How does hypnotherapy work for trauma and PTSD?
When I first began working as a hypnotherapist over a decade ago, I was blown away by the transformative power of hypnotherapy in overcoming trauma and PTSD. People who had been struggling with trauma and PTSD (often not realised it was PTSD) were walking out of my sessions feeling like they had left the past in the past. Feeling lighter, calmer and free. The memories of situations which had created PTSD seemed like they had happened a long time ago and while their brain could still see the memory, those memories no longer held any emotional charge to them. If you’re looking for help to overcome trauma and PTSD then read on!
The Mind-Body Connection: Unleashing the Inner Healing Potential
As we delve into the world of hypnotherapy, it is essential to understand the profound connection between our mind and body. Deep within us lies a reservoir of untapped healing potential, waiting to be harnessed. Through the power of focused intention and guided suggestions, hypnotherapy provides a gateway to access this transformative force.
What’s more, this mind-body connection is not a mere abstract concept. It has been scientifically proven that our thoughts and emotions have a direct impact on our physical health, something which I explain to my clients so that they can understand why their physical health is suffering if they have been living with PTSD for some time. Everything from skin conditions, and gut function to the immune immune system function is impacted because the body has been living in survival mode. Events that may have happened over a decade ago compromise physical health because the mind and body are still on high alert. When these emotionally charged memories of events are processed using hypnotherapy through the brain in the hippocampus, a signal is sent to the body to climb off emergency alert and healing can begin. Clients who have skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis have been amazed at how the skin begins to repair after trauma is processed.
Understanding Trauma: A Mind-Body Perspective
Trauma affects our mind and body in complex ways, leaving deep-rooted imprints on both aspects of ourselves. Our brain plays an integral role in processing traumatic experiences by activating the fight or flight response – causing heightened levels of stress hormones and triggering a cascade of physical and emotional reactions. These reactions can manifest as nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, anxiety, and a variety of other symptoms that profoundly impact our well-being.
Traditional therapies often focus solely on addressing the cognitive aspects of trauma, neglecting the vital role that the body plays in the healing process. This is where hypnotherapy offers a unique approach. By working directly with the mind-body connection, hypnotherapy allows individuals to access their subconscious mind – the realm where traumatic memories are stored.
By accessing this realm through hypnosis, clients can safely process their experiences, emotions, and beliefs that are connected to their trauma. This can help them gain a deeper understanding of the root causes of their distress and provide an incredible opportunity for healing.
During a hypnotherapy session, I guide my clients into a relaxed state of focused attention, allowing them to bypass the conscious mind and access the subconscious. This state of heightened suggestibility provides a powerful platform for change, as clients become more open to positive suggestions and can reframe negative thought patterns associated with their trauma.
Through various techniques such as visualization, and guided imagery, hypnotherapy facilitates a deep sense of relaxation and safety, creating an environment conducive to healing. By engaging the subconscious mind, I help individuals explore their trauma without feeling overwhelmed or re-traumatised. Clients are often surprised to discover they have been in a deep trance for over 40 minutes when it only seems to then like 5 minutes!
One technique commonly used in hypnotherapy is called the rewind technique. This involves guiding the individual back to the time of the traumatic event, allowing them to revisit and reinterpret their experiences from a new perspective. Through this process, individuals can release trapped emotions, challenge negative beliefs, and ultimately rewire their neural pathways to promote healing and resilience.
Another powerful aspect of hypnotherapy is its ability to help individuals establish new empowering beliefs and perspectives. By accessing the subconscious mind, I can help individuals identify and challenge any limiting beliefs that may be holding them back from healing. Through positive suggestions and affirmations, I can assist in replacing these negative beliefs with more supportive and empowering ones.
In addition to addressing the emotional aspects of trauma, hypnotherapy also allows individuals to tap into their physical sensations and experiences. I guide clients to notice any tension or discomfort in their bodies that may be connected to their traumatic memories. By bringing awareness to these physical sensations, clients can release the stored energy and promote a sense of physical well-being and relaxation.
Hypnotherapy can also aid in overcoming anxiety and stress, which often accompany trauma. By inducing a state of deep relaxation, I help clients access their inner resources and develop coping strategies to manage these overwhelming emotions. Through visualization and guided imagery, individuals can create a sense of calm and safety within themselves, allowing for healing to take place.
Furthermore, hypnotherapy can assist in the reintegration of fragmented memories that may have been suppressed or forgotten due to trauma. By accessing the subconscious mind, I help clients retrieve these memories in a gentle and supportive manner. This process allows individuals to gain a better understanding of their past experiences and make meaning out of them, ultimately promoting healing and growth. A client comes out of a trance and remembers these positive fragmented memories which gives them a bigger perspective of other things which were happening the day of the event or period.
Understanding Trauma: The Root Cause of Our Struggles
Traumatic experiences can leave deep scars in our psyche that manifest as anxiety, depression, phobias or other negative patterns in behaviour. These events are often rooted in moments of intense fear or helplessness, disrupting our sense of safety and well-being. Understanding trauma is essential for healing and moving forward from these struggles.
Trauma can take many forms, from childhood abuse to car accidents to being shouted at by a teacher in school to dealing with a narcissistic husband. It’s important to recognise that trauma is not solely defined by the event itself but also by the individual’s experience and perception of it. What may be traumatic for one person may not be for another.
Laura had struggled with anxiety for many years until a brief call with Sara, where she identified that Laura had PTSD.
The impact of trauma on our lives can be far-reaching. It affects our thoughts, emotions, behaviours, and even our physical well-being. Many individuals who have experienced trauma may struggle with symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, hyperarousal, and hypervigilance. These symptoms can disrupt daily functioning and hinder one’s ability to feel safe and secure in the world.
When we experience a traumatic event, our bodies go into a fight-or-flight response. This is an automatic survival mechanism that prepares us to respond to danger by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels (a stress hormone). This helps us either confront the threat or flee from it.
In moments of intense fear or helplessness, our brains may also release endorphins and other chemicals that numb pain and induce feelings of detachment. These biological responses are adaptive in the short term, allowing us to cope with the immediate danger. However, if they persist over time, they can contribute to the development of trauma and its associated symptoms.
The scars left by trauma are not always visible to the naked eye, but their impact on our daily lives is undeniable. They can shape our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us, leading to negative patterns of thinking and behaviour. For example, someone who has experienced a car accident may develop a fear of driving or avoid certain situations that remind them of the traumatic event.
Understanding trauma is crucial for healing and moving forward. It is important to recognise that trauma affects individuals differently, and it’s the reason I’ve developed my own unique and holistic approach to healing trauma.
Clients like Laura often comment on how things make sense after I’ve explained the science of the mind and body and how trauma is created. There is often an instant sense of relief and the realisation that what is happening isn’t personal.
As a result, shame is replaced with understanding, acceptance and compassion.
Having worked with hundreds of clients I believe that trauma can be processed effectively and gently with hypnotherapy without the need to unpack it or rake over the past. Indeed, talking about trauma can re-traumatise people, which is why talking therapies such as counselling for trauma don’t have the same impact that hypnotherapy for trauma and PTSD does.
Hypnotherapy provides a safe space for individuals to access their subconscious mind bypassing the conscious mind’s defences, it allows for a deeper understanding of one’s experiences without retraumatising or overwhelming them.
When I first came to Sara I didn’t know how to manage any of the anxiety or depression I had been feeling for nearly 10 years, after getting nowhere with doctors and counsellors I felt very alone. I instantly felt at ease with her and knew I was in capable, kind hands. Not only has Sara given me the tools to deal with times of stress or difficulty, I have noticed a big shift in my thinking and how I react to situations. She has helped me let go of negative patterns I never even knew I was following. Sara has also taught me how our body and mind are intricately linked and how to have a better awareness of looking after myself particularly in times of difficulty. Sara has helped me make changes that I so desperately needed and I cannot recommend or praise her enough.
Furthermore, hypnotherapy allows for a quicker resolution of trauma as it works directly with the subconscious mind where beliefs and behaviours are rooted. This can lead to faster healing and a stronger sense of self-awareness.
Hypnotherapy offers a unique approach to healing from trauma and PTSD that is gentle yet effective. Through guidance and expertise, clients can gain insight into their experiences while also regaining control over their lives.
If you would like to understand how hypnotherapy can help you overcome trauma and PTSD, get in touch to schedule a free consultation.
Sara Maude is an Edinburgh Hypnotherapist, Solution-Focused Psychotherapist, EFT Practitioner, Transformational Coach and International Wellbeing Trainer providing in-person and online sessions. Sara provides problem-free therapy which goes deep into the heart of the unconscious mind to create powerful lasting change.