A GROUND-breaking venture using hypnotherapy to tackle alcohol addiction in York has attracted the attention of drink and drug agencies around the UK.

Word has spread about how the hypnosis treatment at the York Alcohol Advice Service (YAAS) is helping problem drinkers beat the battle with the bottle.

Other organisations are now planning to visit and see how the unusual intervention works first-hand with a view to setting up their own project.

YAAS, a voluntary sector alcohol counselling organisation in Bootham, does not receive permanent funding for the hypnotherapy project despite its resounding success.

It started as a trial in April 2004 when advanced hypnotherapist Robert Williams offered YAAS a free three-month trial.

The results were so positive the Truemark Trust - which supports small organisations, particularly with innovatory work - provided funding.

It has since attracted funding from City of York Council and a woman who was an alcoholic for eight years but has been abstinent since taking part in the pilot.

About five hypnotherapy sessions are sufficient for most people - fewer than with other forms of therapy.

They offer an opportunity to address issues behind drinking and the emotional consequences.

Hypnosis is a state of relaxation with the client in contact with his subconscious mind - the seat of emotion and behavioural problems. The client remains in control and aware of what is happening.

The project has recently been featured in a national magazine which is delivered to drink and drug agencies across the UK.

Other alcohol teams have since been in contact including a group from Ipswich and Birmingham to arrange a visit to find out more about how the project was set up, how it is evaluated and which people are suitable.

"This is spreading the word by saying there is no one right way to help people deal with the issue of drink," said Mr Williams.

"Different things work for different people. This is about dealing with the root cause of why people are drinking. It is virtually always helping them deal with something like depression or if they are feeling panicky or lacking in confidence. We are having really good results. I have probably seen about 30 people since the project started."

"If we had more money we would be able to see more people. The demand is definitely there and we have hit on something here in York. It is ground breaking and the results are pretty amazing."

Mr Williams can be phoned at the Healing Clinic at Fulford Cross, York, on 01904 679868, or the Natural Health Centre, in Kirkbymoorside, on 01751 430335.