Interview with Judith Ward, Founder of Judith Ward Hypnotherapy
Tell Us About Your Career So Far
I used to work at the BBC and was a Production Safety Advisor. My job was to advise programmes if there was anything safety wise that they needed to do. I worked on entertainment and comedies and a lot on Saturday night shows such as Strictly Coming Dancing.
One year, Nancy Dell’Olio was in the show and they wanted to use a bull in the show and ran the idea by me. I would say, ‘we need to think about the floor being really slippy, 500 people in the audience’ etc. So, my job was to advise production on how they could do unusual things. As part of that role I became a Trauma Risk Assessor and I advised on story lines that were difficult or had the potential to be difficult. I started to give peer support to the programme managers who were going off filming. I found that really interesting working with people on a 1 to 1 basis.
What Kind Of Support Did You Offer?
If they were going to go off filming say overseas and there was a potential to see people who were going to be hurt, I would talk to them. I would be available during filming and when they came back we would talk about any issues they had. If something had happened I could offer them trauma risk assessment and support.
This got me interested in learning about how to support people.
What’s Your Background?
At university, I trained as an environmental health officer. I worked as that initially, then for a hotel chain, advising on safety and then at the BBC for 7 years.
Then I left to have my daughter. I went on maternity leave. During that time my marriage broke up, so I knew that I was going to find living in London difficult because working in TV you have to do long hours and financially it would have been hard too.
I started studying hypnotherapy on maternity leave. I was really curious to learn more about the brain. It really helped me whilst going through a divorce. I had a young daughter who was 6 months old and decided to relocate back to Northern Ireland.
I set up my business here and have been helping people here since I qualified.
How Is The Business Going?
It’s going well. I see people from all different walks of life. I see quite a lot of young people with anxiety, teenagers, people in their early 20’s who are lacking in confidence and self-esteem.
Have You Seen An Increase in That?
Yes, and the people I’ve trained with have said that too. There are more and more young people with anxiety even children around 10 or 11.
The bulk of my work is with women who seem to have lost themselves a little bit. Maybe they have become a mum or maybe haven’t found the career they wanted to do or are stressed or have lost their self-esteem. I see people who were maybe a confident person but have lost their confidence. I really enjoy helping people get their lives back.
Is There An Element Of Life Coaching In Your Work?
No, but I have helped women who have come to me and said, ‘I don’t know what I want to do with my life’. When the brain is in an anxious state and really busy, we can’t think nor find solutions. Using hypnotherapy, what we do is that we allow the brain to calm down and in a relaxed state we allow the brain to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. It’s like seeing the whole row of mountains not just a blinkered view.
How Does Hypnotherapy Work?
When a patient is calm and when we get them in a trance state then the mind is more open to new suggestions. They can find solutions as I provide solution focused hypnotherapy. We don’t focus on the problems we enable them to find the solutions.
The brain loves repetition. I give them a recording to listen to on a night-time. It teaches the body to relax first of all (progressive muscle relaxation) and they hear some stories and their mind wonders off. It’s kind of all jumbled up but it stops all that worry and negative thoughts that we keep filling up with. It kind of helps to diffuse all of that and when they are in a calmer space then we can allow new connections in the brain to form; this is called neuroplasticity.
We strengthen the stuff we want to have. We allow the habits and the things we don’t have to have any more to wither away.
Sounds Very Interesting
Yes, when you’re anxious your mind can be foggy and making decisions can be difficult. Everything can feel overwhelming and also for quite a few people, you can lose your concentration and your memory can go. Through repetition we teach the brain how to relax. If we can’t switch off our mind, we teach the body to relax first and then the mind follows.
So, someone would come to me and say they wanted to be more confident, I would ask them to scale it. Where are you at right now from 0 to 10? And we try to nudge them a little each week.
Do You Use These Techniques on Yourself?
I found it helpful when I was going through my divorce and there was a lot of change and didn’t know what to do. I’d use them to become aware if I was negative or being anxious.
Whilst I was training, we did use hypnotherapy on each other and I know it works and can made you feel better.
What Are You Most Proud of In Your Career?
I’m proud that as a single parent I have come back to a new country, new home, set up a business. I feel most proud when people come and they say that I have really helped them or changed their life. I got a text from a parent to say that I had really helped her daughter. Things like that make me feel proud to do what I’m doing.
What Would You Have Told Your Younger Self?
To believe that anything is possible. Don’t put a limit on what you want to achieve because you are a unique person. There is no-one like you. You don’t have to copy the crowd. Be yourself.
How Do You Manage to Juggle Work and Life?
I have to be really strict with my time – I have to work flexibly around my daughter. It is hard when you are running a business. I’ve learnt now that you can only take on what you can manage.
Having systems in place really helps too; being organised as much as possible. Prioritising is really important and knowing when you need to slow down such as having a long bath and switching off! You need to listen to your body.
Tell Us About Your Confidence
I’ve become more confident as I’ve got older. In primary and secondary school, I was really shy. The idea of standing up in front of a lot of people would have terrified me. Through experience and doing things, then my confidence has grown.
The more you believe in yourself the more your confidence grows. And you don’t have to be an extrovert to be confident. The stereotype that you have to be this gregarious person is wrong, you can be quietly confident as well. To be confident, if you’re doing something new, then planning is key.
Judith Ward is an award winning clinical hypnotherapist. She practises a modern form of hypnotherapy called Solution focused hypnotherapy. It can be used help anxiety, depression, confidence, self-esteem, stress, phobias and enhancing general well-being. She is available via Skype or at her clinic and can be contacted at www.judithwardhypnotherapy.co.uk