Helen & I trained at the same time and she’s already found herself featuring a couple of times in this blog. As I recall, she didn’t mind at the time and seeing as she’s happy to appear in the flesh as it were, maybe she’s still content with me periodically lobbing her into the middle of these vaguely relevant ramblings.
This is an article Helen wrote for the latest issue of the Cognitive Hypnotherapy E-zine ‘Perception’. [I’ve added a link to it at the end if you fancy reading more, (or even subscribing). It’s entirely free and written for non-therapists, so it’s brilliantly lacking in jargon. Check it out, you might find you were glad you did.]
Interestingly, (this blog is still trying to get me to use that word I tried and failed to avoid using in a recent post), the weekend she’s referring to is the very same weekend which turned out to be the spur that transformed wishful thinking into the action which became Posts of Hypnotic Suggestion.
Not only that, Helen is the protagonist who featured in that post.
So without Helen, this blog may never have existed.
A Therapist’s Journey
I walked into the Cognitive Hypnotherapy training room, wondering what on earth I was doing there. The previous year I had given up my job as an Assistant Head Teacher of a secondary school when I had given birth to my daughter. In the early months of being a new mother I knew I wanted to work in an area where I could enable people to move forward in their lives. It was an aspect as a teacher I had loved, whether it was helping my students reach their full potential, teachers who needed support or parents who were going through difficult times.
I had come across hypnotherapy whilst I was trying to conceive through IVF and recognised its power to reframe the stories we all tell ourselves which don’t necessarily support us in achieving our goals. Quite by chance I stumbled across the Cognitive Hypnotherapy website and really liked its approach of recognising the uniqueness behind each person’s issue and having a flexible enough approach to be able to get to the reason behind the presenting issue, rather than just deal with the concern itself.
Within fifteen minutes of hearing the founder of The Quest Institute, Trevor Silvester speak, I knew I had found the right course for me. His words were utterly inspiring, thought provoking and at times challenging. Weekend after weekend we were exposed to new concepts taken from a range of successful therapeutic approaches and slowly but surely the pieces of the jigsaw started to come together and we realised with excitement the potential for deep and significant work with future clients.
Quest is an amazing institute as it attracts likeminded people. All of us in the room were readily open to the new learning’s that we were being presented with and as the months went by we grew into a supportive group willing to give our time and energies to each other to help move our fellow students through difficulties and challenges, using the new techniques we had been taught.
I went to train to be a therapist, was pretty sure I’d make friends, but what I hadn’t bargained for was the therapeutic journey I would find myself on. One weekend we were taught how to do a specific technique and as always we had an opportunity to practice on each other. As I was shortly about to start another round of IVF I decided to be gentle with myself and not focus on anything too deep and meaningful. Instead I chose to focus in on how working as a therapist I could build in being part of a community into my working world. A fairly innocuous area of development. Or so I thought.
Unbeknown to me the strategy bypassed my conscious mind and went straight to the unconscious and revealed an issue that was so deep I had only had glimpses of it over the years and had never made any connections with a situation that happened when I was 22 months old and my inability to conceive naturally in the present day.
I was born seven years after my mother had last given birth and number three in the family. I was evidently a joyful and long awaited addition to the family. A few months later much to the delight of my parents they found they were expecting again. At 22 months old my sister was born with Downs Syndrome. The shock was enormous for my parents and sent reverberations throughout the family. This was in the late 1960’s when approaches and views about Downs was vastly different to thankfully how it is today. My mother in particular found her condition very hard to cope with and at some point after my sister’s birth suffered a breakdown.
My sister was in hospital pretty much continuously for the first two years of her life. My parents almost overnight were absent both physically and emotionally. Earlier than she had wanted she put me into nursery care as she simply didn’t have time to tend to my needs as well as my sister’s. Understandable when it would take over two hours to just to feed my sister at any given time. My parents whole focus obviously was taken up with the arrival of my sister and at 22 months old, bewildered by my parents obvious absence and lack of focus I began to internalise that I was no longer good enough, that the unit I had felt such an affinity with I no longer belonged to and perhaps I wasn’t as loved as I believed.
As the revelation of how this event impacted through the work that I did at Quest, I was able to recognise that throughout my life I had found myself always feeling as if I didn’t quite belong and that on the whole that nagging sense of not being good enough pervaded so many situations. In my adult life I didn’t feel good enough because I didn’t have a boyfriend, so I got myself a boyfriend. Then I didn’t fit in because in my mind I didn’t have a good enough job, a good enough place to live, a husband, and the icing on the cake when I achieved all that was a child.
Two rounds of IVF following ‘unexplained fertility problems’ and holding my darling daughter I had a moment of peace. I had achieved what everyone else had so surely I was now good enough, surely now I would belong. To my surprise though that feeling didn’t last long as they returned when those around me who had their babies at the same time as me were all falling pregnant with their second baby. Once again the club I belonged to felt as though they were shutting their doors to me, just as my 22 month old self felt when the family dynamic shifted so suddenly.
Trevor had taught us that with a number of issues comes a secondary gain. I wondered what my gain was at being unable to fall pregnant naturally. When I asked myself the question I realised that my inability at falling pregnant kept me separate from others, it created a division which although I didn’t want was so terribly familiar. When we are driven by a negative emotion we tend to create exactly what we don’t want.
The impact was hugely significant and a few months on and now a qualified Cognitive Hypnotherapist myself I continue on my journey of self-discovery using the techniques we were taught, as well as having regular therapy with another Cognitive Hypnotherapist to help me move into my preferred future world that I want to live in. I am learning to recognise my limiting beliefs and more importantly learn how to recognise that these are borne out of thoughts that simply aren’t true. I also recognise that now I have found this path my road to peace is much shorter than my 43 year old journey to realisation.
My future is filled with a hope and exuberance which is spilling over into my present day. It’s a wondrous feeling. I have no idea whether my shifts in perception and beliefs will result in me having another baby. Whether it does or it doesn’t almost doesn’t matter because I have a growing sense of confidence that with a significant shift in how I view myself in my world I can only be a happier person, secure in who I am and what I have. With this realisation and knowledge I can see what a gift I can pass onto my daughter when she too faces her own limiting beliefs.
Having done this remarkable course, as well as experienced first-hand the powerful impact this work can have I now know what I didn’t know when I walked into that room almost a year ago. That Cognitive Hypnotherapy can and indeed does successfully help treat a wide number of issues by truly getting to the heart of the underlying issue and gradually and gently making the changes needed for people to let go of their limiting beliefs that have caused them so many difficulties in the past. I can only say that there is a whole host of therapeutic approached out here for people to choose from.
For me there is now only one choice. Cognitive Hypnotherapy has given me a future in so many ways I couldn’t even have imagined before I embarked on this incredible voyage and I thank each and every individual who has been part of it.
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013