Monday, May 22, 2017

Dealing With Traumatic Memories

(This blog was originally posted on April 20, 2016)

Photo by Rick Hustead

“Negative moments get remembered. Traumatic ones get forgotten.”

One of the great things about the mind is its capacity to help us deal with a painful or even traumatic event in our lives. On the one hand, the plasticity of the brain enables us to adapt to an uncomfortable environment and learn lessons from that experience to avoid getting into a similar situation in the future. On the other hand, the mind also naturally knows how to block out and even forget the memory of that event so we can continue to function and fulfill daily activities to facilitate our basic survival. In other words, this kind of case-specific amnesia functions like a life-saving balm.

For example: someone contacts me for hypnotherapy to overcome an intense fear of driving and being in a vehicle following a serious car crash. This person knows the facts about what happened but does not remember anything about the collision or the moments immediately afterward when firefighters had to cut him out of the vehicle with Jaws-of-Life equipment. That is okay. I do not need to know these details to create an effective hypnotic script that will help to increase the client’s comfort and self-confidence while driving or being in a car. In fact, this gap in the client’s conscious awareness of the crash facilitates the physiological and psychological healing process as he works toward achieving the avocational self-improvement goal of being comfortable behind the wheel.

Consequently, I do not use age-regression hypnosis to help a client access a repressed memory following a traumatic event. Doing so would be similar to ripping a scab off of a deep abrasion before the original wound has had a chance to heal. If and when the person is emotionally, physically and even spiritually ready to address what happened, these memories are likely to return organically in spontaneous flashes of recollection or through dreams. If and when that happens, I can use various hypnosis, therapeutic guided imagery and neuro-linguistic programming techniques to help the individual become desensitized to and deal with how these memories and consequences of this event. It may also be necessary to refer the client to a licensed mental-health provider and/or a physician for additional assessment and care if this issue falls outside of the scope of my expertise as a certified hypnotherapist.

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
© 2017