Tag Archives: therapy

The path less travelled

If you walk through a field, then it makes sense to follow the worn path. It’s an easier route to go. 

Unless the worn path goes all round the field. Then it might make more sense to cut a new path straight through the middle. 

At first that new path will be hard going, but pretty soon it will get easier. 

When others notice the new path, they will probably use it too. More footfall means it gets worn down quicker. 

As the other path gets less used, it will grow over until eventually it will not exist at all. 

This is like your brain as you change. 

Each time you do something new you create a new path – a neural pathway. 

Each time you travel that neural pathway by doing the new thing you reinforce it. 

Old pathways disappear as you stop using them. 

Seeking that new pathway and thinking about that new pathway makes it stronger quicker. 

Pretty soon the old way of thinking and behaving is a long forgotten path. 

This is Neuroplasticity. This is what every client I work with goes through. Permanent changes in the brain. 

We’re all screwed up – including me

It’s not secret that I have had my struggles.

It’s also no secret that I had a very difficult childhood. In fact, people who have heard the story have said I should make it into a film. It is a bit ridiculous!

Cognitive Hypnotherapy has been the thing that freed me up.

Even though the actual number of sessions of therapy I’ve had is relatively low (8 in total over the last 7 years), I have been able to find an amazing level of peace, happiness and contentment with my life. But it’s not been a short journey. Every day has been about learning.

Recently I was getting very frustrated with myself.

I still hated myself. I couldn’t look in the mirror without sneering. I wanted to be someone else. I found it impossible when people said nice things. It was actually upsetting. How could they be so cruel as to say something that was so obviously untrue? It wasn’t fair.

I knew this wasn’t right. It was frustrating. How could so much else have changed but not this?

I also knew I had some behaviours that weren’t right. I would never ask a question in a meeting or at Uni, because I assumed that nobody would pay any attention to what I said. When courses didn’t sell, and videos didn’t get many views I would think “Of course, why would anyone listen to me?”. When someone disagreed with something I said in a forum I would back off and not argue my point. I physically would shake and dwell on what I said and what they said.

I know enough to know that isn’t right, and, more importantly, I don’t have to accept it.

And then I got help from a fellow therapist. And we changed the hurt child girl so she was happy.

And things began to change.

I went to my daughter’s school to talk to them about an issue. I could have avoided it but I didn’t. I felt calm when I was there.

I started engaging in discussions on forums.

I went to the doctors about a lump above my stomach. I’d done this before and they dismissed it but I knew it was not right. I had been putting off going but I made the appointment and stuck to my guns to get a scan.

I went to the hairdressers and closed my eyes and relaxed while I was having my hair washed. Something I have never done before.

To many these may seem like small things, but to me they were huge signs of change.

And then I had an opportunity to do a talk to our local ACES group (Adverse Childhood Experiences). I want to become the sort of public speaker that talks at large events. Ultimately, I would love to do Tony Robbins style conferences (obvious they will be Dawn Style by then). I know that I need to share my personal story – what brought me to this point – if I really want to connect with people. I know I have a hell of a story.

I’ve always been able to write this but never talk. This was because of my mother telling me at 12 years old never to talk about the abuse again. But she didn’t say to never write about it lol!

In the past, when I’ve tried to talk, my subconscious has shut me down. I lose the ability to speak or move. So I’ve avoided telling my story.

On Tuesday I went along to this group event with a plan to talk through my story. ACES is all about resilience, and the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences on our physical and mental well-being. I know that my story shows how it is possible to be happy no matter what. I know I am a better therapist because what I’ve been through shows that it is possible to overcome anything. This was a good audience to start with.

My passion is to help everyone realise that we can all find happiness, no matter what has happened in our childhood. I have never made it so personal before.

I have never told my life story to anyone out loud, from start to finish before, let alone a room of strangers. I spoke to about 15 people. I told them everything from when I was 6 right up until I took my abuser to court. I told the whole story. I explained how if I’m ok, then anybody can be, if you just have the right help.

It was liberating. I felt so free afterwards. I had told my story and I was fine. That’s all it was – a story. Something that I could use to help other people. It did not leave me shaking (although I was a little nervous when I started talking!). It did not stir up nightmares. I did not go into the ‘no-speaking’ state. I was absolutely fine.

I felt exhilarated and I feel so lucky to have been given that chance.

So now I’m working towards a new TED talk next year. A talk that will draw on my experiences both from childhood, and from working with over 600 clients.

“Our past creates us but doesn’t define us – lessons from over 600 clients”

(if anyone can think of a better click-bait style title please let me know!)

This is my next step and I can’t wait.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Different realities

colour blind

Some people can’t see certain colours. Some people can’t see reds and greens. It’s hard to understand what they see, when we can see them fine. But we accept that some people see colours differently.

The thing a lot of people don’t realise is that it’s not the eyes that see. It’s the brain. We all see things based on our own reality. We all see things differently.

So why is it so hard to accept that we might see other things differently? Why is it so hard to accept that the way we see ourselves may not be the same as others see us?

You don’t know what you don’t know. Until you see things in a different way, no amount of explanation from anyone else will shift your perception. A person who is colour blind will not realise that they see things differently until someone points it out to them. Even then, they still won’t truly understand until something helps them see differently. A person who is experiencing depression will not be able to hear what other people tell them. They are living in a restricted reality in their own head.

This video of a baby getting glasses for the first time is a great example. She doesn’t know that there is anything wrong with her eyesight,  until she sees the world for the first time through glasses.

Baby sees with glasses for the first time

When people leave their first session with me, they mostly look bemused. They know themselves pretty well, and have no reason to believe an hour spent talking to me will change a thing. But as they go through the weeks after that session, they begin to see things differently. Their reality begins to shift. The more evidence they gather of how things can be different, the more it brings into question everything they thought was true about themselves.

It can be both unnerving and exciting.

In time, they stop accepting their emotional state as a black and white truth. They begin to realise that it is a temporary reality that can be changed. Until they do, I am there. I remain the objective observer, finding the right glasses to allow them to see the world as it is, rather than a filtered version based on past experiences.

It’s a wonderful journey and I am honoured to be part of it with so many people.

More therapy options

IMG_1797[1]

Talk therapy ‘best for social phobia’, study finds

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-29367062

This article is one of many articles I read online, or hear on the radio every day. They talk about how we need more therapies instead of giving out so much medication for depression and anxiety.

The irony is that this is all talk and no action.

Every client that comes to see me answers a set of questions, using tick boxes, before our session starts. The data from those forms goes anonymously into a database and is collated as research. Research that shows, using NHS definitions and measures, how effective Cognitive Hypnotherapy is for treating conditions like depression and anxiety.

The results are amazing.

This year they will go into a white paper and hopefully, soon, GP’s will be able to send you to see a Cognitive Hypnotherapist on the NHS.

I went to my local medical centre several weeks ago. I took my data. Data that shows I generally help people within 3 sessions over a period of 2-3 months. No matter what their problem is. People that have been on medication for years. I send them back to their GP to discuss how they can come off their medication.

The doctor sounded interested. He said he would discuss with the other partners and be in touch.

They never got in touch.

All talk and no action. Ironic really. When everyone acknowledges that we need less action (issuing medication) and more talk (therapy).

Write a letter to your 16 year old self

I was reading a post on Facebook this morning where a photographer called Trent Bell has taken pictures of prisoners with a letter to their younger self behind it. It’s fascinating and you can see it here

It reminded me that I have done this exercise myself. Before and after I had help from Trevor Silverster and discovered Cognitive Hypnotherapy

 BEFORE – 2009image

AFTER – 2012image

It is interesting for me to read the difference in these two letters.

Why don’t you give it a try? Feel free to post the link to your letters in the comments.

Seeing a therapist

If you have a problem with your car, you take it to a garage so a mechanic can fix it

It’s not a sign of weakness that you don’t know how to fix your car.

If you have an injury or illness you go to a doctor to help understand what is wrong.

It’s not a sign of weakness that you are not medically qualified to diagnose and fix problems.

If you have something going on in your head that is stopping you being able to live your life fully…

…well what do you do?

The other evening I asked on Twitter if it was a sign of weakness to go and see a therapist. The response was interesting.

Those who had seen a therapist or had friends who had said it was a sign of strength.

Some felt it was better to try and deal with it yourself and that it was a sign of failure to not be able to do that. To “have” to go and see a therapist.

But it’s not a sign of failure to go to a mechanic. Or a doctor.

Sometimes someone else is in a better position, because of their knowledge and experience, to help you.

Does that make you strong or weak? I think neither.

I think saying you are strong or weak for going to see a therapist is a judgement. It is a judgement based on your individual perceptions – the way you see the world.

What would it be like if there was no stigma?

What would it be like if a therapist was considered in the same light as a mechanic or a doctor? How much easier would our lives be if it was ok to go and see someone to help with our heads?

Personally I don’t see it as a sign of strength or weakness. I do see it as a sign of courage.

To overcome the stigma. To overcome the fear of the unknown. To take that first step to get in touch with a therapist takes courage…

but that’s my opinion based on my perceptions.

What do you think?