Have you ever been in a situation where you found yourself paralysed by fear? Or getting ready to do something that seems perfectly normal to most people but which is causing your heart to beat faster. Or your palms to sweat. Or your mind to feel like it’s suddenly been wrapped up in a blanket so that you can no longer think straight? These are some of the symptoms of anxiety – and it affects the lives of millions of people. Clinical hypnotherapy is very effective at dealing with anxiety and I know this because I’ve done over 5000 sessions of hypnotherapy and most of my clients came in axious and left calm(er).
Anxiety is not something you should just be expected to shrug off or dismiss as a minor irritant. In many cases, when you suffer from anxiety it can feel like you have lost control of your life. When people tell you to ‘cheer up’ or ‘just get on with it’, they usually have no idea just how debilitating anxiety can be. Your anxiety might be something that has developed over many years, or it could be something that has come on quite suddenly – affecting you in ways you wouldn’t have thought possible just a short time ago.
I’m James Mallinson, one of the UK’s most experienced hypnotherapists. I’ve completed over 5000 sessions of hypnotherapy and my expertise is anxiety. In this blog post, I’m going to explain what anxiety is, why it holds you back – and what you can do about it.
The painful truth about anxiety
One of the most distressing things about anxiety is that people who suffer from it often feel like there is no one to turn to. Waiting lists for mental health-related issues are notoriously long, so many people learn to suffer in silence. They sometimes develop methods to ‘cope’ with their anxiety which, in fact, are often merely avoidance techniques. If packed trains are causing you to feel afraid or nervous, you take an earlier – emptier – train instead.
If there’s an annoying person in the office whose booming voice is causing you to be permanently on edge, you put on headphones while you work. Unfortunately, none of these things actually help you to overcome your anxiety. Before long, you may find that you have a whole routine worked out that helps you to avoid the things that you fear.
And if you suddenly have to deviate from this routine – because you’re running late for the train or the batteries on your AirPods are flat – panic ensues. You start to ‘catastrophise’, anticipating worst-case scenarios, which stress you out even more. You start to lose all rational thought – because you’ve become overwhelmed by anxiety. Your anxiety has triggered a ‘chain reaction’ of responses over which you have very little control.
Let’s just pause here for a moment to consider something really important: you’re not to blame for these feelings. You are not a weak person or ‘weird’; your response is not a ‘punishment’ for something you’ve done.
Your anxiety is simply an unwanted response to what your brain perceives to be a threat. Even if the rational part of your mind knows that a busy train or a noisy colleague don’t really pose any danger, undoing your brain’s response is extremely difficult.
What’s happened is that the trigger event has caused you to enter the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response, and it’s part of what makes us human. There’s lots of information about the fight, flight or freeze response here on this website.
Why anxiety is holding you back
People with anxiety often struggle to understand why they can’t just shake it off. They also often ask, “Why me? Why am I the only one bothered by these things?” This is especially true when your rational mind can see that whatever is causing you anxiety is the kind of thing that most people would probably cope with.
But it’s not your fault. You can’t just wish anxiety away. Your personal anxiety triggers are unique to you and are a response to subconscious fear – it’s just that you never asked for your mind to respond in the way that it does.
It’s my fundamental belief that we aren’t born anxious. Unfortunately, a sequence of events or a specific experience has happened and this has subconsciously made us fearful. The consequence of this fear is anxiety.
Anxiety is annoyingly unique as an emotion because it’s the only emotion we have that’s based about things in the future – even though its roots are embedded in our past. Anxiety makes us imagine bad things will happen.
When anxiety strikes, it can feel like your whole life has been turned upside down. Whilst you may well know logically that you’re going to be OK, your attempts at trying to convince yourself of this are overridden by the fear that is deep-rooted in your brain.
A reaction called the amygdala hijack automatically and unconsciously takes over. This is because your anxiety is regulated by a part of the brain called the amygdala, which controls your fight, flight and freeze response.
It uses past memories to determine whether or not you should be ready to respond in the most primal way possible: namely to attack, run away, or make yourself as small and invisible as possible.
So no matter what soothing words you might be saying to yourself, these will fall on deaf ears – because logic, which is located in a part of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex, is completely separate to the amygdala and the anxiety it creates.
How hypnotherapy can help people fight back against anxiety
When I started my clinical hypnotherapy practice Fix My Mind a decade ago, it was to help people just like you to overcome the things that are holding you back.
During more than 1,000 hours of training, I learned how hypnotherapy can dramatically change the way we feel about and respond to things. It allows us to bypass the ‘rational’ response and instead addresses the part of the mind that governs the fight, flight or freeze response.
Today, my clinical specialism is anxiety, and I have helped thousands of people to feel calmer, safer and more readily equipped to deal with whatever is holding them back.
Before Covid, it was estimated that 25% of people suffered from anxiety. During the rigours of the past two years, however, many of us have seen our anxiety levels increase. If you’re among these people, it’s important to understand that you can change. You don’t have to be stuck with anxiety forever.
Using hypnotherapy for anxiety can help with generalised anxiety, also known as GAD, and also with specific anxieties such as public speaking. It can also help people who are struggling with the most extreme forms of anxiety, like panic attacks and phobias – such as a fear of flying.
If you take a look around my website, you’ll find lots of information about anxiety and phobias – and why hypnotherapy for anxiety works. There’s also some detailed descriptions about what actually happens during a hypnotherapy session, more of which you’ll also find further down this page.
Clinical hypnotherapy can rapidly help to reduce your anxiety in just a couple of sessions. I’ve worked with clients with mild, moderate and severe anxiety, who have generally tried to either power on through and/or have tried different kinds of therapy before.
Why hypnotherapy for anxiety works
As you can imagine, there’s quite a lot going on when we change the mind’s response to how processes things, but the basic explanation of why hypnotherapy works is as follows.
- The events that currently trigger your anxiety are neutralised. They lose their emotional power to impact you.
- This then breaks what’s known as the ‘associated pattern of behaviour’ that has developed – in other words, you stop reacting in the way that you once did to the trigger event. The net result is that you feel calmer and more in control.
- It’s quick! I have successfully worked with thousands of clients, and most of them needed just two 90-minute sessions to feel better. Many therapists only offer 50-minute appointments, which can result in longer courses of treatment. I’ve found 90 minutes to be far more effective.
- It’s nothing like psychotherapy. The goal during hypnotherapy is not to talk you through past events over dozens of sessions, instead the aim is to directly target the part of your brain that regulates anxiety (the amygdala), and change its response. Hypnotherapy is about dealing with the issue – not understanding why you have the issue.
- It provides you with a ‘dial’ you can keep coming back to. Long after the hypnotherapy sessions have finished, clients know they can come back to an imaginary dial in their mind which they can turn down if they find themselves in a stressful situation. It can help you to feel more relaxed.
- There’s a ‘vetting’ process that will maximise the chances of it working. If we don’t seem like a good match or I don’t feel I can help, I’ll recommend finding a different therapist. I only want to work with people I feel I can really help.
What happens in a hypnotherapy session for anxiety?
The first thing we’ll do is have a complimentary exploratory phone call, lasting between 10 and 20 minutes. During our conversation, you’ll have chance to tell me about what’s going on and what you need help with, and it gives me the opportunity to ask questions and make sure we’re a good fit.
Before your actual session, you’ll fill in a detailed questionnaire that will help me understand your history and patterns of anxiety. This allows me to plan what I need to do to treat you, and ensures that the time you spend in the session itself is used as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Over the course of your 90-minute session, you will feel calm and relaxed throughout. Whether I treat you in my office or online, the results are the same. I’ll use a combination of the most effective modern and classic hypnotherapeutic tools and techniques, each of which follows three clear steps:
We’ll work on neutralising the memories and experiences that have triggered your anxiety.
Next, I’ll help you stabilise your emotions. Using a combination of tailored clinical hypnotherapy and groundbreaking new techniques, such as Havening, I will quickly help you to deal with the feelings you have.
Finally, we’ll change how you feel and respond when you find yourself in (or before) a situation or event that once triggered your anxiety. That might mean making your internal talk more resilient, or learning how to change the negative visualisations you may put in your head.
If you’re interested in hypnotherapy for anxiety, everything begins with a free 20-minute consultation. If you’d like to start your own journey towards a calmer you, then please call freephone 0800 122 3073 or fill out the form on the contact page. You’ll also get a free one-hour download to help you relax.