A 10-minute technique that reduces PTSD symptoms

PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) are the resulting symptoms from traumatic experiences. The Rewind technique helps reduce the symptoms of PTSD. This may include high anxiety, unwanted flashbacks or memories, intrusive thoughts, being triggered by ‘everyday things’, and feeling hypervigilant. 


To understand how the technique works, I want you to follow the exercise below.


Imagine you’re at the top of a rollercoaster and suddenly you zoom down the biggest drop.

When you imagined this, what did you feel? What emotions came up for you? Was it a pleasant or unpleasant experience?

Now take a moment to let those feelings subside before continuing.

Now, imagine you’re sitting in front of a screen. On that screen is a video playing of you, on the rollercoaster. 

When you imagined this, what did you feel? Again, what emotions came up?

If you found that imagining watching yourself on the rollercoaster via the screen was less intense and less vivid than directly imagining yourself riding it, you have successfully followed and experienced what happens during the rewind technique and how it helps reduce the intensity of traumatic experiences.

What is a traumatic experience?

I work with the understanding that there are three main types of trauma (however if you don’t easily fit within these categories but are experiencing PTSD symptoms, please don’t worry. Either speak with your GP or find a therapist to help you understand what is happening for you).


This is a ‘one-off’ isolated incident eg. being assaulted, raped, witnessing death, a terrorist attack, a natural disaster. 


This is ongoing, and repeated eg. childhood and domestic abuse, being held captive, war, community violence, neglect.


When someone is exposed to multiple traumas (usually combining both chronic and acute) resulting in PTSD and additional mental health issues. 

What is the Rewind technique and why does it work? 

The Rewind technique is also known as visual-kinaesthetic dissociation. As implied, it helps clients, through guided visualisation, safely dissociate from past traumas. Through visualisation, you are able to process the trauma in a detached and safe way. In therapy, we tend to talk directly about past experiences which can be too overwhelming, especially if you’re still suffering from PTSD symptoms and reliving the trauma.

By initially asking you to imagine the trauma as if you were watching it on a screen (rather than talking about it directly), you gain a sense of control over it because you feel more detached from it, creating space from the power you may feel it has over you. 

There are additional steps to the Rewind technique as I have briefly outlined below. However, as it must be done safely with the guidance of a therapist, I will explain these in more detail within a session, starting with a meditation to ensure you are prepared as possible, helping you to ease into a deeply relaxed state.

What happens during the Rewind technique? 

You will complete the IES form which calculates your initial symptoms score and assesses whether using the technique is appropriate for your presentation.

We’ll agree together on the traumatic memory to be worked through. 

I will explain all the steps you need to follow during the rewind visualisations including:

  • Imagining you’re in a safe place, ready to watch your traumatic memory on a screen (ensuring the memory starts with a pleasant one).
  • Once the entire memory has been ‘watched’ you will imagine ‘stepping into’ the memory and that you are now physically in it. However this time, the memory is happening in reverse as if you and the memory are being rewound (ensuring you end back at your pleasant memory).
  • Repeat the visualisation.

You will take the IES form again in two weeks to measure your reduction in symptoms.

Does the rewind technique work?

Through my experience as a therapist, 100% of my clients have reported a reduction in their symptoms through the preliminary and concluding completion of the IES form. It is important to note that it doesn’t completely eliminate the symptoms but rather reduces their vividness, allowing clients to speak further about the trauma (if so desired) without feeling completely overwhelmed by it and live life without being triggered as intensely.

*NB: For complex trauma, I would always recommend working with an EMDR therapist.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, EC2A
Written by Janine Tooker, MBACP Reg. Integrative Therapist
London, EC2A

I've worked through the NHS & independently with: childhood trauma, self-esteem, identity, cultural & LGBTQ+ issues. I also work with general depression & anxiety. I am highly experienced in working with PTSD from sexual & psychological abuse. I am an Integrative Therapist, meaning I...

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