Lou Wilson has been helping people across the North East through her Solution Focused Hypnotherapy business, “Inspired to Change Whitley Bay,” where she offers online and in-person sessions. She has recently taken a fantastic step, collecting the keys to a ground floor space in Bay Beauty Academy in Whitley Bay to carry out her face-to-face sessions.
Lou also works part-time as an Occupational Therapist in Palliative Care for Macmillan Cancer Support. She provides help and support to people at the end of their lives and helps their families come to terms with their situation. Lou is registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council and the British Association of Occupational Therapists.
She has recently built up her online presence and uses her social platforms to advocate positive mental health, women’s health and body acceptance. Lou believes that her Instagram handle reflects her caring personality and we couldn’t agree more! “I chose it because I’m very much about nurturing and helping people grow and thrive,” she said.
What inspired you to become a therapist?
LW – About 14 or 15 years ago, I was thinking about trying to have a family. At the time, I was taking antidepressants for my own mental health and I had tried several talking therapies. With my training as an OT [occupational therapist] I felt that I already knew quite a bit about how the mind works and various health problems, but nothing had really worked for me. So, I decided to give hypnotherapy a go myself. It was through doing those sessions that I eventually came off my antidepressants so I could start trying for a family. That has always stayed with me and it has been a goal that I wanted to train and do that myself to offer it to more people.
You’ve recently become qualified in Solution Focused Clinical Hypnotherapy – can you explain what this type of Hypnotherapy involves?
LW – Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is really positive because you don’t unpick any problems in the past. If somebody has been struggling with their mood, I will gather that information in the first session. But, going forward, we don’t talk about their problems because research shows that dwelling on those thoughts can make you feel low, depressed, or anxious in itself. While it’s useful for some people to get it off their chest, sometimes it can leave them feeling immersed in those problems. With solution focus, we look to the future and get the client to imagine how they want their future to be and the steps they need to take to get there.
Lou offers a free initial consultation where she will provide clients with information on how the brain works. “This can be really empowering because it enables clients to see that it’s not just them and it’s the way that their brain is designed to work,” she said. “It’s made to look out for things going wrong and it is designed to be negative for your own protection.”
She feels that hypnotherapy has multiple benefits. “If people have problems with their sleep and the quality of it then hypnotherapy can help a lot with that,” said Lou. “It can also help with cutting down alcohol,” she added.
What advice would you give to those who might be hesitant to try Hypnotherapy?
LW – I think that people quite often associate hypnotherapy with stage shows they might have seen. It’s not like that at all! It’s a relaxing experience and going into a trance is something very ordinary and natural that people do several times a day. It’s a bit like when you drive your car to work and then forget how you’ve got there or if you’re daydreaming. That’s when your mind becomes focused on something, so it’s normal and not about people doing daft things on stage or anything like that. The client will come up with their own solutions and it’s very much led by them.
Lou also gave reassurance that her clients are in good hands during sessions. “It’s really evidence-based, so we use an outcome measure,” she said. The outcome measure is known as CPHT Outcomes and Research Programme (CORP) and has been used in practices across the UK. “We are regulated and insured and Inspired to Change is the leading UK provider of solution focused hypnotherapy,” added Lou.
There’s been a huge demand for mental health services – what’s your view on this and what tips do you have for those who may be suffering from covid anxiety?
LW – One of the greatest challenges that people find is when they don’t know what the future holds, so when there’s that lack of certainty. I think covid has demonstrated that because people haven’t known what to expect and when the end date is in sight. They’ve been living with uncertainty for over a year which has been so damaging. During solution focused hypnotherapy, we talk about being better as a tribe rather than individuals. The pandemic has kept us apart from our normal support systems, be that friends and family or activities that people would normally do to help them cope with life. So there’s been a massive increase in mental health difficulties.
LW – For those who are feeling a bit uncertain with covid, it’s basically taking one step at a time. It’s not necessarily expecting yourself to go back to where you were pre-covid. It’s about taking tiny baby steps that will add up over time. So not going to a huge party but maybe going for a walk with one other person. It’s about doing it in manageable chunks.
Lou talks about the ‘three Ps’ during sessions: positive action, positive interaction and positive thoughts. She says these help to stimulate the production of happy hormones. “Positive interaction involves connecting with people, positive activity could be anything from ticking your to-do list off or making your bed in the morning to going for a run,” she said. “The positive thoughts isn’t about forcing positivity on people because life isn’t great all the time, it’s about noticing what’s been good, which could be small things like that nice cup of tea in the morning or in the spring people talk about the flowers coming up.”
Can you tell us about your work as an Occupational Therapist at Macmillan?
LW – I’ve been an occupational therapist for about 20 years now and I’ve always wanted to work in palliative care. It’s such a privilege to be allowed into somebody’s home and into somebody’s life when they’re facing the worst news and the worst outcome that they could possibly imagine. It’s about giving them the space to talk and whatever they need on that day, which might be different from one visit to the next. It’s just listening and providing them with options about different actions they could take. As an occupational therapist, I’ve been trying to enable independence and the things important to them. This might be giving them equipment so they can independently bathe or shower, or giving advice about conserving energy.
LW – The really powerful work that I’ve done has been about making memories for the future, especially where we’ve got patients who have young children. It will be supporting the child to know about mum or dads illness in whichever form is appropriate for them. But as well, thinking about what legacy somebody wants to leave behind. We’ve done pictures with handprints for dad and his children, so when Dad has passed away, they’ve got a really lovely memory there. It can also be helping them with the practical aspects of life. This could be putting them in touch with charities to help with their wills or getting things sorted and what their wishes are. That can be talking about what they want their funeral to be like and where they want to be cared for during the final days of their life.
Being in an emotionally challenging role, what coping mechanisms do you use for yourself?
LW – I’m really empathetic, which I think is an amazing quality to have when you’re in that role, but it can also be quite challenging because you give part of yourself. It really comes down to basics, such as having good quality sleep, which, a really good tip for everybody, is trying to think about the quality of their sleep. Then I go to yoga when I can and when I can’t I have an app downloaded so I do that at home. I also listen to a colleague’s hypnotherapy recording because I find that useful. A lot of strategies that I’ve learned from doing hypnotherapy have helped to put things into perspective. To know where those thoughts and feelings are coming from and practicing the things I tell people in sessions such as the three P’s.