As discussed in the article titled “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” both hypnosis and NLP can have a positive benefit to those dealing with trauma symptoms.

Of course each trauma should be dealt with based on the individuals circumstances and feelings at that time, so there are no hard and fast rules to follow. But here are some points to consider.

A person who has experienced a trauma is often in a victim state. This is because the incident that occurred gave them limited choices in the responses they could formulate at that particular time. They probably felt as if the circumstances that occurred were out of their control or were perhaps trapped and/or in danger. It important to highlight that these suggestion will only work for those whose trauma is in the past and is over. For those who are still living in a traumatic situation, a slightly different approach must be taken to help support that person in making some new decisions about how to react in that situation now and in the future.

It is essential that the trauma victim is able to access feeling of safety and security at any time during the work you do together. This is because of the risk of abreaction during the therapeutic processes you undertake. A resource anchor can be an effective way of getting the client into a positive and resourceful state quickly and easily though you must be sure that the intensity of the resource anchor is significantly stronger than that of any potential traumatic emotion that might show up during the sessions you have together.

It is important to get the client to recognise the responsibility they have in creating their own thoughts and emotions. Acknowledge that the event happened and that it was (past tense) a very bad event. In addition, the event itself is no longer occurring, only the memory of what the event was or how the event affected the nervous system is reoccurring and this is something that the client is now doing to themselves, and is no longer something that is being forced upon them. In addition to this very important point, you must teach and share this in a sensitive way so that you do not appear to be blaming the client for their own thought and feelings. This is not useful for them. What is useful is to use words such as “empowerment” and “taking control now” and “choosing what emotions to feel and when to feel them.”

There are some things that no amount of NLP or Hypnosis training can provide. What you might call the X factor that some and few therapists possess. I have seen it very rarely in those that I have trained with. It’s the ability to totally and completely turn someone ideas and thinking on it’s head by providing a reframe (a new way of looking at the perspective they currently have.) In doing so you open up their mind to a new or many new ways of thinking. You’ve probably had a situation where you have got something stuck in you mind and you keep thinking about it, and the more you think about it the more unreasonable and hard done by you seem to be. Then someone says something to you about that thing that completely changes your ideas it. Every technique in NLP is really reframe because the general idea of NLP is that it gives you that “Aha!” moment. That insight of “Oh I’d never really though about it in that way before…” The challenge most therapists face is using this skill a) verbally without any “formal” change technique which is sometimes not appropriate. (There is a version of the NLP Change Personal History Technique which involves blowing up balloons full of the necessary emotional resources and giving them to the younger you at the time of the traumatic event. It’s a great technique and for that reason I think can be overused by therapists. You need to talk it through with your client. If they’re too worried about looking like a wally blowing up imaginary balloons, it just isn’t the right thing to do!)

b) Being comfortable using conversational change in a way that isn’t necessarily going to make the client feel immediately pleasant but perhaps gets them to feel sympathetic or understanding or any other range of emotions other than what they were stuck feeling before you started working with them.

I remember working with a man who had been abused as a child by another child. He spoke a lot of his hate for this other child and what they had done to him, how this other child had ruined his life. I thought that by getting him to associate back how it felt to be a child that he might start to consider that the abusing child was perhaps not evil, but perhaps confused, curious or scared. This didn’t happen. It made him even more adamant that the abusing child was evil. I then said to him “Who do you think was abusing the abusing child?” His face went white and tensed up. His eyes narrowed and he gasped for breath. “What do you mean?! No! I was the victim not them!” he gasped. Having recently undertaken some child protection training I was then able to back up my statement with some facts and figure about the numbers of children that abuse, who are doing so because they are being/have been abused themselves. Did he feel immediately positive- No. But it did break his pattern and get him thinking about his abuser in a whole new way. He was later able to think of his abuser as the victim and in feeling that way a lot of the feeling of hate dispersed.

There are a variety of ways in which hypnosis can be beneficial to treat trauma. Regression can be used to enable the client to notice details about the trauma that were not noticed before. This can offer them the new perspective they seek when remembering the event in the future as well as offering the opportunity to re-enact the event in a new way- saying or doing what should have been said or done that would have made the event a problem no longer. Hypnosis is obviously incredibly beneficial in generating calm and relieving negative emotions associated with the past. When this is done it also gives way to the opportunity to install positive suggestions that the client can utilise in the future. It is also, I feel important to have the client practice using these new positive resources. It is a welcome relief when a client recognises that the event is in the past and exists now only in their mind, but that is not to say that an event like that will not shop up in their lives again in some other way. It is important that the client feels confident that they could deal with a traumatic event in a different way to how they did before. That they can do so in an empowering way without experiencing it as another trauma. This is also something that can be done whilst in hypnosis.


By Gemma Bailey