When I discovered Charlotte on social media I had to get in touch with her since I feel mental health and therapy is a subject that many readers are likely to connect with. Guaranteed we all know someone who has or is suffering from depression, panic attacks and anxiety. I for one didn't realise how common these were until I went to university, where many of my fellow students have created projects based around mental health and have used photography as a therapeutic tool. Charlotte treats adults as well as children, and in this post I'll be sharing her story of becoming a Hypnotherapist and starting White Willow Hypnotherapy to treat adults.
I arrived in Dronfield to shoot with Charlotte at the beginning of December. I'd had an early start and a long journey but I knew it would be worth it. When I met Charlotte I instantly warmed to her gentle nature and the familiar tone to her voice that I'd first heard while listening to the audios of her children's stories. I feel that being a therapist it's important to have these qualities because as a client you would feel instantly at ease and open up about your troubles.
Charlotte was at a very dark place in her life 12 years ago when panic attacks, depression and anxiety became a daily battle, leaving her feeling like she had no option but to try to take her own life. It all began in her teenage years with the build up of various personal events that led to a day when she felt like she was having a heart attack, but after various tests at the hospital she was told it was a panic attack. After this things got out of control,
"THE PANIC ATTACKS TOOK OVER MY WHOLE LIFE, AND THEN I BECAME DEPRESSED OFF THE BACK OF NOT BEING ABLE TO GO OUT, NOT BEING ABLE TO SOCIALISE AS A YOUNG GIRL, FAILING MY COURSE, LOSING MY JOB, AND MY RELATIONSHIP BREAKING DOWN. I HAD A REALLY NICE LIFE AND THEN IT ALL ENDED IN A REALLY SHORT SPACE OF TIME. SO THAT'S WHAT CAUSED THE PANIC ATTACKS. PANIC ATTACKS LED TO DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY, AND THEN I COULDN'T GET RID OF THEM".
Since having counselling and seeing doctors didn't help Charlotte feel any better, as a last resort she decided that she was going give hypnotherapy a go. What she didn't know at the time was that just 6 hours worth of sessions later her whole life would change for the better, and the panic attacks, depression and anxiety would become a thing of the past. Being absolutely amazed that the hypnosis worked and became the solution to her problems, Charlotte then decided she wanted to help others get better too, and so she trained to become a hypnotherapist herself. She was so keen to get started that she set up White Willow even before her training had finished.
"IT'S SUCH A DARK SUBJECT, DEPRESSION, ANXIETY AND PANIC ATTACKS, SO MANY PEOPLE SUFFER IN SILENCE WITH THEM. PEOPLE THINK IT'S NORMAL TO FEEL SO BAD, AND IT'S NOT. EVERYONE DESERVES TO BE HAPPY".
One thing that stood out to me the most was how much emphasis Charlotte puts on the fact that she can relate to clients, which is true since she's been through the same battles many others go through daily. From my own experience, going to the doctor or even a counsellor is only a short term fix, and personally I've given up on seeing counsellors for this exact reason. The fact that as a client you can get treated by someone who is openly willing to talk about what she's been through in her own life, and has been treated by the same therapy as what's being offered to her clients, is likely to make a big difference to how much you're likely to allow the hypnosis to work.
While with Charlotte I was able to talk to her about my own worries, and at the end of day I was even lucky enough to be able to have a session of hypnosis myself, which really was an experience that I won't forget. I discussed with Charlotte events that had taken place in my life last year which I felt were still affecting me today. Even though I've been aware of the trigger, I had no idea what I could do to stop these feelings of social anxiety that had started to affect me as an adult, especially as I was under the impression anxiety always started in your childhood, but I was wrong.
I asked Charlotte what I should expect if I came to her as a client. I was told there would firstly be an initial assessment so that we can have an in depth chat about everything and to find out about my physical symptoms. During the hypnosis itself I was asked to lay back and get comfortable in the chair. While some soothing music played in the background, Charlotte helped me relax my entire body with some visuals where, for example, I could imagine the tension in my shoulders drifting away. I was amazed that I could actually feel myself sinking deeper into the chair while the muscles in my body relaxed completely. Then some "suggestions" are made, which are based on changes I want to make in my life.
During the session I felt like I was drifting in and out of the best sleep I'd had in a long time, but the entire time I could hear Charlotte's voice in the near distance. I felt that Charlotte's tone of voice was a huge factor in feeling as relaxed as I did and I can honestly say that I felt as though I was in a dream where I was walking on clouds. After the session I felt all the troubles in my mind had vanished, and I even told Charlotte it was as if I'd woken up with a new mind altogether. It's no wonder why hypnosis helped Charlotte during her own difficult times in her life. Charlotte also records the session, and I was advised to listen to it before going to sleep at night, which makes me feel like I'm back in her office all over again.
Although this was my experience with hypnosis, it will effect everyone differently and the amount of sessions you may need will differ from person to person. There's a lot more information about this treatment on Charlotte's website, and the list of things that can be treated is huge! So no doubt there are plenty of people who can benefit from hypnotherapy.
Find out more on the White Willow Hypnotherapy website
In the next post I'll be sharing how Charlotte helps children with Charlotte's Stories.