Thursday, 30 December 2010

Would you like me to host a PAIN!! MANAGEMENT virtual workshop FOR YOU? - Limited numbers!!

If you are a Crohnie or Collie in pain, go to the discussion tab on the Facebook link below to share your experience with others and express and interest in the webinar.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

More BF Skinner - Love this guy!

Substitute bodies for pigeons - it works!! The BUDI program helps you train your body to work just like this. Enjoy..  

Monday, 27 December 2010

Depression Rising but Psychotherapy Declines

1.   Gap Between Drug Treatment and Talk Therapy Widens. More Americans than ever are receiving treatment for depression, but the number getting psychotherapy with or without drugs continues to decline, a national survey finds.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

What links iphones, sex and happiness?

1.       Harvard research professor used iphones to prove, "People are happiest when having sex, exercising, or talking to others" -- in large part because such activities require enough concentration to keep their minds from wandering, new research indicates.  Why meditation can be as good for you as sex.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Medication and surgery

I have something very important to share with you about my views on medication and surgery and I’d like you to read this very carefully and see whether it makes sense to you. It’s really in response to the tumult of messages that I get from you asking for advice on medication and surgery. Well let me answer you this way....

I love to watch films where the heroes win, so you’ll understand why I can’t bear to watch those incredibly frustrating real life Police documentaries where they’re spending loads of tax payers’ money chasing the same old villains time and again; and even when the villains are caught, there’s nothing to stop them doing exactly the same thing time and again. It’s clearly bizarre to keep applying the same measures and expecting a different result. Since the reasons behind this repeating antisocial behaviour are not addressed, why would we expect their behaviour to change? The answer is, we don’t. We expect the Police to continue chasing the villains and we expect the villains to continue reoffending, and they do!!

Why, you may ask am I talking about Police chase documentaries? Well it’s the best way I can think of to describe how I see medication and surgery in relation to Crohn’s and Colitis. Medication and surgery are highly sophisticated effective ways of chasing Crohn’s and Colitis flares in the same way as the Police have sophisticated ways to chase villains: the effect is to temporarily stop the problem until next time. And just as the villains reoffend when nothing is done to address the reasons behind the repeat offending, so the  Crohn’s Disease and Colitis flares return when the reasons remain unaddressed. 

Don’t misunderstand me, medication and surgery can provide wonderful relief and the GI professionals I've met are amazing and brilliant people. I am also not suggesting for one moment that you stop taking your prescriptions. What I am saying is, wouldn’t it be so much better to remove the causes before medication or surgery are required? 

So how do I help people do this? The answer quite simply is the BUDI™ program. In the next week or so I’ll be posting more information on the BUDI™ program and how it can help you. Click the "Follow" link on the right to be notified of new posts as they happen.


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Dr David Hamilton:The mind's control over the body - why kindness, compassion and gratitude are good for you!

I recently went to hear Dr David Hamilton speak in London and as usual was very impressed by his thinking. David has very kindly agreed to be interviewed by me in the coming month when he has met the deadline for completing his latest book. In the meantime here is a link to one of his videos. Note the impact of kindness on imflammation; inflammation is one of the major causes of the symptoms of Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis....
 Dr David Hamilton's video on why kindness is good for you!

Monday, 29 November 2010



Friday, 19 November 2010

The importance of Mindset!

Here is an expression of the mindset that is core to the BUDI (TM) program: UNDERSTANDING YOURSELF and your body, KNOWING YOURSELF and BEING YOURSELF I believe is key to wellness and has amazing effects in reducing  symptoms from auto-immune diseases like Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Cat vs Alligator   Enjoy!!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

A most unusual phone app. - GI Monitor TESTERS WANTED!

Click this link for the demo: 
Have you been asked to monitor your GI symptoms or are you trying to track them against the different variables in your life? If so you know what a complete pain it is to remember and to do. You might like to try out GI Monitor  demo'd in the video above and here's also a link to the site where you can download the monitor app.  for free for use on Iphone and Blackberry.   I'm not sure about PC's and Ipads. PLEASE share your experience for the benefit of other Crohnies and Collies and for GI professionals - tell us what you think - especially how convenient you find it and any suggestions you may have for enhancements etc. - fill in the comments box below.

Cheers - Joy

Friday, 17 September 2010

Feldenkrais Principles - Letting the body teach the mind

One of the central pillars of my work with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, (IBD) is the principle that the mind can give us the information we need to repair the body; we just need to listen in the right way. Sometimes however, the body has to teach the mind first: After badly damaging his knee, the amazing Moshe Fendlenkrais literally went back to basics to learn how to walk again. He studied the techniques babies use to discover how to walk, and embodied these techniques in a physical therapy based on "building awareness through movement". This became, "The Feldenkrais Method".
Here are two videos - one showing how a baby learns to manoevre the other showing the Feldenkrais Method in action. This will give you some idea of the mind's power over our physiology. This same mind power plays a key role in my BUDI program to control the symptoms of IBD.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Weight loss and exercise: Two dead simple and one off the wall tips that really work

I read this post on the "1,000,000 million People to find a cure for Crohn's disease" Facebook page which hosts some fantastic discussions between Crohnies on a wide range of topics: “So I saw my GI doctor yesterday. She told me I am 15 pounds overweight. What kinds of exercise and diet do you recommend to help me lose that weight? She recommended a low carb or carb free diet. Which foods would be good to eat that are low in carbs or carb free?”:
I started to reply and then realised that I couldn't condense it into a short enough space. Here goes........

I have two really simple integrated lifestyle suggestions that are aimed at requiring least effort and the least amount of motivation and a further off the wall suggestion. So if you feel awful and completely cannot be bothered, the food and exercise tips really work. And if you want to go full out, try the Solar Plexus Charging! (with extreme caution).

First, Food: The easiest thing to do might sound completely mad and patronising, but if take the KIS (Keep it simple) approach - just decide not to eat sugar, bread, potatoes or pasta  - this is a sure way of losing weight that is also super easy. Replace these staples with whatever vegetables you can manage. If the reflex response to this is "Vegetables, you must be joking!", then my first suggestion would be try 'em all - there will be some that are OK if you liquidise them or if that doesn't work, liquidise and strain them. This helps when the problem is caused by the irritation of larger fibrous pieces. If it seems that the chemical component of the vegetables is a problem, then try and combine the pureed veg with something that is tolerable.  And in addition, eat whatever you like! Listen to your body to find out what it wants to eat. After a short while of getting into the habit it’s a no-brainer. This is NOT NOT NOT the Atkins diet, just “Stuff the staples - vegetables rock!” More info if required.

Second, Exercise: I read a great book on exercise myths about twenty years ago and annoyingly I’ve forgotten the author or the title. The author was an expert in metabolism and I think he pioneered the application of BMI (he started by taking a massive bath with him to his demos, filling it with water and getting people to totally immerse themselves. The increase in depth of water provided a measurement of their volume which he used in conjunction with their weight to find their density. The “I’m just big boned” excuse was no longer a matter for debate - someone's fat proportion could now be calculated from their density. Thankfully, it wasn't long before he found a good way of approximating this measurement that didn't require a bath :)).

Whilst this may be very interesting, in my opinion his other research was far more revelatory: He demonstrated which forms of exercise were more effective at burning fat. He found that fat burned at a faster rate when the same amount of energy was expended over a longer period. In other words, it was better to exercise regularly at a lower level for a longer time and using large muscle groups than to exercise in short bursts of higher level activity. He advocated a good walk at a decent pace daily to burn fat and increase metabolism. This would seem to be too good good to be true: all the reasons for not exercising just evaporate – no need for specialist kit, no need to get changed, no need to get in the car and go somewhere, no embarrassment of being seen red faced and staggering when you’re so unfit at the outset, no need for the right weather and no gymn fees! You’re simply just going for a good walk. No brainer. Just one final point on exercise: In his official annual report, "On the State of Public Health", Sir Liam Donaldson, the UK Government's Chief Medical Officer described exercise as “nature’s cure”........If a medication existed that had a similar effect on preventing disease, it would be hailed as a miracle cure.”

Third, speed up your metabolism using Solar Plexus Charging: Now this is rather different from my usual recommendations and it comes with a warning. The yogis that practice this are reported to be seen walking up mountains in sub zero temperatures dressed only in something resembling a sheet, melting the snow with their bare feet. You should only practice this if you are experienced in yoga and preferably if you have a yoga teacher. I am not a yoga teacher. I find this very beneficial, not just for the metabolic effects but also it blows your mind. Even better, you do it lying down :). For further information my favourite is Dr. John Mumford’s, “A Chakra and Kundalini Workbook”  You can also find various references on the internet but be very, very careful, Kundalini energy is not to be messed with. To be safe, read the book and if it interests you further, go to an expert Kundalini yoga teacher.

If you are able to, I would expect using just the food and exercise suggestions you would achieve your target weight in 7-8 weeks. What's more it's completely sustainable. It would be great to hear how you get on!!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Pain management Part 1 - Changing your mind about pain

So far, the survey has confirmed my expectation that pain is the factor that most bugs you about IBD, so I thought you'd like me to share this with you....

I have studied various aspects of this huge subject - pain and its management - for many years, both personally and with my clients. I almost never take pain medication, including after a major operation.

When I was in my teens most of my circle of friends had their ears peirced. It was a kind of rite of passage. Parading our newly studded lobes at school after "the big event" we all remarked on how the second piercing hurt so much more than the first. I was so concerned about my second ear that I asked the piercer, whether it was OK. "Oh yes," she explained, "...strangely  the second ear seems more of a shock even though everything is exactly the same."  This started me thinking about the subjective nature of pain, which continues to facinate me to this day.
When you having an injection or a blood test in the UK, the unversally adopted warning appears to be, "Sharp scratch!". Well I don't know about you, but for one thing, the feeling is nothing like a sharp scratch, and for another, I would much prefer the feeling of tight pressure I actually experience than a sharp scratch, any day. As a result, on hearing, "Sharp scratch!", my anxiety levels increase and when the needle is inserted it feels more painful than if I had been told, "Tight pressure". So now I ask them to say nothing or, "Tight pressure" and I hardly notice it. There are many more examples I could give you just like this, where words change the experience. Especially important are those words that influence the attitudes of children for life.
So why am I  saying this? It's because I'm trying to convey how our experince of pain and its impact on our lives depends on many things. How we prepare for its arrival (in the case of anticipated acute pain) and the context in which we experience it, (in the case of chronic pain) can greatly influence its perceived severity.
Most of us know from personal experience that sudden unexpected acute pain quite often only hurts afterwards - like when the heavy file fell on my nose (earlier post). Chronic pain or cold often diminishes when our attention is focused elsewhere. A very painful condition surrounded by the fear of sinister causes can become greatly more tolerable when its source is revealed as relatively innocent. One typical example is  wind. Wind can be the most excruciating feeling imaginable. I know people who thought they were dying of some terrible corrosive illness. After some time, some medical advice (to roll around on the floor in a specific formation) and large volumes of expelled gas, the pain was gone. This doesn't mean that the pain was any less real, but each person experiencing this said that when they were told it was wind, this changed the context or the "frame" of the pain: instead of feeling at the mercy of some malevolent fatal lurgi the pain became information equipping them to locate and relieve the pressure. For all sorts of reasons, this meant the difference between being able to bear the pain and not. Same pain, different mind equals different experience.
I've talked about this for rather an long time now, so I'll save the story about medication "where the painkiller is the packaging" and another one about "how dentists can get it so wrong" for a later post.
I have a number of tools that I use to manage different types of pain that I share with my clients to help liberate them from theirs. If you would find it beneficial I will hold a (free) webinar to share some of these with you. Just let me know in the comments box below. You might like to think which of your friends would benefit and get them to let me know here as well. : )

Saturday, 14 August 2010



The challenge is to make a video featuring a "My Crohn's is a pain in the butt" theme makeover" of a popular song. The winner will feature LIVE at the LONDON 2011 CROHNIES AND COLLIES' GRAND DAY OUT. Humour will score well. It must cost LESS THAN £100 ($150) to make - like this irreverent impromptu makeover of "New York".  Please post your entries on youtube and a link on my wall and as a comment in reply to this post . (Please be responsible - videos that are considered unsuitable in any way will be deleted).The competition will close on Thursday 30 September and it will be judged by Crohns Helper FB friends. HAVE FUN!!

Toilet humour

This morning I remembered a quote from someone with a screechingly funny sense of humour. Her job required her to give very demanding presentations requiring a high degree of mental agility. A screw up would be career changing - and not in a good way. She found these ordeals terrifying and was ritually confined to the bathroom for some time before her appearance. Relating this ritual to me she said, "It's not so much that the bottom is falling out of my world......." (you join the dots up).

Friday, 13 August 2010

Overcoming lethargy: “It’s done” demystified

OK! OK! I’ll tell you how the “Saying, “it’s done”.” strategy (see post of 11 August) can overcome lethargy.  Really, the most important thing is that it works for you, not how it works. I didn’t anticipate so much interest in this particular post – but I’ve had four emails asking me about the mechanics [Please guys, I’d prefer you to comment on the blog in future so everyone can share in your questions.]

I suspect these emails are all from left brained obsessive advanced NLP’ers wanting to dissect everything. (I hope this is not the approach you adopt when you see a butterfly – sometimes the wonder is the wonder – not its component parts – but here goes...). I have simplified it and taken a few Joy-speak shortcuts to keep you awake.

The bottom line effect is that it changes your sub-modalities. (Sub-what? Some of you will be saying. Most NLP’ers will say “Ohhhhh – I get it” – and that’s all they need to know. The four emailers may be thinking “Yeah, and....” So if you are still engaged, this is for you:
Sub-modalities refers to the way our mind perceives and interprets information. They are like a set of perspectives. These perspectives influence how we feel about those things we perceive. One of the ways we can change the way we feel about doing something is by changing our time perspective of that activity. Words can change our perspectives, including our time perspective. Saying “it’s done” – even when we know it isn’t done yet - changes our time perspective to one of being in the past. This can make is far easier to tackle. Will this work on everyone? The answer is “No”. It will depend on your attitude towards time: This strategy will motivate most people who view the difficult challenges they have overcome as being easy and look at challenges in the future as being less certain. Saying “It’s done” puts the “easy” label on the activity in the future and makes it a no brainer. People with different perspectives around time will need different strategies. That’s more for another day. People with Crohn’s and Colitis that I have treated have all been people for whom this strategy works, but I strongly suspect that this is because people who make a decision to consult me are of this nature. In particular it could relate to the fact that over time their symptoms have led to increased feelings of uncertainty about many aspects of the future.

Hope you enjoyed this. As usual, comments and indications very welcome - Joyx

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

A tip to overcome lethargy, lack of energy and demotivation

I was reminded today of how often lethargy, lack of energy and lack of motivation are common problems with Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis. I thought this might be useful:
There's a trick I play with myself that works every time - works equally well with my clients..... When there is something they don't want to do, I get them to think about doing it and as their mental video is rolling I get them to say, "It's done!" and all of the resistance seems to evaporate. It becomes easy and they can even do it on autopilot - leaving their mind to enjoy something else.
Hope this helps. If you try it, I'd love to know how you get on.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Webinar for insomnia sufferers with Crohn's Disease

Oh dear, it appears that I haven't explained myself very well. I have successfully treated insomnia without medication for many years - using a variety of processes which are tailored to fit individual's needs. The new challenge I will be addressing on the webinar is to treat insomnia caused or exacerbated by medication. In summary, insomnia which is caused by medication presents more of a challenge however, people with Crohn's that have insomnia unrelated to their medication are welcome to attend. This new intervention will be a more intensive version of the original suite and will introduce some new processes that are highly effective face to face but have not previously been attempted over webinar. It will prove very interesting. As a reminder, if you want to attend this webinar in principle, please leave a comment under the meds related insomnia post and also email me at Sleep is a comment away. Joy x

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Medication Related Insomnia Webinar! - Expressions of interest invited

Hi Guys,
I just received a message on Facebook: (My user name is Crohns helper on Facebook). The message was asking where to find my previous post on medication related insomnia. For those of you who are looking for the same post, I posted it on 13 May 2010. You can see this post and others made in previous months by clicking on the triangle next to the month in which it was posted where they are listed (scroll down this pagr and they're on the right hand side). This will expand the folder and you can click on the post you are looking for to view it.

Essentially this post was to see how many people experience medication related insomnia and are interested in attenting a webinar (a seminar over the internet) to give them tools to help them sleep.

It will take a fair amount of work and expense to hold this webinar however I am still happy to hold it if enough people are interested.  If you are, please email me at and tell me how medication affects your sleeping pattern and what would bring you the greatest benefits. This will enable me to gauge interest in the webinar and to understand what aspects of insomnia to cover with you. It will also enable me to invite you to the webinar when I have scheduled a date.

It would be helpful to other Crohnies reading this blog if you could leave a comment below (anonymously if you wish) to say you are interested in attending the webinar, what kind of insomnia you are experiencing and what you would like to achieve from attending the seminar.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

When Laughter really is the best medicine - how suppressed emotions appear to be held in the body and their effect.

Some years ago, my very good friend Ted who has mastered more physical therapy "body work" modalities than I can name, (and created a several more besides), related a case history that illustrated both our views of how emotions are held in the body - in the muscles, joints, organs etc. At the time he was using techniques centred on Trager, VHT and similar modalities that work on the  basis of releasing tension held in the muscles and joints, sometimes just by the practitioner holding a limb or making very slow and small movements with it.   As simple as it sounds, and physically it doesn't look very exciting, in fact it doesn't look like anything is going on at all, but mentally and emotionally, to the person on the table this is a huge deal: handing over total control like that can really open the floodgates. In letting go of their limb, the client's mind is agreeing to let go of the issues that they are hanging on to, as reflected in that muscle tension. Ted related how, more often than not, the energetic release of a muscle or group of muscles is often accompanied by a profound  release of suppressed emotions. I can tell you from my own experience of being a guinea pig for some of his body work, when Ted asked me to let go of controlling one of my legs that he was holding, I started to laugh and I just couldn't stop. Whilst he'd never had laughter as an emotional release, it made perfect sense to me: Many times, in circumstances with clients where I felt that laughter would be most inappropriate, I would see things that were very amusing, (or perhaps ironic in the extreme), and would suppress it. Here it was coming out! And of course, the emotion is not the only thing to emerge - the information is very powerful - what a discovery process! My powerful lesson was not to suppress laughter. When I am with clients now and a client says something unwittingly that I find very amusing, I usually bring it to their attention so we can both laugh at it.

This realisation was so valuable. In cases where the suppressed emotion is more sinister than laughter, the effect on the body's structure is damaging, potentially long term; this release can stop the damage and allow the  body to start to repair. The knowledge enables the client to understand what damage these suppressed emotions are creating and hopefully they can be helped to start dealing with their difficult  issues in a healthier way.

The way most body work modalities work demonstrates the impact of emotions on the structure of the body. I believe the same impact occurs, not just at the organ level but at the cellular level of the entire body.

This view has informed my approach to the way I help people with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. It is entirely consistent with the research that has demonstrated the adverse affects of stress on the symptoms of Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Yes it is proven, and most of you will attest to that first hand  - stress makes gut rot worse!

For further reading and references on the topics discussed here, please feel free to email me - Joy x.

The Time Paradox - Philip G Zimbardo

Sanskrit quote (taken from Philip Zimbardo's lecture on The Time Paradox): "Yesterday is already a dream and tomorrow but a vision, but today, well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope."

Philip Zimbardo as far as I know doesn't have Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, but he has gone through a great deal of surgery in the last few years. In his talk he mentions how he now walks his talk and puts many of the philosophies that I endorse into practice.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Two legs, four legs - who cares, I love my life!!

I was sent this wonderful link - it's an article about a lamb born with 2 legs that doesn't seem to know that he has only 2 legs.... if he were a girl she probably wouldn't care whether her bum looked big or have bad hair days either . How great this is !
As children, I think we start out with this same, "I'm getting on with living!" approach to life  and somehow we forget: In the process of growing up we can shrink down! Time to grow again!

In dealing with Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis, many brave Crohnies and Collies will tell you that this kind of mentality is essential for overcoming their symptoms.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

TED Talks - Jamie Oliver's TED Prize Acceptance Speech - Amazing

Just in case you haven't heard of  the TED site, it is a brilliant resource - inspirational, informative and engaging lectures by amazing people. This recommendation comes with a WARNING, however - the danger is that you go to watch one speech and then spend hours enthralled. Here is Jamie Oliver's acceptance lecture for the TED prize. I could watch it so many times.  Enjoy!! Love Joyx

NB Whilst many people with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis - IBD (as Guy Cohen, for example says in his wonderful book, Your Gut Feeling), having a healthy diet is important, but having mastered his condition he can now eat just about anything without a flare up.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Stammering in style

What's stammering got ot do with Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis - IBD? Well in one way there is a similarity. When you can turn into an advantage:

Almost a decade ago, in my well meant naiveté, I summoned the courage to approach a senior project director colleague in an international investment bank about his stammer: I could help him overcome it if he would like to - I had had considerable success with other stammers. Over the next few minutes as he related how he’d lived with it for so long that it really didn’t bother him, I realised that not only was it no obstacle to him, he used it, unwittingly or otherwise, to his considerable advantage. There were several notable aspects of his speech aside from his stammer: He was an extremely quietly spoken man and you had to strain to hear him. In addition he very seldom used terms such as “erm” or “you know” - his words were well chosen and his message compact. When he started to address a meeting the first five seconds invariably consisted of expelled air and the next five, a single word in characteristic hushed tones before he gathered slightly more momentum. You could hear a pin drop. I don’t recall him ever being interrupted. His command of the room was total.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

When "Going for the Jugular" avoids a surgical strike!

I received a lovely phone call yesterday from Ian (not his real name), a Crohnie who took my Core Self © programme several years ago when it was far less refined than today. He rang to tell me that tomorrow he was starting his new role as European Operations Director. When we first met he would have found this role impossible to accept as it involves a lot of international travel. Ian has checked the accuracy of this article and I have his permission to publish it.

As in numerous of my cases of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, when Ian asked for my help I had no idea that he had Crohn’s Disease: the reason for undertaking the Core Self programme was not for his Crohn’s Disease but for leadership development: he was a VP of an international corporation and wanted to build better relationships at work. This is the story of our original meeting.

In the course of our initial in depth exploration of his current working relationships (to which he would later refer as my Inquisition) Ian reluctantly revealed that he had Crohn’s Colitis and explained the role that it played in his work and life: I had asked him about the results of his most recent 360 degree review and his reply confirmed my suspicions; it was clear from the remarks of his team members, peers and the directors to whom he reported that although he was seen as very intelligent, extremely knowledgeable and highly efficient, they felt that he was distant and remote, unappreciative and not very supportive. One person even said she felt he was rude, arrogant and dismissive. It was the latter comment that prompted his HR department to invite me in.

I explored with him the strategies that he had built in his work and life to deal with the bouts of severe pain and sudden urgent demands to find a toilet or be on his own. As you might expect, there was no shortage of torturous scenarios – spending as little time as possible in situations where there was no escape; making exits from conversations – sometimes very in depth ones, failing to attend meetings or leaving half way through. All his meetings were as short as possible. He seldom accepted lunch or dinner or drinks invitations with colleagues. Anything that required long, in depth meetings he would delegate ruthlessly so he could leave at any time. The list went on and on. With care, I went for the ‘jugular’ question: “What are the positive outcomes that these strategies have given you?” I always sit a safe distance whenever I ask these types questions - I’m never totally sure whether or not I will be treated to finely articluated anger. Despite the fact that Ian had probably mastered an expressionless face over several decades, I could still hear an arpeggio of emotions including incredulity, denial, pain, affront, anger and all the usual suspects indicating many of the limiting beliefs I had come to expect from this type of control. After all, how on earth could any of unbearable symptoms that STOP him doing the many normal things he wants to do have any benefit? After the restrained outburst, he relaxed into a knowing smile - there was one benefit. (I actually felt on pretty safe ground here as I had spotted several, as probably you have already). “Well, I have learnt to be an excellent delegator for the things that are a problem for me.”

When he realised I was waiting for more, the arpeggios returned before another "aha" smile as he talked about the incredible efficiency of having to hold short meetings and his reputation for getting to the point and “cutting the crap” (no pun intended, he said as we both laughed). His smile continued to widen as the examples started to flow faster than he could mention them and he stopped speaking for quite a while to scribble notes so he could recall them all. It was a wonderful moment of realisation. Suddenly remembering he had stopped in the middle of sharing these with me he continued to talk at a more measured pace about the skills he’d discounted just because he associated them with “cheating” - to avoid embarrassing himself or having to reveal his condition. The list continued apace: He avoided long journeys unless absolutely necessary which meant that those journeys he had to take, really counted. He wasted very little time and so could work less hours and achieve more than his colleagues. He was very definite about what he would and wouldn’t do in order to avoid compromising himself and so people seemed to respect his decisions and offer fewer challenges than others might receive. In order to do this he had to develop strong arguments to articulate what he meant clearly – and there was always a strong argument to support his decision, he didn’t just make up reasons for not doing them. Then I was ready to ask my second ‘jugular’ question, “So would you like to summarise how Crohn’s Disease has affected your career?” In summary he said, “I just realised I probably owe at least my three last promotions to the strategies, skills and other resources I have been forced to learn and apply, to work around my Crohn’s Disease.”

This is what I love. Here is one of the many occasions when two well timed, sensitively placed, “going for the jugular” questions really work - so long as I “get out of the way”, provide the space, and wait in silence for the answers I expect to emerge.

Ian's baptism of fire was complete and he was now ready for our work to begin: The severity of his Crohn's Disease symptoms would be the reflection of how well his programme was going, not the focus of the programme itself. I may tell you more about Ian's journey later, but this post is already too long and Ian is just one of many who managed to turn their life around by focusing on what's really going on with them, rather than on their own often retold story of what they think is going on.

I hope you have enjoyed Ian's story. As usual, please let me know what you think: There is always something for me to learn out of observations from your perspective .

Be well, be happy! Joy x

Friday, 30 July 2010

Your gut feeling - Guy Cohen's inspirational journey

I just reviewed Guy's inspiring and very accessible book about his journey of courage and determination to be free from the symptoms of IBD - Ulcerative Colitis. I met Guy when he was speaking at a completely unrelated event. We had a chat afterwards and it was very clear to me that he really does walk his talk. He is such a positive man and so likeable, down to earth, bounding with energy and hugely entertaining. I hope in the future that he will be able to speak at one of our Crohnies and Collies events as he is an excellent role model and we share many beliefs about the mind's effect on the body: Many of these same philiosophies are cornerstones of my body neuro-feedback system. Below is a link to the book on Amazon UK where you can also read my fuller review and buy his book. It is also available at Amazon US. I really recommend you read Guy's book. It may make you think differently about the relationship you have with your body and the one that you could have.

(In his book, Guy talks about the people with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis that he has helped and finds that the same approach is effective equally for both conditions.)

Thursday, 29 July 2010

How hate harms!

I have just logged into Twitter and logged straight out again. It was all too painful. There was a hatefest going on and I had to leave. So much HATE!

What was the object of their hate? Their Crohn's Disease. This is completely understandable, but SO damaging. Many tweets were from hospital, all were in pain. It was terrible to read. I felt powerless to help remotely: I still recoil from the very real, remote wrath of Crohnies' second hand pain I received over Facebook after making suggestions of strategies that I "knew" would help. "It's just the wrong medium for this kind of help." And then I thought, "Joy, with all your knowledge, you can think of something... even at the risk of being damned to hell by these people in so much pain." So here goes....

I'm not going to tell you about the impact of long term stress on pain - that would be like the Ben and Jerry explaining to you in great detail just how they decided to stop making your favourite ice cream: It doesn't get you your ice cream.
I'm not going to tell you about all the brilliant pain management techniques I know - that would be like explaining the value of a saftey harness to a man falling from a tall building: You're not in the right space to make use of that kind of information right now.
I'm not even going to tell you about how focusing on the things in your life that you hate has been proven scientifically to be a destructive force at the cellular level, (you can have the references if you are interested - just email me. In the case of Crohn's this is like turning a thumbscrew on your intestines).

What I am going to tell you about is the guy that ran the Stanford Prison Experiment, Philip Zimbardo, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Stanford University. In his wonderful book, The Time Paradox, one of the many wonderful things he talks about is the scientific studies made by Bob Emmons and Mike McCullough into the value of gratitude (again, email me and I'll dig the references out for you). A group of people with neuromuscular disease were asked to take the time to think about and record five things in the last week for which they were grateful. They did this weekly for 9 weeks. A second group were asked to think about and record the things that were hassles and a third group were asked to to record objectively the events that had an impact on them. At the end of the nine weeks, the "gratitude" group reported greater satisfaction with their lives, greater optimism, more hours of sleep and waking feeling more refreshed than either of the other two groups.

I can draw on my own history of having two virtually identical abdominal operations thirty years apart. In the first one I awoke from the operation in the most unbelievable pain - I can recall it now perfectly - the pain appeared to start at about one metre above the bedclothes and they couldn't give me enough painkillers. When they suggested that I be helped to sit up I thought they must on a different planet.
After the second operation, a more invasive, longer  and "serious" one I had virtually no painkillers and felt like getting out of bed and walking around the next day.
What was the difference? One major factor: Before the first operation I had not reconciled myself to what was happening. From thinking I was a fit and healthy seventeen year old on the Friday I was going to be operated on on the Monday. I was incredulous: All I could think of was, "They are actually going to cut me open with a knife - raaaaagh. This can't happen to me" Every emotion I had was fighting it. The second operation I had reconciled myself to and accepted at every level. That's all.


Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Line of least resistance!

I find it very difficult to describe my work in a way that I think properly conveys what I do, so I was very pleased to hear this today and I would like to share it with you....

One part of my work is developing leadership skills in executives of multinationals. During the feedback session with one of my clients today he said, "You are increasingly helping me to find more and better ways of divining the lines of least resistance. In turn I am helping my teams find their lines of least resistance with their teams. It feels like the ultimate light touch leadership: The better I get, the easier it gets and the better my results. It's like art."

And that's how it feels to me - when it's working as it should, my work is effortless art.

I love my work!

Whilst not all my posts are directly related to Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis, they all have relevance in a number of ways :-).

Enlightenment, but not as you know it! (Do you find this funny?)

I was reminded today of an incident that always makes me laugh out loud. I guess I have a pretty strange sense of humour and today you get to judge for yourself.  This story tends to elicit either a raucous guffaw or a blank expression searching for some kind of indication as to which planet I'm from, and kindly enquiries as to my welfare; (sigh - I think you need to have trodden much of the same path as me.....)

OK here goes: I was looking through the glass doors of my book case for a particular book to lend a friend . Spotting it, I rapidly opened the door. As I was doing so I must have dislodged a large heavy lever arch file that must have been on the shelf above, resting on the top of the door. BANG! I felt a blow to the bridge of my nose (no pun intended) and not comprehending quite what had happened, I saw a widening pool of blood forming on the floor from the stream running off my face. Dazed, I looked at the book in my hand. It was Douglas Harding's description of the route to enlightenment through realising that we are not our bodies and we have no head. It is entitled, "On having no head".

That's the joke. There isn't any more. I guess you have to imagine it and realise, as I realised, that I obviously still have mine. :-) Oh well.... Comments welcome, (from whichever planet you're on!).


A little light relief from IBD - Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Stress – The Toxic Emotion

I was reminded again this week of just how dramatic the effect of stress can be and I wanted to share this with you. Everyone encounters stress. Stress is a call to action. If we treat these calls to action appropriately the stress process has done its job and it goes away. Most people, however find that much of today’s stress isn’t dealt with and doesn’t go away; it remains in their body doing damage: Those stress feelings we get are more than just feelings – they are the result of our body producing chemicals. Most of us are familiar with adrenalin in response to stress and its association with our flight or fight mechanism: Prolonged production of adrenalin and its close relative, cortisol creates real damage – a chain reaction that would eventually create actual inflammation. That describes just one of a complex system of chemical process that can lead to locking in and reinforcing damaging mechanisms in the body’s organs, muscles and joints etc. Let’s look more closely at a typical stress situation and our response to it e.g. being habitually late when we intended to be on time. This usually means we allow ourselves to be late, not planning properly, rushing, not dealing appropriately with the perceived criticism or reprimand for being late, feeling guilty, making excuses, blaming situations and so on – a tangled web of events that binds in and compounds the stress rather than dealing with it at its cause. There are loads of other things that stress us out e.g. not being able to find the right words, feeling inadequate, being unable to say “no”, being unable to ask for what you want, feeling powerless, feeling like you have no choice, feeling bullied, feeling put upon, being pressured, being hurried, being manipulated, being made to feel guilty, ashamed, embarrassed, foolish, to blame, being unable to express anger.....and so on. All of these feelings are telling us to do something and very often we are unable to act in a way that provides the solution we are looking for.

I developed the Core Self © programme to enable people to develop the skills to understand when their body is responding in a stressed manner and to interpret its call to action and then decipher what action would be appropriate to allow that stress to disappear. In removing this residual stress we are stopping harmful chain reactions that result in chemical damage to the body so it can start the natural healing process and operate more healthily.

This week's very stark example of how a stress system can be locked in the body and create real physical symptoms presented itself recently in the form of a new client of mine who was undertaking my “Core Self” © Programme. It became clear from the number of times and the many contexts in which she referred to her “disability” that she was holding a number of limiting beliefs about herself. Each time I registered these remarks I became increasingly convinced that liberating her from these limiting beliefs would  free her from a lot of chronic and acute pain and gain far greater freedom of movement. I knew she was very strong – she had to be to have weathered the many storms she had encountered. The question was, was she strong enough to face reality and her limiting beliefs? When the time was right, as sensitively as I was able, I asked her the most brutal questions, challenging her remarks. Sure enough, the painful realisations occurred. She realised that although at an identity level she had been outwardly masking the disability and internally numbing her mind to the pain, she was subconsciously holding on to both her disability and the pain as a security blanket at a deep identity level. In internalising the pain she was carrying the burden as a backdrop to her life, allowing it to define a large part of her. You can imagine the impact of realising that you’ve been voluntarily carrying around this real pain, and suffering genuine lack of mobility for all these decades. Some people are not strong enough to face the emotion around that reality and they cannot continue. They walk off the emotional operating table because it is emotionally safer and less embarrassing to reject that new belief, than to embrace the process and implement what is needed for the healing to start and a new life, free from baggage.

Thankfully she had the courage to embrace the process and look to her new found freedom – swapping her excruciation and immobility for a future with a bearable ache, slight stiffness and a new lease of life.

Another reason for me sharing this with you is to emphasise an important point that is seldom recognised: With real personal change comes the real discomfort of the unfamiliar. Just as when your physiotherapist or sports coach says that your posture needs to change or the way you hold your racquet needs adjustment – it feels horrible - until you persevere and get used to it and very soon it becomes natural and flowing. Similarly, the temptation to go on with our old habits is very strong, even though you know that it will prevent your progress. The greatest learning often carries the greatest discomfort: When we have our eyes opened to what is really going on in our minds that bring us the results we are experiencing we can feel ridiculous. The secret is that when we can be grown up about this and can accept it, laugh at it and get on with it, (or as I say to myself sometimes, when I get over myself), any resistance and embarrassment simply melts away and everything suddenly becomes easier. That’s the simple truth. I believe that the secret to developing ourselves fully as human beings is to learn all we can about who we are and have a good laugh in the process and see ourselves develop a new, freer life.

I welcome comments from people with Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis on how you feel this is relevant to your condition and your life.

Friday, 16 July 2010

The Mind's Effects on Tourette's Symptoms

I'd love to share something with you that I've just discovered - this great piece of research on the beneficial effects of self hypnosis on Tourettes symptoms. Once more we have new evidence as to the mind's powerful effect on the body - this is the same rationale as is behind my approach:

The principles behind the use of self hypnosis are to engage the mind and quieten the internal chatter that creates the stress giving rise to verbal and physical tics. This internal chatter, as it is referred to in hypnotherapy and NLP, is the self-critical voice of introspection that can generate a spiral of self-doubt, fear of others' judgement and perfomance anxiety to name but a few destructive effects. The quietening of the mind "tunes" out this destructive chatter and relaxes us, enabling us to focus on the matter in hand. This relaxed state of mind is far more likely to enhance performance and at the same time make the same task appear easier and more effortless.

A lesson for us all here is that when we get our mind out of the way, everything improves!! That's another way of reminding us we have to "get over ourselves" :-)

Enjoy! - Joy x

P.S. Hypnosis has been proven to be effective in IBS and the quality of life of people with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. References available on request.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

The Dreams We Remember Are Our Mind's Way of Telling Us To TAKE ACTION!

 Image courtesy of 
Sorry for the long absence, but as well as being buried in pre-pilot preparation, the research requires that I don't talk about the study until it's complete and the jury's delivered their verdict. However, I can write about this......
I was just reading replies to my post about "Crohnies and meds related insomnia" and the subject of "NIGHTMARES" prompted me to post a reply. I found I got carried away as usual and went on for pages, but it seems to have resonated with many people - with and without Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, so I thought this might interest you. You see, dream analysis is something that I find really valuable. As a very skeptical individual, I can tell you that dream analysis, done properly is a very pragmatic tool for discovering what you are bothered about and what assumptions you are making about your options. After all, dreams are created by our own mind. Here is a quick overview:

Our dreams are a rich resource for revealing our view of the world in a far simpler and more direct way than most people imagine - and this can be enormously helpful in finding out what will make us happier. Dreams are the mind's way of communicating its interpretation of current situations to us. They are usually a call for us to take action, "Do something to make this situation different". In the case of the [bad dreams described on the discussion thread - ], there are extreme physical and emotional sensations being experienced with Crohn's and the mind is responding by calling for action to alleviate them.

In the case of the dreams experienced by people with Crohn's who are in physical pain and feeling bloated, the interpretation of dreams of being preganant, being in labour and undergoing a caesarian operation without anaesthesia is quite straight forward - I've even been told by men that they've dreamt about being pregnant and of having caesarian operations without anaesthesia, waking in screaming agony. The mind is calling out to its owner to find a means to end this pain - and it's offering you suggestions - it want soemething equivalent to an operation or giving birth, i.e. ".....after the operation / the birth the pain will stop. It's telling you, "Do something, to bring this pain to an end".

Dreams associated with emotional pain as well as physical pain are sending just as clear messages but are less direct and so need a little more interpretation: Whilst I don't hold with the view that dreaming of particular OBJECTS per se is significant, dreaming of particular EVENTS assoicated with particular emotions is:

Dreaming of teeth falling out is usually associated with people who are experiencing a fundamental fear associated with a lack of control over and a lack of trust in their body. This  lack of trust can extend to fear of the world in general, a overall sense of powerlessness, a desire to hide something and a fear of embarrassment. Having read this you may not be surprised to know that dreaming of teeth falling out is quite common in Crohn's sufferers: when you think about the effect of Crohn's symptoms it makes perfect sense. Many Crohn's sufferers understandably feel like victims to the condition in many ways.

I could go on, if you find it useful. Maybe I should add a part on dreams to the webinar on insomnia - perhaps it would be useful to some of you to learn how to make use of your dreams - not just how to interpret  your mind's response to your condition but also to understand how your mind wants you to alleviate your situation? Would this be useful to you? and then we could go on talk about how to use this knowledge to challenge and overcome some of your fears associated with your condition? We could maybe make it interactive with a few people - I think 8 is the limit for participants). Just let me know guys and then I'll know what to do!
Hope this helps!


Friday, 4 June 2010

Another Grand Day Out speaker confirmed!!

Just a quick note to say that another wonderful speaker has confirmed. I'm really hoping to get more votes from people who want to attend as the current level isn't enough - and if we don't get many more soon we'll have to abandon the idea for this year and try again another year.
I'm really quite surprised that the votes haven't been more like a torrent as loads of Crohnies have been lamenting the fact that they don't get out much. SO now's the time folks - if you want A Grand Day out for you and your fellow Crohnies and Collies, get them to VOTE and FOLLOW!! This is for you folks!! Joyx

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Crohnies and Collies Grand Day Out......... News!!

Hi Guys, I can't wait to share this with you.....I opened my laptop this morning to great news!! One of the high profile guests I invited to speak at the GDO event has accepted. I sent out the first three invitations only yesterday - so it was thrilling to open my inbox this morning to find such a lovely surprise!!
Here is an excerpt,

"Hi Joy,

Thank you for reaching out. I'd love to be a part of this day and the event you are putting together....."

His identity will remain secret just yet. However I can tell you that he is an athlete, a master of this great new amazing sport and he lives in the USA. Believe me, to see him perform is like watching poetry in motion. We'll see a video of him in action and he's going to be speaking to you, live from USA at the Grand Day Out - London, UK Summer 2010 about how he overcame his crippling IBD to rise to the top of his sport.
He is actually known as "Mister (this sport)" so you can imagine his level of accomplishment!! If you're in the audience you even get the chance to put a question to him about overcoming his IBD or his sporting achievements. You'll love him!
Follow this blog (click the FOLLOW box to the right hand side of this text) so you get alerted when an update is posted re dates, location, guests and events !! And if you're in the USA or Canada, following this blog will tell you how to access the live Webinar of the event.
I'll let you know as I get replies from the other guests and send out more invitations!
Can't wait!

Monday, 31 May 2010

A Chronies & Collies Grand Day Out! Summer 2010

For some time now I have been very excited about planning this day out and now I'm very close to launching it. This is a special day for Crohnies and Collies and it will be truly a day to remember. I am sure it will such an overwhelming success that it will become an annual event.
This day will be very different  from anything else I've seen - it will be a fun, entertaining, hugely valuable, informative event FOR PEOPLE WITH IBD to get together and spend a day of freedom amongst people facing the same challenges they face.
There will be.....
  • Inspiring talks from high profile figures with IBD telling us how they dealt with obstacles in their high pressure lives to achieve so much.  - (You will be truly amazed!!!!).
  • Highly successful people will share their secrets of how they overcame their IBD to make a full recovery - and go on to fulfil their dreams
  • Breakout discussion groups where everyone gets to share their experience of various challenges and come up with great ideas to make life better.
  • Massive group dance participation - yes, you will enjoy it - even if you can't dance a step!!
  • Networking - "bag a buddy" - become an IBD buddy and establish contact with your very own inspritational IBD buddy.
  • Tuition in whacky valuable processes to get your symptoms under control, including insomnia, panic attacks and instant pain relief. 
  • Learn to interpret your dreams - your mind's way of telling you what you need to do!!
  • Book signings
  • A chance to win a state of the art 121 behaviour change programme.
  • And..... if we're lucky.... we'll have a solo performed live by our mystery international rockstar guest!! I can hardly wait!!
But wait.... before this can go ahead I need to know that our special guests will be performing to a big audience of Crohnies and Collies... - so you need to TELL ME NOW that it floats you boat AND that you will be able to attend this ALL DAY EVENT!!
email me on and tell me "Yes Joy - please put on this GDO (Grand Day Out) for me".
Remember 1. This is ONLY for Crohnies and Collies or their carers.
Remember 2. To make it happen I need to know that there are enough people interested .
Together we can make this happen!
I look forward to hearing from you very soon!!!!
Kindest regards,

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Restless Legs

I was prompted to post this resource after replying to a request for help on a Crohn's forum concerning Restless Leg Syndrome. It occurred to me that it might be helpful to other Crohnies.

For those unfamiliar with the condition, Restless Leg takes a number of different forms, but in the main the symptoms include involuntary limb movements of varying force and frequency accompanied by one or more constant or increasing sensations in the legs including pins and needles, numbness, crawling, extreme heat and cold and  agitation. It is usually worse at night and is associated with insomnia.

I looked into this syndrome a great deal when my Auntie asked me for help. She was absolutely tormented by RL- couldn't sit down comfortably during the day, even to have a meal or after strenuous gardening - having to get up and move around, and at night it kept her wide awake,  no matter how exhausted she was. I discovered that there seem to be as many variations of the condition as sufferers and there is a lot of disagreement about the diagnosis. In her case we associated her symptoms with the cocktail of medication she was taking, as she was acutely sensitive to most drugs.

Never happy to leave it at that, I felt sure we could get to the bottom of this reaction and achieve at least some improvement.We explored which situations made the condition better and worse (I am well used to analysing symptoms and matching them with conditions and combinations of situations in my work with clients' conditions): The conclusions we drew with her condition were:

1. The symptoms worsen with tiredness - which makes it doubly infuriating since the RL condition itself causes insomnia.

2. Worry makes it worse.

3. Waiting, and other "imposed inactivity" makes it worse.

4. Engrossment in something enjoyable takes it away or alleviates it depending on the degree of absorption.

5. Relaxation makes it better.

6. Hypnosis works best of all the things we tried. (I am an NLP Master Practitioner and Hypnotherapist). This might sound rather insane - but the brain plays some really cute tricks: Our interpretation of the uncontrollable and irratic movement was that the movement was the brain's inappropriate overactivity owing to the medication that she was taking: her overactive mind was trying to accomplish things and solve problems and wouldn't let her body rest. I don't know whether you meds insomniacs and meds Restless Leg'ers and can identify with that?

In her case the approach was to persuade her overactive mind that she deserved a rest and that it had a duty to work out how to rest in order to do justice to tomorrow's tasks. That way we were turning the relaxation into an active task that fully absorbed her unconscious mind and so allowed her to switch off the need to do other things. Well it worked for her - but like I said - everyone is different. We did most of this work over the phone as we lived over 200 miles apart, and that seemed just as effective as in person. It was rather challenging as initially, the condition prevented her from relaxing sufficiently to be receptive to the process. It was as though her mind was fighting the relaxation, but once she was talked into relaxing, she was very receptive and the relief was very effective.

Hope this helps. Your comments are very welcome. Joy x

Top Secret!

The Prof has spoken! I had my wrists slapped ever so gently for blogging about the pilot study - for fear that it might jeopardise the research findings. I was very embarrassed. I can tell you all about it once it's complete but for the moment, Mum's the word.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Insomnia? I'm feeling rather brave....

I've been reading the accounts of many Crohnies suffering from insomnia. These symptoms of insomnia are apprently side effects of some types of medication. I have many client cases to demonstrate the success of the programme I have created in which the tools and techniques deal very effectively with  insomnia resulting from e.g. stress and an inability to switch off. I have not so far, however dealt with insomnia induced by medication. After great deliberation I have decided to run an interative webinar (attendance strictly by invitation only) to test the effectiveness of this programme in dealing with medication induced insomnia.

I am relying on your feedback, folks!! If you are a Crohnie and suffer from insomnia which you associate with your medication, let me know whether you are interested in attending this webinar.(Please only apply if you are serious and fully intend to attend.)  If there are sufficient numbers interested, I will put the webinar together. There really need to be 100+ attendees so it would be great if you could forward this blog to your Crohnie mates. The interactive part of the webinar will feature attendees raising issues live. It should be very exciting. If it proves successful, there will be follow up webinars to explore feedback from the programme and track the results of the participants. This webinar could represent a breakthrough in the treatment of insomnia and I do hope you want to be part of therapeutic history. Please express your interest by emailing me at telling me of your experience of insomnia and your reasons for wanting to take part in the research. I look forward to hearing from you!!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

I’m so glad there’s some else who thinks humour and IBS / IBD treatment go together.

I’ve been euphorically repeating, “Fantastic” over and over for some minutes now, with the odd rejoicing hand clap. Fantastic in a good way – not, “beyond belief”

Why “Fantastic”?

I’ve just had my scheduled conversation with Peter Whorwell, Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology at the University Hospital South Manchester and whose team undertakes research into functional gastrointestinal disorders as well as caring for large numbers of these patients from all over the UK. Peter Whorwell pioneered the use of hypnotherapy in the treatment of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and published his first study on this topic in The Lancet in 1984. The blog that follows is about IBS, not IBD that I usually talk about. Nonetheless, the key idea of communication between the brain and the gut is common to both Peter’s approach and my own.

There are a number of reasons for this event warranting my “Fantastic” outburst:

First, Peter is a most amiable, down to earth, easy-to-talk-to person. Thanks to his lovely manner, we comfortably got down to business very quickly. Peter is a very busy man. He had just completed his ward rounds and hadn’t yet had a chance even to look at his diary for the day and yet he willingly gave me an hour of his time advising me on how to approach the various obstacles that would no doubt present themselves in the course of my research. It was soon apparent how he uses humour equally effectively in his work with patients as with the audiences that flock to hear him speak. To underline this, it resonated well with me when he said, “If I don’t make my patients smile I feel dreadful”. This man is clearly wedded to the wellbeing of his patients, and his exemplary results support that. I have to say I feel exactly the same – in fact, I will bury my usual modesty and say I receive many comments such as, “You can always tell when they’ve been to see Joy – they look transformed”. And indeed this is one of the essential ways in which I measure my effectiveness and I’m always energised when I hear other people’s passion for making patients happy. Peter lamented the fact that scant attention is paid to the patients’ happiness - this most important area of patient care. He related how students are sent on Communication Skills courses and taught how to recite their names and the confidentiality policy, but seemingly very little more in terms of creating rapport etc.

Second, he is so clearly able to communicate ideas in this very complex field in an easy, conversational manner. We covered a lot of ground. One subject was the ways of measuring the effectiveness of behavioural interventions - from using fMRI scans registering changes in the patient’s brain activity - to changes in activity at cellular level. We also talked about the difficulty of isolating the “active elements” in behaviour change programmes responsible for improvements in gut performance. If we can get fMRI’s (brain scans) in the picture and demonstrate real change in processing, this would attract a lot of interest. Now that would be very cool, but it costs £800 per half hour and not many research projects can find funding that stretches to this.

Third, I was absolutely astonished by what he told me about the remaining level of resistance amongst the medical profession to hypnotherapy as a treatment for IBS. I was under the misapprehension that it was an accepted and routinely prescribed modality. Years ago I saw mainstream TV programmes devoted to hypnotherapy and IBS featuring Peter and his team. The BBC website still covers his research findings and I’ve even heard Radio4’s Today programme feature the same topic, and yet many GI’s (Gastrointestinal consultants) remain un-persuaded? Peter referred again to the value of humour in breaking down barriers when talking to groups of sceptical GI’s unconvinced by the high quality scientific research he has led in this area. “I tend to take the p**s out of myself when addressing such audiences so that they don’t think (I’m mad)”. He added, “The problem is that so many of them are up their own bottoms”. My amusement turned to a completely different emotion as Peter went on to talk about the difficulty of gaining approval from the Primary Care Trusts (PCT’s) for hypnotherapy treatments in IBS cases compared with a course of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

He went on to explain how CBT has gained the badge of acceptability. That is to say, many decision makers may not know what CBT is, but its acceptability enables it to be prescribed despite the comparatively weaker evidence to support the effectiveness of CBT, especially in the long term.

This has given me an idea for future blogs – a review of CBT versus other talking therapies. I have to say I laughed out loud years ago when I discovered that CBT was termed “brief therapy” and yet the average duration of treatment was months, but that’s a story for another day.

Towards the end of the meeting I asked Peter whether he would be happy to be quoted on my blog and asked him to review the contents before it was released. “Would you be able to turn this around quite quickly?” I asked. “Oh yes” he said, “If you don’t hear from me within a week I will either not have received it or I’ll be dead!” That started me laughing again. Well thankfully he’s very much alive and kicking butts in the GI profession.

Thank you very much Professor Peter Whorwell. It was fantastic to talk with you and yes I will be delighted to keep you posted with my progress.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Another exciting meeting with another eminent professor in the field.....

The excitement continues....

Today I have a scheduled virtual meeting with another eminent Professor of Gastroenterology whose enviable international reputation is for achiements in treating IBS with hypnotherapy. I originally contacted him with a view to him supervising my research into IBD (note the difference – IBS is Irritable Bowel Syndrome whereas IBD is Inflammatory Bowel Disease and the two are very different: IBS is an umbrella term for symptoms that involve pain and distention but no significant inflammation). The physical distance between us, however, would make that too complicated. He has, however, suggested that we talk to give me some advice on my research and I am very much looking forward to talking with him. (I’ll ask him whether he is happy for me to quote him in my forthcoming blogs - hopefully I'll remember).

One the areas I would like to discuss with him what questions he would like to have answered concerning the operation of the "little brain in the gut" and its interaction with the mind. The idea behind this is that I can explore the scope (whoops) for incorporating some of these questions into the pilot study – which would make it even more valuable.

I’ll let you know.....

Saturday, 8 May 2010


What a week! Absolutely thrilling! Accompanied by my good friend, former university lecturer Ted, I had a meeting on Thursday with the Prof and his Clinical Research Fellow.

These guys don’t mess about – it was unbelievable. We talked about everything. Well, all the important things - like the importance of the trial being properly controlled in order to provide meaningful conclusions. We explored the means of measuring the success of the programme, recruitment of the candidates, the nature of the trial, its duration, its timing, ethics, data protection, confidentiality.....and so on.

The bottom line (sorry) is, after three hours, (during which the Clinical Research Fellow showed signs of expiring), we had a decision. What? – a decision for a secretary to arrange for my paper to be submitted to the sub-committee of a committee that sits only once in a blue moon? No! What transpired has in my experience to be a record in medical history: Getting a decision for a trial – whether yes or no - in three hours is unbelievable.

And in the end..... the Prof said YES! Yes means yes to a trial of between 10 – 15 people. This will start with a submission to the ethics committee in several weeks. When they are satisfied, the candidates can be selected and then.... the fun really starts. I shall be keeping you posted with the progress as it happens. Let the trial begin!

I'm going to ask the Porf and his Clinical Reaearch Fellow for their permission to reveal their identity on this blog and to tell you more about them. They are really amazing people - as borne out by their astonshingly pragmatic and masively sensible approach. Truly inspiring!

I’ll let you know what happens next.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Now that I have something valuable to say.......

Friends, colleagues and Crohnies, lend me your guts! I have finally allowed myself to join the Bloggerati: such is my desire to share with you the blow by blow (yes there will be many inexcusable puns and jokes in appalling taste - note the title for example) excitement of my new neuro-gastroenterological research project.

Why the excitement?

I am sooooo excited about this new project because it is the culmination of my many years work designing and delivering behaviour change programmes. Over the years my programmes have been proven to bring about rapid change by helping people understand how they (and others) tick. Dramatic results have been achieved where previous interventions had failed. One of the most dramatic successes is in IBD – Crohn’s and Colitis - considered to be incurable.

The new project is a trial to quantify formally the effectiveness of this one to one programme in reducing or eliminating the symptoms of IBD.

In the next two weeks I’m discussing my research with one of the world’s leading Professors of Clinical Neurogastroenterology with a view to carrying out this research under his supervision. So I think you get an idea of how important this is.

My aim in sharing this blog with you is to spread the word about harnessing brain-gut communication. Some of you may be even interested in taking part in my research. The bottom line (ahem) is – I want Crohnies and UC’ers to be able to manage their bodies and live without limit!

Whenever I start work with new clients I ask them what would constitute success for them. Time and again I hear how liberating it would be if they could live without the stress of having to plan their entire existence around the location and availability of toilets. Older people tend to be less ambitious as, over the years, they have increasingly persuaded themselves to restrict their life within "safe" parameters. More or less everyone says they’d be euphoric just to go out to dinner without half their mind being on whether they were going to make it to the toilet or having to work out how to disappear from the restaurant in embarrassment without being seen. They want the choice of travelling to work more than ten minutes from home or to fly on a plane. They want to wake up in the morning relaxed and refreshed instead of being jolted awake by an urgent message from their guts and a brain screaming RUUUN! praying that the bathroom is clear.

When I hear wish lists like that, and I know the results I can achieve, how can I not do everything in my power to help Crohnies? When I know they can achieve all that and more, the thought of helping Crohnies everywhere achieve their wish list ignites my passion.

If you are a Crohnie or have IBD and are interested in finding out more about taking part in this research, please email me at and I’ll send you more details. Please only apply if you are serious about addressing your IBD. If you'd like to have a look at the other work I do, you can view some brief case histories at Please note that there is a strict limit to the number of participants as this is a one to one programme, so if you want to be on the programme, to be fair, priority will be given to the earliest responders, so do take action and email now if you want to be considered!

Essentially the programme will comprise unique state of the art behavioural tools and techniques developed for living life at a higher level. Be prepared to push the boundaries and also to have some fun. Selected participants will receive the programme on a one to one basis via Skype or MSN or webinar. Of course all participants' information will be absolutely anonymous and rigorous research ethics with be upheld at all times.

The start date for the programme is expected to be in about three months time, which means August 2010, so if you are interested, best get cracking and express your interest.

I am so thrilled. I’ll let you know what happens as the events and meetings occur, so keep checking in and you can share the excitement!!! What are you waiting for? I'm looking forward to hearing from you now!  BBFN : ) - J