Forget that past life as Cleopatra, because hypnotherapy could be the quick fix to your anxiety issues.
You’d be forgiven for associating hypnotherapy with supernatural novels and ads in your local paper promising to ban all nicotine cravings and help with weight loss. However, there’s way more to the practice than Derren Brown. In fact, the entire field is becoming increasingly normalised with sports psychologists like Niamh Flynn relying on it in her daily practice.
Niamh’s a director of Bodywatch, a sport psychology company based in The Galway Clinic, who specialises in hypnosis and a particular interest in migraines. “It’s eclectic,” she laughs.
Hypnosis initially piqued her interest when during a period of overworking she fell down the stairs and found herself stuck at home for weeks on crutches. “I was researching on the internet and I came across hypnosis,” she recalls. It called to her immediately. “I was using traditional psychology strategies and to be honest I was disillusioned. I like seeing results soon.”
She did a course in Ireland, and a further one in Las Vegas. “I found I was getting great results with the athletes I was working with, just by using hypnosis and common sense.” Word of mouth spread and now she’s one of the leading practitioners in her field giving talks around the world – when we chatted on the phone she was just back from Boston – and running courses up and down the country.
Now regularly working with golfers, rugby players and swimmers on changing their mindset, she also takes other clients, including those suffering from anxiety. So how will hypnosis help with anxiety? Comedian and Obvious Child actress Jenny Slate used it to fight the stage fright she developed after swearing live on air during SNL. People with skin picking habits have found relief in the practice too.
“For a lot of people anxiety attacks can be eliminated in four hours. That’s four sessions, if you use regressions – age regression, not past lives – where you find out what caused it in the first place,” Niamh explains. Through proper detailed hypnosis, you ‘find’ events that made your anxiety worse. Niamh meets clients for four sessions over three weeks. “Very often that’s enough” she admits. “It’s been hugely successful in getting rid of the panic attacks.”
During a session, Niamh helps you find the root cause of what you’re afraid of. In most cases, these fears the result of your brain defending itself. It’s being over-protective. “If we get a fright about something, like say someone is in a lift and they get stuck and the doors won’t open, the mind might decide this is never going to happen again, so I’m going to get you to avoid all small spaces,” Niamh explains. That then manifests itself into you becoming unable to get on plane, for example.
For some, ‘surrendering’ to a hypnotist can seem a bit off-putting at first. Blame all those Kevin Barry television specials. What if you start behaving like a pecking chicken during a session meant to combat your fear of public speaking? “The thing with hypnosis is that you’re very much in control,” Niamh reassures us. “You always know what they’re saying. If a client chooses to tell you something, they choose to tell you. If they don’t, they don’t.”
And as for the whole past lives thing? “I haven’t come across it,” Niamh tells us. However, she’s not remotely damning of that avenue of the trade. “Some people chose to believe in it, some don’t,” she says. “At the end of the day, if something is going to help achieve results, does it matter? Some people find it very effective, and if it helps them, isn’t that great?”
For more articles on alternative therapies and beliefs, check out the current issue of STELLAR magazine where we interview a pagan witch, a herbalist and astrologist types in our High Spirits special.
Get the latest news, hottest trends & biggest competitions to your inbox.