Hypnotherapy for trauma
What is emotional and psychological trauma? Well, the Oxford Dictionary defines this type of trauma as, “A deeply distressing or disturbing experience.” But what does that actually mean? And who decides whether one event is traumatic over another? What scale is it measured on? And why is it that what one person finds distressing, another may deal with in their stride?
Well, the truth is, trauma is measured on our own personal scale. Every event that we come across in our lives, we meet from our own perspectives. We develop these personal perspectives over time and they are formed from a combination of our values and our lived experiences. This is partnered with the emotional intelligence that makes us aware of how we are feeling about a situation or event and can help us to manage the way we respond. Over time this helps us to establish resilience, which better equips us to cope with what life has to throw at us.
It is important that we process traumatic events as they occur. However, often we will respond to these events with an unhealthy coping mechanism. For example, we may turn to alcohol or substance abuse as a way of escaping our thoughts and feelings.
Dissociation can also be a way to escape from what is happening. Our mind takes us away to another place, possibly one that our imagination concocts. We become present in our physical body only whilst our mind wanders to somewhere else. Somewhere where these events are not happening and we can be safe.
If you are struggling to overcome a traumatic event, hypnotherapy may be the solution you have been looking for.
Or we may repress or suppress the trauma until a time when we can deal with it. Repression and suppression are very similar responses. The key difference is that repression is the involuntary act of our subconscious mind of burying how we feel to protect ourselves, whereas suppression is the voluntary act of doing this. For example, we may keep busy so that we actively avoid thinking about something.
These coping mechanisms aren’t in themselves an unhealthy act, as we might not be in a position to deal with the trauma at the time. If we take a soldier at war, they may postpone dealing with what they are going through until the point they are no longer in the environment that is triggering these feelings. This can be an effective way of coping, providing that when it is safe to do so, this trauma is revisited and worked through. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.
In fact, we can be so effective at burying our thoughts and feelings that sometimes our subconscious mind will block the memory of the event from our conscious thoughts entirely. So if we can’t even remember it, how can it be causing us harm? And surely, it would cause us unnecessary distress to open up old wounds, so to speak.
The problem is, while we may think that we have moved on and left it in the past, more often than not, this is not the case. We may find that we have flashbacks to those events or even panic attacks and anxiety. We may not even make the connection that this anxiety is the outcome of this past trauma that happened years earlier.
Trauma can actually be attributed to many conditions including hyperarousal, issues sleeping, low self-esteem, and addictions. It can also commonly be the cause of self-harm and suicidal thoughts. In extreme cases, people develop a condition known as PTSD or c-PTSD. This stands for post-traumatic stress disorder or complex PTSD. This mental health condition was first identified in war veterans and has been known by other names in the past including the term ‘shell shocked’.
Dealing with trauma
While the healthiest treatment for trauma is to work through the events and the associated feelings and emotions that are connected to it, this in itself can prove to be a traumatic experience and difficult to do on your own. Many people will turn to the support of talking therapies to help them. And often, specialist treatment will be offered to people following a traumatic event, such as victim support for those who have been affected by crime, or bereavement support for those who are suffering from grief. This can help you view the events through a fresh perspective, while the therapist ‘holds’ and supports you in this space to manage the feelings and emotions that are triggered from the discussions.
This can be an emotionally draining and exhausting experience, and often, people can feel worse before they feel better as they re-live the events. That is where hypnotherapy can provide an alternative solution. It still requires you as the client to engage in the process by working through the trauma. But instead, it does this by working with your subconscious mind in a protective approach.
Hypnotherapy for PTSD and trauma
The key to this type of hypnotherapy session is providing the client with a safe place that they can return to in their mind. Time can be spent creating what this looks like so that you really feel connected to it. This may be somewhere you know that you feel safe in, such as imaging your home. Or it may be an imaginary world that you can summon up whenever the session becomes overwhelming or scary.
This enables you to set the pace. Your mind will only access information that it can deal with safely at that time. And whenever you feel you are reaching your limit, you can move back to the designated safe place in your mind until you are ready to work through whatever it is that is causing you the distress.
Hypnotherapy can also equip you with whatever tools your imagination can summon up to deal with the events. This may be by arming you with a protective shield or bubble so that you can feel safe and know that nobody can harm you now. Or maybe you choose to go into battle with a host of ‘weapons’ ready to fight. You can even manifest your fears and demons as mythical creatures or even colours so that you don’t have to conjure up the actual people or items from the real event.
And in extreme cases, when the trauma is too much to deal with right now, hypnotherapy can use dissociation as a technique to help it to become more manageable. If you can’t process the event directly at that moment, maybe it would be safer if you could imagine it playing out on a TV or screen initially. We all know from horror films that while we may feel scared watching them, realistically, we know they can’t harm us from there.
As you attend more sessions, you may start to feel comfortable taking the screen away and allowing the events to play out in front of you. But this will be done at a pace you feel comfortable with through discussions with the hypnotherapist.
Hypnotherapy can provide an effective treatment option to address trauma and PTSD. By managing the events in this way, your subconscious mind can feel safe and protected, often speeding up the time it takes to recover. So, if you are struggling to overcome a traumatic event, hypnotherapy may be the solution you have been looking for.
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