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Using Hypnosis To Help With Anxiety

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Treatments for anxiety are readily available through the NHS but wait lists for therapy sessions can be long, and many seek out other options. Can hypnotherapy in the form of a clinical session help those suffering from anxiety?

As I drive to my appointment for hypnotherapy, that I’m attending to relieve anxiety, I realise I’m worrying about it too much My heart is beating rapidly and I’m starting to sweat. It’s not unusual for me. My brain is prone to turn the most basic of scenarios into a problem of apocalyptic dimensions; a jumble of “what-ifs” which erupt into a rumble of fear in my brain.

And that’s precisely why I’m here on Harley Street. I’ve arranged to see the clinical hypnotherapist Fiona Lamb, hoping she will help me feel less stressed, more present and stop excessive worry from taking over my life. I’m not quite sure what to expect, but assume at some point , I’ll singing like a prized cockerel.

Hypnotherapy stigmas are prevalent

I’m not too far from being on the right track. Lamb greets me with kindness, compassion and a big smile. Her office is small and cozy and never once does she pull out a pocket watch. She’s not surprised about my preconceptions though.

“People are drawn to hypnosis as stage shows that they watch on TV,” she laughs. “But it’s not magic or swinging watch, or chicken noises in reality. It’s an innate state that we can all attain, and it’s like meditation. It’s simply about engaging your imagination.”

I am embarrassed for making assumptions however Lamb does not care. She immediately calms me, asking me to explain why I’ve come and what I want to accomplish. She shares that she, too, used to suffer from severe anxiety and insomnia. Through a variety of treatments, from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to herbal treatments and even hypnotherapy therapy with hypnotherapy was the one that worked for her.

“Hypnotherapy was a huge help to me with my own sleep and anxiety issues. That was the one thing that was effective after trying everything else. That’s the reason I wanted discover what it was and why it worked,” she explains.

How does hypnosis to treat anxiety do the trick?

In a nutshell: trying to determine the cause of the issue According to Lamb.

“Anxiety is just anxiety and. We determine the reason you’re not feeling secure or relaxed, then look into the root cause and work through the issues. It’s probably the fastest and longest-lasting method of reframing beliefs,” she reveals.

I am still anxious when Lamb requests me to sit in my chair and puts my feet up on an ottoman. She plays some soothing music from the stereo and I am asked to close my eyes. Speaking slowly, gently and counting backwards, she is able to perform the meditation. I’m beginning to feel like I’m losing consciousness but not totally. I’m awake and aware of my surroundings. And I’m aware that I can be able to stop the hypnosis any moment if I have to.

It’s in this deeply relaxed state that Lamb requests me to recall the time in which I felt fearful. I immediately feel put off. My anxiety isn’t really connected to things that happened decades ago do you think?

A part of me wants to keep this from happening But I am surprised with the stories I’ve lost from my youth. These are events that I may have dismissed as irrelevant, but which seem to persist in my memory. “Where do I even begin to think that this come from?” I’m guessing.

Lamb says to me to imagine this past version of myself from every time and reassure her, telling me to say the words loudly. This feels a little awkward as well as embarrassing, but I do according to the instructions. Feeling foolish for half an hour might be worthwhile if it improves my mental well-being. “Everything is going to be okay. You’re safe.” I tell my inner child, trying to avoid a shriek.

When Lamb brings me back into the space, I’m relieved it’s done. I also feel a little worried about the details I’ve recalled from the session. The time we spent together has gone by though. When I leave Lamb’s office, it dawns on me that I’m more relaxed and lighter than I have felt in years.

It’s too early to tell if my appointment has truly assisted me. But according the report of Dave Smithson from Anxiety UK Clinical hypnotherapy for anxiety is an extremely beneficial treatment for mild to moderate instances. However, I’d guess it isn’t for everyone.

“The evaluation of our services evidences this with almost 74% of clients accessing the hypnotherapy method in 2016 and 2017 were able to recover at the conclusion of treatment. However, it may not be the most effective form of treatment for more complicated issues,” he cautions.

But does hypnotherapy for anxiety really work?

Peer-reviewed clinical evidence for hypnotherapy’s effectiveness in treating anxiety disorders and panic attacks are not readily available. There are studies that suggest that it is effective in helping people with ‘trait anxiety’ (a tendency to be anxious as a result of your personality). However, reviews consistently suggest that further studies are required and this is not an indication of proof that it’s not effective but rather an acknowledgement that there aren’t enough studies been done on hypnotherapy for anxiety to establish that it works. Perhaps bizarrely by contrast, there are more studies suggesting that it could be effective in treating IBS.

But right now the treatment for anxiety hypnotherapy is not offered in the NHS. This means that those wanting to give it a go must opt for private sessions, which can come at the cost of around PS50 for a session. I was fortunate enough to get two free sessions, however I would have been denied the possibility of such a method.

It’s also worth pointing out that hypnotherapy is absolutely not suggested for those suffering from psychosis or a personality disorder because it could make the condition worse.

Other methods to treat anxiety

Before you commit to the treatment of anxiety with hypnotherapy is a good idea to speak with your GP first. Your doctor may prescribe the appropriate medication. Also, it’s worth looking into any NHS self-referral services in your area. You might be able to have access to therapy sessions through a mental health professional (such as CBT which is the gold standard in anxiety treatment) without having to see your physician.

“In the meantime, in addition to looking into any form of talking therapy, it’s best to explore other ways of addressing your anxiety, including increasing your exercise routine or reviewing your diet. engaging in mindfulness, talking to your GP who may also recommend medications, or other support tools such as the Headspace app, or joining Anxiety UK to access the many benefits and support that we provide,” says Smithson.

“Often we discover that it’s not one single treatment that helps manage the anxiety, but rather a series of therapies and changes.”

I’m thinking of taking the combination approach myself, but I haven’t totally given up on hypnotherapy for anxiety. Lamb sends me some audio files to guide self-guided hypnosis sessions, which I promise to give a try since I’ve realized there’s more to it that ‘look in my eyes’ and leather couches.