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Monday, 5 January 2015



HERE IN the UK the idea of self-help and even alternative medicines are still met with the odd raised eyebrow, often followed by a murmured exhortation to 'get a grip'.

I distinctly remember a friend who was struggling with depression telling me how many people told her she just needed a nice new dress or that she should think of the starving in India. Of course, anyone who has the slightest understanding of mental health would know how unhelpful their words would have been.

For years now I have been vocal about trying other ways to heal and improve yourself. I've participated in many of them, even studying Reiki. But I still suffer from the most common ailment – anxiety – which has recently been identified with a number of phobias, addictions and general mental health problems. If anxiety goes untreated, then other problems that are really a by-product of it may continue to trouble you.

My anxiety manifests itself in panic attacks on escalators or anything that involves heights – the mere mention of the word Shard brings me out in a cold sweat, and and my tube journey has to be planned to avoid high escalators. I can't tell you how often I have taken myself to Piccadilly on my way home to Earl's Court only to turn back and walk down to Embankment because there's no escalator there. Some days I do make it, but my hands will be dripping in sweat.

A chance meeting with Alix Needem at a friend's Harley Street clinic helped put me on the road to recovery. At first she was introduced as a life coach but I'm rather sceptical about such people as it seems anyone can do a quick course and call themselves a life coach, although there are, of course, many good ones around.

But after spending some time with Alix, any scepticism disappeared. She is a qualified teacher and former head of physical education at a school in Shepherd's Bush. By all accounts, the school was not for the faint-hearted but she helped turn round the lives of children there. She became so interested in what she could do to help others that she left to train as one of the first life coaches and now has 25 years of experience behind her, pioneering a unique form of hypnotherapy.

Unlike like many hypnotherapists, Alix is not flashy. She's quite gentle but her approach, which she tailors to each individual, is very much to the point. In the past I have been to a number of practitioners who helped for a while but then the anxiety would return. I told her about my fears and the impact they were having on me and she said she felt sure she could help with her combination technique.

So I found myself in her office near Regent's Park, while Alix explained most phobias or anxieties come from past experiences, some of which we may even have blocked from our subconscious but will come back to haunt us in later life. She asked me about any events in my childhood that might have triggered a height trauma but I couldn't think of anything (my Dad used to dangle me off the edge of Edinburgh Castle, but that was something I really loved).

Alix urged me to concentrate as she was going to put me into a state of hypnosis and use EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to reveal the cause of the phobia and help empower me to overcome it. She told me to clear my mind and relax in the chair, which was a bit of a struggle as I was thinking about how pretty her office was and wondering what the ground rent might be! I've always found it tricky when someone tells me to concentrate to clear my mind....

She began to count me back from 100 and although my mind was still on the maintenance fees of the building the next thing I remember was Alix asking me a question. I felt a bit confused, as though I had just woken from a long sleep and almost jumped from my seat. Alix told me to stay with her. Then I had a memory of when I was about five years old, I was climbing a wall and fell. I still have the scar on my right leg.

She told me to take my right fingers and tap the side of my hand, which would let the fear go – after all, it was only a memory stored by a child and I was no longer to hold onto it. Over the next half hour she challenged me to let go of the fears until eventually she brought me back round. It felt wonderful, as though I had done a lovely meditation. But had it worked.

Even on the second day I noticed a considerable difference - the Piccadilly tube station was easy to do and I even chatted to my friend as we went up; usually I'm holding on for dear life if I can make it as far as the escalator. The dreaded Leicester Square later that week was still daunting but, using the touch therapy and telling myself it was all in my head, I was able to go up the escalator. I won't say it was easy, but previously it would have been impossible.

A month later my life has changed. Now I do not have to alter my travel plans to avoid escalators. I may need a top-up treatment, as Alix suggested, as some people need more sessions than others. But the simple fact that I can get the tube and not experience the fear I felt before makes even the one session very well worth it.

Alix will make you feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from you . 

PHONE: +44 (0)20 7935 1965