Mental Health & Wellbeing

Sharon Dyke, Hypnotherapist in Taunton

Mental Health & Wellbeing

with Sharon Dyke

Sharon is a fully-qualified and insured senior solution focused hypnotherapy practitioner, and member of the CNHC, a voluntary regulator for supplementary therapies.

Sharon is also a senior supervisor supporting practitioners across the country, and a senior lecturer with Clifton Practice Hypnotherapy Training, teaching other like-minded people to join one of the country’s fastest growing models of therapeutic interventions.

Galmington & Comeytrowe News is proud to be publishing articles written by Sharon to provide our community with information on managing our mental health and wellbeing. If you would like to contact Sharon to arrange an appointment or ask a question please visit her website http://www.SharonDykeHypnotherapy.co.uk or you can contact her directly to book a consultation on 07766250113.


5 October 2020

THE PANDEMIC GOES ON BUT WE DON’T HAVE TO LET IT GET TO US

The Health Foundation reported in June this year, that 69% of UK adults are worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives and The World Health Organisation (WHO) are concerned about a potential mental health crisis with substantial increases in depression and anxiety being reported.

Common worries include catching the virus, losing jobs, keeping our families safe, loneliness, going back to school or work and other people’s behaviour, these are just some of the mental health issues that we are facing. Since the beginning of the pandemic research tells us mental health issues have increased by 8.1% yet access to mental health services has reduced.

The NHS has also recognised the increase in mental health issues, and has published 10 “COVID-19 anxiety tips”. https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-anxiety-tips/ When you analyse these 10 tips, you will see that they are all focused on the three P’s – Positive interaction with other people, Positive action through meaningful activities, and Positive thinking.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a fantastic way of helping you reduce your anxiety levels. Let’s face it, we can’t stop bad things (such as COVID-19) happening but hypnotherapy can help you cope with it better with everything that life throws at you.

As a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist, it’s my job to help clients identify their preferred future, rather than dig around in the past, working together, we will find solutions are unique to you. So make a start, follow the NHS generic tips on coping with anxiety and if you want to make a positive change in your life give me a call.


23 September 2020

THE THREE Ps

Positive Thinking, Positive Action, Positive Interaction. How do we interact with others and how does this affect our thoughts?

“No man is an island,” wrote John Donne.  Human beings are social beings and we thrive on positive social interaction.  Social functions make us feel that we are part of a collective.  As far back as we can trace, humans have hunted and gathered in groups because we are better as a tribe than individuals.

The sense of belonging we experience makes us feel secure, safe and comfortable. When we get together with our family and friends, we are reconnecting in a positive way with “our tribe.” 

Most of us enjoy socialising and making friends. It’s fun!  Studies suggest that those who socialise a lot may live longer than those who don’t. Socialising has a strong influence on our health and happiness.

When I ask clients ‘Who is important to you?’ their answers include family and friends.  

The human brain, and in particular the neocortex, is much larger in humans than in primates and mammals of similar size.  The neocortex is involved in higher order brain functions including social cognition functions:

  • Conscious thought
  • Language
  • Regulation of behaviour
  • Empathy
  • Emotional intelligence – the ability to understand the feelings and intentions of others

Our brains are wired in such a way that we experience reward during mutual social interactions. Human beings are social being, we come into the world as the result of others’ actions, we survive through dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”     Dalai Lama XIV

Without positive social interaction, we can feel distanced, depressed and unhappy. Research suggests that loneliness can be a greater risk to your health than smoking or lack of exercise.  Making connections with people improves brain function because it constantly engages and exercises the mind, while also developing cognitive function. When we connect with another person, our brain and body release chemicals that make us feel good. One of these chemicals is oxytocin.

Levels of oxytocin, the ‘Cuddle Chemical’ increase when we hear a friendly voice or see a smiling face or make eye contact with someone, but by far the best way to boost your oxytocin is through physical touch.  A warm hug or a high five gives us a feeling of security and support.  Feeling supported by others can do wonders for our confidence and self-esteem, and for our general sense of wellbeing.

Think about your favourite social activity, so that you can connect with others and create positive social interactions.  Choose an activity you enjoy so that you will stick with it! If you would like some Solution Focused Hypnotherapy to help, do get in touch.  I love to see my clients achieve their goals and will do everything I can to help build your confidence and improve your social interaction.


7 September 2020

Reducing stress with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy

With the nights starting to draw in, it’s not uncommon for people to experience a low mood in the winter months – especially if we have enjoyed a summer break with a spot of sea, sun, and sand.

It can also be tough to get back into the swing of things when darker mornings and early commutes become combined with working in a stressful environment.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help to improve people’s moods. Imagine inside your head you have a bucket, we call it the stress bucket, when we experience negative thinking, that metaphorical stress bucket starts to fill up until, eventually, it starts to overflow and then we can find it difficult to cope.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can really help.  I help people to empty their stress-bucket levels by encouraging them to focus on positive aspects of their lives and to work through solutions with them so that they can move forward in their lives.

Each session also has a hypnosis aspect attached to it where I work with you in a trance state. Trance is actually perfectly normal, and we go in and out of trance on a regular basis every day, it is simply the brain’s way of processing information and emptying the stress bucket.

When my clients goes into the trance state, I am effectively aiding them in emptying their stress bucket and so allowing them to cope with life better.

Stress can manifest itself in a number of ways and Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is designed to help people by focusing on future events in their life. My job is to help my clients to move forwards in their life by looking at ways to  make tomorrow better than today.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a fantastic tool for helping people to reduce their stress but remember Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can also help with stopping smoking, weight, anger and sleep management, along with phobias (such as a fear of flying) and easing pain.

Have a fabulous day

Sharon D


28 August 2020

Have you had to change your summer plans?
August brings the excitement of summer. Most people love this time of the year, longer evenings, sunshine, music festivals, holidays, barbecues, and trips to the beach. The summer is here but we are still adapting to the “new normal” and you may be feeling disappointed that your summer plans are not as you had hoped this year.

It’s OK to feel anxious in response to this uncertainty and the sadness relating to the loss of our plans. You may be angry at the situation and how our lives have changed beyond our control.  However, you can gain some control back over your life by focusing your energies on creating the best possible summer for you. 

This article explores how movement and fitness can improve your mental health. Imagine if there was a pill that would make you healthier, smarter, and happier! A pill that made you age more slowly and even improved your memory!  I think there would be a pretty long queue, even if you did have to stand 2 meters apart.

However, there is another way to achieve these outcomes, its a set of organising ideas that provides a holistic, scientific framework for understanding the way that individuals and society work. This framework encompasses the latest scientific understandings from neurobiology and psychology, as well as ancient wisdom and original new insights. Human beings come into the world with a given set of innate needs, together with innate resources to support them to get those needs met. Physical needs for nutritious food, clean water, air and sleep are obvious, and well understood, because when they are not met people die, but, there is one overwhelming factor that keeps us functioning at our best and that is movement.

The Brain-Fitness Connection

Dr Ratey MD Harvard has established himself as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the brain-fitness connection. He says: “Moving your body, moving the muscles, pushing yourself to do something more than you did before, boosts our capacity for focus and learning and lifts our mood”.

Physical activity is nature’s way of preventing stress, exercise can ward off the negative effects of chronic stress and even reverse them. Studies show that people who add physical activity to their lives become more socially active, increasing their confidence and helping to build social connections. The recent government report from ‘Moving Communities’ shows that the growth of group exercise in the UK has provided much needed social connection and feelings of togetherness which are so important in reducing loneliness.

As with any new goals the best advice is to start small, build your fitness slowly. Walk before you run, find an activity you enjoy and make it a regular part of your routine. One of the best things about physical activity is that there are many options. You just need to find the one that suits you.


24th August 2020

Anxiety is the main reason people seek Hypnotherapy

A Hypnotherapy Association conducted research into the reasons people seek the services of its members.  Anxiety was by far the most common condition seen by the Association’s Hypnotherapists, with over 34% of cases related to anxiety or stress.

The research was carried out by the Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (AfSFH) in the form of a survey sent to the Association’s 168 registered members. The Hypnotherapists were asked to provide statistics relating to clients they saw.

The survey was intended to provide a snapshot of what prompts people to seek Hypnotherapy. Whilst many people are familiar with the use of Hypnotherapy in helping clients to quit smoking or to help overcome their fear of spiders or flying, the fact that the therapy can help with a wider range of issues is less well known. The AfSFH wanted to conduct the survey to demonstrate the scope of our work.

There was an excellent response and the association was able to analyse statistics relating to some 227 anonymous clients. As Solution Focused Clinical Hypnotherapists we specialise in helping clients to cope better with a range of conditions, many of which are either caused or exacerbated by anxiety, so it was interesting to see such a high percentage of clients presenting with anxiety or stress. It is encouraging to feel our message is getting out there.

The most common reasons for people seeking the therapists’ services were:

  • Anxiety or Stress (including Panic Attacks): 34%
  • Eating disorders or Weight Loss: 11%
  • Confidence: 8%
  • Depression: 8%
  • Phobias: 7%
  • Addictions: 4%
  • Sleep Disorders: 3%
  • Smoking Cessation was less than 3%.

This, again, is to be expected.  Whilst therapists do provide Smoking Cessation treatments, these are not the mainstay of our work. We specialise in working with clients, using a collaborative approach, to help you make changes over time, in the way you respond to life’s ups and downs. The effort a client puts in between sessions to making changes is as important as the therapy sessions themselves.

The Solution Focused approach is modern and is based on Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), a well-researched form of psychotherapy developed in the 1980s. We encourage clients to focus on their preferred future rather than dwelling on past or current problems.

Other reasons for seeking help included: IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Sports Performance, Relationship Issues and Pain Management.  In terms of the age of clients:

  • 18% were 19 to 30 years old
  • 37% were aged 31 to 45
  • 27% were 46 to 60 years old
  • 11% were 61 to 70 with a handful of clients under 19 or over 70.

The Association speculates: The peak of 31 to 45 year olds could be a reflection of their life stage with children, careers and financial pressures all taking their toll.

The survey highlighted that clients of all ages are seeking Clinical Hypnotherapy to help with a wide range of conditions. For more information or to arrange a consultation you can contact me on 07766250113 or go to my website http://www.sharondykehypnotherapy.co.uk


10th August 2020

Why I became a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist!

I am often asked why I became a Hypnotherapist, so let me explain.  I have spent 34 years working in health and social care and have seen first-hand the effect that ongoing stress can have on people, often leaving them feeling overwhelmed, lacking in confidence, motivation and losing sleep.

The system always seemed to focus on crisis management and our NHS, as we know, is so over stretched. I wanted to do more to help people find a sustainable way to manage those low intensity mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and anger.

I have always been fascinated by the human mind, and Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is underpinned by Neuroscience. When working with me, my clients get up to date evidence based therapeutic interventions which helps them change unhelpful thought patterns and resolve the habits that create anxiety and unwanted behaviours. This helps my clients regain control over their lives.

After 13 years a practitioner, my aim is to help people transform their mental health so they can achieve their true potential and enjoy a happier and more fulfilling life.

I am a fully-qualified and insured senior hypnotherapy practitioner and member of the CNHC, a voluntary regulator for supplementary therapies. I am also a senior supervisor supporting practitioners across the country, and a trainer, teaching other like-minded people to join one of the country’s fastest growing models of therapeutic interventions.


To find out more please visit my website http://www.sharondykehypnotherapy.co.uk or contact me directly to book a consultation on 07766250113.


1st August 2020

Managing our mental health through the Coronavirus Pandemic: 

Are you obsessing over the news or just feeling so overwhelmed you want to stay in bed.” The good news is, you are not going mad.

Deep inside our brains, there is an almond shaped bit of the brain called the amygdala, it’s like the security guard of the brain who alerts us to danger by triggering a flood of chemicals such as, adrenaline and cortisol. Our heart rate goes up, our breathing becomes shallow, we feel shaky and sick.  When we finally calm down, we feel mentally and physically drained.

Once the immediate danger is over, your imagination can keep your amygdala active, making you feel worse, or, it can help you adapt to the new situation and survive.  

There are many things we can do to help ourselves remain calm and in control, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, below, I have listed a few to get you started, but please remember, if you are under medical or psychiatric care, please take the advice of your medically-qualified practitioner over any general advice offered here.

  1. Keep to a routine: The more of a routine you have, in general, the more likely you are to stay calm, relaxed, and in control.
  2. Accept what you cannot control and take control of small things: Small positive actions bring back a sense of being in control, give us focus and purpose, and move us gently into the problem-solving part of the mind.
  3. Develop a good sleep routine: A regular 8 hours of sleep positively affects our hearts, immune system, and mental health; but sleep can elude us when we are anxious. Avoid coffee and tea in the afternoons or switch to decaffeinated. Avoid horror films, disturbing thrillers, and social media in the evenings. If you have been comfort eating, start cutting down on sugar and refined carbs, which also cause insomnia. Several studies indicate that chamomile tea really does help you get to sleep.
  4. Focus on what is good now: Focusing on what is good or working well will help you move out of your anxious primitive mind. 
  5. Breathe: Breathing into the abdomen calms the central nervous system. Simple daily breathing exercises can help you stay calm and in control. 
  6. Stay in the moment:  Mindful awareness can also calm the mind. 
  7. Social Connections: We need to connect with others, to encourage and reassure each other. Luckily, there are so many ways we can stay in touch.  You’ll find other people feel just like you do, and you are probably coping better than you think. 

Anxiety, withdrawal, and exhaustion in a crisis is a normal human response. Staying mentally healthy does not mean not feeling. It means experiencing your emotions, accepting them fully, and finding ways to process them and get them in perspective. I hope some of these ideas help you to stay safe and well, physically, and mentally, during the coronavirus crisis.


27th July 2020

Change is a constant, which means it is even more important for me to keep my skills and knowledge fresh and modern.  My background in Health, Social Care and Regulation means I am an advocate for evidence-based practice as this improves my client’s outcomes and helps me evolve as a therapist.

This year, I will be developing my therapeutic skills with a key focus on the solution focused approach, I have signed up to complete the Certificate in Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) with Brief. Brief is the world’s leading centre for Solution Focused practice in therapy and counselling. 51 years old and still learning, not bad for an oldie.

As the name suggests, Solution Focused Brief Therapy is an approach to therapy that is brief and effective. Research shows that it brings about lasting change and is effective in up to 83% of cases.

The therapy has two key elements:

  • Future-focused
  • Strengths- based

As with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, we continue look to the future.  No dwelling on the past and we use your own strengths to help you move forward quickly.

SFBT uses the word ‘hope’ quite specifically.  Their choice of the word ‘hope’ is based on a sense of possibility.  Rather than ‘wishes’ or ‘wants’ or ‘desires’, which can be anything.  We can only hope for that which is possible.

Many of my clients come to therapy with some of their hope diminished.  Things are not going the way that they want them too and their normal coping mechanisms are no longer working.  A major reason for coming to therapy is to increase one’s sense of hope and to expect change (Reiter, 2010.)

Water the flowers not the weeds!  Nurture the hopeful signs and ignore the rest!

The essence of SFBT is to have a hope-filled conversation and to explore in detail your preferred future. A future where your hopes have been achieved.  We work together to find the possible resources and strengths you have to attain that future.

Identifying what you, the client, wants from the therapy will always be the forefront of the conversation. ‘What are your best hopes from us working together?’

This initial question invites you to immediately focus on the outcome you desire, rather than trying to fix or understand the problem you arrived with. Go on ask yourself the question now!

People come to therapy because they want to achieve something.  It makes perfect sense to focus the conversation on what is desired, instead of what is wrong.

Beginning with the end in mind

Solution Focused Brief Therapy has evolved from Solution Focused Therapy. Solution Focused Brief Therapy creates a hope-filled conversation.  In this conversation we use language to describe things as they would be when the best hope was present. This subtly changes the nature of the client and therapist relationship. The client is now trusted.  You are the expert and you know how best to help yourself. I facilitate this process by co-constructing with you the idea of ‘hopefulness’.

I have noticed how my clients start to think differently. It can be a new experience to be asked to think about what you hope for, instead of your problems. Once you see what is happening, the co-constructive conversation really begins to flow. This makes the process very positive and amazing to be a part of, and solution focused hypnotherapy adds the power of hypnotherapy to this very positive approach to helping my clients.


13th July 2020

Preparing to return: Face to face Hypnotherapy for those seeking a more personal experience.

Owing to the Government’s most recent update regarding the easing of lockdown measures, I am now preparing to reopen my face to face practice from Monday 20th July 2020.

For some clients who don’t feel ready to come to the clinic, I will continue to work remotely. However, I have a long waiting list of people who are keen to return to face to face therapy, so now seems a good time to re-launch.

As a member of the Complimentary and Natural Healthcare Council I am guided by their code of ethics, even online, so it is really important my clients understand the measures I will be taking to ensure their face to face experience is safe.

When people come to see me they can expect measures in place that will help us avoid catching and spreading Coronavirus (social distancing). Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.

My commitment to my clients is to:

  • wash my hands with soap and water often –for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash my hands after each client visit
  • sanitise the clinic after each visit
  • use hand sanitiser gel as an added precaution
  • cover my mouth and nose with a face mask
  • cover my mouth and nose with a tissue (not my hands) when I cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash my hands afterwards
  • comply with Government restrictions regarding social distancing

My client’s commitment to me is to:

  •  only enter the premises when safe to do so, one person at a time
  • use hand sanitiser gel when you enter the clinic
  •  provide contact details in the event we need to follow the trace and track guidance
  •  agree to temperature checks prior to entering the clinic
  •  use face coverings if you feel comfortable doing so
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and sanitise your hands afterwards
  • comply with Government restrictions regarding social distancing

This guidance is qualified by strict measures of social distancing, all of which are available on the Government website. Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance and support I will continue to keep clients updated as circumstances change.

I wish all my readers a healthy, safe and peaceful time.


22nd June 2020

Understanding Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are survival mechanisms to stressors in our daily lives. On a short-term basis this is great, if we are faced with a Polar Bear, we need these functions to help us get out of that dangerous situation.  However, for some people this can evolve into a long-term psychological and behavioural response.

Lingering anxiety and low mood are related to the (mal-) functioning of the primitive mind in response to every day stressors and annoyances. A relatively new approach to understanding anxiety, how it is created and experienced, is the notion of the ‘wounded self’ (Wolfe, 2005,2006). According to Wolfe, the experience of severe anxiety in a particular situation encourages the conscious anticipation of impending catastrophe (negative forecasting) in future similar events, if the event is framed by the person as being personally damaging (perhaps to their sense of self, their identity in that situation, their role (real or not) in causing the event to happen). 

The person re-writes that event as illustrative of something they were perhaps responsible for or were particularly personally affected by, creating a psychological wound. The person may then evade future similar situation because of a fear of exposing themselves to another psychological assault on their sense of self and identity and thus preventing a painful reopening of the psychological wound.

These painful views of the self, the ‘self-wound’ are often accompanied by overwhelming feelings such as humiliation, rage, and despair. These self-wounds influence our decisions, choices, feelings, and actions. Self-wounds not only limit our emotional life, they also profoundly affect our behaviour. They largely determine the people we choose to have in our life, the environments in which we choose to interact, the emotional experiences we deem acceptable to experience, and the risks in life we are willing to take. How do we change these behaviours? One step at a time, positive thinking, positive interaction and positive action.

15th June 2020

Anxiety and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Have you ever felt powerless in the face of Irritable Bowel Syndrome? If so, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH) can help you learn how to take back control.

The condition affects so many people and is often exacerbated by stress. Unfortunately there is no real cure, but SFH can help to alleviate many of the symptoms. In February 2008, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), which gives guidance to the NHS on effective treatments, published guidance for GPs and consultants saying there was good evidence that hypnotherapy was an effective IBS treatment and that it could be recommended for chronic IBS.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a, research-based combination of psychotherapy and hypnosis, aimed at encouraging clients to focus on how they want things to be. It’s great because one of the keys to dealing with IBS is to lower the sensitivity to stress and reduce the perception of the bowel pain. IBS is defined by its symptoms, so if Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can remove the symptoms then the IBS will be reduced, which is so helpful for my clients.

To find out more please visit my website http://www.sharondykehypnotherapy.co.uk or you can contact me directly to book a consultation on 07766250113.


1st June 2020

Corona Virus and Online Therapy

With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, there has been a huge surge in people feeling extremely anxious about their mental health and the mental health of their loved ones. Due to the level of isolation we are enduring, it increases feelings of fear, anxiety and solitude – none of which are good for our general mental wellbeing.

Online solution focused hypnotherapy sessions have helped my clients stay on top of their mental wellbeing. Clients receive the same level of care and commitment as they would in a face-to-face session, with the added security and comfort of being in their own environment, which means clients can get the help they need without any risk to their health or mine.

It is important to realise that when we are feeling anxious, we activate the primitive, emotional part of the brain, this is an intensely alert state where stress hormones flood the body and we enter ‘survival’ mode. Staying in this mode for too long is very stressful for the body and can result in panic attacks and chronic anxiety or depression.

It’s worth understanding that, although we can’t change events, what we can do is to change our reaction to events and that is what can make the difference.