Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – A Speciality
Now my new site and blog has been running for a few days, I feel it it would be remiss of me not to write something about my speciality, PTSD. So to kick off, it would probably be prudent to tell you how I came to specialise in the area, a story which is inextricably interlinked with why I became a hypnotherapist in the first place. Lets face it, it is a striking contrast from being a 22 year Army career man to a therapist!
When I originally trained as a hypnotherapist I was told not to worry too much about specialising in any particular area. My specialty will find me! In my early days of practice I thought my speciality would be weight management or depression as I seemed to get a fair few of these and had a lot of success in treating them (and still do). But I found I was being asked more and more of my experiences over my 22 year Army career and my own battle with psychological trauma. So perhaps it would be better to start from the beginning and what inspired me to become a hypnotherapist in the first place.
Born on the Isle of Wight, the son of hoteliers, I became interested in hypnosis at a very early age when witnessing a stage hypnotist give a spontaneous show in the hotel bar. Later in my teens, this led to a further interest in matters of the mind, devouring any material I could get my hands on regarding the subject. But being a youngster and feeling the need to get off the island and away from it’s insular life style I decided to join the Army straight out of school. Originally it was a means to an end. I thought, OK I’ll do 3 years and move on. Then at my 8 or 9 year point I thought I might as well do 12 years (the half pension point). Before I knew it I was staring 22 years squarely in the face! During my time in the Army I served in places like Northern Ireland and Bosnia and it was certain lamentable incidents from both of these that saw me tackling psychological trauma type symptoms. But my interest in hypnosis and wider interest in the human mind saved me. Through all my reading over the years, I recognised the symptoms for what they were and more importantly sorted myself out before things got too bad.
But the real inspiration to become a hypnotherapist came in the form of two lads who had accompanied me on operations. Both had seen me suffer the same sorts of symptoms they were suffering from, but they also saw me “deal with it”. Separately they asked me what I’d done and how I’d come to terms with it all. Looking back on it now, I realise that I gave them both a session on the couch. 6 months later one of them came back to me and in thanking me he stated that my advice and the “tips & tricks” I had taught him had not only helped him with his demons but also saved his marriage! THAT was my inspiration! I got such a buzz from helping these guys, that I immediately set about researching how to train as a hypnotherapist. After months of casting a nervous eye toward “civvy street” and wondering what the hell I was going to do when I got out, I was suddenly inspired to turn a life long passion for hypnosis into a profession. I trained with the Institute of Clinical Hypnosis (ICH) in London and qualified with about 18 months left to do, during which time I set about assisting as many as I could find who were suffering psychological trauma type symptoms.
So it was people with psychological trauma that inspired me to turn professional in the first place. I realised PTSD was becoming a speciality when the first peer groups asked me to talk to the groups on the subject or give presentations. Now a member of the faculty at the ICH, I also lecture to their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) classes. Giving therapists who might be apprehensive in going anywhere near someone with PTSD the added confidence to do so and make a difference.
I’ve had people say to me “But you can’t cure PTSD because you can’t take the memories away” and looking at it that way you might think they would have a point. But you CAN deal with the emotional sting attached to the memories. It’s not the memory that upsets us, but that emotional sting and it is possible to have had PTSD and go on to lead healthy and productive lives.