The value of CNHC membership

Although this is a relatively narrow topic for a Blog, I’m writing it in response to a number of queries I’ve had from both fellow hypnotherapists and members of public who have asked “Why are you a member of the CNHC (Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council) Register?”

The short answer is because it is now the most important Register of professional competence open to practicing Clinical Hypnotherapists in the UK.

Many people are unaware that anyone can present themselves as a hypnotherapist.  There is no legal requirement for registration, licensing, training, supervision or insurance.

I have always considered this to be a completely unacceptable situation which has been brought about by the fragmented nature of the hypnotherapy fraternity in the UK and the  amount of political infighting which has resulted.   In 2000, a House of Lords Committee reviewed the whole issue of regulation of the complementary and natural health market and recommended that whilst legislation was not required, a Code of Voluntary Self Regulation should be implemented through an independent organisation.

Staggeringly, it has taken a decade for these recommendations to be implemented, accompanied by many thousands of man hours or discussion and debate.  Finally, however, in 2009, the CNHC Registered was launched.

The Department of Health now recommends that when seeking a hypnotherapist, NHS staff and members of the public should consult with someone who is CNHC registered.

To quote from the CNHC website…

CNHC registered complementary therapy practitioners using the CNHC quality mark demonstrate to members of the general public and other healthcare providers that they conform to national standards of practice in their work.

If a CNHC registered complementary therapist has the CNHC quality mark it means that they:

  • Have undertaken a programme of education and training which meets, as a minimum, the National Occupational Standards and the core curriculum for the complementary therapy/discipline concerned where a core curriculum has been agreed


  • Have achieved competency to the level of the National Occupational Standards for the therapy/discipline concerned by means of relevant experience of at least three years and /or relevant training and been assessed by their peers as having met those standards


  • Have provided an independent reference of their good character
  • Have confirmed that they do not hold a criminal record (including cautions), or notified CNHC of any such record for consideration by the Registrar prior to acceptance
  • Have confirmed that there are no health issues that impact on their ability to practice
  • Have confirmed that they have not been the subject of any disciplinary or civil proceedings against them in relation to their practice or have notified CNHC of any such proceedings for consideration by the Registrar prior to acceptance
  • Hold current professional indemnity insurance
  • Have agreed to abide by: The CNHC Code of Conduct, Performance and Ethics CNHC’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Policy CNHC’s Data Protection Policy Terms of use of the CNHC website.

Following it’s launch, the CNHC has made inroads to acceptance within the NHS and with charities, as evidenced by their latest Newsletter…

CNHC registration is key for mental health charities

As CNHC continues its work to raise awareness of CNHC registration across a range of sectors, they have been liaising with a number of organisations that represent people with mental health conditions. Here they outline the importance given to CNHC registration by Mind and Anxiety UK.

  •   Mental Health charity, Mind, supports CNHC registration. Mind provides a wide range of support and information to people with mental health conditions throughout the UK. Where people are seeking complementary therapies, Mind recommends they find someone who is CNHC registered.

Mind’s Head of Information, Beth Murphy commented: “Some people find complementary therapies help them to manage their mental health but it is vital that therapists are appropriately trained and regulated. Mind supports and promotes CNHC registration and the CNHC quality mark to help people find a therapist they can trust.”

  •  Anxiety UK is a national registered charity formed 40 years ago by a sufferer of agoraphobia for those affected by anxiety disorders. Today the organisation is still user-led, run by and for those with current or past experience of anxiety disorders. The charity is supported by a high-profile medical advisory panel as well as a number of celebrity patrons including cricketer, Marcus Trescothick and comedienne, Ruby Wax.  Anxiety UK works to relieve and support those living with anxiety disorders by providing services including counselling, clinical hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The charity also operates a national helpline, delivers online services and provides an innovative peer mentoring scheme. The charity uses robust screening processes for its therapy services to ensure the highest standards of governance are maintained both before and after appointment and CNHC registration is one of the criteria for its hypnotherapists.

Nicky Lidbetter, Chief Executive of Anxiety UK said: “It is of the utmost importance that our therapists are verified, validated and accredited by relevant and appropriate governing bodies to ensure the highest standards of clinical practice. As there are several governing bodies particularly in the field of hypnotherapy, it is most reassuring to know that the CNHC has made significant progress in defining and establishing a core standard in terms of qualifications, training and experience that hypnotherapists must have in order to be eligible for registration. Going forward, we will be requiring all of our hypnotherapists to be registered with the CNHC.”

To find out more about CNHC please visit


What’s going to replace the Web? Here’s some food for thought…

Just watched a fascinating TED talk from Roger Mcnamee about the death of Microsoft, Google, Android and Facebook and the reasons why they will have lost their market stranglehold in the next five years.  If you want to know where the next big wave will come from, check this out..

Who’s having a problem with alcohol and binge drinking?

This week is Alcohol Awareness week, but by the look of the search results for my website, we should have one once a fortnight!

People who visit my website (  are regularly searching for things like “can hypnosis help me remember last night?”, “excessive drinking”,  “drink issues”, “binge drinking longer drinks”, “alcohol binge mood swings” and so on.   And the number seems to be increasing.

While the media is busy wringing its hands over the problem of binge drinking and the health lobby is busy talking to us about units of alcohol (hands up all those who know what a unit of alcohol actually represents?) and recommending arbitrary daily intakes,  the situation is being exacerbated by pubs – who, despite “voluntary controls” are still offering spirits at lower prices than beers and charging as much for soft drinks as they do for vodka shots –   and by drinks companies who are hell-bent on disguising the taste of alcohol in novelty mixers and sending in promotions girls with shot laden backpacks.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I come from an advertising agency background of the old school.  It was nothing to stagger out of a restaurant at 6.00pm blinking at the daylight in summer and confused by the darkness in winter having gone in for lunch at one o’clock. Evening drinking was also the norm, so I’m no stranger to a drinking culture.

But the difference appears to be that there is a lot more peer group pressure to keep up with the crowd and that being drunk is now the only way of having a good time.

There seems to also have been a loss of distinction between being “tipsy” as my Gran used to say, and plain shit-faced, falling down drunk.   Being tipsy meant that you could enjoy drinking but still go to work in the morning feeling fine and without a noticeable hangover.   Being completely ratted means that you can’t remember the previous evening, or how you got home, oversleeping in the morning, losing the odd day at work every month because you’re too hung over and tired to go in, and suffering a noticeable loss of performance even when you manage to get to work.

As a result, I’m now seeing people who are worried about what alcohol is doing to them.   They don’t want to change their friends, or the places they socialise, or the job they do.  But the pressures of each means that they are spending too much money, drinking too much hard alcohol, and feeling that they have stopped enjoying themselves as much as they used to and begin to worry about the health implications of continuous bouts of heavy drinking.  They also worry about whether or not they can stop.

So how can I help them?   Well, the first thing is for them to understand their own reasons for drinking too much.  I saw someone recently who was entertaining clients most nights and having a very active social life at weekends.  He felt that peer pressure at work and at home was driving him down a very dangerous path, especially as alcoholism was in his family.  Another client was drinking two bottles of red wine a night to herself, as well as going out with the girls three times a week,  just because she was bored being at home all day with the kids.

Having understood the problem for that individual, there are a range of therapies available.  For those having a problem with peer pressure, for instance, I first use hypnosis to install a subconscious “drinks counter” – which keeps count of the number of drinks being consumed during an evening and paces consumption against a  maximum number of drinks, which the client sets for him/herself.  This works very well in helping the client regain control of the amount they drink.

The second thing I do is teach clients to drink like a lightweight.  This is a tailor-made technique matched to the lifestyle of each person.  The way they cut down the amount of alcohol they take in depends on their surroundings – it’s easier to drink less in a club for instance, where its dark and noisy and everyone is on the move, than it is in a restaurant where it’s more noticeable if a glass doesn’t get refilled as often as others.  So I teach clients how to use the technique in various situations and to monitor it with the subconscious drinks counter.  As a result, clients have not only been very successful in cutting down, but have even developed their own variations to suit themselves.  My client entertaining drinker, for instance, not only halved his alcohol intake in the first week, but came in for his next session saying that he’d not drunk anything at all for three nights that week because “I just didn’t fancy it” – and no else one noticed the change!

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Happy Stress Awareness Day

Yes, today is National Stress Awareness Day!

So to do it justice here are my top ten tips for reducing stress in your life:-

1.   Forgive Yourself – Some people spend their lives beating themselves up for things they should have done or things they shouldn’t have said.  The past has happened.  That’s done business.  To mark your act of self-forgiveness, why not do some selfless act of good for someone else, as a kind of penance. While you’re doing it, concentrate on truly letting go of the emotions which you’ve been carrying around for so long.  Visualise them just sliding away down the side of a very steep mountain, getting smaller and smaller until they are out of sight.  Or tie them to a big helium balloon in your mind and watch them drift off and over the horizon.  Feel the weight of anxiety and stress lifting from your shoulders as you forgive yourself forever.

2.  Forgive Others – As well as forgiving ourselves, we also release stress and anxiety by forgiving others.  Perhaps it’s something they’ve said or done, or not said or done.  Perhaps you can’t forgive someone for not being the person you wanted them to be – a mother who found it impossible to be the caring loving person you wanted her to be, a bullying employer who wasn’t democratic leader who listened to the wise counsel of others.  All these hurts are like thorns in your side, they have no impact on anyone but you and the more you focus on them the more power they have over you.  But you can  break their power by giving forgiveness to the person who hurt you.  Sit with your eyes closed for  a while and image that person tied to a chair, bound and gagged and helpless.  Then march up and down in front of them telling them how they hurt you, how what they did affected your life; really lay into them so that they are in no doubt about how much you loathe what they did.  Look into their eyes and see how they react.  You might even remove the gag and let them answer for themselves.  Hear their excuses.  Maybe their apology.  And then…. FORGIVE them for what they have done.  Because your forgiveness will remove all the power of the hurt they inflicted on you.  Forgiveness renders them and the hurt powerless.  It’s like releasing a massive clamp around your heart and your head;  to forgive is to let go. And with that letting go comes peace of mind and freedom from hurt and the anxiety and stress it causes.

3.  Value Friends –  we are all so busy that we often don’t value the support and security we gain from true friendship.  True friends share our anxiety and stress, taking some of the load and helping us keep perspective.  So take time to show your true friends how much you appreciate them – a small gift or a funny email with a YouTube link can make a friend’s day and remind you of how precious they are to you.

4.   Be in the Now – We get stressed and anxious because we are all trying to do too much in one day.  We might think we are taking time for ourselves at the gym but how often are we looking at the clock and thinking about what we’re going to be doing next?  We are somewhere else, not enjoying the rhythm of feet pounding or the movement of breath through our lungs or feeling our muscles being stretched.  Being In the Now is simple and highly effective.  Just stop and be aware of where you are, how you’re feeling, all the sensations in your body, the sounds, smells, colours and textures around you. Give it a try; you’ll find yourself feeling calmer, more relaxed and more in touch with the real things in life.

5.   Slow your Thoughts – When you’re stressed and anxious, your thoughts speed up.  And the more stressed you get, the more they accelerate.  So, as soon as you find yourself thinking fast, close your eyes and imagine your words running across a computer screen.  See how fast they are running.  Often, it’s a single phrase that’s going round and round.  Now try slowing the words down.  Make them run at half speed; then at quarter speed; then have them appear a word at a time filling the screen; and then have them appear at five second intervals, one at a time.  Maybe even a letter at a time. And then just enjoy the feeling of control and absence of anxiety and stress which comes with the slowing down.  When you open your eyes you will feel calmer, more relaxed and reinvigorated.

6.   Only do What’s Necessary –  Many of us have high expectations of ourselves.  Often much higher than we would have of other people.  We drive ourselves to clear our To Do lists each day, whether it has 10 jobs on it or 100.  We’ll get in early, work through lunch and work late to clear it.  And when arrive at work in the morning, we’ll have yet another long list of things to do.   So we get increasingly anxious and stressed as the days go by and more and more exhausted and less and less effective.  As an alternative strategy, why not try prioritising the five most important things to do today.  And do them. Then see how much of the day is left and tackle the most urgent of the remaining tasks.  And leaving the rest until the morning.  Strangely, rather than having things build up, you’ll find that the five urgent task are done more quickly than you anticipated.  And that you clear more of the secondary tasks by going home time than you thought you would.  And that the overspill until tomorrow clears faster than you expected.  You might even find yourself with time on your hands as the days go by.  All because you are working in a more focussed way on what needs to be done NOW and have more energy left over to tackle what’s left, more efficiently and with more concentration.

7.  Stop Rehearsing –    Anxiety comes from over-concentration on preparation for action.  From the piling of one piece of preparation onto another, over and over again in the course of the day.  Many people find that this constant rehearsal becomes such a habit that they’ve had a day’s worth of meetings before they step out of the shower in the morning!  Think about what needs to be done, prepare notes and imagine how the meeting might go, sort out any additional things you might want to take to the meeting, and then let it go. Stop rehearsing.  You’ve done enough.  Reward yourself by…

8. Take a Holiday on the Train –  this is an easy an effective stress-buster.  Find somewhere you can be undisturbed for five to ten minutes.  You can do it sitting on a train or in a coffee shop.  Turn off your mobile.  Close your eyes and let all the tension drain out of your neck and shoulders.  Move up through your body, starting at the tips of your toes and then moving upwards, relaxing every muscle and tendon bit by bit – toes, feet, lower legs, knees, thighs etc. right up to the top of your head and down over your face to the tip of your chin.   This should take a minute or so.  Then, keeping this feeling of relaxation,  decide on a place you’d like to go.  Somewhere you’d feel relaxed and safe and could have fun for a while.  A favourite holiday destination would be good.  Then feel yourself drifting up from your seat, moving up towards the nearest window, through it and up into the sky.  Imagine yourself travelling across roof tops and fields towards your destination.  Really feel yourself travelling, feeling confident and happy and excited about your trip.  See your destination coming into view below you and slowly descend to a place you know really well.  You are now in a place where time has no meaning.  Clocks don’t exist.  A minute in real-time could be a day, a week, a month or a year in this special time.  So now, just go and enjoy yourself. Have adventures, visit places and people.  Enjoy the sun.  Swim.  Do whatever you want for however long you want to.  And when it’s time to come back you’ll know.  Just return to the spot you landed.  Drift up and travel back, right back to the window, through the window and into your seat.  Cares and anxieties will just drop away as you open your eyes to continue your day.

9.  Be Kind To Yourself – in what you eat, what you think about yourself, how you dress and how you occupy the space around you.  You are unique.  The only one.  Love and respect yourself and others will too.

10.  Avoid Quick Fixes –  nicotine addiction depresses your natural mood.  It means you must have a cigarette to get you back up to where you would have been anyway; alcohol depresses you – you might feel good when drunk but depressed when you’re sober – alcoholics need a drink to get them back up to where they would have been without the drink;   cream cakes taste good for the moment they’re in your mouth and then they make you feel bad – and then you want another cream cake to make you feel better about feeling bad.  Result – anxiety and stress.  Because you can’t cope without the quick fix.  Avoid the fix, avoid the stress!

Happy Stress Awareness Day….

Letting Go

I suspect that one of the recurring themes of this Blog will be the idea of Letting Go.

When we have fears or phobias, we have to learn to let go of the phobic reaction and replace it with a new response.  Without letting go, we can’t create the space for the new learning to take place.

The same with eating and sleep disorders, we need to let go of the emotions which drive us to eat innapropriately or which wake us up at 4 o’clock in the morning.

Being in control of everything in our lives is impossible.  Yet still we can’t let go of the desire to put things in order, keep painting, mowing, mending, tidying, watching everything everyone else is doing, keeping pace with fashions, trying to do our jobs 110% right, hanging onto old wrongs and regrets, reliving painful memories.   We simply don’t know how to loosen the reins; give ourselves a bit of slack.  Stop the world from spinning us around so fast.

Yet meditation, self-hypnosis, mindfulness and yoga are all about learning how to let go.  To slip away from the world or to see the world as it truly is.  To let the mind stop churning and to give it space.  These practices don’t solve problems; they don’t make bad things go away.  All they do is give us a space in which we can let go of them all for a while.  To stop hugging them to us like so many toxic teddy bears.

Agoraphobics have to learn to sit on buses and planes and let go.  They must trust the driver and the pilot to get them to their destination safely.  Those who have been abused as children need to be helped to resolve emotions which have haunted them for so many years and to let them go.  To create the space into which new, positive feelings and emotions can flood.

For many with emotional problems, letting go is so hard to do.  What’s going to replace the fears and the anxieties?  Is it possible to live without them?  How should one feel when they’re gone?   What if their departure leaves even worse feelings behind?  What am I going to be like when they’ve gone – after all, I am my illness.  What else can I be?

Yet when all’s said and done, when those with problems learn how to shed their painful load, they are suprised at how quickly and how delightfully the space is taken up with new ideas, new people, new interests and new perspectives of empathy and positive power.

It’s amazing how many of life’s true achievers, the people who light up a room with happiness and optimism when they walk into it, have trodden the path of Letting Go.