Get to Know Russell Davis
Interviewed by Tina Shaw
[This interview was in 2013. In 2019 Russell published a book Conceivable : Get off the infertility emotional rollercoaster and fast-track your journey to getting pregnant whether naturally or with IVF.]
I am the National Council of Hypnotherapy’s fertility advisor and am experienced in working with individuals and couples at my successful London (and now Cornwall) practice. My wife and I tried for 10 years to conceive and given you are reading this then I expect you may recognise the pain, grief, anger, jealousy, false hopes and all the other emotions we experienced on our journey. After 10 years of double infertility we did conceive naturally and have a wonderful son. Having now become a Cognitive Hypnotherapist the one thing I wish I had made use of is the power of the mind. Looking back I can now see how my thoughts and feelings affected our progress. Looking back I can now see how my thoughts and feelings affected our progress. How did you get involved with Cognitive Hypnotherapy and Fertility? I got involved in cognitive hypnotherapy after a lifelong interest in how the mind works and what makes people tick. During our infertility journey I made a decision to do more of what I enjoyed, to follow my bliss. One of the things was to learn more about how the mind works and also learn more about myself. This brought me The Quest Institute and the Cognitive Hypnotherapy course – and as they say the rest is history! I had no intention of making it a career but the more I got into it the more I found it was just me.
What do like most about the work you do?
I love helping people find a place of peace without giving up. At first they find it hard to believe that this place exists! This issue must be highly emotional for your clients how do you manage that? Infertility is highly emotional. A study has shown that the stress levels of women with infertility are the same as those with AIDS, cancer and heart disease. It can also be an emotional topic for me having been there myself. I manage that by being able to show understanding and empathy, without the emotion getting in the way. I also enjoy a period of transition from work to home, using that time and space to let things go.
What do you do when you are not working to let go and unwind?
I love the outdoors and being with nature. I love walks with my family and running the country lanes and coastal paths. Here are some questions from a member of the public currently going through another round of IVF. Other than getting the person to believe more positively, is there anything specific that Cognitive Hypnotherapy can do to increase chances of conception? Cognitive hypnotherapy can help someone in three ways. Firstly it can help people let go of limiting thoughts, emotions and beliefs that maybe affecting their chances to conceive, whether naturally or through IVF. For example, on our journey I identified a belief that I didn’t deserve good things. Secondly it can help people relax and there is a clear link between stress and fertility. Thirdly you can actually utilise the mind-body link to guide your body to do what it needs to do. Is Cognitive Hypnotherapy used to help the female relax so as not to produce the hormone that causes stress which then ‘blocks’ the production of follicles? That is one way in which it works. Lowering stress levels can enable the key fertility hormones to be more in balance. Reproduction is a very delicate process requiring highly balanced cocktail of hormones at each stage. I’m using acupuncture for the first time leading up to this round of treatment. It claims (I don’t know yet!) to have a specific treatment once embryo transfer has happened, which helps thicken the lining of the womb to help the embryo stick. Does Cognitive Hypnotherapy have any physical advantage? Cognitive hypnotherapy can help manifest some remarkable physical changes to the body – because the mind and body are one system. I have worked with women who don’t ovulate then start ovulating through the use of Cognitive Hypnotherapy. I think cognitive hypnotherapy can complement acupuncture very well, I wouldn’t say it’s either or.
What advice would you give to those seeking complementary therapies to help increase their chances of pregnancy?
If someone is trying to get pregnant my advice is the same with anyone who seeks complimentary therapies and that is to make sure that therapist has adequate training and experience (and a member of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council – CNHC) – ideally with specific experience of fertility training.
What’s the biggest misunderstanding that people have regarding Cognitive Hypnotherapy and fertility?
I think the biggest misunderstanding is that it’s just relaxation. This is far, far more powerful than just fertility relaxation.
What is the ratio of men to women attending your clinic? I imagine less men attend these sessions, what would like to say to men regarding getting help with fertility issues?
95% of the people I see are women even though up to 50% of infertility cases involved male fertility. My advice to men is firstly get tested as soon as possible, regardless of whether they think the problem is with the woman and secondly start getting involved emotionally in the journey, to be united in it – stop playing ‘the strong one’ and keeping your emotions at bay – and yes you do have emotions! It took me a long time to learn those lessons on our journey.
Do you find there are any common underlying themes around the psychological element of fertility with your clients?
One of the common themes is that couples often believe their sense of fulfilment is dependent on having a / pressure on the process and outcome. I help them find that sense of wellbeing and fulfilment in the here and now.
What sort of issues do you find Cognitive Hypnotherapy to be most successful with in terms of fertility? I don’t think I’ve ever had a client where we’ve felt that I couldn’t help them in some way. The mind is just involved in every aspect of someone’s experience of the journey as well as the fertility itself.
Has there been any research into the effectiveness of the work you do? There is plenty of research into the effectiveness of mind -body techniques and fertility. They show that it can double IVF success rates, including specifically hypnotherapy.
You are clearly very passionate about your work? What else are you passionate about?
My family, barefoot running, Apple Macs and good nutrition (oh and old Land Rovers!)
How do you see your work with clients moving forwards in the next 5 – 10 years? My aim is for more clinics to be offering mind-body support programs to all patients in NHS or private.
You’ve just started a training course for other Cognitive Hypnotherapists what do you hope to achieve with this? Our aim is provide a network of therapists that are trusted and respected by the medical world. The medical world have some concerns over the training experience of many holistic practitioners, particularly in fertility.
“Accept yourself as you are. Otherwise you will never see opportunity. You will not feel free to move toward it; you will feel you are not deserving.” Maxwell Maltz