Mental Health & Wellbeing

With Sharon Dyke

Sharon is a fully-qualified and insured senior solution focused hypnotherapy practitioner, and member of the CNHC, a voluntary regulator for supplementary therapies.

Sharon is also a senior supervisor supporting practitioners across the country, and a senior lecturer with Clifton Practice Hypnotherapy Training, teaching other like-minded people to join one of the country’s fastest growing models of therapeutic interventions.

Galmington & Comeytrowe News is proud to be publishing articles written by Sharon to provide our community with information on managing our mental health and wellbeing. If you would like to contact Sharon to arrange an appointment or ask a question please visit her website or you can contact her directly to book a consultation on 07766-250-113.

21May 2021

How Negative Memories Impact Your Life

When unpleasant and painful experiences get stored in your brain, they can have real negative mental and physical consequences but when you understand the process your brain uses to store and recall negative memories, you can begin to understand how you can change them.

There are different kinds of memory that are supported by different brain systems. One major distinction is between working memory and long-term memory. Long-term memory can be further divided into explicit and implicit. The contents of your implicit memory have much more impact on your everyday life than explicit.

Implicit memory includes a collection of nondeclarative forms of memory that make up your habits, skills, priming, and simple kinds of conditioning. Also called automatic memory, implicit memory is comprised of bodily sensations and images and is below your conscious awareness. It’s the basis for how you feel and function most of the time. Basically, you can think of it like a filter through which you view and narrate everything that happens.

Explicit memories are further classified as either episodic or semantic. Episodic memory is specific to an individual and contains personal details about the events of their life, for example knowing the name of your childhood pet.

Semantic memories are the common knowledge facts accumulated over our lives. They’re the indisputable bits of information not attached to emotion or personal experience. For example, knowing that the sky is blue or how to drive would be semantic memory.

Whether a negative recollection comes from implicit or explicit memory, it is “reconstructed” every time you retrieve it. Recalling a memory is an active process in which synapses connect in a particular way to construct that specific memory. Then, when you stop focusing on the memory, it becomes reconsolidated in your brain’s memory structures again.

Science shows that it is possible to overwrite something the brain has learned, in this case, a memory, in a process called “Pavlovian extinction. For example, you have a argument with a friend, its uncomfortable, but you know rationally that you two will be ok, yet you can’t stop worrying about it.

What you could do is to be aware, at the same time, of both your anxiety and a feeling of being cared for by that person. Keep making the positive feelings stronger than the negative one’s while being aware of them both at the same time.

After about 10 minutes you can let the anxiety go and stay with the feeling of being cared for by the other person. If the worry about the relationship returns, its likely to be a lot milder as a result of this practice, and the more you do it, the greater impact it will have on your brain.”

This method may be merely providing an alternate association for the negative material while leaving the original learning (memory) intact. The original association may still be retrieved in the future depending on the context or trigger but its important for us to know when a memory is reconsolidated when recalled, and stored again this is when we can change it.

3 May 2021

You Can’t Always Believe Your Brain

If you’re like most of us, your brain is filled with a constant chatter of thoughts, beliefs, and memories, some of which can be negative and often have a huge impact on your life. In extreme cases this deceptive thinking can result in depression, anxiety or anger, and sometimes all three. This cycle starts with a thought that causes discomfort and moves your focus away from your goals and aspirations in life.

These thoughts are generated as part of your automatic, subconscious mind, often referred to as negative self-talk or inner-critic they are made up of implicit memories and learned beliefs from your past. Some common deceptive brain messages are, I should have/shouldn’t have, I’m a bad person, I don’t deserve to be happy, I’m not good enough or I can’t do that. These thoughts might be accompanied by a physical sensation or an emotional state. For example, heart is racing, excessive sweating a feeling of hopelessness or craving something.

In an effort to ease the unpleasant sensations or emotions, some people may behave in automatic, habitual ways, often they are not even consciously aware of their response, or the motives behind it, for example, using drugs or alcohol, over eating, gambling, avoiding situations, repeatedly checking something, or generally just overthinking or worrying constantly.

The good news is that just because you have had these thoughts and/or behaved in certain ways in the past, even if it seems its been there for most of your life, it doesn’t mean that you have to behave that way in the future.

You have the power to change your life and your brain. Neuroscience tells us the brain in malleable, that means when you learn how to focus your attention on the positives in life, and you start to behave in ways that empower you, you actually rewire your brain. This is a very powerful process when applied and because it is backed up by research, we can have confidence in the approach.

Why not try it yourself, I ask my clients to focus on the three Ps, Positive Thinking, Positive interaction and Positive action, when they do this they spend more time in the left prefrontal cortex raising serotonin, our happy hormone and when we raise lots of serotonin we are happy, now that has to be good.

18 April 2021

Many of my clients live in the negative zone. Now, it’s important to understand that residing in the negative zone means that no matter what good may come your way, you will find something wrong with it. This is what is called the Eeyore Syndrome.

You remember A.A. Milne’s classic character Eeyore. This friend of Winnie the Pooh was a threadbare, grey donkey that was always moping around, talking to himself and awaiting his inevitable misfortune.

Well, that’s often my clients. Once a client visited the Caribbean, a free all expenses paid holiday, they came back and when I asked what was good about the holiday, they couldn’t wait to tell me everything that went wrong including how it rained every day.

Well let’s get this straight. The rain didn’t ruin their holiday. What really ruined it was the constant bombardment of negative thinking that caused them to feel victimized. It was their thoughts about the bad weather that supported an overwhelmingly negative belief system and a pre-existing bad attitude that ruined the holiday.

Of course, it would have been nice if they had some sunshine but they didn’t and in concentrating so much of their energy on what wasn’t working, they never gave themselves a chance to have a good time. It’s impossible to have a good time if your thoughts are causing you to be miserable.

When you allow outside circumstances that you have no control over to determine your happiness, you’re up a gum tree, as a dear friend of mine would say and that’s how you get caught up in the Eeyore Syndrome.

This type of thinking reflects a lack of confidence in yourself and as a result, your enjoyment and appreciation of all the good things that life has to offer gets distorted, leaving you unhappy.

Remember, thoughts don’t just happen. They are something we create and therefore we can direct them. When something upsets you, it’s how you respond that determines the effect it will have on you.

So instead of focusing on how bad things are, or have been, you should see the situation from a more positive angle, remembering, the goal to bouncing back from any negative experience is to gradually shift your way of thinking to things that make you feel better.

22 March 2021

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and COVID -19

If you, or someone you know, suffers from OCD or obsessive ruminating, it’s likely that coronavirus, has made things worse.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD describes a condition where a person is overwhelmed by obsessive thoughts or compulsive and repetitive activities. When obsessions develop into pervasive OCD, all aspects of life are affected. The impact, of course, will be unique in every case but it’s likely that work, relationships, and friendships will be negatively impacted.

With our current climate being so challenging, It’s important to distinguish between increased hand-washing in response to government advice related to COVID-19, and obsessive hand-washing that is out of proportion and out of control.

We are all thinking more about our behaviour and being more cautious. However, if you can’t ‘switch off’, obsessively watch the news, or frequently ruminate on what could happen or might happen, you may have developed an unhelpful habit.

When you manifest obvious damaging physical habits, eg your hands become red raw, or severely dry and cracked, or you start pulling your hair out, literally, you know you have a more serious problem.

One effect of OCD is the constant worry that something terrible is going to happen. It’s exhausting.

Over time, family and friends struggle to understand or give support. The long-term result can be social isolation and emotional torment, leading to generalised anxiety and depression.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is proven to help sufferers gently resolve these challenges by steadily changing perceptions embedded in the subconscious mind, and breaking the pattern of negative and repetitive thinking, and catastrophizing.

It’s important to stress here that I do not diagnose, I simply respond to each client’s assessment of their own issues; however, they define them. As a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist, we do not analyse the root causes of how the problem was created, we simply help you to imagine your preferred future using trance, and give you the tools to make your desired changes, this enable you to take back control of your life.

22 February 2021

As a solution-focused hypnotherapist, I regularly hear people say how lonely they feel. I think we can safely say most of us will have been feeling very lonely during the long periods of lockdown. For some people, like many elderly people, it was because they were on their own for many weeks other people may miss their siblings, or best friend and others may just miss being part of a wider social network.

According to de Jong-Gierveld and Raadschelders (1982), Duck (1992), and others, there are two levels of loneliness: chronic and transient. For people who are chronically lonely, their experience of loneliness is persistent, often extending to many years, and doesn’t change with what the person is doing. It looks like the cause of the feelings is internal. They may feel the intensity of the loneliness vary over time, but it is always there. Transient loneliness, as its name suggests, is experienced for short periods of time, and is usually the result of a specific situation either way loneliness is definitely not good for you.

The distress associated with loneliness can be significant and may lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. People who are shy, experience social anxiety, or are reluctant to take social risks, and they may be more likely to describe themselves as lonely and may have difficulty forming lasting and satisfying relationships.

It should be remembered, that while many people who feel lonely are physically alone, not everyone who is alone feels lonely. Some people simply choose to have few social connections. If a person chooses to be alone, they may well enjoy and welcome the solitude.

One of the issues with loneliness is that many people are reluctant to admit it – they feel that it is a sign of weakness. The obvious solution to feelings of loneliness is go to out and meet people, but that can be hard. Obviously, during lockdown that was very difficult!

So, what can you do to stop feeling lonely? The three Ps, Positive Thinking, Positive Action, Positive Interaction. Without positive social interaction, we can feel distanced, depressed and unhappy. Research suggests that loneliness can be a greater risk to your health than smoking or lack of exercise. Making connections with people improves brain function because it constantly engages and exercises the mind, while also developing cognitive function. When we connect with another person, our brain and body release chemicals that make us feel good. One of these chemicals is oxytocin.

Levels of oxytocin, the ‘Cuddle Chemical’ increase when we hear a friendly voice or see a smiling face or make eye contact with someone, but by far the best way to boost your oxytocin is through physical touch. A warm hug or a high five gives us a feeling of security and support. Feeling supported by others can do wonders for our confidence and self-esteem, and for our general sense of wellbeing.

During the pandemic loneliness is an even bigger problem, and it, in many ways, is a hidden problem. The good news is that solution-focused hypnotherapy can help.

8 February 2021

How to overcome needle phobias 

Needle phobias are surprisingly common, with 1 in 10 of us in the UK suffering from them, referred to as trypanophobia. Due to the COVID19 vaccination programme now is a great time to overcome your phobia.

To be honest, most people don’t like having injections particularly, but a phobia is an overwhelming and uncontrollable reaction to needles triggering the flight or fight response.

There are different types of needle phobia, with different therapeutic ways of overcoming them. Our bodies are designed to respond to any breaks in the surface of the skin, and when this happens our mind and body can’t help but respond. Even People who are absolutely fine with having injections, or blood tests etc. will experience a change in their physiology to some extent, usually an increase in heart rate and blood pressure even if it is only slight.

The vasovagal response is common amongst needle phobias. This causes a drop in blood pressure and heart rate when punctured with a needle, which in turn causes a fall in blood supply to the brain. So, what does the body do to overcome this? It forces us to re-address the balance by getting our head to the floor by fainting.

Some people can’t even talk about, or see needles as this response is so strong, even watching someone getting an injection on TV can cause a heightened state of arousal.

Many people however can feel faint, but don’t actually faint. Time to allow the body to return to a state of homeostasis is needed here, so sitting for a while after the procedure is extremely helpful, rather than jumping up and scooting out of the door.

Other types of needle phobia are acquired through your experiences. As babies we don’t come into the world with a fear of needles. It is believed that only the startle response (fear of loud noises) and the fear of falling are the ones we are born with. Many needle phobias are learned. This can be through previous traumatic experiences. Up to 20% of needle phobias are Resistive responses, which means that the individual has a previous experience of being restrained in some way to have a procedure (or fear of), for example if a child is held down to get a vaccination. The anxiety that this causes (even if it was well intentioned) can result in a phobia being formed.

We can even pic up a phobia vicariously – so just by seeing someone have a negative reaction to a needle can establish a phobia.

The most obvious cause of a needle phobia, is if we ourselves have had a negative experience which then goes onto to create a negative association with needles (associated response).

The great new is that solution focused hypnotherapy can help people overcome their fear using specific techniques that help the brain recreate a positive template, enabling you to have your vaccine and continue living life to the full.

27 January 2021

I appreciate that even for those of us who usually look forward to the summer, 2021 continues to challenge us, requiring us to compromise and adapt our summer holiday plans, but does this mean we are also forced to lower our expectations and restrict our opportunities for creating and sharing those summertime memories?

Perhaps if 2020 does have a silver lining, it’s the opportunity we’ve had to re-evaluate, prioritise, and appreciate the simple things in life – an ‘attitude of gratitude’ for the things and people we can sometimes take for granted. Plus, our constant attempt to focus on what we can influence and our recognition of the benefits in doing just that.

We’ve been asked repeatedly to practise thinking, acting, and interacting in a positive way – despite the pandemic – and what better time to reflect, acknowledge, and celebrate your personal strengths and the qualities that have helped you through this testing time?

Summer may not be ‘normal’ again this year, but perhaps you can utilise your skills to create a different recipe using the ingredients you have to hand. Let’s take back control with our imaginations, our creativity, our sense of humour, and our values – all of which are priceless. Small acts of empathy, kindness, and compassion can make a big difference, and they can bridge a physical gap allowing us to reach out and connect with one another, and it doesn’t stop there, there’s often a wonderful ripple effect and you’ll notice a rewarding bounce-back, which, in turn, gives you a lovely boost of serotonin.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy helps you to combat feelings of anxiety, frustration, and low mood and gives you the tools to find your way into the best mindset possible – so that you can cope better, whatever the situation. As a solution-focused hypnotherapist I  work on the premise that “problem talk creates problems, solution talk creates solutions” (Steve de Shazer). Using your imagination to your advantage is therefore key because neurons that fire together wire together and map new neural pathways in your brain for your thoughts, feelings, and behaviour to follow.

You can start now by putting any frustrations, stresses, or worries gently to one side and instead visualising what you wish for this summer, concentrating on what is possible and within your reach.

11 January 2021

Looking after our mental wellbeing during the third lock down.

It is crucial to take care of our mental health during these next few months.

 I am seeing more people than ever during these lockdowns, which is why it’s a relief that the government has recognised the importance of supporting people with their mental health, and currently allows CNHC registered practitioners to continue seeing people face to face.”

 My clients are so relieved when I assure them, I can still support them through these difficult times as often I can be a client’s lifeline, especially when they live alone. The isolation that can come with lockdown can escalate anxiety levels to the extreme.

 Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can be a fantastic resource during lockdown, I’m not only helping people manage the isolation, I’m also supporting clients suffering from other issues such as, alcohol and drug addiction, or anxiety disorders, but one thing I have noticed is lots of clients have decided to use lockdown as a time to make a positive change to their current lifestyle in preparation for post Covid.

 I still offer online therapy through most online platforms for those clients who just can’t get to me, my priority is to continue working with my clients in a way that suits them, whilst conforming to government guidelines, insurance expectations and GDPR requirements.

 I am a fully-qualified and insured senior hypnotherapy practitioner and member of the CNHC, a voluntary regulator for supplementary therapies. I am also a senior supervisor supporting practitioners across the country, and a former senior lecture with Clifton Practice Hypnotherapy Training, teaching other like-minded people to join one of the country’s fastest growing models of therapeutic interventions.

To find out more please visit do visit my website where you will find a wealth of information. Be safe everyone.

29 December 2020


Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is well known for successfully helping people to quit smoking in one simple session, but it can also be used to help reduce symptoms of anxiety, anger, or depression.

As we head into 2021 you may be looking for alternative ways to ease the stresses of a hectic 24/7 lifestyle. As we take on more and more, we can sometimes find that we struggle to cope, and so stress becomes that unseen burden that can manifest in unhealthy behaviours. For example, over eating, addictions, or insomnia.

“Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a fantastic way to help to reduce stress. I work with you to help you make positive changes and move forward in a relaxed, calm and confident manner. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is also widely used to help people overcome specific phobias, including the fear of flying. Spring is a time when people may be looking ahead and booking flights for summer holidays, but some people may find flying a little daunting. As well as other types of phobias, we can also help ease the fear of flying using specific techniques which are therapeutic for the client.”

I am a fully-qualified and insured senior hypnotherapy practitioner and member of the CNHC, a voluntary regulator for supplementary therapies. I am also a senior supervisor supporting practitioners across the country, and a former senior lecture with Clifton Practice Hypnotherapy Training, teaching other like-minded people to join one of the country’s fastest growing models of therapeutic interventions. 

To find out more please visit my website

16 December 2020

Why I became a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist!

I am often asked why I became a Hypnotherapist, so let me explain.  I have spent 34 years working in health and social care and have seen first-hand the effect that ongoing stress can have on people, often leaving them feeling overwhelmed, lacking in confidence, motivation and losing sleep.

The system always seemed to focus on crisis management and our NHS, as we know, is so over stretched. I wanted to do more to help people find a sustainable way to manage those low intensity mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and anger.

I have always been fascinated by the human mind, and Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is underpinned by Neuroscience. When working with me, my clients get up to date evidence based therapeutic interventions which helps them change unhelpful thought patterns and resolve the habits that create anxiety and unwanted behaviours. This helps my clients regain control over their lives.

After 13 years as a practitioner, my aim is to help people transform their mental health so they can achieve their true potential and enjoy a happier and more fulfilling life.

To find out more please visit my website

30 November 2020

Becoming a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist is, quite simply, the best thing I’ve done in my career. EVER!

 If you had told the younger me that I would be helping people overcome anxiety, depression, anger, pass exams and interviews, conquer their fears and phobia or find motivation to live life to the full, I would not have believed you, and yet, in the 13 years since I qualified, I have done all of those things many times over – and much more besides.

Why hypnotherapy? I’d always been curious about the power of the subconscious mind ever since seeing positive psychology emerged in the 1980s. The science of positive psychology operates on three different levels – the subjective level, the individual level and the group level. The subjective level includes the study of positive experiences such as joy, well-being, satisfaction, contentment, happiness, optimism and flow

 After thirty five years working in Health and Social care, in particular, working with people who experienced mental health issues, I decided to satisfy my curiosity about how the subconscious mind worked by enrolling on a hypnotherapy diploma course.

I was lucky to stumble upon one of the most respected hypnotherapy training establishments in the country. The use of Solution Focused techniques attracted me; focusing on the clients preferred future rather than analysing the problem suited my value base, and the fact that the course was under pinned by neuroscience suited my scientific background.

I graduated from the Clifton Practice in 2008 and have not looked back. I have the privilege of working with so many different people from all walks of life, including children and adults, and I’m so humbled by the strength and resources people draw on that enables them to change their lives for the better. Often, I hear clients say to me, “You have changed my life.” But in truth, it’s the client that changes their life I just facilitate it and watch them fly, that is the power of the subconscious.

9 November 2020

Lockdown- Here we go again – looking after our mental wellbeing is crucial in these challenging times.

My clients were so grateful when I was able to assure them I can still support them through this second lockdown face to face. CNHC Registrants in England meet the definition of “other…health services, including services relating to mental health” contained in Section 47, Part 3 of the Schedule to The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 4) Regulations 2020 and can therefore continue to practise. She adds, “This legal advice has taken into account that in Section 25E of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 practitioners on Accredited Registers are defined as engaged in work that includes the provision of healthcare.”

This is different from the last lock down, where we had to stop working face to face completely and my clients moved to on line therapy, this time they have a choice. Some people have chosen to revert to online therapy, not just because of Covid but because it’s also so convenient.

During these difficult times we can lose our motivation and im finding this can cause so much frustration, it can undermine confidence and people can become disillusioned. So lets use lockdown to work out exactly what inspires you, what your goals are and lets emerge from the pandemic stronger that ever. This is not easy when you are not motivated in the first place.

Confidence building and motivation often means people changing their current beliefs, maybe you have grown up believing you’re not good enough, people tell you, ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘that’s not achievable’.

So keep it simple, one small step leads to big achievements. Often our goals are overwhelming, so start at the beginning, ask yourself, “What small step do I need to take to show that I’m working towards achieving my goal?”

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is based on the formula of auto suggestion. Hypnotherapy for motivation converses with your subconscious mind, and urges it to alter self-perception and self-image. Our subconscious is largely responsible for the way we think and react; so, if we continually tell it that we can’t do something then we’re training it to accept the fact we can’t do something.

Your subconscious mind understands the true potential that lies within, and hypnotherapy and positive thinking taps into this potential. Through gentle affirmations such as “I can, I will”, you retrain your mind into believing that anything is possible.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is based on positive thinking, positive interaction and positive action, the three Ps. Once you start this journey, you can see the changes, clients tell me how they get a whole new view of the world. From procrastination, you can become a self-starter, from a couch potato you can run a marathon, from an underconfident person, you can do whatever you want to do.

19 October 2020


World Mental Health Day raises public awareness about mental health issues and aims to promote a discussion around the issues we face.

So let’s discuss: we all know this year has been a tough one, particularly for people living with mental illness and their carers. Research shows that nearly 80% of people living with mental illness say that Covid-19 and the national response have made their mental health worse.

About 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems each year, so most of us will know someone who has struggled with their mental health. We can all feel anxious, stressed or low at times, but it can be a problem if these feelings get worse, go on for a long time or affect our daily lives.

If you know someone who is struggling to sleep or is having issues with their mental health, there are things you can do. It can take time for someone’s mental health to improve, and some of us may need professional help, but there are ways to help and support someone get back to positive mental health.

The small things we say or do can make a big difference to someone. Just telling them you see their struggle can be important help. People can be afraid to let others know they are not coping, but being able to connect with others can be a relief.

Starting the conversation may be difficult, and it’s normal to feel upset if someone you care about is struggling. But it can help to stay calm and assure them they do not have to deal with things alone.

You can also be there for them in other ways, like cooking for them, going for a walk or watching a film together A chat may come more naturally if you are doing something together first.

Fear often prevents us from being open about our mental health difficulties. We can break down these barriers and talk more openly when we know more about mental health problems and how common they are. If someone’s mental health problems are affecting their daily life, they may benefit from further support.

Tell them they have taken a vital first step by talking to you, and that it’s now important they speak to someone. For more information about my services please do take a look at the website, The first step is the hardest but once you’ve taken it the journey back to good mental health is a breeze.

5 October 2020


The Health Foundation reported in June this year, that  69% of UK adults are worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives and The  World Health Organisation (WHO) are concerned about a potential mental health crisis with substantial increases in depression and anxiety being reported.

Common worries include catching the virus, losing jobs, keeping our families safe, loneliness, going back to school or work and other people’s behaviour, these are just some of the mental health issues that we are facing. Since the beginning of the pandemic research tells us mental health issues have increased by 8.1% yet access to mental health services has reduced.

The NHS has also recognised the increase in mental health issues, and has published 10 “ COVID-19 anxiety tips”. When you analyse these 10 tips, you will see that they are all focused on the three P’s – Positive interaction with other people, Positive action through meaningful activities, and Positive thinking.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a fantastic way of helping you reduce your anxiety levels. Let’s face it, we can’t stop bad things (such as COVID-19) happening but hypnotherapy can help you cope with it better with everything that life throws at you.

As a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist, it’s my job to help clients identify their preferred future, rather than dig around in the past, working together, we will find solutions are unique to you. So make a start, follow the  NHS generic tips on coping with anxiety and if you want to make a positive change in your life give me a call.

23 September 2020


Positive Thinking, Positive Action, Positive Interaction. How do we interact with others and how does this affect our thoughts?

“No man is an island,” wrote John Donne. Human beings are social beings and we thrive on positive social interaction. Social functions make us feel that we are part of a collective. As far back as we can trace, humans have hunted and gathered in groups because we are better as a tribe than individuals.

The sense of belonging we experience makes us feel secure, safe and comfortable. When we get together with our family and friends, we are reconnecting in a positive way with “our tribe.” 

Most of us enjoy socialising and making friends. It’s fun! Studies suggest that those who socialise a lot may live longer than those who don’t. Socialising has a strong influence on our health and happiness.

When I ask clients ‘Who is important to you?’ their answers include family and friends. 

The human brain, and in particular the neocortex, is much larger in humans than in primates and mammals of similar size. The neocortex is involved in higher order brain functions including social cognition functions:

Conscious thought
Regulation of behaviour
Emotional intelligence – the ability to understand the feelings and intentions of others

Our brains are wired in such a way that we experience reward during mutual social interactions. Human beings are social being, we come into the world as the result of others’ actions, we survive through dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”    Dalai Lama XIV

Without positive social interaction, we can feel distanced, depressed and unhappy. Research suggests that loneliness can be a greater risk to your health than smoking or lack of exercise. Making connections with people improves brain function because it constantly engages and exercises the mind, while also developing cognitive function. When we connect with another person, our brain and body release chemicals that make us feel good. One of these chemicals is oxytocin.

Levels of oxytocin, the ‘Cuddle Chemical’ increase when we hear a friendly voice or see a smiling face or make eye contact with someone, but by far the best way to boost your oxytocin is through physical touch. A warm hug or a high five gives us a feeling of security and support. Feeling supported by others can do wonders for our confidence and self-esteem, and for our general sense of wellbeing.

Think about your favourite social activity, so that you can connect with others and create positive social interactions. Choose an activity you enjoy so that you will stick with it! If you would like some Solution Focused Hypnotherapy to help, do get in touch. I love to see my clients achieve their goals and will do everything I can to help build your confidence and improve your social interaction.

7 September 2020

Reducing stress with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy

With the nights starting to draw in, it’s not uncommon for people to experience a low mood in the winter months – especially if we have enjoyed a summer break with a spot of sea, sun, and sand.

It can also be tough to get back into the swing of things when darker mornings and early commutes become combined with working in a stressful environment.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help to improve people’s moods. Imagine inside your head you have a bucket, we call it the stress bucket, when we experience negative thinking, that metaphorical stress bucket starts to fill up until, eventually, it starts to overflow and then we can find it difficult to cope.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can really help.  I help people to empty their stress-bucket levels by encouraging them to focus on positive aspects of their lives and to work through solutions with them so that they can move forward in their lives.

Each session also has a hypnosis aspect attached to it where I work with you in a trance state. Trance is actually perfectly normal, and we go in and out of trance on a regular basis every day, it is simply the brain’s way of processing information and emptying the stress bucket.

When my clients goes into the trance state, I am effectively aiding them in emptying their stress bucket and so allowing them to cope with life better.

Stress can manifest itself in a number of ways and Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is designed to help people by focusing on future events in their life. My job is to help my clients to move forwards in their life by looking at ways to  make tomorrow better than today.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a fantastic tool for helping people to reduce their stress but remember Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can also help with stopping smoking, weight, anger and sleep management, along with phobias (such as a fear of flying) and easing pain.

Have a fabulous day

Sharon D

28 August 2020

Have you had to change your summer plans?

August brings the excitement of summer. Most people love this time of the year, longer evenings, sunshine, music festivals, holidays, barbecues, and trips to the beach. The summer is here but we are still adapting to the “new normal” and you may be feeling disappointed that your summer plans are not as you had hoped this year.

It’s OK to feel anxious in response to this uncertainty and the sadness relating to the loss of our plans. You may be angry at the situation and how our lives have changed beyond our control.  However, you can gain some control back over your life by focusing your energies on creating the best possible summer for you. This article explores how movement and fitness can improve your mental health. Imagine if there was a pill that would make you healthier, smarter, and happier! A pill that made you age more slowly and even improved your memory! I think there would be a pretty long queue, even if you did have to stand 2 meters apart.

However, there is another way to achieve these outcomes, its a set of organising ideas that provides a holistic, scientific framework for understanding the way that individuals and society work. This framework encompasses the latest scientific understandings from neurobiology and psychology, as well as ancient wisdom and original new insights. Human beings come into the world with a given set of innate needs, together with innate resources to support them to get those needs met. Physical needs for nutritious food, clean water, air and sleep are obvious, and well understood, because when they are not met people die, but, there is one overwhelming factor that keeps us functioning at our best and that is movement.

The Brain-Fitness Connection

Dr Ratey MD Harvard has established himself as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the brain-fitness connection. He says: “Moving your body, moving the muscles, pushing yourself to do something more than you did before, boosts our capacity for focus and learning and lifts our mood”.

Physical activity is nature’s way of preventing stress, exercise can ward off the negative effects of chronic stress and even reverse them. Studies show that people who add physical activity to their lives become more socially active, increasing their confidence and helping to build social connections. The recent government report from ‘Moving Communities’ shows that the growth of group exercise in the UK has provided much needed social connection and feelings of togetherness which are so important in reducing loneliness.

As with any new goals the best advice is to start small, build your fitness slowly. Walk before you run, find an activity you enjoy and make it a regular part of your routine. One of the best things about physical activity is that there are many options. You just need to find the one that suits you.

24th August 2020

Anxiety is the main reason people seek Hypnotherapy

A Hypnotherapy Association conducted research into the reasons people seek the services of its members.  Anxiety was by far the most common condition seen by the Association’s Hypnotherapists, with over 34% of cases related to anxiety or stress.

The research was carried out by the Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (AfSFH) in the form of a survey sent to the Association’s 168 registered members. The Hypnotherapists were asked to provide statistics relating to clients they saw.

The survey was intended to provide a snapshot of what prompts people to seek Hypnotherapy. Whilst many people are familiar with the use of Hypnotherapy in helping clients to quit smoking or to help overcome their fear of spiders or flying, the fact that the therapy can help with a wider range of issues is less well known. The AfSFH wanted to conduct the survey to demonstrate the scope of our work.

There was an excellent response and the association was able to analyse statistics relating to some 227 anonymous clients. As Solution Focused Clinical Hypnotherapists we specialise in helping clients to cope better with a range of conditions, many of which are either caused or exacerbated by anxiety, so it was interesting to see such a high percentage of clients presenting with anxiety or stress. It is encouraging to feel our message is getting out there.

The most common reasons for people seeking the therapists’ services were:

Anxiety or Stress (including Panic Attacks): 34%Eating disorders or Weight Loss: 11%Confidence: 8%Depression: 8%Phobias: 7%Addictions: 4%Sleep Disorders: 3%Smoking Cessation was less than 3%.

This, again, is to be expected.  Whilst therapists do provide Smoking Cessation treatments, these are not the mainstay of our work. We specialise in working with clients, using a collaborative approach, to help you make changes over time, in the way you respond to life’s ups and downs. The effort a client puts in between sessions to making changes is as important as the therapy sessions themselves.

The Solution Focused approach is modern and is based on Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), a well-researched form of psychotherapy developed in the 1980s. We encourage clients to focus on their preferred future rather than dwelling on past or current problems.

Other reasons for seeking help included: IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Sports Performance, Relationship Issues and Pain Management.  In terms of the age of clients:

18% were 19 to 30 years old37% were aged 31 to 4527% were 46 to 60 years old11% were 61 to 70 with a handful of clients under 19 or over 70.

The Association speculates: The peak of 31 to 45 year olds could be a reflection of their life stage with children, careers and financial pressures all taking their toll.

The survey highlighted that clients of all ages are seeking Clinical Hypnotherapy to help with a wide range of conditions. For more information or to arrange a consultation you can contact me on 07766250113 or go to my website

10th August 2020

Why I became a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist!

I am often asked why I became a Hypnotherapist, so let me explain.  I have spent 34 years working in health and social care and have seen first-hand the effect that ongoing stress can have on people, often leaving them feeling overwhelmed, lacking in confidence, motivation and losing sleep.

The system always seemed to focus on crisis management and our NHS, as we know, is so over stretched. I wanted to do more to help people find a sustainable way to manage those low intensity mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and anger.

I have always been fascinated by the human mind, and Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is underpinned by Neuroscience. When working with me, my clients get up to date evidence based therapeutic interventions which helps them change unhelpful thought patterns and resolve the habits that create anxiety and unwanted behaviours. This helps my clients regain control over their lives.

After 13 years a practitioner, my aim is to help people transform their mental health so they can achieve their true potential and enjoy a happier and more fulfilling life.

I am a fully-qualified and insured senior hypnotherapy practitioner and member of the CNHC, a voluntary regulator for supplementary therapies. I am also a senior supervisor supporting practitioners across the country, and a trainer, teaching other like-minded people to join one of the country’s fastest growing models of therapeutic interventions.

To find out more please visit my website or contact me directly to book a consultation on 07766250113.

1st August 2020

Managing our mental health through the Coronavirus Pandemic: 

Are you obsessing over the news or just feeling so overwhelmed you want to stay in bed.” The good news is, you are not going mad.

Deep inside our brains, there is an almond shaped bit of the brain called the amygdala, it’s like the security guard of the brain who alerts us to danger by triggering a flood of chemicals such as, adrenaline and cortisol. Our heart rate goes up, our breathing becomes shallow, we feel shaky and sick. When we finally calm down, we feel mentally and physically drained.

Once the immediate danger is over, your imagination can keep your amygdala active, making you feel worse, or, it can help you adapt to the new situation and survive.  

There are many things we can do to help ourselves remain calm and in control, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, below, I have listed a few to get you started, but please remember, if you are under medical or psychiatric care, please take the advice of your medically-qualified practitioner over any general advice offered here.

Keep to a routine: The more of a routine you have, in general, the more likely you are to stay calm, relaxed, and in control.

Accept what you cannot control and take control of small things: Small positive actions bring back a sense of being in control, give us focus and purpose, and move us gently into the problem-solving part of the mind.

Develop a good sleep routine: A regular 8 hours of sleep positively affects our hearts, immune system, and mental health; but sleep can elude us when we are anxious. Avoid coffee and tea in the afternoons or switch to decaffeinated. Avoid horror films, disturbing thrillers, and social media in the evenings. If you have been comfort eating, start cutting down on sugar and refined carbs, which also cause insomnia. Several studies indicate that chamomile tea really does help you get to sleep.

Focus on what is good now: Focusing on what is good or working well will help you move out of your anxious primitive mind. 

Breathe: Breathing into the abdomen calms the central nervous system. Simple daily breathing exercises can help you stay calm and in control. 

Stay in the moment:  Mindful awareness can also calm the mind. 

Social Connections: We need to connect with others, to encourage and reassure each other. Luckily, there are so many ways we can stay in touch. You’ll find other people feel just like you do, and you are probably coping better than you think. 

Anxiety, withdrawal, and exhaustion in a crisis is a normal human response. Staying mentally healthy does not mean not feeling. It means experiencing your emotions, accepting them fully, and finding ways to process them and get them in perspective. I hope some of these ideas help you to stay safe and well, physically, and mentally, during the coronavirus crisis.

27th July 2020

Change is a constant, which means it is even more important for me to keep my skills and knowledge fresh and modern.  My background in Health, Social Care and Regulation means I am an advocate for evidence-based practice as this improves my client’s outcomes and helps me evolve as a therapist.

This year, I will be developing my therapeutic skills with a key focus on the solution focused approach, I have signed up to complete the Certificate in Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) with Brief. Brief is the world’s leading centre for Solution Focused practice in therapy and counselling. 51 years old and still learning, not bad for an oldie.

As the name suggests, Solution Focused Brief Therapy is an approach to therapy that is brief and effective. Research shows that it brings about lasting change and is effective in up to 83% of cases.

The therapy has two key elements:

  • Future-focused
  • Strengths- based

As with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, we continue look to the future.  No dwelling on the past and we use your own strengths to help you move forward quickly.

SFBT uses the word ‘hope’ quite specifically.  Their choice of the word ‘hope’ is based on a sense of possibility.  Rather than ‘wishes’ or ‘wants’ or ‘desires’, which can be anything.  We can only hope for that which is possible.

Many of my clients come to therapy with some of their hope diminished.  Things are not going the way that they want them too and their normal coping mechanisms are no longer working.  A major reason for coming to therapy is to increase one’s sense of hope and to expect change (Reiter, 2010.)

Water the flowers not the weeds!  Nurture the hopeful signs and ignore the rest!

The essence of SFBT is to have a hope-filled conversation and to explore in detail your preferred future. A future where your hopes have been achieved.  We work together to find the possible resources and strengths you have to attain that future.

Identifying what you, the client, wants from the therapy will always be the forefront of the conversation. ‘What are your best hopes from us working together?’

This initial question invites you to immediately focus on the outcome you desire, rather than trying to fix or understand the problem you arrived with. Go on ask yourself the question now!

People come to therapy because they want to achieve something.  It makes perfect sense to focus the conversation on what is desired, instead of what is wrong.

Beginning with the end in mind

Solution Focused Brief Therapy has evolved from Solution Focused Therapy. Solution Focused Brief Therapy creates a hope-filled conversation.  In this conversation we use language to describe things as they would be when the best hope was present. This subtly changes the nature of the client and therapist relationship. The client is now trusted.  You are the expert and you know how best to help yourself. I facilitate this process by co-constructing with you the idea of ‘hopefulness’.

I have noticed how my clients start to think differently. It can be a new experience to be asked to think about what you hope for, instead of your problems. Once you see what is happening, the co-constructive conversation really begins to flow. This makes the process very positive and amazing to be a part of, and solution focused hypnotherapy adds the power of hypnotherapy to this very positive approach to helping my clients.

13th July 2020

Preparing to return: Face to face Hypnotherapy for those seeking a more personal experience.

Owing to the Government’s most recent update regarding the easing of lockdown measures, I am now preparing to reopen my face to face practice from Monday 20th July 2020.

For some clients who don’t feel ready to come to the clinic, I will continue to work remotely. However, I have a long waiting list of people who are keen to return to face to face therapy, so now seems a good time to re-launch.

As a member of the Complimentary and Natural Healthcare Council I am guided by their code of ethics, even online, so it is really important my clients understand the measures I will be taking to ensure their face to face experience is safe.

When people come to see me they can expect measures in place that will help us avoid catching and spreading Coronavirus (social distancing). Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.

My commitment to my clients is to:

wash my hands with soap and water often –for at least 20 seconds

always wash my hands after each client visit

sanitise the clinic after each visit

use hand sanitiser gel as an added precaution

cover my mouth and nose with a face mask

cover my mouth and nose with a tissue (not my hands) when I cough or sneeze

put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash my hands afterwards

comply with Government restrictions regarding social distancing

My client’s commitment to me is to:

 only enter the premises when safe to do so, one person at a time

use hand sanitiser gel when you enter the clinic provide contact details in the event we need to follow the trace and track guidance agree to temperature checks prior to entering the clinic use face coverings if you feel comfortable doing so

cover your mouth and nose with a tissue (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

put used tissues in the bin immediately and sanitise your hands afterwards

comply with Government restrictions regarding social distancing

This guidance is qualified by strict measures of social distancing, all of which are available on the Government website.  Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance and support I will continue to keep clients updated as circumstances change .

I wish all my readers a healthy, safe and peaceful time.

22nd June 2020

Understanding Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are survival mechanisms to stressors in our daily lives. On a short-term basis this is great, if we are faced with a Polar Bear, we need these functions to help us get out of that dangerous situation.  However, for some people this can evolve into a long-term psychological and behavioural response.

Lingering anxiety and low mood are related to the (mal-) functioning of the primitive mind in response to every day stressors and annoyances. A relatively new approach to understanding anxiety, how it is created and experienced, is the notion of the ‘wounded self’ (Wolfe, 2005,2006). According to Wolfe, the experience of severe anxiety in a particular situation encourages the conscious anticipation of impending catastrophe (negative forecasting) in future similar events, if the event is framed by the person as being personally damaging (perhaps to their sense of self, their identity in that situation, their role (real or not) in causing the event to happen). 

The person re-writes that event as illustrative of something they were perhaps responsible for or were particularly personally affected by, creating a psychological wound. The person may then evade future similar situation because of a fear of exposing themselves to another psychological assault on their sense of self and identity and thus preventing a painful reopening of the psychological wound.

These painful views of the self, the ‘self-wound’ are often accompanied by overwhelming feelings such as humiliation, rage, and despair. These self-wounds influence our decisions, choices, feelings, and actions. Self-wounds not only limit our emotional life, they also profoundly affect our behaviour. They largely determine the people we choose to have in our life, the environments in which we choose to interact, the emotional experiences we deem acceptable to experience, and the risks in life we are willing to take. How do we change these behaviours? One step at a time, positive thinking, positive interaction and positive action.

15th June 2020

Anxiety and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Have you ever felt powerless in the face of Irritable Bowel Syndrome? If so, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH) can help you learn how to take back control.

The condition affects so many people and is often exacerbated by stress. Unfortunately there is no real cure, but SFH can help to alleviate many of the symptoms. In February 2008, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), which gives guidance to the NHS on effective treatments, published guidance for GPs and consultants saying there was good evidence that hypnotherapy was an effective IBS treatment and that it could be recommended for chronic IBS.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a, research-based combination of psychotherapy and hypnosis, aimed at encouraging clients to focus on how they want things to be. It’s great because one of the keys to dealing with IBS is to lower the sensitivity to stress and reduce the perception of the bowel pain. IBS is defined by its symptoms, so if Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can remove the symptoms then the IBS will be reduced, which is so helpful for my clients.

To find out more please visit my website or you can contact me directly to book a consultation on 07766250113.

1st June 2020

Corona Virus and Online Therapy

With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, there has been a huge surge in people feeling extremely anxious about their mental health and the mental health of their loved ones. Due to the level of isolation we are enduring, it increases feelings of fear, anxiety and solitude – none of which are good for our general mental wellbeing.

Online solution focused hypnotherapy sessions have helped my clients stay on top of their mental wellbeing. Clients receive the same level of care and commitment as they would in a face-to-face session, with the added security and comfort of being in their own environment, which means clients can get the help they need without any risk to their health or mine.

It is important to realise that when we are feeling anxious, we activate the primitive, emotional part of the brain, this is an intensely alert state where stress hormones flood the body and we enter ‘survival’ mode. Staying in this mode for too long is very stressful for the body and can result in panic attacks and chronic anxiety or depression.

It’s worth understanding that, although we can’t change events, what we can do is to change our reaction to events and that is what can make the difference.