Coaching with Hypnotherapy

Last Saturday I attended another life coaching foundation course in central London; this one was again different to the others I’ve attended, as it also included an element of hypnotherapy (which isn’t something I’ve had much exposure to). This course was an introductory day, run by John Mill and his colleague Joan of Evolve Hypnotherapy, aimed specifically at those looking to become life coaches. The course was held at Birkbeck University and followed a similar format to the other introductory courses I’ve attended, involving a number of different elements including: introductions and anecdotes from the trainers, theory, practical demonstrations with volunteers (including myself) and pair activities.

Some of the information presented e.g. analysing eye movement, which comes from the NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) branch of life coaching, was something I’d been introduced to previously. From what I’ve observed course content for life coaching courses seems fairly consistent from the various training providers (although some will have a particular focus, in this case Evolve offers an element of hypnotherapy). Other considerations when choosing a course include the general approach to coaching; is the provider more goal focused or does it have a more in-depth, holistic approach (perhaps focusing more on why the client hasn’t achieved their goals previously/has established negative belief patterns for example). The other main distinction seems to be about the provider’s course structure. By this I’m referring to the way the course is run (the course duration, whether it’s undertaken online or in a classroom setting and the elements that make up the course -for instance practical hours, assessments etc.)

Evolve appears to be a much smaller provider/less established than some of the others I’m come across, for instance Animas and The Coaching Academy. This may mean there is less overall structure and as a trainee coach, you’re likely to work with a smaller number of other trainees (as the course intake is likely to be smaller), so will have fewer people to practice the strategies and techniques with, however I can also see the benefits of training with a smaller provider. Training with a provider like Evolve is likely to offer you a more intimate, personal experience, where you have a closer relationship with the trainers, as well as your peers on the course. I expect this would create more of a ‘family’ style environment. Like with a work setting, I think finding a provider that suits your personality and your way of working is important; and I’ve found attending introductory days has been useful for me in gauging this. For example I have ruled out any online providers because virtual learning is not for me. I know that I learn better in a classroom setting and I also prefer the interaction and opportunity to build relationships, which a live environment offers.

Years ago I attended the ‘Friendly Spider Programme’ at London Zoo, (a day course aimed at helping those with arachnophobia overcome their fear of spiders through hypnotherapy). This is the only time I’ve been exposed to hypnotherapy, so I was quite relieved to find no one was able to take control of my mind or put me to sleep. Personally I found hypnotherapy was just like being in a more relaxed state of mind, similar to the state you experience during meditation. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it though, perhaps I was disappointed as I thought there would be more to it or that my fear would vanish within 24 hours, which wasn’t the case, although I did find the course helpful to some extent. Since then I’ve been keen to learn more about how hypnotherapy works, to see if my experience was typical.

During the Evolve training day we were invited to be hypnotised as a group, which involved us listening to John direct us to focus on our breathing, to think about our bodies relaxing and to picture ourselves in a pleasant place, thinking positive thoughts. This is done gradually, with suggestions of where you might be, what you might be seeing, hearing and feeling and allows you to slowly and gently move into a deeper state of consciousness. Following this, we then paired up and took turns to hypnotise our partners, using the scripts provided. This exercise linked in with the earlier eye movement task, as we were encouraged to identify whether we are a visual, auditory or kinaesthetic in terms of the primary sense we respond to (most people lean more towards one of these senses). We were then asked to use the specific script applicable to our partner, which focused on the particular sense they respond best to. The reason for this is that when you’re attempting to connect with a person, being aware of the sense they identify most with can help you communicate with them effectively, and promote a strong response from them. For instance,  if you ask someone how their holiday was and they describe how clean the beach looked, how shiny the marble in the hotel lobby was and the exquisite colour of the sea, they are likely to be a more ‘visual’ person. If they describe the sound of the waves, the chirping of the birds outside their bedroom window and the music they heard in a bar they went to, they are likely to be an ‘audio’ person. Finally, if the person describes how relaxing it felt to have a break, how walking on the soft sand felt and how warm and friendly the staff at their hotel were, they are likely to be more of a ‘kinaesthetic’ person. The scripts were therefore tailored accordingly.

I now understand that hypnotherapy is about invoking an altered state of consciousness, allowing the hypnotherapist to tap into the client’s subconscious mind, to make suggestions in order to re-programme patterns of behaviour; a tool used to help encourage positive change in a person’s thoughts and in turn, their actions. The client must of course be open to this in order for it to work effectively. Having now revisited hypnotherapy, I’m starting to see how this could be beneficial.

There was also teaching about Human Needs Psychology, a theory suggesting six basic human needs (based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs I believe). This theory differs from Maslow’s Hierarchy however, firstly because the needs are somewhat different (although the premise is the same in that the theory seeks to explain our motivations), and secondly because unlike Maslow’s structure, where everyone has the same basic need (physiological) and works up towards the highest need (self-actualisation), with the six needs there is no set order or hierarchy. Instead, the importance placed on each need is determined by the individual. These six needs are: certainty, uncertainty, significance, love/connection, growth and contribution. When these were described, this really resonated with me. I can see how I strive for all of these things, which are my priorities and some of the functional and dysfunctional ways I work to achieve them.

John also discussed the importance of living in the moment (not focusing on the past which can’t be changed, or wishing away time to get to the future assuming this will be better), how moving in a positive direction is better than not moving at all, and he explained how the stories we continue to tell ourselves can block us from taking action in our lives. An expression he used to portray our inactivity in implementing new knowledge and learning was “Shelf development not self-development”, which is similar to Brooke Castillo referring to our ‘passive learning‘ when we read/listen/discuss but don’t take the next step of putting our learning into practice. We learn something on an intellectual level but until we implement this learning, it’s not providing us with its full value.


Vision Board Workshop!


A couple of nights ago I attended something called a ‘Vision Board Workshop’ in East London, which was described as ‘Life Coaching with Arts and Crafts’. My immediate thought was ‘What a great combination, stationery and life coaching!’ I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as an artist, but I love getting crafty and was interested to see how something like this could be used as a coaching tool, so this was right up my street.

Nazli Yuceloglu is the Life Coach who ran the workshop. She runs these weekly in fact, as she believes that some people find it helps them to be able to see their goals (quite literally), building up a picture of what achieving them will look like; whereas for others, just the process of taking the time to really think about what they want to achieve and bringing these thoughts and feelings together can be useful. Nazli uses vision boards with her clients, as well as producing these herself for her own personal development, so clearly recognises the value in them.

The workshop started with all members of the group being asked to spend a little time thinking about what we might like our vision boards to reflect, this could be a goal or perhaps a feeling we want to realise. There were no rules about what we could or couldn’t do, or any specific direction as to the way our boards should develop. The process was about as open as it could have been, which felt liberating.

I thoroughly enjoyed producing my vision board and making something which allowed me to begin bringing my ideas to life. The process was therapeutic and fun. My board represents my goal of becoming a successful Life Coach, which will hopefully allow me to run my own business, help others, nurture my gifts, travel, to be happy, healthy and successful (having financial freedom, as well as regular clients, who find value in what I can offer them) and for my exploration into life coaching to continue to be a long and positive journey.

I will definitely produce a vision board again, in order to help make my plans and dreams feel more tangible and I encourage others to try it out. I can even envisage holding a workshop of this kind myself in the future. Nazli was very giving, not just in terms of her time (the workshop overran but she seemed happy for us to stay on a little longer, to ensure everyone finished their board and to allow her the opportunity to do a short exercise with us to bring the evening to a close), but also giving in that she was willing to share with us her some of her personal experiences. We were supplied with a broad selection of resources for the task, including newspapers, magazines, stickers, gems, feathers, pens, glitter, colourful lolly sticks etc. and given the freedom to use the resources and the time as we saw fit. It was interesting to see how different members of the group used the resources it contrasting, yet equally creative ways. My suggestion for improving the experience would be for Nazli to perhaps encourage short introductions and/or a brief brainstorm at the beginning of the session, to break the ice and enable ideas to flow within the group, as I think this may help some group members make a choice about what to focus on.

The images above show some of the resources we used, as well as my completed vision board. I would highly recommend attending a workshop and making your own.


She Almighty: Women’s Coaching & Empowerment

Mikaela Image

Last night I attended a coaching event for women in central London, hosted by Personal Performance Coach Mikaela Jackson. It was an intimidate affair, a coaching workshop made up of eight women including myself, who were encouraged to share our thoughts and experiences, particularly those which led us towards coaching.

Mikaela gently facilitated the workshop, which started with the group discussing some of our limiting beliefs (beliefs we have for ourselves, which may be holding us back from achieving our full potential). Examples of these can be things such as: ‘I fail at everything I do so I’ll probably fail if I try to start my own business’, ‘I can’t afford to make my dream happen’, ‘I’m not smart enough’, ‘I don’t have enough time’ or ‘my ideas aren’t good enough’. We also discussed our understanding of how our beliefs are formed and what evidence we are using to convince ourselves that these are true.

Looking at the evidence is interesting because when you start to unravel what this actually is and where it has come from, this often reveals how weak the evidence is, demonstrating that the belief has no real basis. Let me give you an example, if you believe you fail at everything, so will probably fail in your next venture, you are likely to have evidence to support that belief. Perhaps a mental list of all things you believe you’ve failed at. However, if you take the time to write down a list of all the things you remember ever accomplishing, you’re likely to find that you’ve actually achieved a huge amount and the belief you are choosing to hold (that you fail at everything) is actually wildly inaccurate. It may also be worth considering how you determine ‘failure’ but that’s another issue… I highlight the word choosing because Mikaela reinforced what I’d learnt previously, that despite what we think, we do have a choice about the beliefs we hold of ourselves.

We were then invited to consider what the impact may be for us in holding onto these limiting beliefs and how we might overcome them, in order to achieve what we want in our lives. I think we were all in agreement that the impact is a negative one, blocking us from taking action and Mikaela stressed that having an awareness of these beliefs is the first step towards overcoming them.

We discussed our personal journeys in more detail in pairs and I know at least a couple of us had ‘penny drop’ moments, which was a great reminder to me of how sometimes a fresh perspective can open your eyes to something you think you’ve already explored every angle of.

Although I have attended some introductory life coaching sessions previously (and therefore had already explored some of the content we covered), I still found discussing this in more depth valuable. Another reason I wanted to attend is that I’m keen to build up experience of working with different life coaches, understanding their styles etc. I feel Mikaela asked some really valuable questions, interjected in discussions at useful points in order to give feedback or reflect on something said, and she has a natural warmth about her. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, it was great to meet so many like-minded women and I’m looking forward to the next session.

Life Coaching: The Manual


The Manual Image

As I’ve discussed in previous blog posts, I’ve started listening to Brooke Castillo’s Life Coaching podcasts and am now working my way through these on a daily basis. Not only do I feel I’m understanding more about life coaching by listening to these, but they are also providing me with opportunities to practice life coaching techniques on myself.

In Episode 11, Brooke discusses the unwritten rules we set for the people in our lives, referring to the rule books we create as ‘manuals’. These manuals can be for our partners, parents, friends or even our colleagues or managers, and are made up of the expectations we choose to put onto these people about how we feel they should behave. She argues that we often invest huge amounts of our emotional happiness in our rules being followed. An example might be your partner regularly leaving wet bath towels on the bed. Your expectation is that this shouldn’t happen and when it does, you’re angry about it. Sound familiar?

Not only have the people around us often not agreed to follow our rules, but much of the time they are unaware that we even have these expectations of them, so inevitably they fail to meet them. Brooke explores how we use these manuals we’ve created, the reasons they don’t really work and why (by putting our energy into trying to implement them) we are focusing our attention in the wrong places. She explains that these rules are our way of trying to control other people, which isn’t realistic and will only leave us wanting. She goes on to suggest how we can try to move away from using these manuals and in turn, change our relationships with those closest to us for the better. This one’s definitely worth a listen!

Snow and Springtime!

Here are some photos I took today in my local park. Yes, it is British springtime, yes it is snowing. I’m sure we used to have four (easily identifiable) seasons… A great time to go for a stroll though, with the exception of a handful of dog walkers, I had the park to myself. It was a much needed opportunity to get some fresh air and enjoy a bit of quiet thinking time.



Podcasts by Brooke Castillo

The Life Coach School Podcast Image

Some time ago I told you about Brooke Castillo and her life coaching podcasts that I stumbled upon. I promised an update on what I discovered so here it is…

I decided to go all the way back, starting with the first episode Brooke recorded. I’ve now listened to five episodes: Why You Aren’t Taking Action, How to Feel Better, How to Set GoalsHow to Fail and Overcoming Fear. These podcasts are my new ‘go to’ listening for my journey to work, gently nudging me into a positive frame of mind for the day ahead. I’d highly recommend sticking one on when you get in the car or hop onto your train in the morning. Some of the philosophies and strategies in the podcasts support what I’ve learnt previously (through my own reading and through the self development and life coaching courses I’ve attended), while others were new to me and have already started to get me thinking a little differently. How to Fail is my preferred episode so far. Avoiding challenges and opportunities for fear of failure is definitely something I can identity with. Brooke discusses how our fear of failure affects us and the importance of re-framing the way we view failure by… failing, regularly! Yes, she actually encourages failure. Listen to the podcast to find out why. I’m now working hard on failing!


Recipes to Kick-Start Your Year

Like most people, January comes around and I start thinking about how I can improve various areas of my life. One of which is my health. I’m now coming out the other side of a challenging ‘dry January’. I’ve cut out the booze, been eating less sugar and made an impulse purchase a few days ago, buying Joe Wicks’ ‘Lean in 15’ cookery book.

Lean in 15 contains some simple, quick and healthy recipes, as well as some HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts and nutritional information. Some of the recipes are quite similar to each other and rather predictable: chicken stir-fry, prawn and noodle stir-fry, beef stir-fry, teriyaki chicken stir-fry, Singapore noodles, duck noodles, chicken fried rice and curry fried rice), dishes you’d find in many cookery books (and ones you’re likely to have eaten/made previously if you enjoy Asian food). However, they do all appear to be pretty straightforward and speedy to prepare and there are enough options for those looking for some healthy and hurried meal solutions, in an otherwise gloomy new-routine-setting kind of a month.

Some of the more interesting and original looking recipes within the book include turkey meatballs with feta, coconut and cashew Daal and beetroot protein brownies.

I thought I’d share a couple of the recipes I’ve made this week. The first is the tortilla pizza. Surprisingly tasty, despite containing absolutely no cheese! The recipe suggests you make two pizzas but I actually found that one, with some salad, was sufficient to fill me up. The second is the BBQ chicken wrap. This wasn’t quite as enjoyable as the pizza, but nice enough and definitely something I’d make again.

I’m planning to try out a few more of the recipes in the next couple of weeks, let’s hope they’re as successful as these first couple!