PTSD and Hypnosis

hypnosis-zoomarIn PTSD thought process, emotions, reactions, actions and behaviors become habituated to the trauma experience. In order to heal it’s necessary to retrain your brain.

In the therapeutic arena hypnosis is frequently used with trauma survivors because it has such a high degree of efficacy:

The American Medical Association (AMA) has officially recognized hypnosis as a valuable and beneficial treatment as applied and used since 1958. In “Psychotherapy” magazine (Volume 7, Number 1), various types of techniques were listed and profiled in a review of relevant literature by Alfred A. Barrios, PhD. In the above quoted text, the techniques that proved to generate the greatest success in providing lasting change were the following (listed in order of success rate):

Hypnosis93% recovery after 6 sessions (approx. 1 1/2 months @ 1 session per week).

Behavior Therapy72% after 22 sessions (approx. 6 months @ 1 session per week).

Psychotherapy38% recovery after 600 sessions (approx. 11 1/2 yrs @ 1 session per week).

hypnosis-doctor_regalWhen you think of hypnosis do you think of an evil looking man swinging a watch on a chain saying, You are get-ting sleepyyy?

If this is your immediate reaction to the idea of hypnosis your database needs to be updated! Stage hypnosis (and today, even stage hypnotists don’t use this method) is very different from clinical hypnosis during which a therapist gently and easily relaxes a client through guided visualization.

The reason hypnosis works so well has to do with the way it transforms the subconscious mind’s perceptions and beliefs. To begin with, hypnosis works from the assumption that the subconscious mind (the veritable source of all of our internal power) is the storage space of all our past experiences and emotions. In this incredibly vast warehouse, traumatic experiences are filed away on both physical and emotional levels, the stimulus of which can affect our immune system and health. Processing old traumas and the emotional charges attached to them allows a patient to find internal resources that begin the healing process.

Think of your mind like a computer: the unconscious mind operates automatic body systems in the same way as a computer’s operating system; the subconscious operates like a hard drive by storing information; the conscious mind functions like RAM choosing what information is to be acted on moment by moment. Immediately, the supreme importance of the subconscious mind becomes apparent. In order to update any files, the subconscious must be engaged. We cannot change memories, but we can update how we feel about them. In order to do this, the critical factor of the conscious mind must be bypassed. This is achieved through hypnosis when the conscious mind is set aside during the so-called trance state.

The subconscious is the part of your mind burdened with the job of protecting you. It will do anything – even adopt negative behaviors – in order to keep you safe. When these protective measures no longer serve us we feel the need to change. This change is difficult to bring about because the subconscious mind is devoted to its imprinted perceptions. In its bypass of the conscious mind, hypnosis brings the subconscious to the forefront so that changes can be made via suggestions. Hypnotherapy helps change perceptions of memories, which in turn helps change perceptions of the self and hence, behavior. It’s all a very neat little package. The past cannot be changed or escaped, but our emotional and intellectual attitudes toward it can be radically altered. Change happens in the subconscious. Since emotions play a large role in our activity, thoughts and actions, they are an intuitive seat of transformation.

The truth is, we all go in and out of hypnotic states throughout the day. When you read, watch TV, drive or stare at the horizon you automatically slip into a hypnotic trance.

hypno-opens-minds-doctor_regalA few key things to know about clinical hypnosis: 

  • Throughout the entire session you will be awake and aware.
  • You can choose to come out of hypnosis at any second.
  • Hypnosis is not about mind control; it is about choosing to relax to such a degree that the conscious mind lets down its defenses and the subconscious mind engages in change.

Hypnosis is also extremely effective when used in conjuction with Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

For more hypnosis information, including the first-hand account of a survivor benefiting from it, read the following posts from our blog, or visit the blog’s hypnosis label.

The History of Hypnosis

Why Hypnosis Works 

Part 1: Choosing a Hypnotherapist 

Part 2: The First Session

Part 3: Going Under 

Part 4: Aftereffects

Interview with hypnotherapist, Laura King 

Top 10 Hypnosis Myths – Busted!

Creative Self-Hypnosis: Another Tool for Self-Healing

Coming soon: how to find the right hypnotherapist for you.

(Photo: zoomar, Doctor_Regal)