The Rewind Technique

The Rewind Technique

This is a description of the “rewind technique”.  It’s sometimes called the “visual-kinesthetic dissociation technique”.  This approach has been proposed as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias.  It essentially consists of instructions to imagine what you’re afraid off, with suggestions for separation/distance/’dissociation’ from the image.  Evidence for the use of this technique in the treatment of trauma or phobias is very limited, but due to its popularity it suggests it does have benefits. 


Hypnosis Rewind Technique

The rewind technique has been used for many years to help de-traumatize sufferers.  The technique is safe and does not require the individual to return to traumatic places.  The sufferer needs to be fully relaxed and comfortable for it too work. 

How does the Rewind Technique Work?

When fully relaxed a practitioner will encourage the sufferer to bring their anxieties to the surface, and watch uncomfortable images of the event at a distance from a bystander’s point of view.  The idea being that they will feel relaxed and calm as they watch these events rather than being involved in them directly.  The sufferer will also be in a relaxed position such as a seat or bed. 

The Rewind technique scriptThe rewind technique starts by the sufferer being asked to imagine they are at the cinema or watching TV at home.  In other words there needs to be a screen in front of them.   They are then asked to float outside their body and watch themselves watching the screen including themselves on the screen (double dissociation.) 

Next they watch themselves watching a film of a traumatic event that is causing them fear.  The film has to be something they have experienced.  The film begins when the trauma starts and stops when the trauma ends.  The sufferer feels safe because although they are in the film they are just viewing themselves watching it.  They are usually asked to imagine the film in black and white at first.

NLP Rewind Technique

After they have watched it through, as if there watching it from the projection room of a cinema, they are asked to float back into their body on screen (not in the audience.)  The traumatic event they have just watched is then rewound. 

Next they are asked to watch the film in full colour but the film is fast forward (dissociation).  This traumatic event is then played backwards and forwards at whatever speed the sufferer feels comfortable with, until it evokes no negative emotion from the sufferer.  

If the fear is in the future such as walking through a busy shopping centre, the sufferer will be asked to visualize this image and imagine themselves doing it confidently without anxiety. 

Rewind Technique PTSD

This technique is ideal for people with extreme phobias or PTSD as it does not require them entering into a situation that could cause real anguish.

If you don't really have a phobia, you can use it to get rid of any limiting or unhelpful negative response you have to a bad memory.  It won't erase the memory, but you'll be left with a more healthy relationship with it. 

Rewind Technique Script or Training

You might want to get someone to read the instructions out loud to you with the appropriate gaps, or alternatively you can learn the sequence before you start.

If your phobia trigger involves cinemas then its best to think of yourself sat at home watching TV than at the cinema.  Otherwise, give yourself some quiet space to go through this properly.  I hope you find it as effective as it certainly can be. Before you start, just remind yourself that the phobia was real by imagining the phobia trigger and feeling the bad feelings that come.  In a few minutes you may find those feelings may have vanished.

1. Try relaxation or hypnotic induction exercises before beginning the Rewind Technique to get your mind and body to relax.  You want to try and reach your subconscious mind.

2. I’m going to ask you to do certain things which will help to relieve the distress caused by recurrent thoughts and images.  I will give directions one part at a time and then I want you to ‘visualize’ and do it.

3. I want you to imagine that you are sitting in the middle of a cinema.  It is dark and there is no-one else there as the cinema has been hired just for you. It’s a comfortable seat, the cinema is warm, and you feel quite safe.  You can picture a real cinema that you know well.

4. In a little while you are going to watch a movie of the memory that led to the phobic response you have. However, the movie won't be projected normally. It's actually a very old black-and-white movie in which you star, playing yourself.  The picture quality will also be a bit fuzzy and washed out, as if the film is really old. There won't be any sound, but instead there will be a musical soundtrack. The music will be comical, so please choose something from a favourite TV show which sounds inherently funny. Benny Hill, The Muppets, Monty Python, etc.  Remember too that you'll be seeing yourself in the film, so this will be a new way of viewing the events.

5.  Before we start the film, think of some situation where you know you are solid, strong and excellent. This can be anything from being able to bake sensational food to being an expert on general knowledge. Let yourself feel that rather comfortable, smug feeling of power, and let it spread into every inch of your body.  Really exaggerate it and notice how it feels, letting your body remember it.  Let this be your state of mind while you watch the film.

6.  On the screen you can see a black and white snapshot, a still in which you see yourself just before the traumatic or phobic event.  On 'Go', you're going to play the film. But not quite yet. Up above you is a little projection room. 

7. Now I want you to float out of your body up to the projection room in the cinema where you can watch yourself watching the screen. From this position you will be able to see the whole cinema including your head and shoulders sitting in the middle of the cinema.  Also see yourself in the still picture on the screen.  The film will play from beginning to end and tell the whole story of the memory in vintage fuzzy black and white.  At the end it will freeze-frame.  If someone is reading these instructions out to you, you should let that very helpful someone know that you've got to the end by telling them. But keep your eyes closed. Ready? Start the music . . . Go.

8. I want you to turn the snapshot on the screen into a moving film and watch it at the normal pace from the beginning to the end. You will see and feel what occurred at the time. When you get past what is the worst of the experience the memory begins to fade, and I want you to stop the film and allow it to become a still again.

9. Finished? Good. Now, keep it frozen on that last frame. Float down from the projection room into the picture on the screen.  Congratulate yourself for being so brave, and for having survived an unpleasant experience, or whatever is appropriate.

10.  By jumping inside the experience, see everything as if it were happening now. The picture is now in colour.  Feel the temperature of the air around you, notice what is going on, be aware of any sound, smell, or taste.  I want you to experience this as accurately and quickly as you can.

11. In a moment, you are going to run the whole film back-wards, at top speed, with you inside it, viewing everything from that first-person perspective. The same music will play back-wards at top speed, but the fast rewinding will be over fairly quickly. When you get back to the start, you can open your eyes. That will complete the process. Ready? Full colour now, played backwards to the start and seen from inside. Go!  Run the film backwards, all the people will move backwards, everything will move in reverse, just like rewinding a film except that you are inside this film, and you will experience everything happening in reverse.

12. Good. Eyes open? Great. Now, check that it's worked. Think of that old trigger again. What's different now? Are you finding that the old response has gone? Can it be that easy?

13. Repeat this experience, covering different aspects of the events if necessary.  When you rewind it in full colour, try playing it again in full colour with funny music and a feeling of power.  Play it at various speeds backwards and forwards with your new found confidence.

14. Whenever your memory is triggered, the rewind technique will come in to play until you are back at a safe starting point and you are left with a good image.

Now what do you do? The next phase is to root your new, 'mature' or 'helpful' response into reality and your memories.  Search out the old trigger and notice that you can be comfortable and happy in its presence. If you had a phobia of dogs, and you now feel OK about them, go find some dogs and get used to not being scared. This is quite an important phase: you need to become familiar with your new reaction (or lack of it), so that this new reaction starts to feel like you. If you tried the above and nothing happened, check to see whether you really gave it your full involvement. If you tried it alone, get someone to read it through for you as this can help you focus.

I would recommend you give it a try.  Personally I did not use it to overcome my anxieties and phobias but you may receive some benefit from the technique.  

I hope this works for you!


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder For Dummies

Human Givens: The New Approach to Emotional Health and Clear Thinking: A New Approach to Emotional Health and Clear Thinking

The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery, and Growth


Fear & Anxiety in the Brain

How to Stop a Panic Attack?

Prevent Panic Attacks - Challenging the Thoughts which Cause Panic

What are Phobias



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