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Four Poofs and a Piano

Ian (Polly) Parkin - Centre Stage with Four Poofs & A Piano, previously playing weekly on "Friday Night with Jonathan Ross"

Issues: Claustrophobia, panic attacks, generalized anxiety and overreaction to shock or surprise

"The main issues for me were the fact that my body overreacted to shock or surprise, so if I walked round the corner and there was someone coming the other way it was a like an electric shock running through my whole system. One time two lads on a scooter were being chased by police and they fell off. I thought I was going to die: my heart was pounding, I felt sick, faint and really really awful.

"I met Sally through a friend I had worked with in theatre. The first time she came to my place we did a couple of sessions and I told her about the scooter incident. Two days after Sally had left I was in my car driving and I passed two men on a scooter. I pulled up at some lights and noticed, in my mirror, that the guys on the scooter hadn’t braked in time and had lost control. They went past me, bumped the car in front and went down in front of it. They both got up and moved the scooter to the side of the road. I drove on and suddenly realised I had had a normal reaction – after just two sessions of hypnotherapy. I have had the surprise thing since and it's still a bit like an electric shock but it’s over and gone and not a long-term thing.

"The big problem I wanted some help with was nausea attacks: I used to get them in theatres and I loved going to the theatre. I can remember the first show it happened in: we were in our seats for about 15 minutes and I suddenly started to feel really faint and anxious. I felt sweat dripping down my back. In the end I left and locked myself in the loo for a whole hour. I felt I couldn’t go back in, so I went home with the windows down and it didn’t pass for half an hour. Over time I began to go back to the theatre but if I was in the middle of a row I would have to leave. I would think ‘what if I throw up in the middle of the theatre?'

"It was a similar thing if I went on the Underground. It first happened about four years ago when I got an ear infection – labarynthitis. I went to the doctor’s several times and was on medication for a long time. I had distorted vision and panic attacks, particularly on the Underground. I stopped going to the theatre as it developed into a sort of claustrophobia and I would start to panic about it before I actually set off from home.

"Sally's method of working is so unlike anything I have done before, and what she did made no sense at all, though I think she started by asking me about the feeling I got in the theatre."

"Normally, when you think about therapy, you think of a therapist taking you back to some big trauma. Sally doesn’t do that, so I never knew what she was aiming for, how she was getting there or whether anything I said made any sense at all. She asked me to try and paint a picture of what it was like. The only thing I could think of was having a head full of sand, but when this feeling came on, all the sand started draining out. It was just a case of me having to let go and just say whatever came into my head. I didn’t feel I was hypnotised at all: I was just lying there saying things that came into my head, but to her it just made sense. Shapes, colours… they all mean something."

"It was a bit like a really good detective series: I remember thinking of a white room with a door into it, and a beach and the sea; and in another session I ended up on a hill with a lovely field and a river and a place where I would go and think and lose myself a bit. And in another session I was in this huge hole with glass tubes. And in the last few sessions all these things joined together. I did go round those holes and down one of those tubes and found I was on the beach in a white room, and that’s when Sally said 'I think we are almost there.'

"‘Don’t knock anything until you have tried it!’ Therapy has helped millions of people around the world. I don’t think that people doubt it can work but the issue with this kind of therapy (as practised by Sally) is that it’s so new that people don’t understand it. I haven’t had a massive trauma in my life: some people have and they may have to go through all the pain again to come out the other side – but not with this therapy.

"I recently went to New York and went to several shows in the theatre I felt totally relaxed and happy I am delighted with all the results from my work with Sally. I remember saying to Sally at the beginning of our very first session of Work “I’ll give anything if you can cure my anxiety!” And that is exactly what has happened."

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