October 7

Hypnotherapy and Traumatic Memory

Traumatic Memory Resolution


Hypnotherapy often addresses traumatic memory.

Hypnosis gives access to the Subconscious level of Mind where all our feelings and memories are stored.  So hypnosis gives access to traumatic memory – sometimes when you least expect it.  For this reason, practitioner need to prepare themselves for client’s intense feelings coming to the surface unexpectedly.  Because they can.  And they will.

In this video trauma specialist, Babette Rothschild, author of The Body Remembers, shares some very useful strategies for helping clients who are feeling terror.

  1. The importance of dual awareness when working with trauma
  2. The tendency to misinterpret internal and external sensory input

There’s a short clip on the video of a client who moves through various states of hyper-arousal.  Pay attention to how the therapist uses breathing and movement to bring the client back into her body in the present moment.  This restores a sense of safety.  The therapist also asks, “Do you smell peppermint?”  (NLP calls this a pattern interrupt.)

Notice how the therapist uses dual awareness to restore balance.

She first acknowledges that the body feels scared.  She then brings the client into the here-and-now.  Notice how she uses auto-suggestion to separate the feeling from now.  We use a similar approach with tapping.  “Even though I have this perception/thought/feeling ….” acknowledges the truth of her internal experience.   Adding, “I’m okay/ I’m safe” is reminder her that the threat is gone.  I have used this many times in sessions with clients.  Phrases like, “I’m safe / It’s OVER / I made it through / I survived” restore safety and are very empowering for the client.

Many Hypnotherapists are incorporating EFT (tapping) into their hypnosis sessions to get deeper healing.  But even if you don’t use tapping, you can still use autosuggestion.  Statements like, “Even though my body feels scared / I’m okay ” are incredibly reassuring for a client who is feeling emotionally over-stimulated.  Try adding this.  “So I don’t have to feel scared for the rest of my life.”

Set up the expectation that, while the body is feeling scared NOW, it is soon to be a thing of the past.  Which is is.

Notice the guilt coming up.

Clients often feel guilty because they cannot control how they feel.  They know the fear is irrational.  They know the event is in the past.  But they can’t stop thinking about it.  And this keeps them stuck in the fear.  Guilt just adds to the anxiety.  So  I like to do to address by adding the EFT self-acceptance statement to the end.  “And I deeply and completely accept myself anyway” is a great way to wrap up a round of autosuggestion.

It’s kind of like saying, “So THERE!”

Notice the hand on the forehead technique.

Pay attention to how the therapist has the client put her hand on her forehead.  Self-holding exercises such as this help calm the nervous system of the body.  When you bang your shin or stub your toe what do you do?  You hold it, right?  That’s because the human nervous system of the body responds to touch.  And when the nervous system calms down you feel better.

This is one of the benefits of hands-on healing techniques like Reiki.  Tapping can be replaced with rubbing or simply touching the points.  Holding the forehead changes the client’s focus of attention.  She’s focusing on the body and paying attention to her breathing (instead of the intrusive thoughts that are generating anxiety.)  It’s also a non-verbal suggestion.  “I’m taking control of my thoughts.”

TAT is a self-healing technique that employs self-holding.  With TAT one hand is placed on the base of the skull while the other hand lightly holds the either side of the nose with the thumb and ring finger.  The index and middle finger rest gently between the eyebrows.  It’s amazingly soothing and quickly calms the nervous system.  You’ll find a description of the procedure here.

Try it out for yourself!  How might this information help you in your work with clients?

About the author 

Wendie Webber

With over thirty years of experience as a healing practitioner, Wendie brings a broad range of skills to her approach to regression to cause hypnosis. She combines a gentle, yet commanding way of presenting with a thorough, clear and systematic approach to helping healing practitioners to make sense of regression hypnotherapy.