Treating Shock and Intrusive Memories in PTSD

One way to work with a client on intrusive traumatic memories is as follows:

“I am going to teach you a technique so that you can turn down intrusive memories when you want to.”

First, hypnotize your client using a standard induction. Now give the client the throttle (a joy stick or something similar to it). Place it in her hand so she has a kinesthetic experience of it. Practice with her to slowly move it to the right, paired with the suggestion that the intrusive thoughts or pictures diminish in size, vividness, and impact. Work with your client to increase somatic and emotional relaxation until this turns down the client’s negative experience. Then slowly move it back to the center, with the suggestion that it will again come into focus. Then move it to the left with the suggestion that it will become larger and more vivid, and it will get bigger. “Now slowly turn the throttle back to the center and see it getting smaller and then to the right until it completely disappears.” Keep practicing this until the client has control of the intrusive memories at will.

Tell your client that we are doing this to help her feel safer. This helps the client to learn how to regulate and treat her own traumatic shock, in her life outside your office. Here are some other suggestions:

1)      ask what she needs for her to feel safe;

2)      offer her a “Belly Buddy” (warmth) or an ice pack (cold), and/or a sip of water;

3)      tell her that in the future, after she has practiced using the throttle technique to regulate intrusive memories, you will facilitate a hypnotherapy session for her to go back to the traumatic event and change it to a corrective empowering experience (for example, she can successfully run away from the danger, or fight off the attacker, or allow the accident to end with a different outcome; she can experience self-forgiveness to replace any self-blame she may be carrying; she may be able to ask her spiritual connection for an understanding of how her reaction to the trauma can be made into something positive and healing). This is the powerful healing work, of course, providing a corrective experience for the person regressed to the ego state that suffered the original trauma. The throttle technique is only a management tool.

 

This is in response to the following question, which was sent to me recently:

“This is a question regarding a client of mine and hopefully you may be able to give me some insight about ways to assist her in her healing process. 

She is about 46 years old and has suffered severe torture at the hands of some family members and an old boyfriend. I have been seeing her for approximately 9 months. She gets at least 2 to 3 flashbacks a day about the abuse. When I work with her she expresses a need to know what happened so I allow her view the memory for a time and then get her safe. She has difficulty staying in that safe place. She identifies that either that same memory or another one continues to pull her there. She has a tremendous amount of safe people we can pull in, but she identifies that it won’t last. She has been able to tell me that she fears staying in the safe places because she believes that she deserves this treatment and it won’t last anyway. Right now, there is no affect with the memories, but she has tremendous body memories so her body moves a lot during the sessions.

Here is what I have been doing with her: when she is able to get to safe places, I do a soul retrieval, but often she has difficulty staying with it. I reinforce her need to be safe. She is unable to get any of the toxic energy off her so I usually do it for her. I know she has come a long way in the 9 months that I have been working with her, but I want to make sure that I am not missing something else that I might be able to do to help her. If you need more information than what I am supplying you with please feel free to call me.

Thank you for any help you can give me.”

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