Hello, my name is Alexandra Ashida. I’m a fully qualified, registered and insured Clinical Hypnotherapist and I have a confession to make… I was a cynic.
I qualified as an Occupational Therapist in the early ’90s and have always worked in the NHS, following evidence-based treatment protocols. I was blessed with an upbringing that was strict enough to show me right from wrong, relaxed enough to let me figure some stuff out for myself, and have always recognised myself as a sensible, practical kind of person, a ‘don’t make a mountain out of a molehill… grit your teeth and get on with it’ kind of a girl.
Then something strange happened; I fell off a horse.
Now to be fair, in itself that wasn’t so strange, I’d definitely had that experience before. Disagreeable or even just downright painful stuff occasionally happens to the best of us. What was strange was that I lost my confidence.
I don’t mean I felt a bit nervous about my next ride, I TOTALLY lost my confidence. Getting back on the horse (so to speak) just wasn’t an option, even standing next to a horse made me feel panicked.
The ‘don’t make a mountain/grit your teeth’ approach that had always worked so well for me, actually seemed to make things worse.
If someone had tried to convince me the week before that I’d feel like this, I’d have thought they were bonkers! It felt like a switch had flicked in my head, and my brain had decided “you know that thing you really like doing… yeah, well stop it immediately, it’s clearly going to kill you (you idiot) In fact that big ginger horse you’re so keen on… well back away (you stupid woman), it’s a four-legged bringer of doom.”
I started noticing other areas of my life that were making me feel anxious. I worried about money, worried about my kids, stressed at work, and I really wasn’t enjoying this new view of myself.
A couple of people suggested hypnotherapy, but I wasn’t convinced. “If it works, why don’t the NHS use it?” I wondered. I thought there would be watch swinging, possibly crystals and definitely plinky-plonky music!
Anyway, I clearly hadn’t entirely lost all of my sense of adventure, so started googling things like ‘scared to ride my horse’ ‘lost all confidence’ and ‘does hypnotherapy work?’ (pretty adventurous, eh?!) And I got lucky. I found horse confidence, one day course run by a guy called Karl Greenwood.
Karl trained as a hypnotherapist and combines this with his tremendous skill and love of horses, to run a stunt company, providing amazing horses for film/tv etc., as well as running courses for scaredy-cat equestrians. (I can’t tell you how funny my kids thought it was that I was going on a course for stunt riders!)
The course was great; Karl used up-to-date neuroscience to explain why our brains create these fears and avoidance strategies and demonstrated, in practical and effective ways, how ‘action beats anxiety’. There was no mind control, no wishy-washy language, just sensible, evidence-based and really effective therapy.
I stopped for a few minutes at the end of the day to ask Karl about his hypnotherapy training as I could immediately see how his approach benefits much more than just rider confidence issues.
“Solution Focussed!” he said, “It’s the only one worth bothering with. There’s a college in Bristol. The Clifton Practice. It’s marvellous” (he’s pretty straight-talking)
So, I went home, did more googling, and signed up!
… and here I am, two years later, with my own business, doing something that I absolutely love. If I won the lottery tomorrow (which is unlikely, I don’t play it), I’d still do this job.
It fills me with joy to see people get so much better, so quickly from even severe phobias, depression that has made getting out of bed seems like a huge task, or anxiety so big that it has affected every area of their life.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH) has sorted out my fear around horses, but that was just the start. It improved my relationships, it’s helped me be a better Mum, it’s helped my NHS work both in supporting patients and my colleagues... oh, and it’s also helped me lose 20lbs and take up regular exercise! (It must be good;)
So, I thought I’d start a blog to share the stuff that I know, things that I hope you’ll find interesting and useful. To begin with, here are five things you should know about Solution Focused Hypnotherapy:
1) It’s a brief therapy; you might be surprised just how quickly you see a change. In the nicest possible way, I aim for all of my clients to leave me pretty quickly.
2) You don’t need years of appointments examining all your problems in order to feel better. Solution Focused Therapy does what it says. It looks at, and uses, how you’d like things to be, not how you wouldn’t like them to be.
3) It’s a really pleasant, relaxing and reviving experience. People look forward to their appointments and walk out happier than they came in. (I’ve had the same box of tissues for a year, therapy doesn’t have to be difficult to work!)
4) There’s no watch swinging, no walking like chickens, nothing out of control or scary at all. Hypnotherapy is actually very ordinary and easy; you probably do it already without realising (and that’s a subject for another blog, I think)
5) There is a small amount of plinky-plonky music... but it’s grown on me!
In my next blog, I plan to write a bit about how SFH helps my clients to make changes, and why I think it’s a viable alternative to more traditional forms of therapy. In the mean-time, if there’s anything you’d like to know more about, any questions you’d like me to answer, please do get in touch. I’m always happy to talk about this stuff!
See you soon,