Treating trauma with Hypnosis/NLP
January 2010

From: Griffen J. & Tyrrell I. (2001). The Shackled Brain - How to release locked-in patterns of trauma. Organising Idea No. 5, A monograph published for the European Therapy Studies Institute.


Some symptoms of Post Tramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after a traumatic event include intrusive distressing memories and dreams, a sense of reliving the event, distress and/or reactivity when reminded of the event by cues such as a smell, a place, a sound. This can have considerable impact on the individual's ability to function. The authors of the monograph propose that people who suffer from PTSD are highly hypnotisable, and are inclined to react to danger with a freeze response rather than a fight or flight response. In this state, the memory of the dangerous event is laid down in the amygdala, to alert the person to danger in the future.


This may explain why studies have shown that talking about the event can actually worsen the situation by setting off the limbic "alarm system" and further embedding the emotional reaction. The goal of effective treatment should be to "normalise" the event or issue, so that the brain stores it simply as a bad memory in the higher cortex rather than in the fight and flight part of the brain (the neo-cortex). A good way to do this is to link calmness with the feared event.


Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), was developed by Bandler and Grinder from the work of the hypnotist Milton Erikson.Griffen and Tyrrell propose that by using the NLP technique known as the theatre, or fast phobia technique the PTSD symptoms will subside. This technique uses light hypnosis and visualisation to distancing yourself from the event, and review it in a manner that takes away its impact, and repeating this until your emotional reaction to it is calm or neutral, . The memory will no longer be stored in the survival part of the brain. The authors have adapted the technique to be particularly suited to trauma, and say that almost every person suffering from PTSD can be helped by this technique.


In my own practice, I have found that it does not matter whether the trauma was about danger, accident, guilt, or emotional, physical or sexual abuse, this technique is extremely effective. A recent client, after one session was delighted to find that she can now get up in the night without experiencing extreme fear. She can now talk freely about her sexual abuse and subsequently becoming a perpetrator, when before she could not speak of it at all. She has since been able to forgive herself and her abuser and feels free of the power the events have had over her. Her depression and hypervigilance have lifted. Contact me if you would like to talk about obtaining relief from PTSD symptoms, phobias, or other issues that you worry about, simply and effectively using this NLP based technique.