Treatments for anxiety are readily available through the NHS however waiting lists for hypnotherapy can be long, which is why many are looking for alternatives. Can hypnotherapy in the form of a clinical session help those suffering from anxiety?

When I get to my hypnotherapy appointment that I’m attending to relieve anxiety, I realize that I’m worrying about it a lot My heart is beating rapidly and I’m sweating. This isn’t something I’m used to. My mind has a tendency to transform even the most basic of scenarios into a apocalyptic issue of epic dimensions; a jumble of “what ifs” which build to a crescendo of terror in my head.

That’s why I’m here on Harley Street. I’m here to meet with the clinical hypnotherapist Fiona Lamb, hoping she will help me feel less stressed and more in control, as well as stop anxiety from dominating my life. I’m not quite sure what to anticipate, but I’m guessing that in the near future, I’ll be singing like a prized cockerel.

Hypnotherapy myths rule the day

I’m a bit from the truth. Lamb welcomes me with kindness, compassion and a huge smile. Her office is tiny and cozy and never does she take out a pocket watch. She’s not shocked by my preconceptions , however.

“People are drawn to hypnosis as stage shows that they watch on television,” she laughs. “But it’s not magic or swinging watch, or chicken sounds in real life. It’s a state of mind that we are all able to attain and is like meditation. It’s all about engaging the imagination.”

I am embarrassed for making assumptions I’m embarrassed, but Lamb does not care. She immediately makes me feel comfortable by asking me to describe the reason I’m here and what I’m hoping to accomplish. She also explains that she was a sufferer of severe sleeplessness and anxiety. Through a variety of treatments, from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to herbal treatments and hypnotherapy, she discovered that an hypnotherapy treatment for anxiety was the method that eventually was effective for her.

“Hypnotherapy was a huge help to me deal with my insomnia and anxiety. The only thing that was effective after trying everything else. This is why I wanted to understand the reasons and how it worked,” she explains.

How does hypnosis to treat anxiety be effective?

In a nutshell, trying to find the root of the issue According to Lamb.

“Anxiety is simply the fear of being afraid. It is possible to determine why you’re not feeling secure and relaxed, then look into the root cause and address the issues. It’s probably the fastest and most effective method to change your beliefs,” she says.

I am still anxious I am still nervous when Lamb insists that I sit in my chair, and then I put my feet up on the pouffe. She plays some soothing music from the stereo and requests me to shut my eyes. Slowly, slowly and counting backwards, she is able to perform the meditation. I am beginning to lose consciousness however, not completely. I’m awake and conscious about my environment. And I’m aware that I can end the hypnosis at anytime if I want to.

In this sluggish state that Lamb wants me to recall the time when I was scared. I instantly feel apprehensive. My anxiety isn’t connected to events that occurred decades ago Is it?

A part of me wants to not engage in this activity However, I am surprised by reliving events I’d gone over from my youth. Things I’ve probably dismissed as irrelevant, but which seem to remain in my mind. “Where do I even begin to think that this originate?” I’m thinking.

Lamb asks me to visualize the past version of me from every time and assure her by telling me to say the words loudly. It’s a bit awkward and more than embarrassing, but I follow according to the instructions. Being a bit naive for an hour might be worthwhile in the event that it improves my mental well-being. “Everything will be perfectly. You’re safe.” I tell my inner child, trying to not scream.

When Lamb returns me to my room I’m happy that it’s all done. I’m also a bit anxious about the things I’ve recalled from the session. The hour we spent together has flown through, but it was a great time. As I leave Lamb’s office, I realize I’m feeling more relaxed and peaceful than I have felt in years.

It will be a while before we know if my session has really assisted me. However, according the report of Dave Smithson from Anxiety UK Clinical hypnotherapy for anxiety is an extremely efficient treatment for mild to moderate instances. Although I’d bet it not for everyone’s taste.

“The assessment of our services confirms this, with nearly 74% of patients who sought the hypnotherapy method in 2016 and 2017 getting better at the end of their treatment. But, it might not prove to be the best method of treatment for more complicated ailments,” he cautions.
But can hypnotherapy to treat anxiety actually works?

The peer-reviewed evidence of hypnotherapy’s effectiveness in treating anxiety disorders and panic attacks is not available. The few studies that have been conducted indicate that it’s effective in helping those suffering from “trait anxiety” (a tendency to be anxious as a part of your personality). But, the majority of reviews suggest that further studies are required and this is not an indication of the evidence that it isn’t effective but rather an acknowledgement that there aren’t enough studies been conducted on hypnotherapy to treat anxiety to show that it works. In contrast, there are studies that suggest that it has potential in the treatment of IBS.

However, at the moment the treatment for anxiety hypnotherapy isn’t available through the NHS. This means that those wanting to test it out must go on their own, for a the cost of around PS50 for a session. I was fortunate enough to get two free sessions, however I would be priced out of this kind of approach.

It’s also important to note that hypnotherapy is not advised for people suffering from schizophrenia or a personality disorder since it can make the disorder worse.

Other options to treat anxiety

Before you invest in the hypnotherapy treatment for anxiety is a good idea to consult your GP first. They can prescribe the right medications. It’s also worthwhile to research the possibility of NHS self-referral programs within your region. It is possible to avail talking therapies by a professional in mental health (such as CBT which is the most effective form of anxiety treatment) and not needing to visit your doctor.

“In addition to examining any kind of therapy, it’s always recommended to consider alternatives to tackling your anxiety, such as exercising more and re-examining your diet, practicing mindfulness, speaking with your GP who might also suggest medications, or other support tools like the Headspace app, or joining Anxiety UK to access the numerous benefits and assistance we offer,” says Smithson.

“Often we discover that it’s not a single therapy to manage anxiety, but rather a series of treatments, including therapy.”

I’m planning to try the combined approach for myself, however I haven’t completely abandoned the use of hypnosis to treat anxiety. Lamb provides me with audio files to guide self-guided hypnosis sessions, which I’m going to test now that I’m aware there’s more to it than just ‘look into my eyes’ or leather sofas.