Our subconscious minds hold resources and wisdom to help us navigate all life circumstances and for those of us who survived trauma, abuse and sexual violence, these resources have already served us well in keeping us safe and alive.
Now, we could even think of those who have experienced trauma as people who have also experienced their ‘super powers’ in action. For example, dissociating (detaching from a sense of self and the present time) during an attack can help someone get through the traumatic event; it proves to be an effective coping mechanism at the time of the event. While in our day to day lives we generally strive to stay present in our bodies and environments, we can use this ability to ‘dissociate’ – or enter a different psychological state - to our advantage in a therapeutic setting to bring about deeper healing to the subconscious mind.
Hypnotherapy is of great assistance in the healing process for those who have experienced trauma and abuse, because it enables the client to enter different psychological and biochemical states at will, reorganizing, mastering and integrating past experiences and gaining a greater sense of control.
As a way of strengthening the ego, we can use a variety of techniques to help someone make direct contact with various parts of themselves that are strong, wise and brave. Techniques like empty chair dialogue help facilitate emotional processing of unresolved feelings toward significant others.
Clients also learn to modulate their physical reactivity. Mindfulness skills, like observing and attending to the breath and the here-and-now sensations of the body are taught to help with emotional containment in case of a flashback. People with traumatic experiences in their past reclaim their own strength, voice and unique talents and virtues and are finding a healthy sense of confidence and pride moving forward into their best selves.
Recent research on the neuroplasticity of the brain (see Norman Doidge’s The Brain’s Way of Healing for an accessible account of discoveries in neuroplasticity) shows that the brain has the capacity to change and heal itself.
Hypnotherapy offers an effective way to directly speak to the subconscious mind and rapidly and creatively engage the clients’ internal resources.
When I use hypnotherapy and teach clients self-hypnosis to address recurring nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts or feelings of shame, guilt or worthlessness, we generally start with establishing a safe place and a grounded way of being in the body.
I invite you to follow these suggestions – or adapt them to your own liking – to connect to yourself right now.
1. Invite in a sense of calm and relaxation into the breath and body and some ease into your posture and the space around you . . . Breathing out . . . releasing tension and anything not needed, breathing in . . . taking in nourishment and a sense of peace and spaciousness.
2. Feeling yourself breathe and relax . . . and welcoming those pleasant relax, your shoulders, your heart, your hips relax.
3. And as you continue to enjoy this easeful flow creating a unique inner state of peace and well-being . . . you know there is this core center within you, knowledgeable and wise . . . this core center that’s always been there, since you were born. It has helped you survive . . .
4. And your core center is connected all the way down to the core center of the earth, the place of all resources, as you are a child of the earth. And you can sense into this connection or imagine it as a root, going down from your core center to the core center of the earth . . .
5. And if there’s anything right now that prevents you from being here and in your body right now, simply send it out and down through your root – for the earth to compost and transform into new energy . . . releasing, with your outbreath and down and out into the earth. Make some sounds if you wish.
And we know all our emotions are simply energy for the earth . . . she receives whatever it is you’re letting go off as pure energy – transforming it back into new energy for you and I to take in . . .
6. And as you create space, take some moments to feel into that space and whenever you’re ready beginning to draw in and up from the earth anything you need at this moment to become more present in your body . . . in your heart . . . in your day right now. Drinking in whatever nourishment, element, mineral brings you back here and now.
Breathing in being present . . . breathing out being present.
Welcome back to yourself!
TIP: Record yourself reading through these steps so you can play it back any time you need it!
In the course of Hypnotherapy we not only emphasize the client’s internal resources but we assist the client in learning to direct those resources toward correcting, reorganizing and integrating experiences from the past. Supporting the client’s ego strength, we assist in trauma resolution by helping release feelings of shame and guilt and transforming those into healthy confidence, pride and an integrated sense of self.
In addition, I also like to encourage and support everyone in seeking out and establishing community and a social support network, so that trauma survivors have opportunities to form healthy connections with others and learn to reach out in appropriate ways.