• Trauma can leave emotional and psychological scars that can last a long time, especially if you don't get the right support to help you process what happened

  • Human Givens therapist Pat Capel explains how he uses the Rewind technique in his practice

  • You can find Human Givens therapists and other therapists trained to work with trauma on our directory – start your search here 

Trauma comes in various forms and we react to traumatic events differently. Some of us are very lucky in that we live through a traumatic experience and emerge from it relatively unscathed. It might take some time, but there are those who seem to come out the other side without any long term negative effects. 

Then there are some of us who are naturally more predisposed to developing PTSD after a traumatic event. Trauma can leave an emotional wound that can hang around for a very long time. Those of us who have experienced childhood trauma often carry those wounds into adulthood. Trauma can be debilitating and exhausting. It can have profoundly negative effects on our personal lives and can leave many unable to form meaningful relationships.

How to recover from trauma using the Rewind technique

But trauma does not have to be a life sentence. The negative emotional and psychological effects can be treated. As a Human Givens therapist, I know that trauma can be dealt with in a safe way that will not lead to further psychological wounding. All counsellors and therapists I work with have the following mantra: first, do no harm. There are some detraumatising techniques that could potentially do more harm. Reliving and retelling the trauma over and over might help some to get over it. But for many, this could simply retraumatise them over and over again. They are then at risk of falling into a vicious cycle where they feel no improvement to their mental health.

Human Givens therapists use a technique called The Rewind. It is a relatively simple but can be incredibly powerful. It can sometimes be done in one session. The real beauty of it for me, as a therapist, is that I do not need to know the full details of the traumatic event. The client does not need to tell me every minor detail. All I need is the basics. The client is spared having to recall every painful detail.

Trauma involves a very heightened state of emotional arousal. The essence of the Rewind technique involves the therapist taking you through a process that guides you into a deep state of relaxation using breathing techniques and guided imagery. The event is then relived in the imagination, rather than by retelling it. But because you are deeply relaxed, the theory is that the heightened emotional arousal is then neutralised.  When we are emotionally aroused, we do not have access to our cortex (rational thinking) or our hippocampus (long-term memory). By reliving the memory in deeply relaxed state, the higher brain functions can then reprogram the emotional response to the traumatic memory. We do not try and get rid of the memory. It is part of who you are. But we help you look at it from a very different perspective so that its emotional impact is minimised.

And it does not matter if the trauma was perceived, real or imaginary, or if is mental or physical. The technique is the same. It works equally well on phobias. So often a fear of, for example, spiders can be traced back to a particular event. The Rewind will allow you to revisit that event, safely in your imagination and from a very relaxed perspective, and re-programme the emotion attached to it. I have found the technique very effective in my practice. Some clients feel the benefits almost immediately. If you have suffered a traumatic experience and feel that it is having a negative impact on your mental health, I would highly recommend you explore The Rewind a little further. You can read more about the technique here.

Pat Capel is a verified welldoing.org Human Givens therapist in London and online

Further reading

Understanding trauma and flashbacks

What is Human Givens therapy?

The relationship between trauma and dissociation

How EMDR can support you through trauma

What is EMDR?