The Issues I work with...
- Weight loss for health reasons
- Smoking/ Alcohol
- Specific anxiety
Chronic pain is different to normal pain.
How can hypnotherapy help?
Have you been saying you need to lose weight for health reasons?
Do you keep telling yourself you need to stop smoking?
Is there a part of you which isn’t happy with your drinking?
Do you need help with any of these?
Do you get specific triggers?
Maybe things are basically okay — but there’s an issue making your life awkward or miserable.
What’s the trigger for you? What’s the cue?
What is it? How does it work?
Experience effective hypnosis safely with a fully qualified clinical hypnotist, hypnotherapist, and healthcare professional
Issues I work with...
Issues I work with
Oliver Hollis MSc, Dip Hyp
NCH Registered Hypnotherapist
HCPC Registered PhysiotherapistI am a Clinical Hypnotist (HPD) and HCPC Registered Physiotherapist.I specialise in helping patients and clients with the management of pain. I have years of experience working with fibromyalgia and other pain producing conditions. Outside of pain, but also health-related, is the work I do helping people stick with and enjoy(!) diets to manage diabetes. This type of hypnosis for eating also works for reducing weight necessary to have, or to avoid hip or knee surgery, or to take the excess load off your spine in order to manage pain.I like to see people when they want (or need) to do something about their eating, or smoking, or when they feel they are drinking too much alcohol. You may simply feel the time is right to have a healthier lifestyle and you want to consider some non-judgemental, professional help.The other area of work I do is helping people who get anxiety. This could be anxiety in specific situations like going on stage, doing exams, public speaking, or driving on certain types of road. It could be dealing with lifts (elevators), or aversions to spiders, buttons, or beards and so on. Some people have issues with peeing; others, pull their hair or bite their nails.All these are examples of anxiety and if you experience this feeling you know it affects the quality of your life. Hypnotherapy is one of the best treatments, with a solid track record for getting people beyond the problem. General anxiety is somewhat different and when I can help you I use psychology combined with hypnotherapy. Because this veers towards the medical end of my work I’ll sometimes work with your doctor and/or clinical psychologist if necessary and my work tends to be quite specific.Contact me for further information.
Training & Experience
I have an MSc in Hypnosis in Research, Medicine, & Clinical Practice from Bournemouth University.I hold the Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma (HPD) which is the gold standard hypnotherapy qualification. I trained at the internationally renowned Anglo European School of Therapeutic Hypnosis. I have ongoing clinical supervision through this college.I am an active member of the British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis (BSCAH). BSCAH membership is exclusively limited to medical doctors, qualified healthcare professionals, and academic hypnosis researchers. I have presented at BSCAH webinars as well as teaching emergency medicine doctors how to use fast, hypnotic techniques for pain relief, panic attack management, and patient sedation without anaesthesia in the ED (A&E).I am registered with the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) and abide by their strict code of ethics for hypnotherapists. I have a wealth of experience treating NHS patients with long-term conditions and the issues I describe here, and I adhere to the professional code of ethics required for my ongoing State registration as a physiotherapist (Health & Care Professions Council, HCPC).The main branch of the “psychological tree” I’ve trained in has the behavioural approaches of ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) — which I often use in conjunction with hypnosis. I qualified in CBT for pain at master’s level at the University of Hertfordshire. I also use REBT (Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy) which has distinctive features useful for overcoming obstacles to change.
Chronic pain is different...
How does it work?
I’ll help you understand your pain in clear and accurate ways because then you will be able to understand how it is even possible for something like hypnotherapy to help with conditions such as fibromyalgia. Without accurate understanding some people, or their family(!) might mistakenly believe that hypnotherapy for pain is somehow not real, or is merely placebo. They might think that because hypnosis is something to do with your mind that it means you must be imagining your pain. I know you are not imagining your pain.It’s not just the mind which is important; it’s the brain. This is how it’s possible for hypnosis to alter pain: it works in the brain — the same place as any other medication.The way I work with chronic pain is straight-forward but the clients I work with sometimes have highly complex pain problems. There are important differences between people even when they have the same diagnosis. I am interested specifically in your pain. Some people respond very quickly — and there are interesting reasons for that. Some people take longer and that is because I’m often teaching you a set of skills. Some of it is hypnosis but all of it is grounded in the best treatments without medication that pain science has produced. Skills take a little time to get sharp but once you have them, they’re yours. I want you to be as independent as possible.
General or Specialist?
Pain can be a highly specialised area. The good news is that several common mild or moderate chronic pain conditions can be helped by hypnosis even when it is done by a regular hypnotherapist (so long as they pay due attention to your safety). It can get a little more complicated for some people because not all chronic pain is produced the same way. If you have already tried hypnotherapy, or “mindfulness”, or relaxation apps without results then please feel free to contact me for a realistic assessment of what may or may not be possible.As a pain specialist therapist I am familiar with the limitations and side-effects of medical pain management. I’m careful not to overstate the claims for hypnosis and pain. However, knowing how to do hypnosis effectively can give you a way of changing habits and suffering forever. I am always happy to discuss hypnosis and treatment with you and your GP. Your safety is my always my priority.Contact me
Background to this work
I used to be a smoker and like so many, I had a phase in my life where I became overly dependent on alcohol. These habits which once controlled my life no longer bother me but it was not easy getting to this point. Likewise, I was heavy but I had health problems from being big. Now, I am my preferred weight (BMI 22-23) and I’m happier being lighter. I honestly do not have enough will power to be a non-smoker, control alcohol, and maintain my weight.To change your life like this you almost certainly need to change your perspective — but when that happens these issues are no longer a struggle. Can you imagine what that would feel like for you? But this is the basis of my work with patients and clients and it’s actually the reason why I do this work. I want to help you take the better path on a consistent basis in a way that feels natural and normal for you.
First, the emphasis is always on health. Having a lot of body fat does not automatically make you unhealthy. Fat people can be healthy and often are; slim people can be unhealthy, and often are.I work with anyone who wants to change their behaviour around diet and exercise. This means I’m quite happy if your agenda is to stay whatever size you are but you also want to change something about the way you eat. A common reason is wanting to manage diabetes.If you want to change weight there can be many reasons why it never seems to work so we explore true barriers because they are important. For most of my clients it’s not through lack of trying.In addition to managing diabetes I see people who have been told they need to achieve a target weight for a hip or knee surgery, OR to avoid having that surgery. Weight reduction can also be useful to reduce the mechanical loading on the spine as part of pain management.
With smoking the only acceptable outcome is to stop and stay stopped. Ethically, I do not believe it’s right to offer you any other outcome.If you’re concerned that stopping smoking would increase your anxiety, or your weight we will deal with all of that in the session(s).You are not going to fall apart because you quit. In fact you’ll become stronger and cope better. Book an appointment to stop. Let’s just be done with it.
With alcohol it’s often tricky because you might be in two minds about what you want. Quite possibly you might wonder how you can feel so determined to stop or cut down only to have it fall apart hours, days, or weeks later. This is the problem with alcohol.Honestly, I don’t think hypnosis alone helps much with controlling alcohol in the long run. BUT…
There are things which make hypnotherapy highly likely to help you achieve the long run of your choice:- A break from drinking — in order to begin to think clearly
- Working through what you want to do — how do you want to drink? Do you want to drink? Why do you want to drink?
- How to cope with the big white space of life without alcohol whether it’s for short term, medium term, or long term.Hypnotherapy can help with all of those so that’s why I’m happy to work with people who want to do something about their drinking. I also have experience with what does work for the long run (and it’s different things for different people). My approach is let's see what works best for you and we can use hypnotherapy, and whatever is useful, to help get you there.You might want to try 30-90 days alcohol free. Hypnotherapy can help with that.
You might just want to talk to someone who isn’t your family or your doctor and who isn’t going to tell you what to do or judge you.
If you want to talk, you’re welcome — book a session.
"I only have this problem when..."
Some anxiety only appears in specific situations.
You may find yourself adjusting your life to avoid these situations.Examples include:
- Speaking to groups, or avoiding going out
- Playing or performing in front of people
- Driving on slip roads or certain types of roads
- Difficulty peeing in some situations
- Avoiding lifts
- Avoiding MRI scanners
- Avoiding dentists
- Avoiding needles
- Feeling disgust when noticing… anything from buttons, to beards, to spiders
- Exam nerves
- “Appearances” (if you are in London and doing The Knowledge)
A new life...
My experience with this type of work began years ago when a musician asked if hypnotherapy could help with their Performance Anxiety - commonly referred to as “stage fright”. Hypnotherapy is a treatment of choice with these situations and I am proud to offer this service in addition to health-related work. There are massive improvements that it can make to a person's quality of life, especially in terms of decreased stress and anxiety.Hypnotherapy is effective with all sorts of specific anxiety. Even though these anxieties look so different on the surface they tend to share a few common underlying structures. Hypnosis allows you learn new responses to the old distressing triggers. Take the structure away and the anxiety goes.Contact me if you would like more information.
hypnotherapy, and how it works...
It’s probably a good idea to have some idea about hypnosis and hypnotherapy. It will also help to know how I approach the specific kind of work I do for health-related issues.What hypnosis is not
It is not sleep, trance, or letting your mind be controlled by the hypnotist. It is not about being “put under” or being reprogrammed. Hypnosis is not a magic sleep and it will not turn you into a pain-free, teetotal, non-smoking, diet-following zombie. Nobody wants that. Really.So what is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is essentially a way to divert and control the attention in a specific way. When you do this you can experience some useful changes of perception — specifically with regard to pain, cravings, and other attention grabbing thoughts and feelings.Doing hypnosis is often easier to experience than to describe. It’s a bit like how simply experiencing the beauty of a sunset is different to analysing it. Yes, you can analyse a sunset, but sometimes you just want to appreciate it .
The word “therapy” can give the wrong idea but we are probably stuck with it — the sort of therapy I practice tends to be very solution focused.Hypnotherapy (let’s call it that for now) is ideal for working with issues which are not quite medical enough for your doctor, and not so threatening that you need a clinical psychologist. It’s a flexible approach that can work regardless of whether or not someone has mental health issues.Issues which fall between medicine and clinical psychology are exactly the things that hypnotherapists deal with.
How I work
You do not have to tell me the details and history of everything that brings you to me if you prefer not to. We don’t disregard the past but the focus is more on the present and how to respond differently.The bit many people wonder about is the hypnotherapy component. Are there “magic” words or how does it work? It honestly is exactly what I’ve said: it’s a specific way to divert and control your attention and I’ll help you do that. We do all this over Zoom. Hypnosis takes place in your head and you don’t actually need to be in a therapy room — you might as well be comfortable Zooming from home. For all the types of work I do, online sessions are just as effective as f2f sessions.Most people are seeking personal change and don’t know what’s holding them back. Hypnotherapy doesn’t force change on you. It clarifies what you want to do; it lets you get out of your own way and stay out of your own way.Find out more
Referral for treatments using hypnosis
Reading time: approx 2.5 minutes for essential, (6 minutes for full 870 words)This is a brief guide to help you decide if it’s worth recommending this type of hypnotherapy for a patient with chronic pain or health-related lifestyle issues, how it works, and who benefits most.If you have patients who have asked if there are “other options” for chronic pain or problems with eating, smoking, drinking — these are the important criteria which would allow you to recommend this kind of hypnotherapy with confidence. These are not absolutes but relative guides:- Full-fluency in the same language as the therapist
- GAD-7 any score up to and including 21
- PHQ-9 <19
- For fibromyalgia and chronic widespread pain: High pain scores on pain-specific outcome measures (e.g. BPI, STarT Back etc) are not a barrier when working with an experienced pain therapist. Note: Two factors which are negatively correlated with favourable outcomes are higher levels of negative affect, (e.g. PHQ-9 >18), and/or a rigid biomedical focus on pathology. Psychological inflexibility is the thing to consider: If the patient can only engage with biomedical explanations of organic, structural aetiology then they are unlikely to fully benefit from a biopsychosocial approach.
- For behavioural, lifestyle modification the patient should have moved from a Pre-contemplation stage to at least a Contemplation stage.The commonest issues I work with are:
- Chronic pain (including neuropathic pain)
- Dietary adherence with DM2
- Weight reduction to meet surgical BMI target
- Smoking cessation refractory to standard advice and treatment
- Alcohol awareness secondary to non-physiological addiction, (usually stress is the primary driver)The ideal patient for this kind of psychologically-informed therapy using hypnosis is someone who needs more than biomedical interventions alone, and who is struggling with emotional distress and dysfunctional behaviour but is not at risk or requiring referral to a clinical psychologist. If recommending me: I work in a jargon-free way in the therapeutic sessions but all the work uses science-based and evidence-based techniques. My analytical approach is broadly behaviourist and I favour principles of operant conditioning in session and as post-hypnotic cues. My therapy style is person-centred.How does hypnosis work for pain and behavioural change?
Hypnosis is essentially a way to divert and control the attention. All that’s required for it to be therapeutically effective is to divert and control the attention for long enough for suggestions delivered in hypnosis to feel automatic and natural in learned carry over. Delivered correctly, hypnotic suggestions feel believable and coherent. They act as intrinsic positive reinforcers of behaviour which subjectively for the patient is felt as “motivation”.Hypnosis in pain research has arrived at a consensus model showing that hypnotic pain control is essentially the ability to perform a top-down modulation of the perception of nociception. The ability is normally distributed across all tested populations. In the lab all but the lowest rated subjects can generally achieve statistically significant pain reduction, with the highest rated subjects often achieving impressive analgesia. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that this ability is not a static trait as was once believed and the skill can be enhanced by training.Clinically, “hypnotherapy” harnesses other factors in addition to hypnosis itself. With real patients who want real relief the best functional outcomes are achieved not by merely focusing on nociception but also by addressing the way chronic pain has an impact on every domain of the patient’s life. The insights of the last two decades of pain research using non-pharmacological methods show the importance of reducing psychological distress and suffering. These insights can be brought into hypnotherapy through teaching patients cognitive skills and behavioural modification. The most effective way of doing this is to use the type of resources found in pain management programmes where the material is drawn from CBT and ACT. The psychological therapy is doing the heavy lifting but hypnosis makes adherence feel coherent and achievable.Feel free to contact me for further details regarding hypnosis, clinical suitability etc.
I am available for presentations to doctors, nurses, allied healthcare professionals, and patient groups.Note
“Hypnotherapy” is not a titled or licenced profession so doctors can be understandably wary about recommending a hypnotherapist. If considering me, I am an active member of the British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis (BSCAH) whose membership is limited to doctors, researchers, and allied healthcare professionals. I still work in the NHS and I hold a full, current registration with HCPC (physiotherapy register). I am qualified to use hypnosis as a non-pharmacalogical method of pain management and behavioural modification. I am fully compliant with all ethical, GDPR, and CPD requirements for registration. On the academic side, I have conducted hypnosis research at Bournemouth University which required both academic and NHS ethics committee approval.I have extensive experience working with chronic pain patients in hospital based pain clinics, pain management programmes, and a track record for producing positive objective outcomes even with difficult cases. When working with all clients, but especially those who have come via GP recommendation, I always note the wider supporting network of medical professionals who may be involved. Assessment in hypnotherapy sessions is always ongoing with an awareness for signs and symptoms which would require the attention of a medical professional.
Are you interested to learn more about what I can do for you?If you have any questions please write using the form provided and I will do my best to get back to you as fast as possible.I am located in London, England. Using Zoom we can work together from anywhere in the world. For international clients my time zone is UTC in winter, or UTC+1 in summer. (GMT or BST as these are often known.)HEADS UP: Check your Spam folder in case my reply gets filtered there.
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