How I got into clinical hypnotherapy and started a business from my passion for pets

Mary Burgess is a clinical hypnotherapist and runs the Animal Star Awards. She shares how she got into these two fields and why you should always follow your passions.

Mary Burgess on hypnotherapy

A hypnotherapist of nearly 22 years, Mary Burgess runs her own clinical hypnotherapy practice helping people overcome fears, addictions and other issues. She also runs the Animal Star Awards, an event celebrating pets, and has launched a new online digital publication Animal Star Magazine.

Here, she shares why and how she got into hypnotherapy, plus why following her passion for pets has led her to become a ‘petpreneur’.

How I found hypnotherapy

“I became a hypnotherapist after having severe panic attacks and anxiety from about the age of 14,” Mary said. “I had a difficult childhood. But I did not want to take any pharmaceutical interventions. I went to my doctor and she eventually referred me to a hypnotherapist.”

Mary was 32 when she discovered hypnotherapy, and in 1999 she went to Kings College to study it. Later, in 2010, she went to St Mary’s College in Twickenham to take the UK’s first degree course in hypnotherapy.


She is a clinical hypnotherapist, governed by a professional body, and treats people for a variety of issues including weight loss, depression, anxiety, insomnia, a fear of heights or planes, and more.

How hypnotherapy can help

“Hypnotherapy is an altered state of consciousness,” Mary explained. “It is a not state of unconsciousness, it’s a state of altered consciousness,  the client is neither asleep nor awake.

“I love it. It was life-changing for me as I no longer suffered anxiety and panic disorder. I do anything and everything I want now but before my life was quite limited.

“I worked in sales but I was never able to hold a job down and I was always really stressed. I started working on a psychiatric unit. That’s when I started to realise we are more in control of our emotions than we realise.

“I went for hypnotherapy and the things the hypnotherapist said resonated with me. I found a course at Kings College, London and it was life-changing. I also started doing self-hypnosis and the change in how I felt was huge.

“I say to people you’re still in control whatever you feel, anxiety or any physiological symptoms, you can control it. I have always had a fear of heights but it was mind over matter. Now I’ve danced on the glass floor at the Spinnaker Tower!”

If you want to be a clinical hypnotherapist…

“You need to find a registered training facility that will give you a recognised qualification,” Mary said. “Not an online course that takes a week – it takes years.

“It’s not just hypnotherapy, it is counselling, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) plus much more. If people are presenting with a mental illness you need to be really careful.

“It’s for anybody who can listen, anybody who can be calm. Sometimes people come to you really distressed so you need to be calm and collected and not show your emotions.

“You can’t be a hypnotherapist or a counsellor without life experience.”

A passion for pets

And speaking of life experience, it wasn’t until recently that Mary pursued another of her passions in business.

“I’ve always loved animals, particularly dogs,” Mary said. “I saw an animal awards in a newspaper and it was very celebrity-focused and not so much about the animals.

“I have been running events as a hobby for 20 years, so I thought if I don’t do this now I’m never going to do it.”

The event launched in 2016 and has proved a success – celebrating animals and those who work with them in a UK-wide awards.

Awards night 2019, Mary Burgess with Will Travers, Bornfree Foundation

The Animal Star Awards gives recognition to animals and humans alike for the extraordinary things they do for one another.

“It’s been really well received,” Mary said. “And I’m also launching Animal Star Magazine on January 1, a monthly online digital magazine.”

You don’t have to pick one career

Mary proves you don’t have to pick only one career – you can follow several passions.

And she adds: “There is a link – I also do hypnotherapy for dogs Hypno4Dogs. I help dogs to relax using hypnotherapy, it helps them to remain calm when they have separation anxiety. I also have qualifications in animal behaviour.”

On her piece of advice for her younger self, Mary said: “I would say just follow your heart and believe that you can do anything you want to. I had a very difficult upbringing and I had a chip on my shoulder. It was not until I reached 40 that I realised I could change it. Nothing is a problem, it is a challenge to be overcome.”


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