Tag Archives: Cognitive Hypnotherapy

I have learned…

When I was 6 my stepmother hit me for the first time. I had a mark on my top when I came home from school. I learned that doing something that wasn’t allowed resulted in a beating. Unfortunately it wasn’t clear what was and was not allowed.

A year later I cried one night when I heard my stepmother and father arguing loudly. She came to my room and told me she’d hit me if I cried. I learned not to cry.

We were left outside for long periods of time and I learned that my stepmother didn’t want us around. I learned not to complain. I learned not to need anything.

When my grandfather drove me and my brother to my granny’s house, I learned that my brother was older and I had no choice but to do what he told me. He told me to sit in the seat next to my grandfather. My grandfather would put his hand down my pants and molest me on the journey. I didn’t like it. It was uncomfortable, but in comparison to later stuff, it was nothing.

When I was 8 I told a lady from Social Services that I wanted to go and live with my mother, despite being warned not to. That day my father told me he was sad that I didn’t want to live with him any more and that he didn’t love me. I learned that even when I speak up for myself, it makes no difference.

When I was 10 my stepfather came to wish me goodnight. When he kissed me he shoved his tongue into my mouth and said “Not like that a proper kiss”. He went on to teach me “what boys did to girls” over the next few years. I learned anyone could do anything to me and there was nothing I could do.

When I was 12 I told my mother about the abuse. She lost her temper with me and told me never to talk about it again. I learned to shut down. I learned that I couldn’t trust what I felt. I learned to not feel. I learned that it was never safe.

When I was 18 I learned that no one knew anything about my past. I learned that I could be whoever I wanted to be. I buried the child, grew a shell and lived a successful life.

When my first child had to be delivered at only 26 weeks old I learned that my body was as hateful as I’d always believed. I learned it was outside of my control and that this time it had killed my child.

When my daughter was 3 years old and started asking me constantly if I was happy, I learned that it was not ok for my screw ups to affect her and I learned that it was time to change.

When I started Cognitive Hypnotherapy I learned that I was ok. I learned I wasn’t broken. I learned that bad people did bad things to me.

When I took my stepfather to court 6 years ago I learned that I was believed. I learned I could tell my story, and deal with a huge amount of pain.

When he was found not guilty because my mother didn’t corroborate my story, and the defence cleverly suggested it was all stuff my grandfather did, I learned that it wasn’t about me. It wasn’t my fault. Bad stuff happened and the judicial process was not sophisticated enough to deal with it. I learned I was ok.

When I struggled last year because I felt my core was rotten, too rotten for anyone to care about the child me, I learned that I have great friends. They helped me re-connect and forgive the younger me because she was just unlucky. Bad people did bad things. She couldn’t change that.

And all through I learned that I am ok. I am strong. I can deal with anything.

I learned that no matter what you can be happy and connected with your friends and those you hold dear.

I learned that everything can change always.

And now I’m still learning. I’m learning that it’s possible for my head to be fine but for my body to hold on to the fear.

And because I’ve learned that everything can change, and because I have great friends, I am working on that now too.

It’s not what happens to us that causes the problem, it’s the meaning. It’s the meaning that hurts and the meaning is prone to misinterpretation.

You too can change.

You too can learn to see that it’s amazing that you are here, reading this with me now.

Why do I have to wait 2 weeks after the first session?

A client sits in the chair in front of me. They are looking unhappy. It’s the second session.

“How have the last couple of weeks been?”, I ask.

They shrug their shoulders non-committaly.

“Ok. There have been ups and downs”, they answer.

“Good”, I say.

They look surprised.

It’s an interesting phenomena.

Before the first session, anyone would laugh in your face if you said you could sort all their problems out in just one session.

However, because of the way I work, people feel different when they walk out of our first session together. And with that difference , a new bar/expectation is set.

I am good. But I’m not good enough to change your life in 2 weeks!

For every change they experience, they EXPECT that change to be permanent. Of course it’s not. In those first 2 weeks what you get is a sneak preview, a movie trailer, to show you what life will be like in your future. They are moments of change amongst your normal behaviour.

And that’s where the problem comes. By the second session you assume you have gone back to where you started. Of course you haven’t.

If I see you after 1 week, you are still on an unnatural high.

If I see you after 3 weeks, you have stopped seeing the changes and have convinced yourself this won’t work.

2 weeks is a sweet spot. It’s enough time to have had good moments, and usually a bad day. On a bad day you think you are back at square one and then the expectation changes.

You feel disappointed that all the changes haven’t happened.

You sit in my chair and feel despondent (or online).

“Really?”, I ask “How good do you think I am that I can change everything in 2 weeks?”

People generally leave my first and second sessions feeling happier.

About 60% of my clients only need 2 sessions. 

How would it make you feel to know that within 6 weeks you could be feeling much better about your life?

Why not drop me a mail to dawn@thinkitchangeit.com and get started today

One part, many parts, or both

I am absolutely fascinated by this woman.
We are all made up of parts. And not all of us can accept that. In most people it becomes about denying there are different parts of us and attributing behaviours to us as a whole.
For this woman she has gone the other way and fully dissociated from her parts. She regards them as not belonging to her and paints as them. She has many different painting styles. She talks as if her parts are totally different to her. 
I believe we are neither one part, or multiple distinct parts.
I believe all behaviour serves a purpose, and all behaviour has a positive intent.
The problems we have often come from a battle between the parts. So I believe that harmonising the parts is the answer – not separating them or ignoring them. (I am not sure if this media file will load)

I recently went on my own journey of bringing some parts together, helped by a fellow therapist.

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The Black Box

black box

As a child I discovered a little black box in my head.

I was trying to find somewhere to escape – a place I could go to hide that was away from everything. A place that was safe for me and where no one could find me, touch me, hurt me. A place where I didn’t have to feel anything, physical or emotional.

I found a little black box.

When I needed to I would go into my head and climb into the little black box. I would stay there until it was safe to come out again. As time went on I spent more and more time in the little black box.

Anything could happen to me physically, but it couldn’t reach me in the black box.

Eventually the real me hid there most of the time.

I liked my little black box. It was safe and no one knew about it.

One day, when I was at University, when I had just got together with my hubby he decided he would try a sort of hypnotic relaxation on me (what a charmer!)

I lay on the floor and he talked me through relaxing.

Within a minute or so tears were streaming down my face. Not the result he was expecting. Needless to say we didn’t do it again.

Many years later I began training as a Cognitive Hypnotherapist – something that often requires going into a trance state. On weekend 2 of my training, we were doing an exercise to go back to a positive memory. I was working with a partner. I found myself freaking out as my partner tried to take me into a trance state. I left the room confused, upset and shaken.

Eventually, after working with Trevor Silvester (founder of Cognitive Hypnotherapy) for a few sessions, I reached a point where I was happy and was able to feel those emotions I had kept locked away for my whole life. I was able to be myself.

I visited the box less and less. In fact, I almost forgot it was there.

Then, one day, once I had qualified, I attended a course on how to use Cognitive Hypnotherapy to help with childbirth. One of the things we learnt was how to teach a client to get themselves into a relaxed state. We always practice these techniques on ourselves. As the exercise began, I found myself scared to close my eyes. As everyone else relaxed, I once more found myself crying.

I was incredibly frustrated. I thought I should be sorted by now. I shouldn’t have this sort of reaction.

But in my therapy sessions, we had never been near the little black box.

One evening I was chatting to a friend and fellow Cognitive Hypnotherapist. She made a statement that maybe for me going into a trance state had a different meaning/purpose. And whoosh! just like that I returned to the time I first went looking for and found my little black box. And I realised that every time I had tried to go into a trance state it had reminded me of going looking for my little black box. For needing to escape.

I have done work on that black box since then, and it’s been profound. Actually it’s been life-changing. There is a calmness without the need for that. Although that black box felt like a safe place, I was only going there because everything else didn’t feel safe. The work I’ve done has been to see the rest of the world, the world outside the box, as safe.

That makes for a much calmer life.

I still have the box. When I took my abuser to court I went there a lot. I’m not sure that I will ever lose that space. I just hope, eventually, to never need to go there again.

Often I work with my clients on their version of a black box. Those who have had bad childhood experiences, or traumatic events later in life, usually get by through some sort of black box strategy. It might be a wall, or a black hole, but what it does is create a numb part in their head that feels safe. Unfortunately, this means that everything outside of it is unsafe. It can lead to a permanent state that might be described as hyper-vigilance.

I help them blur the boundaries between safe and unsafe so that everything becomes safe. As a result, my clients get to be present and to live their lives without the fear.

If you feel you have your own version of a black box, I can help. Nothing needs to be the way it’s always been.

Email dawn@thinkitchangeit.com 

You are not what you think


When your subconscious thinks something is going to hurt you, the first thing it does is switch off your ‘thinking’ brain. Thinking is simply too slow. The best chance for survival is to know the best way to instantly react. Most of us know this as the fight, flight and freeze response.

In the first session with a client, I work with them to show their subconscious that they are not under threat. There are no sabre toothed tigers. Their survival is not dependent on them being in a state of fight, flight or freeze.

This means, by the time we meet 2 weeks later, my clients are beginning to experience an unfamiliar sensation – the ability to remain present. The ability to think and not react.

And yet, the thoughts are still there.

Most of us are used to believing our thoughts. After all, it’s a thought, so it must be there for a reason right?


Because your subconscious is in charge at least 90% of the time, at least 90% of your thoughts are what I call ninja thoughts. They are defensive, protective thoughts with no rational basis.

And it’s not the thought that’s the problem, it’s that we don’t separate who we are from what we think,

I think therefore I am is actually I think therefore I do

So in the second session I give my clients a small task to learn how to identify and dismiss thoughts.

It’s a challenge for most to do this.

Over the weekend I attended a conference with fellow Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapists. One of the speakers at the talk was a very entertaining guy called Sandy Newbigging, He talked about his approach to mindfulness which he calls MindCalm. It was interesting to listen to his approach to separating ourselves from our thoughts

He talks about a space outside of thoughts, where we can be aware of thoughts. He represents this as an infinity symbol. He then talks about thoughts as being like birds that appear around the symbol. The thought itself is not a problem, it’s the judgement of the thought and the belief in the thought being true that causes the biggest problem.

So how do you step away from your thoughts and see them as separate from yourself?

Option 1. I guide clients to identify a thought, allow it to enter your awareness, and then visualising it being sent away again straight away.

Option 2. Do you remember those ‘magic drawings’ where if you de-focussed your vision you could see an image (I never really managed)? Well Sandy teaches us to stare ahead and then de-focus our vision; to become aware of the sides and above and below whilst not directly looking at them. By doing that you can enter a space outside of your thoughts where you can observe your thoughts.

Option 3. Combine Option 1 and 2. Use the defocussing to become aware of the separation between self and thoughts and then see the thoughts as object (birds or something else) and then dismiss those objects rather than owning them


Case Study: Gail

  1. How did you hear about Dawn?  I heard about Dawn through an advert at work about fear of public speaking and for some reason was drawn to seek help.
  2. Did you get in touch straight away or did you need some time to think about it? If so, how long? I kept going back to the advert for 2-3 weeks then decided to send an email in a moment of bravery.
  3. Had you been to see any other sort of therapist before seeing Dawn? I have been to see many therapists during my life, from ones that want to talk about everything in my past to those who tried cognitive behavior therapy. Also saw someone for weight loss hypnosis.
  4. Was your session in person or over Skype/Facetime? in person
  5. What were your biggest worries about going to see Dawn? Were any of them founded?  I was worried that seeing someone in their own home would be awkward and that I might not have enough to talk about. My worries were not founded in the least. Dawn creates a very relaxing and comfortable setting and very quickly sets your mind at ease.
  6. Will you share what made you go and see Dawn?  I went to see Dawn to get help with weight loss and over eating issues that I have struggled with for the past 15-20 years.
  7. How did you feel after your first session? Its hard to pinpoint actual feelings here. Inspired, energised, exhausted, hopeful, positive, befuddled, proud
  8. How many sessions did you have? To date 2 and I am going back for another
  9. What surprised you most? haha that it really works. Put simply, do the work and you get the results.
  10. What was hardest? Making the initial contact was the hardest thing for me
  11. If you were able to travel in time and visit the you before you saw Dawn, what would you tell her that would help? You mean apart from give Dawn a call ? I would tell her that she is OK and that other peoples behavior and actions are about what is going on in there heads and not a reflection on her.

Beware of destination addiction

destination addiction

It is hard to see how far you have come. It is in our nature to always be looking out for stuff that hurts us, and so we are more in tune with things that are wrong than things that are right.

Every client is at the start of a journey the minute they reach out to me. It doesn’t matter whether they message me on my Think it Change it Facebook page, or drop me an email, or pick up the phone, or even if they read my book “The Caveman Rules of Survival”. Everything that you do in an effort to improve yourself is the start of a journey.

You do it because you believe there is something better out there for you.

Every client that sees me in person is given a little book. This book is used for them to write down the changes they experience (the online clients are given the same task but I can’t give them the little booklet).

Initially most are able to spot many changes, but that tends to drop off as they begin to focus more on where they want to go instead of where they have come from. That’s where the book can be most valuable

We only compare where we are with where we want to be, and often fail to notice how far we’ve come

Since May 2011 I’ve experienced a level of transformation that I didn’t believe was possible. It’s that personal experience that allows me to help my clients. Everyone is unique, and I never know what we will do until they sit in front of me, but I know there is always a way to get them to where they want to be. And I know, when they have doubts and dips in their journey, that it’s all part of the experience of change. I know 100% that we will be able to work through it to get them to where they want to be.

These days, I am aware enough of how changes work to notice them. The other day a client gave me a hug before they left. It happens quite a lot. Most people wouldn’t notice. But I did, because 5 years ago it would not have happened. I would have sent very strong “back off” signals. Hugs were not safe. Trevor, the therapist I went to see, was a hugger. But he recognised that not all clients would be comfortable and would only hug you if you hugged him – which of course I would never do. Until one day, when leaving after a brilliant weekend of learning in London, I went to say goodbye to Trevor and gave him a hug. It surprised both of us. Apparently hugging was now ok.

Everything can change. The challenge is to not be so focused on where you want to get to, that you lose sight of where you are

The three steps

  1. Initially I am a guide to show you how to change
  2. Then I become a mentor to coach you through the change
  3. Then I become a distant friend that you can talk to when life throws stuff at you

My hope is that one day you almost forget about me. You don’t need me. I just have to teach you that.

To get started on our journey together, email dawn@thinkitchangeit.com or if that’s too much, come and join in my discussion group on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/groups/DawnsCave/


Case Study: Carolyn


  1. How did you hear about Dawn? I read an article online which Dawn had written.
  2. Did you get in touch straight away or did you need some time to think about it? If so, how long? I first read Dawn’s book then got in touch as soon as I’d finished it.
  3. Had you been to see any other sort of therapist before seeing Dawn? I’d had 12 sessions of CBT..
  4. Was your session in person or over Skype/Facetime? Skype
  5. What were your biggest worries about going to see Dawn? Were any of them founded? My concern was that my problem wouldn’t be resolved after having got my hopes up but I began to feel positive change after the first session so this worry quickly disappeared
  6. Will you share what made you go and see Dawn? I was struggling to cope with a health condition and kept making choices which were making the situation worse
  7. How did you feel after your first session? After the first session, I felt a huge weight lift off me and I felt that it might take a bit of time but that I would be able to resolve my problem
  8. How many sessions did you have? 7
  9. What surprised you most? I was most surprised by how such seemingly simple techniques could be so powerful
  10. What was hardest? I felt so many improvements day to day that I found it difficult to recognise when a follow up session would be useful..
  11. If you were able to travel in time and visit the you before you saw Dawn, what would you tell her that would help? I’d tell her to not leave quite so long before sessions and to have absolute faith in the process.
  12. If there is something else you’d like to say but I haven’t covered, please feel free to add it. Working with Dawn has changed my life for the better in so many ways. The positive changes are still rippling through my daily life and I continue to be surprised how such seemingly simple strategies can have such a huge impact.

Case Study: Marian

  1. How did you hear about Dawn? My daughter had been looking on line for a therapist local to my area and came across Think It Change It. She sent me the link to the website so I had a look and signed up for the newsletter.
  2. Did you get in touch straight away or did you need some time to think about it? If so, how long? No, I didn’t get in touch straight away. It must have been about six months or so before I got in touch and that was only after promising my daughter I would..
  3. Had you been to see any other sort of therapist before seeing Dawn? I went to couples counselling in 2003 and was impressed that the counsellor seemed to know immediately what the issues were for me. Her support was invaluable. I undertook a counselling course in 2015 and part of that was theory and practising counselling within the group.
  4. Was your session in person or over Skype/Facetime? Face to Face
  5. What were your biggest worries about going to see Dawn? Were any of them founded? All my worries seemed big! Initially biggest worry was could I afford it / would it be worth it?
    I was worried about where the venue was. I worried about what I would say and what that would uncover. I didn’t like the idea that I might cry! Looking back on it,  no, none of my worries were founded.
  6. Will you share what made you go and see Dawn? Yes, happy to, because what I discussed and what I thought I wanted to discuss were two different subjects. The second subject is still with me but I’m not sure if they are entwined or even how to explain it.
  7. How did you feel after your first session? I felt more positive in myself.
  8. How many sessions did you have? I had two sessions with a third pending
  9. What surprised you most? Dawn didn’t hypnotise me!
  10. What was hardest? Actually getting up the courage to go in the first place. Dawn’s prompt response to me email enquiry took me aback. If she hadn’t offered me an early appointment I would have procrastinated even longer. That might not seem to be a hard thing, but it was to me – I had not expected an immediate response and was already formulating my explanation to my daughter of why I couldn’t go! I found the second session was not what I expected and left feeling confused as to what had taken place and how this would make a difference to my issues as such I have struggled with the exercise that was given.
  11. If you were able to travel in time and visit the you before you saw Dawn, what would you tell her that would help? “Just go and get your head sorted out. It doesn’t hurt and it’ll make you feel better.”
  12. If there is something else you’d like to say but I haven’t covered, please feel free to add it. I really find the download useful. Having used it every night for two weeks, I noticed a big change in my mood and self awareness each day. I am also more aware of what other people are saying and find it easier to rationalise their negative comments whether personal or not.

Case Study: Nikki

  1. How did you hear about Dawn? Heard about through Sandra Roycroft – Davies, Slimpod (Thinking Slimmer)
  2. Did you get in touch straight away or did you need some time to think about it? If so, how long? Initially contacted straight away then I think took a couple of days to think about it whilst asking questions by email. Max 1 week.
  3. Had you been to see any other sort of therapist before seeing Dawn? I have seen an axis counsellor and one through the Drs.
  4. Was your session in person or over Skype/Facetime? Skype
  5. What were your biggest worries about going to see Dawn? Were any of them founded? My biggest worry was that it wouldn’t work but there is definite improvement.
  6. Will you share what made you go and see Dawn? I contacted Sandra as I have issues with a binge mentality and lose control with food, I have an unhealthy relationship with it. Because of issues of childhood abuse she referred me to Dawn. We worked on altering the memory of the abuse.
  7. How did you feel after your first session? A little relieved to actually feel that things were being dealt with. The download helped. I do feel calmer about the abuse and it does not have the same meaning that it previously did.
  8. How many sessions did you have? I had 2 sessions
  9. What surprised you most? I was most surprised by my change of perspective but mainly to the abuse not the food.
  10. What was hardest? The hardest thing was trying to visualise things as I often feel that I lack imagination. It was difficult to visualise at request i.e at that specific time.
  11. If you were able to travel in time and visit the you before you saw Dawn, what would you tell her that would help? Possibly to ask what is most important? Advice on what should be dealt with i.e. the self-destruct diet/bingeing/shopping binges mentality or abuse and knock on effects. Or are they all linked.
If you want my help, just email dawn@thinkitchangeit.com to get started.