15 November 2016
A Trades Union Congress (TUC) study of over 1000 safety representatives found stress to be the main concern of 70% (this already high figure is a further 3% increase on the TUC’s 2014 study). This is an overall figure and peak areas were central government (93%), education (89%) and health services (82%). It can be suggested that people who experience high anxiety are less productive and more likely to take time off with ill-health. An additional study by Capita Employee Benefits (2016) found 36% of those that had complained of stress to their manager received no help. Furthermore, the report suggests that almost half of UK workers know someone who’s had to give up work because of stress and that many people (56%) indicate that they would not feel comfortable talking about stress with their fellow workers.
The 2016 National Employee Mental Wellbeing survey indicate that 25% of adults will experience a mental health issue at some point, with almost 20% of working age adults currently experiencing a mental health condition. The survey indicated that stress was linked to 43% of lost work days and 34% of work related ill-health issues. However, it reports that a staggering 95% of employees gave a reason other than workplace stress as their reason for absence, due to stigma.
The Mental Health Foundation (2016) report that people with mental health issues find there is a social stigma associated with mental ill-health and that the discrimination they experience can actually have a negative influence on their lives, worsen their difficulties and make it harder to recover. Furthermore, despite the Equality Act 2010 making it illegal to discriminate against people with mental health problems in many aspects, including work and education, people can still experience this stigma in numerous ways. Yet, most people who experience mental health problems never fully recover or develop satisfactory coping and management strategies.
Hypnotherapy for stress management
Workplace stress can refer to experiences where the demands placed upon an individual exceeds their ability to cope. This will vary from individual to individual and addressing workplace stress can require a holistic and flexible approach. Despite an ever-increasing understanding of the health effects of workplace stress, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE 2016) report that the number of cases of stress in the workplace has remained broadly constant for the past decade. Stress and anxiety are areas where hypnotherapy can be highly effective in generating positive and beneficial change. A good hypnotherapy training course will teach students how to observe the signs of stress, assess stress, and explore lifestyle and workplace strategies that can reduce the excessive demands that the individual is struggling with.
A range of approaches and models can be applied to lifestyle and workplace stress. Lynne et al. (2015) talk of social, cultural, cognitive, and neurophysiological aspects, both in and out of hypnosis, with dynamic interaction within the multifaceted experience of hypnosis.
Hypnotherapists trained in behavioural approaches will be able to address the unhelpful habitual responses of clients. People get into a routine of responding a certain way. If you have ever experienced the sales ‘yes set’ then it shows how easy it is to become accustomed to responding a certain way. Perhaps your client always says ‘yes’ to overtime, when really they want to say ‘no’. Working with a client can help them become more assertive, both linguistically (what they say) and non-verbally (body language).
Cognitive approaches, such as Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), enable a hypnotherapist to work with a client to identify unhelpful thought processes and generate new, more helpful ways of thinking and responding. Sometimes clients can get caught up in self-suggested demands such as “I should be able to cope with all the work-load, I can’t bear it if I can’t and it shows I am a useless person”. These rigid ‘absolute’ demands are unhelpful and can lead to disturbance when they are not met. Cognitive work can help clients gain a more rational perspective.
At times, a client may wish to get insight into their responses, or feel that their responses are ‘sub-conscious’ or automatic. Here an analytical approach, such as Parts Therapy, Inner Child or IMR therapy can help the client explore the ‘unconscious drivers’ behind their present ways of responding to situations. With new insight and understanding, work can then occur to create meaningful change.
Also, within the stress and anxiety experienced, there may be avoidance or phobic responses that may benefit from regression approaches, whether working with sub-modalities or perhaps a desensitisation approach, the skilled hypnotherapist can help to develop the client’s ability to cope in anxiety-provoking situations.
Whilst it may be most common for therapists to work within individuals on a one-to-one basis, stress management can also be a good topic for group therapy sessions. Here, with good session management, those within the group can form a support structure for all of those within it.
A hypnotherapist who understands the theoretical underpinnings and practical applications of a range of hypnotherapeutic approaches will be able to effectively help a client experiencing workplace stress reduce their experience of stress to a more manageable level.
Note: If you’re personally suffering from stress in the workplace and you’re looking for a professional hypnotherapist to help you, a good place for you to search is The General Hypnotherapy Register (GHR)
Thanks for reading this blog on hypnotherapy for stress and we hope that it has been useful for you. Do feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments.
– written by Dr Kate Beaven-Marks