I contacted Orla because I wanted to do something about my intense claustrophobia. It’s not something I had for all my life – in fact, it came on pretty late, about 10 years ago or so, when I volunteered to be part of some medical research, part of which involved having an MRI scan. For whatever reason, I really went into a panic while that was happening – my heart was racing, I felt like I was going to be sick and that things were closing in on me, that I was trapped. I had to ask them to stop what they were doing and to get me out of there. From then on, the claustrophobia extended and worsened, so that it got to the point where I dreaded going into tunnels, and would become extremely panicked at the thought of taking the car through a car wash for example, and not be able to go through with it.

Now, having been through a course of 9 training sessions with Orla, I feel fully confident that if I did have to have an MRI scan, I would be completely ok, and that I have the skills and techniques to manage my feelings around this. I did in fact end up going through a car wash the other day, and whereas normally I would have been having horrible flashbacks to that day of the MRI, and panicking, and turning into a hot, sweaty mess and pulling the car right out of there, I was able to use the techniques and visualisations I have learned to calm and reassure myself, and I did not experience anything beyond a mild disquiet. I feel like I am in a place now where I can go on really practicing the visualisation techniques and the other methods by myself, and that things will just get better and better. If I did have to have an MRI scan for personal health reasons one day, I feel confident that I could use the same techniques and feel no worse than I did in the car wash last week.

I have also found that the effects of hypnotherapy have stretched out beyond the issue I originally came for. Before, I used to suffer a lot of stress and anxiety before public speaking engagements, and I used to be very nervous and uncomfortable around driving. Now, it is hard to remember these things even being a worry. I now enjoy driving, and where it used to be something that I would hate doing and think to myself ‘Uggh, I have to do this, even though it’s horrible’, now I feel quite powerful and relaxed doing it, and I think to myself ‘This is great, I can do this!’. And in terms of public speaking, I am now able to just speak to myself calmly and logically beforehand about how it is an important thing to do, and needs doing. I also feel quite calm while I am speaking, and afterwards I never have that dreadful sense of ‘Oh, I made such a fool of myself!’ – instead I feel happy and quietly proud of myself for standing up for the things I believe in. I have even volunteered for extra speaking events and been generally more outgoing and confident during protests and events in ways I never would have thought possible before.

(Marianne, 66, Activist and Retired Midwife)

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