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Home / UK Hypnosis Blog / From Assistant Headteacher to Hypnotherapist in 5 months

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Tom Cleary was an Assistant Headteacher at a primary school until he decided to embark on a new career as a therapist. Tom is still positively changing people's lives, but now in a very different way – as an accredited Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist.


  • Tom received the Diploma award and started practice in the same month, January 2018. He was already seeing several clients a week by the end of the month
  • He is now studying for a Diploma in Stress Management and Resilience Building
  • As he studied he built his website – Train Your Mind – and also developed his marketing strategy
  • He discovered teaching has many transferable skills to therapy and coaching

Tom Cleary

Why I left my career as a teacher and Senior Leader to become an accredited Hypnotherapist

In August 2017 I received my final pay check as Assistant Headteacher at a successful primary school. Less than 5 months later, I was qualified and certified as a Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist. I am seeing several people a week and have a growing client list. I trained with the UK College of Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy and was impressed by their evidence-based approach, professional standards and support.

If you had asked me a couple of years ago if I’d ever train in hypnotherapy I would have laughed; it just wasn’t something I would have considered, which goes to show there are often options open to you that you haven’t thought of. I left teaching because the role was taking its toll on me and I was losing the passion I started with. Like so many other teachers I went into teaching because I wanted to help people. Re–training as a therapist I have found another way to do this. I had so many more transferable skills than I had initially realised. In fact, I would go so far as to say that teachers’ skill sets are ideally suited to making the shift into therapy or coaching. My time management, problem solving, ability to work with different people and practical and organisational skills have proved invaluable, as has my work ethic. The course itself has helped me personally as I have overcome a couple of long-standing phobias during the training! Seeing the techniques work in real life gives you confidence in your ability to help other people which was really important to me. I am passionate about helping other teachers, as there are so many who struggle with career related stress and anxiety, so I offer a discounted rate to clients working in Education.

This change in career has given me the ability to be more in control of my life. As a teacher I was pulled between the needs of so many others. Now, I dictate my schedule, my deadlines and manage my hours to suit me. I also have choice about where I direct my focus. I have chosen to specialise in areas I am passionate about; so as well as supporting teachers at a discounted rate, I also specialise in supporting runners’ performance and issues specific to the LGBT community.

It’s a risk leaving a reliable wage and a safe job, and for some teachers retraining, I can see that they may choose to go part-time whilst they retrain before making the full transition. For me it has been worth the risk and has changed my quality of life.

Why I chose the UK College of Hypnosis diploma course

I looked into several hypnotherapy training courses before deciding on this one and am very pleased with my choice.  The evidence-based approach the college takes makes it stand out from many others and you can see this running throughout everything they do. You can also see how the College is constantly looking to update what it does and draw on new studies.

The other students you train with come from an incredibly diverse range of backgrounds so there are constant opportunities to share ideas and experiences. Plus on the diploma you can develop a really supportive group of people who want to see each other succeed.  A large number from my group are in regular contact since finishing, sharing resources and ideas and generally helping each other out. There’s also a lot of support from the College with online resources which are incredibly useful.

With several different trainers on the course, each with their own teaching style, you hear about their experiences and how they use the theories and tools in various successful real-life settings.  There’s also a chance to talk to previous students who have set up their own practices very recently, so you can get some invaluable advice there too.

There’s a good balance of time spent understanding theory and then learning by putting it into practice, underpinned by reflection and constructive feedback.  In short, I both enjoyed it and got what I needed – not a combination you often get! I left the course very confident in both practical skills and the underpinning theory.  I’d highly recommend the diploma to anyone looking to either add hypnotherapy to an existing role or to make a career change.

The advice I would give to other teachers looking to retrain

It’s easy to make assumptions about what transferrable skills you have and to underestimate your options.  I’d recommend taking some time to explore what’s actually out there and try out some of the ‘taster’ days like the self-hypnosis workshop to give you a better idea. And talk to other teachers who have made the move.  You’re likely to realise there are far more options open to you than you think!

Tom's key points for teachers looking to retrain in hypnotherapy

  • Teachers have ideal transferable skills for retraining as a therapist: including time management, people skills, flexibility, organisation and work ethic.
  • Becoming a hypnotherapist helps you regain control over your work life, giving you more choice over what you specialise in, more flexibility and work-life balance.
  • As a teacher, helping others is likely to be one of your core values; working as a therapist allows you to continue doing this.
  • Training as a therapist is a great way to address your own work-induced stress and anxiety, and then going on to help others.
  • Being your own boss gives you the opportunity to use your creativity and problem-solving skills in ways that might not have always been possible in your school, especially with the constant stream of new initiatives

Tom's website is  www.tom-cleary.co.uk

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About the author | Mark R. Davis

Mark is a therapist, trainer, meditation teacher – and a leader in developing the integration of hypnosis with cognitive behavioural psychotherapy approaches. As Director and Principal of The UK College of Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy, he is at the forefront of evidence-based hypnotherapy training – and is also very involved in the the integration of yoga and non-dual philosophy into Western Psychotherapy.