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  • Elaine Way

December: It's Been a Nail Biting Month!

December has been an exceptionally busy month for the Studio this year and once more it has been a delight to work with such motivated and downright amazing clients. Many great achievements have been made and I’m sure that progress bubbles away in the background as I type. I look forward to hearing more reports when the Studio officially reopens at the beginning of January.

Over the last few weeks we’ve had significant success in helping several people to stop biting their nails – three of whom cited that this was a habit they had from a very early age. As clinical hypnotherapists work directly with the thought and behaviour patterns of the brain, it is a fairly common issue we see here and it often requires only a few brief sessions to bring it to a halt.

Nail biting is also a habit or behaviour we address using Solution Focused Brief Therapy as part of the sessions, as it is important to find out about when the clients don’t bite their nails (in SFBT-speak – ‘incidents of success’) and what skills and strengths they have or can use to stop the habit. As with most issues, we use our skills as a clinical hypnotherapist to change a person’s perception of the issue or the habit. I also get them to visualise how life will be different when the issue is no longer an issue and what they would be doing instead with their time, so they already (within their brain) know what that will look and feel like.

This is a crucial step in giving the brain a confident direction and the client seeing themselves from tomorrow operating without the issue. As our brains like a detailed goal or ‘picture’, once we have the brain working for us and on our side, it’s more than helpful in getting us to where we want to be.

Nail biting can be a form of self-soothing or comforting and often has roots in anxiety or times when anxiety and stress are high. But it can also simply be a learned habit and clients often report doing it when they are bored.

My favourite past of helping people to stop biting their nails is explaining the brain science of why we do it and how to get control back over that part of the brain that not only creates the unwanted behaviour, but rather unhelpfully convinces us that we can’t change the pattern. We absolutely can!

It’s also one of the only issues for which I use what hypnotherapists call ‘direct trance’ – this means we directly refer to the habit in the hypnosis script and use suggestions that will help the client to physically ‘stop’.

I’m glad to say that, certainly in my local area, sales of nail varnish and nail clippers will be showing a marked increase! But on a serious note, as those who bite their nails will tell you, the habit can be very uncomfortable and, at times, painful, as often they bite their nails so short that the skin around the nail can become red, sore, dry and infected. We do also use our nails as tools –think about opening a can or being able to scratch. Most people (male and female) like to look down on their hands with a sense of pleasure, seeing healthy and attractive fingers and nails.

Word Clouds!

This months we also learned how to produce word clouds. You’ve possibly seen these already – a diagram where the words with the greatest frequency are larger in size. We collated the reasons (and frequency of reasons) why people first came to the Studio over the last few months and the result was very interesting. As expected, the main reasons cited were anxiety, fear and insomnia, but as can be seen from the diagram, the spectrum of issues we cover is relatively large. One missing from there is also erectile dysfunction/ sexual performance anxiety (male and female) which was difficult to register on the diagram and represented 6 individual clients over the last few weeks.

However, it provides a really useful visual for people to see why people would seek an appointment with a clinical hypnotherapist and solution focused therapist.

As we like to say here, everything starts and finishes with the brain, and so it is no surprise that we are here to help with so many different thought and behaviour patterns.

Have a wonderful Christmas, a restful holiday season and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year!

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