Laura Lohk is a Cognitive Hypnotherapist and NLP coach, trained at the internationally renowned Quest Institute in London. Having had a very challenging past herself, she now helps people with common mental health issues, trauma, stress, weight loss and phobias, together with inspiring people to unlock their potential by coaching them to realise that #YesYouCan turn your challenges into opportunities.
As well as having her private practice, Laura also does work for the NHS where she helps people with long term health conditions, offering to coach on the management of their stress, depression, anxiety, and supports them in building their confidence and self-esteem.
Welcome Laura, thank you for taking the time to share your story with us, can you introduce yourself to us as a cognitive hypnotherapist & coach?
Thank you for having me. I’ve had a bit of an unusual career, in the sense that I originally trained as a lawyer. I wanted to become a lawyer for two reasons. Because of my background, I was often told that I wouldn’t achieve much because I wasn’t academically gifted and I struggled in school. I had many doubters, including some of my friends, teachers and even some family members. So, one of my reasons for studying law, was because this was the hardest thing I could study in a foreign language just to prove people wrong.
The second reason I wanted to study law was that I thought I would be working as a criminal lawyer and I could put all the criminals behind bars. It took me nine years to actually become a lawyer because of the way the qualifying process works in the UK and because I studied part-time, while at the same time working full time as a Paralegal. During this time I realised that I wouldn’t be doing what I hoped I’d be doing, and I wasn’t fulfilled so I decided to change career. I retrained as a therapist and coach and in 2018 I left my job as a lawyer to set up my private therapy and coaching practice. I now help people with various issues, such as but not limited to, common mental health, stress, phobias and trauma. I also help people with confidence, weight loss and generally improve their lives in three aspects – mind, body and spirit. It is incredibly rewarding to witness my clients growing and feeling happy about the changes they are making.
Can you give us a little back story on your journey so far and how you used your own personal difficulties to channel the growth of your coaching career?
I was born and grew up in Estonia, a small country in Eastern Europe. It was just me and my mother, who had to work and therefore I spent a lot of time on my own from a very early age. She also had her own personal issues to deal with and quite often she couldn’t look after me. We were very poor. At times I had to study by candlelight as the electricity was turned off due to lack of payment, sometimes we had nothing to eat, and we have even been homeless. There was one time I slept in a charity shop, using someone’s old coat as a blanket. As I already mentioned, I struggled in school because I found it very difficult to study pretty much all subjects, unless it was to do with creativity or sport. I just didn’t get it. One maths exercise could take me 4 hours and there was always a lot of homework which most of the time I failed to complete. In my teenage years, I found myself being very depressed and there were many very dark times. Something inside me seemed to keep believing I could do more with my life than I’d been given, and I managed to move away from Estonia to the UK when I was 19. I arrived barely speaking English, so my challenges weren’t over. For quite a lot of my early adulthood, I struggled and made some poor decisions, but kept persevering.
That belief in me never quite died. Because of that, fast forward to today, and everything I have experienced and learnt, I have used to turn my life around and this is exactly why I’m so passionate about helping other people who perhaps have gone through challenges themselves. Your past doesn’t have to hold you back. There are so many people other than me who are an example of this and if we can do it, so can you. And, you don’t have to do it on your own. There is so much help and so many resources out there to guide you from where you are to where you want to go. I really want to inspire and educate people to see that their challenges can become their biggest assets in turning around not only their lives but other peoples as well. I’ve had to work hard, learn and develop, get help and ultimately take action. That has created a movement, which has closed some doors and opened a bunch of new ones. It’s now my job to keep going and enjoy the ride.
What is a typical day like?
That is the hardest question to answer because all my days are very different. If I’m working at the GP surgeries, I do the necessary admin and all the preparations to see clients. GP surgeries tend to be very busy with back to back clients. When I work in my private practice, I prepare for my clients, get all the paperwork completed, write blogs and social media content, respond to clients emails as I support my clients in between the sessions as well as working with them one to one, I often have meetings with people I collaborate with. I’m also currently writing a book and an online course, as well as preparing a webinars series, so I am very busy 7 days a week. I always find something that needs to be done.
How are you aiming to empower and give hope to the women you work with?
I’m not a typical therapist and coach. When I work with my clients, I go on a journey with them. It is very important that we have a good rapport because for a period of time we are ‘walking on the same path’. Depending on the issue they would like to work with we might start by exploring where they are now and where they would like to be. I provide each client with a hypnotic download to listen to each night in-between meetings. It really embeds the changes we’re creating, and I draft them all from scratch because my clients are different and I need to provide them with an individual service.
My sessions are also educational where I teach them how their mind works and the power they have within them, how to create boundaries, how to become more confident and believe in themselves. Sometimes the best thing I can do for my clients is to listen, at times I share my personal challenges and how I overcame them because I want my clients to realise that I have been there. I’m not a therapist in a white coat, I am them. We are all fellow strugglers, the only difference is that I have learnt how to help myself and now have an amazing toolkit to deal with the challenges as they arise. That’s what I want to pass onto them.
You particularly enjoy working with teenagers and adults with trauma-related difficulties such as PTSD, so what has been the most challenging yet rewarding case study you have worked on to date?
I have worked with many clients, through my NHS role and private practice, who have suffered trauma in the past, but one particular client comes to mind who wanted to work with me privately due to the long waiting list in the NHS and due to the severity of her symptoms. She is a teenager who had PTSD and dissociation disorder. When I met her, she hadn’t been in school for a long time and struggled to function on a daily basis. She had frequent nightmares and dissociated daily.
Going out with friends and doing the things that teenagers like doing was pretty much out of the question. After a short time working with her, she was able to go to school for longer periods of time, she was able to take and pass all of her GCSEs, she was able to have a part-time job, attend music gigs and even perform at a singing talent show. She is now looking forward to going to college and in the future, wants to study psychology to help other people with PTSD. She has been a real inspiration to work with.
What are the pros and cons of cognitive hypnotherapy?
Cognitive Hypnotherapy is an evidence-based therapy and pulls together effective discoveries from Evolutionary Psychology, Positive Psychology, Cognitive Theory and NLP, combining them into a modern approach to hypnotherapy. Because of this, it doesn’t promote one single method but uses various effective techniques from different disciplines to provide you with truly individual therapy tailored to your unique needs. I could see several people with a ‘fear of flying’ but because they are all unique, so is the approach that I’ll take with each one of them.
I treat people, not the label. Because I have so many techniques and approaches to choose from, it is really flexible. That’s the only downside – and only for me and my fellow Cognitive Hypnotherapists – we have to go through intensive training to become so flexible, and the learning never ends. I love that about it, the constant challenge to become better.
How does this differ from the typical Hypnotherapy methods we see?
What I have found is that people have a lot of misconceptions about hypnotherapy. People often think that it is a special state, that I can make them do things like ‘cluck like a chicken’. I even had a GP who didn’t want to look into my eyes when he found out that I was a hypnotherapist. Cognitive Hypnotherapy uses mind-states that we all enter voluntarily on a daily basis. In fact, we spend most of our day in ‘trance’. We’ve all ‘zoned out’ watching your favourite TV show without noticing our partner telling us about their day. Or driven somewhere ‘daydreaming’ and later realised that we don’t remember most of your journey. This is the trance that I’m working with.
With Cognitive Hypnotherapy, light trance is all that’s needed. This means that all of us are able to be hypnotised because we do this several times a day naturally. Cognitive Hypnotherapy is very interactive, so during my work with someone I ask them questions and my client responds. I have already mentioned that I don’t treat the label but the person, so I tailor my approach around my client’s individual needs. I don’t have a book of scripts, instead, I draft my scripts all individually.
I act as a guide because I believe everyone has everything they need to find their own solutions with skilled assistance. I will not tell people what’s best for them or control their actions. Instead, I will help people to help themselves in the most effective and suitable way for them. With traditional hypnotherapy you often find people using ‘one size fits all’ scripts, they believe that only deep trance is effective – which not everyone can access – and they tend to treat the label, so everyone with the same problem gets exactly the same treatment.
What support networks do you personally love and can recommend to other aspiring coaches out there?
I consider support networks to be anything and everything that recharges you inspires you, makes you smile and give you ideas. This could be people, animals, nature, books and other self-development activities. Not only that, but you also can be one of the best supports for yourself. I do believe that working with someone and continuous self-development are the keys though. I am really lucky that I have friends who are also therapists and coaches and we all support each other and our journeys.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
Simply, to me it means authenticity. At the beginning of my business, I listened to other people about how and what to do, how to write, what words to use. I got to a point where I was quite burnt out because I felt like I was pushed and pulled in various directions at the same time. It wasn’t until I started writing from the heart, speaking from the heart and being ME that I go the most pleasure out of what I was doing. This also made me feel more in control of my life and where I was heading. The best part of being yourself is that you get so much more from other people because they recognise you as one of them. I began getting so many more clients and opportunities when I decided to accept and show myself to the world, warts and all.
In which areas are you looking to grow and expand?
I am busy with various collaborations, writing my book and my online course so I am really keen to complete my current projects before the end of the year. I am really excited about them and I really hope to reach, inspire and help many more clients with my work.
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