Healing Trauma with Hypnotherapy
10 June 2022
Traumatic experiences create deep, seemingly irremovable emotional wounds. Emotional trauma can stay with us forever, haunting our thoughts, poisoning relationships, and crippling our sense of self-worth. Many people suffer from trauma. They include war veterans, the victims of long-term abuse, homeless people, victims of repeated assault, etc.
Hypnotherapy is an effective technique for healing trauma because it bypasses the conscious mind to address subconscious emotions and feelings directly - re-awakening blocked memories that have been suppressed by fear or anxiety so you can look at them in a new light.
What is Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy is a safe, non-invasive, and drug-free method of directed self-hypnosis. You can use it to change beliefs and thoughts positively, address the emotions that underlie physical ailments, and treat mental disorders such as phobias and PTSD. The therapist does not make direct suggestions about how you should feel during hypnotherapy but guides you through different phases of self-hypnosis. Often the aim is to recall past events from a different perspective so that you can come to terms with them, or it might be to imagine yourself in a situation where alternatives are available to see how things might have ended differently.
Healing Trauma with Hypnotherapy
Trauma is a word that describes a violent or frightening event that is often accompanied by a felt sense of danger and intense emotions. These events can lead to long-lasting problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The level of trauma can vary from an almost insignificant experience, such as an ordinary accident or making a mistake to profound experiences, such as rape, violent assault, war, etc. People living with PTSD are often found to have dissociative disorders, i.e., multiple personalities, which are thought to cause the individual great distress in daily life. There are essential elements in hypnotherapy that are useful for the treatment of trauma:
1. Deep trance
The patient needs to be put into a deep sleep to recall events that differ from their daily experience. In this state, the memory is not distorted or concocted, so it can be recognized for what it was. When patients describe an event, they often find that details are missing because they have been discarded from awareness by the phobia, which generates false memories. The goal of hypnotherapy is to create a clear picture of events that bring the patient closer to recovery and acceptance.
When patient recalls a traumatic event during the hypnotherapy session, they are often distressed. The therapist can use this to their advantage by helping them focus on other matters. Once the trauma reduces, there is a less emotional disturbance that one cannot tolerate so that one can reconsider it later in therapy. It can also be helpful for the therapist to suggest what has happened or what could have happened to help “trick” the sufferer into feeling more comfortable with recounting their experience from a third-person perspective.
3. Internal and external life coherence
How patient lives their life is essential in the treatment of trauma. If they cannot access their emotions and cannot start to heal their trauma, it will not be possible to move on. It is because real feelings must be expressed using actions unfettered by anxiety. The therapist must teach the patient to say “no” when required and make choices that reflect a new life that is more independent and less reliant on others for survival. The patient must concentrate on positive aspects of their life to replace negative thoughts about the traumatic event with a “positive vision” for future events.
4. Reducing anxiety and fear
The therapist must help the patient work through their anxiety and fear to respond to future problems more confidently. Even though it may be difficult for the patient to recall the traumatic event, it does not mean that they cannot overcome their phobia by dealing with it rationally. It is all about finding ways to deal with situations you once thought impossible. The therapist can create a new reality in which the patient has control over their own life, making the process of recovery easier to endure.
5. Building self-respect
It is essential that patients stop being ashamed of what happened to them during trauma and instead consider themselves as having become more resilient as a result. The patient must gain a new appreciation of themselves that is lacking in the present and then consider how they will be able to change their life. Although the patient wants to forget their traumatic experience, they must first come to terms with what has happened to move on in their recovery.
6. Confronting the past
A therapist can ease the patient into their past by asking them questions that help them recall details of events that have been erased from memory by anxiety and fear. The therapist might ask questions such as “What do you see?” and “What do you hear?” to try and establish a clear picture. The therapist might also suggest that they “go back to the beginning” of an event to understand how events unfolded. It can be beneficial if the patient wishes to talk about traumatic events they cannot remember.
7. Creating a new reality
A therapist will have suggested possible solutions for the patient’s phobia and anxiety, but they must be fully enacted. By this time, the patient will have discarded their negative thoughts about future consequences and is ready for any life circumstance. They will be able to face situations differently and create new realities in which they can show self-respect. Each time they enact their new reality, the patient is willing to confront their past and gain a new perspective.
8. Accepting reality
Accepting reality means the patient has given up treating themselves as if they could overcome their trauma by willpower. Instead, they can now apply the knowledge they have gained to other aspects of life, enabling them to re-establish positive qualities. They have become strong enough to face what it is because they have stopped being afraid of it. They can now make choices about how best to deal with things that can no longer be avoided by rational thinking or fleeing from situations that are unwanted for any reason.
Cognition is a certified Clinical Hypnotherapist in Horsham, West Sussex, an accredited Member of the British Association of Therapeutic Hypnotherapists and a Fellow at the Association of Accredited Counsellors, Coaches, Psychotherapists and Hypnotherapists.
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