There is and urgent and very serious case that Icarus is working on with Help a Squaddie, please read, share and help in whatever way you can.
There is and urgent and very serious case that Icarus is working on with Help a Squaddie, please read, share and help in whatever way you can.
I wanted to share a link to an update from ICARUS Online, the non profit organisation I set up this January with my freind and colleague David Bellamy.
It is gaining momentum really fast and we are helping more and more people, and more and more people are helping us which is awesome. It’s all about teamwork and really positive and powerful collaboration to get things done.
So here’s the link to the website and another directly to the blog post.
At the beginning of the week I was interviewed by a journalist from my local paper the Press and Jornal and talked about the work that me and David Bellamy are doing to help bring change to the military charities sector and also to speed up access to treatment for veterans, uniformed services & their immediate families.
Have a read and please share.
It’s been a busy time since before Christmas in my house with a trip to New York to speak for the NYPD Hostage Negotiation Unit and the New York Association of Hostage Negotiators and the FBI/NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force. This month I’m speaking as part of the Seton Hall School of Law in Newark’s Spring 18 Crisis Negotiation Course, to talk about hostage survival.
We also sold our house and found a new one just before I left for New York, so straight after Christmas and New Year, it was all hands on deck to pack up the house ready to move on the 19th January so it’s been a tad crazy, to say the least.
In amongst all this, I have been discussing, planning and beginning the creation of two new initiatives with a very good friend of mine and fellow psychotherapist and hypnotherapist, David Bellamy, read all about his work here: www.davidbellamy.org
Through David, we have connected with three former Generals; Peter Currie, John McColl, and Andrew Graham. We also have onboard former Colonel David Richmond CBE who is about to finish working as Recovery Director at Help 4 Heroes and chairman of the Contact Group.
The first initiative is to update the working structure of the military charity sector. At present it is unregulated, there are no minimum standards of operation required for start-up and ongoing and this has lead to many people being neglected, ignored and falling by the wayside. Over the last ten years, these are the people I have treated for PTSD and all it’s associated conditions and this working group that has come together is in complete agreement that things must change. The irony is that the system is not failing people because of a lack of funding, it is failing them because there is far too much bureaucracy, red tape, and BS.
I am not by any means saying that it’s all bad, there are some great people doing great work for many people, however, as with any system there is always room for improvement and it is now time to implement changes that mean more people can benefit from those positive changes.
Some of the changes being discussed are:
The second initiative which has been easier to get going is a national free phone number for serving and veterans to access advice, help, and guidance on mental health issues. Ironically, while I was looking into setting something like this up, Lord Dannatt wrote an article in the Daily Mail on 14th January, you can read the full article here, Lord Dannatt’s article in the Daily Mail
In the article, he states that the government had declined the option to set up a 24/7 mental health helpline for serving personnel because it would not be cost-effective. The outcome of their assessment of needs concluded that it would require 40 therapists, cost £2m and attract less than 50 calls per year. This does not make sense because if they needed 40 therapists then they would be expecting far more than 50 calls a year surely?
My own research into costs showed that it is cheap to get started and can be increased as demand requires, so we have set up a freephone number 0800 6890864 for all serving and veterans to call should they have mental health concerns for themselves or someone they know. The company we chose to provide the phone service has given us 90 days free trial and then its £24.99 +VAT per month, we have two therapists available at present and we are building a list of volunteers to help as demand grows. So the cost is far from prohibitive as the government suggested.
Our aim for this is to provide unbiased, impartial, confidential, free advice, guidance and help for people serving in the British Armed Forces and veterans with mental health issues. We no longer want people to feel ashamed, afraid, embarrassed about asking for help, and as we are not connected with the MoD or government in any way we offer complete confidentiality. A large part of what we aim to achieve is to create a network of charities and organisations that we can steer people towards to access the specialist help they need that’s local to them. We also provide counseling, therapy, and coaching as part of our service.
I emailed Lord Dannatt and through his PA I now have a telephone conversation booked for Monday 12th February to discuss what we have done so far, what our future plans are and take advice and guidance from Lord Dannatt to ensure that we at least match his expectations of this sort of service.
I have also been in touch with ITV’s This Morning and my email is with the planning team who do the scheduling so I am keeping my fingers crossed. On top of this, a new friend Stephen Finlayson is helping by speaking to his connections at the BBC who he dealt with for a programme about him from a couple of years ago and also introducing me to people he knows at the CTP, (Careers Transition Partnership) who organise resettlement for people leaving the forces.
We are looking for funding and support across the board, so if you have any ideas or would like to help us in any way then please get in touch via my email firstname.lastname@example.org or via the facebook page which is Forces & Veterans Mental Health Helpline Facebook Page
Please share this with your friends, family, colleagues etc and help us to spread the word about the service we offer and what we are striving to achieve.
Here’s to a very successful 2018 for all of us.
There are many myths and misconceptions about mental illness and stereotyping people and stigmatising them is extremely unhelpful fallout of these, which very often makes the symptoms and conditions worse for the individuals.
It’s human nature to judge people from first impressions, but, before you make your mind up about someone, take a few moments to think again about why that person might be behaving and or speaking the way they are.
Here are a few popular myths and the facts about mental illness.
Myth #1: Mental illnesses are not true illnesses like cancer or heart disease.
Fact: A physical illness like a heart attack can easily be detected by some simple tests. In contrast, mental illness is invisible and can’t be observed by the general public. This can lead to judgment and to prejudice.
Myth #2: People with diagnosed with a mental Illness tend to have a lower IQ.
Fact: Mental Illness affects people across the entire IQ spectrum. In fact, many extremely intelligent people have been diagnosed with mental illness, are able hold down powerful jobs, and carry a high level of responsibility.
Myth #3: Most of those who suffer from mental illness are violent.
Fact: Very few sufferers are actually violent. In fact, research indicates that they are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of violence.
Myth #4: It is mainly women who suffer from mental illness.
Fact: There are millions of people – both men and women – in all of the different mental illness categories.
Myth #5: Most people diagnosed with mental illness were abused as children.
Fact: Although the incidence of some types of mental illness is more highly correlated with childhood abuse, there are many, many people who have never been abused.
Myth #6: A lot of those who claim to be mentally ill are basically just selfish, or self-centred, individuals.
Fact: Many forms of mental illness have been shown to have their roots in chemical and neurological problems in the brains. They are not character defects.
Myth #7: People with mental illness can get better if they just work a bit harder at getting over their issues.
Fact: Although mental illness symptoms can often be managed successfully through a combination of medication and counselling, it is likely that suffers will continue to struggle throughout their life. It’s not just a matter of “trying a bit harder”.
Myth #8: Those who suffer from mental illness will never recover from their disorder.
Fact: Although many sufferers will continue to battle, or will find their symptoms resurface overtime, they can often manage these successfully. Thus, most of them will lead a fulfilling life.
If you’re struggling with any mental health issues and not getting the help you need then please get in touch with me and I will do my bets to get you the help you need.
“You can map out a fight plan or a life plan, but when the action starts, it may not go the way you planned, and you’re down to your reflexes – that means your [preparation:]. That’s where your roadwork shows. If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, well, you’re going to get found out now, under the bright lights.”
Today that quote is proving invaluable to me because today is proving to be a challenging day, and for no clear conscious reason as yet. I woke up in the middle of the night last night, not from a nightmare or any dream that I can remember but with an ominous feeling of what I can only describe as dread. I didn’t sleep much after that and lay there in bed with my heart racing until my alarm went off.
The day so far has been spent wrestling with my mind as the darkness that I lock away tries to overwhelm me and, I know that I will win this battle today.
Now why am I telling you this?
Well I know that there are many people out there who have had, and likely will have similar experiences to this, it’s a natural part of life. I am a highly positive person and I am also very well aware as a psychologist what is happening. My life has been full of unusual experiences, some fun and some terrifying and exhilarating. This mixture of positive and negative experiences are all part of who I am and sometimes the negative takes over and leads me towards a path I do not want to tread because it is dark, threatening and dangerous. This path is virtually impossible to brighten as it seems to absorb all light like a black hole encompassing anything and everything.
I am grateful that I have learned to side-step off that path early on and use what I have learned and keep myself focused on what I do want; how I do want to think, how I do want to feel and remain focused on those things no matter how exhausting that can be at times like this.
It’s extremely difficult to explain to someone that has never had this kind of experience because it’s not something you can see, or touch or hear, it is a purely kinaesthetic experience. This is purely thoughts and feelings that create the mental state and this intangible element is hard for some to grasp.
There has been a huge amount of research over the years into how our mindset; our thoughts, feelings, language and behaviour, and how that affects our physical health as well as our mental health, and a field of science called Epigenetics grew from it and has shown that our beliefs can affect us at the cellular level.
One of the best-researched books about our language and responses to both positive and negative events in life is Learned Optimism by Dr. Martin Seligman. In a 25-year research study, Seligman proved that our mindset, manifested in our language and behavior, is a predictor of our success. In other words, what you think and say (your words and language) is proven to manifest in your life.
I continue to be baffled by individuals who wonder why their life is a mess when their entire mindset is defeatist and pessimistic. They are blind to their own undoing.
Seligman proved that how we respond (think, say, do) to our circumstances, both successes and failures, directly correlates to our accomplishments in life. Someone might argue that it can’t be that simple, but from Seligman’s research, it is.
To push your thinking limits even further, Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief, has confirmed that our thoughts can actually adjust our DNA, at minimum, how our DNA decides to respond to different stressors or events. Contrary to popular understanding, it is not your genes that predict your predisposition to your health condition, but rather your thoughts that act on your genes.
Your thought life is highly influencing your condition in your life, including, but not limited to, your health, relationships, career, and achievements. Understand that regardless of your background, Personal Style, personality, or environment, you can learn optimism, measure it, and teach it to yourself and others.
If we are going to live our lives on purpose with passion, it is going to take resilience and mental strength and those who give up easily are generally pessimistic in their mindset. They get caught in a cycle of hopelessness, and can’t see their way out of their troubles or challenges. However, optimistic individuals face identical roadblocks and they overcome them to realise their own success and victory.
There are three principles or factors that comprise the primary work for Dr. Seligman’s optimist and pessimistic framework.
1. Optimistic Mindset Item One: Permanent vs. Temporary
Failure makes everyone at least momentarily helpless. However, those who are optimistic bounce back almost instantly. Those who are highly pessimistic remain helpless for days or perhaps months, even after very minor setbacks.
2. Optimistic Mindset Item Two: Specific vs. Universal
The optimist believes that bad events have specific causes, while good events enhance everything they do; the pessimist believes that bad events have universal causes and that good events are caused by specific factors.
3. Optimistic Mindset Item Three: Personalisation: Internal vs. External
When bad things happen, we can blame ourselves (internal), or we can transfer fault to circumstances (external). People who blame themselves when they fail have low self-esteem as a consequence. They think they are worthless, talent-less, and unlovable. People who blame external events when bad events happen do not lose self-esteem when negative events occur. Overall they like themselves better than those who blame themselves. The optimistic style of explaining good events is the opposite of explaining negative events. It is internal, rather than external. People who believe that they cause good things to happen tend to like themselves better than people who believe that good things come from other people or circumstances.
The Importance of Hope
Whether we have hope depends on two dimensions of our explanatory style (the words and responses we use): pervasiveness and permanence. Finding temporary and specific causes for misfortune is the art of hope – temporary causes limit helplessness in time, and specific causes limit helplessness to the original situation. On the other hand, permanent causes produce helplessness through all our endeavors. Finding permanent and universal causes for misfortune is the practice of despair. People who make permanent and universal explanations for their troubles tend to collapse under pressure, both for a long time and across situations. In Seligman’s work, no item is more important as your levels of hopelessness or hopefulness.
It’s important to remember the three principles of Dr. Seligmans’ optimistic and pessimistic mindsets; how they apply to your life, and why being conscious of them will help you avoid (and reverse) the cycle of despair and hopelessness. Living a life On Purpose, by definition, is a life full of HOPE. When life throws you a curve ball, where does your mind take you? Are you a glass half-empty or glass half-full kind of person? Your answer matters, To You.
“Each of us has two distinct choices to make about what we will do with our lives. The first choice we can make is to be less than we have the capacity to be. To earn less. To have less. To read less and think less. To try less and discipline ourselves less. These are the choices that lead to an empty life. These are the choices that, once made, lead to a life of constant apprehension instead of a life of wondrous anticipation. And the second choice? To do it all! To become all that we can possibly be. To read every book that we possibly can. To earn as much as we possibly can. To give and share as much as we possibly can. To strive and produce and accomplish as much as we possibly can.”
If this post helps just one person today then it has done it’s job and if you feel you want or need to talk in more detail then please get in touch.
Here’s to your mental strength and success.
For a long time I thought I was happy with my job, I was doing what I’d set to do in joining the Royal Marines. I worked with like-minded people, got paid to stay exceptionally fit, got fed four times a day and was provided with a roof over my head. The trade-off was that I was expected to do what I was told do whether I liked it or not and, some of the things I was asked to do I really didn’t like. However I was still happy living my dream.
Or so I thought.
Over the last year I have been conducting my own meta-analysis of the efficacy of hypnosis in the treatment of a wide variety of different conditions (47 in total) as you can see below.
With my area of expertise being PTSD and Trauma, I could not miss an opportunity to dig deeper into this field and as with all the other subjects, I found that hypnosis either outperformed other modalities or greatly enhanced their performance in the treatment of the illnesses and conditions listed in my research. The papers and articles referenced in the links are available for you to read at your leisure and make your own conclusions, however, in the course of my research I have reinforced and deepened my understanding and belief that hypnosis is a hugely powerful form of treatment for so many afflictions of the human mind, body and spirit.
Study 1: Hypnosis and Combat-Related Post Traumatic Stress Insomnia (Hypnosis As Effective or Better Than Ambien)
Hypnotherapy in the Treatment of Chronic Combat-Related PTSD Patients Suffering From Insomnia: A Randomised, Zolpidem-Controlled Clinical Trial
Results: Those in the study given hypnotherapy had improvement in all sleep variables assessed: quality of sleep, total sleep time, number of awakenings during the night, ability to concentrate upon awakening and morning sleepiness. The hypnotherapy group had better quality of sleep, better concentration, and lower sleepiness than the group that received Zolpidem (a prescription insomnia medication sold under brand names such as Ambien). The hypnotherapy group and the group given Zolpidem had equal levels of improvement for total sleep time and number of awakenings.
Notes: This study evaluated the benefits of add-on hypnotherapy in patients with chronic PTSD who were suffering with chronic difficulties in initiating and maintaining sleep, night terrors, and nightmares. Thirty-two PTSD combat veteran patients treated by SSRI antidepressants and supportive psychotherapy were randomised to 2 groups: 15 patients in the first group received Zolpidem 10 mg nightly for 14 nights, and 17 patients in the hypnotherapy group were treated by symptom-oriented hypnotherapy, twice-a-week 1.5-hour sessions for 2 weeks. The hypnotherapy included age regression where participants imagined returning to earlier periods in which normal restorative sleep was present (for example, an exhausting day of games with friends during childhood). All patients completed the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C, Beck Depression Inventory, Impact of Event Scale, and Visual Subjective Sleep Quality Questionnaire before and after treatment.
International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Vol. 56, Issue 3, 2008
By: Eitan Abramowitz, Yoram Borak, Irit Ben-Avit et Haim Y. Knobler, Israel Defense Forces, Mental Health Department, Israel
Study 2: Hypnosis for PTSD in Children Traumatized by Death of Close Relatives
Hypnotic Treatment of PTSD in Children Who Have Complicated Bereavement.
Results: Following the single session hypnosis, the mother reported significant improvements in her son’s skin with noticeable changes in itching, irritation, and swelling. The dermatologist was impressed with the child’s recent progress. According to the mother, at follow up, her daughter was feeling increasing relief from the abdominal discomfort. She was no longer debilitated by pain, which had narrowed her range of activities. Follow-up a month later was conducted by phone with the mother and she reported that both children had recovered completely from the debilitating somatisation (that is, the production of recurrent and multiple medical symptoms with no discernible organic cause) features. The children were no longer demonstrating intrusive morbid ideations of the course of their father’s death and were no longer experiencing obsessive preoccupations over the degree of terror and agony their father must have endured during the course of the traumatic events that led up to his death. The mother indicated that at this juncture both children were also able to reminisce about happy times with their father. The mother at this follow-up also reported the restart of grief in both children and assured us that her family would offer comfort for their mourning. (Note—It was suspected that the traumatisation/PTSD had been interfering with the children’s ability to complete normal grieving and move on, so this was a good sign.)
Notes: This paper reports on two cases where children were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of the traumatic death of close relatives in rural Guatemala. The normal grieving process had been inhibited due to the horrific nature of these deaths and the children’s grief had become a pathological psychiatric disorder. Both children were only treated with a single session of hypnosis involving the Hypnotic Trauma Narrative (a protocol the authors developed specifically to help children deal with situations like this). There was a follow-up one week later and again after two months when the authors noted that the children’s symptoms had cleared and they were now beginning to grieve in a normal fashion.
The hypnotic induction consisted of simply asking the children to close their eyes. The following “Hypnotic Trauma Narrative” was then used: You’re old enough to know that when you look through telescope things that are far away look much closer. Important events in our lives can also be viewed as though you were looking through a telescope that brought them close to you. When you do that, you gain access to even the minutest details of the image that you are examining. At that point, you could see more than you need to see and could become stuck with certain images and unable to let them go. This can be overwhelming because the details that you seem stuck on are upsetting and hurtful. There is an alternative—you can turn the telescope around and view the same picture form the wide lens and then things can seem very, very far away. When that happens, you may not realise it, but many details of the image that you are examining get lost and are no longer available. Events that take place in life can be examined from either end of the telescope…. Now, I ask that you see yourself looking through the wide lens of a telescope at events that have taken place in your life, that need to be viewed from a less painful perspective, so that you can be well again. Look through the eye of your mind into the wide end of the telescope. This offers you the ability to see things in a far away, far away, far away space, place, and time.
By placing them far away, you’re able to see them in a more manageable fashion and elements of that image that used to upset you, are no longer so noticeable. Of course, horrible events in our lives do not simply disappear, but with the passage of time the details of the painful event get blurry, you start forgetting, and your mind makes room for current memories. Your mind is also capable of giving you a picture of yourself a week from today, a month from today, three months from today, and even a year from today…It’s fun to be able to look ahead and to get a glimpse of what our lives will be like in the future. As we now look ahead…. and I wonder if you are able to project ahead a week…. I wonder if you can move ahead a month or two or three, and I wonder if you are old enough to be able to see a year into the future. As you look ahead, no matter how far into the future, you find yourself able to accept all of the happy memories that you have not given yourself the opportunity to enjoy. As you put everything that is painful in its proper perspective, you grow and strengthen inside, as well as outside, and you become more mature and older. Also, any complaints that your body has been voicing that are no longer necessary can quietly follow in the same direction as the images that you are looking at through the wide lens of the telescope. As these complaints become a thing of the distant past, never to trouble you again, you become well and able to move ahead with the assignments that are appropriate for someone your age.
Am J Clin Hypn. 2005 Oct-2006 Jan;48(2-3):183-9
By: A. Iglesias, Virginia Commonwealth University
Study 3: Hypnosis for “Complex Trauma” PTSD (such as from childhood abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence)
Hypnosis For Complex Trauma Survivors: Four Case Studies
Results: Data from self-reports, observation and objective measures indicate a significant reduction in the trauma symptoms of these four subjects after hypnosis treatment.
Notes: This report describes the use of hypnosis to help four Chinese woman who were suffering from complex trauma. Two were victims of sexual abuse when they were children, the third had been raped and the fourth had been repeatedly battered by her husband. The hypnotic treatment involved three steps: “stabilisation, trauma processing, and integration.” Hypnosis was first used to help stabilise the victims. Then age regression techniques were used to help them to remember the traumatic events that led to their condition (and to begin to distance themselves from these memories). Finally, hypnosis was used to help them integrate and consolidate the gains they had made. When their treatment was finished they were all assessed by various self-reported and objective measurements. These all indicated that they experienced a significant reduction in their symptoms as a direct result of this hypnotic treatment. One key thing to note is that the researchers comment that adequate rapport and explanation about hypnosis must be provided before clients feel comfortable to use the tool, especially in survivors of childhood abuse who tend not to trust people easily.
Am J Clin Hypn. 2009 Jan;51(3):263-71
By: Maggie Wai-ling Poon, Clinical Psychologist, Social Welfare Dept. Hong Kong
Study 4: Hypnosis for PTSD in Immigrants who Escaped to America After Being Tortured, Raped and Abused
Indirect Ego-Strengthening in Treating PTSD in Immigrants from Central America.
Results: This report focuses on the limitations of conventional therapy to help these individuals and it presents two ego-strengthening techniques involving indirect hypnosis that have proved helpful in treating this population.
Notes: As a result of civil war in Central America many refugees escaped to America suffering from PTSD as a result of being tortured, raped and abused.
Contemporary Hypnosis Vol. 18(3):135-144
By: G. Gafner, S. Benson, Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System, Tucson Arizona; Progressive Insurance Employee Assistance Program, Temple, Arizona
Please feel free to comment and discuss the findings and any experience you have had either personally with PTSD and Trauma or in treating people who are struggling with it, as I would love to hear about different experiences and view points.