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NLP Inspirations: Fiona Stimson

Fiona creates a safe space, supporting her clients at their most vulnerable, helping them to overcome fears, build resources and find courage in life-altering circumstances.

As published in ANLP, Rapport 73, Winter 2022 issue

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NLP Inspiration Fiona Stimson - Fiona smiling at camera

I am so happy to have the chance to talk about Fiona Stimson as part of your NLP Inspirations series.

Fiona is an awesome NLP Master Practitioner, clinical hypnotherapist and coach, making a real difference for people who are often living in extreme circumstances (more of that later). I met Fiona some years ago when we were training in personal development coaching and NLP. Straight away, I noticed Fiona’s passion for people – and for learning about people – and her great curiosity and warmth.

Fiona is not immune to the major challenges that life throws at us and has great empathy with those facing life’s big struggles. I know Fiona won’t mind me mentioning that she has been through some major health situations of her own in the past. She lost her mother to cancer and, recently, her nine-year-old niece passed away suddenly. Fiona’s own experiences have helped her develop strategies to help people process loss – and even find joy in the most difficult of circumstances.

I was impressed with her great capacity for learning. In training, my objective was to learn the basics – enough to get going. But Fiona had this huge appetite to learn multiple disciplines – in great depth – and it shows! I know she was captured immediately by the power of NLP; she has qualified as a Master Practitioner and uses it continually in her work.

I have been struck by what drives Fiona. She definitely has a business head and has established a professional base at The Surrey Therapy Practice in Banstead. She is also evolving her practice to work in conjunction with nature and is building her own coaching and therapy room beneath the trees! She is writing professionally about health empowerment and has recently published her first book, in conjunction with coaching and medical colleagues, to help people understand and respond to their needs more effectively.

But what impresses me most is Fiona’s big heart, her interest in the greater good and in making a difference for people. Fiona has a senior management position at the Royal Marsden Hospital and was inspired to see what difference coaching and NLP could make for people living with cancer.

Making inroads was a big challenge. Medicine, like many other professions, can be a bit precious and uneasy about using ‘alternative’ approaches in conventional practice. But Fiona persisted and succeeded, practising as a coach with patients with cancer and other chronic illnesses at the Fountain Centre, part of the Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford. She is also an Associate with the social enterprise Working with Cancer and runs her own private practice.

Fiona has been part of a three-year PhD study with Portsmouth University and the Fountain Centre to create professional standards for cancer coaching.

Fiona specialises in coaching clients with cancer and chronic illnesses, and those suffering severe anxiety. She also works on health and wellbeing at an executive level within the NHS and academic institutions, combining research with her passion for NLP and coaching. She creates a safe space, supporting her clients at their most vulnerable, helping them to overcome fears and build resources, be empowered in their situation and find courage in life-altering circumstances. I believe that her dedication and commitment to this makes her very special. It is deep work that I know Fiona finds extremely rewarding. And this part of her work is all voluntary!

I try to imagine what it must be like working with cancer patients – possibly in the darkest hours of their life – trying to help them find some light and positivity in their situation. Helping people reconcile what’s going on in their mind and body must be a huge challenge – but Fiona excels, as her clients testify.

Fiona uses NLP at the heart of everything she does and finds it extremely effective in supporting people living with and beyond cancer, as well as other chronic illness including MS, severe back and neck issues, rheumatoid/inflammatory conditions, severe anxiety and depression. NLP has also been of great benefit in helping managers and staff working within healthcare to help manage their own wellbeing.

She also offers ‘A Day to Change’ – an intense transformational neurological rewiring for more dramatic change in a day – and slower mindset interventions for those requiring a gentler pace of change, depending on their circumstances.

Fiona finds NLP techniques effective in:

  • Helping clients to overcome their immediate overwhelm and trauma as they make sense of fast-paced change (diagnosis, clinical interventions, recovery), enabling them to focus on successfully overcoming the barriers they are facing.
  • Achieving acceptance and being kind and compassionate with themselves.
  • Building self-esteem and confidence.
  • Relieving pain and discomfort.
  • Changing unwanted thoughts and behaviours and promoting what they would like instead, enabling them to focus on what is important now.
  • Building resources for resilience and enabling the client to be empowered, facilitating their own recovery and healing (prehabilitation).
  • Managing their relationships and boundaries (personal/ professional).
  • Working with cancer at all stages, including end-of-life.
  • Creating the ‘new normal’ and being their own inspiration!

Fiona demonstrates her ability to empower her clients to progress in very challenging life circumstances. Her approach is empathetic, intuitive and mindful, changing the belief systems that are no longer serving her clients into ones that they want to hold and aspire to. Through developing the tools and techniques in sessions with Fiona, they can create the life they want to live, developing a new deep sense of self and purpose. The work is emotionally intense, with magnificent outcomes, helping people to realise their full potential, personally and professionally.

Experiencing cancer and chronic illness in her own family, and overcoming her own health issues, Fiona’s focus is on pursuing further research into the effects of NLP and coaching in this arena.

I love Fiona’s ‘Walk with Me’ series, which helps those who are suffering from illness or post-illness healing by joining her for nature walks in her local community. This includes NLP, coaching, mindfulness and meditation techniques to facilitate recovery and healing, integrating all the modalities she has learned to ‘layer’ maximum therapeutic benefit for the individuals concerned.

It’s not unusual for coaches and NLP practitioners to consult each other. When Fiona and I have worked together, I have been struck by a number of features of her coaching style.

  • Her empathy; she instinctively knew where I needed/wanted to go.
  • Her curiosity/questioning; her knack of asking the right, sometimes quite unexpected questions, which opened up previously unexplored areas of thinking.
  • Her patience; never rushed and really understanding the value of silence.
  • Her discipline and professionalism; always on time and very familiar with the road we were on, gently but firmly checking that I had taken the actions I had committed to, to ensure continuous progress – a reassuring assertiveness.

I know Fiona has had an extremely challenging year personally, due to death and serious illness amongst family and loved ones. She took the decision to pause work for five months to focus on the needs of herself and her family at such a sad time. But always one to seek the positive, Fiona has grown personally throughout this period and will be even better equipped to help others through this learning.

“So, to sum up, we have someone here who is a committed practitioner, researcher and academic in her field, who makes a real difference for people. But for me, Fiona’s most significant attribute is kindness. She is genuinely kind – and not everyone in our sector has this. All told, Fiona is a true inspiration… and that’s why she won the NLP in Healthcare Award at the 2021 NLP Awards.”

David Searle
David Searle

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