Hypnosis for PTSD: An Overview

By Sara R. Fogan

Some people become very traumatized by their experiences in a war or while fighting a war, Hypnosis Motivation Institute founder John Kappas, Ph.D., observed. “Any time a person goes into an extremely stressful situation, you start to anticipate the stress or danger,” he said. Even though soldiers receive specific combat skills, their survival depends on their ability to fight and kill as well as to deal with the horrors that they have experienced or witnessed on the battlefield: i.e., the fight/flight/freeze response. 

Although Dr. Kappas referred to PTSD in the context of military/battle experiences, anyone can be affected by it—from people who have experienced physical/emotional abuse, severe injury while participating in a sport or automobile/public transportation accidents, victims of domestic/international terrorism attacks, and more. Regardless of the original source of trauma, Dr. Kappas warned that whenever a person represses the stress and emotions (e.g., fear, sadness, anger) experienced during the incident, he or she is vulnerable to suffering what he called “post-war depression” or what is now known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Diagnostics and Statistics Manual IV defines PTSD as an extremely complex disorder that includes psychological as well as physical symptoms of distress. These include: insomnia, bad dreams or flashbacks of the war experience, explosive anger, survivor’s guilt and difficulties integrating with or back into society. Job performance at work may and personal relationships with the spouse/lover, friends and family may also be negatively affected. Even if the stress is repressed when the traumatic event occurs, eventually these symptoms surface and must be dealt with, he warned. “Some guys 20 years out of the Service are fine and then suddenly break,” the 

late hypnotherapist warned. “After you survive in the military/war, if it’s the only thing you know, it can be a shock to face the real world,” Dr. Kappas said. Treatment for PTSD entails desensitizing the client to the stress of war and reintegrating the person back into his or her “old” life, including relationships and work. On January 1, 2013, I earned a certification to use hypnosis to help people who are experiencing PTSD to reduce stress and the myriad of symptoms to improve their quality of life. I use hypnosis, relaxation/breathing and therapeutic guided imagery techniques to teach these clients how to manage stress. I also employ cognitive behavioral-therapy techniques and exposure therapy to help the person separate (un-pair) the association between triggers of fear about the previous traumatic event and what is going on in their current environment. Because PTSD is such a complex disorder, I require a referral from both a licensed medical doctor and a licensed mental-health professional for me to provide hypnotherapy as a complementary therapy to alleviate, manage and control these symptoms. 

California law allows access by California residents to complementary and alternative health care practitioners who are not providing services that require medical training and credentials. The purpose of a program of hypnotherapy is for vocational and avocational self-improvement (Business and Professions Code 2908) and as an alternative or complementary treatment to healing arts services licensed by the state. A hypnotherapist is not a licensed physician or psychologist, and hypnotherapy services are not licensed by the state of California. Services are non-diagnostic and do not include the practice of medicine, neither should they be considered as a substitute for licensed medical or psychological services or procedures. 

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. In July 2019 she was voted the Best Hypnotherapist in Santa Clarita, California. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit © 2019 

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