Media virgin? Not any more…

I might have mentioned in earlier posts that I was interviewed by a local magazine ‘Only Peterborough’ about Cognitive Hypnotherapy and the role it can play in helping couples undergoing IVF and other related assisted fertility treatments.

Well, the big day duly arrived and the March issue of Only Peterborough has hit the streets. Lo and behold there I am, smiling in a not-quite-hypnotic style at the readers, encouraging them to find out all about Cognitive Hypnotherapy and, coincidentally, me.

The best bit of all is that I didn’t write a single word! It is all the work of Kim Hughes the magazine’s Features Editor. It goes without saying that I think Kim has great taste and superb insight into issues that need to be aired for the benefit of the local populace, (but then me being me I’ve gone and said it anyway).

The link below is a copy of the article itself reproduced by kind permission of Only Peterborough [available in all good shopping outlets in, you guessed it, Peterborough (UK)]

‘Only Peterborough’ article

As the more astute amongst you might have noticed, I’m quite pleased. Not only (pardon the pun) is it useful from a marketing point of view, it also gives really good information and whether people do choose to contact me or not, this means that they are in a better position than before. Nice one Kim.

So all in all, my marketing campaign has begun, my website and contact details are out there in the inter-web, even appearing on my latest Google Alerts email, (other good search engines etc.):

and… finally…

I am no longer a media virgin thanks to Kim & ‘Only Peterborough’

somehow it all comes together© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

somehow it all comes together
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Advertising, Pain and Time Travel

I should have known that somewhere along the way bureaucracy would stick its oar in and give it all a good stirring up.

Fortunately my alter ego is extremely well adapted to living in a heavily regulated world so it’s not going to cause me too much hassle. Nevertheless it would have been nice, (cue subterranean groan from erstwhile Witchfinding English teacher), to be able say what I wanted to say simply because I believe it to be true and because I believe it would have encouraged potential clients to call up and seek help. Which I believe I can give, (as in provide, rather than as in gift – I have to earn a living after all).

Of course in our relatively comfortable and over-safe environment, centralised protection and oversight is the order of the day so we have to abide by rules, (if only they were more like guidelines a la Black Pearl), designed to reign in those of an over-persuasive nature and whose primary belief is that your money should only be temporarily described as such whilst sliding gracefully into its rightful place in their pockets.

The downside of all this is that I had, by now, written the drafts for my web pages and have to say, thought that were taking shape pretty well. They said what I wanted them to say, in ways that would encourage potential clients to act but at the same time discourage those who wanted a quick fix whilst someone else solved all their problems for them. Unless of course they realised that this was indeed their problem and it was this belief in dis-empowering externalised solutions which they wanted to solve.

I had deliberately set about writing in a somewhat forward style, telling it how it is so that those who find themselves dealing with the issues I am intending to focus on are encouraged to come along and see me. And then, helpful soul that he is, Sean, (good Cognitive Hypnotherapist by the way), made us aware of the requirements of the ASA, (that’s the Advertising Standards Authority not the Amateur Swimming Association even though they use the same T.L.A. and who may be even more interested in the benefits of cognitive hypnotherapy than those advertising chappies, you never know, call me if you are), as regards what you can and more to the point can’t say about such areas as hypnotherapy. On first reading I was not happy.

So, after a mild bout of swearing, most unlike me, I gave it some thought. And once I’d thought, I realised that I wasn’t actually angry about the restrictive nature of their requirements after all. I was just peeved that my carefully crafted words, whilst saying pretty much exactly what I wanted to say, were not up to standard. Bugger.

I’d have to start again and I wasn’t looking forward to it. First off there’s the need to promote my skills to potential customers, ensuring that this meets with the ethical standards of the National Council for Hypnotherapy, then there’s the need to make sure that the web pages get read at all, (enter good old SEO), and now overlaid onto that is the need to do so both in the letter and spirit of advertising regulation.

At this point my alter ego stepped up to the mark, told me not to be such a child and damn well get on with it. Annoying as it might be, the ASA’s requirements are a flea bite compared with the leviathan that is the soon to metamorph Financial Services Authority in whose delightful shadow (warming glow?) I have basked for many a year.

So I began the task of re crafting my words. Much as I hate to say it, it’s been really useful. I’ve had to call on much of my skill in sales training, coaching, NLP and hypnotherapy. After all, words matter. Ideas and how they are organised allow people to follow your route towards a point where they can make an informed decision about whether they want to get in touch and take steps to improve where they are in life. Equally importantly, those same words and ideas lead those for whom I am less likely to be the best next step to the conclusion that it is best to log off and search elsewhere.

Much as I’d like to be all things to all men, (and women, let’s not be sexist here especially if one of my prime focusses is fertility), I’m not daft enough to believe I can help everyone nor is it likely that I or my style of therapy is going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Web pages can do a great job of helping potential clients work out whether they think there could be a good fit in terms of both style and content. If so, hopefully they’ll get in touch. Equally, if not, then I hope they find someone who’s better positioned to help them.

The basic premise of the ASA position is that if you can’t prove it, you can’t advertise it. And they’re quite rigorous. They even pulled up the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine recently for promoting Hypnotherapy in a leaflet The ASA decided that the hospital’s own evidential studies weren’t robust enough to allow them to make the claims they were making. Interestingly, they did concede that the evidence showed that hypnotherapy can help people cope with the effects of chronic pain. Cool.

So with all this flowing around inside that grey matter that fills my head, I found myself discussing my new hypnotherapy venture with a financial services colleague, sceptic that he is. When I recounted the outcome of a couple of my volunteer clients, (a complete reduction in severe hayfever symptoms and also alleviating chronic back pain to the point where the client no longer uses any pain relief at all), he simply asked how did I know that it was Cognitive Hypnotherapy which did the trick. Couldn’t it just have happened anyway? Could they still have hayfever and a bad back but were effectively just ignoring them? Interesting.

The short answer, I suppose, with my regulatory head in place, is that I don’t know, not for sure. As a Cognitive Hypnotherapist, I’m well versed in the tendency of the human brain to see co-incidence and perceive it as cause and effect. It’s the basis of many a distorted reality tunnel at the end of which lurk phobia, anxiety and all manner of normal everyday terrors. All I know for certain is that clients have come to me, I have treated them, showed them how to treat themselves, and then they have left feeling better.

There’s even another part of me which doesn’t really care how it works. Does it really matter whether there has been substantive change in their physical situation or whether it is simply a change in perception. If you get even vaguely existential about it, what’s the difference? I mean, if you have a bad back and currently need pain medication, does it make any difference whether your back is actually less bad and therefore doesn’t hurt, or whether your back is unchanged but you’ve just stopped thinking it hurts?

Either way, it doesn’t hurt any more, eh Morpheus?

In many ways what I believe is unimportant. In reality, it’s what you believe that matters. I haven’t had anyone come and see me as a volunteer or paying client who has not had some degree of scepticism about the whole hypnotherapy thing. Hell, I was sceptical myself at the start of the course. But if by the time we finish, you find yourself living in a world which you perceive to be better than when we first began working together, then that is a decent enough measure of success to be going on with, isn’t it?

Of course it does help if I really do believe in what I’m doing, otherwise I’d just be a charlatan.

I do believe, by the way. Just for the record.

Here’s the exiting bit. Evidence is being gathered. Proper, scientifically robust, evidence-based research. It takes time to do this well. Time to gather sufficient evidence to be meaningful, whatever the result. Time to get it analysed. Time to get it assessed and published. Time to get it accepted.

Unfortunately, I can’t travel in time to find out how it all went.

But one of the key trance phenomena is Time Distortion. I’ll just have to wait.

After all, I’m a Cognitive Hypnotherapist. Not a Time Lord.

Watch this space.

Who's watching who?© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Who’s watching who?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Time to change lanes…

I’m now fully in transition mode although I can’t yet tell if this is metamorphosis or hemimetaboly. For those lacking an entomological education, that’s the difference between a full blown change of body type, (caterpillar to butterfly), and a final maturity phase, (dragonfly nymph to dragonfly). Strangely, for those that know me and suspect that a final maturity is way beyond me, I favour the hemimetabolism route combining my alter ego’s talents with my newly won skills and knowledge as a qualified Cognitive Hypnotherapist. Well, qualified in every sense other than actually having the certificate – that’s January’s welcome to 2013.

I know too much to let go completely and the Yorkshireman in me recognises that the ability to earn should never be put down lightly. Much as I’d like to walk away from the highly regulated world of Financial Services at some point, experience and knowledge together with a knack of cutting through the rubbish to get to the core issue places me firmly in the mix for reasonably well rewarded short term contracting. That world is moving on again next year as the latest layer of regulatory influence comes into effect and most of the upgrading of knowledge and qualification beds in. Of course this means that the numbers who require further learnings, tuition and assessment diminish rapidly and a new emphasis is sought by those who provide that ubiquitous CPD of modern professionalism.

One thing I do know about the world of prolific regulation, nothing stays the same for long. With a new regulating body about to birth, you can be pretty sure that another layer of attainment will be required of the qualified adviser in the none-too-distant. And yet another round of learning and development which requires, well, me. Hopefully.

There is a problem though. As you may be realising from these multi-posts, I’ve developed a cacoethes for Cognitive Hypnotherapeutic blogging although to be fair, given the nature of the therapy, it’s probably more healthy than the phrase may imply. There is a part of me that would cheerfully ditch the world of my alter ego and step gleefully into an unknown future reliant solely on the premiss that if you have to succeed or starve, then you can only choose to succeed. This sounds exciting. But then so does bungy jumping and parachuting and I don’t do adrenalin overdose. I can almost hear those Cognitive colleagues spreading their hands in preparation to squash their visuals.

Why jump out of a perfectly serviceable aeroplane with nothing but a piece of silk or indeed an adrenalin junky strapped to your back? Leave the do or die risks until you truly need to do or die. It’s a maxim that’s served me well so far. How do I know? In true behavioural psychology fashion, I’m still here aren’t I? I neither did nor died. What better proof do I need. It’s on such fundamental complex equivalence that the future of all therapy is assured.

Fast forward to the Festive season. It always arrives sooner than I expect and leaves me feeling under-prepared to enjoy myself to the fullness that is customary at this jolly time of year. Under-preparation seems to haunt me in December. There is always more work to be done than I plan for. That gentle drawing to a close that others seem to find leaves me wondering how come I’m always on a sprint finish as the year draws to a close. I leave well thought out gaps in my diary which I know I can fill with trips to see family, shopping for presents, buying the obligatory feast worthy fare and taking pre-emptive jaunts down to the gym, trying to get ahead of the crowd that always turn up in January. Somehow it never happens in the gentle way I feel it should.

In my own customary style, even though I am working less than I was two years ago, I am still managing to fill my diary much more fully than I had anticipated. Yet again, I’m trying to catch my breath as we speed towards roast turkey and indigestion. I’ve yet got to don that ancient hunting mantle and sally forth on the dangerous quest to track down a suitable tree to decorate in our traditionally eclectic style. To be fair though, we always wait until Rachael has had her birthday, especially as it was so auspiciously dated day this year, falling as it did on 12/12/12 and we all wonder whether Christmas will really arrive at all or were the Mayans right and the turkeys will all be free again.

So where am I in that headlong rush to a new future? Well, assuming that those indigenous South Americans were off the mark or possibly just lazy when it came to writing calendars that outlasted their civilisation by a mere 700 years, then I’m on course to start helping actual clients during January 2013. Watch out world, here I come, albeit quietly. I’m aiming for a soft launch, as my erstwhile marketing colleagues liked to call it. I’ll storm onto the therapy stage by quietly taking up position and gently working to generate a client base. If all goes according to plan, it’ll look like I’ve been there for a while and you just didn’t notice how good I was before.

I’ve managed to develop a background e-presence, of which you are all a vital part and you have my thanks for joining in and hopefully enjoying the joining in whilst you’ve been doing it with me, so to speak. With the slowly increasing blog community followers, now up to a stunning one hundred and twenty three, which I still don’t quite believe and a smaller but growing Twitterati clan of 67, there won’t just be a Website when I get searched. By Google that is, not some random nightclub doorman from past Christmas frivolity. Hopefully, if all this goes to plan I help prospective clients to avoid that e-nyctalopia that occurs when you look someone up on the web and only find one reference.

Sometimes you need that extra light that shines from multiple results in order to get noticed at all and although I’m unlikely to generate the sort of controversy reserved for proposals for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square I am taking care that what I write, whilst mentally provocative is not actually controversial. My biological conclusions have been called into question though, being described as ‘frankly wacko’ by, oddly enough, Frank. I really hope you’re still reading these posts Frank, as someone has to keep me on my toes and I reckon you’re the best man for the job.

I have a draft of the text of my not-yet-website home page. My advertising guru, the aforementioned Rachael, thinks it’s pretty near the mark and has started encouraging me on other pages and promotional ideas. Katherine is starting work on the site itself so with luck and good nepotistic judgement we should arrive sometime during January, partially fledged and straying from the nest formerly known as The Quest Institute.

The future is out there, beckoning. I might just jump.

Will it last? © Tony Burkinshaw 2012

Will it last?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012

* This week’s post featured Guest Words from Mike, Chrissie, Helen and Victoria. Thank you for your help?

If you have an idea for a guest word for next week’s post, either leave a comment below, on my Facebook Page or just send me a Tweet.

Same time next week?