How Shropshire & Ex-teacher, Retired Army Major is helping children to battle exam stress

Posted: 22nd May 2017

Clarissa Woodcock Photo

By: Clarissa Woodcock

How Shropshire & Ex-teacher, Retired Army Major is helping children to battle exam stress

Clarissa Woodcock, Shropshire Hypnotherapist draws on her experience at sharp end of education and opens her hypnotherapy business to helping children and young people with exam stress.

Clarissa has seen plenty of exam stress first hand. Both an ex teacher and retired Army Major, several years ago she re-trained as a hypnotherapist.  As a teacher, she watched year-after-year as children and young people battled with their nerves and worries in the face of exam pressures. It was after working with one student, who was buckling under the pressure of meeting education targets, that something changed for Clarissa.

“This young person was so fearful of failure that he couldn’t even cross the threshold into the exam room,” recalls Clarissa. “That’s how bad it was. I felt helpless, watching him struggle and putting so much pressure on himself. He had become trapped and depressed. I tried to support him but my professional role and desire to do the right thing were completely at odds. “In the end, he had to take some time out and start afresh the following next year.

“When he returned, he was a completely different. His looked more relaxed, he stood straighter and was more confident. “It turned out, he’d been for hypnosis and I was amazed by the change in him.”

This episode had a significant impact on Clarissa. She decided to make a career change and re-train as a hypnotherapist.

“I tried some hypnotherapy myself and thought it was brilliant. I discovered an excellent hypnotherapy training school located in Staffordshire and signed up.” Following eight months of training and examinations, in which she gained a Diploma in Hypnotherapy and more recently an advanced qualification in Child Hypnotherapy. Clarissa opened her own hypnotherapy business – Shropshire Hypnotherapist & Stress Solutions – in her hometown of Shrewsbury. Clarissa has already been inundated with parents wanting help for their children, and believes her own experience at the sharp end of the education system gives her a unique insight into the problems faced by 21st century pupils. Clarissa says: “The kids I work with need help there and then, CAMHS waiting times can be anything up to 12 months for support services. I truly believe hypnotherapy offers a better alternative to that and to medication. “Although medication has its place, we are too ready to try to deal with these issues by prescribing tablets to deal with external symptoms. “I deal with the deeper issues at hand rather than just the physical manifestation of anxiety.”

An estimated 300,000 young people in the UK have anxiety disorder and these numbers are growing and peaks at the time of exams. Stress and anxiety can lead to more serious illnesses such as IBS and heart disease. Clarissa adds: “Hypnotherapy can empower people to have the courage and gain the tools, to deal with their own issues.” Clarissa is quick to dispel any preconceptions that hypnotherapy involves ‘controlling’ a subject. “There are always going to be those people who think what I do is like stage hypnotists do, but it’s nothing like that. I work mostly with people on stress management, anxiety and panic attacks and confidence building. I can’t make people do anything they don’t want to do. My job is to bring people into a relaxed state – the kind of trance you’re in watching TV or daydreaming in – and when you’re in that highly suggestible place, you can better take on board the instructions you need to help you meet a goal. “

“Work is really picking up at my practice now. I’ve been working quite a lot with children who are having trouble sleeping and have been seeing children as young as six for anxiety.

“I’ve also started a course of Calm Kids Workshops which I’m going to be delivering at local schools in the run up to SATs and GCSEs this year. “Most people who come through my door are really positive about what they think hypnosis can do for them. Although there are always those who will respond easier to hypnosis than others, I’ve haven’t met anyone I haven’t been able to help so far.”

Visit Clarissa Woodcock, Hypnotherapy & Stress Solutions.

Clarissa has a couple of top tips for children and teens heading into SATs and exam season:

* “Try some breathing exercises. If you’re feeling particularly stressed, it’s good to do some controlled breathing.

* “Focus on one thing at a time. We’re all guilty of trying to do too many things at once, but watching a screen or having TV on in the background while you’re trying to hit the books will be counter-productive.

* Don’t multi-task, do one thing at a time and then make sure you’re taking some leisure time to switch off afterwards and allow your brain to relax.”