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The Rewind Technique

THE REFINED version of the Rewind Technique* (as taught by HG College for over 20 years) is a non-intrusive, safe and highly effective psychological method for detraumatising people, which can also be used for removing phobias. It should be carried out by an experienced practitioner and is only performed once a person is in a state of deep relaxation.

When they are fully relaxed, they are encouraged to bring their anxiety briefly to the surface and then are calmed down again by being guided to imagine a place where they feel totally at ease.

Their relaxed state is then deepened and they are asked to imagine that, in their special safe place, they have a TV or screen with a remote control facility. They are asked to imagine floating up high behind the screen, out of body, and to watch themselves watching the screen, without actually seeing the picture (creating what is termed 'double dissociation' – being twice removed from the event). They watch themselves watching a 'film' of the traumatic event that is still affecting them. The film begins at a point before the trauma occurred and ends at a point after the trauma is over.

They are then asked, in their imagination, to float back into their body and experience themselves going swiftly backwards through the trauma, from after it was over to before it started, as if they were a character in a film that is being rewound. Then they watch the same images but as if on the TV screen while pressing the fast-forward button (dissociation).

All this is repeated back and forth, at the highest speed that feels comfortable, and as many times as needed, till the scenes evoke no emotion from the client. If the feared circumstance is one that will be confronted again in the future — for instance, driving a car or using a lift — the person is asked, while still relaxed, to visualise themselves doing so confidently.

Besides being safe, quick and painless, the technique has the advantage of being non-voyeuristic. Intimate or painfully upsetting details do not have to be disclosed. This reduces the distress for the client, and also helps protect the therapist from the possibility of being vicariously traumatised themselves when detraumatising particularly disturbing events.

Case History:  Finding Peace at Last

* History of the Rewind Technique

This technique originated from one developed by Richard Bandler, one of the founders of NLP, when it was called the visual/kinaesthetic dissociation protocol [1]. A variant was developed by Dr David Muss, who called it the rewind technique. [2]  The version of the rewind technique that human givens therapists use was refined by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell, co-founders of the human givens approach, to make it as reliably effective as is possible by aligning the method with their insights into how trauma and phobias are processed in the brain. HG Therapists now follow a specific Rewind Protocol which follows the essential steps of the process that Griffin and Tyrrell set out.

In 2023, the first randomised controlled trial (RCT) of the rewind technique, as practised by its founder, Dr David Muss, was published in a medical journal. It found that the rewind, delivered in this case remotely via video, showed “a large effect size in treating symptoms of PTSD” in the participants and suggests that “one to three sessions of rewind demonstrate potential as a more time- and cost-efficient trauma-focused intervention than CBT-TF [trauma-focused cognitive-behavioural therapy] and EMDR [eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing] but with a similar effect size”. [3]

Unlike in the refined version of the technique in which HG practitioners are trained through Human Givens College, participants in the trial were not put into a state of deep relaxation before starting the rewind. We consider this a crucial additional element of the version we offer, which has a high success rate.

1. Bandler, R (1985). Using Your Brain for a Change. Real People Press, Moab, UT.
2. Muss, D (1991). A new technique for treating post-traumatic stress disorder. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 30,1, 91–2. 
3. Wright, L A, Kitchiner, N et al (2023). Rewind for posttraumatic stress disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Depression and Anxiety, doi: 10.1155/2023/6279649


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Date posted: 14/02/2024