Beginning a new series of interviews with Atkinson-Ball hypnotherapists.
Back in the mid-noughties Andy was hospital co-ordinator for The Priory, Manchester. This involved promoting the facilities there – in the areas of mental health, child/adolescent problems, eating disorders and, famously, alcohol addiction – to NHS doctors. Although he loved the job and liked the people he worked with, he knew it was the end of his time in sales and marketing. Then entering his 30’s, he realised he wanted to be one of the ones helping people directly.
He enrolled on a counseling training course in 2006, but found it unsatisfying. It seemed wishy-washy; the methods didn’t seem to make the difference he was looking for. Then he had some hypnotherapy with an ABC-trained therapist that forever changed his view of how therapy could be. The hypnotherapy was, he says, “amazing, direct, straight to the point.”
Andy enrolled on the Atkinson-Ball diploma course and soon dropped his counseling training altogether. The tools and techniques he was learning now enabled him to do what he’d wanted to do.
So often, clients come to the hypnotherapist as a last resort. “I’ve tried everything else, I’m desperate.” By now, they may think of themselves as failures, because they haven’t been able to make themselves well. They may even have the self-limiting belief, “Nothing works for me.”
“I love helping people begin believing in themselves again,” says Andy. “We know that it’s the clients themselves who do the inner work that makes the difference, but, to start with at least, they think it’s the therapist that works the magic. Somehow, me believing in them helps them to believe that they can do it, they can become the person they want to be. It’s the most amazing feeling, helping people to empower themselves like that, and witnessing the incredible shifts that happen as a result.”
What else do you like about being a hypnotherapist?
“I really value the freedom it gives me, I can be creative with my time, I get a great work-life balance. I enjoy meeting people and seeing them transform and change. I like telling people I’m a hypnotherapist as well – I get some ace reactions, there are so many misconceptions around hypnotherapy it can be really funny.”
Are there any disadvantages?
“For me, really, only the financial uncertainty which you always get when you’re self-employed. I was sensible when I first started, I began working within the NHS, and then scaled down to 3 days a week on a job-share. That allowed me to begin building my private practice without entirely losing a regular income. You need to be prepared for that aspect, and willing to work on your marketing strategy, rather than just expecting clients to magically appear.”
Andy reckons a good website is important, and giving talks, running workshops and writing articles. “You need to be proactive,” he says.
Has being a hypnotherapist changed you or the way you think?
Andy laughs. “Er, yeah!” he says, with heavy emphasis. “It really opened my eyes and led me to question how I was approaching life. It pretty much changed my whole belief system. My parents have told me sometimes they hardly recognise me, but they’re really happy for me because I am so much happier than I was.”
What have you learned from your clients?
“If you want to change, you can change. If you don’t want to, it can’t be forced. Sometimes the discomfort feels safer than the unknown. In the beginning I thought I could save the world, now I realise I can do phenomenal work with those who are ready to make the change. For those who aren’t ready, all you can do is keep the door open for them.”
Would you rather be doing anything else?
“Oh no. This is me now. I can’t imagine doing anything else until I can’t talk anymore or can’t hear what my clients are saying!”
Andrew Frost is a hypnotherapist based in Sandbach, Cheshire and Leek, Staffordshire and a course tutor and regional supervisor for the Atkinson-Ball College.