Nicola* was one of my more challenging cases – although she had a very clear idea of what she wanted to be able to do she also was also very doubtful about whether I, or hypnotherapy, could help her. She had struggled with exam stress the previous year and now it was time to resit them, but her revision was going badly and she was more worried now than she had been at the same point last year.
“No offence”, she said “but I don’t see how you telling me to relax is going to help me learn Kirchofff’s laws. Do you even now what they are?” I didn’t (and I still don’t) but as I told Nicola I was there to help her with her memory, her concentration, and her resit exam stress, not her individual subjects.
With people like Nicola it’s always easier if we start with some practical ideas before we talk about visualisation or hypnosis, so we discussed her revision, and why it didn’t seem to be working. She was staying up late at night, revising for three or four hours without a break, and reading material over and over again hoping it would ‘sink in’.
I suggested that instead of hoping to soak up information like a sponge, that she read more actively, questioning and thinking about the logic behind what she read; that she revise in blocks of twenty minutes with five minute breaks between them, to allow her to stay fresher and more focused; and that as an ‘early morning person’ she do her revision then, when she was at her best. This wouldn’t just help her revise, but to calm her exam stress as well by allowing her to make progress with her revision.
With these practical steps for her to follow I then did some work under hypnosis with Nicola asking her to use her imagination. I helped her to imagine revising, in the way we’d discussed, and her being relaxed and confident while she was revising, finding that she was understanding and retaining more of what she was reading.
Once she was confident about her revision being successful we directly tackled her resit stress, and I asked her to imagine sitting her exams. Every time she needed to recall something she could simply close her eyes, picture a shelf of books, take the right book down and open it at the right page. Rehearsing this helped Nicola with her stress about her exams, reducing the stress she felt helped her to concentrate and get more from her revision, and better revision helped her feel less stressed about her exams.
Nicola’s real identity has been protected, and she is happy to share her story.
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