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The REWIND technique for trauma recovery

When someone has experienced trauma, whether a single event such as a vehicle accident, a series of events such as might be experienced by a soldier in a combat situation, or over many years such as childhood abuse or neglect or living under the threat of domestic violence, simply talking about the event/s is not enough. In fact, talking may actually cause more harm by re-traumatising the person. The REWIND technique for trauma recovery on the other hand is safe and extremely effective:

As part of their therapeutic “toolkit”,  Human Givens counsellors including myself, use what is called the REWIND technique to help our clients recover from many different types of trauma. It is a non-intrusive (meaning you don’t have to talk about any of the details if you don’t want to,  or if you can’t remember), safe and highly effective psychological method for de-traumatising people, which can also be used for removing phobias.

What is the REWIND technique for trauma recovery?

The technique should be carried out by an experienced practitioner and is only performed once a person is in a state of deep relaxation. We do this by getting the client to settle down comfortably in their chair, to start to tune into their breathing, to gradually deepen their breathing, to let go of any stress in their bodies perhaps by the client mentally doing a head to toe check, and then often the therapist will count slowly from 1 to 20.

When they are fully relaxed, they are encouraged to bring their anxiety to the surface and then are calmed down again by being guided to recall or imagine a place where they feel totally safe and at ease. Most people choose a place in nature – often a beautiful beach or a forest walk. I find teenagers prefer to choose their own bedroom at home.

Their relaxed state is then deepened and they are asked to imagine that, in their special safe place, they have a TV set and a video player with a remote control facility. They are asked to imagine floating to one side, out of body, and to watch themselves watching the screen, without actually seeing the picture (creating a double dissociation). 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 at which the trauma is over and they feel safe again.

They are then asked, in their imagination, to float back into their body and experience themselves going swiftly backwards through the trauma, from safe point to safe point, as if they were a character in a video that is being rewound. Then they watch the same images but as if on the TV screen while pressing the fast forward button.

All this is repeated back and forth, at whatever speed feels comfortable, and as many times as needed – generally for my clients it is 4 or 5 times forwards and backwards. They then eject the DVD and in their mind’s eye destroy it, whether by smashing it with a hammer or any other means.

In the next  part of the process, they once again imagine themselves in the beautiful safe place, and If the feared circumstance is one that will be confronted again in the future — for instance, driving a car or going in a plane — the person is asked, while still relaxed, to see themselves doing so confidently.

Then finally they are brought slowly back to the present by the therapist doing a count form 20 back to 1, this time being encouraged to feel more alert with every number counted.

Why is the REWIND technique so powerful and effective?
  • Besides being safe, quick and painless, the technique has the advantage of being non-voyeuristic. Intimate details do not have to be made public.
  • It is possible to process multiple traumas in same session
  • It can make trauma recovery much faster and simpler

And what is really wonderful for me as a therapist is that my clients leave sessions feeling more positive and hopeful – they usually LOOK different, more relaxed and peaceful.

The feedback I get from my clients is ALWAYS positive –  they tend to notice results very quickly, in terms of fewer and less severe trauma symptoms. They feel more in control of their symptoms and much more optimistic about making a full recovery.

For more information visit the Human Givens Institute website:

And read this excellent article about using the Rewind technique and studies if its effectiveness:

Need some advice and support?

If you have experienced trauma and  would like to talk it over in complete confidence,  call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.

Book a counselling session today!


See also About Human Givens Therapy, Does the Human Givens Approach Really Work?,