by HypnoFreedom on Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 | Comments Off

The woman charged with breaking the abusive relationship is Susan Hepburn, a
hypnotherapist who has worked with Nigella Lawson, Lily Allen, Sophie Dahl
and a fair few more celebrities she cannot name. Though Dahl, Allen and
Lawson came to Hepburn for weight loss advice, her hypnosis covers
everything from smoking to self esteem to stress… and alcohol, of course.
“Anything you perceive to be a problem,” says Hepburn when we meet in her
Harley Street office, “I can make better through hypnosis.”

Hypnotherapy has always seemed a bit fatuous to me – I just think of swinging
clock watches and Kaa, the snake in the Jungle Book. But Hepburn is a
no-nonsense Northerner who immediately debunks misconceptions about her
trade. “It’s not about ‘putting you under’ so you can’t remember anything.
If anything, hypnosis is about getting into a state of increased
awareness, so we can re-programme the mindset. When people are in a hypnotic
state, so to speak, they are actually more receptive to noise and everything
around them. They are more conscious, more open to what people are saying.”

Hepburn discovered hypnotherapy after studying psychotherapy and was
immediately fascinated by the discipline. She opened her first clinic in her
native Barnsley which proved very popular but on discovering the huge demand
for her services in London, she moved to the capital 20 years ago where she
has built an extensive client list through word-of-mouth. Today she has
clinics in Los Angeles and New York, and she has just opened more centres in
the City and in Essex for stressed out workers in the Square Mile. She tells
me with confidence that she can stop me drinking in one session – though she
suggests three to be sure. I am sceptical to say the least. How can she
break down an almost 20 year relationship in just one hour?

We sit down in her consulting room, which is all plush leather chairs and
chinois print screens. In the middle of the room is her hypnotherapy chair,
a vast, vibrating monstrosity with leg, back and head rests that can move up
and down at the touch of a button. It is slightly frightening, and I am
relieved when Hepburn tells me that we will have a psychotherapy session
first to help her to understand my history of drinking. I tell her about
when I first drank alcohol – one summer on the local green, when I ended up
being sick into my shoe – and she asks me when I ‘transitioned’ from being
able to take it or leave it. “Um, I don’t think I did transition,” I mumble.
“I’m pretty sure I’ve never been able to take it or leave it.” Hepburn nods
understandingly. She’s seen it all before.

Eventually, and with trepidation, we move to that chair. I climb on and make
myself as comfortable as I can given that I am absolutely terrified (what if
I wake up as a devout teetotaller with no sense of fun?). Hepburn covers me
with a blanket. Apparently it can get very chilly being hypnotised.

I close my eyes and steel myself for what is about to happen. But whatever it
is that occurs, it is strangely, pleasurably cathartic. Hepburn’s voice
becomes softer, slower. She tells me to open the ‘window of my mind’, and to
let in fresh air to my brain. While taking deep breaths, she asks my body to
relax from the top to the toes. Then she starts with the hypnotherapy
proper. “You are going to have no cravings, no desires, no inclinations to
drink. If you do, don’t worry. Do not waste energy on what you cannot
change.” Hepburn tells me to imagine looking in the mirror and seeing clear,
sparkly eyes; to feel fresh and full of energy.

How long does this go on for? I’m not sure I know. Either I am in a hypnotic
state or I have just fallen asleep. Either way, it feels kind of good. By
the time that Hepburn is telling me to “delete the files” containing all
memories of alcoholic stupidity, I am crying. But I feel as if I am crying
in a good way.

As I prepare to leave, Hepburn issues me with some ‘self-hypnosis’ tips to
keep me going until our next meeting. I am to say the following ‘positive
affirmations’ to myself over and over again: I am enjoying my new regime of
being mindful and healthy; I am proud of not drinking; I love having all
this energy.

I leave feeling hopeful. Or perhaps I am just desperate. Either way, I know
that something is about to give. I will check back later in the month, after
another two sessions, to let you know what.

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