Revisiting the Safe Place: Method and Regulatory Aspects in Psychotherapy when Easing Allostatic Overload in Traumatized Patients

Safe-place inductions are considered important altered states of consciousness (ASC) to be (re)installed during trauma-informed psychotherapy. Coregulation aimed at changing implicit relational knowing and increasing integration and coherence through relational work and hypnotic techniques is crucial, as clients’ abilities to self-soothe and regulate have become seriously impaired. Thus, resource-oriented metaphors as inner strength imagery is advocated. Also, methods such as creative-arts therapy and neurofeedback will induce ASCs, as most methods used with complex traumatized clients, due to their high hypnotizability. When positive or soothing imagery or relationally held suggestions for changed attentional focus are added to both psychodynamic psychotherapy and CBT, a hetero-hypnosis will be induced—a prerequisite for phase-specific trauma therapy aimed at changing inner schemas and scripts.

Hypnotizability and the Peripersonal Space

High hypnotizability is associated with left-sided cerebral asymmetry, which could influence measurement of the Peripersonal Space (PPS). Right-handed participants with high (highs, n = 20), medium (mediums, n = 9), and low hypnotizability scores (lows, n = 20) performed the line bisection test on a computer screen automatically displaced at distances of 30, 60, and 90 cm from the subjects’ eyes. Highs’ results showed rightward bias of the bisection (Relative Error, RE) for all presentation distances. In contrast, in lows RE was displaced leftward at 30 cm and exhibited a progressive rightward shift at 60 and 90 cm, as occurs in the general population. Mediums’ RE values were intermediate between highs’ and lows’ values. Bisection Times (BT) were significantly longer in highs/mediums than in lows. Findings indicate that the highs’ bisection identifies PPS as if it was extrapersonal, but further studies should assess its functional characteristics. The highs/mediums longer BT suggest less efficient sensorimotor performance.

Funding

Research funded by University of Pisa (Fondi di Ateneo, 2013).