Cognitive Hypnotherapist and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner in Kingston Surrey
Header image

Author Archives: Jill Tonks

The Art of Giving at Christmas

Posted by Jill Tonks in Blog - (2 Comments)

The Art of Giving at Christmas Time                                                                                                                                  

 It’s that time of year again as we are on the countdown to Christmas. How do you approach this time of year? Is it with excitement and anticipation or with a sense of obligation or doom and gloom?  Is it a pleasurable time with family and friends or a time of excess?

What does Christmas mean to you?

For me there are two really important aspects to Christmas; firstly the giving of gifts and secondly Christmas is a time for renewal and change preparing for the New Year ahead.

 One of our fundamental instincts as human beings is to give. In the days when we lived in tribes, reciprocal giving and taking was an important part of our existence. As well as looking after our families, it was important for the survival of the larger group that we were able to work collaboratively, to give and receive in order to meet the needs of the tribe. There is something satisfying at a basic level in the giving of gifts to loved ones, charities, whatever it is so long as it is given unconditionally, no strings attached.

When you are looking for gifts at Christmas, put yourself in the shoes of the person receiving the gift. What would they like to receive? People notice when you have made the effort to choose something especially for them. This can be more important than the value of the gift itself.

Receive gracefully. Most people have the best of intentions when buying gifts but sometimes it can result in the wrong type of gift. My mum bought my husband some years ago a soft toy dog that sat on the arm of a chair to put the TV remote control in! It was the strangest thing but her heart was absolutely in the right place and we had a lot of fun showing it to friends! My mum had an uncanny knack of buying presents that were off the wall. I’ve got a cupboard full of them but they remind me of what a character my mum is.

Decide how you want your Christmas to be. Make the best of the days off work or time with loved ones, get the balance right for you. If you anticipate any ‘have to’s or ‘should’s or ‘musts’, decide whether you want to do any of these things and then do them because you want to not because you ‘have to’. Christmas can be a time of obligation. If you make a choice to do or not to something, it can be a very different experience.

Finally, find some time for you at Christmas if you can. Take a look around you and be grateful for what you have. Gratitude can be a very satisfying feeling if we allow ourselves to experience it and it can be a great mood enhancer.

Remember generosity to self and others is a gift for life not just Christmas! 

 Season’s greetings to you all and here’s to 2012!

Mindlessness or Mindfulness?

Posted by Jill Tonks in Blog - (2 Comments)

This interesting article explains the difference between mindfulness and change based techniques. One is about training attention in the mind, the other is about changing what’s happening in the mind.

Both can achieve the same results; the skill is that the practitioner adapts their skills to what is appropriate for the client.

Cognitive hypnotherapy does just that. Sometimes training the mind to accept who we are and turning down the volume on our inner critic can be very useful sometimes. More dynamic change based techniques to help someone let go of unhelpful beliefs or negative emotions can be highly appropriate if these are getting in the way of someone living the life they want.

Trevor Silvester from the Quest Insitute says: ‘No one thing works on all people all of the time. Some things work for some people some of the time’. In this context, I don’t adopt a one size fits all approach, everyone that comes to see me is different and that requires a tailor made approach.

If you want to discuss how Cognitive Hypnotherapy and NLP can help you with whatever issues are stopping you living the life you want, call for a free, half hour, no obligation consultation. I look forward to hnearing from you.


Man is a Knackered Ape!

Posted by Jill Tonks in Blog - (2 Comments)

A spelling mistake in a school boy’s essay which in may ways reflects some of the problems my clients present with!

For all the sophistication of the intellectual mind which allows us to think, speak do all the amazing things that distinguish us from apes, the older part of the brain(  the monkey brain) plays havoc with our thoughts and feelings if we allow it to.

Joseph Le Doux in his book ‘The Emotional Brain’ says ‘ emotions make you stupid’. Taking this literally when we feel agitated or stressed, the thinking brain shuts down and our hard wired fight flight response kicks in. Emotions exist to take us towards pleasure and away from pain. Negative emotions like anger and fear are intended as a call to action to protect us and deal with the perceived threat in front of us. Whether it’s a problem at work, at home, a niggle with a friend or a partner, when these emotions kick in our ability to problem solve goes out of the window! Our thinking becomes supercritical, we anticipate the worst, get anxious about the future, our sleep is affected and we can become very tired.

Clients presenting with a wide range of issues including eating problems, unwanted habits, stress, anxiety, depression to name but a few, can more easily than they think get back in control of these emotions and take back control of their lives. Understanding what is happening and then learning techniques to get back in control of the way you think and feel can make a massive impact on your life. If you are getting in your own way and want to get back in control of your life, call me for a free, half hour, no obligation consultation. Change that knackered brain into a resourceful mind!


I’ve just come to the end of working with a weight loss client after 4 sessions. She was expecting to be able to lose weight – 2 stones – develop different eating habits and exercise more.

I offered her a choice at the start of our work together. Do you want to learn new habits or do you want to change your relationship with food and get to the bottom of why you are using food in a way that is not working for you?

We started with changing habits and quickly moved into identifying and changing the underlying reasons and beliefs she held about herself that affected her unconscious thoughts and feelings about  food.

She reported back on our last session how the ‘should I, shouldn’t I’ dialogue she ‘dalways had around food didn’t even exist anymore and now that was off her mind she could direct her thoughts to more productive plans she had with her life.

Food was not the issue, her faulty thinking and the associated negative thoughts were. The ripple effect on her life of these changes continues to amaze her. Oh and the weight is dropping off as well!! Now that’s what I call change!!

If you are looking for a quick fix, lose weight programme you might want to go and see someone else. If you really do want to change your relationship with food and yourself and enjoy the benefits that can bring just let me know!

Thanks to Michael Neill for the quote in the title

Talking therapies on their own can exacerbate bad memories. Trauma and depression can deepen using traditional methods.

You can’t change the past but you can change its meaning in the present. I say this to my clients all the time. Awareness in itself is not enough to change the past for most people. I see many clients who have seen other more traditional therapists and have all the insight they need and yet still have the problem!

Why is this?

Our memories form an intrinsic part of our self-identity; that elusive entity that helps to give us a feeling of coherence as we navigate through time. But how reliable is this sense of our past? Is who we think we are based on a system of memory that is more fluid and unstable than we are comfortable admitting?

It has long been established that memories are easily manipulated. Multiple witnesses to a crime come up with widely disparate descriptions; embellishments can readily be made in response to leading questions or the desire to please – yet each witness will believe in the truth of their recall, and unaware of how their memory has been influenced.

Despite this knowledge it has been a presumption that the memory itself – whether accurate or not – is permanent, burned into the synapses of the brain. New research is suggesting that this is not so. Essentially it is suggesting that long-term memory is a myth, which could open exciting new possibilities within Hypnotherapy. It appears that recalling a memory renders it fluid and unstable – able to be changed before being re-fixed into the circuitry of the brain – and that change could include changing its meaning or even deleting it completely. This is something that is implicit in my practice.

Changing the meaning the client has of a past experience, or changing the way the client perceives that memory, will alter the way the client responds to stimuli in their life which are connected to that event . I had a client recently who had had a traumatic experience in her life and couldn’t even bear to think about it without sobbing. In one session, we were able to drain the emotion out of the experience so she could talk about it without any distress.

 Hypnosis involves the disruption of the way the client perceives a memory in order to change the way they feel about it.

Perhaps we need to change our view of the function of memory from it being a static database of facts that keeps getting added to as we age – like a photograph album – to a living network of understanding – a self – that is able to adjust its sense of itself in the light of new learning. By looking at the mind in this way in this way it would become a benefit to be able to upgrade old memories to fit new views of the world.

How should we use this information?

In brief, then, when memories are recalled they become vulnerable to change.

Therapists who investigate the memories of their clients should be aware that every time a memory is recalled it becomes unstable and capable of change. That change can be in one of several forms:
• The memory could be strengthened in its meaning – it becomes more of what it was.
• It can be weakened – it has less effect on the belief network it’s connected to.
• It can be transformed by having the meaning of it reframed – and by doing so transform the belief that derives from it
• It could be deleted altogether.

The first possibility could be why all the recent studies of counselling styles that rely on just going over past events, and talking about the feelings relating to them, tend to deepen the client’s experience of the problem. The logical conclusion to be drawn from this is that the purpose of talking about any aspect of a client’s past experience is to change either its meaning or its coding so that it creates a positive change in the belief system responsible for the client’s problem.

If our past is a story we tell ourselves that we create to confirm our beliefs, then therapy becomes a medium by which you can create whatever myth of the past forms the basis for their most productive future.

What’s your story and is it working for you in your life?


With thanks to Trevor Silvester who wrote the original article

Autumn blues or a time for change?

Posted by Jill Tonks in Blog - (3 Comments)

Autumn is a great time of year to seize control, reflect and to make decisions that deliver what you want for the rest of the year.

So you’ve had a great summer….you have enjoyed the sunshine and the longer days, the summer holiday, if you had one, the quiet time at work if you didn’t. If you are a parent you might have enjoyed having some fun times with the children and not having so much structure in your days; there is less need to control everything, the lunches, the homework even the bedtimes!.

 It all ends now. The nights are drawing in, there is a chill in the air, and autumn is here.  It’s back to school, back to work. Do you choose to feel sad, down and prepare to hibernate for the autumn and winter – waiting for the same next year?  Maybe this a time for getting rid of what you don’t need; unhelpful thoughts, feelings, behaviours and beliefs.  You can learn from what you enjoyed about the summer and decide to do things differently this year and into the next, can’t you?

So what is it that you could learn from the summer season that you could take forward? Give some thought to what you have enjoyed most and begin to understand the reasons for this. Was it good not to be in control all the time? Did you enjoy having some space for you or having fun with the children? What else?

Whatever has been different, pay attention to that. Begin to explore new ways to put some positive changes in place in your life. If you want to make changes you can, you just have to want to and be prepared to override your natural tendency to maintain the status quo.   Adapting and changing is something that we are innately good at as human beings. I bet you are not the same person you were a year ago or five years ago.

I have decided to take more exercise this autumn. I found myself saying ‘ I would like to but…I haven’t got time, it’s too expensive’ .  I decided to change the self talk to ‘Can I make time? Yes I can.’  ‘ Can I do it relatively cheaply? Yes I can’.  I can cycle, walk or jog for free. I am choosing to focus on the possibilities and finds ways around possible hurdles because I know the benefits this will bring for me.

So make a decision to change if you want to. The choice is yours.

There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

I’m working with quite a few clients at the moment who are giving themselves a really hard time and nothing seems good enough. I think the Autumn time is a great metaphor for shedding what you don’t need – allowing yourself to let go of anything that’s not helpful. If you are a parent, it can be a gift to your child to let go of your own ‘stuff ‘.

This summed it up for me:

A Blessing for Ruthless Compassion and Self-Forgiveness by Rosh Hashanah

Stop striving for perfection.
That isn’t the path to being a good parent, or a happy person.
What your child needs is your full acceptance of who she is at this moment,
your willingness to see things from his point of view,
and your open-hearted apologies, daily if necessary, when you can’t quite pull this off
(which is the definition of being human.)
Just return to your heart, start again, and do your best.

To give your child the gift of unconditional love
offer it first to yourself,
all the good and bad, embarrassing and powerful, mundane and sacred parts of yourself.
Accept that sometimes you’re angry, or lazy, or greedy, or simply sad, as are we all.
But you’re still worth loving. You’re more than enough.

There is nothing you need to do to deserve that love. Just return to your heart.
(You may need to get past some tears to find it.)

Remind yourself:
Ruthless compassion (don’t let anything get in the way)
Return to love.

You’ll find life sweeter
You’ll become a true alchemist: transforming dross into love
and You will be a true blessing to your child.

If you find yourself worried or anxious or over thinking about yourself, your future or those around you and it’s getting in the way of you living the life you want. Give me a call for a free, half hour consultation with no obligation whatsoever and we can discuss how you can get back on track.

Freedom is from the inside out

Posted by Jill Tonks in Blog - (2 Comments)


This blog explores why quitting your job may not bring you what you want. When I work with clients on changing their careers, relationships or habits and patterns there are usually lots of ‘if only’ s……………………’. If only I could find the right job…………., if only I had a partner who…………….if only my job wasn’t stressful…..’ The truth is that everybody I see as a client has got everything they need to achieve the things they want but when they come to me, they just don’t realise that yet.

The human mind is a powerful thing that can work with you or against you When you begin to realise that most problems are thought or feeling miscalculations, then it opens up a world of possibilities and freedom begins from the inside out.

Viktor Frankl, an Auschwitz survivor says ‘Between stimulus and response is a space. In that space lies our freedom to choose our response. In this space lies our potential for growth and happiness’.

When I work with clients, the world around them doesn’t change but their response and relationship to it does and that’s what makes a difference.

Suppressing unwanted thoughts and feeling according to this PsyBlog doesn’t work. Psychologists have known for a long time that the brain doesn’t process negatives. I call this the blue tree syndrome because when I tell you ‘don’t think of a blue tree’ in order to not think it, you have to think it first, then discount it. Funny that!

So often clients I work with who have anxious or negative thinking patterns try so hard to not have the thoughts, that paradoxically it makes them stronger! Negative thinking usually serves a purpose at an unconscious level; often this is to protect us from what might happen. When we begin working together and clients start to listen and understand this positive intention behind the negative thoughts, the thoughts can transform into something more useful and the need for you to be pestered by them, because you are not listening ceases, to exist.

So instead of desperately trying to suppress negative thoughts, try listening to them and work out what needs to happen instead. By working with your mind, not against it, you can make a huge difference to the quality of chatter inside your head!

Isn”t that crazy? I always thought I was in control. Of course I am or am I?

This powerful video shows how our mental and physical health is driven by factors most of us are not aware of; in the unconscious mind. Dr Schubiner explains how the different processes in the mind work together for all of us to some degree to create our health- mental and physical.

More traditional therapies work to uncover or breakthrough some of these habits and patterns. Cognitive Hypnotherapy works more dynamically with the unconscious mind not only ???????????? ???????? to raise awareness of what”s happening but to change our relationship to the past, present and future. The past is history; you can”t change it, but you can change it”s effect on the present and this can create very different  future for you and it”s a lot more easier than you would think to do this.

It never ceases to amaze me how powerful the mind is and when it works against you; it can cause havoc in your life, anxiety, depression, eating problems, stress, phobias, addictions, the list is endless. When you get back in control of the different aspects of the mind, it can open up a very different kind of future; one of possibilities, potential, control and freedom – living the life you want. Now that”s worth achieving isn”t it?