Focus on our finalists – mind over matter with All About You03-09-2019
Many business people say that the inspiration to follow their dream came from somewhat surprising circumstances, and this is certainly the case for Hull-born hypnotherapist Frances Dunning, whose business All About You was a finalist in the James Legal 2018 InspiringBusiness competition.
At the age of 25, Frances was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and underwent a rigorous treatment programme including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and surgery, to successfully beat the aggressive cancer.
Frances can look back now and recognise how this experience – which was traumatic by anyone’s standards – marked a major turning point in her mindset that was to have huge significance for her career decisions many years later.
“I noticed I was using my mind to overcome the situation, I kept focusing on the positives,” she explained. “I asked the medical team what the quickest discharge time was for their previous patients, and that gave me a target to focus on.
“I was determined to leave hospital as fast as possible and, despite the medics doubting I could achieve it, I defied the odds and was well enough to be discharged by my target date.”
Frances had a true lightbulb moment, realising there must be something in the old ‘mind over matter’ adage. She went on to study to become a counsellor, but somehow wasn’t convinced that talking about a problem would necessarily eradicate it.
She explained: “I visited a hypnotherapist and was immediately fascinated. I went on a hypnotherapy course, started practising, and found that it worked! We each possess the biggest computer on the planet between our ears. It’s not easy to just ‘unthink’ thoughts that are embedded within it, people need support to do this.”
Taking a leap of faith
A single advert in the Yellow Pages directory was enough to generate sufficient clients for Frances to work part-time as a hypnotherapist, alongside her day job as a senior manager in the HR industry, for 16 years. But in 2018, she asked herself some serious questions about where she could make the most difference, and decided to leave her full-time job to concentrate on what she had until then thought of as a paid hobby.
She said: “In a way it wasn’t such a difficult decision for me, as I wanted to make the biggest contribution possible to people’s lives, I thrived on the feelgood factor of helping others, and it had become clear that the way forward for me was hypnotherapy.
“I’d done a lot of networking so I’d had some good advice from other business owners, and also found leads to new clients. Someone told me the first two years would be tough, and they were right! I do have down days and quickly realised it can be challenging sustaining a business by yourself.”
This was what motivated Frances to enter the James Legal InspiringBusiness competition shortly after making the switch to work full time on All About You. “I knew I needed to develop my business and the package of support looked amazing,” she added.
Unlike many businesses, Frances doesn’t really want repeat customers! “The fewer hypnotherapy sessions an individual requires to overcome their issue, the more successful the treatment is both in their eyes and mine,” she explained.
One client asked Frances for help to quit an embarrassing habit she’d developed as a child of sucking her thumb, which she was now seemingly powerless to give up as an adult. A single session, with one more follow-up consultation six weeks later, was all it took to put an end to the thumb-sucking that had plagued her for so many years. Frances said: “I didn’t need to delve into the complex reasons for why this habit had taken such a strong hold, all I had to do was explain to her unconscious mind that it was no longer a benefit and it was okay to stop doing it. It worked straightaway, which was a brilliant result.”
Another client wanted to give up smoking and moderate her drinking. “I was a little bit surprised with this case because I just focused on delivering a message to her mind around drinking, but it worked on smoking too,” Frances added. “After one session, she just no longer had the urge to smoke or to drink excessively. It’s always a pleasure to wave goodbye to satisfied clients and know I’ve really helped them.”
A healthy outlook
Aside from individual clients, Frances’ skills as a hypnotherapist and counsellor are in demand from organisations such as local authorities, NHS trusts, schools and employers, who recognise that mental wellbeing is equally as important as physical wellness. One area of particular interest to Frances is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and she is working in collaboration with local organisations on plans for a PTSD hub in Hull offering an integrated approach to therapy.
She said: “PTSD is complicated, and I believe hypnotherapy has a place in its treatment. The default option seems to be medication, which I think masks the problem and creates unwanted side-effects. I’ve had a very successful case with a Falklands veteran, who after his hypnotherapy was able to switch off the uncontrollable stress reactions that had dominated his life for 36 years and return to his job, and be his old self again.”
In terms of future business development, Frances is considering creating a PTSD programme that she can market to fellow practitioners. The support surgery that James Legal offered to all the InspiringBusiness2018 finalists gave her some handy pointers and encouragement in relation to her legal framework and business strategy. Frances said: “It was really useful to sit down and chat with the James Legal team, it helped me focus on my next steps. I’d definitely encourage any local business to enter the current competition, there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Nick Miller, Managing Director and Founder of James Legal, said: “All About You is one example of the amazing local businesses we are meeting through our InspiringBusiness campaign. We wish Frances continued success with her fantastic work and look forward to seeing how she progresses over the coming years.”
For more information on All About You, visit www.francesdunning.com
Enter the James Legal InspiringBusiness2019 competition
Find out more about the InspiringBusiness2019 competition, which this year sees us working with great partners in complementary fields like banking, business support, finance and health and wellbeing to offer a powerful mixture of assistance to one creative and driven business, worth over £20,000. Please be sure to submit your entry by the deadline of December 31.