New Zealand has been my home of choice since I migrated in 2004, alongside my wife Anne, and our son, Joel. But I was born in the UK, in 1961. My birthplace was Walsall, a small mining town situated between Birmingham and Wolverhampton. Growing up in a working-class environment in the 1960's, I endured bullying throughout my school years. I also saw my own family tormented by years of gambling, smoking and weight issues. It was from this background that I developed my determination to improve lives through health and education. Not surprisingly, my professional life since leaving school has been in healthcare.
For almost 4 decades I built a career as a General Nurse & Mental Health Nurse. During that time I gained experience of Orthopaedic Nursing, ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat), Elderly Care, Emergency Department and a Tuberculosis Unit. As a Mental Health Nurse in Behaviour Modification Units I learned how to assessor, monitor and elicit behavioural change. I also worked in Acute Mental Health, Rehabilitation, Day Hospitals and Community Mental Health Nursing. Some years of my nursing career were in management positions. In Barnsley, South Yorkshire, I was Manager of the Nurse Management Information System, a position from which I led a 6 year project which resulted in the first paperless nursing information system in the UK NHS. Since moving to New Zealand I have worked in 2 of the Wellington Hospitals. I was Quality & Projects Facilitator for the Women's Health Service at Capital & Coast District Health Board, covering Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Maternity Units in Wellington, Porirua and the Kapiti Coast. From there I moved to Southern Cross Hospital, a private sector surgical service provider, where I worked as Quality, Health & Safety Manager, as well as being a Nurse Assessor.
Nursing taught me the value of evidence based practice in the planning of treatment, backed up by rapport building skills and a large focus on confidentiality and informed consent. All of these are transferable skills, which I make considerable effort to infuse into my own services today.
It was an incident while nursing which sparked my life-long interest in Hypnotherapy
I first encountered hypnosis in a hospital setting. It was at The Manor Hospital in Walsall, West Midlands, UK, my birthplace. The year was 1981, and I was just 4 months into my nursing career. During a placement in the Emergency Department (ED) a young girl of around 9 years old had been brought in by her mother. She had fallen and broken her wrist. The little girl was clearly in pain. But more than that, she was terrified. She needed to have a needle for both anti-tetanus and pain control, so that the wrist could be set. Her distress was so great that she was kicking, screaming, spitting, biting and scratching anyone who went near her, including her very distraught mother.
At that time, the ED was taking part in a research project coordinated by the AQCH (Association of Qualified Curative Hypnotherapists), whose headquarters were situated across the road from the hospital. The project involved clinical research into how Hypnotherapy could be effectively utilized in an ED. One of the Doctors secured informed consent from the little girl's mother to hypnotize her daughter. As I had been involved in the girl's admission process, I was also given permission to watch the girl being hypnotized.
The little girl closed her eyes. To my astonishment, less than 20 minutes later she was sitting giggling. She said her arm tickled as the needle entered it for an anti-tetanus injection. She calmly watched her wrist being set, then with a signal from the Hypnotherapist she went back to sleep. They gave her suggestions that she would sleep very well at night and would be happy, content and her arm would be comfortable. I was astounded!
I learned all that I could about hypnosis and Hypnotherapy, whilst also working full time as a Registered Nurse. For decades I studied hypnosis from afar, but due to my nursing work I did not manage to create the time for formal Hypnotherapy training until I left the UK for NZ. One of the goals I set myself when I migrated to NZ was to change career from nursing to Hypnotherapy.
What I love about my profession is that Hypnotherapy is partly science and partly art
The scientific aspect of Hypnotherapy comes from repeatable outcomes achieved through using techniques developed by past experts in the field over many centuries. Although some claims are apocryphal in nature, more recently neuroscience is demonstrating what hypnosis can achieve.
The artistry of Hypnotherapy comes from painting pictures with words in the minds of our clients. Thoughts are the HTML code of the mind, and actions are the consequence of those thoughts. Hypnotherapy essentially uses hypnotic suggestion to Cut, Copy & Paste thoughts, thereby changing the resultant actions. This is how for example, a smoker can become a non-smoker, or how a person lacking the confidence for public speaking can be helped to give a keynote speech. All minds are, of course, unique, and so the artistry comes from finding out which words will be the best brushstrokes for each individual