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Case Studies

Hydro-ease – Healing the world one float at a time

Hydro-ease – Healing the world one float at a time

Posted on February 17, 2021

Vivian McKinnon – owner of Hydro-ease - has dedicated her life to helping those who have experienced trauma and addiction.

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From the early stages in her life, Vivian was exposed to substance misuse which resulted in her experiencing vulnerable situations due to familial mental-health issues. As a result, she ended up homeless and on the street with a one year old with only the clothes they had on for a period of time, and felt that she couldn’t speak to anyone about her past or present, ‘I felt that nobody wanted to hear my woes – my dad always told me “don’t tell anyone what’s happening behind closed doors because social services will become involved” and I just had this real shame and fear that if I did tell someone what was happening then they would reject me, and I didn’t want to be rejected’. After becoming severely unwell in 1999, Vivian took the initiative to finally speak to someone but quickly realised that counselling wasn’t going to help her, ‘the more I spoke to the councillor, she seemed like I was freaking her out and she always came back with “how did that make you feel”’. Vivian soon left counselling having felt it had not positively impacted her, and instead volunteered to raise money for charity by walking 100 miles to the Great Wall of China. She explained that this experience was daunting, to travel with 52 people she had never met whilst suffering from panic disorder. In the end, she raised £42600 and realised that challenging herself and her beliefs could truly change her life, ‘the word belief – the three words in the middle is ‘lie’ which I thought do you know what, what if everything I believe is a lie? What if I treat everything I believe as a lie? What if I challenge everything?’.

From there, Vivian continued to volunteer for numerous charities and began studying health and social care, before taking an interest in understanding group dynamics, counselling and Neuro-linguistic programming. Vivian later moved to Northern Ireland in 2010 and went on to train with huge names in her industry including Dr Richard Bandler, Dr Paul McKenna and Dr. Gabor Maté. Upon meeting those in her field, she was introduced to the ‘Havening’ technique which works with our natural brainwave states in order to remove the emotional component from a traumatic event. Today, Vivian uses a combination of all of the techniques she has studied in unison with floatation to support people whose lives have been impacted by trauma and addiction. 

Vivian is now subcontracted to projects funded by the Department for Health, ‘I’m the specialist support mechanism for these organisations. When people have been through the revolving door of therapy, when they’ve been through all these different things, yet they still don’t seem to be getting better’. Hydro-ease is the only place in Northern Ireland that offers floatation therapy for trauma recovery. ‘The business is mainly RAFT – Reconnection and Floatation Therapy, which is a one-to-one session followed by a float’. Vivian told us that her referrals had increased drastically as a result of the pandemic. ‘What happens is, when we experience trauma, we have an event that we give meaning to. If we perceive ourselves to be vulnerable in that moment, and we have a perceived sense of being trapped, we have the potential to store this experience or event as trauma. So, what’s happening now in terms of a global pandemic is that we are all having an event, we are all giving it meaning and the meaning is around fear’. She explained to us that people are experiencing trauma as a result of the loss of our basic ability to survive and connect, the loss of tribalism. ‘The real pandemic here is mental health, it’s fear’. 

Despite a two-week closure as a result of the pandemic, Vivian told us that the pandemic has presented her with opportunities instead of setbacks. ‘I’m really good at pivoting and going right there’s a challenge, where’s the opportunity within this challenge – there’s a lesson there, something to be learnt. With every challenge comes an opportunity, just look for the opportunity and it will be there’. Vivian explained how she felt the true effects of the pandemic are yet to be felt ‘I don’t even think we are at the peak. You have to remember we now have a generation of young people who have been nurtured in really stressful, anxious-based environments by parents who are essentially – by no fault of their own – turning their children in to germaphobes. They’re going to be scared of the day they’ve never seen and that’s going to really affect kids.’ Despite the increase in workload and resulting potential for growth, Vivian explained that her ultimate goal would be to have no referrals, ‘it would mean people are healed’.

Vivian later told us about how she has healed and copes with her own previous experiences, by taking regular breaks and time off work, floating once a week, drinking two litres of water every day, sleeping eight hours every night and being mindful of her inner world and how she speaks to herself. ‘If you cannot serve yourself, you can’t serve others.’ She continues to learn more about her industry and regularly takes to stages across the world sharing her message of healing and growth. She was name in the Top 100 UK Female Entrepreneurs List in 2019 and Northern Ireland’s Female Entrepreneur of the year 2019 in the UK Business awards.