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The rewind technique

Treatment

Are you haunted by something from your past? If you are, you’re definitely not alone: Lots of people deal with events, big and small, that can seem to take on a life of their own. While you can’t erase the past (and we learned from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind that erasing memories isn’t an ideal solution, anyway), there’s something you can do to take control of the way you feel and react to painful memories: the rewind technique. Safe and nonintrusive, this therapeutic method is designed to help people overcome trauma and phobias quickly. It’s particularly helpful for those with PTSD or fears of everyday things, like cars or spiders. Here’s the deal: A typical session involves a practitioner helping you get into a deep state of relaxation. Once you’re fully relaxed, they will encourage you to bring your anxiety or trauma to your awareness. Then you’ll be asked to reprocess your traumatic memory in such a way that it becomes stored in your brain as an ordinary rather than a traumatic memory. Say, for example, you were stuck on a super turbulent airplane ride years ago and are now petrified of flying. Your therapist might ask you to imagine yourself on an airplane, but to picture it happening on a television screen. That way you can “watch” yourself taking off, flying without fear, and safely landing from an emotional distance. The theory is that this method shifts an upsetting thought or memory from the brain’s amygdala, which governs “fight or flight” mode, to the neocortex, where it becomes normalized or even forgotten. Imagine that—a memory that’s plagued you for years, and you’re able to finally (eventually) forget it. That’s pretty dang cool. The rewind technique is accessible, too. A session usually takes approximately 10-15 minutes for the practitioner to explain, and only 2-3 minutes to do once you get started. That makes it potentially helpful for those who have limited time or money (or both). Other treatments for PTSD, like psychotherapy, cognitive processing therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and medication, have significantly more research and usually involve more sessions.

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