Inspired to Change

The Effectiveness of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy in a UK Police Force



Inspired to Change have been researching the effectiveness of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy in a UK Police Force

Whilst we at Inspired to Change already know just how effective Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH) can be we needed a chance to evidence this.

The blue light services in general and the Police in particular are experiencing elevated levels of anxiety and depression within their population with Police Care UK estimating that 66% of the police workforce may have psychological or Mental Health issues and 71% of officers are likely to have anxiety and depression.

Northumbria Police recognise that, whilst their provision of mental health support services is varied, uptake could be increased, and they agreed for Inspired to Change to research how SFH could make a difference in their force.

Why do this study?

Northumbria Police, just like many other forces are experiencing huge costs as a result of mental health issues, whether that is through lost days due to absenteeism, presenteeism or a growing number of employees choosing leave which in turn this creates more pressure on existing staff, alongside the cots associated with recruitment and onboarding.

At present psychotherapy is seen as the most effective treatment for common mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. The most commonly used and validated psychotherapeutic tool is that of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). However, it has been suggested that effectiveness is only marginally more than placebo. According to several meta-analysis studies, whilst current psychotherapeutic interventions may reduce symptoms for those who undertake therapy, over 50% do not respond to treatment, meaning they experience no significant reduction in symptoms.

Recent studies have also highlighted that for those 50% who do respond to treatment and experience a reduction in symptoms, this is not necessarily associated with any improvement in their wellbeing and wellness even for those who have experienced recovery i.e., no clinical symptoms and this is significant as it is believed that without an improvement in wellness there is an increased likelihood or a recurrence of anxiety and depression symptoms.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy isn’t new, but it is new to the literature

The UK Police Forces and the academic literature are calling for a different approach to supporting mental health issues. With this backdrop, the Inspired to Change research team created a research project to assess the effectiveness of SFH to support Police officers and staff in Northumbria Police who identified problems with their general wellbeing and/or functioning at work.

Despite much anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of SFH to support people with a variety of presenting issues such as anxiety, depression, confidence issues, insomnia and PTSD, to date, there have been no formal studies to measure its effectiveness in a way that enables comparison to the most popular current psychotherapeutic tool – CBT.

What did the study look at?

The effectiveness of SFH was evaluated through qualitative and quantitative data collection from participants through the collection of validated pre and post intervention outcomes measures (to measure anxiety (GAD-7) and depression (PHQ9) symptoms), Life wellness indicator scores (to measure wellness), information gathering participant data, participant and therapist questionnaires, interviews with therapists and conversations with Police HR and Wellbeing staff.


Reasons for Seeking Support

The reasons for seeking support through this study were varied but predominantly for anxiety and stress reduction. Participants also sought support for depression, sleep issues, loss of confidence, public speaking, and fertility issues. Whilst sleep was not commonly mentioned as a primary reason for seeking support, sleep quality data were collected through participant information gathering, where the majority reported sleep issues. Where trauma was mentioned, this was also addressed successfully.

What did SFH sessions look like?

Participants of the project undertook their SFH sessions online and it took the same form as when we see clients in our own private practice. All participants took part in an Initial consultation where details about why they were seeking therapy, existing symptoms and any sleep problems. The therapist then talks about why they are feeling as they do from a neuroscience-based perspective of how the brain works and how they can get themselves back on track.

Participants then undertook sessions (weekly where possible) where they were asked ‘What’s been Good’, revised how the brain works, were scaled on their current level of happiness/control or confidence and undertook a ‘Miracle Question’ to determine their next step of progress before 20 minutes of guided relaxation (hypnosis).

What were the results?

100% of participants that completed treatment responded i.e., were getting better as a result of therapy. Furthermore 78% of participants completed therapy with no clinical symptoms i.e., they recovered completely.

Data demonstrated that participants progressed regardless of their therapist’s years of experience or confidence as a therapist. Life wellness score increases of 84% echoed the reduction of anxiety and depression symptoms demonstrating an improvement in participant wellbeing and wellness.

The average number of sessions participants received was 8-12 which reflects the anecdotal average number for sessions for anxiety and depression in general.

More than 50% of participants had previously experienced therapy, either independently, through the Force or both. Regardless of any prior therapy, expectations of SFH were varied, but themes emerging from the data suggest that the majority of participants were invested in the process and enjoyed the structured, logical and positive nature of therapy sessions, often sharing their experiences of therapy and newly developed tools with other work colleagues.

Participants noted a number of tools they had gleaned through therapy which they could now use to cope better with stress, gain perspective and to build their resilience. The impact of therapy moved beyond that of participants’ working lives, with the majority commenting on the difference it had made to their home and family life – there being a positive ripple effect as a result of therapy.

What next?

SFH has demonstrated its effectiveness in symptom reduction and improved wellness and resilience regardless of presenting issue for Officers and Staff in Northumbria Police.

Its highly structured, logical, and understandable approach enables participant engagement and quick results. We hope that this study will lead onto to more research focusing on the role of SFH in preventative work alongside trauma resolution (PTSD) and Mental Health recovery.

We hope this study will provide the evidence needed for organisations to consider SFH as a tool to better support their staff’s wellbeing whether this takes the form of 1:1 therapy, group-based coaching or through formalised education-based Solution Focused mental health training with its foundations in neuroscience. If this is something you are interested in for you or your workplace then take a look at our website for information regarding our 1:1 therapy and extensive training offering. 

Request your copy of the report below:

Complete the form below to request your copy of the full report: The Effectiveness of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy to Manage Mental Health in Northumbria Police.

If you would like to dicuss the findings of this study with one of our team, you can get in touch at


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Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are all recognised by the National Council for Hypnotherapy, the UK’s leading not-for-profit hypnotherapy professional association.

To find out how you can train as a solution focused hypnotherapist click here for our hypnotherapy school information.