Today we looked at the imaginal exposure technique of rewind which is used to help phobia and trauma suffers. We looked at the history of the development from NLP days to later uses with 2 you tube videos of Dr David Muss followed by a powerpoint presentation by Dominic on the development and use of the therapeutic tool. We then had a discussion about the material presented and a look at the limitations and benefits of using rewind with clients.

The principle of rewind was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder of NLP fame, and clumsily titled the Visual Kinaesthetic Disassociation Technique (VKD). Dr David Muss developed the technique so that it could be effectively used in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and called it ‘the Rewind technique’ .

Further refined and promoted widely in recent years by The Human Givens Institute, the Rewind Technique is now a highly effective method of giving a traumatized client an opportunity to review their memories from an entirely disassociated relaxed perspective.

The traumatic event is experienced ‘in reverse’. This is such an unusual way of processing the memory that it has the effect of taking out the fear element. Nobody has a fear of things that happen in reverse.

Here is a description of rewind by Dr David Muss which was later refined by the human givens institute to recognise the importance of emotional regulation of an client before and during the process.


The refined version of the Rewind Technique* (as taught by HG College) 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 to the surface and then are calmed down again by being guided to recall or 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 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.

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 video 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 whatever speed 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 made public. 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.

Our discussion looked at how the process needs to be delivered in a gentle nuanced way mindful of keeping the client safe and how it may take several or many sessions of normal therapy before the client feels safe enough (if at all) for this process.

The idea of the client is reprocessing their perception of a traumatic event was looked at and  a note of caution was expressed with the suggestion of encouraging the client to realise they survived the event when the trauma memory may be complex and more yet to be revealed.

Also the idea of some considering this to be a single session intervention by any well meaning carer was looked at and a caution noted about ensuring a therapeutic approach to emotion regulation before rewind considered. The risk of resulting traumatisation if not done cautiously was highlighted.

The confidence of the therapist was noted as being important where the client can feel held and believe in a likely positive outcome.

The label of a phobia cure was also considered to be a potentially misleading one given how complex our response to anxiety provoking situations can be.

We considered the limitations of its effectiveness on clients who struggle to connect with affect and who have fragmented or no memories of their trauma and it was recognised that this could be a useful tool in competent trained hands.