When I started out as a hypnobirthing instructor, there was some discontent with the fact that I was being trained to teach people self-hypnosis. I was not a hypnotherapist, so why was it okay for me to teach pregnant people how to do self-hypnosis? That was 14 years ago, and its great that this is no longer questioned, because the proof of the pudding was in the eating. Hypnobirthing can be successfully taught to couples by people who are not trained hypnotherapists, without the risks outweighing the benefits.
Well, now that I’m starting out training people in the Rewind process, I’m being faced with similar issues. There’s some discontent with the fact that I am teaching others to use a process that can be a powerful and effective way to help a woman to unhook some of her distressing feelings around a difficult birth or breastfeeding memory. I’ve thought long and hard about it.
I am questioned for teaching this process to non-mental health professionals, in just 2 days. It is true that we need to be careful with a tool this powerful, and that there is potential to do more harm than good. I don’t actually need to teach this to others, I have a very successful career as a Clinical Psychologist, with far too much on my plate as it is! But I’ve thought long and hard about it. And I want to carry on teaching the rewind method. Why? Because I believe it could do more harm NOT to do it, than it would to do it.
I believe the rewind process is potentially safer than talking! Yes, you read that right. If you were to be in a room with a person who is very distressed about her birth, and who finds it hard to talk about it, it would be safer for me to teach her the MAM 3 Step Rewind Process and guide her through it, than it would to ask her to tell me about her birth. This is because some research suggests that active listening and traditional counselling techniques can re-traumatise the person. Theoretically, it risks putting the person back into a “hypnotic” state (that state we are in when we get “lost” in a story) and whilst they retell their story, this might re-fire and re-wire the neural connections associated with the traumatic memory, deepening the distress.
Conversely, the rewind process is designed to avoid that happening. In theory, the rewind process changes the neural patterning of the memory. During the process of imagining the memory in a very different way than you did before, you change the way the brain fires and wires for the first time since the distressing event.
There are other aspects of the 3 Step Rewind Process which, I believe, make it potentially safer than talking. Firstly, the person stays relaxed throughout, and as such, it has been termed a “gentle” way to look at the distressing event. Secondly, you can actually guide a person through the Rewind process “content free”. What we mean by this, is that you can guide the sufferer through the process without hearing any of the actual details of what happened. There is no need to even talk about what they endured. This can potentially make the whole process much less stressful for the sufferer, because they don’t have to endure the discomfort of sharing their story and risk reigniting the distress. The third of many reasons why I believe that the Rewind method is potentially safer than talking, is because we are careful to emphasize that we don’t teach people to do therapy or “treat” post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We do, of course, cover how to avoid making things worse, both in our Debrief workshop and in the Rewind training.
However, we do claim to teach people how to guide someone else through a way of thinking that has been shown to help relieve distress. So, if you learn the 3 step rewind method with Mark Harris or myself, you will be learning how to guide some-one through a process that involves their imagination, which is rooted in a convincing evidence base, in order to help reduce the impact of a bad memory. We only teach people who already have the skills to sit and listen and empathise with people in distress. And if you are one of those people who choose to work with people who are in distress, you’ll know that it is not an easy task. So I would suggest you add this little gem to your toolkit. We won’t turn you into a therapist or a mental health worker, but we’ll give you something to add to what you are already doing, so that you can continue to make a difference to people’s lives, which is arguably safer than listening to them.
We've evolved The MAM 3 Step Rewind Method with a commitment to safety for your client. After doing our course you'll have the skills and confidence to teach your client the process and guide her (or him) through it.