Author Archives: Nick

Sports Performance Coaching to Swim the English Channel – a Matter of Life or Death

Over the years I have seen literally thousands of clients as well as teaching other therapists and practitioners all over the world. Many requests for assistance and pretty familiar and every week I receive e-mails for help with phobias, eating problems, anxiety related problems and other such issues. There are also times of the year when certain problems are very common. In the summer when people get married I see lots of people for public speaking issues and phobias of bees and wasps. By September I can count on receive lots of requests for assistance for spider phobias.

In September last year as I scanned the daily e-mails one in particular caught my eye. I read the following…

“Hello Nick! I am training to swim the English Channel this September. Whilst physical training is going well, I am sure I’d benefit from some assistance to deal with fears whilst in the water.”

My first thoughts on reading this were “Why on earth would anyone want to do that?” I agreed to meet Pete the client and began to hear the full story of why he needed help. In short Pete had been training to swim the channel for his son’s charity and during a recent practice swim he had a panic attack. Now every time he thought about this task he felt extremely anxious. He was not a professional swimmer and while he was experiencing this panic attack he kept thinking to himself

“Oh my god, if my arms go now, I’ve had it! People drown this way!”

This as you can imagine is not a good recipe for anyone wanting to swim the channel and he was also mindful that he had only 4 months before the actual event. Worse still he had paid a considerable amount of money ensuring that the event could go ahead and had received a great deal of sponsorship. In short a lot of people were relying on him…
As this task was for charity I agreed only to charge him for the first session and I would then see him free of charge for following sessions providing he kept a video diary during his practice. I learned from him that in order to be allowed to undertake this task you have to have a full health check and be able to swim at least six miles, so you can show you are fit enough. The actual swim is between 25 and 42 miles depending on tides! You are not allowed to wear a wetsuit and once in the water you can’t get out until you reach dry land in France.

Despite all precautions this could actually be a matter of life or death as it is a serious physical task and many factors including the weather are totally out of your control.
A key factor in coaching Pete was to use the tools from my PCW approach to removing anxiety, so he had a suitably calm but alert state when taking on this task. A key factor in helping him was giving him a full recording of each session we did together and ensuring that he listened back to these sessions to build his confidence. This is what he said afterwards about this aspect of the process

“Because I had your CD’s, so whenever I was wandering over the cliff tops and stuff like that for a walk, I was playing your audio and just changing perceptions, and the best thing was I could then get into the water, and you know that the swim this weekend was going to be more pleasant than the one the weekend before. As I was going through… I remember you made me question quite a few things that you assume are facts, because I would assume that the colder the water, the deeper it is, because I had a thing about deep water. And you would ask why. And you were right. As I was swimming and you go through this horribly cold patch, and I think it’s just an underwater river coming off the cliffs, but you immediately think it’s really, really deep water. And your first thought was how do you know its deep and challenge that assumption and that made me feel a bit better. Then you put in another thought which was that as long as it was deep enough to swim in, why was it a concern anyway, because as long as your arms aren’t scraping on the floor, whether it’s 150 metres deep or… the channel is 380 metres deep in some parts… why does it matter because you’re on the surface. It’s almost like you shouldn’t be scared of flying if the aeroplane is on the runway, what’s your problem? Maybe get concerned if you started to go down from a huge height, but the surface of the water is the safest place to be.”

On Sept 24th 5am he left Dover and began heading for France. Seventeen hours 55 minutes later he arrived on French soil. This is a great example of how to remove unhelpful anxiety and to build confidence in a real life context. This is what he said afterwards on the boat as he headed back to the UK

 “Thank you for all your help – I couldn’t have done it without your help – You can now stand up in a room and say that your methods and techniques got this fat wheezing bloke across the channel, and I’d back you up 100%.”

Pete Windridge – France

We made a video documentary for his son, so when he gets older he can see what his dad achieved!

Nick Kemp 

Phobia Cures live on the BBC

A few years ago I received a phone call. “Hi this is Chris Sands, producer at the BBC. Would you come in and talk about your work this Sunday, live on the air?” I thought “Blimey that’s my birthday, do I want to work on my birthday?” I decided that it might be good to attend to raise awareness of my work and earmarked 1 – 2pm for the show. During the programme I mentioned that I specialized in seeing clients with phobias and anxiety conditions. Both the show host and producer’s eyes lit up and they asked if I would happy to return to work with members of the public live on the air. At this point I had no idea that I would be appearing for 26 consecutive weeks working with all kinds of phobic problems including public speaking, bird phobias, spider phobias, fear of heights, fear of flying insects among many other conditions.
Anyone who works in the field of Hypnotherapy, NLP or talk therapy knows that the real test of any practitioner’s skills is seeing clients in private practice. TV shows with celebrities like Paul McKenna and Derren Brown have popularized the idea of hypnosis and all manner of instant change. Live client sessions are of course quite different to any other situation as you never really know what is going to happen. During these radio sessions I was acutely aware that each week over 50,000 people would be listening in to hear if “Nick cured the client!” and I wanted as always to ensure each client received the best possible attention.

A phobia has been described as “an intense but unrealistic fear that can interfere with the ability to socialize, work, or go about everyday life, brought on by an object, event or situation” The secret to changing this response is not to analyze the problem, but rather to change how and person thinks and then feels about the problem. Any anxiety is created by four main ways –

1. What a person sees externally
2. What they hear externally
3. What they imagine or picture internally
4. What they think or say to themselves internally

I have never found the other two senses of taste and smell to be frequent triggers for the phobia; it’s mostly always the other four factors. In NLP the traditional “fast phobia cure” is a good way to assist with phobias. This works especially well if the phobia is triggered by what a client sees or imagines. However I have found that often the trigger for the phobia is not simply what a person sees but rather what they then think to themselves. For example when a person sees a spider and feels fear it’s often not the picture that creates the fear but rather the person thinking “Oh my god!” in an unhelpful anxious tone! Over 90% of all phobias I have treated to date have this kind of auditory trigger and almost all the BBC clients responded well to changing this unhelpful thinking pattern.

During the 26 weeks I learned a great deal about how to work quickly and efficiently in resolving these problem states and never to assume anything when working with clients. A good practitioner has a flexibility to adapt and respond to a client’s needs and never to assume anything! Unusual phobias I have treated to date include fear of red brick walls and sharp edges and fear of balloons among other problems.

Seeing clients every week in Leeds, Manchester and on Skype has taught me a great deal about how people create these conditions and I teach these approaches all around the world. What I find fascinating is that it doesn’t matter if I am teaching medics in Japan, the public in New York or am presenting at a major conference in Spain, the triggers for these problems are always predictably exactly the same! To date I have seen literally thousands of clients with phobias and anxiety related problems. Most issues can be resolved in just a couple of sessions producing a very welcome and much needed improved quality of life.

Nick Kemp

Help For Sexual Problems

Sexual problems can take many forms. Prior to any formal session it’s of course essential to obtain correct and accurate information, so time is used to best effect. It’s also important to check that in this instance there are no medical (physical or medication for example) reasons for the problem in question. This is one of the many reasons why with all clients I request the completion of a set of client notes, so I have proper information about “the problem” from the client’s perspective and what they want from the session. These kinds of problems are quite common and in most cases clients request help when they are real in a state of desperation and in many cases don’t actually believe that they can change how they think and feel.

I have dealt with a range of “sexual” problems which can include a huge range of different problem behaviours from addictive behavioural patterns, ED, vaginismus, anxiety issues and almost paralysing shyness, and a host of other problems. Many clients are surprised by how easily they can relax in a session and are hugely relieved that their problems are far from unique!

My approach to these issues uses a wide range of tools including Hypnotherapy, NLP and Provocative Therapy (as taught by Frank Farrelly). As mentioned elsewhere on this site, my focus is to seek out “how” they are creating the problem rather than an analysis of “why” they are experiencing the problem. Often the client realises that logically their emotional response makes no sense, but their feeling response tells them that they currently have a problem in this area.

There have been many memorable highly successful results over the years including working with a guy who was literally terrified of women (the more attractive they were, the more terrified he was!) who then discovered an absolute ease in his female interactions, once he began to think, feel and respond differently. Every client is unique, but in this instance this outcome was also achieved in just two one hour client sessions. He now is in a successful and happy relationship and his confidence in every other area of life has also benefited immensely.

Erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation can be often be resolved by changing a person’s internal self-talk which frequently contributes to creating the state of anxiety that then facilitates the behavioural problem. Many clients experience useful changes in a very brief amount of time.

“I noticed a total change of my mental state and beliefs from the session with Nick. This was a real reality check where I finally realised that the belief system I used to have was complete nonsense!”
Robin (Treated for ED problem)

Nick Kemp

The JustBeWell Sexual Problems index page is here – Sexual Problems

Blushing problems and how to stop going red

When I teach workshops around the world I always ask the group about what they think the most common client problem is that I encounter. I get the usual replies including, phobias, anxiety, compulsions and food related issues. Nobody has ever suggested blushing and yet it’s one of the most common problems to see clients for in my Leeds and Manchester clinics. Many clients who experience this problem have already tried other approaches or had the problem for some time. In most cases the attempted solution has been to analyze why they have the problem which in my opinion is the wrong question. The key question is “How are they creating the problem?” I must of in recent years seen over 100 clients for this specific problem and in all cases the process has been almost exactly the same with each client.

It’s important to differentiate between a natural state of blushing from feeling self-conscious and the type of blushing that occurs when a person runs very helpful internal suggestions that create the problem state. Blushing requires the ability to feel unhelpfully self-conscious and this can only be done in a few ways. By far the most common way to trigger this is for a person to make the following kind of unhelpful anticipatory suggestions

“Don’t go red!”
“Don’t think about going red
“People are seeing me going red
“I’m gonna go red!

These unhelpful suggestions are made in a fast and anxious voice which then creates the unhelpful feeling which triggers the overall blushing response. I have developed a number of excellent approaches which essentially defuse the emotionally charged suggestions so the client then has real control over how to think and feel different. The good news is that most people can have this resolved in just a couple of sessions. The secret of resolving this is not to analyze what tends to typically occur but rather to create new possibilities of thinking and feeling different. The age range for blushing clients can be from 16 – 60 in my experience and in all cases the type of people who have this issue are very good at anticipating and planning. They often work in jobs that require them to use such skills, but this anticipatory type thinking is being used in a manner that is not useful. Once the client learns how to disengage from the problematic way of thinking, then the feeling state changes and the previous blushing experiences doesn’t occur.

Dealing with Binge Drinking and Binge Eating problems

In my JBW Leeds and Manchester clinics I regularly see clients who have issue with binge drinking and binge eating. On the surface these can be seen as very different issues, but in my experience there are lots of similar patterns and often the approaches that work best with all binge type problems are identical.
When clients make contact at that exact point in time they have realised that they really need to change this problem behaviour. It may be that they reached a low point or in many cases their relationships in either personal or professional life have been so affected that they have to now find a solution. Often clients with binge issues have developed an “all or nothing” way of thinking and feeling. It’s a bit like a car that only has first or sixth gear as choices and nothing in between. I had one client who had binge eating problems who if she had what she called “a good day” would eat healthily and at a sensible pace. If she had what she called “a bad day” she would go to the local supermarket, fill up her basket with donuts and similar foods and then proceed to binge until she felt better. She had had all kinds of different therapy, kept food diaries and analyzed her situation at some length. None of these approaches had worked to date as many involved her thinking increasingly about food! Part of my role was to assist her in finding out how to create some better choices in what she ate and when she ate. To date all my clients who have had binge eating and binge drinking issues have been types that are highly mentally active and who in most cases use these skills with great success in some areas of life. The difficulty they have is that in relation to food or drink they can’t find any sort of braking system, so everything in terms of how they eat or drink is going far too fast. They literally have adopted this “all or nothing” behaviour and no amount of thinking has any useful affect. It’s like the whole world is now seen through this particular lens.
One of the keys in resolving this is to learn how to start to think and feel differently so the feeling of having to eat or drink in this way simply doesn’t occur in the same way. It’s also important to identify externally typical factors that collude to encourage the problem. One binge eating client found that he constantly bought chocolate bars when he filled up his car with petrol. He only ever added ten pounds worth of fuel each day and each time he also purchased a number of chocolate bars which he then ate once he drove off the forecourt. He was actually not even aware that he did this each day as it had become a pattern of behaviour he just did. Similarly binge drinkers tend to have specific times and places where they adopt this behaviour. Nobody when they first open their eyes on being born into this world thinks to themselves or blurts out loud “Mine’s a pint of Tetley’s” or “I’ll have five of those jam donuts” These behaviours are “learned behaviours” Just as any of us can learn unhelpful habits we too can learn with the right tools to think and feel differently. The key is to change the thinking process which then changing the feeling process and the overall behaviour. Even longstanding issues can usually be greatly helped in a relatively short period of time.

Nick Kemp