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Illness inspired Aberdeen nurse to launch hypnotherapy and counselling service

When Wendy Riley was floored by an overactive thyroid she turned to holistic therapies and the impact was massive.

Former nurse Wendy Riley now helps people through hypnotherapy and counselling.
Former nurse Wendy Riley now helps people through hypnotherapy and counselling. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

When Wendy Riley suddenly became very unwell, little did she know that this challenging time would eventually change her life for the better.

Having worked as a nurse for 27 years both in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and as a mental health nurse at Royal Cornhill Hospital, Wendy was always there for other people during their darkest moments.

But Wendy suddenly went from care giver to patient when she developed an overactive thyroid, a condition that, if not treated, could be life threatening.

“I became physically unwell with flu symptoms and I also had difficulty swallowing,” says Wendy who lives in Dyce.

“I also experienced palpitations, anxiety and I didn’t want to go anywhere so it totally changed my whole life.”

Wendy Riley
Wendy Riley was inspired to set up her own counselling and hypnotherapy service after experiencing the benefits of holistic therapies at first hand. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

The power of holistic therapies

Although Wendy was grateful that the Carbimazole tablets she was put on did ease her symptoms, she was disappointed by lack of other treatments available, prompting her to explore alternative therapies.

“They said I could only be on the tablets for a certain length of time and the only other treatments they could offer was radioactive treatment or to have my thyroid removed.

“I didn’t fancy any of those options so I decided to explore the holistic side of things.”

One of the holistic treatments that helped Wendy was reflexology, a technique where gentle pressure is applied to the feet or hands to help the body’s own healing process.

“After several treatments I began to relax and I wasn’t in that fight or flight mode so much,” says Wendy.

Wendy Riley with a client during a hypnotherapy session Aberdeen
Wendy, pictured with her client Marie, is keen to spread the word about the benefits of holistic treatments. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

Life changing journey

Going to regular counselling and hypnotherapy sessions plus meditation also had a huge impact.

“My tablets were reduced and through perseverance I started to feel better and I haven’t been on tablets now for seven years,” says Wendy.

Experiencing the therapeutic benefits of holistic therapies inspired Wendy to train as a hypnotherapist.

“When I went back to work as a nurse, I approached my manager and said I would love to use hypnotherapy within the NHS as I knew certain patients who would benefit from it,” says Wendy.

“So I was asked to put forward a proposal but they rejected it.”

Wendy in her studio
Wendy is so passionate about helping people through holistic therapies. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

Leap of faith

This rejection motivated Wendy to set up New Beginnings, a hypnotherapy and counselling service based in Inverurie.

“Initially I only had a couple of clients and then eventually it started getting busier so I asked my boss in the NHS if I could go down to two days,” says Wendy.

“Clearly the universe had other plans for me as I was told I couldn’t reduce my hours so I left the NHS to focus on my business.

“It was a big leap of faith and lots of my friends thought I was off my trolley but I had to give it a go.”

Wendy with a client
Wendy uses a range of holistic treatments to support people with their health and wellbeing. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

Switching off and relaxing

Nine years on and Wendy hasn’t looked back since putting all her energy into her holistic health service.

“I’m just so grateful that I’ve got this opportunity and I’m doing what I love,” says Wendy.

Effective in helping people cope with pain, stress and anxiety, hypnosis is one of the treatments that Wendy swears by.

“Hypnotherapy works by switching off the logical mind and accessing the unconscious mind,” says Wendy.

“We all go into hypnosis every night, it’s that moment just before you go to sleep when you’re not asleep but you’re not awake, that is hypnosis.”

Some of the decor in Wendy's hypnotherapy centre in Aberdeen
Wendy’s centre in Inverurie is a calm and tranquil space. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

EFT Tapping

Over the years, Wendy has used hypnosis to help people from all walks of life.

“There’s one lady who had experienced the death of a close friend and she had got stuck in that grief for five years,” says Wendy.

“In the past, the lady wasn’t able to mention the name of her friend without crying but after hypnotherapy she’s happy to talk about it.”

Based in Inverurie, Wendy also offers clients EFT tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique), a non-invasive, gentle treatment described as emotional acupuncture without needles.

“You tap on the side of the hand and you tap on different points on the face and as you’re doing that you’re speaking about whatever problems people are facing – it’s really powerful,” says Wendy.

Wendy, in her hypnotherapy centre Aberdeen
Wendy worked as a nurse for 27 years before launching her own wellbeing business. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

Other holistic treatments Wendy uses includes SourceSTAR energy healing which is similar to Reiki and Bars therapy where 32 points on your head are manipulated to help remove unhelpful thoughts and behaviours.

“It’s great when people get in touch with me to tell me what a difference it has made to their life,” says Wendy.

“I had a young girl who was scared of flying and she’s now a pilot.

“Or it can be a simple as helping people to speak up for themselves or to give a presentation.”

Looking to the future, Wendy is keen for more people to realise the life changing benefits of holistic therapies.

“I absolutely love what I do and I’m so passionate about it but I’d like it to reach more people,” says Wendy.

“I’m doing workshops and I’ve also been invited to a couple of places to do talks so I’d like to expand on that.”

Wellbeing diary with Wendy Riley

Wendy sitting on her sofa
Wendy shares her top tips for health and wellbeing. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

How do you like to de-stress after a busy day?

I like to go for a walk in nature, I find being around water or trees
really helps me to relax me.

What are your top three tips for health and wellbeing?

Meditation, exercise and healthy eating.

Do you incorporate health and wellbeing into your diet?

Yes I do incorporate healthy foods in my diet as I believe what we eat
has an affect on our mind and body.

Have you read any inspiring books or podcasts recently?

One of my favourite books is The Journey Home by Lee Carroll. I also love the movie, That Sugar Film.

How else do you like to relax and switch off?
I enjoy reading, hill walking  and going on holiday in my campervan.

For more information on New Beginnings, check out the website