Stuff Hypnotherapists Need to Know:  Effects of Stress and Trauma

Talk therapy is designed to help uncover a person’s belief system, gain insight, and iron out distorted thinking that leads to suffering.  But what neuroscience is discovering is that stressful and traumatic experiences and their symptoms are primarily housed in the areas of the mind that are:

  • Primitive
  • Non-conscious
  • Non-cognitive
  • Non-verbal

This is a part of the Mind-Body system that is common to all mammals.

Why is this important to hypnosis practitioners?

Most people think we are what we think.  But science is beginning to realize that much of what we are is a result of our programming.   And “stress and trauma are non-cognitive phenomenon.”  Stress and trauma cause the ANS to be activated.  When these experiences are left unresolved they result in anxiety, depression, and unwanted behaviors that cause people to see out the help of a qualified hypnotherapist.  So you really need to understand this stuff.

All of this happening below the level of consciousness.

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls things like:

  • Heart rate
  • Body temperature
  • Pupil dilation
  • Breathing
  • Oxygen in the blood
  • Digestion
  • Hormones

You don’t have to tell your mouth to salivate.  Or tell your stomach to start producing digestive juices when it’s time to eat.  Or tell your legs to start moving if you bump into a lion at the supermarket.  These are automatic process.  The ANS deeply influences body sensations, emotional states, and how you see and feel about yourself, others, the world and life in general.  These are core issues that clients bring with them into the offices of hypnotherapists.

It’s not that stress and trauma are bad.

Everybody has stress.  And everyone has trauma in their past, whether they realize it or not.  Stress and trauma symptoms are natural responses to the perception of threat.  They’re there for a very good reason – to ensure our survival.  The response may seem irrational to the conscious, thinking mind.  But once you uncover the event that caused those responses it makes perfect sense.

That’s the goal of regression-to-cause hypnotherapy.  It’s to locate the causal event and resolve the distress there, at it’s inception.  The problem is that trauma always involves a situation of threat (real or imagined).  The greater the perceived threat, the more intensity involved.  And when that event is not released, the feelings and responses get locked into the body, keeping the nervous system on red alert.

 We call this chronic stress.

Chronic stress is a state of anxiety.  This becomes problematic because situations that are, in any way, similar to the traumatic experience can serve as reminders.  They act as triggers to re-stimulate the automatic thought-feeling-action response.  And this can drive a person to distraction through:

  • Physical distractions like fidgeting or excessive exercise
  • Mental Distraction like watching TV, reading, social media
  • Substances like food, drugs, alcohol

These strategies offer short-term relief.

Distracting with behaviors, substances or physical symptoms give only temporary relief.  They do not resolve the underlying problem.  As a result, symptoms tend to escalate over time, leading to more serious issues such as:

  • Panic attacks
  • Rage-aholism
  • Obsessive thinking
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Insomnia
  • Mental fogginess/dissociation
  • Depression/hopelessness
  • Nausea

There’s more.  So watch the video.