Growing up, I lacked confidence, would worry about everything, couldn’t relax and always felt on edge. I remember thinking that it was just part of my personality and who I was, and so I learned to live with it. My inability to sleep was having a huge effect on me though and so I decided to seek out help. I’d struggled with severe insomnia for years and relied on prescribed medication to get some kind of relief. Unfortunately, it didn’t work and things got progressively worse - at one point, I remember being on the NHS helpline worried that I’d overdosed on sleeping tablets. I felt that the pills were just putting a plaster on my problems and didn’t deal with the real underlying issues.
I tried counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy ( CBT ) and expensive psychologists and the only thing that eventually helped me was hypnotherapy. It was recommended to me by a friend who knew someone on Harley Street. I remember him charging me £800 for a session, but at that point, I would have done anything. Knowing what I know now, I was probably overcharged for the service I got, but at the time I was desperate.
The sessions did help though and they introduced me to self-hypnosis CDs. I began listening to them every night to get to sleep. I also gave them to my mum who's struggled with long-term mental health problems and the changes in her were phenomenal. I was curious as to why they worked so well. At the time, I was working as a commercial model (the smiley cheesy type) for high street brands such as Speedo, Tresemme and Tesco. But having seen just how much hypnotherapy had helped both myself and my family, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue professionally. While listening to those recordings during a work trip, I decided to take a leap of faith and change careers.
I began training and doing my qualifications soon after. Learning about how the mind works and how we can make changes really fascinated me and I was eager to learn as much as I could. I worked with the famous Paul McKenna (another self-confessed hypnosis geek) and mastered the techniques he used, attended conferences and read every book I could get my hands on.
One of my favourite techniques that I learned along the way was regression. This involves lots of inner child work and working through any trauma to allow you to feel more safe and secure. The idea is to introduce rational thinking to a time when you didn’t have logic so that you’re able to reduce emotional responses. It is also great for breaking down limiting ideas and beliefs that are deeply ingrained. This helped me a lot personally with my confidence, stopped my blushing (I used to be very shy and struggled with this when someone would even talk to me!) and it allowed me to get to the root cause of my sleep issues which have not returned since. I use regression a lot in my sessions now for helping people overcome anxiety and emotionally charged problems. I’ve found that it’s the quickest way of resolving those issues internally and letting go of the past so that you can move forward and release any fear.
after seeing what long-term results can be achieved from one-on-one sessions, I wanted to change the misconceptions about the industry and remove the taboos
Hypnotherapy is an umbrella term for many different techniques and there are new ones being developed all the time. These include lots of metaphors, visualisations, tapping on certain points of the body, specific language patterns designed to bypass the critical part of the mind… the list goes on. Hypnotherapy is so misunderstood because people often relate it to Hollywood movies. We know that real life isn’t remotely like the movies though. Stage hypnosis is for entertainment purposes and shouldn’t take away from the clinical benefits it has. The main misconception I find is that people think they will be out of control. That’s simply untrue. The sensation is very similar to guided meditation. To help bust these types of myths, I’ve started doing group sessions to showcase what I do.
It was never my initial intention to see clients, I’d actually wanted to make my own self-hypnosis programmes for people to listen to at home. However, after seeing what long-term results can be achieved from one-on-one sessions and how much it has helped me personally, I wanted to change the misconceptions about the industry and remove the taboos. I began to specialise in anxiety-related issues as it can affect our lives in so many ways - from our sleep habits to our daily worries, to confidence, to our relationship with food and even with alcohol. Fundamentally, it’s fear that stops us moving forward in life and living how we choose to. When I started practicing, I found that I got clients straight away, the referrals came, as did the magazine reviews, and it snowballed from there. I feel so lucky to do what I do and seeing people make those shifts in their daily lives is what inspires me.
People see therapists for years and don’t get the changes they want just because they are not open to trying something new. There are no swinging clocks in my sessions, clicking fingers or false promises. The whole process is very relaxing and insightful and everyone really enjoys it. In fact, I still regularly have sessions to maintain my own mental health now. We really need to support a culture where people are not afraid to reach out and get the help they need. It needs to be seen as a strength, not a weakness.
Fiona Lamb is a certified advanced clinical hypnotherapist based in Harley Street and High Street Kensington. She specialises in anxiety, addictions, emotional eating, insomnia, habits and weight loss and uses a variety of techniques to bring about long-lasting results. www.fionalamb.com .