Handling Abreactions in Hypnosis or NLP
What Is an Abreaction?
According to the all knowing Google machine, an abreaction is “the expression and consequent release of a previously repressed emotion, achieved through reliving the experience that caused it (typically through hypnosis or suggestion).”
Put in simpler terms, an abreaction in hypnosis is when someone gets very upset or agitated during a session. Sometimes this upset can be big and even a bit explosive, but there is nothing for you, the hypnotist, to get excited about. It needn’t be scary. In fact, it is often a good sign, and something you should be prepared for
Being able to help clients who are experiencing an abreaction is as much about you as it is them.
A lot of hypnotists are scared of abreactions, but if the hypnotist remains calm and confident, abreactions can be easily handled.
Guidelines For Handling Abreactions in Hypnosis
- First, and absolutely the most important – remain calm. You, the hypnotist – that’s right: remain calm and carry on. Calm and confident is essential to helping the client know that they are safe.
- Second (ok, kind of first, but less important than the calm thing), set up a resource anchor, in advance. A resource anchor is a trigger for a powerful positive emotion. Remember, practice the anchor until the subject can access that feeling easily. If someone gets so upset that they are losing control, you can trigger the positive emotion to help them.
- Emotions are good, by the way. If the practitioner (that’s you) remains calm and uses good judgement, a certain amount of emotion is useful. An abreaction can get to be too much, however, and the subject can get too upset, and needs to be taken out of the extreme emotion in order to feel safe.
- So you can use your anchor, or a calm voice telling the subject they are safe. Once the subject is present enough to be responsive, have them dissociate or move them to another scene in their mind. Dissociation is watching an event happen from a distance, rather than reliving it first person. Alternatively, you can suggest that whatever they’re remembering fades away and they return to the present, with you, where they can feel safe and know that those experiences are in the past.
- When the abreaction has faded, bring your subject out of trance and ensure they feel safe enough to continue. If they do, you can work with them further in a more dissociated state, until they can feel safe to focus on the issue more calmly.