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Thrive Programme Testimonial for James

“I consulted James, in Cambridge to get some help overcoming anxiety and IBS. My IBS first occurred when I was around 15 years old. I had a constant feeling of nausea, as if I was about to vomit but then the feeling would go away, only to come back 15-20 minutes later. When these episodes were particularly bad, I sometimes wanted to make myself vomit in the hope the feeling would go away. Every time I entered a room I would always look for a bin or a safe area where I could vomit. When my GP first told me I had IBS he suggested it was likely due to a poor diet and even offered me some pills to control the symptoms. None of these pills had any real effect on me and my IBS continued unchanged. I admit I did not take my IBS seriously and certainly didn’t consider that I had an anxiety disorder. After some disappointing GCSE results I went to sixth form college, my IBS only got worse, yet I stupidly did nothing about it, thinking that it would eventually go away. Sitting my A-levels was a real challenge for me and this was when I started to believe there was a correlation between my stress levels and my IBS. At University my IBS got even worse and I developed other symptoms such as headaches and diarrhoea. My anxiety also got worse. At times I felt no one actually liked me, that I had become a people pleaser just so I could make friends. I had panic attacks and started to believe that I didn’t belong at university and that I was not capable of getting a degree. I eventually got my act together and went to the university health service and they referred me to the university counselling service. The fact I was recommended counselling had an adverse effect on me. It solidified my belief that something was wrong with me and that maybe I should drop out of university so the problem could be fixed. When I went to the counsellor and she recommended anti-depressants, I truly slumped, my stress and IBS got worse, and I took countless days off because I could not handle going into university. I made excuses not to go out with my mates, or even to the shops to get food. I fell behind on my work which did nothing but reinforce the negative beliefs I had about myself; that I was worthless. It became a self-defeating cycle. My IBS got worse – I didn’t want go into the university building – I stressed a great deal about falling behind on work which made my IBS worse. To say that the university didn’t help would be wrong though. The university counselling service were fantastic and my counsellor did help me, if I hadn’t gone to them, I certainly wouldn’t have sought out the Thrive programme. They genuinely wanted to help me, it was my own beliefs and mental state that caused the counselling to have an adverse effect. My stress and anxiety affected my life with my family. Due to my social anxiety I always had a slight feeling that my family were in a way, fed up with me, and they wanted to go back to university to get rid of me. That was obviously not the case and in fact, it was my Dad who told me about the Thrive Programme after a family friend had benefitted from it. I felt that there was no harm in trying but was slightly sceptical. I had this problem since I was 15 (I was 19 when I when I started the Thrive Programme), I felt my IBS/anxiety would be with me for life and that it would just be another form of counselling. This could not be further from the truth. After the first few sessions I had with James, my Thrive Programme consultant, plus going through the book, I felt an improvement, social interactions now became a lot more bearable and in some instances, my IBS had no impact at all when previously it would have. I started to recognise how distorted my thinking was and discovered new ways in which to counter my IBS and anxiety. My anxiety and IBS is now a lot more manageable, more so than it has been for the past four years and the Thrive Programme is the major contributor to this. Granted, since finishing Thrive, I have yet to encounter a stress inducing event such as an exam; but I already feel that I am capable of tackling such an event when it inevitably arises. I am incredibly grateful to James and the Thrive programme as it has completely changed the way I live my life. The past four years of my life have been tough in places due to my IBS and my social anxiety, I wish I had contacted Thrive sooner.”

Charlie (Cambridge)


Testimonial for James from Philippa

“I recently undertook the Thrive course with James. I had been introduced to the programme by a friend who had also done the course and after hearing about it from him, I was intrigued to know more. I have suffered with anxiety since my late teens (so for over 15 years), health anxiety in particular and general low self esteem. I had done various therapies, some of which had helped but I always came back to the same neuroses and ended up thinking that it was ‘just me’, that it was my personality and that I couldn’t change that. I initially met James over Skype to discuss what had brought me to him. He told me that he had helped lots of people with the same kind of issues and we went from there. I can honestly say that I have never felt as strong as I do since completing the course. It takes work and commitment but if you have suffered with anxiety, you would probably do anything for it not to have a hold over you. There has been the occasional wobble, but James was on hand to support and guide me through, and there is nothing like being tested to prove to yourself how far you have come. James is caring, professional and kind. He made me believe in myself again and understand why I was creating the anxiety. In the past I had assumed that I was a victim of anxiety – now I understand and believe that I have the power to control it. Everyone could benefit from Thrive, as it really does make you want to live life to the full.”

P.S. Cheshire

Thrive Programme Testimonial for James

“Hi, my name is Nicola and up until 6 weeks ago I truly believed my life would always be ruled by Emetophobia, to the point where 3 months ago I felt I would be better off not being here at all. I had stopped eating, sleeping and caring properly for my children, all because of my severe fear of vomit.
In the past I had tried several ‘cures’ including Hypnosis, CBT and counselling, none of which improved my situation. I found my GP and even Mental Health professionals to be almost completely unaware of Emetophobia and certainly not equipped to help.
When I was at my lowest point my husband found James Woodworth a Thrive consultant, from Cambridge, online and fortunately he agreed to work with me. When I first spoke to him I was struggling to hold a conversation but by the end of the call I had hope!
I worked through the Thrive Manual (and you really do have to work at it not just read it) and started my sessions with James. I quickly learned that the Thrive Programme is a unique method of changing the way you think and what you believe and that my Emetophobia came from having an External Locus of Control (you will come to understand why this is critical), Low Self-Esteem and High Social Anxiety, coupled with a strong Desire for Control. By changing those limiting beliefs and adopting more helpful thinking styles I have completely changed the way I view myself and those feared situations.
After 6 sessions with James I am happy, confident and no longer spend my days checking, planning and creating anxiety about whether me or my kids will be sick, I know I now have the skills to cope with sickness (and the proof is, I dealt with my son being sick this morning, calmly and without anxiety – yes I really did!).
Work hard and put in the effort and The Thrive Programme will change your life, I am still learning to Thrive and am feeling better every day, knowing I am making the life I want for myself. So a huge thank you to James Woodworth and Rob Kelly.”

N.D. (Great Yarmouth)

How I overcame Emetophobia with the Thrive Programme

“Hi, my name is Minnie and I came to see James Woodworth in Cambridge about 6 weeks ago having suffered from emetophobia for as long as I can remember. I am 19 years old and started to realize that my fear was affecting my life much more than it should. James has taught me a great deal; firstly, that a lot of my fear has little to do with the fear of being sick itself but more to do with the way I thought and felt about being sick.

I am not a good reader so I found the thrive book way to long and overwhelming to read on my own but James helped me to break it down into bite size pieces. He transferred the lessons into practical ideas with images, which completely suits the way I like to learn.

At the beginning of the 6 sessions James did some quizzes with me that identified that I had very low self esteem, high social anxiety, an external locus of control and a very high desire for control. In basic terms I needed to control many aspects of my life but I didn’t believe I could – this left me feeling very anxious. James predicted that after the 6 weeks this profile of mine would have flipped, I was unsure if that was doable. As the sessions I went on I realized the only way it was going to happen was if I believed it could happen and if I took the steps needed to prove to myself I could change things. On week 5 James re-quizzed me and the results were a real surprise – now my self-esteem is so much higher, I have barely no social anxiety, I’m really internal now and have no real desire for control. In short James and the thrive programme have helped me view myself in a much more positive light – I now take a lot more time to think about what I am grateful for rather than worrying all the time. I feel I have always been a pretty happy person but now I carry a lot less worry and realize the only way to succeed in life is to imagine yourself succeeding.

I would really recommend the programme to anyone who is letting worry control them because it is not the way it should be!”

M.F. (Saffron Walden)


Testimonial (emetophobia)

“I have recently completed six weeks of the Thrive Programme with James Woodworth in Cambridge.
I contacted James desperate to overcome my emetophobia, which was ruling my life as well as affecting the lives of those around me. I spent much of my time worrying about germs and contamination and performing safety-seeking behaviours such as excessive hand-washing and cleaning. I often avoided ‘threatening’ situations such as eating out in restaurants, where I could not be sure whether food had been prepared hygienically. I sought frequent reassurance from my parents, and even asked my family to adopt the same excessively hygienic behaviour that I displayed. I blew mildly stressful situations out of proportion, catastrophising and creating high levels of anxiety. Emetophobia had a very limiting impact on my life.
Working through the Thrive Programme with James has taught me that my unhelpful belief systems and thinking styles were contributing to my anxiety. By adapting my thinking styles, improving my confidence and changing my attitude towards control, I have developed a much more positive outlook on life. In the three weeks since completing the Thrive programme, I have spent little time worrying about contamination. I found myself not only coping with, but actually enjoying previously stressful situations such as meals out in restaurants. I experienced a few days of illness shortly after completing my sessions with James, and was amazed at how calm I felt and how easily I coped. I am now confidently working towards being happy, relaxed, and Thriving!
My sessions with James were thoroughly enjoyable. James is friendly, patient and understanding, and I felt I could fully trust him when discussing how I felt. When I experienced blips, James was hugely supportive and helped me to maintain the belief that I have the skills to overcome my anxiety. I would thoroughly recommend James and the Thrive Programme to anyone wanting to overcome emetophobia. Thank you so much, James, for the profound impact you have made on my life!

R.M. (Hampshire)

“I found James very helpful during the six weeks that I have seen him. I really enjoyed the weekly sessions, and would look forward each week to telling James my progress each week. Before I saw James, a large proportion of my day would be spent worrying about being sick and often feeling nauseous. Panic attacks were maybe not as frequent as other sufferers, however it was still having a significant impact on my life.  After completing the thrive programme, phobia is now much better. I am now 6 months down the line, and my avoidance has now gone to zero. I now don’t do anything out of the ordinary to avoid being sick, and the daily ‘rituals’ experienced by many sufferers have completely gone. Along with this, my social anxiety has decreased, my self-esteem has increased and I have a reduced desire for control. I would recommend James to anyone, his kind and gentle nature quickly makes you feel at ease. His sessions are very enjoyable and full of funny and interesting stories. I have left James feeling much better as a person and have to thank him for this. I cope with negative thoughts and feelings much better and have learnt to focus on the other things in life.”

C.C. (Cambridge)


“It was not until January 2014 did I know that an anxiety disorder like emetophobia even existed. That was the first time when my daughter Nisha, who had just turned 15, had a severe bout of vomiting and, though she got better in a couple of days, she was not the same girl that I knew, anymore. The next 6-8 months was the worst with series of panic attacks, anxiety about food. A young and lively girl suddenly behaving weird is very hard on her parents. Blood tests conducted showed no deficiencies. Was it teenage angst or some other anxieties?  We also had a big move ahead of us in April, from India to Mexico, as my husband was posted to Mexico for 4 years.  Nisha was a budding junior tennis player from India and was looking forward to move to Mexico. We just wanted to see her happy again.

So, sitting back and reflecting on her childhood, my husband and I realized that even as a young kid she avoided many foods, was obsessive about checking expiry dates on products, even told us when someone was sick at school she did not feel good and many other incidents were clear signs of phobia for vomiting.

Thanks to technology, a google search on phobia for vomiting showed up this word emetophobia. Many self-help websites, forums on emetophobia, You Tube videos of emetophobics, the search was endless.  I had to look for online help, as it would be hard to find a psychologist/ therapist speaking good English in Mexico.

From August 2014, once we had settled here in Mexico, from a self-help website, I started with exposure therapy for Nisha. It helped a little but after a point, when we were doing actual videos and sounds she panicked a lot. I stopped right there as I am not trained to do all this. That is when I started a serious search for online help. It was very confusing, is this the right choice? would it help Nisha? And one day, by chance, I hit upon this you tube video of Rob Kelly. It is a long 70 minutes video, I watched the video a couple of times till I was convinced that this is what will help Nisha. Though Thrive too is a self- help program, considering Nisha’s age, I decided to do the program with a Thrive consultant. Rob connected me to James Woodworth. James had a session or two with Nisha before we started the actual program. It was hard to believe that simple things like self-esteem, social anxiety and external locus of control are the causes behind many anxiety disorders, especially emetophobia.

James has been very patient, understanding and accommodative during the six skype sessions with Nisha, which we started in January 2015. Now in June, I see a transformed, Thriving & ever Thriving Nisha. Also with a lot of support from her brother and dad, she is a lot more comfortable eating out in restaurants, panic attacks are rare to never. We never talk of her symptoms, as the underlying factors of the phobia were something different. My special thanks to James to help us understand her phobia and help Nisha Thrive in all aspects of life.”

V.S. (Mexico)


“Hi James, Just an update on Nisha.  Nisha finished her online school in time, to join the high school here. ( A huge sigh of relief for all of us) She is on the university tennis team too.

Last week, she traveled with the university team to participate in a tournament and stayed away from home for about a week. She did pretty well with regards to eating out and not feeling any anxiety. Its the first time in 2 years that she has eaten out for a whole week.We are proud of her.  Thanks James.”

V.S. (Mexico)


“My daughter Jessica has recently completed the Thrive program with James to help her overcome her emetophobia.

I first contacted James when my daughter had been admitted to an eating disorders clinic due to her low body weight.  Her phobias, which centered around a fear of becoming ill had led to her restricting the amount and variety of food which she was happy to consume.  She would not share food with others, would not eat food when unable to wash her hands, would microwave everything she ate even if it was hot already. She would not drink water from a filter jug.  Eating large amounts of food made her feel that she would be sick so over a period of time she restricted her portion sizes.

She received very little therapy whilst in the clinic, and this did not appear to help her overcome any of her phobias.  The treatment in the clinic consisted of making Jessica eat large amounts of food, which caused her distress as it would make her gag and feel sick. Her anxiety levels soared.  I contacted James to try and find a solution to her ongoing misery.

When we met with James when Jessica was on home leave, she was very nervous and wary of therapists due to her ongoing ordeal in the clinic.  He told us that many emetophobia sufferers go undiagnosed for years and are often misdiagnosed with ‘Anorexia nervosa’.

Thankfully Jessica was discharged a few weeks later and was able to start the 6 week Thrive program.  Jessica learnt how her feeling of lack of control over her life had led to her trying to control what she ate and factors in her environment.  She felt empowered by the program to let go of the phobias that had led to her weight loss.  Her self-esteem scores improved dramatically and her social anxiety lessened.  All the phobias I mentioned above have now gone and Jessica has been able to maintain her weight independently in the normal range.  More importantly Jessica is much more content with her life, feeling more in control and confident that she has the skills to deal with the ups and downs of everyday life.

I would definitely recommend the Thrive program to emotophobia sufferers, or for anxiety in general.  I have attended most of Jessica’s therapy sessions and feel that I have gained a more positive outlook on life. I cope with negative thoughts much more effectively and have learnt to focus more on what I want to achieve in life rather than dwelling on reasons why not to attempt something!”

S.B. (Duxford)


“I visited James with my mum several weeks after being admitted to hospital for my low bodyweight. Having suffered from emetophobia since the age of 9, my fear had affected the quantity and types of food I would eat, and this avoidance of food had led me to become physically unwell. I lacked in confidence in social situations, particularly with parties and gatherings with friends. I was very wary of food that others had prepared, because I couldn’t be sure if it was hygienic. The safety seeking behaviours I had developed caused more problems as I was constantly worrying what others thought of me.

James taught me that my unhelpful thinking styles were causing me to have a negative outlook on problems, and that I have the power to change the way I process thoughts for the better. By changing the way I thought in certain situations, I was able to control my anxiety and focus on other aspects of life. In six weeks, I overcame my fear of being sick, and have become a more confident person. It’s amazing to think that before, worries about hygiene and bacteria took up about 90% of my day, and now I rarely worry about being sick.”

J.B. (Duxford)