This article originally appeared in the HEALTH section of the Daily Telegraph Monday 29th December 2008
Helping unlock feelings: Hypnotherapist Bruni Brewin
GWEN Barthow knows only too well that sometimes it takes a health scare to enforce a change of habit. Barthow, 66, would smoke more than 60 cigarettes a day, but when she suffered a mild heart attack, she realised it was either stub out the smokes or suffer the inevitable. As well as being a huge health risk, Barthow says her habit was costing her socially and financially.
"I was spending nearly all my wages on cigarettes," she says. "I'd whine about not having enough money to buy meat and vegetables yet I managed to spend my money on cigarettes."
Rather than reach for patches or nicotine gum, Barthow had hypnotherapy. She noticed results after just one session.
"It was such a relief," she says. "I walked out and have never had a cigarette near my mouth since."
That was almost 12 years ago.
Hypnotherapy can help patients deal with mental, emotional or physical issues through very deep relaxation.
Hypnosis allows the therapist to tap into the subconscious mind and ease them of stress or anxiety.
It has been used to treat everything from insomnia and smoking to nail biting and irritable bowel syndrome.
Barthow's treatment revealed a stressful home life was one reason she relied on smoking.
"The reason I was smoking so heavily was I think it was a comfort to me and a habit that I got into," she says. "I think I used it as a crutch to lean on."
While her results speak for themselves, she admits at first she was sceptical. She had undergone hypnotherapy once before to quit smoking and the results lasted just three months.
"I felt a bit apprehensive before I went in but once the therapist spoke with me I felt she was very understanding," Barthow says.
These days, she wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
Australian Hypnotherapists' Association president Bruni Brewin says a hypnotherapist's work is far from the image created by gaudy showbiz hypnotists making their subjects run around like chickens.
"First off, people who go to stage hypnosis are extroverts, they are not scared of hypnosis, they are there to have a good time," she says. People can't be controlled by the hypnosis, she says.
"People actually hope we can take them over and totally change them," she says. "What they don't understand is that even the subconscious can also say, 'No way, I don't want to change."
Brewin says hypnosis can help unlock feelings or issues that may have happened a long time ago but still cause problems.
"Nobody opens their eyes as a baby and says, 'Now I'm going to have a nail-biting problem'. There will be a reason that came into being," she says. "If things happen to us when we are small, the feeling we have at that age remains with us, even though we grow up and move on with life."
As an example Brewin cites the case of someone who was bullied at school.
"If you take them into hypnosis to the very first time it happened, you could help them release that feeling," she says. "Those feelings are still in your body."
It is important for anyone considering hypnotherapy to first do their homework, Brewin says.
"Check that people belong to a national association and also check what the training involves," she advises.
Finding a therapist who specialises in treating a particular problem can also be beneficial.
Note* Gwen is now 71 years of age...
I wrote to Gwen - Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2012
Hi Gwen, Came across your details the other day and wondered how you were going these days?
Reply - Thursday, 22 November 2012
hi Bruni this is Gwen it has now been over 16 years since i had a smoke, thanks to you. i am not so young any more and have had bit if ill health but mostly doing fine thank you again regards Gwen
Browse around the site and see other videos and testimonials that will show you just how powerful you are to be able to make the same changes as well as others, just as Gwen did.
Hypnosis far removed from a stereotype