Archives for Hypnotherapy
The scene: late summer, on a leave of absence from my cubicle-farm workplace. The culprit? Panic. Really bad panic that was keeping me, for the most part, stuck in my apartment. Most days, I was too scared to even drive down the street to Walgreens. I had been relying on Xanax to treat my panic attacks as they happened. I'd been diligently working through Dr. Edmund Bourne's Anxiety & Phobia Workbook (which I would honestly recommend to anyone who suffers from frequent panic attacks), but not seeing any immediate benefit. I'd been doing therapy and trying to eat normally again. At only 95 lbs, an all-time low for my adult life, I felt unhealthy and deflated. "Why don't you just try Celexa and see what happens?" my family doctor said at my next appointment. "If you don't like it, you don't have to continue taking it." Yeah. I've heard that story before. Cough cough PAXIL cough.
(This is the seventh post in a series called “Anxiety Society,” in which I interview everyday anxiety suffers from all walks of life about their struggles, their triumphs, their coping methods, and more. I believe that the more we openly talk about our mental health, the less of a “thing” it becomes. Conversation can reduce stigma, and my interviewees want to be a part of that.) This is the final in a three-part mini-series about Ashley Taylor, hypnotherapy, and her own struggles with anxiety and panic disorder. Previously, we discussed her hypnotherapy practice and the potential benefits of hypnotherapy itself. In this final segment, Ashley opens up about the anxiety with which she's struggled since adolescence. She recounts the story of her very first panic attack and offers practical advice for fellow panic sufferers -- whether they're looking to try hypnotherapy or not. Summer Beretsky: How did you become interested in becoming a hypnotherapy practitioner? Did you experience hypnotherapy sessions as a client before deciding to pursue it professionally? Ashley Taylor, CHt: I have experienced anxiety since I was in 6th grade. I know the debilitating effects in can have on one's life, and I decided to seek a hypnotherapist after trying many other more conventional methods. I really connected with her. And she asked if I had ever considered it as a career -- she thought I would be really great at it . Was your own anxiety mostly cognitive or was it physical, too? My anxiety started because I had my first panic attack in 6th grade that appeared to come "out of the blue." I remember that feeling so well -- and it was terrifying. Ever since then, I had fears of dying. It was as if I didn't trust my body and I was afraid that there was "something" wrong with me physically. Since then I experienced panic attacks, and fear of panic attacks, and the idea that there just had to be something wrong with my body. Can you share some details about that first panic attack?
(This is the sixth post in a series called “Anxiety Society,” in which I interview everyday anxiety suffers from all walks of life about their struggles, their triumphs, their coping methods, and more. I believe that the more we openly talk about our mental health, the less of a “thing” it becomes. Conversation can reduce stigma, and my interviewees want to be a part of that.) I talked with Ashley Taylor, a certified hypnotherapist in Easton, PA, earlier this week about the basics of hypnotherapy and what to expect during sessions. (Turns out, hypnotherapy is nothing like that silly spectacle of stage hypnosis.) Today, we discuss what hypnotherapy can do specifically for anxiety sufferers. Our conversation continues below: Summer: For someone coming in to your hypnotherapy practice with an anxiety-related issue (say, a fear of highway driving), what kinds of affirmations or therapeutic techniques would you employ? Ashley Taylor, CHt: For any phobia, I would first attempt to understand the initial sensitizing event. Often with phobias, we see there is always an initial event that has caused the fear. So, in this case, perhaps the individual witnessed or was involved in an accident on the highway. For the affirmations, I might say that any old, outdated, unproductive information is no longer beneficial or pertinent to you now. As far as a therapeutic technique, I would suggest exposure therapy so that the individual can face their fears with someone beside them in the vehicle -- someone they trust. So, who should try hypnotherapy? Do you think it's a good first step for someone experiencing anxiety and panic? Do you envision it more as a complimentary treatment?
(This is the fifth post in a new series called “Anxiety Society,” in which I interview everyday anxiety suffers from all walks of life about their struggles, their triumphs, their coping methods, and more. I believe that the more we openly talk about our mental health, the less of a “thing” it becomes. Conversation can reduce stigma, and my interviewees want to be a part of that.) Cognitive-behavioral therapy. Biofeedback. Medication. Meditation. Exercise. Nutrition. Talk therapy. There's a laundry list of therapeutic approaches to the treatment of anxiety. You're probably familiar with several of them. Some involve treatment of the body (nutrition, exercise) and some involve treatment of the mind (meditation, talk therapy). Other modalities incorporate both mind and body into treatment. Hypnotherapy is one of those modalities that involves both the body and the mind. Meet Ashley Taylor. She's a certified hypnotherapist, an entrepreneur, and an anxiety sufferer. While walking through the halls between classes in 6th grade, Ashley experienced her first panic attack -- complete with a racing heart, dizziness, and shortness of breath. She chalked it up to the standard middle-school stressors like hormonal changes and dealing with bullies. Her anxiety continued into adulthood, however. After consulting with a trained hypnotherapist and undergoing a few sessions to help her tackle her own anxiety, Ashley felt motivated to pursue hypnotherapy as a career path. She founded Mindful Change Hypnotherapy in Easton, PA. Her personal experience with anxiety, she says, helps her to better relate with her clients. We recently chatted about hypnotherapy itself, what it entails, and what it can do for stress and anxiety sufferers. Summer: So, I guess I'll start with this: what IS hypnotherapy? Ashley Taylor, CHt: Hypnotherapy combines interactive cognitive behavioral therapy with a hypnosis session at the end in order to help others reach their goals -- whether it be quitting smoking, weight management, stress relief, improving academic performance, increasing confidence, and so on. The list is literally endless. When someone has the intent and willingness, hypnotherapy can aid in virtually any issue or concern. How does real-life hypnotherapy differ from the kinds of self-hypnosis exercises that you can download on the internet?