Treating PTSD with Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy has emerged as a credible, evidence-based treatment option for sufferers of PTSD.
PTSD, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, consists of a series of symptoms that arise from a traumatic event which occurs in one’s life. The symptoms of PTSD usually consist of:
- Intrusive flashbacks (reliving a violent scene in your mind)
- Nightmares or recurrent bad dreams
- Anxiety disorders resulting in chronic physical pain, body tensions, teeth grinding
- Over reacting to situations with seemingly little control
- Sudden outbursts of rage or temper tantrums
- Unexplained fears or phobias, such as a fear of butterflies
- Sleep disorders
- Inability to relax the mind and the body
- Persistent stress, tension, fears
- Inability to concentrate, loss of memory
Another common thread is that certain people or situations may suddenly remind the person of the traumatic event. We call these triggers.
WHAT IS A PTSD TRIGGER?
An example of a PTSD trigger is anyone who has served in combat who may be walking down the street and hears a car backfire and reacts in a similar manner to when they were in a high-stress combat situation, re-experiencing the past as if it were happening right now. The trigger from the car backfire may cause this combat veteran to begin to sweat, feel his heart pounding, his breathing may increase rapidly and he or she may even find himself running for cover. The triggered PTSD veteran may begin to have flashbacks where intrusive memories flood their mind and they may, for some period of time, feel like they are actually right back on the battlefield
Hypnotherapy in large part deals with unlocking the subconscious mind. We must emphasize here that the main tools of the conscious mind are rational thinking, analyzing and judging. In contrast, the gifts of the subconscious mind are all located within our senses. The subconscious mind is a huge sensory vehicle consisting of the ability to experience our world through our senses: sounds, smells, tastes, visuals or pictures, and/or feelings. One way to locate what is stored in our subconscious in order to help an individual suffering from PTSD is to understand what the PTSD triggers actually are.
HYPNOTHERAPY AND PTSD
Trigger events can be very disconcerting for any victim of PTSD who does not either know they have PTSD, or are unfamiliar with their own particular triggers. PTSD often goes undiagnosed by the medical profession and even in the psychological community. Common examples of undiagnosed people with PTSD can be adults who, as children, grew up with parents who were alcoholic, where there was violence, yelling, fighting and bullying in the household. A person who was physically, emotionally or sexually abused during the formative years most likely has grown up with symptoms of PTSD without it ever having been recognized or treated as well. Familiarity with the principles of the mind through hypnotherapy gives us the most effective tools to truly recognize, diagnose, and then treat PTSD.
Hypnotherapy for PTSD is an evidence-based treatment and can effectively treat the symptoms as well as the underlying causes. The people who have the most severe PTSD symptoms and who will likely benefit greatly from hypnotherapy are people who have had previous trauma or stressful experiences during childhood. Here are some of the unique ways that hypnotherapy is effectively used in the treatment of PTSD:
- Immediate installation of powerful stress reduction exercises that can be recorded so the PTSD client can replay recordings of these exercises daily or as often as needed after leaving the treatment facility
- Titration of symptoms so that the PTSD client can slowly reduce his or her reactions to the common triggers
- Identifying each trigger so that the client experiences more control of situations in their life
- Hypnotherapy to go even deeper into individual memories to see if other, previous stressful events are adding fuel to the PTSD wildfire
Diane Zimberoff, LMFT, specializes in trauma resolution and the use of altered states of consciousness for healing and spiritual growth. For more than 25 years, Diane has trained mental health professionals in Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy®, a highly effective and unique model of therapy. Diane, in close collaboration with David Hartman, LCSW, established The Wellness Institute located in Issaquah, WA.
Both Diane and David have published articles for 15 years in the semi-annual academic journal Journal of Heart-Centered Therapies. They have also published several books, including Breaking Free from the Victim Trap and Longing for Belonging: Pilgrimage of Transformation.