MY WORKING LIFE
Meet a hypnotherapist; he can help you start a new behaviour – or stop an old one.
James Mallinson, co-founder of Fix My Mind, helps people across the world with everything from anxiety to weight loss. Here, he tells us about the latest hypnotherapy techniques, quick successes, and why he doesn’t need a pocket watch. What does a hypnotherapist do, James?
A hypnotherapist helps clients either start some new behaviour that they want, or to stop some old behaviour or existing behaviour that they don’t want.
All hypnotherapists use the power of suggestion, i.e. the words that come out of our mouths that help people to change how they behave. Hypnotherapy works by having a motivated client who really wants to change, and who will take on board the suggestion of doing X instead of doing Y. These suggestions can be said with someone’s eyes open, completely awake, or in the very deep classical image people have of someone being ‘under’.
Sounds pretty straightforward.
There are also some pretty powerful techniques we can use: one is called the Havening technique, which is a neuroscience-based technique, another is called TFT, which stands for Thought Field Therapy and involves tapping key points on the body, and there are a lot of neuro-linguistic programming – NLP – techniques as well.
How do they actually work?
Havening, which is the most modern technique I use, uses a combination of touch – the application of touch from your shoulders down to your elbows at a rate of once a second – while the person’s eyes are closed and they are taking themselves off in their mind to a nice place where they are doing something they like. The combination of touch and distraction literally switches off the receptors in the brain that become active when someone has the likes of a phobia or a panic attack.
When people picture their ‘happy place’ is it always a beach?
No, I had a female client whose favourite place to go is the mosh-pit in a Metallica gig.
How did you get into hypnotherapy?
I had a 16-year career in the media and stopped
liking it. I’d had an experience with hypnosis to stop a bad habit and all of a sudden a light-bulb went off in my head and I knew what I wanted to do. I trained for several years before starting this full time.
What can you treat?
Anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, smoking, stress, weight loss.
What’s a typical day for you?
I normally see four to five clients a day. Most engagements are face-to-face, although more and more work is now being done by the likes of Skype and FaceTime and I have clients from the UAE all the way to San Francisco. Sessions last up to two hours, but my record for dealing with a client is 11 minutes between them walking in the door and leaving without their phobia. What happened?
He had a phobia of lifts and confined spaces and we did the Havening technique. I have a really small, two-man lift in my office and said, ‘Do you want to see if you still have your phobia?’ and the client said yes. He was 6ft 5, a huge guy, we went up four storeys in the lift, I got out and said I would meet him at the bottom. I limped down the stairs, he came out, gave me a high five, said ‘That was amazing’ and walked off.
Is part of the role being a counsellor and listening to people’s sad stories? No, I am 100 per cent not a counsellor. What we need to do is change people’s stories, not listen to people’s old stories.
Do you own a pocket watch?
No. That’s a myth. You don’t need to tell people they are feeling sleepy to be in a trance state. You can be walking around in a trance; I’ve literally done hypnosis in the street with a neighbour who’s got a bad back.
Are people always telling you their problems when they meet you at parties?
Yes. I either try and give them a very gentle technique at the table, or I politely shut the topic down because I like to have a nice relaxing time as much as everyone else.
Does it seem that more and more people are having problems with stress and anxiety? Completely. One in four people are now experiencing anxiety to a high degree. And it’s only going to get worse – there’s nothing really that’s slowing us down, even though we should do so and try and be calmer. There’s just not a lot of easy ways for people to do that which are compatible with their lives.
What’s driving our growing stress levels? Phones, for one. The whole ‘always on’ culture: the last thing and the first thing you do when going to bed and waking up is look at your phone, and often your emails. Given the likely stressful content that is on there, that has the potential to get you going right from the outset.
Have you ever had a client who was untreatable?
Yes. There’s a famous quote that says something like the hypnotherapist who claims a 100 per cent success hasn’t had enough clients, and that'’s true. There is a failure rate within this. It might be that the person is not in the right place mentally, it might be that they might not be willing to change, it might be that hypnosis may not be appropriate for their condition. Or the therapist might be no good.
How does someone know their hypnotherapist is decent?
Look for the four ‘Cs’: check if the therapist has the right credibility: do they have right training? Do they inspire you with confidence? Next, do they have congruence – for example, you might not want to work with an overweight therapist if you wanted to lose weight. Finally, when you first speak with a hypnotherapist on the phone, do you have the right chemistry?
Do hypnotherapists see other hypnotherapists? Yes, if I have a problem I will see a therapist. We do self-hypnosis, too – which can be amazing as it can allow you to do some work on yourself without seeing someone about it. www.fixmymind.co.uk
One in four people are now experiencing anxiety to a high degree. And it’s only going to get worse – there’s nothing really that’s slowing us down
The always on culture – of being glued to the smartphone – is driving up stress levels, says James