The principles of this kind of psychotherapy can be summarized with the following eight Cs:
Confrontation. It is important to confront the traumatic events directly rather than attribute the symptoms to some long-standing family or personality problem. Confession. It is often necessary to help trauma survivors to confess deeds or emotions that are embarrassing to them and at times repugnant to the therapist. It is important to help these patients distinguish between misplaced guilt and real remorse. They may well be telling the therapist aspects of the traumatic event that they have discussed with no one else.
Consolation. The intensity of traumatic experiences requires an actively consoling approach from the therapist, lest he or she be perceived as being judgmental or as inflicting rather than treating trauma-induced pain. Appropriate expressions of sympathy and concern can be helpful in acknowledging and diffusing this common reaction.
Condensation. Find an image that condenses a crucial aspect of the traumatic experience. This representation can make the overwhelming aspects of the trauma more manageable by putting it in concrete, symbolic form. Furthermore, this approach can be used to facilitate restructuring of the experience by joining previously disparate images, for example, linking the pain associated with the death of a friend in combat with the happiness experienced during some earlier shared time. This allows patients to alter the pain of the loss by attending to positive aspects of the lost relationship that remain in memory.
Consciousness. Make conscious previously dissociated traumatic memories in a gradual manner that does not overwhelm the patient.
Concentration. Use the intense and focused concentration characteristic of the hypnotic state to reinforce the boundaries of the traumatic experience and the painful affect associated with it. Directing sharply defined attention on the loss also implies that when the hypnotic state is ended, attention can be shifted away from the traumatic experience.
Control. Because the most painful aspect of severe trauma is the absolute sense of helplessness, the loss of control over one's body and the course of events, it is especially important that the process by which the therapeutic intervention is conducted enhance the patient's sense of control over the traumatic memories. Structure the experience so that patients are given the opportunity to terminate the working through when they feel they have had enough, can remember as much from the hypnosis as they care to, and feel they are in charge of the self-hypnosis experience. They should learn to use it on their own as a self-hypnosis exercise as well as with the therapist. Such procedures help patients to deal with traumatic memories with a greater sense of control and mastery.
Congruence. The goal is to help patients integrate dissociated or repressed traumatic material into conscious awareness in such a way that they can tolerate experiencing the memories as part of themselves. In this way the traumatic past is not incompatible with their present experience. Patients should emerge from therapy having reviewed not only what was done to them but what they did to protect themselves, not only what they lost but what they had valued and why.
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For anyone concerned that this is a report designed to teach readers how to convince crowds of people to act like chickens or dance to an unheard song just with a carefully placed keyword - relax. While hypnosis is often paraded in that form with large crowds visiting celebrity hypnosis experts to see what wonders they can perform, the majority of hypnosis used is to aid people seeking a solution to a problem they cannot resolve easily with any other method.