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Psychosomatic Disorders and Hypnotherapy

by Sally Stubbs(more info)

listed in holistic psychotherapy, originally published in issue 199 - October 2012

At age eighteen I left school and joined The Manchester Royal Infirmary to train as a nurse. I wanted to be involved in curing suffering. Observing many horrific illnesses in the wards and clinics of that prestigious hospital, I spent a long time wondering, rigorously reading and questioning: If the mind can cure pain or pains suffered by the psyche during times of trauma and or crisis, can that healing and resolution within the mind ease if not cure what is causing disease and suffering in the body?

I went on to study Psychology, Psychotherapy and Hypnotherapy - I was lucky, I’ve had and still have the privilege of studying under some of the greatest teachers in the field of psychotherapy and hypnotherapy, including the great Doctor Ernest Rossi, who was Milton H Erickson’s amanuensis, Doctor Stephen Gilligan and the remarkable David Grove.

I am still questioning and researching to this day, as is the valiant and intrepid Dr Rossi.

Sallt Stubbs
Sally with full head of hair

Medical pioneers such as Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) and James Braid MD (1795-1860), who originally explored therapeutic hypnosis as a method of healing, had little understanding during their pioneering times, of how it actually worked.

“It is now believed that Braid invented the term ‘psycho-physiology’ to describe how mind and matter / body interact with each other to facilitate mind-body healing via therapeutic hypnosis” (Tinterow 1972).

Rossi says: “Even today, around 200 years later, exactly how psycho-physiology operates in mind-body therapy is not well understood. There are no generally recognized departments of therapeutic hypnosis or mind-body therapy in our universities and medical schools that conduct systematic research on these therapies.

“Within the past generation, however, the new discipline of neuroscience has emerged with the advent of new technologies for the scientific investigation of the natural relationships between mind and body that Erickson (1958/2008, 1959/2008) called his “naturalistic” and “utilization” techniques of hypnosis.

“Functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), DNA microarrays, and bioinformatics DNA databases, for example, have made a great deal of research available, which updates our understanding of therapeutic hypnosis, psychotherapy, and rehabilitation.”

Mesmer Rosie Erikson Grove
 A. Mesmer: {{PD-US}} ­ published before 1923 and public domain in the US  Dr Ernest Rossi  Milton Erickson MD  David Grove


Neuro scientific investigation is really exciting for us in our health professions, to unite our therapeutic technologies with these ongoing research results and really consider the extent to which our work has massive, as yet maybe, unthought-of benefits for those who are suffering.

In my practice through the mid eighties and early nineties when I’d amplified my studies, particularly with Ernest Rossi and the late, sadly missed, David Grove, I observed a physical phenomena in a number of my clients. These clients were mostly women of differing ages who presented with the symptoms of depression and or anxiety. More than a few of these women were suffering alopecia and as our Therapy Work progressed to resolution of the depression and or anxiety, their hair would start to re grow and flourish.

About ten years ago two doctors recommended that I take long term steroids to (maybe?) restore my hair as I suddenly started to suffer with alopecia. This was not a route that I would agree to, as I know the side effects, particularly the loss of bone mass, when taking steroids long term. I restored my own hair to full growth with no recurrence of loss now for the past ten years with my Therapeutic Strategies and two Session of 1:1 work with my Hypnotherapist Georgina Evers-Barnes. Georgina herself is a true disciple of Rossi, Gilligan and “Grovian” (David Grove) work.

I have gone on in the past ten years to Work successfully 1:1 and with my Therapy Course - 120 days on fourteen CDs You Can Grow Your Own Hair to restore hair loss from clients who have suffered with alopecia. My strategies in both 1:1 work and on my 120 day course which takes half an hour to forty minutes a day are developed upon Rossi’s work, particularly his Primary Processing Work, Erickson’s Work including Erickson style metaphorical stories and precise linguistic disciplines and the work of David Grove.

You may or may not be familiar with David’s Work, so it is David’s Work that I will now concentrate on, explaining my understanding of David, of his creative genius his dedication, his grace and art and science and how his Work in particular works to bring about permanent cure.

David passed away on 8th January 2008 and is very sadly missed.

First of all back in the 1970s David observed a number of the great Therapists of our time at Work including Virginia Satir, Erickson and Carl Rogers. He noticed the Therapist language would move the client around in both inner space and in time (tense).

Also, apart from Erickson, there were continuous presuppositions about the clients’ experience from the Therapist. When a Therapist changes tense and creates suppositions it robs the client of some of their experience. It is the experience of the client which contains the information and the direction to solutions and resolutions. 

David wanted to know the questions the therapist can ask that don't have any presuppositions.

The whole notion that you can take an experience, find its structure and if you facilitated the client to be able to change its structure it changed the experience was revolutionary. That, to David, was the significant contribution from the mid 70s; just the notion that experience had a structure and that the structure could be categorized and that the client can make changes to (the structure of) the experience without it coming through the Therapist’s insights, beliefs, information, advice and feelings.

The beginning of David’s working with traumatic memories and phobias was when he went back to the United States, from England, and the whole Viet Nam war Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome was really picking up. There was nothing in the literature that David could find about people trying to resolve traumatic memories.

He found out not everybody had memories.

David said; “However, even though clients couldn't remember a certain event they still had feelings about it.

So if you can't get a clear memory, what else can you get?

I started observing very carefully what was happening. I noticed, if I didn't force people when they were talking, they would naturally start using metaphor to describe their experience. And that's when I discovered this work is very amenable to metaphor.”

David went on to develop Clean Language and Epistemological Metaphor, that is the Metaphors which belong uniquely to a clients own knowing of the structure of an experience.

I understand that there are at least fifty two Clean Language questions; there could be more!

I made the discovery that I had been searching for since I’d attempted a career in nursing; that Clean Language facilitates not only the healing, resolution and cure of psychological and emotional problems such as anxiety and depression - Clean Language also facilitates the cure of problems which also manifest in the body (soma) such as skin conditions, IBS, non organic pain, alopecia, allergies, hay fever.

Here is a very simple example of just three Clean Language questions, and why Clean Language is vital to elicit cleanly the client’s experience.

If you ask a client: “And - what’s that (or it) like?” the question goes directly to the client’s ‘experience’ it goes to ‘that’ - and then goes straight to their Metaphor.

For example a client says: “I can’t go outside!”

Q: “And - when you can’t go outside - what’s that like when you can’t go outside?”

A: “It’s frightening…”

Q: “And - when it’s frightening how do you know it’s frightening?”

A: “The whole of my heart goes heavy”

Q: “And - when the whole of your heart goes heavy - what else is there about heavy when it goes heavy?”

A: “It’s heavy like a big solid rock”

Whereas if we ask a client: “What’s that like for you?” The client will immediately go to where the question is focused i.e. their ‘you’ - which can go to cognitive process and their direct relationship with the experience, and their particular Metaphor can be lost.

For example a client says:

“I can’t go outside?”

Wrong Q: “What do you think about not being able to go outside?”

A: “Well - I think I’m stupid!”

Wrong Q: “What makes you think that you are stupid?”

A: “Well - everybody tells me I am stupid - everybody else goes outside….”

This type of language in a therapeutic intervention goes to cognitive logic - and will ‘circle’ randomly rather than tracing a downward movement into the truth of the information - which is: “heavy - (in the heart) like a big solid rock”. The ‘big solid rock contains the problem - and paradoxically contains the solution to be able to - move - forward - and finally move - outside.

The primary medium for the delivery of the healing art is language.

Therapeutic language must be a sacred language in the sense that it has to be bracketed off from the profane language of everyday speech.  Clean language asks questions that do not contaminate or attribute or characterize a client's experience. It is a language that enables the therapist to enter the client's unique model of the world.  It is the therapist's job to get the questions right. Every question is based on the client's last response.

Clean language is used as a tool to:

  • Prevent contamination of the client's own experience by the therapist's own assumptions and biases;
  • Minimize resistance;
  • Translate feelings out of words into physiological imagery;
  • Accurately pinpoint questions and statements that reflect the client's model of the world;
  • Communicate effectively and efficiently with non-conscious processes;
  • Work effectively with 'child within' symptoms using the child's primary processing language.

Clean Language guidelines:

  • Ask questions that can be accepted or rejected equally;
  • Use the same verb forms and tense as the client;
  • Do not use the definite article 'the';
  • Use pronouns only in keeping with the client's usage.

Ask questions that allow choices and solutions to come from the true source of the information.

Laura’s ‘Incurable’ Alopecia

Laura suffered with Androgenetic Alopecia  (Male pattern baldness). Laura’s medical diagnosis was concluded as incurable. Twenty Sessions of Therapy Work led to the cure of Laura’s alopecia. 80% of my Work with Laura was founded in David Grove’s work which I have continued to develop myself over the years.

Laura’s Story:

Laura is a young Irish woman. It was a ‘leap of faith’ for her to meet me and for her to consider what I do, and work with me.

I said four words to her: “I can help you…..”

Laura now speaks to you in the first person - the following is Laura’s ‘Voice of her truth’.

“I was a radio presenter when I first met Sally. A rather obvious necessity of a profession in radio is an over verbal life, meaning of course that words are constantly important.

“The absolute simplicity of Sally’s four words “I can help you” so connected with me, these words made more sense than a million sentences, because inside I was able to make some truly important connection and say “Yes, I do need help” Until that moment I had been unable to admit this, it was like my ‘soul’ answered… with the simple: “Yes, I need help….”

“I felt frightened as I thought “If” I start on this journey to heal, I have a fear that it would not happen, it could not happen and that Sally and no one could help me.

“You see, I had learnt to live with a wounded soul and I was so afraid to have any expectation for myself to heal - in case I could never be healed. I once heard someone say something like: “If you’ve got to know the devil, it’s better than a god you may never know…” These words kind of made sense as I’d made the ‘devil’, or maybe more accurately what ‘bedevilled’ me work for me, or so I believed!

“I thought: “What if I am not strong enough to help myself?” This was definitely a fear for me as I had managed my pain and I had used my pain as something positive by helping others, and being successful….

“I wore wigs that were big and really quite outrageous; they obscured my face all the time. I hid in my wigs, I also hid in my outrageousness; I hid in my big personality. I – hid my pain.

The idea of curing my alopecia - and taking off the wig was huge. There were two major things for me, the curing of alopecia was inconceivable, then to take off the wigs I thought I would be inconsolable because wigs had become a safe place to hide - but I did deep down know that safe places to hide can and do become prisons for the soul….

“I now realize that, as my work progressed with Sally, I came away from radio because I was in radio to prove a point, and the point was I couldn’t be beaten! But I had been.

“I had taken beatings in my life, but I refused, totally refused to ‘lie down’ and let them take me. I had to hold on to who I was inside, I had to jump back, and jump back onto my feet like I was stronger and more outrageous than anyone else. Stronger than where the beatings came from….

“Because, when I was beaten I was silenced and I had no voice, and the reason that I wanted to be in radio so much was to have a voice and be heard. When as a child I was beaten it was obviously a huge secret and in those moments my ambition was to be the opposite of silence, to be on radio to have a voice that could and would tell the truth.

“One day I would break the silence and use it to help others. I knew one day my story would be told, I knew one day my story would help others. It was why during those moments and times of horror in my childhood that I so adamantly held onto myself. Speaking this now I feel like I have come full circle, this is my day.

“Through my work, my journey with Sally, I was afraid that my hair would not grow back and “If” it did it would not be good enough. And “If” I took off all my armour I would not be enough. I was also truly afraid that “If” I then grew through this healing journey I would not be good enough.

“Before I met Sally I shaved off all my little tufts of hair, this meant that I took control, I took control of the alopecia, I took control over wigs, and I took control over myself.

I made this my identity and I took control, I cut my hair off down to the wick, I controlled which wig to wear…..

“By working with Sally and handing over to Sally my soul and my heart, I was handing over the control, I was moving away from a false consciousness. I was opening myself up to something I did not necessarily know what the outcome would be and therefore not be able to control.

“When I was handing Sally my wounded soul which I had learnt to keep and to live with, this did feel like a massive step, to give all this up I thought I would lose my ‘say’….

Sally, Boa flying in the wind

“One day during three or four intensive days of my work with Sally, she told me about a dream that she had the night before. Sally had also suffered alopecia about eight years before I met her, and she had resolved this problem with her work, she had also done this work with a number of others helping them to resolve their hair loss.

“Sally, I believe has an inherent desire to assist to heal those who are suffering and you can believe me, those who have alopecia, as I did, are really suffering…Sally said that in her Dream she was writing a course that would help many, many sufferers to heal alopecia, and she woke up singing. She was singing out loud, happily, joyously, Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac “You can go your own way!”

“But Sally was actually singing: “You can grow your own way!”

“She and I enthusiastically found the song and sang together boisterously: “You can GROW your own way!” The song became like a vitally important signature, something distinctive for me, something that identifies me! The song made me realize that Sally never had control of my journey; she was and is a gifted guide and assistant for me to find my own way!

“When I was packing my desk, to leave the radio station and my job, I was wondering what will be the last song to be played on the station for me to walk away to, and into my new life?

Yeah, you got it, on came Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac:

“You can go your own way!”

“And so I did – and so I do……

“I Grow My Own Way…….

I Go My Own Way…..

“My need for control had come from a place that was not pure it was not organic – it came from a contrived place within to hide my pain and wounds. Think of a wig, it is not organic.

“This new control that I have comes from a place of thoughts and words that are just me, and are organic - and has the infinite potential for being pure and true.

“I Can Grow my own hair.

My hair? Grows and flourishes….

And so I do……”

Rapha press

Further Information

Questions and comments will be warmly welcomed from you. Tel: +44 (0)17687 71377. My private/confidential email:; General enquires email:  For vast and useful information and to sign up for my regular informative and helpful letters

I have a whole range of audio courses/treatments available to buy under guarantee of refund if you are not successful. My treatments include Have Harmonious Relationships, Resolve Nervousness, Gain Self Esteem, Sleep Well – to cure insomnia  …. Many others…….

My audio courses bring about enduring cures. Cures that Endure!


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About Sally Stubbs

Sally Stubbs MNCP (Snr Accred) FACH DACH is a licensed Psychotherapist and Hypnotherapist with advance training in cutting edge strategies with nearly 30 years solid therapeutic experience. Since 1990 she has been specifically writing and compiling her Therapeutic Courses, in the style of and based on the amazing and successful work of Dr Milton Erickson. Erickson is globally considered to be the 'Grand Father' of Hypnotherapeutic work, and she has been fortunate to study under his prodigy, Dr Ernest Rossi.

Her practice in the Lake District offers therapeutic courses on ailments such as stress, confidence, weight, smoking, phobias and Sally has treated well-known media figures including the columnist Liz Jones, and Brookside actor Steven Pinder as well as others. She has recently written a book called If Life Gives You Lemons - A Short Guide to Happiness and has launched a series of easy to follow CDs on these common ailments that enable you to achieve your goals by changing your mind patterns. Sally may be contacted on Tel: 017687 71377;

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