Deborah Howton was in a folk band when she started to feel overcome by stage nerves.
“Somebody suggested I go along for a bit of hypnotherapy and it worked a treat,” says the mum of two. “It worked first time, first session and completely cured me of my performance nerves.”
Primary school teacher Deborah (49) was so inspired she decided to train as a clinical hypnotherapist with the aim of helping people beat a wide range of troubles.
“I thought if it worked for me, then it could work for other people,” said Deborah.
She’s keen to dispel some of the concerns that have grown up around hypnotherapy because most people’s only brush with hypnosis comes from watching TV and stage hypnotists.
Deborah said: “People hear you are a clinical hypnotherapist and they think you are going to put them ‘under’ with a big watch and get them to cluck like a chicken.
“Whilst some of the processes are the same to get the client into a trance or a relaxed state, the purpose of clinical hypnosis is to put in place therapeutic change for the better, to alleviate or help to eliminate a behaviour or anxiety that is causing distress and is limiting that person’s ability to lead a normal and happy life.”
Deborah will have Saturday clinics at Tonic Health, in Broadgate House, Westlode Street, starting on August 5.
She aims to help people with problem behaviours like smoking, weight gain, fears and phobias, stress and exam nerves.
Deborah said: “A lot of stress can be alleviated by using guided meditation work in hypnosis, but I also offer aromatherapy massage as well, The symptoms of stress can be in the mind, but they also have an effect on the body.
“Stress related illnesses cost the NHS millions of pounds every year to treat.
“Complementary therapies have their place alongside traditional medicine to help reduce the symptoms of stress. At Tonic Health I now complete the line up of complementary therapies available.
“I’d like to see more people, especially men and young people embracing these therapies and begin to move away from the stigma and poor press coverage that they both have.”
She says massage is a beneficial holistic therapy that treats the body as well as the mind, especially when used in conjunction with essential oils.
“A recent trip to Australia has shown me how reserved the British are when it comes to trying something new and seeing the clear therapeutic benefits that both disciplines have to offer”, said Deborah. At a local night market in Cairns they were queuing up for the foot and leg massages on offer and 80 per cent of those in the chair were men.”
Deborah is keen to bust myths surrounding hypnosis.
1 I can’t be hypnotised. She says: “Everyone can be hypnotised. If you can drift off to sleep every night, then you can be hypnotised.”
2 I’ll lose total control. Deborah replies: “During hypnosis you are fully aware and awake, but in a nice calm relaxed state. The client knows what is going on, you can’t force someone to do something they don’t want to do and that goes against their moral and ethical values.
3 I won’t wake up. Deborah says: “Well the worst that can happen during a session is that you will fall asleep. Most clients are fully aware of their surroundings and if the fire alarm went off then they’d be out of the door as quickly as the next man.”
4 I worry that a suggestion planted in my mind could be harmful, not helpful. Deborah says: “Once again, you can’t force someone to do something that they don’t want to do. With smoking cessation suggestions, the client really does have to want to give up for hypnosis to help. Being prompted into a chair by an irate spouse is not going to make the change happen.”