The pandemic has proved to be life-changing for Samantha Grainger. Not only did she go back to critical care nursing after a long break, she also started her journey as a counsellor and hypnotherapist. Having just turned 50, she explains how this has been a time to reflect and reorganise priorities
I am originally from Derbyshire. I did not go straight into nursing, when I left school, I spent time in Germany and Corsica, France working as an au-pair. I then went to Romania for a few months to work in one of orphanages with a charity called Ray of Hope.
When I returned, I had a deferred entry placement to study business, the above experience made me realise I wanted to work with people, and I decided nursing was the path. I did my nurse training at Leeds University (at that time there where only a few universities in the country where you could study for a pre-registration nursing degree).
I did not go straight into nursing, when I left school, I spent time in Germany and Corsica, France working as an au-pair. I then went to Romania for a few months to work in one of orphanages with a charity called Ray of Hope.
I qualified in 1996 and moved to Cambridge. I have two children who are now 21 and 24. I now live in Barnham Broom with my partner and two cats. I enjoy Norfolk – it’s a beautiful place to live. I also enjoy travelling and have visited South Africa, Australia, Argentina, and many parts of Europe.
I love being outside and would say I’m sporty in nature. I ran the London marathon last October, but an injury as put running on hold. Walking and swimming taking its place. I am looking forward to my new future as a therapist.
I’ve been a nurse for 26 years and have had a varied career. I spent 16 years working at Addenbrookes, Cambridge. I worked on the Neuro Critical Care Unit and then worked as a neurosurgical research nurse, moving then into Cancer research. I moved to the Norfolk and Norwich in 2012. I worked in oncology, anticoagulation and back to Critical Care at the beginning of the pandemic.
Nursing has certainly helped me on my journey into the therapy world. Many of the skills of nursing are transferable and like the skills required by a therapist.
The pandemic was a life changing experience for me. I went back to working in Critical Care after a long break. It was a challenging time, and it didn’t allow you much time to think. At the beginning of 2020 I also started my counselling journey. I qualified as a Hypnotherapist in July 2021 and have since done several additional courses build on my skills.
It was in July I began my journey as a business owner, and Free the Mind Hypnotherapy was born. This has been a huge learning experience, and very rewarding. In a lot of ways doing this course during the pandemic was perfect. It provided a distraction when I wasn’t nursing and allowed my mind to focus on something other than Covid and the menopause.
I contracted COVID myself in November 2020 just having had surgery, and it hit me quite hard, but I like to think I’m quite strong, so was soon back on my feet again.
The experience of the pandemic allows time to reflect and reorganise your priorities, and work/life balance is certainly much more of a priority. We never know what is around the corner so it’s important to make time for what is important.
I started my counselling course at the beginning of 2020. Hypnotherapy at this point was not part of the equation. The first year of my course was based on learning about hypnotherapy and its benefits. I did not know much about hypnotherapy at this time, in honesty I thought I will do the year as a steppingstone to my counselling qualification. I had no intention of practising hypnotherapy.
I found myself becoming more and more interested with my hypnotherapy journey as the year went on and could see how the skills required can have a great benefit in helping people conquer issues holding them back.
I also had hypnotherapy myself to help me with levels of stress developed whilst working as a critical care nurse through the pandemic. I found this very beneficial, and I could clearly see the benefit.
I signed up for some additional courses to gain further qualification and decided I was going to set up my own practice. If I am honest, I probably launched into the business like a bull in a China shop. I’ve never run a business before and there certainly has been a lot to learn. I had never considered marketing, accounting, or any of the other aspects that go along side working for yourself.
Despite this I have survived, and I am smiling. It’s been a good year and I am very pleased with the progress I have made. I have met some lovely people both clients and others that have helped me along on my journey. I have lots of new ideas for the next year.
I enjoy working with any issue, and it’s great to research how you are going to put together a plan for each individual client. I like to offer a bespoke service. Everyone is unique so their therapy should be tailored accordingly.
Areas I particularly enjoy working with and have already taken on additional training are Menopause, Anxiety, Disordered Eating and Weight Management and Alcohol Cessation. I also really enjoy phobia work.
Menopause certainly is a hot topic and at last women are starting to be heard, I feel there is still a way to go. Hypnosis for the menopause has been recommended by the medical world based on several clinical trials showing its effectiveness in the reduction of hot flushes.
It’s not just the hot flushes – it helps with the anxiety, the insomnia, and many other aspects of menopause. As in all issues it is changing the mindset using relaxation focused attention to achieve a heightened state of consciousness. In this “state” the mind can take on positive change.
An example using hypnosis for hot flushes you would relax the client and then use cooling imagery to train the brain to self- regulate. These methods can them be used at home and you teach your client how to use self-hypnosis. It is surprisingly effective.
As I am a menopausal woman, I can fully practice what I preach. The process of using breathing techniques to settle anxiety in this type of situation equally helps women to regain control over symptoms.
In phobias and anxiety, you can use a method of desensitisation to help retrain the brain, this is almost like exposure therapy. The theory behind this is most behaviour is learned behaviour. An example would be you fear dogs. It’s likely that at some point in your life a negative experience with dogs occurred, you then avoid dogs, and this reinforces the fear.
Using a combination of relaxation and gradual imagined exposure, these unhelpful behaviours and thought patterns can be altered, and this gives the individual confidence to conquer their fear or anxiety.
These are just a couple of examples of how hypnotherapy can help, there are many more techniques you can use depending on what the client brings to the therapy room. It is important to note that I am registered and accredited and take part in regular supervision. All hypnotherapists and counsellors should be taking part in supervision, this allows then to reflect on their practice, giving a better service to their clients.
I am registered with on the General Hypnotherapy Register and with The National Hypnotherapy Society. I can also be found in The Hypnotherapy Directory.
I work from four locations: Consulting Rooms Norwich; The Yoga Tree, Norwich; ProActive Therapies, near Norwich and Hingham Therapy Clinic. I enjoy the variety of locations and it allows my clients to choose a location convenient to them, I feel it offers flexibility. Although I do group my sessions in each location. I also offer zoom sessions if this is what is required. This works very well.
At present I still nurse two days a week and I still enjoy my work at the hospital. I am lucky to work with a lovely team of people. The reality is 12-hour shifts are very tiring and as you get older energy levels diminish. I have enjoyed my career as a nurse, but I am ready for a change.
My long-term plan is to transition to a full-time therapist and challenge myself in a different way. I wanted to transition slowly to build up my confidence and experience, this was a great plan. I limited my client numbers to allow myself time to really take the time to get to know myself as a therapist and give my clients 100%. I feel that I have found my style and a way I like to work.
FreetheMind Hypnotherapy is one at the beginning of August, so I will celebrate surviving my first year. I have really enjoyed it and look forward to building on my practice. I am looking forward to what next year brings. I am about to enter my final rear on my Psychotherapeutic Counselling course so one day a week I will be working as a trainee counsellor.
I am very excited to start this placement with Emerging Futures, which specialises in drug and alcohol problems. There will be much to learn here, and I am ready for the journey, I am sure this will allow me to develop myself in new ways.
On a personal level I hit 50 this month. I have taken on the challenge of trying out open water swimming and have really enjoyed the experience, so more to come. To remain fit and healthy and enjoy life. I also really hope we can see peace for the people of Ukraine and an end to this war.