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Whether you are feeling anxious, depressed, overwhelmed or in absolute despair, talking to someone who you do not know, in English, can be a great help.

However much our lives have improved since our move here, there are still some things that “la belle vie” cannot solve or prevent. We are living a normal, although somewhat different life and regardless of how great it may be, we can still feel low, lose a loved one, have difficulty with our retirement, get divorced, have a severe illness or grow to like the wine too much. Living in France is magic but it is not a panacea.

We have asked five specialists to talk about their techniques for dealing with what life throws at us.

Jerome Daltrozzo

Jerome Daltrozzo specialises in ericksonian hypnotherapy and has a PhD in cognitive psychology and neurophysiology. He tells us how health hypnosis works:

Health hypnosis (or hypnotherapy) is a soft, gentle, and natural method that differs completely from stage hypnosis. In contrast to stage hypnosis, the aim of health hypnosis is, above all, the person’s well-being. It is a “brief therapy” because, on average, only three sessions are required for a given issue.

The hypnosis is a natural state of consciousness between the wake and the sleep state. Imagine being absorbed in the story of a book, while ignoring everything else such as the person sitting next to you. In such contexts you are in a state of “light” hypnosis. Your attention (i.e. your conscious mind) is focused on a story, something to imagine.

It is in this state that your unconscious mind can receive the suggestions from the hypnotherapist more efficiently, because they are less filtered/censured by your conscious mind, which is busy with the imagined story.

You remain conscious and in control during hypnosis. No one can force you to do something against your will under hypnosis. Think of yourself as watching a good movie intently, i.e. under light hypnosis. Would you do something against your will in that state?   Surely, not!

It is through suggestions given to the unconscious mind by the hypnotherapist that various issues are treated. These include addictions, anxiety, stress, chronic pains, psychological issues related to mourning, divorce, separations, depression, sleep disorders, weight loss, sexual disorders, attention and concentration disorders, self-esteem and self-confidence, fears, phobia, allergies, psychosomatic issues, and obsessive compulsive disorders.

During the hypnotherapy session the patient is drawn through various relaxation technics to a state of hypnosis. Several hypnotic suggestions, designed to treat the patient’s issue, are then administered. The patient is woken progressively and the session ends with a short debriefing.

Katie Gardner

Katie Gardner, a CBT counsellor, explains Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:

This talking therapy can help you to manage your problems by modifying the way you think, respond and behave. Most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, it can be useful for other emotional and physical health problems too.

CBT doesn’t aim to remove your problems (which, in most cases, would be virtually impossible), but helps you deal with them in a more positive, proactive way. It is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.

Helping you to interrupt this cycle, CBT breaks down overwhelming problems into smaller parts and shows you how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel. Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind on a daily, ongoing, basis.

Through CBT you can learn how to modify your perception of past events and current difficulties. It can lead you to feel more positive and get you focussed on building a future again. In other words, it can help to stop negative thought cycles.

CBT doesn’t need to be long-term. In fact, most people find that they learn sufficient coping strategies within the first six sessions.

One of the biggest benefits of CBT is that after your course has finished, you can continue to apply the principles you have learned to your daily life. This should make it less likely that your symptoms will return, allowing you to look to the future and build a more positive, happier inner you.

Christine Haworth-Staines

Christine Haworth-Staines, practitioner psychologist, tells us why Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is particularly suitable for psychological problems stemming from trauma:

Developed in the United States in the 1980’s it was originally used to help major trauma, for example, service men and women, natural disasters and road traffic accidents. It is now also used for other traumatic events such as childhood bullying, divorce and so on. I particularly like it because it is relatively brief and, to use a cliché, “heals from within”.

EMDR brings together what we know about how memories are stored, the function of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and several psychotherapeutic techniques. It is a complex process but to summarise:

With the practitioner’s help the client moves their eyes from side to side to mimic REM sleep (remaining fully conscious), this is the stage of sleep when we process information and events that have occurred during the day and lay down memories. Whilst doing this a target image, which has been agreed on and described in detail beforehand, is used as the starting point. The practitioner then encourages the free flow of thoughts and the patient reports back what they are seeing/thinking/feeling. If necessary, the practitioner makes a few interventions but, in essence, the mind is healing itself by reorganising information and storing it in a more adaptive form. At the outset the practitioner and client agree on a negative thought and the aim is to move towards a more helpful belief about oneself.

I have been using this technique for more than 15 years now and although it is not relevant to every client problem, when it is used, I never cease to be amazed at the speed and intensity of improvement.

Catherine Lerasle

Catherine Lerasle, a Gestalt practitioner adds a word about  humanistic therapies:

As part of the mainstream psychotherapies, humanistic therapies, such as Gestalt or Person-Centred therapies, have been around for a long time. Clinical evidence-based research supports these therapies that are particularly orientated towards a vision of the human person as somebody reaching for a balance in life.

However, some life experiences, situations and relationships can feel complicated and a bit confusing. We may have developed solutions to problems that have become rigid and no longer adapted and we can end up feeling worry, anxiety or depression. A gestalt psychotherapist is there to help clients develop better insight into their processes and to discover new flexible and more resourced approaches to life’s challenges.  Email:

Adrienne McAllister

Adrienne McAllister is an EFT Practitioner and Trainer and outlines the benefits of Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT (also known as “Tapping”):

EFT can help reduce and eliminate emotional, psychological and even some physical symptoms. As a result it can give you the impetus and confidence to move through blocks and obstacles in your life.

By simply tapping lightly on a short sequence of acupressure points around the head, face and upper torso, whilst at the same time focusing on a memory or current issue that brings up an unwanted or negative emotional response, it is possible to permanently shift the brain’s reaction to a particular area of difficulty.

EFT isn’t a traditional “talk therapy” like counselling or psychotherapy. No analysis is involved. The main focus of the technique is on how the emotional problem makes you FEEL. By using the tapping sequence, whilst voicing the emotional and physical feelings the subject brings up for you (rather than going into all the “story”), emotional distress can be cleared, sometimes quite quickly and often permanently.

You may also find yourself getting very helpful insights into the limiting beliefs that often underpin emotional problems as the tapping sequence brings relief and freedom from the problem.

EFT can bring about a welcome release to even long-standing problems and is helpful in finding relief from many symptoms including stress, depression and anxiety, negative memories, fears and phobias, physical pain, grief and loss, anger and resentments, emotional pain and distress, lack of confidence, low self-esteem and limiting beliefs.

For more information: 0788 39 40 93

Details of these and other counsellors and therapists throughout Gironde, Dordogne, Lot et Garonne, Lot, Gers, Tarn et Garonne and north Haute Garonne can be found in our website Business Directory under Fitness, Well Being and Beauty

Images: Shutterstock and the individuals concerned

First published in the July/August 2018 issue of The Local Buzz