|Nottinghamshire hypnotherapist Briony Clarke|
A Southwell therapist is drawing on her own experiences after helping herself through cancer treatment.
Briony Clarke used her skills as a hypnotherapist to support herself through diagnosis, treatment and recovery following the discovery last year that she had breast cancer.
Now Briony is back up and running her practice, Perfect Mind Hypnotherapy in Portland Arcade, King Street, Southwell, and reflecting on how her hypnotherapy expertise has been invaluable in helping her get through her treatment.
“I would have been lost without it, I really would,” she explains. “Using hypnotherapy gave me a proactive approach to my health and wellbeing no matter what I was going through; from diagnosis, throughout the treatment and afterwards. When you are diagnosed, you go into the process and it’s all happening to you. With hypnotherapy, you have an element of control. You are contributing to your own health throughout the process. You are not just a passenger.”
Briony, 48, had worked in the food and drink sector for many years before retraining as a hypnotherapist. She launched Perfect Mind Hypnotherapy in 2011, and had been working with a range of clients, including people who wanted support to give up smoking and to lose weight, and people with anxieties, fears and phobias, including three women who had a fear of childbirth.
Briony was also approached by a consultant anaesthetist at the City Hospital, Nottingham, to become involved in a multidisciplinary pain clinic for patients. But ironically, not long afterwards, she found herself at the City Hospital as a patient, rather than as a therapist, after being diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer which had spread to her lymph nodes.
Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare and very aggressive form of breast cancer which has very few symptoms, and Briony was referred to consultant oncologist, Professor Stephen Chan. Her treatment began with six courses of chemotherapy at the City Hospital.
This was followed by a radical mastectomy and removal of the lymph nodes around her breast and a reconstruction, which was carried out at BMI The Park Hospital by consultant breast surgeon Douglas MacMillan. She then underwent 15 sessions of advanced, highly targeted radiotherapy and a further three chemotherapy treatments at the Park Cancer Centre, which had recently been opened by Cancer Partners UK.
“When you are diagnosed with cancer it feels like you wake up in a different world, and I really wanted to stay focused on my treatment. Hypnotherapy was invaluable to me, giving me the strength not to feel a victim. It started with me with managing the fear and anxiety, to controlling pain, sickness and keeping me in a positive mind frame. It is easy at such times of trauma to feel you are in free fall,” says Briony, who is married to Phil and who has two children, Kelsey, 23, and Max, 14.
“Hypnotherapy helped me to maintain a positive outlook. It was a whirlwind, but I was mentally strong.
“For me, the biggest thing was having the mastectomy, and my hypnotherapy really helped me. I’d prepared my body for the surgery and the pain control, and witnessed first-hand the benefit of hypnotherapy. Surgery is different for everyone but for me I needed very little pain control and was able to go home quickly after the operation.”
Now back at work and practising again, Briony feels upbeat for the future.
“I don’t feel damaged by my experience, I feel really positive,” adds Briony. “I’ve been reminded how easy it is for something to go wrong with your health. I’m not going to let cancer stand in my way and hold me back. One thing I’ve learned is to do things that interest me, and that I enjoy.”
She’s now hoping to help others going through the experience.
“I thought long and hard about using my personal experience in my practice but felt that I had benefited so much that I wanted to offer it to others in a similar position,” she says.
Hypnotherapy The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), of which Briony is a member, describes hypnotherapy as a skilled communication aimed at directing a person’s imagination in a way that helps elicit changes in some perceptions, sensations, feelings, thoughts and behaviours.
There are several misconceptions about the therapy, says Briony, but it can be useful in many different areas of life. It is used to help manage the pain associated with irritable bowel and The National Institute for Health and Clinical Guidance (NICE) recommends the NHS should consider referring patients for hypnotherapy if their irritable bowel is persistent and has failed to respond to simple prescribed medicine.
Used alongside a person’s own willpower and motivation, hypnotherapy is often undertaken to help relieve anxiety, aid sleeping, address attitudes to weight, help to address bedwetting, and support people to achieve behavioural change to stop smoking and overcome fears. It can also help with minor skin conditions that are aggravated by stress, and may also be used to enhance performance or overcome anxiety by sports people, singers and others who are involved in public speaking.
For more information visit www.perfect-mind.co.uk
Press release issued by Nottingham PR agency Perfect 10 PR www.perfect10pr.co.uk