Words by Arraminta Armstrong
Hypnotherapy, my office sighs, another approach she is trying to fulfil her dream of being that much lighter, that much fitter, and resultantly that much happier? I am a self-confessed lover of new wave diets, I admit it. I know about every diet under the sun – from the Dukan diet to the baby food diet, I have been there, done that, I have got the metaphorical ‘smaller t-shirt’. With every centimetre or inch lost, if I am lucky enough, I never feel the hoped for sense of accomplishment.
In the UK in the past few years we have seen a revolution in the wellbeing world – indeed not as anti-establishment as Brexit or even the victory of the new president elect Donald Trump. Fitness has caused a whirlwind of emotions – the once defiant exercise hater will now have a different Friday night out … at the gym rather than knocking back tequilas and sipping on one too many glasses of Champagne. Yet, despite this surge in self-care and the new desire to be strong, not skinny, or just less ‘muffin topped’, I believe there is still plenty of room to grow in this field, most importantly starting at the root of our pain, grief, happiness and jubilation. Focusing on the mind, exploring, healing and finding your equilibrium, your personal solace is an untapped domain which I expect will become all important in 2017 and the years to come. For me, coming to terms with how I feel about myself and discovering what characteristics of myself are a manifestation of past experiences was an approach I couldn’t ignore.
As a true Brit, I very rarely discuss my private life. Yes, I can be loud, I divulge information for the amusement of my friends but there are some things I just don’t wish to talk about and therefore have never done so. I never thought that my past would influence my relationship with food. This was something I discovered after about 3 or 4 sessions of hypnotherapy. The sessions made me tap into my subconscious, to chronologically piece together events in my life and to discover that food had become the devil sitting on my shoulder telling me to eat, and eat some more to distract me from past discontentment.
Let’s rewind, and start at the beginning to see how I ended up sitting in a brown leather, winged armchair in Harley Street in an induced hypnotic state with the highly regarded Hypnotherapist Zöe Clews of Zöe Clews & Associates. One day at work, I was telling my colleagues about the amazing weight loss achieved with ‘a virtual gastric band’: one recent bride managed to shed 2 stone ahead of the big day. Keen to try out this new technique, having been feeling exhausted and lethargic for the previous month or so, I felt it was an opportunity to investigate whether dieting was in fact far more to do with what makes you tick, what is going on in that brain of yours, than just simple determination and motivation.
A colleague of mine had met Zöe Clews at an event the previous week and handed me her business card. After some due diligence, I contacted Zöe to discuss the possibility of working together and fingers crossed shedding pound after pound through hypnotherapy. And this is when I started to see a therapist.
Hypnotherapy is a form of complementary therapy using hypnosis to alter the state of consciousness to attempt to train and adapt the way you make choices in your daily life. It is widely recognised for its treatment of many long-term conditions and for breaking certain habits that are difficult to shift such as smoking or excessive eating. Sceptics will be saying at this point in the article that there is not sufficient evidence that hypnotherapy is effective, however as with any therapy if you believe it can help, and if you want help, a successful outcome is possible.
The hypnotherapy sessions are generally split into three parts: identifying the problem and how it manifests itself; what the triggers are that catalyse the problem; discussing the patient’s beliefs about the problem, contextualising, and discovering its origins. After the initial exploration using traditional talking therapy, hypnosis begins.
The first session generally acknowledges with the subconscious (your inner protector) that the client wants to be free of the issue or problem. The subconscious is “primed” for the work the hypnotherapist and client want to do while honouring and acknowledging that the subconscious mind has been holding on to patterns which are making the client unhappy and therefore needs to change. The first session then consists of suggestions for change combined with the intention to do deeper work to clear the beliefs that are driving the unwanted behaviour.
Thereafter subsequent sessions are usually ‘clearing’ sessions where the hypnotherapist and client go back in time to work with the ‘triggering incidences or emotional pain scenarios’ that contain the negative beliefs and patterns that are driving the behaviour. Work is done to let go of past emotion, unhelpful beliefs and perspectives and ‘update the script’ with new positive beliefs in its place i.e. changing from ‘I am worthless’ to ‘I am worthy and good enough and always will be.’ Once a lot of the negative past experiences have been cleared there is then adequate space to put new positive suggestions for the desired behaviours, life-changes and self-image to be anchored in to the subconscious.
Throughout the process, I realised my negative feelings are often fed with food, too much food. I wouldn’t say I am ‘fixed’, but I have gained much more awareness about my habits. My compulsion with food is linked to emotion. Hopefully one day, this will be in the past tense. A couple of weeks after my initial desire to try something new, there I was sitting in the brown leather arm chair with my legs resting calmly on a matching stool. This was the moment when I realised that dealing with the root cause was more important than losing the weight. I urge anyone who loves fitness like I do but remains restless and pessimistic about themselves to open the mind and memories and tap into the subconscious. For myself, Pandora’s Box has been opened with the help of Zöe Clews, and I am keenly awaiting the chance to continue to work on this in 2017, ‘The Year of the Mind’; I’m coining that one.
Zöe Clews is a highly qualified hypnotherapist with years of experience treating a wide range of issues. She specialises in the fields of confidence, self-esteem, anxiety and trauma. For more information about Zöe Clews or her team: www.zoeclews-hypnotherapy.co.uk