25 techniques for treating emotional trauma and PTSD

Updated 14 August 2015, version 1.3

What is psychological trauma?

A trauma is a strong, persistent, negative emotional response to a past event, or reminders of it.

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Trauma characteristics:

  • A trauma is not an experience. It is an emotional response to an experience. If the emotional response is positive, the experience is not traumatic, no matter how harrowing its sensory details. (Think of all the people who pay money to have scary, dangerous experiences such as white-water rafting!)

  • Traumas are learned via repetition and exaggeration of sensory stimuli. Immediately after a negative experience, a person usually isn’t traumatized yet. That’s why the treatment they receive immediately after the experience can change its outcome.
  • Traumas range from very minor to major, and from contextualized to general. For instance, a person may have a phobia of beetles, but not other insects or spiders. Someone with severe PTSD might feel distress most of the time.
  • Causes of psychological trauma vary. Obvious problem events that happen to adults cause recognizable trauma responses such as PTSD. Other traumas happen when a person is very young. Often repressed or forgotten, these traumas can cause pervasive problems with no obvious cause. And some people get severely traumatized by a large number of seemingly small and insignificant events that reinforce each other.

The conventional NLP view of trauma is that you resolve it using disassociation. If we think of trauma as compulsive association into the emotions of a past negative experience, that’s true… but oversimplified, as the following discussion demonstrates.

The structure of psychological trauma

Each of the features outlined below can be used as a way to resolve trauma. I’ll discuss specific techniques you can use in the next section.

A. Trauma is an association between a sensory event, and metadata about that event.

Metadata includes the event’s meaning, and the person’s emotional responses. The brain stores sensory memories and meaning separately. That separation allows you to change your interpretation of a past event, give it new meaning, and generate a new emotional response. Removing metadata changes a traumatic memory into a memory of a sensory event, without the trauma.

B. A trauma is a learned sequence, which ends by associating the person into a strong negative emotion.

Usually the sequence is extremely compressed, so that the event plus its associated meaning and emotions replay almost instantaneously. This makes the experience intense, and difficult for the person to unpack. Change the trigger that starts the sequence, or alter the sequence, and the outcome changes.

C. A trauma is a synesthesia.

When a trauma triggers, experiences in multiple sensory modalities replay very fast, producing the intense response. Separating the elements of the synesthesia reduces the intensity of the experience.

D. A trauma is a superstimulus.

Superstimuli are “larger-than-life” representations that the brain uses to create very intense responses and anchors. A trauma is more intense than the original experience, hence the intense response. No real experience is strong enough to fire and desensitize a strong trauma anchor, so it can persist for decades.

E. A trauma changes meaning.

An extreme experience that verifies a person’s existing experience of the world generally isn’t traumatic. An “insignificant” incident that invalidates a large part of a person’s world view may cause major trauma.

Methods for resolving traumas and PTSD

Effective trauma treatments make traumatic experiences into non-problems. What used to be a trauma is now just a past event.

Although I am not an expert in treating other people’s traumas, I used a number of the techniques below to cure myself of trauma flashbacks that troubled me for over 30 years. I also modeled how traumas and trauma treatments work with Jan (pronounced “yon”) Saeger, my research partner at the time. Once you understand how people do a problem such as trauma, you can usually find many ways to change their response to make it more useful:

A. Remove association between the original sensory event (memory) and its metadata (emotions, meanings).

Jan and I discovered that any process that reverses the time sequence of a memory strips away its metadata. This converts a trauma into an ordinary memory of a sensory event. (It also strips the good feelings off a happy memory, so use caution.) There are many ways to reverse time sequences, including:

  • Visually, using a movie. The NLP Trauma Process and Fast Phobia Cure reverse the traumatic event’s time sequence by running a movie of the event backward. The Trauma Process also has the client associate into the movie and run it backward, which reverses its sequence kinesthetically.
  • Spatially, using a timeline. Processes such as Change Personal History and Reimprinting have the client walk backward along their timeline to before the initial experience. This requires walking through the event in reverse sequence.
  • Kinesthetically, by moving a timeline. Have the client step all the way to the future of their timeline, and face away from their past, so their timeline goes through their chest. Now have them grab the timeline and quickly pull it through their body, very fast, all the way to the beginning. This provides the same change in spatial relationship as having the client walk the timeline backward, but often works faster and provides somewhat different kinesthetics.
  • Kinesthetically, by turning a timeline inside out. Jan Saeger developed his “Kinesthetic Sleeve Reversal” method for clients who can’t resolve traumas using visual methods such as the Fast Phobia Cure. (Generally these people visualize well, and use kinesthetics as their least-conscious modality.) Have the client make a movie of the problem event, then add a timeline below it, like the “scrub bar” timeline beneath a web video. Get the client to make the line thicker and thicker, and become hollow, so they can reach inside it from one end to the other, from future to past. Have them stick their arm through the timeline and grasp its opposite end. With their other hand, they grasp the end nearest their shoulder, and pull the timeline off their arm — like turning a sock or shirt sleeve inside out. (Show them what you want them to do with gestures before they do it.) Turning the timeline inside out spatially reverses its sequence.
  • Using a temporary second timeline. For batch-processing traumatic memories, I typically have the client lay out their timeline, then create a second blank timeline beside it. All their traumatic memories get moved to the second timeline. Any useful learnings on the second timeline are removed and stored in the client’s Learnings Library. I then use any method of having the client experience the time sequence of the second timeline backward: run it like a movie in reverse, quickly walk the timeline backward, imagine themselves pulled backward along the timeline, pull the timeline through themselves. Run the reverse-time process enough times that the client reports significant changes in the submodalities of the trauma representations on the second timeline. Have the client dispose of the second timeline and its contents. On their main timeline, have them fill in the open place where traumas and bad experiences used to be with something positive, such as a resourceful color or good feeling.
  • The doyletic Speed Trace reverses time using auditory cues. A kinesthetic or visual-kinesthetic version of the Speed Trace works equally well.
  • Hypnotic regression reverses time using an emotional kinesthetic (visceral K) as a guide. Make sure the client ends up before the problem experience so that they reverse sequence through the problem event.

B. Alter the trauma sequence.

Once you alter the sequence, the trauma can no longer run the same way. Methods:

  • Add time before and after the triggering event. NLP expert Andrew T. Austin says that someone recalling a traumatic event typically starts and stops the memory at specific points. The kinesthetic intensity begins at zero, and rises to an emotional peak. The peak signals the person to replay the memory, building even more intensity. To change this, start by having the client expand what they remember to include 15 minutes that happened after the memory’s usual stop point. (If the don’t remember what actually happened, have them invent something.) This moves them past the replay trigger. Now have them start the memory 3 or 4 minutes earlier than usual, and continue 15 minutes longer. Remembering the old content with new start and stop times, and without the automatic loop, changes the client’s emotional response.
  • Remove compulsive association from the trauma recall sequence. The NLP Fast Phobia Cure and Trauma Process both use double disassociation to help clients recall the traumatic event without associating into the memory. Once the person knows how to disassociate from the traumatic event, they are likely to choose disassociated recall from then on.
  • Deactivate the trauma’s trigger. If a person has hundreds or thousands of traumas, as I did, they usually have a standard sequence for triggering them. Elicit that sequence. You will probably have to use time distortion to slow it enough that you can unpack the details. Find the element in the sequence that stays the same regardless of which trauma triggers. Disrupt it, for instance by anchoring the feeling it evokes and running a doyletic Speed Trace.

C. Deconstruct synesthesias into their components.

Once separated into its elements, a synesthesia no longer operates as a single, overwhelming experience. You can use a process that deconstructs the sensory memory of the experience, or a process that deconstructs its emotional component.

Alter the sensory memory of the trauma:

  • Unpack the trauma’s sensory components into the appropriate eye accessing cue locations. In the Failure Into Feedback Strategy by Robert Dilts, you first elicit the client’s eye access cues. Now have the client imagine the problem situation or representation at a specific location, generally directly in front of them. Use your fingers to guide them as they slowly move remembered pictures to their visual remembered eye cue location, “with the other pictures you remember, where they belong.” Then have them move images they imagined to their visual constructed eye cue location. Continue unpacking the synesthesia’s elements into the other eye access cues. Relocate smells with other smells, below their nose… and tastes with other tastes, below and in front of their chin. NLP expert Michael Harris has had great success using this technique to resolve traumas. He reports that moving smell and taste are often critical to resolving PTSD.
  • Have the client access the eye access cues and memory simultaneously. Eye Movement Integration (EMI) and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) both have the client recall the traumatic memory while visually following the practitioner’s finger through a series of eye positions that include eye accessing cues. When I learned EMI, we were told it works by using eye access positions to bring in resources from other representation systems. (Typically, someone responding unresourcefully deletes content from one or more sensory system.) I now suspect that these techniques work at least partly because they change the sequence in which the person accesses the traumatic memory. By adding eye access cues from various modalities, EMI and EMDR guide the client to re-experience the sensory elements of the traumatic experience in a variety of sequences.

Alter the emotional component of the synesthesia:

  • Change the spin submodality of the emotion, using Richard Bandler’s “spinning feelings” process. Nick Kemp gives directions in this article.
  • Change the client’s focus from emotional K to background K using Tom Stone’s PTSD resolution process.
  • Deconstruct the emotional component of the synesthesia. I use variants of Tom Vizzini’s 3D Mind process. Tom’s process is based on the idea that the emotion that makes a trauma so powerful is itself a synesthesia, built from several emotions, and this is what makes it so overwhelming. (In my experience, sometimes beliefs get incorporated in the synesthesia also.) Tom’s basic process, which I’ll describe in another article, involves (a) physically moving the traumatic emotion outside the body, (b) having the client reach inside the traumatic emotion and remove one of the component emotions inside it, (c) adding resources until the component emotion is no longer a problem, and (d) replacing the modified resource after adding some additional enhancements.

D. Normalize superstimuli.

The brain uses several tricks to make superstimuli more compelling than sensory experiences:

  1. Repetition and duplication: many examples, or many duplicates of one example.
  2. Exaggeration: bigger, brighter, faster, louder, harder, longer than real life.
  3. Deletion. Real experiences contain vast amounts of sensory data that isn’t relevant to the meaning of the experience. For instance, if I am on a “nice date,” the color of the cars in the parking lot outside the restaurant doesn’t affect the niceness of my experience. Deleting irrelevant sensory data creates a representation that is more intensely “about” its meaning than a real experience.

All these tricks make a traumatic memory more intense and “pure” than any real experience. You’ll remember from your NLP training that if you set an anchor that gets fired a lot in day-to-day life, such as touching a doorknob, it will soon lose effectiveness. I suspect traumas persist partly because they differ enough from real experiences that real life doesn’t dilute their anchors.

Any intervention that makes a traumatic memory more like a memory of sensory experience will de-intensify it:

  • Changing internal voice tempo normalizes hyped internal dialog that triggers exaggerated negative emotions. I keep hearing from NLP colleagues how well this technique neutralizes negative emotions and traumas. Instructions by Nick Kemp.
  • Normalize submodalities. Remove duplicate examples. Categorize multiple examples into types, and discard all but one or two from each category. (Steve Andreas’s book Transforming Your Self: Becoming Who You Want to Be describes an elegant way to do these steps using databases.) Adjust submodalities to those of an ordinary memory, perhaps by mapping across from a non-traumatic experience. Add deleted content back into the memory.
  • Unpack double descriptions. Double descriptions compare two (or more) representations of the same thing to generate a third representation that seems “realer” or more compelling than either. For instance, a trauma representation might contain both an associated visual representation of the problem incident, and a disassociated representation of the same incident, which play simultaneously. Emotional traumas might involve judgment from an external authority figure, combined with self-judgment. Separate the examples in space, time, and viewpoint, then add resources to each example until the client’s experience normalizes.

E. Change the meaning of the experience

  • Recategorize the experience by adding resources. These might come from the current self, other people, or other contexts. Many NLP and hypnotic processes use this method, including Reimprinting, Change Personal History, and hypnotic regression.
  • “Expand the frame” of recall to include other events and points of view. Viewed from within a larger context, the meaning of the event will change. Examples:
    • Have the client experience the event from all perceptual positions. A number of NLP techniques, including Reimprinting, use this method.
    • Have the client experience the event from various physical locations. Examples: the Comprehensive Memory Cleanup process from Thought Pattern Management; the Defining Moments pattern developed by Jan Saeger.
    • Expand the scope of time. Jan Saeger’s Comprehensive Memory Cleanup has the client experience events from various times in the future. Likewise, life regression might not change the trauma itself, but can make it seem irrelevant in the context of many lifetimes.
    • Have the client pay attention to the trauma and the present moment simultaneously. The new information from the present tends to interrupt and update the trauma’s past-only focus. In the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), the client taps their body in present time while recalling the trauma, adding a new physical sensation. Having the client state the problem in the format “Even though I feel scared of Dorothy, I deeply and profoundly accept myself” while they tap also creates an implicit meta-position. Rather than focus on the past-based feeling of the trauma, they focus on accepting the trauma now.
  • Change the traumatic experience enough that it seems unfamiliar. Brains learn and recall events based on similarity. The kind of memory that links trigger X with trauma Z is specific. Changing a memory using any of the many methods listed above makes it less familiar. Once the memory changes, the brain has to re-evaluate it. Maybe trigger X doesn’t equal trauma Z! Instead of knowing “that loud bang is a shot,” the brain must recategorize the loud bang using its current resources and understanding. Now the bang gets reclassified from “shot” to “loud noise.” Most of the interventions above do something to make the traumatic memory unfamiliar.

Utilizing trauma treatments

Some clients respond to one trauma intervention but not another. Techniques are most likely to fail when they use the client’s most-conscious sensory modality and their usual information processing strategies. (What the client already does automatically hasn’t fixed the problem.)

For this reason, it is often a good idea to test interventions before using them on a trauma experience. I have the client pick a mildly unpleasant memory to work with first. “On a scale of 1 to 10, pick something that is only a 1 or a 2.” (Use a mildly negative memory, not a neutral one. The negative emotion will let you and the client tell whether the technique worked, and how well.) I explain that we are going to use this memory to practice and test a technique to reduce their trauma, and make sure we pick a method that works well for them. Then I guide them through the technique, and check the results. Once we find an intervention that works effectively, I might have them use it on several progressively more intense memories before tackling the trauma. This lets them rehearse the process so they are comfortable with it and can do it fast, and also creates a convincer that the process works and will help them.

If the first trauma-resolution technique you try doesn’t work, switch to a method that operates via another modality or a less-familiar strategy. Nick Kemp reports that the “spinning feelings” and voice tempo change interventions described in his article work particularly well together.

While some traumas resolve after a single intervention, others require multiple interventions (often of different types) to get full resolution. You may also need to do additional work to resolve trauma-related issues involving the person’s identity, self-esteem, etc.

Good luck. Please share your favorite trauma-resolution techniques in the Comments, and post your results!




25 techniques for treating emotional trauma and PTSD — 50 Comments

  1. Wow. Your post is so illuminating. The definition of trauma stunned me.

    You have made me reconsider my condemnation of NLP (manipulative, flowery rubbish).

    I’ll have to re-read this marvellous information a few times to absorb all the techniques.

    Thanks so much for this eye-opener.

    [Is your name really “Livingwell”?! How appropriate.]

  2. Thank you for your feedback, Bryan. I am always happy when my work benefits helping professionals like yourself. That’s why I blog.

    I agree that a lot of manipulative and inept NLP does get done. As does a lot of manipulative and inept anything else: psychotherapy, hypnosis, mainstream medicine, alternative medicine, auto repair… Fortunately the value of each of these fields exists independent of the behavior of its worst practitioners. Used well, NLP is very useful set of thinking and mental performance tools that can be used to enhance almost anything. Including trauma treatment.

    Best of luck using this information. I hope you will return to discuss the results you get, as I know other change work pros would find what you learn illuminating and useful.

  3. From another reader:

    Hi Joy,

    Thank you for your recent posting of your fascinating page of 25 trauma resolution techniques on the Hypnosis Technique Exchange group. I have seen and used many of these, but had never seen them all put together at one location. I really appreciate your work in gathering, organizing and explaining the methods.

    Another method touched upon tangentially in your descriptions and worthy of inclusion is the Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) technique.

    Quoting from the page below, the instructions for the technique are simple:

    1. Go to the start of the incident and tell me when you have done so.
    2. Go through the incident to the end.
    3. Tell me what happened.

    This cycle of commands are repeated till charge is lessened.

    TIR Book:

    This technique is a simple, almost crude workhorse with a range of applications where the reduction of negative emotional reaction to a memory is required. I have used this technique, both with and without the subject providing a verbal description of the scene as they go through it, and have found it to work well either way.

    Best regards,

    Thanks, I hadn’t heard of this one.

    I notice that Traumatic Incident Reduction changes the end point of the memory access by having the person go all the way through to the end, similar to Andy Austin’s technique above. The web page you linked to also suggests asking whether the actual start of the incident was earlier.

    Having the person pay attention to the sensory details of the memory is going to tend to make it less of a superstimulus. So will running it in real time rather than compressed into an instant. Elegant!


  4. Dear Joy, what a lot of useful information. I have studied NLP a few years ago, but the reason I stumbled upon your website was because I believe I may be suffering from a trauma dating back to my child hood. I feel that I have ‘lived’ or ‘experienced’ a violent trauma, with sexual implications. I don’t believe I was the direct victim, but my mother was and I know I was an accidental witness once, in the sense that I opened a door to a room and I saw my mother naked on the room floor. My father saw me open the door and hurried to shut it. She had been held prisoner there, naked, subjected to all kind of physical abuse, and I think sexual too. ( The latter I feel, but have no real experience of. Presumably, the acts of violence continued behind closed door when I was asleep; so I must have heard it in my sleep. After my mother left my father, I went to great lengths to protect her, as a child. I also experienced very brutal nightmares, which I couldn’t understand, but all related to men hurting my mother. Anyway, the reason I write to you is that last Thursday i read a story in the news and became very very sad about the victim, so much that I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It then became a great sadness, and today I’ve been crying. Anyway, I finally understand why. It’s because the ‘victim’ had similar experiences to my mother and I subconsciously started reliving the sadness I had for my mother. The mind is such a powerful thing. I couldn’t explain why I had this deep routed sadness for the victim, but now I do. I came home and had this anger for my dad, which I’ve never had before. Although I’ve known that he abused my mother, I’ve never hated him. But today, I kept referring to him as an “idiot”! Anyway, i still feel a bit sad, but I’m hoping that it will pass. But what should I do with these emotions? I want to get on with my life, and the recent episodes were very debilitating, to say the least. I felt numb, helpless and scared. I don’t feel I can talk to anyone about it, but would appreciate your advice. I can’t have that episode of my life interfere with my life now. I need to put it beside me and walk forward with my baby daughter, who is the STAR of my life.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. You may not reply me, I understand if you don’t.

    Thank you.

    Kind regards

  5. HELP!

    Some years ago, I went to an NLP practitioner for help with traumas. (He said he was a student of someone called Robert Dilts.) He did most of this stuff, and things became significantly worse — and have mostly stayed that way. (The ones that didn’t stay worse … well, they aren’t any better than before I went to him. He was good at making good things better … but it turned out he was also, accidentally I think, VERY good at making bad things worse.)

    Since then, I have been looking for ways to undo his mistakes. I found your page, and have been exploring this stuff (on my own: I can’t find anyone hereabouts that I can trust enough to take it to)/ The problem is that EACH of the things listed on this page is either making my traumas worse, or is having no effect. Suggestions?

  6. Hi kishanthi,

    Thanks for sharing your story. My apologies for taking so long to reply — I’ve been having some health issues. Here are a couple of ideas:

    1. Use one or more NLP anti-trauma techniques on an incident when your mother got abused. Once you find something that reduces the emotional overwhelm, use that same technique or combination on techniques on the other incidents. (When dealing with many incidents, I often start with a mild example, which I use for testing. Once I find something that works, I use it on more intense examples.)

    2. Get the book Social Panoramas by Lucas Derks (one of the most important books in NLP, but unfortunately not well known in the U.S.), read it, and do the exercises.

    3. While it’s not an NLP book (and her attitude isn’t for everybody), I personally liked Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s book Bad Childhood—Good Life: How to Blossom and Thrive in Spite of an Unhappy Childhood and found it helpful.

    Remember, what happened in the past is never the problem. The problem is always what is happening now, in the present — whether behaviors, cognitive strategies, missing resources, or whatever. If something “in the past” is causing you problems now, it’s because of how you’re responding now, in the present — and that is what you can fix.

    It’s great that you are ready to put the past behind you and focus on your daughter. Best of luck!


  7. Kate, thanks for posting. The results you describe are REALLY interesting and unusual. I would like to investigate further to find out what’s going on. I will contact you privately. (Please be patient; I am having some health issues.)


  8. Hello Joy,

    Very enlightening article. Many thanks.

    I am wondering about two things.

    1. Situation: a person is having nightmares about a traumatic event (sexual abuse) while also experiencing anxiety and fear during the day. My guess would be that the nightmares would lessen by a significant degree when the emotional charge linked to the memories is treated. Less fear and anxiety about a subject during the day would lead to less dreaming about it. Could you speak.. well type on that?

    2. I also read the post by K. Gladstone. From a fellow human being standpoint I feel for her (you if you’re reading). From a practitioners standpoint I’d very much like to know what went wrong and how to prevent it. If possible, keep me posted?

  9. Hi

    I’m glad I’ve found this website. It’s very informative and helpful. I have studied NLP a while back but have not practised. I’ve only used it for myself mainly. I will visit this site regularly from now on.

    Many thanks for all the articles, Joy.

  10. Thank you very mucht. the best and most information i have ever read about trauma.

    I would say i am very good in helping people with this problem and i know a lot of it i have learned something from this article.

    i am impressed. Thank you for providing such professional information. :-)

  11. “A trauma is not an experience. It is an emotional response to an experience.”

    A trauma is not an experience. It is an emotional response to an event. Which gives meaning to the event and is now an experience.
    Event + meaning = experience

    Events have no meaning until we supply it with one. Then the two combine gives us our experience.

    Thanks for the web site.


  12. Hi, I’m wondering if it’s possible to de this technique on myself.
    I was sexually abused by a family member as a child for 5yrs. I thought I was over it but as the years have gone by I see that I am not. I can’t stay in a relationship for too long because I am afraid of getting too close, I have gained a good 55kg and I realize my weight problem started around that time because prior to that I was a bean pole as is everyone else in my family. Now I am literally the only one in my family who is not only fat but obese. There are times I get depressed and cry for days and don’t know why.

    I’ve been trying very hard to lose weight and the more I research the more I discover that it has a lot to do with my abuse. Emotionally I’m a wreck and I can’t go on like this much longer. I can’t afford to go to a specialist but I desperately need help. Is there any possibility of my curing myself???

  13. At 5 years old a child is incapable of preventing herself from being abused and, without the intervention of an adult, she is forced to find other ways to protect herself. She can put the more vulnerable parts of herself into a “psycholical safe room” to protect what she can of her psyche. She can then set about finding ways to make herself less attractive to the current and would be abusers. I would suggest that your weight gain is the product of such an attempt. A coping mechanism that keeps the child part in stasis,until you are old enough to protect your child self in the ways that an intevening adult would have.

    The adult part of you is now able to prevent yourself from abuse. The child part is still afraid. you want to lose weight, the child part thinks that would strip her of the protection she has. She needs you to befriend her, teach her you will protect her from now on. This involves your realizing you (child) is not responsible for the abuse and learning more adult ways of protecting yourself. (Therepy, support groups, even self defense classes.) NLp techniques can help you visualize your child self and bridge the communication, trust and self-esteem issues between you. As you are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the way you found to cope, you are ready to come out of the “safe room” and protect yourself from abuse in the future.

    Good luck and God Speed.

  14. Hi Ashleigh,

    Yes, it is possible to do these techniques on yourself and resolve major emotional traumas. I speak from personal experience.

    I found two books particularly helpful for the do-it-yourselfer who has not had NLP training. They are:

    Transforming Your Self: Becoming Who You Want to Be

    NLP: The New Technology of Achievement

    Transforming Your Self is easier for the beginner, so it’s a good place to start.

    NLP: The New Technology of Achievement includes powerful techniques for dealing with emotional problems and traumas.

    Taking a good NLP practitioner class will help you understand and use NLP techniques from books even better. However, it is not necessary; you can start getting good results right away.

    Keep in mind that some problems will resolve immediately, whereas others have more complex causes, or it might take awhile to find the right solution. In my case, I started with very severe, pervasive psychological problems. Some of my problems resolved right away, others took years to resolve completely, and along the way my life got so much better that I’m still amazed every time I think of it.

    Best of luck with this. I am rooting for you!

    And Shara, thanks for your supportive comments to Ashleigh. I really appreciate the kind ways in which readers of this blog support each other.

  15. Thanks for the great options for trauma treatment. As therapists, we need a lot of tools in our arsenal for trauma treatment. My primary method of treating is EMDR but there are some clients who do not respond well and we need other ways of treating. I also find that doing as much resource building as possible, along with safe-place exercises better positions the client to delve into the trauma. I have found the book, Tapping In, by Laurel Parnell useful and it can be used by the client when not in session to self-soothe.

  16. Pingback: 25 techniques for treating emotional trauma and PTSD « Peace. Patience. Passion.

  17. The nightmares and flashbacks are causing so much pain and I can no longer function. I have daily panic attacks that make me physically sick and sometimes I am unable to leave the house for days. I’ve tried to talk about it but haven’t been able to speak the story out loud without becoming too emotionally distressed. I’ve had some success in writing it down but I get stuck in the shame and not really knowing the right language to use. This is destroying me and I don’t see a way out. Do you have any suggestions as to what kind of therapy might be most effective or even just possible for me? Thanks.

    • Hi Dev,

      Thanks for posting. What a rough place to be in.

      Given that you have trouble talking about your experiences, I suggest you start by doing some NLP yourself. Links within the article take you to pages that explain how to do some of the techniques.

      For starters, you might do the spinning feelings technique, and also change your internal voice tempo as suggested in that article. Another good technique is Tom Stone’s PTSD resolution process. You can first watch Tom’s video of the process to get an idea of how it works. The NLP Trauma Process which is a bit more complex, has helped many thousands of people.

      I also list some excellent books in my Amazon store. As an NLP newbie, I found NLP: The New Technology of Achievement particularly helpful for helping me resolve past traumas and problems.

      If you need further help, I suggest working with a skilled NLP practitioner who can do what is called “blind therapy.” This means the practitioner doesn’t know the content of your trauma, thus you don’t have to talk about it directly. If you click the link NLP Practitioners in the left column above, you will see a list of skilled people who may be able to help you.

      HTH, and best of luck with all this!

  18. Hello !! I have been in love with a girl from last 3 years. We were very close to each other both mentally and physically. But due to some personal unfortunate reasons, we couldn’t get married. And yesterday, she told me that she is going to be engaged very soon and she got engaged yesterday evening itself.

    I am unable to get control over my mind, my emotions, and feeling very depressed from tomorrow. I can’t even concentrate on my studies from that time. She also loves me a lot but she can’t do anything to get me out of this trauma. I just need help to get me out of it as it is a very depressing feeling and want to get rid of it as soon as possible.

    I hope you understand my situation and reply back with a suggestion which can help me relieve my pain.

    Thank you for reading and if you have any further questions about my situation you can ask me.
    Thank You so much. Please help me.

    You can mail it to me also.

    • Hi Jindal,

      Problems with love can be some of the most painful there are. I sympathize.

      Take a look at the techniques I suggested for Dev. They may help.

      Best of luck,

  19. I am very excited to hear about this treatment. I have PTSD, and have since I was five years old. Thirteen years ago I was at a level 10 and the doctor told me my chances of survival were slim to none. I think he knew how defiant I was, so he gave me something to fight against. So of course I refused to let the pain kill me, but most days I wished it would. I have tried everything I could find, and some treatments helped, but I seem to get stuck. It doesn’t help that I have a photographic memory and remember almost every event in my life with extreme detail. I have develouped NEAD and a host of PTSD related illnesses, so the trauma is still debilitating my life. I want to be well and whole. I refuse to give in to trauma, but I still need help. EMDR was unsuccessful, hypnotherapy worked a little, medications have an adverse affect, talk therapy was long and not effective, and I have often believed it was the photographic memory that kept me trapped here. Being able to manipulate the images makes sense. It is like taking a picture and changing the image. Smells, sounds, textures, tastes are also still vivid. I live in a small town where health care is slow to catch up, but I will try to find a therapist who can help me with this technique. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them. Thanks.


    • Hi Kristi,

      Thanks for posting, and for giving details about how your photographic memory can be a challenge. I imagine most people think having a clearer, more detailed memory would be of great benefit, but as you point out that’s not always the case. Adjusting unpleasant memories so you retain any useful information from them, without re-experiencing the past emotions can be immensely useful, as I know from personal experience.

      Kudos for keeping going and continuing to search for solutions.

      Suggestions: First, try the techniques I suggested for Dev. If you decide you want additional help, click the NLP Practitioners link in the left-hand column to see a list of skilled NLPers. I know Michael Harris in Texas has experience working with cases like yours, and he does great work by phone.

      HTH and best of luck!

  20. Hello, I am posting here to hopefully shed light on my social anxiety problem. I have this one traumatic event in my past that has literally ruined my life. Its not just the memory of the event that is causing the problem, the event has sent me into a viscous cycle or pattern with lots of traumatic events.
    I was always shy/nervous growing up, which is probably why I was so susceptible to that traumatic event, (i’m 21 now btw). I had butterflies on the first day of school ect.., but it didn’t hold me back really I still had lots of friends and I could function fine. In fact, The only problem I really had was when I had to read out loud before I had a chance to read the material. This would cause me to get very nervous, I guess I was worried I wouldn’t be able to pronounce an easy word or something and look stupid. Any thing else I was fine with (public speaking, presentations..ect) One day when I was at work during my senior year, this crazy looking guy came through my line at the grocery store. Long story short, he made me blush by doing some ridiculous dance when I read him his total. I didn’t even know that I had blushed, I just felt a little uneasy and was about to brush it off, unfortunately it didn’t play out like that. The lady behind him thought it would be funny to point out that I had blushed to basically everyone in the area, and that’s when I became aware of my blushing.
    I couldn’t stop thinking about it after that, which caused me to blush at pretty much everything. It blew out of control and turned into a phobia. Now I fear presentations, public speaking, being the center of attention, and even just being around others in well lit areas (although not as intense). All I can think about it is “don’t blush, don’t blush” And what’s worse is it doesn’t have to be about the blush anymore. If I was in a darkroom where no one could see my face I would still be scared as hell to give a presentation, although a well lit room would cause a more intense fear.

  21. (continued)…sorry I accidently hit enter.
    Anyway this problem is making me depressed and is holding me back from doing the things I want to do. Do you think NLP is a good solution for this problem I have? What specific techniques do you think would be the most beneficial? Sorry for the long post. Thank you.

  22. Pingback: 25 techniques for treating emotional trauma and PTSD – Achieve North West

  23. Thank you a lot, these techniques really helped me out. I was able to release a severe trauma, with just two days of working with the timeline technique (it is so emotionally intense wow). I was also able to delete a main trigger. I will continue to work with it and search for secondary triggers if they exist to become a better, healthier and happier person.

    You practically saved my life thanks!


    • Congratulations and well done! I’m delighted you got such great results.

      Please keep us posted on how continuing to resolve your issues works out. It sure made a huge difference in my quality of life….

      Best wishes,

  24. Hello Joy,

    I’ll gladly share my experience with NLP so far.
    I’ll explain in detail:

    As I wrote the first message I just eliminated the emotional side of my trauma or better PTSD in my case.

    Here’s what I did at that time:

    I looked for an anchor, as music was always very important to me and every year of my life has a certain number of favorite tracks I listened too it wasn’t very difficult to find one.

    As soon as I caught “it” I held on to it, took a ruler a pen and started going from before the start of the traumatic experience to after the end. I moved the pen with every step and had the ruler in front of me.

    I accompanied that with listening to the tracks of the time and soon I dived really deep into my subconscious. It was accompanied by shaking a lot of crying and intense emotions. I was there again but this time there was this rope I held which led back to the present, so I managed to go through it again despite being scared to die again.

    As I was finished I did the same in reverse which totally blew my mind, as it deconstructed the emotions for good.

    I realized a few days after that the flashbacks still came but without any negative emotions. This was fascinating and liberating, but the trauma itself remained as I soon noticed. So I started hunting for “the pattern” and 7 days ago I stroke pay dirt.

    I anchored the pattern and intensified it to the limit in my head (I was so scared it would swallow me whole). It felt like a current running to the left side of my brain, but unlike with a real flashbacks this time I felt like sitting in the right side of my head again with some kind of rope back to reality. I then just reversed the current…

    Bang! it totally blew my mind literally, I was mildly disoriented as I finished, dizzy, sweating and felt like throwing up. I looked into the mirror and this is absolutely mesmerizing -> my pupils dilated and contracted rapidly. I spend half of the night shaking every time I fell asleep I had intense nightmares and woke up soon again.

    But… after that night it was -> IS! all gone nothing is left, I am free!
    (It’s 7 days now… I am still waiting ofc.)

    I’d like to note for the interest reader, I thought myself meditating as I was 12 years old and developed a “force sleep technique” based on deep meditation in my late 20’s (I used to have quite the insomnia problems half of my life that’s how I came up with that).

    I think my success with these techniques lies in my ability to “force dream” (sleep bursts).

    Best wishes for you all,


  25. Excellent, Anon! Thanks for explaining what you did in detail. Your idea to use a physical ruler to keep anchored to the present while you did intense emotional work is brilliant! I’m thrilled at the results you got — congratulations!

  26. Pingback: Help fund effective NLP-based treatment for war vets with PTSD « Living Well NLP

  27. Hello, my situation is , I had a relationship off and on with my ex boyfriend. he was always he left me most of the time , and it was when he met someone else, i was always there to help him out in every situation , he wasnt just the love of my life he was my best friend. but between this eight years . when we werent together , i would meet someone else and he would get in the way of the relationship by showing up as soon as he heard i was in a relationship and since my feeligs for him weren’t gone, i would break up and get back with him again. he was sometimes real sweet and sometimes he made me feel like i was nothing. i had lost my respect for him even though , for what ever reason that he did to me , i ended forgiving him. until recently , me and him had an argument because i had to tell him how i felt and how he made me feel. and he always said to me , you dont have magnet with other men and thats why they leave you. those words caused a major impact in my self belief. because . when i meet a man , all i see in them is my ex and how much pain he induced mentally on me . I cant seem to have no interest in meeting anyone . because i feel they are all the same. cheaters , liers and backstabbers. i need to break this . but is so difficult . my ex still finds excuses to get into my private life , even though i asked him to leave me alone, infact he has involved my parents to hold his passports and other important document . and i feel like this is an excuse for him to continue interfering in my life. i want him gone from my life . i feel like he has manipulated my emotions plus my parents aswell. what to do . its been 8 years living a lie. and all i am to him is his shadow , one minute he loves me and then i find out he has been dating some chick in another country for 2 years , when i decided to take a trip to my national country to see my relatives he had to come with me . he bought his ticket . and practical gone in the way of a guy i met there .

    • Hello Janet,

      Thanks for posting. It sounds like you are dealing with someone very manipulative.

      I recommend the book Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay to help you get more clarity and keep from getting sucked back in to a relationship that is really not what you want.

      A skilled NLPer, such as those listed on the NLP Practitioners page on this site, can help you update your criteria for relationships, how you know you’re loved, and related topics, and this will help also.

      I am currently writing a book about how to avoid getting into problem relationships in the first place. In my experience it is much easier to stop a problem relationship at the beginning, rather than after one is deeply involved with someone. It does require that you know what to look for, however, which is what my book is about.

      Best of luck finding a great relationship with someone else that is what you truly want. And please let me know how it goes.


  28. Hi Joy
    I am a counsellor and work with many people with all sorts of problems. You have opened my eyes to new tools and I thank you.
    What else are you doing as I would love to learn.
    Just got over secondary cancer so your health is important, remember.
    Love and light

    • Hi Mo,

      Thanks for your warm words. I have finally gotten well enough to start modeling again, and will post about what I’m doing soon. Meanwhile I am finishing a couple of books, something I can do while I’m still in poor health.

  29. Pingback: PTSD Movies » 25 techniques for treating emotional trauma and PTSD

  30. Hi all
    i have a specific problem.i have a traumatic memory at the age of 18 .currently i have turned up 32.when i go to the trance state/subconscious mind, this traumatic memory at the age of 18 starts coming up to my mind automatically over and over again.i tried erasing it.But it doesn’t help.After this when i come back to the conscious mind i have a lot of problem.Could anybody be able to help me

    • Hi Tom,

      Thanks for posting. Rather than erasing your memory, it would probably be more useful (and a lot easier!) to simply update it so it is no longer a problem for you. Try some of the techniques listed on this page, such as adding time at the end of the memory when you recall it. Or find an NLP practitioner who can help you — I list several good ones here. HTH and please let me know how it goes.

  31. Hello, I can’t manage to read the later on about how to cure because it’s so deep for me and can’t understand most of the terms, but I was just going to ask if answering a phone is really my trauma? I mean, I’ve been wondering lately, whenever someone (even the ones I know) calls me (either in telephone or cellphone), I suddenly have the feeling of being scared, and lost on what to do. Instead on answering them, I just text them back. I feel that when I hear their voices they’ll be getting mad at me or what that can make me cry.
    Im still wondering until now why is that it occurs to me? It’s been years now since I had that kind of feeling, maybe it started when I was at the age of 7, and still right now (age of 17). i dont know how to get rid of this. Now, I dont answer phone calls, but I can call to them, only specific and very few people like my parents, siblings, but my friends, I can’t do.
    Thanks for clarification about the definition of trauma. :) Thumbs up!

    • Thanks for posting, guest 999. You are smart to question what is going on. What you describe sounds like a phobia, where something you KNOW is harmless sets off a strong negative emotional response. You know perfectly well the phone isn’t going to attack you, and yet you still get the negative response.

      Sorry about the jargon! This article was written for therapists, NLPers, and other people-helpers. Since so many people who come here want help for themselves, I am writing an ebook on do-it-yourself techniques that can help. I’ll post the link here as soon as I get it done.

  32. Hi Joy,

    I’m Margaret from Germany. In June I have startet an adjucation as a “Coach” which in Germany means something like a counselor, aide, someone who helps you to solve your problems and to find your way.

    In the last lesson one of my big traumas came up but there was not the time to resolve it.

    Do you think, it was possible to start a short dialogue (via Email) which ends in an advice/ a tipp which way would be the best for me to resolve this trauma?

    My knowledge is not rich enough yet to be sure which method to choose.

    Thank you very much for a reply!

    Regards, Margaret

    • Hi Margaret,

      Thanks for posting! This is one of the questions I’ll answer in my forthcoming ebook about do-it-yourself techniques you can use to reduce trauma responses. Since the book isn’t up yet, I’ll contact you by email.

  33. Hi Joy. Thanks for your helpful blog. I have struggled for many years with painful memories of a very traumatic period in my life some 30+ years ago. It feels like being repeatedly re-traumatised. Each time it happens, I feel almost suicidal. The memories and feelings come flooding back, as if it’s all happening in the here and now. If you have any advice or any techniques that could be useful, I would love to hear from you. With best wishes. Nick

  34. Thank you so much for this article. It’s the best thing I’ve read on trauma. I have a question if that’s ok? It’s about the Doyletics Speed Trace.

    A few months ago I spent a few months religiously doing speed traces – the verbal way – where I would count back my age. I got some small “successes” doing this, but couldn’t shift my trauma at all. I tried numerous ways with my trauma – breaking it right down into a feeling, belief etc, yet still couldn’t shift it at all. During the traces I would get relief from a specific “sensation”, for example, but then when I could go back to my life the trauma was still fully intact.

    I see you have a link here to an article by W. Keppel and it describes another way of doing the traces called “Synesthesia”. I would love to try this way. The only thing is I can’t fully understand HOW to do these traces, hence my question. This is what is written in the article:

    “Synesthesia of moving rapidly backwards through time, using a mix of auditory, kinesthetic, and visual representations. Make sure the person uses at least two sensory modalities.
    Moving backward on a mental life timeline and off the end of it works very well. You can help the explorer make the kinesthetic element more real by having them lean forward at the beginning of the Speed Trace, and shift backward as they progress.
    Synesthesia works considerably faster than the verbal method, but takes a bit more setup for clients unfamiliar with the metaphor. Also, the person must regress fairly fast to make this work (usually a few seconds). If necessary, have them rehearse by watching a mental movie of themselves doing it, so they understand what to do.
    Synesthesia Method:
    Have the explorer create a representation in at least two senses of moving backward through time. Do this very rapidly, so they reach the age of conception in a few seconds.”

    So I can’t put this all together to work out HOW to do the traces and here are my questions:

    Question 1: I undestand about holding the uncomfortable sensation, but how do I hold another sense whilst doing this? Or could it just be that I touch an anchor point on my body, so I have a sensation & touch to go on? Or should I be “looking” at something, or “seeing” something?

    Question 2: How do I do the actual trace, because I’ve only ever done them counting back the years? Do you visually move back through your life or something (in your mind) imagining yourself getting younger & younger, and having to do this within a matter of seconds? And if you’re looking at something whilst doing the trace, then how could you also visualise moving back through your life (I can’t “see” 2 things at the same time). Do you practise watching yourself getting younger & younger or something, and then when you’ve mastered that, try the trace?

    If you could give me any advice about the specifics of doing this, I’d be most grateful. I’d really like to try it and feel it could be helpful if I could just work out HOW it all fits together.

  35. Sorry there was a typo in my comment. I meant this:

    Question 1: I undestand about holding the uncomfortable sensation, but how do I hold another sense whilst doing this? Or could it just be that I touch an anchor point on my body, so I have a sensation & touch to go on? Or should I be “looking” at something, or “HEARING” something?

  36. this is informational but hard to read. It’s stressful reading it and is obviously not intended for people who need help but for those who wish to help.

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