I come from a long line of helpers - my father is a doctor, so I grew up watching him help people with different challenges.
He provided medication, certainly, but a lot of what he does involves sitting down and talking with people. I learned a lot from him and his approach.
My way into hypnotherapy came through my own journey of personal development. I was a smoker from an early age and I'd tried a ton of things (to quit), then I listened to a hypnotherapy tape for a couple of weeks and got free.
It was a real 'wow' moment for me. A few years ago, I decided to jump in the deep end, get formally qualified and turn it into a full-time thing. Within an hour of making the decision to do hypnotherapy full-time, I was in contact with the guy who would eventually train me.
Something that a lot of people are coming to me about is phobias; a big one is fear of flying. I also get a lot of clients with habits that aren't serving them: things like smoking and drinking too much.
My approach is based on dealing with the emotional component (of the problem) rather than just helping people with habit and behaviour. I help my clients connect with what is troubling them. Basically, I help people connect with feelings they're trying to push away, and I teach them strategies to overcome this. I help people to realise that they're in the driver's seat of their own life.
If I'm working on someone that wants to stop smoking, it takes about three hours. It requires the person to be in a certain headspace: 'I will do what it takes to be free from this'. Hypnotherapy helps because it helps people change the way they feel about something like smoking or eating too much.
Logically they know they want to change but logic is not enough. We need to get our emotions aligned with our logical selves. I let clients know that this isn't a quick-fix: it really requires them to engage in the process. There's a lot of misinformation about hypnosis out there, and it can sometimes paint a picture that someone can be made to do something against their will. I'm not a fan of that quick-fix sell.
There is a popular misconception that hypnotists have some unusual power that they are going to use to change you. The reality is that the power is within yourself and a skilled hypnotist is going to help you connect with that power. In short, it's you that creates the change. The hypnotist is a guide in that process.
I see clients confidentially but sometimes they want to share their stories. One lady came to me about her flying phobia: she had endured it for 50 years, and three days after our session she flew to Australia and couldn't believe how calm she was.
Another client has lost over five stone in five or six months. I was in contact with her recently and she said, 'oh, I've also stopped smoking'. Many of these clients only have a few hours with me: some come in more regularly. Certain cases lend themselves well to Skype or phone sessions. For other, more complex cases, a face-to-face session is more appropriate.
With smokers - and I follow up with people 6 weeks after their sessions - I've found that the success rate at that time is about 9 out of 10. I offer smokers a free back-up session for life should they ever feel the need for a boost. The success rate with weight loss clients is around the same.
In the case of people who have come to be treated for anxiety or phobias, there is always some change. They feel more resourceful and calmer about things. I treat depression a lot too: teaching people how to take lessons from the hurt they've felt in their lives and how to bring some value from those lessons into the present.
To anyone thinking of approaching hypnotherapy as a career, seeking out mentors who are ethical and have clients' best interests at heart is the best way to do it. Find someone who has dredged through the misinformation out there. Listen to audio, read books and figure out what feels useful and what feels less so.
Experiencing people make big changes in their lives and tap into their own power, being there while they make those changes . . . it's a fabulous feeling.
For more information on Andy's hypnotherapy services, log on to mindpower.ie