It’s a pretty common question (in this field and in others)… who counsels the counsellor? Well, that question also applies to coaches, trainers, consultants and even therapists. And sometimes winning an award (such as one of ours!) can lead to you being the go-to expert in your field, for your peers! This is what the latest expert under our spotlight found after collecting her Therapist/Practitioner of the Year Award, and this is her story.
That expert is addiction hypnotherapist extraordinaire…
Cathy Simmons is the mastermind behind The Simmons Practice. A full time, London-based practice designed to bring discreet, tailor-made addiction therapy to professionals wishing to overcome their addictions to smoking, alcohol and other drugs. It was Cathy’s own experience with addiction – and addiction therapy – that lead her to learn the art and set up a practice of her own.
It is through a knowledge of the science behind addiction, and a distinctly human and emotional approach, that Cathy can boast incredible results in terms of both business and her results with clients. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the wider community. She has since become a sort of ‘guru’ for addiction therapists across the country, running training events and mentoring as she goes, helping therapists like her better serve themselves, their practices and their clients.
It’s all rather exciting, and quite refreshing to see such a fresh and accepting outlook on something that is still considered taboo, despite it being such a common problem. Little by little, Cathy and her peers are changing how addiction is seen, and how it is dealt with.
But how did it all begin? And where is it going? We caught up with Cathy some time after her win at our 2015 Awards to find out all of those things, and more!
How did you feel when you won the Award ?
I have to admit it felt amazing! I was, of course, surprised, as this was the only award for therapists and there were some impressive nominees, and I must say that I was completely blown away by the huge support I received from my colleagues. I feel very blessed.
Has the win had an effect on your business?
Well, yes – In my work with addictions, my clients feel that they are in safe hands. It is quite a leap for them to put their trust in someone with something that is so personal and scary for them and the award gives them added confidence that I am the right person to help them.
It has also had an effect I didn’t expect! As well as helping people move beyond drug use and addiction, I also have a passion for supporting other therapists, especially in their business. So many therapists don’t get their unique talents out to the people who could most be helped, because they struggle to earn a decent living with their passion.
The award has meant that more and more therapists have been approaching me for help to create a successful business doing what they love, and I am loving this part of my work!
Where did all of it begin? Can you give me a brief overview of your journey?
I’m afraid to admit that my own past was not completely whiter than white in this area and there was a time when it got quite out of control. I am eternally thankful that I managed to move beyond it and experience a complete turnaround in my life.
But my journey into working with drug use and addiction didn’t start until much later, when I stopped smoking! It’s easy to forget that tobacco is one of the most deadly substances out there.
I had been to many therapists to help me stop and this final time, I walked out of the room absolutely knowing I would never smoke again. So I became curious as to why this one worked when the others didn’t, and before I knew what was happening, I found myself studying hypnotherapy and also going back to University to get a better understanding of the neuroscience of addiction.
Working in the City, I was surrounded by drug and alcohol use, and the more I learned, the more my passion to help people grew, until I knew that this was where I wanted to make a difference.
Who has been the biggest influence on you?
Gosh, that’s hard. So many people! I think the work of Kevin McCauley in the field of addiction really inspired me, along with the work of Marc Lewis, a neuroscientist with addiction in his own past. I would hugely recommend Marc’s books to anyone interested in the field.
I must also say that one of my early clients was also an inspiration to me. A young man in his 20’s, smoking £100 worth of skunk a day, in an environment that wasn’t supporting him at all, and some horrendous abuse in his past – he made the decision that he wanted to stop and get completely free as soon as he found out he was going to be a father.
That young man wanted to be a role model to his child, stop the drugs for good and set up his own business. The amazing transformation that he made has stayed with me to this day and continues to spur me on.
In terms of my business, one of my mentors, Catherine Watkin was hugely instrumental in encouraging me to specialise in this area and she helped me to keep going in business and really make a go of my clinic, so thank you, Catherine!
What makes you and your service different?
The biggest difference in what I offer is that I have an understanding of what is going on in the brain and body with addiction and this is more than just academic. By understanding this, it means that I can really target my therapy, and apply my approach in a completely tailored way within a science-based framework, which still incorporates the emotional and spiritual aspects.
It means I have an understanding of all of the different aspects of addiction that need to be addressed, and, more than that, it means that together my client and I can work towards a much happier life beyond the drugs. When my clients get to understand more about it too, they realise why the drugs have taken a hold, and that it is not any kind of weakness on their part. Contrary to many beliefs, it really is possible to have a great life again!
In addition, I give them hope. It is no longer necessary to wear a ‘recovering addict’ identity for the rest of their lives. This is not something they have to learn to live with.
Above all, I care and look to give my clients a VIP service.
What have your biggest challenges been?
From a business perspective, the biggest challenge has been that drug use and addiction clients are unlikely to refer, because it is something they don’t talk about to their friends. Many of my clients are high performing professionals and sometimes even their family don’t know about the issue. This meant that I had to do quite a bit of learning about marketing and how to get my message out there! However, when I help someone to stop smoking, then they tell everyone and the majority of my smoking clients are from referrals.
There are also times in my work when I am reminded of my own past, and I have to be very sure that I don’t allow that to impact my work with my client, so I have a ritual before seeing a client to make sure that I am thinking of their wellbeing first and that I leave any of my own ‘stuff’ firmly outside the room!
Did you ever feel like throwing the towel in and if so, what made you continue?
Oh yes, there have been times, when business itself was challenging with that uncertainty over what my income might be the next month, but in the same way that I keep up with my education around addiction, I realised that I had to take running a business seriously, and invest in learning from the best and putting the systems and processes in place that support my growth. Investing in business mentoring and personal coaching was probably one of the best things I ever did in my business, and now I understand how essential they are, I am committed to continuing these as long as I am in business.
What do you think your clients value most about what you offer?
My clients know that I come from a place of no judgement and that I also understand that it isn’t just the ‘addiction’ that is to be treated. There are much wider implications. I like to look at the whole picture.
I help my clients to get excited about life again, to see a new future and give them tools to make it a reality. Above all, though, they know that I care and that I am there to support them into their new, healthy and fulfilling future
What new and exciting plans do you have for this year?
The most exciting area for me is the expansion of how I help and support other therapists. In addition to private mentoring, I am very excited to be launching an online group mentoring programme aiming to help therapists and holistic practitioners discover their unique offering and have a flourishing business doing what they love, without compromising their values.
I am blown away by the talents and experience of the therapists I am meeting, and heartbroken when they struggle to get their offering to the world, so I can’t wait to help more therapists flourish!
Can you give us one tip for standing out from the crowd as a coach?
For therapists, I know the temptation is always to offer help to everyone with every possible issue, but then no-one stands out from the crowd. I would say be very clear on who you most want to serve and what you are really passionate about. Stick to your very clear message and do not dilute it. You are unique. You have a combination of unique skills and experience, so live your passion and you will shine.
APCTC members like to aspire to those that are considered experts in their field. Can you share how well you’re doing in terms of:
Client feedback and emotional rewards
This is what makes it all worthwhile. Sometimes its only months afterwards you get an email or a ‘phone call to let you know how someone has turned their life around. I am constantly thrilled by my clients’ ability to create a new and wonderful life.
This recent comment in an email is typical “Thank you so much for your help in overcoming this addiction and dealing with my anxiety, You can’t believe how life changing that’s been”.
Now, is it wrong of me to get a lovely warm glow when I read that?
Monetary success and business growth
This didn’t come over night, but this last month has been the best month I have had since starting in business, and it’s no longer hit and miss. By having the right people supporting me, clear plans and unwavering focus I know that the business will continue to grow. I also learned the hard way to get systems and processes in place before you take off, and to be ready for the tipping point.
It is incredibly exciting to be in a position of doing what I love and earning well from it at the same time!
Your work-life balance
I am very lucky that I am able to do a lot of my work either on Skype, in online groups or by delivering online trainings, as I learned to leverage my time, so I no longer always have to exchange time for money and yet still be able to help people make a real difference in their lives.
I am moving more towards the freedom of being able to work wherever I happen to be and particularly since I discovered that my business growth was a big part of my personal growth, I am now loving my life so much, especially with a such a supportive partner, and more and more, with my work with inspiring therapists, sometimes it just doesn’t feel like work at all!
Do you have a final message for anyone who aspires to you?
I would say to be true to yourself and your passion and then be persistent and consistent in getting your message out there. It doesn’t always happen overnight but if you keep going you are rewarded. Get help where you need it and avoid the distraction of ‘the next big thing’ and other shiny objects!
Do you think you have what it takes to make yourself the go-to expert in your field? Then pick up your free copy of The Coaches Code. It has everything you need to build a lucrative coaching business (of any sort!) from the ground up! Just click the image below…