Child Anxiety

Child Anxiety

My son Jack was just seven years old when I was rushed into hospital with an abscess that had  grown around my bowel. I was to be in hospital for over a month and during that time Jack would go from a confident outgoing child who ate well and slept well to a child that became introverted had trouble attending school and was living on fish fingers and yogurts by the time I came home.

Jack was suffering from anxiety and both my husband and I were going to have to work hard to get him back to his old self again. As a hypnotherapist, I had helped many children with anxiety so thankfully I knew what to do however it’s always a lot more stressful when it’s your own child and especially when you’re still recovering from being seriously ill.

So what is anxiety?

Anxiety is a completely normal feeling that we will all experience from time to time within our life. When we are faced with stress our body responds by releasing a hormone called adrenaline which I am sure everyone has experienced at some point. But what you may not know is this hormone causes a fight or flight response so that we are alert and ready to react to what’s in front of us. So, anxiety can be useful when we face a new stressful situation, however when does it change from being your friend to your foe?

Children and anxiety

All children and young adults feel anxious at times and this is an important part of their natural development as they grow up and learning their survival skills. We all have different levels of stress and how we cope with stress differs from child to child, however some are just naturally more anxious than others and are quicker to get stressed or worried. If you feel that your child’s anxiety is getting in the way of their day-to-day life, affecting their development or having a significant effect on their schooling or relationships, it’s best to try to help them tackle their feelings head-on.

How does anxiety affect our children physically?

Anxiety can cause numerous reactions in the body which can feel very unpleasant and sometimes overwhelming. These can include:

  • Breathing fast or finding it hard to breathe


  • Heart beating like it’s going to burst out of your chest


  • Feeling shaky or sick


  • Feeling dizzy or that you might faint


  • Feeling sweaty


How does anxiety affect our children emotionally?


  • Feeling scared and panicky


  • Finding it hard concentrate


  • Having issues with a sleeping or eating


  • Having outbursts of anger very quickly that feels out of control


  • Worries and negative feelings thoughts going constantly around our head


  • Thinking that something bad is going to happen


  • Lack of self-esteem and confidence feelings of embarrassment


We all cope differently with stress. For example, some of us can be more of a worrier than others, many parents whose children are anxious recognise that they too also can suffer with anxiety, and so are keen to support their children so that they don’t suffer the same way. Sometimes personality type and temperament could be a factor and simply some children are born more anxious or nervous the others. It’s important that we don’t blame game for reasons of anxiety as this is never useful and can often cause conflict instead of resolution.

Problems that can lead to child Anxiety

  • Moving home and schools


  • Seeing our parents arguably fighting or suffering abuse from parents and relatives of strangers can lead to anxiety


  • Bereavement


  • Physical illness or injury if the two themselves or someone they care about


  • Bullying at school


  • School work or exams


  • Friendship problems


  • Involvement in crime gangs or drugs


  • Worries about self-esteem how they look and how they are seen by their peers

What issues can anxiety lead to:

When a child suffers from anxiety it can affect the whole family. Both parents and siblings can feel that they are walking on egg shells and feeling constantly concerned that they may upset the anxious person. Anxious young people may become more isolated as they may not wish to go out in public, therefore find it hard to see friends and taking part in activities both in and out of school.  This can affect their relationships and their emotional development. 

Types of Anxiety


  • School Based anxiety


  • Social anxiety


  • Separation anxiety


  • Fears and Phobias


  • Generalised Anxiety


  • Panic Attacks


  • Obsessions and Compulsions


  • Selective Mutism

Now with my son Jack he was suffering with Separation Anxiety and felt sick a lot of the time and would often get very distressed whenever he was apart from me. So, first I taught him some relaxation techniques, then through using his own imagination he learnt how to take his body from an anxious state to a calm state. For jack his tummy was like a washing machine that was on fast spin and just by using his imagination jack focused on an imaginary dial to slow the spin down until it eventually came to a stop. Once stopped the door would open and all his clothes that represented his feelings would fly away and disappear forever. Overtime jack regained his confidence and even now if he feels anxious he will just close his eyes , breathe calmly and imagine his washing machine slowing down until he feels better!

Recommended website   www.relaxkids.com

Coffee Break or Coffee Fix

Coffee break or Coffee fix

Coffee, is it good or bad for us? Almost everyone I know drinks coffee.

Now I know what it’s like to adore coffee, my love affair with what felt was my best friend lasted for over 10 years. I remember that 1st cup of coffee in the morning and the kick that it gave me to start my day seeing clients. Between each client I would have another cup of coffee and then on my days off I would like nothing better than to visit my local Starbucks and have a skinny latte with a touch of caramel while I chat to my friends.

But over time my body began to nag me with headaches, poor sleep and severe irritability, so just over a year ago I decided to go caffeine free. I got my body back to a place where it felt calmer and when my body clock could finally know where it stood.

So why is coffee such a hot topic in today’s media health circles? Now whilst there are many controversies about coffees anything from the prevention of Parkinson’s disease to breast cancer, it does seem that research shows that caffeine in coffee might be the culprit responsible for the secretion of high levels of insulin from the pancreas. Now considering that diabetes affects 1.7 billion people worldwide then perhaps even this fact alone should set the alarm bells ringing and end our love affair with coffee good.

As a hypnotherapist many of my clients come to me suffering with stress or anxiety and one of the first questions I will ask them is how much caffeine do they have in your diet. Caffeine as we know doesn’t just exist in coffee but also tea, chocolate, soda/energy drinks etc so we can very easily be consuming high levels of caffeine without even realizing it.

So how does drinking too much coffee affect us?

Drinking caffeine can lead to leaky bladder

It makes you think you’re okay with sleep deprivation

It can raise your blood pressure

It can make you rational and irritable and even depressed

It can cause insomnia

It will create adrenaline thus making your heart race faster

it can cause anxiety

It can cause headaches

As you can see coffee really does have effects on us both physiologically and emotionally. As it’s the start of the new year, why not decide now to kick coffee to the curb and begin to detox your body. Now there are some that say that when you decide to give up coffee you should go cold turkey, others say do it gradually. From my own personal experience I tried gradually and after a few days it just began to increase again so for me cold turkey was the only way forward.

Now If you’ve never completed a caffeine detox them below are just some of their withdrawal symptoms that you may experience



Lack of concentration


Flu like symptoms




Easing the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal

Drink plenty of water

Get plenty of rest


Take any pain relievers

And eat healthily

What benefits we experience after a week detoxing

Your blood pressure will lower

You will sleep better

You’re general mood will improve

Your anxiety and stress will decrease

You will have fewer headaches

You will have fewer trips to the bathroom

You will have healthier teeth

Don’t worry, after you’ve completed your detox it doesn’t mean you can never have coffee again. Indeed a cup of coffee first thing in the morning actually seems good for us, but when you let your habit turn into an addiction then it will affect your health, your productivity at work and your motivation to do daily tasks.

So as we all like to say, “everything in moderation”



How do you feel about your body image?

What is ‘body image’?

Our internalized perception of our bodies is what psychologists refer to as our ‘body image’. It can be positive and negative and changes over time. From around the age of two we become aware of our appearance in the mirror and research has found that girls as young as five are self-critical about their appearance. Puberty is when dissatisfaction becomes more pronounced as weight distribution changes – girls typically zone in on a specific area they don’t like – for example, tummy, hips or thighs.

Men have their own body image concerns but research from the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) has found that women are more self-critical with 8/10 expressing dissatisfaction with their shape and size, believing themselves to be larger and fatter than they really are. It’s not just younger women either, says Linda Papadopoulos, a psychologist who has done research for the government on body image and confidence. “In my clinical psychology work I’m seeing more and more 40-year-olds with anorexia or body image disturbances. They feel they don’t have the right to age and have wrinkles. There’s a phobia of our bodies going over the age of 18 or looking anything other than young, slim and supple. Advertisers are selling people insecurity.”

The issue is more pronounced for women because they are judged on their appearance more and have a higher standard or ideal to meet – in Western culture at least. There is an ‘ideal body’ shape pedalled through all forms of media – film, TV, women’s magazines and much of it is subliminal so it’s hard not to be influenced by cultural norms around what is physically ‘desirable’.

What influences ‘body image?’

Certain factors influence our self-esteem and body confidence and this can change over time:

  • Childhood – studies show that people with poor body image may have experienced touch deprivation as a child and/or been teased by peers or family about their shape and size or a particular aspect of their appearance. Writer Anna Maxted says a thoughtless remark can brand itself to a young soul: “At 12, I was podgy, and an aunt loudly remarked on it. My father replied: “It’s just puppy fat.” He was dismissing her, but I felt such scorching shame – not just my body, but my entire self felt disgusting. A decade of anorexia ensued.”
  • Mood – feeling low or depressed. In women, this has been tied to the menstrual cycle – women who are pre-menstrual are more likely to have a more negative self-image and low mood due to changing progesterone levels.
  • Relationship status – single people tend to be more dissatisfied with their body image than those in a partnership.
  • Ageing and health – a period of ill health can give you a new appreciation for your body. Conversely, the pressure of ageing gracefully and wanting to stay youthful and slim can affect women’s self esteem. Research shows women over 40 have high levels of unhappiness with their weight and body image.

Pregnancy or the desire to have a child can be a big motivator for anorexic women wanting to get well. Pregnancy gives you a new appreciation for the power of your body and during the second trimester you start to bloom. Your skin glows, you feel radiant and new life is growing inside you; it can be an empowering time for a woman. Post-pregnancy, many women find some of their body concerns have shifted and are less significant.

Body image issues

Most of us have concerns about our weight – wanting to lose a few pounds or disliking aspects of our appearance. Generally this doesn’t mean that we have a ‘body image issue’. However, in some cases (Body Dysmorphic Disorder), a distorted view of how we look can affect our confidence and impact on quality of life. It can lead to excess dieting, over-exercising, avoiding certain situations (eating out, relationships, sex) and a negative mindset that means we hold ourselves back from going for things – work promotions, developing personal relationships etc. Other signs include thinking that your life will be better when you are a size 10, excessively checking your appearance in the mirror and refusing to leave the house without make-up on.

How to have a better relationship with your body

  • Read up on the topic – Naomi Wolf’s classic book The Beauty Myth explores beauty ideals and the effects on women. Hadley Freeman’s new book: How to Be Awesome is humorous and tackles body image, dating, sex and feminism based on her personal experiences of anorexia at 13.
  • It’s helpful to have a historical context of how body shapes have changed over the decades to see how the goalposts are constantly shifting. In the 19th Century wearing a corset was fashionable and created an hourglass figure despite almost killing women in the process! By 1917 the ideal body shape was 5 ft 4” and 10 stone. During the 1920s the flapper look was de rigueur: a boyish body shape with women strapping down their chests to appear flat chested. In the 1950s we had Marilyn and her size 16 curves followed by Twiggy’s boyish frame in the 60s. In the past decade there’s been a backlash against the use of excessively skinny models and more positive role models: Christina Hendricks in Mad Men and performers like Beyonce, Adele and Beth Ditto.
  • Stop buying women’s magazines that promote unhealthy ideals. Vogue and Elle are banned in some clinics that deal with eating disorders.
  • Exercise therapy – research shows people who engage in team sports like netball, Roller Derby and rowing have a better body image. Exercise can be as effective as counselling and it gives you a different way of relating to your body. Do something you enjoy rather than as a focus for losing weight and you’re more likely to stick to it. Exercise – including masturbation and sex – promotes positive feelings, raises endorphins and lifts your mood.
  • Get into the habit of looking at and appreciating yourself in the mirror. Notice which bits you zone in on as ‘flaws’ and which bits you like. Holding your gaze for 5-10 minutes is a powerful exercise and will bring up different emotions, which you can work through by using a positive mantra or affirmation.
  • Write down your ‘body story’ to help you track things from childhood that may have contributed to how you feel about yourself. Body Gossip is one of the UK’s most powerful body image campaigns and is looking for story submissions.
  • Treat your body with respect – give it quality food, exercise, rest, and meditate and nourish yourself with massage and treatments. Wear clothes that make you feel good.
  • Set yourself small challenges – writer Robyn Hussa Farrell realized she was addicted to wearing toenail polish so set herself a challenge of teaching a yoga class wearing none. She journalled her experience and realised the paint was a metaphor for covering up her imperfections, rather than embracing them. She built on this by going to meetings with friends and colleagues without any make-up on. “My little private journey led me to a new kind of freedom. Internal freedom that had nothing to do with what the world outside thought.”


Written by Samanthana of www.jodivinemagazine.com


Hypnosis For Children

Hypnosis for Children – Explore you and your child’s imagination

As a hypnotherapist and a mother to my nine-year-old son Jack I have always used what I have learnt as a Hypnotherapist to support him with any issues that he may have both at home and in school.

For me seeing the real positive impact of how hypnosis with children can make such a positive difference was in 2015 when due to being seriously ill I spent quite a few weeks in hospital separated from Jack. When I came home I could see that Jack was displaying common signs of separation anxiety and lack of confidence.

Now because of my work as a therapist and hypnotherapist I guess I’ve always had a natural dialogue with all of my clients and my children, I also have two grown-up girls. I have a good sense of imagination and have learnt many different skill sets on how to interact with children both professionally and personally however now I was on new territory.

Jack was my child who was experiencing headaches, tummy aches, feeling sick, nightmares and he also didn’t want to go to school, to say I felt out of my depth would be an understatement.

Now because of my work as a hypnotherapist I knew about the benefits of hypnosis for children so with some advice from my colleagues and what I had learnt during my career as a therapist and hypnotherapist I began to teach Jack some basic breathing exercises, relaxation techniques and also by opening Jack’s imagination could use some gentle hypnosis.

So what was my approach as jack’s mother? Well every evening about half an hour before Jack went to bed we would lay on the bed together, we would both close are eyes and I would get Jack to concentrate on his breathing whilst doing some gentle relaxation. Now where the real fun began for both Jack and I was when we would travel together within our own imagination either separately or together.

Jack and I would travel on Dragons (His favourite film at the time was ‘How to train your Dragon’) we would sit on magic carpets, dogs, the list was endless! We would visit magic kingdoms, explore in caves, and my personal favourite swimming with different sea life.

One day Jack and I talked about his tummy aches and feeling sick and I asked Jack how perhaps he could describe the feeling and to my amazement he came up with ‘It feels like a washing machine is in my stomach and it feels like it’s going around and around and around just like a washing machine on spin .So I said to Jack wouldn’t it be amazing if he could slow the spinning of the washing machine right down until it stopped, and that then all those feelings that were left huddled at the bottom of the machine  he could open the door and watch as all the clothes that represented any negative feelings to fly up to the sky and disappear forever.

Over the next few weeks jacks Symptoms improved, he went was back to school full time and there was a sparkle back in his eyes that hadn’t been there for some time. Because of my experience I am now on a journey of learning even more about the benefits of hypnosis for children with Caroline Dyson who is a leading expert with hypnosis for children and especially working with them within schools. Here is what Caroline has to say about Hypnotherapy for children and young adults…


What approach would you associate with treating a phobia? What ways could you use to help to quit smoking? Ask these questions to the general public and I’d happily bet (even being unaccustomed to gambling) that many would mention hypnotherapy somewhere in their top five.

However, ask a parent, “What therapies are there available to help your child with anxiety/sleeping difficulties/self-esteem?” and I bet very few would mention hypnotherapy. Ask staff in schools, “What interventions are there to help your pupils with exam anxiety/raising confidence?” and I reckon barely any would even think about hypnotherapy let alone specify it or know how to access it.

Hypnotherapy is a treatment approach that is becoming more ‘mainstream’ and better understood as some of the misconceptions are gradually being lifted thanks to some positive media exposure and its inclusion in parts of the NICE guidelines. However, its link with children still has a long way to go.

Today hypnotherapists tend to see the majority of child referrals coming from word of mouth recommendations with parents frequently remarking, “I didn’t know you could use hypnotherapy with children!” Even on databases and information sites listing all the applications of hypnotherapy, using it with children is rarely included and the feedback is that those terms are never searched for. So few people seem to realise that hypnotherapy can help children and the irony is that children are generally more responsive and far less cynical and over-analytical than adults.

I keep trying to raise awareness to parents, healthcare professionals (pretty much anyone who will listen!) that they should consider hypnotherapy as a treatment approach instead of automatically reaching for the more traditional interventions that can be more expensive, more difficult and more time consuming. I’m not saying hypnotherapy is the answer to everything but I certainly think it should be added to the list of possible options to be considered.

Children enjoy it and often don’t even see it as treatment but as something fun to do. The skills they learn they can often generalise to other situations, using them in adulthood and for the rest of their lives.

In cases where children have received hypnotherapy, the feedback is compelling, with 77% of all pupils who had hypnotherapy achieving or exceeding at least one of the targets they set themselves. Hypnosis should be made readily available to schools as another tool they can access if needed, and something all children have access to if necessary.

Building up the association between the terms ‘hypnotherapy’ and ‘children’ is a tall order but I feel we need to highlight this approach as children are potentially missing out on a useful, effective treatment simply because people don’t realise it exists. I would love to see the day when people think about hypnotherapy for children as readily as they currently think about hypnotherapy for treating phobias or smoking cessation.



Hypnosis for LifeStyle with AXA PPP Healthcare

The Wealden Hypnotherapy practice held a 2 Hr workshop at AXA’s Head office in Tunbridge Wells called ‘Hypnosis For LifeStyle’ and I am pleased to have received the following feedback:

Hypnosis Workshop feedback 8 June 2016
What did you particularly like?
• Thank you for arranging this Workshop for us. Barbara was lovely and the talk was most informative and relaxing.
• Very good speaker and interesting subject
• Loved all the information, very lovely woman. Friendly and positive
• Fascinating
• Found it interesting and informative. Practical examples. Enjoyed it – thank you
• Loved all of really interesting. Will take away positive language and breathing techniques – will even look at the book
• Presenter was charismatic and felt connected with her subject
• Learning specific relaxation techniques
• Useful relaxation techniques
• Explained very well, the difference between taking responsibility for yourself and just letting feelings and emotions drag you down
• The relaxation exercises and that it was 2 hours – not rushed
• The explanation of how the therapy works and it’s uses
• Practical breathing exercises and talking from personal experiences
• I found her to be a very interesting woman, could listen to her all day
• Relaxation techniques
• Relaxation techniques. Reminders – power of language
• Deep breathing exercise – felt very relaxing and calming
• Exercises
• Link between language and feelings
• Relaxation exercises

Any other feedback or ideas?
• More workshops to encourage wellbeing
• More of these please – wonderful
• Would love to know more about techniques to positively affect my sub conscious
• Good to have more to take away
• Can Barbara offer AXA rates for her services?
• Short practical relaxation workshops
• One to one sessions
• More like this
• More advanced things
• Brilliant session
• Stop smoking session

If you are interested in Lifestyle Workshops for staff please me me a call.

Warm Wishes


Mums Get Hypnobirth Pain Relief

We were pleased this month to be featured in the Medway Kent Messenger to announce us coming to Medway! Here is the full article in case you missed it!

The pain of labour could be eased for some Medway mothers with the introduction of a new technique called hypnobirthing. It uses relaxation and self hypnosis during the birth process for pain relief, and other hospitals have reported a rise in number of women wanting to attend classes.

New classes are to be offered by hypnobirthing practitioners HypnoBambinos from September at City Way Health Clinic in Rochester – and hypnotherapist Barbara Seal expects classes will be booked up quickly.

There really isn’t anyone doing hypnotherapy in Rochester and Medway, I think people want to have more alternate therapies available.

“In Medway there are really limited antenatal resources, so people are looking to do it privately. Without having done any marketing it’s already busy – we’ve already got people booked for the courses. It shows there’s a real demand.”

Mum of three Barbara decided to help other mums after being taught relaxation techniques by a friend which had a real positive impact on her last birth – and said hypnobirthing was recognised and respected in the same way as established disciplines like osteopathy.

FullSizeRenderShe will be working alongside fellow practitioner Danielle Ruaux and Penny Lazell of Medway based health company Health Visitor 4 U.

The company says classes will give parents information on pregnancy and birth, and teach expectant mums how to relax so that giving birth can be easier, safer and “empowering”. In some cases, mums using hypnobirthing have been reported totally painless births, whereas others report feeling pain but feeling more able to cope with it.

By Chris Hunter