Posttraumatic stress disorder is a psychophysiological disorder, characterized by the following: chronic sympathetic nervous activation; persisting perceptual/sensory vigilance for threats; recurrent distressing memories of the event, including intrusive memories, flashbacks lived as if in the present moment, and nightmares; and a persisting negative emotional state including fear and shame. The psychophysiological basis for this disorder calls for psychophysiologically based interventions. This article presents the case narrative of a 29-year-old national guardsman, exposed to combat trauma and later to civilian trauma in public safety work. His treatment followed the Pathways model, comprised of multimodal interventions, beginning with self-directed behavioral changes, then the acquisition of skills (including self-hypnosis), and finally professional treatment including clinical hypnosis and EMDR.
A sensory experience memory (SEM) is an emotional memory that may be either connected to an intellectual memory or it may have become dissociated from its corresponding intellectual memory. Sensory experience memories are the cause of a number of pathologies, including PTSD, panic disorder, and anxiety. When a personality state that holds a negative SEM assumes the conscious, the client may display negative emotional reactions that appear unwarranted. SEMs can also play a central role in therapy to resolve pathology. Resource therapy (RT) incorporates the understanding of SEMs in both diagnosis and treatment. RT will be used in this article to illustrate the importance of working with SEMs, but therapists can translate the use of SEMs to other therapeutic modalities.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy of hypnotherapy in the treatment of PTSD used literature searches to obtain 47 articles. However, only 6 were experiments testing the efficacy of hypnosis-based treatments. A fixed-effects meta-analysis was applied to postintervention assessment results and 4-week follow-ups. A large effect in favor of hypnosis-based (especially manualized abreactive hypnosis) treatment was found for the studies that reported the posttest results (d = 1.17). The temporal stability of the effect remains strong, as reflected by the 4-week follow-up assessments (d = 1.58) and also by long-term evaluations (e.g., 12 months). Hypnosis appears to be effective in alleviating PTSD symptoms.