posted in Psychology Today. Author: Elizabeth Lombardo Ph.D. – Posted Jan 18, 2017

There is a sense for many that confidence is like a magic pill. When you take that prescription, you will feel better—about yourself, your abilities, your life.

Here’s the deal: The way you view yourself is central to every interaction you have—with other people, with every experience, even within your own head. And yet, it is not so much about quantity—having more confidence—as it is about quality.

What do I mean by that?

When you look at how you view yourself—your self-worth—there are really two ways to do it, conditionally and unconditionally.

Conditional self-worth refers to believing in yourself if, as in, “I will feel good about myself if…:

… I lose weight.”
… I feel superior to others.”
… others agree with me.”
… I make a certain amount of money.”
… I win and others lose.”

There is a sense that “I am OK if” these external events take place. But without the external praise, agreement, or deference, you do not feel good about yourself.

A dichotomous perspective is present, as in “me versus them,” “Either I am better or you are better,” “If I win, you lose, and if you win, then I lose.” With conditional self-worth comes a lot of comparisons. And egos are rather fragile. Any “feedback” you hear (how you could do better at work, a partner asking you to do things differently, a friend sharing her ideas about your wardrobe) is interpreted as a personal attack.

Research has shown that the more time someone spends on Facebook, the more likely one is to feel down. Why? In my clinical judgment, I would say the answer is conditional self-worth. Facebook users look at others’ posts featuring seemingly perfect families, vacations, pets, homes, and lives, and feel as though they fall short, that they are “less than” others.

Does that sound familiar? How much do you base how you view yourself on other people’s accomplishments, reactions, or what society “says” is good?

And, if you were honest with yourself, how helpful do you find that? If you are like most people, you feel a consistent need to be better, do more, get more accolades—and never feel fully satisfied. It can be exhausting.

Conditional self-worth is at near-epidemic proportions in our culture. The growing frequency of bullying is a great example, whether in person or online. Putting someone else down is an attempt to feel better about yourself. And while it may help temporarily, it does nothing to boost true confidence in a healthy and helpful way.

When you base your self-worth on conditions, you are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, stress, relationship problems, health issues, difficulties at work, and a host of other issues.

In contrast, unconditional self-worth occurs when you believe in yourself independent of others. This does not make you a narcissist. In fact, narcissism is based on conditional self-worth, because narcissists are constantly comparing themselves to others and trying to make sure they are better.

Instead, unconditional self-worth refers to believing in yourself not because of external events, but rather because of who you are on the inside. It is based on focusing on those values, strengths, and core characteristics most important to you.

When you live from a place of unconditional self-worth, you are at greater peace with yourself and others. Rather than comparing yourself to others to see where you rank, you are comfortable in your own skin. You can be truly happy for others’ successes without feeling they are better than you. You can hear and accept feedback without taking it as a personal attack. You have the mindset, “I am good, and I can keep getting better.” You also don’t personalize other people’s reactions.

A great example of the difference between conditional and unconditional self-worth can be seen in incidents of road rage. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 80 percent of U.S. drivers admit to having expressed anger, aggression, or road rage at least once in the previous year.

Why? One reason has to do with conditional self-worth: When someone with conditional self-worth is cut off on the road, there is a personalization, a sense that, “He did that to me because he is being disrespectful to me.” That interpretation causes a jab to the ego, resulting in anger or hurt.

In contrast, someone with unconditional self-worth who has a car cut in front of him will not personalize the other person’s driving. Sure, it might be seen as unsafe, but not as a personal attack.