An Interview with Deborah Mends, UK College Diploma Graduate and Owner of Your Visual Mind
How has life changed for you since taking the diploma at the UK College?
Within only a year of graduation I have been able to build a thriving hypnotherapy practice in one of the most beautiful regions of France, enjoying real intellectual satisfaction, the deep joy of bringing useful change to people’s lives, and the peace of mind of being able to make a good living. I’m on a path of continual learning and deepening skills. Life doesn’t get better than this.
It sounds as if you have found a new career as a Hypnotherapist that pays the bills and which you enjoy?
Can you tell me a bit about this journey of change and success?
Yes, that’s absolutely right – my passion also pays the rent.
I actually came to hypnotherapy just about by accident – I had qualified with the International Coach Federation and was only looking for a brief training in hypnosis to set myself apart in the crowded coaching field as I developed my Abu Dhabi consultancy. However, in that brief one-week training with Mark, I realized that hypnotherapy was about using the visual mind to heal others; by the end of the week I had decided to entirely change profession and direction to do the UK College CBT hypnotherapy diploma. I set up about a year later as a hypnotherapist in France, branding my practice under the name of Your Visual Mind.
It is now about a year since I opened my practice, and I have an average of 25 clients at any given time. My calendar is fully booked up to two to three weeks in advance, and clients come from a radius of 150km, some traveling as much as an hour and a half to consult with me. I have been able to stop working on Saturdays, and I live entirely off my revenues as a hypnotherapist. I am starting to be recognized as a very serious practitioner and was even recently invited by the psychiatrist-director of a local mental health clinic to present my services to his team.
I was a bit worried at first, as friendly but doubtful doctors and other practitioners warned me it takes 2-4 years to build a practice; more than one person told me frankly that I might have to go elsewhere to succeed, to a big city or even outside France. Moreover, there are already many established hypnotherapists in the area. But I had to start somewhere, so I joined a medical clinic in my small Brittany town (pop. 12,000). From there, essentially by word of mouth, my practice just mushroomed, there’s no other word for it; I remember telling the generalist in my clinic how many clients I had after six months and his jaw literally dropped open in astonishment.
But it must be said that the first year of this success has been very hard and challenging too. I am a bit of a perfectionist, scouring books and articles for every new client to be on top of their specific problem: insomnia, enuresis, nicotine addiction.
In particular, my practice also has a lot of trauma clients, so it has meant close work with my supervisor, UK College Trainer- Daniel Mirea, to keep me on keel and on track. Additional training with the Beck Institute strengthened my CBT skills as did all the excellent specialized workshops the UK College offers! Now I am at the University of Derby part-time for a CBT diploma.
I have of course changed enormously with this growth and challenge. There is still so much to learn, but I have acquired a certain professional experience and confidence I see reflected in the response I get from clients and also the medical professionals I sometimes partner with: psychiatrists, psychologists, generalists.
What is your background and past qualifications?
Professionally speaking the past twenty years have been devoted, in one way or another, to my developing the capacities of the visual mind. I trained with Dr Betty Edwards in how the brain learns to draw and taught neuroscience-based classical drawing in Paris and Abu Dhabi; this later evolved into visual thinking consulting, working with government agencies and major corporations in the Middle East to help them use drawing to process complex information better and more completely.
What led you to choose the UK College course? Does being Evidence Based help your marketing and approach?
It was the specificity of the UK College offering evidence-based hypnotherapy training that brought me to choose it, as well as its being approved by the British Psychological Society. I have since looked into a few hypnotherapy training courses and took one or two in France, but none has been at the level of the UK College.
As for evidence-based work, this has been the keystone to my marketing and my approach with my clients. I know for a fact that this has really set me apart in the crowded hypnotherapy field in my region, and it has also meant that clients generally want to work with me longer; they call me first and trust me from the start.
It also has led the French press to seek me out; it looks like I will be listed as a recommended practitioner in a well-known national magazine in its regional edition in September, and a major newspaper will also be running a profile on me.
I also take a very concrete, evidence-based approach in the first session; I never do treatment but devote it entirely to evaluations, to determine the starting point to chart progress measurably. This helps to build the therapeutic alliance and to optimize the subsequent therapy. Often the new client’s mother or friend phones me for an appointment after having heard about this first session alone.
How has the College met your expectations as a vocational training provider?
The College has done this by providing an exceedingly intense but complete base in evidence-based CBT hypnotherapy practice. I also once again strongly recommend the specialized workshops in trauma, nicotine addiction, insomnia, low self-esteem etc, as they helped fill out what we were not able to cover in the intensive course.
I also cannot adequately stress the importance of the diploma’s unique CBT orientation. I am absolutely certain that this too has helped set me apart on the market. It has given me the tools to handle sometimes very complex cases; also, speaking pragmatically, it has helped my practice in that clients stay with me a little longer than with a typical hypnotherapist. I can do more for them.
Can you tell us a bit about your recent successes as a therapist?
I often hear clients tell me in the first session that I am their last resort; they have often tried everything from psychotherapy to energy healing to acupuncture. This was the case with a client who came to me because of her depression following the death of her father last year. Again with techniques I learned at the College I was able to help her let go of her loss, so quickly and so completely that her astonished mother came to me herself for therapy; the mother’s sister, after seeing the change in her and in her niece, also came to me for therapy!
But what I consider my greatest success has also been my most difficult case. Mental health resources for anorexia are limited in my region, and I was pressed by the desperate parents of a young girl to help. This is not ordinarily in the realm of hypnotherapy at all, and I was reluctant, but there was no one else who would take her on. It has been a tough: she was completely disconnected from her emotions and so underweight she had been hospitalized. Anorexia is no joke; people die from it. I often couldn’t see whether I was making progress with her and doubted myself, and the responsibility sometimes felt crushing. But with excellent and close supervision, and tools I learned at the College, I am very happy to say a year later that she has returned to a normal weight. She is beautiful and smiling again; there have also been some important changes in her that mean the reasons for her anorexia have been dealt with. I should note parenthetically that I also discovered with this case that there is a serious evidence base for hypnosis in anorexia treatment!
This is not to say that every case ends successfully; part of the learning process is that of accepting that you can’t help everyone. But I feel fortunate that most of the time I am able to bring at least some real improvement.
What has surprised you most about retraining?
What has surprised me is the breadth and depth of hypnotherapy work. I never imagined it would lead me to work with such a range of clients, and I also had no idea it would be so intellectually satisfying. I will always have new things to learn!
What has pleased me most about this retraining is I have been surprised into finally accepting what my lifelong interest in the brain and human development meant: that my vocation all along has been working with psychology to help others heal.
What do you love most about being a Hypnotherapist?
I am making a difference in the world, client by client, one tiny success at a time. My life really has meaning.
Find out more about the Diploma Course here