Hypnosis and Trauma Master Class
Watch the 15 Minute Master Class
Here’s what you will learn:
- Three critical pre-therapy tools to help your clients develop a personal grounding kit
- Two ways trauma presents itself in therapy
- Why it’s important to give your clients a coping skill straight away
- How to interrupt the verbal narrative and switch to the soma narrative effortlessly
- What to do if you have limited therapy experience
- How this approach will benefit you and your clients even if you have lots of experience
- Why it can be difficult to make progress with clients who have experienced trauma
Today I’m going to explain the elements in a Hypnosis Based Grounding Kit and why it should be a core part of your work with clients.
Because… No matter how much or how little experience you have working with clients, at some stage a client will present with trauma.
What Is Trauma
Dan Siegel, provides us with a simple definition of trauma.
Any experience that overwhelms our ability to cope.Dan Siegel
Trauma gets more complicated when we don’t have the resources to cope or when we try and self medicate and self soothe in a bid to reduce the effects of trauma.
What Are Traumatic Experiences
What the body interprets as a traumatic experience can differ from one person to another.
Traumatic experiences can include but are not limited to
- Irrational fears or phobias
- Difficult childhood experiences
- Insecure childhood attachment
- Physical, emotional, sexual or mental violence
- Chronic anxiety
- Chronis stress
- Marriage Break-up
- Infidelity to name but a few.
How Does Trauma Present In Therapy
When our clients show up for therapy we take a case history and this is where trauma will show up.
Our clients will attempt to tell us about their traumatic experience.. but they will only get so far. Speaking about traumatic experiences will trigger the trauma response – the limbic part of the brain becomes activated. Strong emotions rise to the surface and the body reacts and begins to exhibit the symptoms of trauma – very often it will feel like it is happening all over again.
So straight away, as therapists, we are stuck
Our clients attempt to tell the verbal narrative about their trauma but their body beats them to it and the body narrative takes centre stage.
Verbal narrative is just that – it is the story our clients tell themselves about their trauma. Soma narrative is the trauma story as told by the body – it is how trauma shows up in their body.
Learning hypnotherapy can help you develop a coherent strategy to help your clients reverse the physical effects of trauma, experience emotional release and build strengths-based coping skills to manage the stresses and strains of living.
How Does Trauma Show Up In The Body?
Trauma shows up in the body and it two distinct ways
#1 Trauma manifests as an activated survival mechanism
Firstly you’ll see it manifest as an activated survival mechanism. Your client might have shallow or rapid breathing, change in pitch when speaking, rapid heartbeat, sweating or feeling cold, lack of feeling in extremities, changes in the colour of the skin on their face, hands, neck. Their body is reliving the trauma to a greater or lesser extent and their protective survival mechanism is getting them ready to fight or flee. That’s now how you want your clients feeling at any stage during the therapeutic process. Or in extreme cases it activates the protective freeze response and our clients become dissociated or zone out – to escape – to stop re-experiencing the effects of trauma in their body.
#2 Trauma manifests in the way we carry ourselves through life
Secondly can show up in the way they carry themselves. With careful observation, it can often be seen in their posture, in the way they carry themselves. In the way they present themselves when you meet them. It can also be noticed as you proceed through therapy, for example, if they pull back from you as you move toward them, if they are holding on to tension in their body and a limited body vocabulary – things they aren’t comfortable doing – reaching for something, holding on, pushing away, turning towards etc.
When clients attempt to explain what happen to them, their body begins to relive it – to re-experience it – the unbroken pattern of trauma reveals itself.
Unless our client is fully engaged and present with us – the trauma interventions we have in our tool kit just won’t be as effective as they should be. So we have to start therapy before we are even able to take a proper case history and that’s when conversational hypnosis steps in.
Give Your Clients a Coping Mechanism Straight Away
So our starting point is to give our clients a coping technique to help them manage uncomfortable feelings and to stop traumatic feelings overwhelming their bodies and from generating an unmanageable and subconscious fear response.
When our client begins to describe trauma, we will interrupt the verbal narrative, and we will move the focus away from the words and on to what is happening in the body –their internal experience – the soma narrative.
We can say things like:
- As you talk about it, what do you feel?
- I’ve noticed that your breathing has changed a little and you don’t look as relaxed as you did a moment ago. I’m guessing your body is feeling it as you speak…
- Can you point to where you feel it?
- That must be very uncomfortable for you.
These are just a few of the questions that give us the opening to do something constructive about the uncomfortable symptoms of trauma.
Every therapist will need to have effective, fast and easy to use techniques to help regulate their clients emotions and calm strong body feelings when they come up.
Because as they get deeper into describing the trauma you’ll want to make sure their fear arousal and anxiety doesn’t get too high. Because if uncomfortable feelings become too much, it will switch brain activity from the reflective brain (frontal lobes and cortex) to the reactive, survival brain and limbic system and this will render much of your talk therapy and interventions ineffective.
There Are Three Critical Pre-Therapy Tools You Can Give Your Clients To Help Them Develop a Personal Grounding Kit
First of all you can help them identify and develop a holding anchor that is designed to do just that – to help them connect with comfortable feelings and to show them how to access those comfortable feelings – whenever they are triggered or whenever the feel anxious or worried that the trauma feelings will get two strong. Like an anchor on a boat this will hold them in a safe and comfortable place and stop them from drifting off course.
Secondly you can help them identify and then use a safe place. Now we don’t call it a safe place as the word ‘safe’ can often be a trigger in itself. Instead we hypnotherapy we call it a special place. This is a place they can go to in their mind that restores feelings of calmness and security.
Thirdly you can help them identify a person that helps them to feel grounded. This would be someone they view as having a secure attachment style or someone who exhibits the characteristics or traits of secure attachment. This person can be someone they know, someone they have never met but admire, it can even be a guru or wise person or a guardian angel or their own higher awareness or hidden observer.
Using conversational hypnosis to create a grounding kit like this isn’t therapy – it’s the precursor of great therapy and a great relationship with your clients.
This grounding kit won’t process trauma or provide emotional or physical release but it will prepare and prime your client for the deep work you can do and there are lots of
Hypnotic Trauma Releasing Techniques that you can use
The hypnotherapy I teach will provide you with highly effective trauma interventions to clear the effects of trauma from the brain, from the emotions and from the body. In particular Limbic System Hypnosis focuses on the body and the limbic system and integrates them with cognitive strategies and hypnotic suggestion.
We introduce this conversational hypnosis grounding kit first because the nervous system can become stuck in a trauma response – triggering strong uncomfortable physical responses and strong emotions – and with the emotions and body dysregulated and out of control, it can be very difficult for our clients to heal even if talk therapy and trauma interventions we use are excellent. So we use a bottom up approach instead of the traditional top down approach.
We Start Before We Start…
We start by doing therapy before we have even had the time to take a comprehensive case study. We use conversational hypnotherapy techniques to create a unique grounding kit for each client.
Even If You Have Limited Client Experience, You Can Do This…
There are a number of key benefits by learning how to do this, so even if what I am speaking about sounds as if it is way beyond the scope of your training, experience or your confidence level – it is important to know that trauma will present itself to you and often when you least expect it.
And there are big benefits…
And here’s what’s so exciting… even if you know you have to refer your client on to specialist services you can
1. Give your client a set of great coping skills before they leave your care. Skills that will make it easier for them to start all over again – trying to retell and share their traumatic experiences.
2. By giving your client this grounding kit you won’t leave your client feeling that you have been dismissive or eager to get rid of them or to pass them on.
3. It shows unconditional positive regard – you show yourself to be accepting, supporting and non-judgemental.
4. Finally they are much more likely to get help from someone else because you have strengthened their belief that therapy can work and will work – because you have equipped them with some basic self-soothing skills.
If You Are Experienced, There Are Big Advantages To Gain…
If you have experience working with clients and trauma presents itself, this conversational hypnosis approach and Trauma Grounding Kit will demonstrate a number of important things.
- It will get therapy off to a great start because you deliver actionable, useable and highly effective results from the get-go.
- Your clients will feel comfortable and safe working with you because you were observant enough to notice and respond to their trauma response and you did something about it straight away. You didn’t leave them suffering in silence or experiencing an invisible trauma response while they desperately tried to stay strong during the session.
- It will deepen rapport and help develop stronger engagement across the whole therapy process.
- It clearly demonstrate that you can handle what they bring up.
- It communicates to their subconscious mind that it is safe and ok to bring up to the surface and to examine whatever lies beneath their conscious awareness.
- It will strengthen their belief in your abilities as the kind of therapist who can hold space for them and protect them as you prepare to work to release trauma from their mind, brain, emotions and body.
Once you have this Hypnotic Grounding Kit installed you will then be able to continue with the case history and gather the information you need to make an informed decision about what trauma release techniques will work best with that particular client.
It’s Difficult To Make Progress Until You’ve Done This
But no matter how good your approach might be it will be very difficult to make any kind of progress if you aren’t able to engage the reflective parts of the brain without triggering the reactive parts of the brain. Because when our clients think about, talk about trauma or if trauma is triggered by environmental cues the trauma response activates automatically and they are back in the vicious cycle they come to us to break.
My name is Susan Wallace and I’m here to help you be the best, have the best and give your best.
Watch out for more in the Hypnosis and Trauma Master Series