Hypnotherapy and the Fire Service
Mental Health, Therapy and the Fire Service
I have worked closely for over ten years with the Fire service across England and Wales. One common feature of those years was the sense that so much anxiety, psychological pain and disturbance goes unaddressed. In one of the workshops I have run since 2006 (training up fire setter advisors) I have been privileged to many service personnel’s trauma stories – both from working in the service and family history. I quickly became aware of just how much difficulty individuals accept as part of their daily life when actually this could be addressed with some concise, targeted therapy. A big concern is how much of this underlying psychological stress gets imprinted on children and other adults in contact with the sufferer.
Since 2006 I have treated hundreds of people for big and small traumas – part of their day to day work and in some cases historic difficulties that continue to haunt them.
What are Trauma symptoms?
The surface symptoms that show up when you have experienced a trauma can range widely: flashbacks, nightmares, changes in sleep routines, phobias – that may seem completely unconnected to any obvious difficulty, relationship issues, mood swings, panic attacks, anger outbursts, depression or listlessness, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts.
What is clinical hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is a method of addressing the automatic part of you – the unconscious – to achieve your goals or resolve an issue. Sometimes I say being a Clinical Hypnotherapist is a bit like being a computer programmer with people.
Trance is a natural state we experience every day – during daydreaming, reading a good book, even driving. Clinical hypnotherapy uses these natural trance states to work on your goals and symptoms. This sounds a bit mystical – it’s not!
What is EMDR?
EMDR is a specific form of therapy faster, deeper acting – on the root cause – and it doesn’t depend on you spending hours talking through the details of your difficulty. It has a respected and diverse clinical evidence base that is acknowledged by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence, the NHS and many psychiatrist and medical practitioners. Currently the number or registered practitioners in the NHS is quite limited.
What happens to the brain when someone is traumatised?
You eat a banana and your digestive system doesn’t digest it. What would happen? Well probably the banana would begin to rot inside your body slowly and pervasively poisoning you. Symptoms begin to emerge that seem to be unrelated to the original banana event. Imagine the consumption of that banana was 20 years ago and in the here and now you have seemingly unrelated symptoms.
Often a patient may have experienced a difficulty – they may or may not remember this consciously. If this happens in very early childhood or under extreme pressure it is sometimes forgotten or masked as a protective psychological mechanism. As the ‘undigested’ memory sits in the unconscious part of the brain, the raw emotion, belief and bodily sensations can creep into everyday situations – seemingly unconnected to anything in particular. Traumatic material is therefore buried in the unconscious, and a bit like Kryptonite to Superman, from time to time renders the sufferer a period of low functioning.
What is the Unconscious?
The conscious mind does the thinking and rationalising, goes to sleep and wakes up and perceives it has control and ‘runs the show’. It does to a degree, but the bulk of our process is unconscious – around ninety percent!
Just for a second think how many automatic physical functions are going on right now; your heartbeat, your breathing, your digestion, let alone holding onto all your memories and experiences!
Accessing the unconscious mind – especially around emotional and mental stuff – can be tricky. We all have a unique set of filters on how we see the world.
It’s worth mentioning here that it is a real skill to be able to lead people towards what they want, so it is a bit of a myth that you can lose control in a hypnosis session and end up doing stuff you wouldn’t normally do. Clinical hypnosis has nothing to do with stage hypnosis.
What happens in a Hypnotherapy or EMDR Session?
Initially we will talk about the nature of your issue – this helps me understand how you have come to this point in your life. This also allows time for us to get comfortable with each other and you can ask any questions you like.
We usually spend some time looking at what hypnotherapy is, how it works, why it works and some simple examples that help your understanding. All of this is completely confidential. I may also introduce you to the concept of EMDR.
After this I tailor an individual approach to the issue and deliver the therapy based on our negotiated goals, modifying the therapy according to our progress.
We will talk about what the actual hypnosis state feels like and what you can expect to happen; usually it requires you to make yourself comfortable. We then work through a number of relaxation exercises and then begin the process.
I have treated hundreds and hundreds of people – everyone responds a little differently. Hypnotherapy and EMDR are safe and very powerful techniques in the right hands.
How many sessions will I need?
That really depends on the issue. Simple anxiety that has no serious trauma can be as little as 4 sessions. Typically panic attacks can be 6-8 sessions, most traumas require at least 12 sessions, the more complex the more sessions.
Always check your practitioner’s credentials, professional registration and insurance before proceeding.
Doug Osborne hold a Masters Degree in Integrative Psychotherapy, an Advanced Practitioner Diploma in Clinical Hypnosis, is a registered member of the UK EMDR association. He has worked on the psychiatric unit of Roehampton Priory’s Outpatients and numerous West London GP practices. He is fully trained in Trauma interventions and can also help with most emotional and psychological problems.