How Hypnotherapy can help the symptoms of IBS

Anyone who suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is well aware of the impact symptoms such as abdominal pain, distension and altered bowel habit can have on the quality of their life. Add in additional symptoms such as backache, nausea, and lethargy and many people can feel that it is IBS that controls their lives. IBS is becoming more common. It now makes up to half of the cases seen by NHS gastroenterologist in the UK, and that only accounts for those who seek medical help.

There is a wide selection of medical interventions available to IBS sufferers, but not everyone responds well to them. They can have limited efficacy, or unpleasant side effects associated with them such as constipation, dry mouth or blurred vision. For many this is simply swapping one set of symptoms for another.

Hypnotherapy as a treatment of the symptoms of IBS has been shown to be highly effective. with the majority of patients showing improvement in symptoms, associated extra-colonic features and quality of life, findings which have been confirmed by independent studies. Dr Whorwell of Withington Hospital in Manchester has carried out extensive research into how well hypnotherapy works, finding that it improved symptoms in 70% of cases, with women finding it worked more, at 80%. Not only did it improve the colonic symptoms associated with IBS, but also non-colonic. Clients reported improvement in anxiety and depression levels, plus experience no side effects with hypnotherapy, unlike many of the medical treatments available to them.

Dr Whorrell does not see hypnotherapy as a ‘stand alone’ treatment and feels strongly that it should be part of an integrated care package. This should involve education, diet, lifestyle advice and medication. The more a client understands about their condition, how their gut works and what lifestyle factors affect their IBS, the more control they will have. Added to this, medication can be a useful tool to aid this; a laxative can be used if constipated or perhaps Imodium if they have diarrhoea.

What happens when you have hypnotherapy for your IBS?

The first session is a ‘getting to know you’ session, including a tutorial on IBS giving information on some of the abnormalities of gastrointestinal function that contribute to symptoms, such as hypersensitivity and excessive contraction of the gut muscles. You will be asked about your symptoms, what techniques you have used in the past that have and have not been successful..

At the end of the first session you will be given a MP3 to listen to between sessions. The purpose is to help you to learn to relax, build your confidence in the process and to reinforce the work carried out during sessions. Hypnosis starts at the second session. You will be hypnotised, usually by getting you to progressively relax your muscles in conjunction with calming your mind. We will explore useful visualisations and metaphors for your symptoms, such as viewing bloating as a balloon inflated inside your tummy. These can be used during hypnosis to control symptoms, because the brain can activate the necessary symptoms to bring about change without actually having to know how to make it happen.

For instance, you may be asked to imagine your gut as a river, the flow of which you are able to control by speeding it up or slowing it down depending on what type of bowel habit you have. In addition, you are asked to put your hand on your tummy and feel a pleasant warming feeling that can reach every part of your gut and give you control over it. You are told that in the future every time you put you hand on their tummy you will feel this warmth, which will enable you to get rid of any pain. Eventually you will be able to soothe your pain in day-to-day life by just putting your hand on their tummy, without having to go into a trance.

At each session of treatment the process is repeated and built upon according to the your response. Each session takes approximately one hour and the process is repeated at weekly intervals, if possible, and is usually complete after 6 sessions, though some clients may need more. Hypnotherapy for IBS is not a backward-looking form of treatment; we are only interested in moving forward.

The misconception of due dates

It is so exciting to start planning for the arrival of your new baby. One of the first things expectant parents do is calculate their due date. The midwife will calculate this for you based on your last menstural period (LMP).

Understandably this becomes a significant date for everyone, shared with friends and family, maternity leave organised around it and both parents have an expectation that baby will arrive on or near this date as if it is a fixed date. However, one person that doesn’t know much about this calculation is the baby, who usually has different plans.

In reality, only 5% of babies arrive on their due date, with 85% coming after. So where do due dates come from? It is much older than you might think. Aristotle, born 384BC in Ancient Greece, worked out that pregnancy lasted 10 months and saw this as a celestial sign, an astrologically significant amount of time related to lunar months. As 10 lunar months are 28 days, Aristotle determined that a pregnancy was 280 days long, or 40 weeks, and this became Naegele’s Rule and is used in the UK and USA extensively. It assumes that all menstrual cycles are 28 days long, so simply take this date, add 7 days and then take off 3 months and you have your baby’s due date.

In all of this there are a lot of assumptions; that a woman’s cycle is 28 days, that the LMP is known, that the pregnancy is exactly 280 days long. There are much better predictors available. The woman’s age, height and ethnicity can predict length of pregnancy. An ultrasound can look at the size of the baby, and the length of the cervix which are better predictors. However these are rarely used, as Naegele’s rule is so simple and quick to apply.

Length of pregnancy varies according to the country you live in. Whilst the UK uses 40 weeks, France uses 41 and Kenya 43. The World Health Organisation states that pregnancy lasts between 37-42 weeks. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists now recommends that babies born between 37 weeks and 38 weeks and six days should be considered “early term.” Babies born between 39 weeks and 40 weeks and six days are considered “full term.” And babies delivered between 41 weeks and 41 weeks and six days are considered “late term

However, many mothers still think that the estimated due date is the day that the baby should be born and can feel pressure from those around them, leaving them feeling stressed at a time when they most need to feel relaxed. However 40 weeks is still well within the WHO’s normal range for pregnancy and ‘late’ doesn’t begin until 42 weeks.

Risk of complications are often cited as the reason for concern. When a pregnancy extends beyond the end of week 42, the risk of complications do rise. But only slightly. Incidents of death during labour at 37-42 weeks are 0.213, rising to 0.131 at 42+ weeks. So long as a midwife or doctor and the expectant mother keeps an eye on the baby and the pregnancy, a longer pregnancy is generally not a problem. In fact, the majority of women who are considered post date go on to give birth to healthy babies.

How to choose a Hypnotherapist

If this is the first time you have thought about hypnotherapy you may be wondering how choose the best therapist for you. I have put together 5 tips to help you make that decision.

1 Check they are fully qualified by a recognised body. Unlike other professions, there isn’t a single overseeing organisation for hypnotherapy, but there are recognised qualifications that any hypnotherapist should have. One way to check that the therapist you have chosen is qualified is to look out for organisations such as APHP, NCH, CNCH. Alternatively you can look for them on the hypnotherapy directory which only accepts qualified therapists on their site.

2 Gather lots of information about any hypnotherapist you are interested in. Look up their website, see what specialist areas they cover, where do they see clients, what sort of promises do they make. No therapist should guarantee to ‘cure’ you and you should be wary of any that do. Most hypnotherapists offer to treat a wide range of issues, whilst others will focus on being experts on a few.

3 Look at their prices. Some hypnotherapists will charge a lot of money and others much less. Cheap doesn’t always mean you are getting less, and expensive doesn’t mean you will get more for your money. Some therapists charge different amounts depending on where they offer appointments as they may have higher overheads. Think of an amount you are willing to pay and look for a therapist in this price bracket. If you can’t find one to suit, you may have to adjust your pricing. Look out for packages for certain problems, such as IBS or weigh loss.

4 Ask around for a personal recommendation. The best way to find out more about hypnotherapy is to ask someone who has experienced it. They will be able to tell you what it is really like and how it worked for them. They will also be able to recommend someone to you. If you don’t know anyone who has had this therapy before, then arrange to talk to a number of therapists to get a feel for them. See below.

5 Take up the offer of a free consultation. This is sometimes face to face but it is getting more common that this is a telephone consultation. All hypnotherapists should be willing to spend some time talking to you and making sure hypnotherapy is the right option for you. It also gives you a chance to see if you like the therapist and want to work with them.
Follow these tips and you will find the right person for you to help you make the changes you want.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?



I often ask this of my clients. It can be quite a telling moment for them. They can strip away all fear and begin to realise what they would really like to happen in their lives.

Recently I had to ask myself this question. I’m scared of heights. I really really don’t like them. I have avoided going on the London Eye, to the viewing platform on the Shard and even climbing ladders leaves me stressed. So when a close friend offered me a ticket to go on a hot air balloon ride my first reaction was no, you must be kidding me.

Then I stopped and thought about it. What if I wasn’t scared? Would I turn down this amazing opportunity? Of course I wouldn’t. I knew lots of people who would jump at the chance, not giving it a second thought. I decided to pretend I wasn’t afraid, just for a moment. I picked up the phone and called my friend and said yes, I’d love to come.

I didn’t have time to get too worried to begin with, it was booked for the next afternoon, and I had a lot to keep me busy that day. I put it to the back of my mind. When I got in the car to drive down to the launch site I stated to wonder what on earth I was doing. I decided to think only about the car journey, then about booking in, helping with the ballooon, getting into the balloon and listening to the safety talk. I just didn’t look at the big picture just each little step it took to get to the flight.


The balloon going up

All of a sudden we were floating up in the air, the ground drifting further and further away. My heart was pounding and my palms sweating. I had a moments regret, at around 3,000 feet when I looked down and saw how high we were. But we only stayed that high for a minute or two, and soon we were drifting peacefully over the fields and Oast houses of Kent. It was incredible, so beautiful and truly the experience of a lifetime.


Beautiful heart shaped field

A sense of calm came over me. I didn’t feel afraid. I was able to enjoy the magic of the moment, as we drifted calmly and quietly through the sky. Even the landing was ok, a bit bumpy but all part of the experience.


Celebrating with a glass of bubbles



3,000 feet, I’m sitting down!


Lots of people have asked if I would do it again. I think I would, now that I know I can get past the fear and really enjoy it.

So, what would you do if you weren’t afraid?


4 ways you can start to think like a thin person



How many times have you been promised an easy, simple and effortless way to lose weight? All you have to do is count points, drop carbs or go paleo and like magic all your weight loss problems will be resolve. Just sign up here to this programme, pay so much per week and everything will be fine. Trust me.

So how come you are still overweight? Because this doesn’t work. Diets, whether they are based on calorie counting, pointing or syns rely on restricting your diet in some way, and having the willpower to maintain that for a long time. This works for a while, but then it becomes hard to hold at bay those habits and beliefs that we have had for so long, that sabotage our best efforts. Diets are an external change, they do nothing to tackle our deep rooted beliefs, patterns and behaviours that inform our food choices and eating habits. After a week or maybe a few months we slip back into our old ways, and put back the weight we lost.

Add in to this what happens to our bodies when we restrict calories. Our bodies see dieting as a stressor, and produces high levels of stress hormones; cortisol and adrenaline. This causes our body to slow down the rate of calorie burn, intentionally slowing down our weight loss to maintain energy reserves.

Not to mention that diets are boring, tedious and just not fun. There is a long list of ‘no-go’ foods that are ‘bad’ and a not so long list of so called ‘good’ foods. This leads to a sense of tension around food, a feeling of being hard done by. When certain foods are forbidden, their value increases and we desire them more. We end up feeling deprived, craving these foods and then suffering guilt when we give in and eat them. All this does is create even more stress, making it more likely that we will not lose weight, and will revert back into our previous bad habits to relieve the tension. We blame ourselves, when really it is the diet that has failed us.

Challenging your own beliefs and behaviours around foods can be a liberating experience. Not only could you start to lose weight effortlessly as you learn to recognize when you are hungry and when you are full, but you will also begin to enjoy eating food that tastes great and makes you feel good. Diet clubs seek to teach you this by educating you around what to eat. What is missing is tackling the underlying beliefs that influence your eating behaviours.

The way forward is to start to think and eat like a ‘naturally’ slim person. ‘Naturally slim’ people stop eating when they are full enough, know that hunger is not an emergency. They are creatures of habit; eating similar foods and exercising regularly, and mostly make healthy choices most of the time. They do not restrict their diets, do not skip meals or over exercise and they do not have ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days.

Here are four simple changes that you can do to start thinking and eating like a slim person.

  • Learn to leave food on your plate. Eat slowly and without distractions such as the TV, and put your knife and fork down regularly during the meal. Take a moment to think about how full you are getting. When you get to comfortably full, take your plate away, even if there is food left on it. As time goes by, start to think about how much food you actually need on your plate, and adjust your portion sizes accordingly.


  • Don’t be afraid of hunger. You do not have to eat just in case you might be hungry later. Hunger is not a state of emergency, it is merely a biological state and as long as you have no underlying medical condition, you can feel hunger, real belly rumbling hunger, with no side effects. What’s more, food tastes so much better when you are hungry as you are more aware of what you are eating. You can last until the next meal; after all you don’t wake up in the night to eat.


  • Stop feeling guilty or ashamed about food. Slim people are not perfect, they make mistakes. However, they then move on. So they ate a slice cake this morning when perhaps an apple would have been a better choice. They trust themselves to make a better choice next time. They don’t think in terms of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days, they simply eat, making mostly healthy choices and listen to what their body needs.


  • Drop the endless rules around what, where and when you can eat. No carbs unless you have exercised, don’t eat after 7pm, eat six meals a day or fast twice a week. To a slim person these seem bizarre. They think about what feels good; so maybe a little chocolate is good, but more makes them feel sluggish. The day is easier if they have breakfast. They function better in the afternoons if lunch isn’t too heavy. These aren’t rules, they are just the ways they have learned to feel good around food.

Change can be daunting, so why not try to make one small change at a time. Begin with something you know you can achieve and then watch your confidence grow.

8 phobias for the 21st Century

A phobia can be any situation or thing that can cause so much anxiety it interferes with your quality of life. We all know someone with a fear of spiders or heights, but let’s take a cheeky look at some of the phobias your grandmother wouldn’t understand, but you definitely would.


You know that moment when you walk into a room and everyone stops talking? Logic tells you that it’s just a break in the conversation, but who listens to logic when you can listen to your fear;  that everyone is talking about you.


It’s the fault of that evil bread, and pasta, and noodles, potatoes, be afraid, be very afraid.


To some a computer is a great way to waste time watching cat videos and ordering shoes online. To others it’s a strange confusing device designed to make life so much harder.


A snap general election, need I say more!


A fear of long waits.


A little like macrophobia, only a bit more specific. A fear that the queue you join will be slower than the other one. Then you have to wait longer while they get served first. Of course, it’s a very British problem.


A fear of wrinkles – with an uncanny relationship to the increase in the popularity of Botox.


We’ve all got one, but some people are afraid of belly buttons. Let’s hope boob tubes don’t make a comeback.

And the ultimate 21st Century fear – nomophobia. A fear of life without your mobile phone. What’s irrational about that? Though maybe if I had editovultaphobia I might get more work done!

Exam stress

Test and exam stress

Each year thousands of young people, some as young as 7, undergo tests and exams in school. Year 2 and 6 SATS, entrance exams, GCSEs. A levels and the IB all put pressure on children. Some rise to this pressure, take it in their stride and are able to shine. Others struggle with the pressure and expectations put on them by themselves and others. This stress can show itself in a number of ways. A young person may:

  • worry a lot
  • feel tense
  • get lots of headaches and stomach pains
  • not sleep well
  • be irritable
  • lose interest in food or eat more than normal
  • not enjoy activities they previously enjoyed
  • seem negative and low in their mood
  • seem hopeless about the future

Much of this stress comes from their lack of control over the situation. Younger children have no choice in whether they sit tests, and older children are told repeatedly, and with the best intentions, that they have to succeed to do get on in life. With so much at stake many young people find it hard to cope.

The consequences of not dealing with stress can be high. They can be seen in the way the young person thinks, feels and behaves. They may think that if they fail an exam their whole life is a failure, or that despite revising they don’t know anything or don’t understand what is being asked of them. They may suffer the physical symptoms of stress, such as tension, tight muscles and trembling and feel anxious and worried. This can lead to them behaving in ways that prevent them doing well, using poor study skills, avoiding work and procrastination over work.

The sum total of this is the child undeperforms and so reinforces the anxiety they feel. So much of a young person’s self worth is caught up in their educational achievement that it can spill over into other areas of their life.

How you can help your child

Breaking this cycle can have a impact on your child. It can begin a cycle of positivity rather than negativity that can help your child keep it all in perspective and reach their full potential. Below are some simple techniques you can help your child do.

    1. 1.

Support not pressure

    – studies have shown that parental support has a direct and significant impact on a child’s achievement and their sense of self-worth.  Getting the balance right between encouragement and pressure is hard, but not impossible. Be realistic about what your child can achieve, talk to their teachers and to your child about what they are aiming for and help and encourage them to do this. Avoid comparing your child to others.
      1. 2.

Visualise success

    1. – get your child to sit at a table or desk. With older children do some relaxation exercises, click here for some ideas. Then ask them to imagine they are in a calm state while taking the exam. Help them to feel purposeful and confident, to see themself at a desk, in the exam room environment. Help them to feel entirely at home and focused in that moment, working effectively and concentrating well. You can have them look at the test paper, knowing they can answer the questions and that it is all possible.
    1. With younger children you can make this a game, playing pretend so that the whole experience feels fun and normal for them.
      1. 3.

Create a safe place for when they are feeling anxious

    1. – Ask them to think of a scene – real or imaginary, and from any time – that makes them feel safe, warm, secure and peaceful, with no uneasy feelings. To make it vivid  ask them to feel the breeze, the warmth, picture the colours, hear the sounds. They should practise visualising this scene as often as they can. When they want to feel calm they can think of this scene and imagine it for a short while. Then return their thoughts to the matter in hand. The sense of calm should stay with them and help them to cope better with whatever comes.
      1. 4.

Take time out to have fun

    1. – plan some time out around revision or test practice.  Young children will love going out to play with their friends. Older children can be encouraged to do some exercise; anything from walking the dog to going for a swim, run or bike ride helps reduce physical tension that can lead to aches and pains, and releases natural feel-good brain chemicals. If you can’t get them motivated, rope in friends – it’s much harder to make excuses.
      1. 5.  Encourage them to talk – Gently encourage them to talk, when ready, about how exam nerves or stress are affecting them. Emphasise that such feelings are completely normal. Remind them of their hard work to date to build confidence and suggest some of the tips here to help them cope.

3 tips for dealing with stress and anxiety

During any hypnotherapy session it is likely that your therapist will have you practice some self-hypnosis techniques. This is such a powerful tool that many therapists, like myself, use it to deal with their own stresses and worries. There is no great mystery to it, it involves finding a few minutes in your day to yourself; morning or evening or even during the day is fine, as long as you are not driving at the same time.

Having found a few minutes now stop and think about what you want to achieve. Do you need to unwind after a stressful day? Is there a particular habit or behaviour you want to stop? Whatever it may be, try writing it down on a piece of paper. this can help you be clear about your goals, making them specific and realistic. It will also help you stay focused on what is important at that moment.

Now it is time to begin the trance work. I will give you a few simple ideas that you can use quickly and easily.

Deep breathing.

This can be done any time, anywhere, and is a great way to combat stress, re-energise or bring yourself out of a negative mood …
1. Breathe slowly, deeply and evenly from your stomach, not your chest. Let your breath come naturally to you and enjoy feeling the rhythm.
2. As this begins to feel comfortable, add in your goal. With every exhale, say a word that represents the way you want to feel. For example, say “calm” or “energised”.
3. Reinforce this by using imagery. Recall a comforting image or memory from your past. Vividly re-experience it, remembering the sights, sounds and smells around you. Was it warm or cold? Were there any intense colours, or perhaps a scent in the air?
4. Make this richer and deeper by adding your own elements to this – add to the surroundings or environment to make it even more comforting. Practise this for three to five minutes a couple of times a week, and enjoy the benefits it can bring you.

This may take a little practice, but after a few self-hypnosis sessions you will find it comes quickly and easily to you. You will be amazed at how effective it is.

act ‘as if’

What is the difference between a good day and a bad day? sometimes it is simply the way we look at things. When we are in a negative mindset even the smallest of things can leave us feeling like the world is against us. Our negative emotions can become overwhelming, even if they have no real basis in reality, we imagine the world as a difficult and stressful place.

There are no physiological differences between real and acted emotions. When you watch a film you may cry if there is an emotional scene, or you may cover your eyes during a frightening scene. You know that these are actors and the story is fictional, yet your mind and body still react as if they are real – your emotions are affected by your imagination. In the same way, acting as if you are happy can allow your brain to believe you are actually happy. The steps to achieve this are simple …

1. If you want to try to change your mood, just remember to act “as if” it were different.
2. If you feel nervous and tense, act as if you are confident and relaxed. If you want, you can even act as if you are someone else – whoever you want to be. Almost immediately, your physiology and mood may alter – it’s that simple.

The power of gratitude

This may not seem like a traditional hypnosis technique but focusing on our ability to feel gratitude; our ability to feel and express thankfulness and appreciation can be very powerful in lifting us out of our problems. There are many benefits of gratitude. For example it can improve our physical, emotional and social well-being, increase our energy levels, self esteem and give us greater optimism and happiness.

To cultivate gratitude why not keep a gratitude diary, either a small notebook or perhaps use a note taking app on your phone, Write down 2-3 positives each day, perhaps elaborating on one of them. Remember to say thank you to people, even for the smallest of things. Write a letter to someone who has made a difference in your life,  and give it to them. Write down what you appreciate about yourself.

Practice this and the other techniques often and you will begin to notice the positives around you. We have the power to shape our lives to how we want them to be, and self-hypnosis can help you do that.




The difference between being an ex-smoker and a non-smoker


Many addiction treatments say that once you are an addict you will always be an addict. The only way to overcome your addiction is to admit you are powerless over the substance and only a power greater than ourselves can help us. Each and every day you need to acknowledge that you have an addiction and need to fight it. You are an ex-drinker or ex-smoker, telling everyone just how awful their habits are for them as you think about them every day.

This works for some people, as any alcoholic anonymous member will tell you. However for many others it simply places the substance firmly in the front of their minds, where they have to use willpower to resist temptation. The problem with willpower is that eventually it runs out. Resistance becomes too hard, and your resolve weakens, you take a drink or light a cigarette.

An alternative is to make your habit so unpleasant that you don’t want to do it. Scaring you out of smoking for example. This doesn’t work, take a look at the government health warnings on cigarettes. Every time a smoker picks up a pack they see horrible photos that show exactly why you shouldn’t smoke. Their loyalty to smoking overcomes the fear, and they quickly learn not to see the photos.

There is another way. Instead of fighting your smoking habit, leave it behind altogether, and join the ranks of those who have never smoked. Become indifferent to it so you no longer even think about smoking. Imagine that; no stress, no arguments with yourself, just total indifference to smoking. No having to stop yourself from smoking or worrying about how you will cope with the next craving.

This may seem a long way from a 20 or 40 a day habit. But it works. It starts with identifying what needs smoking meets. Do you feel like you need it to relax? Nicotine is actually a stimulant that releases adrenaline into your blood stream, not very relaxing at all. However, smoking involves taking deep slow breaths. It is this that relaxes you. Why not try it out; take some long slow breaths, in … and out… and see just how calming it feels. Like smoking a cigarette without the negative effects.

Many people are worried that everyday will be one long battle to smoke. Becoming a non-smoker means removing the tension from deciding whether to smoke or not. I don’t walk around all day wondering if I should start taking heroin, I’m a non-heroin user. It doesn’t even occur to me to think about it. Being a non-smoker is the same. Imagine for a moment that smoking has no hold over you at all, that you no longer have a relationship with smoking. You are not anti-smoking, that takes up too much time and energy. Smoking no longer fits you, it’s like an old pair of socks that are not fit for purpose anymore and you can just pop them in the bin.

The AA approach is once an addict always an addict, as if smoking is something that happens to. It isn’t and doesn’t have to be who you are. You were not born a smoker, though you could die one. Once you see that you are so much more than a smoker you can put it to one side, no matter how many you may have smoked or for how many years. You simply don’t see yourself as a smoker anymore, as it isn’t a part of you. It has become alien.

This may seem far from where you are now, or you may be ready to quit right away. Either way why not read my free ‘get ready to quit’ e-book and begin to see how you can become a non-smoker. You may be surprised at just how easy it is after all. Simply visit my website and leave your details, I’ll email it out to you so you can see how to become a non-smoker.