Gemma Handy

Talking Heads - how Janis Hough is helping transform lives

With the stresses of modern life presenting more challenges than perhaps ever before, life coaching has become one of the world’s biggest consultation businesses. Despite more relevant qualifications than you can shake a stick at – an enviable feat in a largely unregulated sector – Janis Hough is reluctant to describe herself as a life coach. In fact, she'd prefer to first tell you what she’s not. And that list also includes therapist, psychotherapist and shrink. "I don’t like to pigeon-hole what I do," she says, adding with a smile, "What I am is a head mechanic; I help people to use their brain to make changes that are useful. Basically, I help them get through stuff, around stuff and over stuff."

That 'stuff' might encompass anything from dealing with fears and phobias, to addictions, weight issues and relationships. She can even help you to be happier. Her 'happiness coaching' is geared towards helping people move forward in their professional and personal lives in a fashion they choose, rather than one they feel has been chosen for them. The methods she uses are an intriguing assortment of techniques including hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and thought field therapy (TFT). The latter she describes as "acupuncture without needles; I tap their channels using their energy."

Developed by American psychologist Dr Roger Callahan in the 1980s, TFT involves sequential tapping procedures applied to the body’s meridian points to balance one’s energy and eliminate negative emotion. NLP, Janis says, is a "little like Norton anti-virus for the brain." Created in the 1970s, it works on the principle that there’s a connection between neurological processes, language and behavioural patterns learned through experience. Advocates claim these behavioural patterns can be altered to achieve specific goals in life. For example, a recent client had a terrible fear of hospitals. To reprogram the client’s view of hospitals as threatening, Janis suggested she inwardly rename it a ‘help centre’.

Janis also employs the use of Ericksonian hypnotherapy, generally considered a gentler form of communication with the unconscious mind than its traditional counterpart. Renowned US psychiatrist Dr Milton Erickson believed that a hypnotic trance was a naturally occurring state that people experienced regularly during daily life. It was his ability to access and utilise this natural state that became the pioneering model used today. A regular visitor to Antigua, Janis has been practicing for more than a decade and works with a wide variety of people via seminars and workshops, face to face, and even over the internet. Modern technology means she can work with clients based in all corners of the globe. Her accolades include a mind-boggling range of acronyms, including those relating to NLP and TFT, plus a fistful of others, acquired through training in the US and UK. “My clients say I help them make changes that have had them in therapy for a decade - and now they’re not anymore,” Janis says. “They often say I don’t really know what you did; all I know is I don’t feel the same way I used to. People are not stuck and they’re not broken. They need to know they already have the answers, they have their hand on the door, but maybe they’re scared to turn the handle. They end up living in the comfort of discomfort. They assume recovery will be painful or difficult because that’s what institutional therapies have us believe. But I’m not interested in those, I am about learning in a different way.”