I opened a new practice centre this month in the heart of a local City: tremendously exciting, but I expected a slow start.
Knowing I would be taking possession of my new office a few days after coming back from a week in the Lake District, I put a new listing in the Hypnotherapy Directory and planned to organise furniture and fittings for my room on my return.
Halfway through my holiday week, I started receiving calls and by the first week back I had a small number of clients booked in. The room was hurriedly kitted out in preparation for seeing my first clients there.
Fast forward to the last week of September and the month of October, and it’s fair to say there have been a steady stream of clients. What’s surprised me is the percentage of those new clients who are students. Perhaps not surprising or remarkable in a city that has 2 universities and a sixth form college.
What has been interesting and concerning is the number of those calls from students (and parents of students of students) who are experiencing stress, anxiety and panic attacks.
What the majority of us see from the outside in the Michaelmas term is the exuberance of ‘Fresher’s Week’: large groups of students dressed up in the bizarre costumes and onesies running around our towns and cities from one bar to another, looking somewhat disheveled and worse for the wear.
What’s relatively unseen are the many who are struggling with their new environment, perhaps being away from home for the first time; trying to adjust to different levels of academic support and lecturers expectations which are far different to school; struggling with issues of self-esteem, and confidence which may be challenged by the fact that they are surrounded by many of the nation brightest people where once they may have been the smartest and in the minority; losing time due to issues of procrastination and perfectionism; confused by cultural difference….and feeling very isolated and homesick as a result –which just serves to compound all of this.
Many of my clients are surprised to hear that they are not alone; that many students even within their own institution are going through similar experiences at the same time.
I can’t help but be concerned about the incredible amount of pressure that children and young adults feel under, to achieve academically, whilst experiencing low levels of self-esteem and self-acceptance many feel, which conflicts with this, creating a vicious circle of fear and panic.
The Cognitive Hypnotherapy approach is to facilitate developing an awareness and understanding of what these presenting symptoms of fear and panic are about: what’s at the root of this discomfort, and then to identify the desired solution state i.e. what the client wants to be different about that……whilst providing coping strategies to alleviate the symptoms.
Many of these issues only really surface as a problem, because of the extreme symptoms a reactions to these feelings, triggered by the change in environment.
As a parent myself, it’s certainly highlighted to me the important of really listening and gauging my Daughter’s levels of self-esteem, and to think about how I can best support her to prepare her psychologically for the challenges of (academic) life.