Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the most commonly asked questions about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), hypnotherapy and mindfulness. Please feel free to contact me if there's anything else you'd like to know.

What is CBT?

Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is a form of talking therapy which helps you identify unhelpful patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving and replace them with more helpful ones. The focus is on dealing with your problems in the here and now rather than analysing the past, which helps to make treatment faster.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the NHS recommend CBT in the treatment of anxiety and depression, and there is strong evidence that CBT can help with many conditions such as panic attacks, phobias, sleep problems and stress-related conditions.

CBT is very collaborative - you and I work as a team to try to understand the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are causing your problems.  I like to think of CBT as skills training - the idea is that you learn the skills to help yourself.  Because of this, CBT tends to involve fewer sessions than many other forms of counselling.

What is CBT therapy like?

In CBT, you and I work together as a team.  You are the expert in you, so we work together to discover the  thoughts, feelings and behaviours which contribute to your problem.

We begin by identifying your goals for therapy, and agree a treatment plan based on our shared understanding of what's holding you back.  We'll use a mixture of discussion, structured questions, imagery-based techniques (such as imagining trying out new coping skills), and real-life experiments to help you develop and try out new skills.  Some examples of skills we might cover could include relaxation skills, learning to spot and evaluate unhelpful thinking patterns, or mindfulness skills.  We'll agree things you feel comfortable trying in between our sessions (perhaps keeping a thought diary, or trying a relaxation exercise).  We'll always discuss what you're finding most helpful and why, so that we can do more of the things you find most useful.

We'll track progress towards your goals, and you'll develop a plan to help you maintain and continue your progress.

What is hypnotherapy and why combine it with CBT?

My original training was in hypnotherapy and I continue to teach and supervise other hypnotherapists.  There can be some benefits in including hypnotherapy within a CBT treatment plan.  For example, it's often an easy way to learn relaxation skills.  Hypnotherapy can also involve rehearsing new ways of thinking or behaving, which can help to embed them more quickly.

If you're interested in hypnotherapy (or hypnosis in general), I'm always happy to discuss whether it could be right for you.  There's more info on "What is Hypnosis?" further down this page.

I always combine hypnosis with evidence-based CBT principles.  Research suggests that hypnosis, in combination with CBT, can be more effective and quicker than CBT alone for some conditions.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the NHS recommend hypnotherapy for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


What is Hypnosis?

In hypnosis, you are in control. You use your imagination to evoke positive emotions and mentally rehearse new ways of thinking or behaving. It's a bit like becoming engrossed in a film or a book, and it's usually very relaxing. By relaxing, thinking positively and picturing your goals, hypnosis can help you change how you think, feel and behave.

You are always in charge - you will remember everything that happens and cannot be made to do anything you don't want to do. Please forget anything you may have seen in comedy TV or stage hypnosis - clinical hypnotherapy is completely different!

Most importantly, hypnosis is a skill which you can learn to do by yourself, for yourself. I will help you at first, and then provide you with the tools and techniques to try for yourself at home.

Does hypnosis work?

Hypnosis is proven to be effective at helping with many issues. It is particularly useful for managing anxiety or stress, controlling pain, sleep problems, and conquering habits. Research shows that integrating CBT with hypnotherapy is, for some people, more effective than CBT alone.

Whilst I can never guarantee success (I'd advise you to avoid anyone who does...), my philosophy is evidence-based which means the techniques I use are based on widely-accepted psychological principles and scientific research. I am a member of the Register for Evidence-Based Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy (REBHP) who stress that "the public have a right to expect that the therapy they receive will be based on the best contemporary evidence and skills training".

I will only use hypnosis with you if that is your preference and if I believe it will help you.  For some conditions, CBT on its own, rather than hypnotherapy, is recommended - if that is the case, I will always discuss that with you. I work within the GHR and REBHP Codes of Ethics which means that if I feel you would be better served by a medical professional or another therapist, I will tell you.

There are lots of therapists around. Why should I come to you?

It's important to work with someone you feel comfortable with so please feel free to call me for a no-strings chat (I offer a free 15 minute consultation) so you can get a feel for whether you'd like to work with me. If you prefer email, that's fine too.

Consider working with me if:

  • You want to learn some skills and coping strategies to help you learn to overcome your anxiety, worry or stress
  • You want to work on how anxiety, stress or worry is affecting you right now, rather than focussing on the past
  • You want an approach that is grounded in widely-accepted psychological principles and research evidence
  • You are up for playing an active role in therapy - for example, you're willing to try out new things (perhaps keeping a thought diary, or listening to a relaxation recording) between sessions

If you are interested in hypnotherapy, it's important to know that many hypnotherapists base their treatment on outdated or unproven psychological theories. If we decide to use hypnosis, it will be grounded in a CBT-based understanding of your particular issue.  If I don't believe that hypnosis is likely to help you, I will discuss that with you.

I worked for over 15 years in corporate business, so I understand first hand the pressures of a fast-paced, pressure-filled environment and the difficulties of juggling this with family life.

I'm accredited by the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) and General Hypnotherapy Register (GHR).  These require a high standard of training, and this also means I am bound to their stringent Codes of Ethics.  You can be assured of 100% confidentiality (with a few legal exceptions, mainly relating to risk of harm).

If I feel you would be better served by a medical professional or another therapist, I will tell you.

The most important thing, though, is that you feel comfortable working with me so please do get in touch if you'd like to find out more.

How long will therapy last?

Everyone is different and every treatment plan is designed with you and your goals in mind. Some treatments, such as breaking habits, are very fast - only one session - but others may take longer.

As a guide, the average treatment plan lasts 6-12 sessions, including the initial consultation.

I will always discuss treatment options and agree a plan with you at the initial consultation, and we will review regularly to see how things are going.

What is mindfulness and how can it help?

Mindfulness is about paying more attention to the present and being more aware of what's going on around you, and inside your body, from moment to moment.

It's a useful skill because it helps you to recognise when your attention becomes focussed on unhelpful thoughts, for example worrying about something that might happen in the future. By practising mindfulness, you can learn to recognise when this happens, and choose when to pay attention to your thoughts and when it's more helpful to let them go.

It's increasingly recognised by many, including the NHS, that mindfulness can help improve our mental wellbeing. Mindfulness can form part of a treatment plan in combination with CBT and/ or hypnotherapy depending on your goals.

I've tried mindfulness and/or relaxation before and I just can't do it...

You may have tried relaxation or mindfulness techniques before, in a yoga class for example, and found it difficult. It's very common for people to find it hard to relax, or to struggle with the idea of letting go of thoughts, and to think "I just can't do this!"

There are many different ways to stimulate our body's natural relaxation response Some involve physical techniques such as breathing, others use imagination or hypnosis to help. Hypnosis itself is a skill which I can help you to learn to do for yourself.

Everyone is different and some people find one approach easy, and others harder. Often, it's a case of being kind to yourself and giving yourself time to learn. We will work together to find an approach that is right for you.

How much does therapy cost?

Please click here for more information on fees.

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Find out more or book a free 15 minute consultation

    I focus on helping you deal with the here and now, rather than issues from the past. I will discuss your goals with you so that we can come up with a plan together to get the best results in the fastest time.