Yesterday we had our quarterly hypnotherapist peer support group. Immediately prior to that I ran a group supervision session with a number of hypnotherapists. Both served as a great reminder of the reason I love this field and reminded me that this field is filled with some of the most wonderful, dedicated, conscientious and brilliant people. I’ll not just gush, instead I’ll tell you about our support group…

Our first speaker was Deborah Sims.

Deborah Sims Hypnotherapist

I asked Deborah to come and present to us about her recent experience and success that had found it’s way into the Mail on Sunday’s You Magazine supplement. Deborah had an educational background and an avid interest in hearing disorders and issues. Her presentation focused upon treating Tinnitus with cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy. I loved a quote she shared from the book Living with tinnitus and hyperacusis by McKenna, Baguley and McFerran (2010);

The research evidence and clinical experience is that while people with all types of tinnitus can suffer, equally, people with all types of tinnitus can be okay.”

Deborah Sims tinnitus

The presentation also showed the evidence for, and the benefits to clients of correct, diligent and thorough psycho-education. A systematic review by Hoare (2011) was highlighted and supported the value of proper psycho-education and sharing of valid information with clients – often, this is highly therapeutic in and of itself. We learned about habituation and learning how to apply many of our CBH skills to help tinnitus sufferers and we got some insight into a very successful case study that had been the feature of the previously mentioned Mail on Sunday feature. I offer a quote from the case study who featured in that article;

When we first met, I had an underlying fear that if I didn’t find a cure then maybe the tinnitus would get so bad that it might be the end of me….

… now I have a much better understanding of tinnitus… and I am better equipped to deal with it.

Scott Wills, Shoe Designer.

The presentation was upbeat, filled with evidence-based information and approaches and lots of pertinent humour. Which is a fine way to link in to our second speaker Glenn Goudie, who had me smiling and giggling all the way through his presentation.

Glenn Goudie Hypnotherapist

Glenn Goudie specialises in practical applications of hypnosis in sport. As well as individual sports, Glenn has a great degree of experience of working with sports teams, and I wanted to invite him to speak about that; I was really curious about the differences between teams and the solo participant endurance sports that my own work tends to focus on mostly.

Glenn gave us some beautiful illustrations of the use of the mind in sports, in particular I laughed heartily when he reminded us about the former tennis star Vitas Geralitis, who was a top performer in the game in the 80s, but lost to his nemesis Jimmy Connors 16 times in a row. Vitas finally beat Jimmy Connors and is quoted as saying:

and let that be a lesson to you all. Nobody beats Vitas Gerulitis 17 times in a row.”

Hahahaha, I love that.

Glenn presented on some very real and practical applications of therapeutic hypnosis in sport and gave us some wonderful case studies, from other psychologists who used hypnosis and to his own extensive experience.


There was so much jam-packed into the presentation, that I was scribbling away like crazy with reminders of my own to consider with clients and future exploration and study. Glenn’s book about developing a football career entitled Semi-Pro to Pro is a great read for any of us with a sporting interest in the mind, but he also highlights other areas of important consideration, such as one point he made last night about ‘controlling the controllable’ when it comes to sport and how the football team he manages benefited greatly from things he implemented in line with that notion.

We learned about ‘the yips’ and how to swing a gold club using Ernie Els to focus ourselves. It was great stuff.

Our third speaker was Linda Witchell.

Linda Witchell Hypnotherapist

Linda presented about her own approach to hypno-coaching. She introduced us to the metaphor it being like a stir-fry and us understanding the recipe and the blend of her own unique CANVI approach. Bearing in mind I had not had my dinner at this stage, I was hungry and eager to learn more.

I had heard about psychologists using rambles and walks with groups to help support individuals with mental health challenges, and know of coaches who go out walking with their clients, so was really intrigued to learn from Linda as she spoke about her ‘walk and talk’ coaching. Typically this happens in some picturesque places we boast here on the south coast, but it is not limited to those sorts of places and can be used in a wide variety of locations. Linda spoke about using the environment to combine with therapeutic metaphors.

Linda Witchell Hypno-Coaching

typically, I had thought of coaching as being centred around advancing performance, but was really delighted to hear about this approach being used with more therapeutic issues too. It made me want to open up my beach hut this Summer and invite my clients to come there for treatment instead; we’ll walk along the beach together, or even go for a run together….

Mark Chappell was our final speaker of the evening.

Mark Chappell Hypnotherapist

It gives me great pleasure to introduce Mark when he has taught and presented here. He is probably better known for his specialist work in the area of hypnotherapy for pain management, but was presenting about approaches in dealing with needle phobias, something he encounters when working in theatre at hospitals.

He examined the phobia and put it into some very interesting context; in particular painting out that it is a truly dangerous phobia, because some people refuse treatments because of the phobia, and that is detrimental to their ongoing health.

The difference between dealing with a client who panics and a client who faints was made, as was the difference in therapeutic approach was determined. Mark also shared with us his own constructed hierarchy of fear in relation to this phobia. There was also a great learning experience for many in the room, myself included, to be shown and learn about the use of ‘applied tension’ when dealing with a client who may faint or who has fainted in the past.

Mark Chappell pain specialist hypnosis

It was, as usual, punctuated with Mark’s sense of fun, his wit and underpinned with quality evidence base and very valid real-life experience.

I felt that all of our speakers could have been sole presenters for the entire night and that 20 minutes was simply not long enough to cover their subjects really thoroughly, but also I wanted to hear more from them all, they were just outstanding. It was a really beneficial and absolutely enjoyable evening. We got to indulge ourselves in specialists areas of our beloved hypnotherapy field, we got to soak up information and experience and we got to do so in a warm, friendly and supportive environment. What could be better?

Our speakers were marvellous and I have had to be quite brief here, those present got major value for their paltry £3.50 fee. Equally marvellous was the sense of community that we have here, I can’t wait until our next event in June. Details will be announced here, there and everywhere very soon.