ypnosis might conjure up strange memories of Paul McKenna TV shows from the Nineties, but it’s having a revival in the capital, as Londoners search for healing methods to rewire their pandemic-weathered minds.
Hypnotherapy dates back thousands of years. The ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans are all thought to have dedicated sleep or “dream” temples to healing therapy in the hypnotic state, and today, it is widely used to treat anxiety, addictions, pain management, stress, sleep and confidence issues.
How does it work? In a guided session, a hypnotherapist uses visualisation and hypnosis techniques to take you into a deep state of relaxation, or altered state of awareness, in which you’ll be “highly responsive” to a series of positivesuggestions they plant which are aimed at breaking the root of bad habits and reframing traumas, explains hypnotherapist Ailsa Frank. “We use techniques to make changes in the subconscious part of the mind, which stores memories and learned behaviour, while the conscious critical mind is at rest.”
These suggestions are usually things you’ve discussed beforehand. People usually see a hypnotherapist to treat one main issue, which becomes the predominant focus of the hypno session. But other issues — related to confidence and anxiety, for example — are also often dealt with along the way. “For instance, during hypnotherapy to reduce drinking we would cover the confidence issues that may cause someone to drink more the night before a work presentation to cope with nerves,or things like relationship or heartbreak issues that might be driving their drinking,” Frank continues.
Just as in a talking therapy session, “there is no judgement in the room,” adds clinical hypnotherapist Lydia Johnson, founder of the London Clinic of Hypnotherapy. “I like to think of my clinic as a nook away from the negative noise at home, a safe place you look forward to being in, where you can unravel away from the trials of life, be listened to and piece together the inner landscape and turmoil.”
My clinics are a safe place you look forward to being in, where you can unravel away from the trials of life
Most hypnotherapists say you’ll need between two and four sessions to treat a specific problem, while others say you can break habits in a single session.
Many now incorporate audio recordings for their clients to follow up with their progress from home. Meanwhile, a wave of new self-hypnosis apps are making it more accessible and easier to try at home. Listening regularly for an intense period of time gives best results, Frank says. “Listen daily to the same subject for three weeks to break a habit. You can dip in and out of other subjects but have one that is your main one.”
Not sure who to call? Whether you need a creativity boost or to nix pandemic-induced vices, here are some of London’s top hypnotherapists and the issues they treat.
For a creativity boost...
Stuck in a creativity or career rut? It’s Jessica Boston, aka The Creators’ Hypnotherapist, who millennial Londoners have on speed dial to help them break out of behavioural patterns that are holding them back in life.
“My powerful subconscious somatic hypnosis and transformational coaching programmes help clients to understand their subconscious feelings and work through trauma and anxiety to build the confidence to achieve their creative goals,” she says. “My techniques are designed for open-minded, high-achieving, yet unfulfilled individuals who want to understand their feelings better and create a state that allows them to reach their potential with greater ease.”
Boston offers online sessions as part of her one-to-one Homecoming programme and, this year is launching group hypnotherapy sessions. Her clients receive MP3 recordings to reinforce progress made in each session in their own time. Expect to end a session feeling like the world is your oyster.
Cost: enquire direct.
For alcohol reduction...
Frank is well-known in the UK for her “Take Control of Alcohol Hypnotherapy Reduction System.” Author of Cut the Crap and Feel Amazing and founder of the Feel Amazing hypnotherapy app, she uses techniques to get to the root problem of issues like anxiety, stress, debt and addictions, to help clients break habits and release cravings, while boosting their self-confidence.
Most of her clients are looking to reduce their alcohol consumption rather than quit completely, while she also specialises in treating women who are looking to stop or cut back on their drinking in preparation for starting a family. Her typical one-to-one sessions take place over the phone, and have done for the past 15 years (long before the pandemic), but this year she has launched an in-person clinic at The Birth Company on Harley Street, where she will also be offering sessions with clients focused on fertility.
Frank recommends between two and four sessions to break a habit, and follow up with recordings on her app. Read one writer’s account of how sessions with Ailsa helped cure her binge drinking here.
Cost: £175 per session.
For eating-related issues, weight management and addictions...
Harley Street hypnotherapist Susan Hepburn is reported to have helped too many stars to name over the years. “I work with the whole person to ensure results are permanent — I don’t believe in a ‘quick fix’,” she says. “The first half of the session involves talking and discovering how I can help my clients with their issues that brought them to see me, when I invariably discover other related issues too. By listening to my clients, I am getting their storyline. The next part is the meditation, where I do my work of changing the narrative and deleting unwanted files of negative behaviour patterns that we have agreed beforehand. We work together as a partnership, but it’s crucial that my clients feel that these are their instructions and not mine. I am simply there as a catalyst to make it all happen.”
Hepburn says clients who come to her with issues related to smoking, alcohol, cocaine and sugars will often see results after a single session.
Cost: from £295 to £395 a session.
For help with anxiety, addictions and confidence...
Psychologist and hypnotherapist Aaron Surtees is the founder of City Hypnosis andthe Subconsciously app. He primarily treats clients for issues related to anxiety and confidence, root relationships with food, alcohol and social media, as well as unwanted habits such as nail biting, needle phobia and psychosexual issues. The Surtees Method combines hypnotic suggestions and mind programming techniques to rewire the subconscious mind and change unwanted patterns of thought and behaviour. He offers in-person and video hypnosis, and typically recommends four sessions. Clients can reinforce the work achieved in sessions with audio downloads and recordings via his app.
Cost: £350 per session (or £325 each when booking four).
For the whole family...
Constantly feel like you’re navigating a tight rope, trying to juggle parenthood, a busy career and everything else that life throws at you? Over in Soho, it’s a family affair at the London Clinic of Hypnotherapy, a chic space run by Lydia Johnson. She works with entire families, including everything from tired or anxious parents, frazzled step parents, siblings, cousins and offspring at points in their lives when everything feels overwhelming.
“There is a particular time within the family atmosphere that tends to be the busiest and most frenetic,” Johnson says. “Teens and students are growing into themselves, with their own individual needs and aspirations, they may be going out too much, under eating, feeling stressed about exams or not feeling listened to at home, it tends to coincide with parents being at the pinnacle of their career, having lots of responsibilities and perhaps feeling under-appreciated.” This is where Johnson steps in, to help deal with the stress and bad habits that can arise as a result of this environment.
“Hypnotherapy is a solutions-focused effective technique to soothe the overwhelmed. It focuses on quietening the conscious mind and letting go of the subconscious patterns keeping you stuck.” She will usually recommend her signature three-hour “breakthrough session” —organised into five pillars: family, relationships, work, diet, health and sense of self — and can be done online in two parts or in clinic in one sitting. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Cost: from £395 for the three-hour breakthrough session.