Read John’s Story of how we tackled his severe anxiety during my Retreat. He chose Swiss Alps for his Retreat; the Retreat was a 3-day-long transformation break:
‘My name is John and I have suffered from severe anxiety in the last few years of my working as a CEO of a large international group.
The anxiety got so bad, I had to ‘escape’ my London office every time I faced an important meeting or someone relied on me in some way. I would drive down to Heathrow Airport and take the first plane to wherever was available.
I knew then I had to do something about it. My behaviour became ridiculous and shameful to me. I could not go on like this.
I was a powerful man in my company, yet I could not face a simple meeting. What the hell was going on?
I decided to contact Ivana about getting help for my anxiety. She suggested one of her healing retreats. From the locations offered, I chose Swiss Alps; a self-contained mountain lodge.
I chose this retreat because it provided utmost privacy and confidentiality. No-one knew where I went; I didn’t tell anyone. This was my thing, this is what I had to do, for me. I needed to get this sorted.
Ivana had talked to me before my retreat; we have had an initial introductory conversation on the phone, which was free of charge, followed by a detailed goal-setting, 2-hour session at Ivana’s Liverpool Street practice.
During these 2 hours, we have built a good rapport and discussed my objectives for the retreat. I wanted to be very clear about my expectations; I told Ivana I did not believe this 3-day retreat will help me- after all, I suffered like this for years, surely it would take years to get better? Ivana asked me to give it a try. I had nothing to lose, only gain, so I did.
I arrived at my Swiss destination on Monday morning. The lodge was absolutely stunning; it was set in a mountain location, away from everything, providing total comfort and privacy.
When I settled in my room, I came downstairs for my first transformation session with Ivana. The fireplace was lit and a strong coffee sat on the table; I felt at ease with the world and ready to tackle my horrid anxiety.
The first few sessions were tough. I fought against the techniques Ivana taught me; I fought because I knew how to be, even though it didn’t work for me. I resisted the change, afraid of the pain this change will bring. We took it slow; after 2 hours, I had a break to reflect on the session and to write down a feedback I’ve had for Ivana.
As I sat in my room preparing for the next 2 sessions, looking out of the windows at snow-covered Swiss countryside, my mind was starting to feel very clear. I started remembering the old ‘me’ and wondered where I had gone and why I had gone to this dark place. I looked forward to discussing this with Ivana. As shameful as it was for me, I had to admit that powerful man had gone, and I was just a shadow of what I used to be.
We continued our sessions. I started opening more and more. We did fun exercises during this session, too; Ivana was teaching me ‘mindfulness’ and how to ‘focus away’ when I’m facing anxious situations. I got to know how my brain works when me and Ivana told stories during those sessions, either intentionally focusing on the stories or focusing away. My brain responded, slowly but surely; and some sort of annoyance rose inside me, wondering why I hadn’t thought of this ‘focusing away’ myself or sought help earlier. When an anxiety hit, all my focus was on me- of course it was so bad!
Then it was time for lunch; this was a welcome distraction. Ivana suggested we continue our sessions after lunch while doing activities. We decided on taking a long walk through the mountains. This time, Ivana ‘coached me’ while we walked, and it brought a very different view on things. I recognised how self-absorbed I had been and stopped noticing things around me; again, the walk was fantastic for working on mindfulness, getting to know my thoughts and feelings, playing around with focus.
When we got back, I asked for some time to myself. I went for a swim in an in-house swimming pool, followed by a sauna. I was stunned to see how relaxed I felt and how I had a completely different outlook on things. Why was I so afraid? Where had that powerful man go? I looked down at myself; why had I stopped loving and respecting myself? Why did I punish myself for having an anxiety?
There were topics in my mind that I wanted to discuss with Ivana; there were questions; and I started to feel angry at myself. Who had I become?
After dinner, we still had 2 more sessions to go. Ivana somehow felt I needed these to be gentle, so we just talked about the past, remembering the days when I was strong and ‘healthy’. Ivana reassured me many times anxiety is normal, it’s part of life, I was not be angry with myself and ashamed of myself; quite the opposite, I was encouraged to be proud of myself for overcoming my problems and seeking help for them.
The next morning, we had some further activities planned. I loved the session structure; when you do an activity with a coach together, it brings different qualities to the sessions. Ivana is extremely capable of turning any situation into a valuable session; and when we were out and about, Ivana challenged my need to ‘escape’ the situation.
Then it was lunch, and we’ve had a sit-down session after. Our professional relationship with Ivana deepened; I was able to open up more, and my brain started offering information that was long supressed. We were getting to the roots of my anxiety; the relationships that led to destroying my self-esteem and confidence; and the subsequent ‘doubting myself’ and developing anxiety about ‘being found out’ that I’m no good in what I do.
The rest of that day, we worked on reminding myself of my skills, coming up with action plan for personal and professional development I could do when I returned to the ‘real life’. In 2 days, Ivana had given me 18 tools to manage my anxiety with and we still had 1 more day to go. That night, I felt my confidence returning for the first time in years.
The last day was wonderful, but also scary. I came to rely on Ivana’s help and guidance, and from tomorrow I’ll be on my own. We covered other techniques- now I’ve had 22 tools that Ivana put into a special folder for me, called ‘John’s Toolbox’. Ivana also reassured me she was there with an on-going support whenever I needed. But someone I felt I was going to be just great. And I was.
Now, things aren’t always perfect; an anxiety IS a part of our lives. But the things I’ve learnt during my retreat with Ivana were extremely valuable; I can’t even put into words how much Ivana helped me. When I feel anxious, I always channel Ivana; remember what we’ve talked about; look through my toolbox and find a right technique to help me.
Work-wise, things are fantastic. I left my CEO role and started my own business. Without a doubt, if it wasn’t for Ivana and the transformation retreat, I would not be where I am now.
The retreat with Ivana was the best decision I have ever made.’
‘I would not hesitate to recommend Ivana to anyone who is looking for help.
Quite simply she is excellent.
From the moment you meet Ivana, you know you are dealing with someone at the top of the industry.
She has a wonderful style that makes you feel at ease straight away and she explains clearly how she can help you which gives you immediate confidence that there is light at the end of the dark tunnel you are probably in.
I was in that dark dark tunnel having reached the end of a very stressful senior executive role – CEO of a global enterprise for over a decade – and needed a lot of help.
Ivana was amazing and did not hesitate to go the extra mile in helping me overcome my challenges.
The light is now back on on in my tunnel and I have the tools I need to deal with any situation.
Don’t hesitate to go and meet Ivana – she is world class and she will help you switch your light back on and deal with your challenges.’
‘Ivana provided me with some coaching and advice earlier this year, especially when I was thinking about a number of choices and options in my career and personal life. She was highly professional, methodical and approachable – and helped me bring real clarity to my thinking, giving me more confidence in what I needed to do. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Ivana’
‘As an Employment Support Officer on the Love London Working programme, I help those from vulnerable groups in their pursuit for work. Recently, Ivana provided some one-to-one CBT at the Lido Centre in Ealing, which proved very beneficial to those clients that she saw. Due to the feedback from my clients and the professional and empathetic manner in which Ivana approached her work, I’m planning further support sessions for my clients with Ivana, to increase their chances of securing sustainable employment.’
‘Ivana is a true professional within the coaching and counselling industry. We have worked with her now for around 3 years and she has provided relationship and dating advice to a huge number of our clients in that time. The feedback from whom has always been very positive. We are proud to have Ivana as part of Dating Options Ltd.’