Trauma & PTSD: EMDR & Hypnotherapy
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is a technique that helps individuals overcome traumatic experiences. It works by using bilateral stimulation, which can be achieved through eye movements, tapping, and in some situations, auditory stimulation.
During an EMDR session, we first set a positive framework for 'state management'. To me it's very important that my client feel empowered, in control and have a number of techniques and anchors available before we start the trauma work.
I will then ask my client to recall their traumatic memory while engaging in bilateral stimulation. This process helps my client to desensitise emotionally charged memories and reprocess them more adaptively. By doing this, EMDR can help you to overcome the negative beliefs and emotions associated with traumatic experiences.
Case Study: Recovery From Trauma & PTSD: EMDR & Hypnotherapy
I want to share with you the story of one of my clients, James, who came to me with a profound fear of sickness and post pandemic anxiety. James was a financial expert in his mid-30s, who had experienced a traumatic childhood event that had led to his fear of sickness.
During our initial consultation, James shared with me that he had witnessed his father being sick and was ushered away by his mother in an usually panicked manner. He said he couldn't be sure that this incident was the 'traumatising incident' (root experience) but he knew that it had deeply troubled him and even though later he learned why his mother acted that way, he remained anxious of anyone ever becoming sick around him.
It is not unusual for my clients to have a sense that they know the root cause of their issues but to still find it difficult to connect the impact they are dealing with (symptoms), with that event. Often this is due to their adult brain viewing the situation differently to the child they once were.
This disconnect often leads to confusion and even negative judgement of the part that holds the trauma, to accept it could be 'that alone' that caused a lifelong debilitating beliefs or behaviour.
For James the experience had developed into a fear of sickness that had been heightened and triggered during the pandemic.
James had even become aggressive with people who he felt were not following pandemic protocols. He was also finding it challenging (if not impossible!) to stay calm and rational amidst the constant barrage of fear-based news.
EMDR With Hypnotherapy: A Powerful Combination To Treat PTSD/ Trauma
I felt that the EMDR technique, combined with NLP and hypnotherapy, would help James overcome his fear. I began James' treatment with EMDR therapy to work on the traumatic memory.
Of course we first began with exploring the nature of the problem, how much it affected James and what he truly wanted (intention setting) from our sessions. I am always happy to accept that the client (James) is the one doing the work, therefore he is the only one who can be credited with the recovery and enhanced life outcomes as a result. I ... am the Guide.
We also start (I always do!) with those state management and 'grounding' techniques. James found those incredibly helpful between sessions and later reported feeling more in control of himself, than he ever had in life before. (I wish I had a penny for everytime someone said that they wished they'd 'done this' or 'learned this' before!)
I then used bilateral stimulation with both tapping and eye movements to desensitise his emotional response to the memory and he began to unravel the memory. The memory includes the thoughts he had had at the time, the reason why he was so distressed at the sounds his father was making and the fact his mother behaved in a way that was unusual for her as she appeared extremely panicked.
As it turned out, his father who never really drank, had overdone it to the extent he was violently sick. James' mother did not want her son to see his father in that state and was obviously concerned and somewhat desperate to move him away from the situation.
Without James having this vital information - his brain just said ...
powerful person (his father) + sounds made when being sick + person being sick + "get away!" + anxious mother = DANGER!
This of course went on to become a more generalised anxiety of anyone being sick as is often the case.
As the techniques begin to discharge the emotional element, you begin to reframe the traumatic experience and change your negative beliefs, just as James did about sickness.
NLP & Timeline To Reflect, Reframe & Set New Beliefs & Behaviours
Within our sessions I used NLP techniques to help James review anything positive he'd learned as a result of his history of struggling with a fear of sickness. It's a valuable strategy to accept that even difficulties we experience in life, can provide us with lessons and wisdom that we wish to remember.
Many therapists of note such as Virginia Satir (a family therapist) and Robert Diltz (an NLP trainer), have commented on the importance and value of storing lessons even whilst disconnecting the emotional charge and even then, reframing the entire incident.
James noted some of his 'learnings' and his 'reframes':
- don't believe everything you think
- Dads get sick sometimes too, it doesn't mean their weak or dying
- fear controls you, learn how you can control it
- fear makes you less able to evaluate & make decisions
- you feel better about yourself when you help people in distress
- you will overcome sickness
- being sick is a positive way for the body to restore itself
- a strong immune system is within your control
James was able to reconcile that the child he was in that moment, had every right to be terrified of what he perceived was happening and with hindsight, the child part of him could let go willingly and acknowledge his parents mistakes were not intended to harm him and in fact his mother intended to protect him.
We continued using the 'timeline' vision to help James view the negative self-talk and beliefs about sickness and the impact that had had on him and others around him.
It was easy to help him see how by changing the way he thought and felt, he could become a 'healer' or 'helper' in the lives of the people he loves, rather than a hindrance and annoyance (his perception). When you change the way you 'identify' yourself to a positive from the negative of the past, the changes are even more effective and powerful.
As a new father to two small humans, James had felt himself lacking in the 'fathering' department. This entire fear had challenged the fabric of his identify as a strong man who is there to protect his family. It was important that we tied his 'identity' to the changes he was making in his mind.
I helped James create positive self-talk and visualisations that reinforced positive beliefs about sickness. This helped James to develop a new perspective on sickness and eliminate his avoidance of potentially sick people. None of that would be possible without removing the emotional charge and dissolving the trauma connected to the memory.
Sickness is a human experience. It is about our body finding ways to recover, heal and get rid of what is bad for you. Being 'sick' is just that. An effort for the body to detox harmful substances in order that you can restore health.
You can read another case study on trauma where I used only Hypnotherapy and NLP before EMDR got it's badge of honour here: treating trauma with hypnotherapy & nlp
Finally, with Hypnotherapy and Timeline visualisation to reinforce the new positive beliefs, I guided James through an exercise where he imagined himself in situations where he would in the past have typically avoided sick and potentially sick people. Now he imagined himself to remain in control, empowered by his awareness that he is a fit and healthy younger man and that he can choose to be of assistance rather than abandoning those around him. This exercise helped embed the new beliefs and affirm James' had overcome the once debilitating and controlling fear of sickness.
James Feedback Of EMDR & Hypnotherapy
After the first session, James already reported feeling more confident about his ability to handle situations involving sickness. He felt he was no longer avoiding his children or other family members. He noted right away that he no longer scanned his workplace colleagues for signs of illness and he stopped feeling anxious all the time when he was in public spaces.
Despite feeling like he'd already overcome the 'presenting problem', he continued with further sessions to address other issues related to the pandemic anxiety triggered by the media. That included becoming quite angry that they'd deliberately invested in making the public terrified of what was in the end, an illness similar to the flu, only less dangerous to men of his age group. He also realised his actions towards his aging parents had exacerbated their stress and therefore impacted their immune function. He had to work through some grief over all that but came out of it feeling restored and determined to be the man he wished to be in this world.
After six sessions, James reported feeling much more confident and in control of his emotions in many situations. He was able to apologise to his friends and family for his previous behaviour and now having worked on developing new coping strategies to manage anxiety, he felt that the old James was as unfamiliar as any stranger! James felt empowered to take control of his life and not be influenced by external factors.
James' case demonstrates the effectiveness of combining EMDR, NLP, and hypnotherapy techniques to overcome trauma and fear. The treatment helped James to overcome his fear of sickness and develop a more rational perspective on the pandemic, media and the role he choose to play in his family.
If you or someone you know is struggling with trauma or fear, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me. I can help you overcome your fears and develop new coping strategies to take control of your life.
In the meantime, there are specific meditations and hypnosis audios in the members only area that you’ll benefit from.