Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Hypnotherapy

PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that can occur after living through a traumatizing event. PTSD sufferers experience serious symptoms and those symptoms can lead to a greatly reduced quality of life. In extreme cases PTSD symptoms can even take the form of violent acts against one’s self or others.

PTSD Symptoms

PTSD symptoms generally fall into two categories: Re-experience symptoms and avoidance symptoms.

  • Re-experience symptoms include flashbacks to the traumatic event itself, frightening thoughts and nightmares or bad dreams.
  • Avoidance symptoms include: a lack of interest in everyday life, severe depression, and the avoidance of places or things that trigger memories of the painful experience.

Feelings associated with PTSD include guilt, anger, sadness, self-pity, and panic. Other manifestations can be trouble concentrating and difficulty sleeping.  Sufferers may also experience physiological changes such as rapid breathing, higher heart rate, and sweating whenever exposed to situations that may resemble the earlier trauma.

Untreated PTSD

While time can heal a wound, untreated PTSD may have serious consequences, include drug dependence and social phobias, depression and alcoholism.

A person who suffers from PTSD can become anxious when something triggers a painful or disturbing memory. They re-experience the trauma even though it is no longer present, a thing of the past. For example, the sound of a car backfiring might immediately and viscerally bring to mind scenes of gunfire to a soldier who has just returned home from war. Although he is now safe and hundreds of miles away from the trenches, in his mind he is instantly transported back to the battlefield, fighting for his survival.

When we experience a traumatic event it is normal that our perception will shift in order to distance ourselves from the extreme circumstances. Factors that determine susceptibility to PTSD may be genetics, early age of onset, longer-lasting childhood trauma, lack of functional social support, and concurrently stressful life events.  People at the greatest risk for PTSD are those who experience threat or danger, suffering, upset terror, horror, or fear.  Those whose environment has produced feelings of shame, guilt, stigmatization, or self-hatred can also be highly susceptible.

Hypnosis and PTSD

Hypnosis has been found to be highly beneficial in treating PTSD for the reason that the traumatizing event, being overloading the conscious mind, and by-passing the critical thinking, is similar to the phenomena of hypnosis.

Hypnosis is a method of communicating directly with our unconscious mind, where the trauma experiences and its emotional charge are stored. In a 2005 study, the effects of hypnosis on participants with PTSD were tested.  In the study, 67 people with PTSD were divided into 3 groups.  Each group of participants received 6 sessions, either with CBT and hypnosis, CBT only, or supportive counseling.

The study’s results revealed that the hypnosis plus CBT group and the CBT-only group exhibited fewer symptoms of PTSD immediately prior to the treatment and also again at the 6-month follow up.  In addition, the group that received hypnosis had fewer re-experiencing episodes than the CBT-only group.

Hypnosis has long been used in the treatment of war-related post-traumatic conditions. In my practice, it has been used effectively to treat post-traumatic symptoms in cases of childhood sexual abuse, car accidents, kidnapping, and other events.

The Effectiveness of Hypnotherapy

The main principle of hypnosis is to induce a deep state of relaxation. This in itself is potentially effective against PTSD as it may lead to feelings of safety and less environmental anxiety, a decrease of intrusive thoughts, and a re-involvement in daily activity.

When working with PTSD, the hypnotherapist needs to be aware of whether she is dealing with a single, or multiple trauma incidents.  The client should understand the concept of PTSD and what the hypnotherapy goals are. It’s also important to understand that contrary to what you see in some movies, hypnosis is completely safe.  You cannot get stuck in hypnosis and hypnosis is not sleep, as many believe.

The practice of using hypnosis to treat PTSD symptoms has the potential to greatly improve a person’s well being. Hypnotherapy can give you more control over the symptoms and minimize recurring negative thoughts stemming from the traumatic event.

CPTSD – Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is treated differently from PTSD. And it’s really based on case by case, as a person’s cognitive understanding is very important in forming a treatment.

A hypnotherapy session with Kemila means a safe space to explore what truly happened, what you think happened, as well as what should or should not happen. It is also an opportunity to learn and grow. What does what happened mean about you? Schedule your first session with Kemila in person below. If it’s online such as Zoom or Skype, please go to the Online Session page. For returned clients, click here for scheduling a Regular Session. Or if you have questions, you can schedule a a virtual or In-Person consultation with Kemila first.


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