St. George’s Cross has been the point where different parts of the city meet for generations, the junction where Maryhill Road connects with Great Western Road and where the West End joins the rest of town. As the M8 was carved through Glasgow, many of the buildings in this area were cleared in the name of progress.
The motorway created an obvious disconnect between this small corner of the city and other more popular streets nearby. This has been tempered in recent years as more businesses opened and more residential properties became available.
A stroll around the area reveals there are still many charming buildings here. One is the home to The Harvest Clinic, a long established practice offering hypnotherapy, counselling and other treatments.
Glasgowist visited for a chat with founding director Angela Trainer, who leads the practitioners here alongside consultant hypnotherapist Graham Watts.
Can you tell me a little about the history of the building?
It’s a Victorian listed building and it was a Ministry of Health building during the war years. It’s a nice coincidence for us that there’s that history of health care. It later became a bank, which has absolutely no bearing whatsoever. [Laughs]
So what do you have to do to change a bank to a place of healing?
We were very limited because it was a listed building. We couldn’t change the external features. The two original marble fireplaces were renovated and then we had to source a specialist in mosaic flooring. We uncovered this tiled floor that is absolutely stunning but these types of craftsmen aren’t really ten-a-penny these days so we had to look far and wide to find someone that knew what they were doing.
There was a hole in the mosaic tiling that had been covered over with carpets and we were able to restore that. We kept all the original cornicings. The ceilings are 25 foot high – massively tall ceilings. We created two rooms out of one big room and we were able to retain the original mahogany panelling.
It was laborious and expensive but we were able to keep that original feel so when you go into the building you do know you are going into a Victorian building. When we refurbished this year, we managed to combine a modern and tasteful feel, but still in keeping with the original features. We’ve been there 22 years and we’d never paint over that beautiful woodwork or tamper with anything.
You’re left with a very calm and comfortable space. What kind of things do you think help establish that feeling?
I think the people and what they do. I think there are places that lend themselves to grace. The people who work there are all very peaceful, highly professional people working in the healing business in various different roles. Most of the people there practice meditation or reiki, they are all very conscious of space clearance, keeping the energy of the clinic very clear, very free. We use a lot of aroma therapy oils. There’s a lot of love present in this clinic, whether it is mind healing, body practitioners, accupuncture or nutritionist.
The practice managers practice reiki every morning in the clinic and I am absolutely sure that lends itself to a nice clear atmosphere. When people walk in the front door they often say “there is a nice feel to this place”. We describe it as a sanctuary and that’s exactly what we wanted to create.
We’ve now got these wonderful big photographs of Iona which I took, that’s my spiritual home and I’m sure that goes some way to create that wonderful peaceful feel. You couldn’t find a more peaceful place in the world than the island of Iona and those are the colours that we have used in the palette for the clinic, although we did that quite unconsciously.
How would you define hypnotherapy, for the uninitiated or the curious?
It’s a normal, natural state. Everyone goes through it every day. It’s just like that feeling first thing in the morning when you can’t be bothered, you are tucked up in bed and you are having a wee debate with yourself about whether to get up or you are pretending to be asleep.
You can hear everything that’s going on, you are aware of everything and you could get up at any time. It’s that in-between state, that’s the state of hypnosis. In that state your mind is much more receptive to suggestion but it will only accept the suggestions that are right for you.
Hypnotherapy is about helping people access that nice, relaxed state that you are completely familiar with, then the skill of the hypnotherapist is about tailoring the right suggestion for that client. Bespoke therapy with none of these scripts that people can download from the internet after a week’s training.
All our therapists are trained to degree level and their skill is in tailoring suggestions to exactly fit the desired changes – whatever the changes are. Some are the things that a lot of people know about like smoking and weight and phobias. Some are things that people are not always aware of like depression, addiction, relationships, stress, anxiety and clinical conditions like IBS, insomnia, tension headache and even infertility.
You were one of the first hypnotherapists in Glasgow, how do you think the perception of that type of treatment has changed.
It’s changed completely. I was the first female hypnotherapist in Glasgow. There was only one other hypnotherapist and he was an older man. My own GP laughed it off when I told him what I was doing at first and said the public will never take this on. However, he ended up referring his son and his best friend later on and he did anatomy lectures on some of the training courses that we do. So that was a nice turnaround within a few years.
I think the media and the press have gone a long way and the people who have written books for the public about hypnotherapy has educated people about what it can be used for. When I started out people didn’t have a clue what it was about. You certainly hardly saw a man come in for anything and I would say now its completely 50/50 male female split in our clients. We see children, we see all ages and we see people from other cultures.
We’re in a very multi-cultural area at St George’s Cross and we have a wonderful mix of people from all different backgrounds.
I suppose since you have been there for 22 years you will have seen some changes.
There’s a lot more residential housing now and it’s a higher quality. There’s a lot of landmark architectural features in this area. I think we’ve got some of the most beautiful architecture in Glasgow around Charing Cross and St George’s Cross.
The two corner mansion buildings are gems and the city bus tour goes by the end of our street. There’s far more interesting shops and we feel more joined up with the end of Great Western Road and the end of Maryhill Road. That West End vibe has just grown and spread.
When we moved in here at first it was a fairly down-at-its-heel area, a lot of empty shops. It was thought of as quite risky moving in here at that time. The area has just blossomed and I’d like to think we’ve played a part in that.
What do you like best about working in Glasgow? Presumably with your training there would have been opportunities to set up business just about anywhere?
The people. The openness, the honest and the sense of humour. Working with people in Glasgow there’s a tremendous willingness to tell it like it is. My job’s kind of half finished before people sit in the chair because generally people are quite open. Working alongside people too, Glaswegians are great for pitching in if you need a hand with anything. The people that work with us are very supportive.
I think we have everything now, you look at other cities when you are on holiday and you think “we’ve got most of this at home, what am I doing here?” we just maybe don’t have it with the 30 degree heat [laughs].
And there have been opportunities and it’s not that I don’t think about other cities in Scotland but I really do belong to Glasgow. I’m a Glasgow girl.
If someone is a bit interested in finding out more about the clinic but are maybe a bit nervous or whatever, then what would you say to them?
They can book in for a free 15 minute consultation. One of the practice managers will put them in the diary and sit with them, discuss anything they want to discuss and look at options. They can ask questions about different types of treatments. They can walk back out and never come back again if they want.
There’s a free reiki clinic on a Tuesday afternoon if people want to experience reiki then they can have up to three free treatments if they book that. Just call up and we can book that in the diary. That’s something that we do to encourage people to come in but, you know, people can just come in and have a look round and have a chat.
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The Harvest Clinic
201 St George’s Road
T: 0141 333 0878