Back in February, I sat in on a Zoom meeting for an organisation representing 800 carers of adults and children. The meeting was about emergency planning but what transpired was a series of emotional, heart wrenching stories from some of the attendees about the challenges carers are struggling with every day, even more so now we’re a year into the COVID pandemic.
The stories told of people who are facing relentless, exhausting pressure – often juggling their caring responsibilities with work - and who are beyond stressed but often with nowhere and no one to turn to for support.
While CCGs, social care and third party providers of personal health budgets are there, to a certain extent, for the person being cared for, it’s rare for services to extend to supporting and protecting carers. There simply aren’t the resources.
As a result, carers feel unseen, disregarded and unvalued, feelings that wear us down and chip away at our self-esteem.
Yes, there are plenty of organisations that deliver training, factsheets, helplines or parent participation forums but, it seems to me and many others, that what there isn’t is somewhere for carers to replenish themselves, for example, with mental health support such as counselling or even guided meditations as soon as they need it.
NHS mental health services are massively oversubscribed right now. You can go to the doctor for a referral (or self-refer) but then have to join a long waiting list only to receive a limited number of counselling sessions at the end of the wait.
Carers need more.
It’s for this reason that I want to set up The Carers’ Collective, the first stage of which will be to offer carers access to solution-focused hypnotherapy.
What is solution-focused hypnotherapy?
If you’ve never heard of solution-focused hypnotherapy before, you might be wondering what it is. I found this definition from the Association for Solution-focused Hypnotherapy:
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a type of ‘talking therapy’ that combines the use of psychotherapy with hypnosis. Hypnosis or ‘trance’ is a very natural, relaxing state, encouraged by using guided relaxation, where the mind can relax and then focus on thoughts and suggestions that might be useful. As a modern psychotherapeutic approach, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy uses practical, structured, and well-researched strategies to help people make significant, positive changes in their lives in a relatively short period of time. Crucially, in Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, therapists look at what the client wants to achieve (the solution) rather than at whatever prompted them to seek help (the problem).
I personally heard about solution-focused therapy through the Women Mean Biz business network of which I’m a member. A lovely lady called Kerry Seymour, from Inspired to Change, is a member of the same network and was offering a solution-focused hypnotherapy group taster sessions so we could experience how this talking therapy works.
This first session was a revelation!
I’d always thought of hypnotherapy as either being a bit ‘woo woo’ or likened it to stage hypnosis, so I didn’t really know what to expect.
What I discovered is that the sessions are all about learning how our brain works, talking honestly about the issues we’re each facing and then thinking about potential solutions while in a calm, relaxed and open state of mind.
Bowled over by how good I felt after the taster, I soon booked Kerry for some one-to-one sessions.
Why I love solution-focused hypnotherapy
As well as being mum to a 15-year-old with complex care needs (my son, Elijah), I manage Elijah’s care package and large team of staff. Due to Elijah’s medical needs, there are always carers in our home so it’s rare for me to have any time alone without interruptions.
Having a solution-focused hypnotherapy session is a guaranteed hour when I get to focus entirely on my own wellbeing, exploring what I’m thinking and feeling without judgement so that I can tap into more ways to enhance my life.
During an hour’s session, Kerry helps me assess my current mood and potential challenges, as well as what’s working well. She encourages me to prioritise self-care and gives helpful techniques to try to support my self-care goals and aspirations for the future.
The session ends with a guided relaxation, which is about letting go of stress and tension and letting your mind and imagination drift. Kerry presents positive affirmations to my subconscious mind while it’s in this relaxed state as this is a fantastic way of internalising, accepting and starting to act on good thoughts.
Having solution-focused hypnotherapy offers me relief, escape, a safe space and time out from the endless demands of being a parent-carer and care manager. It’s precious time to think about things without the noise, clutter and constant interruptions of everyday life.
I can’t tell you what a positive impact it’s had on my mood and my resilience. I want to shout the benefits from the rooftops.
Caring for carers
Out of my sessions with Kerry, I came up with the goal of giving carers like me access to solution-focused hypnotherapy. I think it is such an important tool for self-care.
Kerry has kindly offered to run small group sessions for carers. We just need to spread the word about this amazing opportunity.
I have just launched a GoFundMe campaign to be able to gift some sessions to carers and would love it if you could help me get it up and running.
What can you do to support this amazing project?
- Donate whatever you can afford
- Share the GoFundMe page with family, friends, work colleagues and business associates
- Share this blog on your own social media profiles and pages
- Spread the word to any companies that would sponsor and or give a donation towards carers’ group sessions
If you want to know more about the sessions or you’re a carer and you’re interested in taking part in a group session, you can email me at [email protected]