A few years ago, I was lucky enough to work with a professional boxer, Tony Owen. He very kindly told our story to the press and when the story broke, it helped so many people deal with the death of his friend, another boxer Lewis Pinto. Below is a transcript of the letter I sent to the press.

I must first stress that I have a code of conduct and a set of ethics that wont allow me to break confidentiality for a client so this is purely with Tony Owen's permission for the purpose of his story. I first met Tony Owen after being introduced by a friend. I had heard that he was a great fighter who had lost belief in his abilities. Please understand that if a fighter cannot fight in the beginning then hypnosis could not change that. In my opinion Tony Owen is a true champion in every sense of the word but it was my job to bring that out of him. I found Tony to be a quiet gentle man but his whole demeanour, the way he sat, talked etc told me he was 'stuck'. As an integrative hypnotherapist I was trained many years ago at CCTS to watch every move, every colour change in the face, how someone leans as they talk and many other different cues that give me a sense of how it is to be Tony. As he talks I'm using such empathy that I'm almost him sitting in the chair talking. I'm experiencing him, learning how it is to be in his world.

He talked of his best friend Lewis Pinto and how he was fighting every fight for him now, almost on his behalf. The death of his friend had clearly been the biggest fight he would ever have and he felt a huge pressure to win for him and his loved ones. It was like he had lost who he was since Lewis passed. I worked on Tony over a couple of sessions on all the real reasons he was a fighter and I reminded him of his early passion for the sport as a young man and how it was always purely for him but as a therapist you're always waiting for that 'epiphany' moment that will change everything. In our next session I used a technique called guided affective imagery which involves a light state of trance where Tony can talk out loud to me as I guide him on a journey. In hypnosis I took Tony to a meadow which is always where you begin with a client, you make it their safe place so they know they can always return. We followed a pathway which he described as narrow "only wide enough for me" and up ahead I placed a mountain which he described as steep and pointed. The client is unaware that this mountain represents their aspirations, their goals in life but we will process that after. I took him up a pathway which was a stroll in a spiral shape round the side of the mountain but halfway up I made the pathway end. So my client is then standing halfway up their mountain with no visible way ahead. I want to see here how he will handle obstacles, stumbling blocks in life, I want to know whether in the most toughest moments whether he can find another way or even if he wants to go on at all. Even the most successful people can go back to the meadow at this point. I asked him here "Tony what do you want to do now?" He replied immediately "get to the top". "How can you get there Tony?" I ask him. "Climb up the rocks" he says. He has very quickly found another route and at this point he looks strong and determined. Sometimes in hypnosis even though its an imaginary journey clients can see, hear and feel they are there and they can struggle just as if they are climbing a real mountain but Tony's breathing was calm and he appeared determined. He reached the peak of his mountain quickly and easily but as he stood at the top something happened. I had a sense something was different about him. In life if we have a gut feeling we don't often act on it or become vocal about what we are sensing at that moment, but as a hypnotherapist I use immediacy and I will act on what I feel in the 'here and now'. I got a sense that he wasn't alone. "Is someone else there Tony?" I ask, Tony hesitated, he told me after that he wasn't going to say. "Pinto's here with me." I felt goosebumps but I realised this was something we call transference, they were Tony's goosebumps. "Whats he doing?" I ask quietly. "He's standing next to me with his hand on my shoulder" he replies quietly. I leave him for a moment here to soak this up and then I ask him a question that I would naturally ask next, "Is he saying anything to you?" "No, he's just standing there silent next to me" he replies. I realise at this point that question may have been for 'me', its very important as a therapist to know when I ask things whether its my want or his. I clearly would love them to have a good old chat here but whats happening is something far more powerful. "Do you want to speak to him?" I ask. He tells me that they don't need to say anything, they just know. I leave him a while here with his friend and then I ask him to say goodbye. Some clients choose to fly down from the mountain riding the breeze, some choose to run down the side screaming with joy. Tony chose to go back the way he came, slowly, methodically.

After he returned to the meadow I roused Tony back to conscious reality to process what had happened. He was clearly moved and had a beaming smile. I allowed him to try to interpret it as I explained the meaning of the mountain and he was at times lost for words due to how much this touched him. I gave my interpretation. I always tell a client the interpretation is only mine and they can accept or reject parts of it. His pathway from the meadow was narrow and only wide enough for him meaning for me that this journey was his alone. His mountain was steep and high because he knows becoming a champion is a long process but never once did this phase him. When I took the pathway away he simply found another route, he was unstoppable and he reached the top easily. I suggested that Lewis Pinto was already there after he had won his next fight. He wasn't fighting this for Pinto but himself and Pintos hand on his shoulder was there for him after his win, connecting as a friend would and saying 'well done'. Tony understood this and it empowered him to realise that every fight he would have from this day was for him and only him. I asked him why he thought that he and Pinto had stayed silent on the top of that mountain, he simply replied "there was no need for words, I just knew, it was unspoken", which fits with who Tony Owen really is. Those that know him have said to me that he does not say an awful lot but I know that he is a very humble man with a good heart. It wasn't my job to make Tony Owen into a good fighter, it wasn't to make him believe he was, it was to make him accept how good he is.

In life we are not scared by the negative stuff, the things that hold us back, our worries or our fears. We are most scared of how truly amazing we are and what incredible things we are capable of. We can all have an invisible glass ceiling above us, whether it be a job role, wealth or a dream. As much as we want something our subconscious mind can keep us just below it. Tony Owen has smashed through his glass ceiling and is climbing higher every day. He has already changed since his fight against Danny Connor and is surprising everyone around him with who he has become. Everything that is happening is for his natural evolution and his higher good and I am privileged enough to be able to continue to guide him. After our last backstage hypnosis before his fight against Danny Connor my job was done and I sat in the audience close to his fans and as the fight began I could hear his fans shouting to each other at how different he was and I knew he had changed too. When he won I went to his dressing room and after the initial hugs and smiles I sneakily put my hand on that same shoulder of Tonys for Lewis Pinto and then quietly went back to the crowd from whence I came.