Calm Kids – from exam stress to exam success

Posted: 6th September 2017

Clarissa Woodcock Photo

By: Clarissa Woodcock

Calm Kids – from exam stress to exam success


  • Former teacher and army major-turned clinical hypnotherapist helps children overcome exam nerves
  • Children’s performance improved to ‘above national expectation’
  • Techniques including breathing exercises, visualisation, Jin Shin Fee and elements of Reiki help pupils combat the pressure of SATs and other life challenges 

Pupils’ performance at Holmer Lake Primary School, Telford has gone through the roof, with the support of trained teacher and clinical hypnotherapist Clarissa Woodcock.

Clarissa – who is also a retired army major and trained soldiers as a member of the Royal Army Education Corps for 16 years – started working in school two years ago.

The schools’ forward-thinking and inspirational Head Teacher Mrs Siân Deane brought her in to run her ‘Calm Kids’ programme, because she recognised the need to try something different, to focus learning and pupils’ performance in the classroom, with pupils as young as 7 years’ old.

This year Clarissa has supported the oldest pupils in the school, 10 and 11 year olds who sit their end of Key Stage 2 SATs, before moving on to secondary school. The brief was to support with focus and positive thinking, dealing with the stress of the additional pressure and being able to achieve their very best in the tests. Their scores have improved to well above national average.

Clarissa said: “The staff could see that one of the biggest factors in their children’s results, was self-confidence, and in some cases, being able to shut out or control some of the less positive influences in their lives.

“So that’s why they brought me in, and where I focused my efforts.”

“Over the past two years, I’ve delivered a mixture of one-to-one, bespoke and small group sessions, suitable for children battling everything from special educational needs to selective eating, and psychological issues like fear and anger.”

Clarissa helped the children to relax and to control their fears and overcome any nerves and other barriers to success they were experiencing.

“This included breathing exercises, such as encouraging them to inhale positive thoughts and exhale negative ones linked to emotions like uncertainty and anger,” said Clarissa.

“Visualisation was also part of the programme, such as encouraging them to focus their minds’ eye on colours they associate with positive things, or imagine writing their worries on stones and throwing them away into a lake.”

She added: “Some of the issues these children were experiencing were linked to the distractions of modern life, too, like computer games, TV and iPads. We see a lot of anger among school children, particularly boys, and I think a lot of that is a result of the things these children are exposed to.

“The hypnotherapy techniques I use can also help them to distance themselves from some of these influences and feelings.”

Clarissa was inspired to re-train as a hypnotherapist several years ago after witnessing how much it helped one of her pupils who had been buckling under exam pressure. She now runs her own practice specialising in stress management therapies, called Shropshire Hypnotherapy: Calm Kids & Stress Solutions, in her hometown of Shrewsbury.

Because of her recent successes, Clarissa has won an inspirational hypnotherapist award for the exam success programme from Sheila Granger, International Hypnotherapist and her evidence based practice write up has gained a Higher Distinction award from the Stress Management Institution. Clarissa is offering her transformational services to other schools that feel their pupils could benefit from her techniques.

She is passionate about providing young people with an escape from the extreme pressure they face from the modern exam system. An estimated 300,000 young people in the UK have an anxiety disorder and these numbers are growing, peaking at exam time. Stress and anxiety can lead to more serious illnesses such as IBS and heart disease.

“The children I work with need help there and then, and the waiting time for traditional support services can be anything up to 12 months. At my practice, 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,” added Clarissa.

“I truly believe hypnotherapy offers a better alternative for coping with anxiety than that and medication.”

Any teachers or parents interested in exploring the potential of performance-related hypnotherapy can contact Clarissa on 07762259128 or via email at For more information, her website address is

For more information or to arrange interviews or photographs, contact Clarissa on 07762259128.