Hypnotherapy Can Be Used to Treat PTSD

How Hypnotherapy Can Be Used to Treat PTSD

By Sian Ferguson | March 20, 2017 | 2:30pm

How Hypnotherapy Can Be Used to Treat PTSD
For most of us, the word “hypnosis” probably conjures up the image of an old man swinging a pendulum in front of a patient’s weary eyes. Perhaps you think of a show in which random audience members are hypnotized to think they’re chickens or dogs.

Hypnosis isn’t something most people associate with mental health treatments. But hypnotherapy—a clinical practice that uses hypnosis techniques but delves deeper into a patient’s psychology—is actually a valid therapeutic form that is particularly effective for treating PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

Prove it, I thought when I recently found myself in a hypnotherapist’s waiting room with a few other PTSD sufferers.

Turns out, we were a few of many people who found a sense of clarity and peace after our hypnotherapy sessions. When I left my session, I felt as though it helped me remember confusing, unclear traumatic memories and reapproach those memories with a sense of calm and control.

The evidence is more than anecdotal. A 2008 study showed that hypnotherapy had a positive effect on a small group of subjects with combat-related PTSD. Hypnotherapy seemed to decrease PTSD symptoms, improve the subjects’ sleep and decrease intrusion and avoidance reactions. Other studies have shown that it’s an effective form of treatment that’s also long-lasting.

The British Medical Council, the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have all endorsed hypnotherapy as a valid therapeutic procedure.

But how exactly does it work?

Michael Munion, MA, LPC, executive team member of The Pain Project, says that hypnotherapy is one of many approaches that could be used to treat PTSD.

“Our experiences (good and bad) are stored in the brain through encoding in actual neurologic structural change,” he explains. “These neural connections are physically linked to other encodings of similar nature. Just as a certain song on the radio may recall a pleasant time in high school, a particular smell or sound, for example, may recall a traumatic event in which a similar smell or sound was involved. We call this a trigger. Response to those triggers are a result of chemicals and hormones released in the brain.”

Because traumatic events are out of the ordinary and painful, those memories don’t easily connect with other life experiences. Hypnosis may be used to help link the patient’s strengths as well as a sense of calm and mastery to the original trauma. This aids in the healing process. Additionally, hypnosis can be used to enable the patient to visualize a happier, healthier future and a healing process generated by their own mind. “Essentially, hypnosis can give the brain the tools and experiences it needs to reprogram itself for better functioning and diminished discomfort,” Munion says.

Scott Schmaren, an internationally-known “NeuroPerformanceologist” (AKA hypnotist), has been treating clients with PTSD for years. “PTSD is a response to trauma that has affected the subconscious mind, and hypnosis is an excellent way to remove that trauma from the subconscious mind—permanently,” Schmaren says. “When a PTSD attack happens, the subconscious mind reinforces the attack as a natural response to certain physical triggers. After those triggers or anchors have been reinforced several times then the original trauma is not necessary to set off the attack. Only activating or firing off the anchors are necessary to induce an attack.”

Schmaren first tries to remove the negative emotions associated with the traumatic event that caused the PTSD. After that, he tries to change how his client responds to the triggers that can cause panic.

When it comes to “unblocking” repressed traumatic memories, both Schmaren and Munion advise that it needs to be approached carefully. “Defense mechanisms like [memory] repression are there to help people cope, not just hold them back from progressing, even though that may sometimes happen,” Munion says. Unblocking these memories via hypnosis can help one identify a source of trauma, but the experiences one has under hypnosis can be vivid and thus deeply upsetting.

Even in a world where we’re becoming increasingly aware of mental health issues, finding accessible, compassionate and effective mental healthcare is a struggle. Many people try alternative medicine or out-of-the-box forms of therapy when we get frustrated with the traditional Western medical system. In that regard, seeking out a hypnotherapist might seem like a useful tactic for many of us—but if we seek hypnotherapy, we should do so with caution.

It’s essential that your hypnotherapist has experience working with PTSD and that they have credentials from an accredited hypnosis organization. Many hypnotists specialize in weight control or cutting out habits like smoking, but this doesn’t mean they have a good understanding of PTSD.

“Be prepared to discuss the history of the trauma, the history of treatment and the expectations or goals for treatment,” Munion advises. “Make sure you have a clear understanding of the therapist’s approach to the problem and a clear understanding of the basics of hypnosis.”

Schmaren views overcoming PTSD as a journey that needs to be approached with persistence and patience. “My advice to them would be to have patience with themselves and the process of overcoming PTSD,” he says.

Hypnotherapy isn’t for everyone—after all, not everyone is comfortable with the idea of unlocking their subconscious minds. But it can be another tool in the toolbox for PTSD treatment.

Sian Ferguson is a freelance writer based in South Africa.

Hypnotherapy and the Fire Service

Mental Health, Therapy and the Fire Service

By Doug Osborne

I have worked closely for over ten years with the Fire service across England and Wales. One common feature of those years was the sense that so much anxiety, psychological pain and disturbance goes unaddressed. In one of the workshops I have run since 2006 (training up fire setter advisors) I have been privileged to many service personnel’s trauma stories – both from working in the service and family history. I quickly became aware of just how much difficulty individuals accept as part of their daily life when actually this could be addressed with some concise, targeted therapy. A big concern is how much of this underlying psychological stress gets imprinted on children and other adults in contact with the sufferer.

Since 2006 I have treated hundreds of people for big and small traumas – part of their day to day work and in some cases historic difficulties that continue to haunt them.

What are Trauma symptoms?

The surface symptoms that show up when you have experienced a trauma can range widely: flashbacks, nightmares, changes in sleep routines, phobias – that may seem completely unconnected to any obvious difficulty, relationship issues, mood swings, panic attacks, anger outbursts, depression or listlessness, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts.

What is clinical hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is a method of addressing the automatic part of you – the unconscious – to achieve your goals or resolve an issue. Sometimes I say being a Clinical Hypnotherapist is a bit like being a computer programmer with people.

Trance is a natural state we experience every day – during daydreaming, reading a good book, even driving. Clinical hypnotherapy uses these natural trance states to work on your goals and symptoms. This sounds a bit mystical – it’s not!

What is EMDR?

EMDR is a specific form of therapy faster, deeper acting – on the root cause – and it doesn’t depend on you spending hours talking through the details of your difficulty. It has a respected and diverse clinical evidence base that is acknowledged by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence, the NHS and many psychiatrist and medical practitioners. Currently the number or registered practitioners in the NHS is quite limited.

What happens to the brain when someone is traumatised?

Imagine this.
You eat a banana and your digestive system doesn’t digest it. What would happen? Well probably the banana would begin to rot inside your body slowly and pervasively poisoning you. Symptoms begin to emerge that seem to be unrelated to the original banana event. Imagine the consumption of that banana was 20 years ago and in the here and now you have seemingly unrelated symptoms.

Often a patient may have experienced a difficulty – they may or may not remember this consciously. If this happens in very early childhood or under extreme pressure it is sometimes forgotten or masked as a protective psychological mechanism. As the ‘undigested’ memory sits in the unconscious part of the brain, the raw emotion, belief and bodily sensations can creep into everyday situations – seemingly unconnected to anything in particular. Traumatic material is therefore buried in the unconscious, and a bit like Kryptonite to Superman, from time to time renders the sufferer a period of low functioning.

What is the Unconscious?

The conscious mind does the thinking and rationalising, goes to sleep and wakes up and perceives it has control and ‘runs the show’. It does to a degree, but the bulk of our process is unconscious – around ninety percent!

A bit like our iceberg here – think of the conscious mind as the tip, the unconscious hidden away under the water.

Just for a second think how many automatic physical functions are going on right now; your heartbeat, your breathing, your digestion, let alone holding onto all your memories and experiences!

Accessing the unconscious mind – especially around emotional and mental stuff – can be tricky. We all have a unique set of filters on how we see the world.

It’s worth mentioning here that it is a real skill to be able to lead people towards what they want, so it is a bit of a myth that you can lose control in a hypnosis session and end up doing stuff you wouldn’t normally do. Clinical hypnosis has nothing to do with stage hypnosis.

What happens in a Hypnotherapy or EMDR Session?

Initially we will talk about the nature of your issue – this helps me understand how you have come to this point in your life. This also allows time for us to get comfortable with each other and you can ask any questions you like.

We usually spend some time looking at what hypnotherapy is, how it works, why it works and some simple examples that help your understanding. All of this is completely confidential. I may also introduce you to the concept of EMDR.

After this I tailor an individual approach to the issue and deliver the therapy based on our negotiated goals, modifying the therapy according to our progress.

We will talk about what the actual hypnosis state feels like and what you can expect to happen; usually it requires you to make yourself comfortable. We then work through a number of relaxation exercises and then begin the process.

I have treated hundreds and hundreds of people – everyone responds a little differently. Hypnotherapy and EMDR are safe and very powerful techniques in the right hands.

How many sessions will I need?

That really depends on the issue. Simple anxiety that has no serious trauma can be as little as 4 sessions. Typically panic attacks can be 6-8 sessions, most traumas require at least 12 sessions, the more complex the more sessions.

Always check your practitioner’s credentials, professional registration and insurance before proceeding.

Article by City Clinical Hypnosis:

3Doug Osborne hold a Masters Degree in Integrative Psychotherapy, an Advanced Practitioner Diploma in Clinical Hypnosis, is a registered member of the UK EMDR association. He has worked on the psychiatric unit of Roehampton Priory’s Outpatients and numerous West London GP practices. He is fully trained in Trauma interventions and can also help with most emotional and psychological problems.


Source : Fire Style Magazine

Yvette Fielding Uses Hypnosis to Settle Nerves

‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!’ contestant Yvette Fielding has admitted she has been doing DIY hypnotherapy to overcome her fears, ahead of entering the jungle. REA

Source: Yvette Has An Unconventional Way Of Helping ‘I’m A Celeb’ Nerves

I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!’ contestant Yvette Fielding has admitted she has been doing DIY hypnotherapy to overcome her fears, ahead of entering the jungle.

The former ‘Blue Peter’ and ‘Most Haunted’ presenter admitted she is feeling very nervous about taking part on the ITV reality show, and has turned to alternative ways of making herself braver.

yvette fielding

Yvette Fielding
“I went online and got hypnotised,” she said.

“I found this site on YouTube where you could hypnotise yourself to be braver. And when I woke up, I did feel a little bit more confident about going in. I think preparation could be a key in making yourself more confident.”

Specifically, Yvette is feeling the most worried about taking part in the eating challenges, where campmates are fed a variety of jungle nasties.

However, she has been trying to practise at home for those as well, and has found an unconventional replacement for some of the critters.

“I have been practising with rice!” she said. “I have been pretending the rice is a maggot and throwing it to the back of my mouth without actually tasting it.

“I am trying to get myself mentally prepared for the challenges ahead. I will try and give everything my best shot. It’s definitely a case of mind over matter.

“Then again, if I am given a big kangaroo penis, I don’t know how I will cope with that! God knows what is going to happen there!”

yvette fielding

Yvette has been practicing the Bush Tucker Challenges at home
Of her decision to enter the show, she added: “A huge reason for doing this is I have hit the menopause stage and it has made me want to see as much of the world as I can.”

Yvette is among 10 new faces who Ant and Dec will welcome into the jungle on Sunday night.

‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!’ launches on Sunday (15 November) at 9pm on ITV.

Hypnotherapy helps man with agoraphobia.

Jeremy Norton had been too afraid to leave his house since the age of 20 but has been cured by hypnotherapy

Jeremy Norton

Jeremy Norton

Source :
A MAN who suffered from agoraphobia for 20 years says he has been cured – after just three sessions of hypnotherapy.

Hypnotherapy helped with my driving anxiety.

How I stopped my driving anxiety – and my swearing problem

Source Daily Telegraph

For every Stig wannabe there are dozens of people who find the roads really scary. Here’s how one writer fixed her fear of driving

A woman looking stressed in a car
Swearing when you’re driving generally makes you even more tense Photo: Alamy


Worse than A Levels, dissertations, spending 10 hours in stilettos or reading my first James Joyce book, learning to drive was the hardest thing I have ever done. At its best it was thrilling, and at its worst it felt like I was catastrophe-prone Maureen from the Nineties TV hit Driving School.

Lowlights of the seven-month saga included me getting my brake and gas pedal mixed up and nearly plowing into the back of a parked car, and being yelled at by a very old man in a flat cap who could barely see over his own steering wheel. Tight, shallow breathing became all too familiar when I was at the helm of that Vauxhall Corsa and one lesson ended with me getting out of the car, sobbing, saying I was never going to do it again.

I dreaded every lesson. Learning to drive didn’t make me feel like I was gaining new skills, but just picking at the things I already knew I was rubbish at. It seemed so unfair.

There was something about doing hill starts that brought out the navvy in me…

One of the most vivid embarrassing moments of my life involved me getting very drunk at a wedding when I was 18 and another guest telling my mother: “Your daughter swears like a navvy.” Well there was something about doing hill starts in Streatham and Croydon that brought out the navvy in me.

Swearing is bad when you’re driving, everyone says, as it generally makes you even more tense. When I called a van driver the worst swear there is (don’t make me spell it out) I thought my instructor was going to faint. I sat up straight behind the wheel and attempted some girlish charm: “Is my language a little too salty?” I simpered. He glared. “VERY salty, Helen.”

Sigh. So, something was going wrong. I was crying and swearing like an 18-year-old who’d encountered her first free bar. If I was going to stop chucking hundreds and hundreds of pounds at lessons without improving or gaining any confidence, I was going to need to do something.

She put me under hypnosis, encouraging me to visualise leaving the test centre feeling calm

A friend suggested hypnotherapy, so I booked myself into Shirley Scott’s clinic in Clapham Common. I know, I know. Clapham, right? But my test was two weeks away and I was desperate. Telling people about my fear of driving often elicited snorts of disbelief, but Shirley was incredibly understanding and said she’d seen other clients with the same fear.

We talked about how I needed to understand what I could control and what I couldn’t, and in between the two hour-long sessions she gave me some exercises to do at home to help me understand the power of my mind when I was driving. She briefly put me under hypnosis, encouraging me to visualise leaving the test centre feeling calm.

And would you believe it, I passed first time with three minors. I’m now doing a Pass Plus course and while I don’t love it, I know I can do it. Even if I still do let the 18-year-old navvy in me out from time to time.

Why you should stop focusing on your problems

Why You Should Stop Focusing On Your Problems By Emma Hypno On September 14, 2014 ·

How you can help yourself overcome anxiety and depression by understanding why you should stop focusing on your problems.

“Have you ever been caught by someone picking a scab and they’ve scorned – “don’t pick it” and it’s true isn’t it, if we persist in picking that scab, not only does it hurt, but the healing process is delayed – but there is something irresistible about picking a scab.  This rather childish analogy does actually go a long way to explaining why you should stop focussing on problems. Zits, spots, pimples, acne – what does everyone say? “don’t pick them”, “don’t squeeze them”, and we know they are right, but it is very difficult to resist.  But even worse than with a scab, pick a zit and not only does it hurt and make it worse, but it also spreads, the bacteria infects the surrounding areas and we can end up with even more spots.Sorry, I know it’s a bit of a gross subject, picking scabs and zits, but it is an apt analogy for why we shouldn’t keep going over and over our problems – mostly it keeps hurting, it will make them worse and can even spread the feelings into more anxiety and depression and aggravate whatever symptom you are experiencing which could be OCD, IBS, eating disorders, over eating, anger and in particular insomnia and sleep disorders.Take insomnia and sleep disorders as an example – when you can’t sleep at night or you wake up in the middle of the night – why is that?  Have you got thoughts going around and around in your head?  Do you keep going over some problem or another or keep thinking about something or someone who has upset you?Just like someone says to you ‘Stop it’, when you’re picking a scab or spot – stop thinking about the problems, it’s not going to change anything.The solutions is not in the problem, so going over and over the problem, over analysing it, is not going to solve it but most probably, your imagination will step in and you start imagining lots of different scenarios, taking it to the worst possible scenario.  We need a different part of our brain to come up with solutions.Have you ever done this?  You’re expecting someone to call, a family member or loved one, partner or child perhaps, or you said you would call them, but then they don’t call or you can’t get hold of them.  What happens – well, initially you might just brush it off, staying logical and tell yourself they’ve got delayed, their battery might be dead, they can’t call right now and so you wait.As time goes on and you still haven’t heard, your anxiety levels start to rise, you start to worry and slowly you lose intellectual control and the part of your brain responsible for the fight/flight systems starts to step in and this part of your brain always works within the parameters of anxiety, depression or anger – so you could get angry with them, you might feel miserable and tell your self things like, well they don’t care or you start to worry about why.  But significantly, your imagination then starts to work with your fight/flight systems and you start imagining why they are out of contact, you might start imagining all sorts of scenarios of what’s happened, you might even start imagining what they are thinking or why they haven’t called – your imagination runs wild – but your brain doesn’t know the difference between imagination and reality, so you believe you and you think these things are actually true and your anxiety levels increase any further to the point of obsession.The actual reality is usually fine and there is some simple explanation, but you have been to hell and back in the meantime with your imagination and did you find the answer there – no!The same is true when we focus on our problems, our imagination steps in, but in a very negative way and imagines everything else which could go wrong as a result, we make it into a catastrophe, we imagine the worst possible scenario and the problems grow and spread, increasing our anxiety, depression or anger – will you find the answer there – no!The intellectual mind is the part of your brain which will come up with solutions, can work it out and will know what to do, it is your job to access that part of your brain.You know the old saying ‘sleep on it’, very good advice.  When you go to sleep at night, to put it simply, during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the brain reorganises everything from the day before, sorts it out and puts it in perspective and when you wake up in the morning, you often feel better about the problem from the day before or have a better idea of what to do.   OK, so this doesn’t always work as effectively as it should, but that’s  because there is just too much worrying for your mind to deal with in just one session and you then continue nurturing the problems by going over and over them, but it does help.  Another self help is exercise and spending time with friends and family – going for a long walk or run, cycle, swim etc or go and see a friend, spend time with some family.

If you do, it will help two fold, positive activity (exercise and hobbies) and positive interaction (spending time with friends and family) will help engage that intellectual part of your brain which can come up with solutions and distracting yourself with something more pleasurable which doesn’t hurt will also stop you picking the scab and going over and over the problems.

You cannot come up with a solution while you are thinking of the problem, they just don’t go together, you have to stop the problem thinking before you can engage the solution thinking.  Your brain is already aware of the problem you need to solve or resolve – give it credit, you don’t need to keep reminding it and throwing in a whole load of imagined problems.  Distract yourself with something pleasurable and fun and let your vast intellect do what it is so well designed to do.

I understand that if you have been in the habit of focussing on your problems for a long time, it can be incredibly difficult to stop doing that, this is where hypnotherapy helps.  Solution focused hypnotherapy can help you find the solutions from within.


Source: Why you should stop focusing on your problems

Hypnosis & CBT for Social Anxiety

Hypnosis & CBT for Social AnxietyIMG_0058

Social anxiety particularly social anxiety disorder is among the potential obstacles that may prevent someone from living life to the fullest. Although everyone goes through this kind of anxiety in childhood they usually grow out of it.

Simply put social anxiety is characterised by a discomfited or fearful reaction when in a social event and usually involves worrying about being judged or evaluated by others. It can arise from a fear of embarrassment criticism or rejection. As a result the individual feels insecure as though they aren’t good enough.

Social anxiety disorder an exacerbated form of this type of anxiety can actually result in the quality of life being reduced since it interferes with both socialisation and everyday activities. Just a little less than 20% of adults aged 18 and older suffer from some degree of social anxiety.

While some people eventually get over it, others have much more difficulty doing so and for these people, hypnotherapy and CBT offer a solution in overcoming this fear. Many people experience irrational fear states at some time in their lives, but if these fears or phobias become severe it may lead to anxiety or panic attacks which can interfere with day to day activities.

This is true in some cases of social anxiety with the resulting fear being so strong that people will go to great lengths to avoid social situations. It’s also possible that people may have difficulty with relationships in their family and this unstable base can make the problem worse.

My therapy is a blend of hypnosis and CBT which is designed to help people deal with any trauma and underlying negative beliefs or thought processes which serve to maintain these limiting fears and to allow them to create new perceptions and responses to the world around them.

How you are today is a direct result of your experiences and your learnt reactions to them. Of course we can’t change your past, but as humans we do have the logic, rational and intelligence to recondition ourselves to how we would like to be, rather than simply accept our conditioned, emotional responses. Therapy helps you understand why you formed these unwanted reactions, but more importantly, how to change them. You may find that some conditions naturally improve with age and time, but why wait when therapy can speed up the process and release you from overactive anxiety?

Most people find a series of 3 – 4 sessions, or a one off intensive appointment is enough to give you the tools needed to change. For more information, please phone or email me

Bunny Besley BSC (Hons)