Are stress and anxiety not just part of our normal lives?
We each live with a level of stress that we can tolerate. This varies considerably from one person to another. Occasional stress and anxious periods are, like sad times, part of living. Feeling continually stressed at a higher level than is comfortable can cause serious discomfort both physically and mentally. Panic attacks for example are a frightening physical symptom of extreme anxiety.
When we find normal functioning difficult it is best to seek help. The causes of stress and anxiety are frequently perceived to be external and beyond our control. However our internal response to the situation can either help us considerably or aggravate the symptoms that we are trying to control. Each one of us knows best how well or poorly we are coping with our stress. We often tell ourselves that bad situations will get better eventually and leave seeking help beyond the point of what ought to be reasonably tolerated. As with depression these conditions are helped by therapy.
How do I know if I have depression?
It can be difficult to decide if you have depression. Many people suffer from this debilitating condition for a long time before seeking help.
If you have had a recent event in your life that causes you to be upset, perhaps a family bereavement, then you can expect that you will feel unhappy and it is not always easy to determine exactly when you ought to feel better. It is quite usual to have periods in our lives when we are sad and often the reason why it is happening is clear to us. This is not usually defined clinically as depression although these events are sometimes hard to manage without help and can indeed trigger an episode of depression.
Usually a depressed person has continuing low mood with a lack of any pleasure in their lives. There are often changes in normal sleep and eating patterns and effects on our ability to cope with routine activities involving work and family life. Depression can present In a number of ways: sometimes at a low level over a couple of years; or more acute recurring episodes of a few months; or as extremes of low and high periods known as bi-polar disorder.
This condition responds well to treatment. Either therapy or medication, or both, can be really helpful in relieving symptoms and helping recovery.
What happens during hypnosis?
Some clients are rather fearful about hypnosis and associate it with entertainments they have seen on stage or television. Technically your mind reacts under hypnosis by changing the cycle of brainwave frequency from your normal wide awake cycle of 14 - 25 per second (Beta) to 7 - 13 cycles per second (Alpha) the state we have when day dreaming or pre-sleep. Your body is usually very relaxed and comfortable.
You are in control at all times. You will sometimes be so relaxed that you actually dose off slightly for a few seconds. If that happens you may not recall precisely every moment of hypnosis. However you are no more out of control than you would be when fully relaxed in any other situation - you can be fully awake and aware in a fraction of a second should you so choose. When talking to the therapist under hypnosis you will understand questions and respond as you would if not hypnotised.
Because your mind is quietened, and your mental focus is on internal self, rather than external events, it is possible to access memories and strong personal attributes that are not easily available when involved in busy activities.
What is a phobia?
Almost all of us have fears and situations that make us uneasy - this is a normal part of life. We are programmed by evolution to have a dislike and distaste for certain things that may be dangerous for us.
Someone suffering with a phobia has developed a strong irrational fear attached to an object, situation or living being that is overwhelming and cannot be 'reasoned' away. The focus of their fear is not necessarily directly related to the cause - this is a form of projection associating fear with an unrelated object. Most people seek help when this phobia interferes with their normal functioning making it difficult to live, as they would want.
How many visits will I need?
The length of this relationship is based on client preference and subject to regular review and agreement between client and therapist. While some clients have reached their stated goals for therapy after only a couple of sessions and many reach a satisfactory resolution with between six and twelve sessions, others may very well feel they want to continue for more than this. Greater numbers of meetings often reflect circumstances where the client is in a difficult life situation or process and feels a need for support during this time. As an outcome oriented therapist I will always check with the client that some progress is being made.