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Man with Posttraumatic Stress, Guilt, Insomnia Asks Where to Start with Guided Imagery

25 Apr
Man with Posttraumatic Stress, Guilt, Insomnia Asks Where to Start

A man suffering from posttraumatic stress asks for direction on which imagery CDs to begin with, given his llimited budget…

I have PTSD and have had it for many years. I found this site with the products offered. Which product should I start with first (limited budget), "Healing Trauma" or "Guided Imagery for the Three Stages of Healing Trauma"?

I live in a rural area where clinical help is somewhat nonexistent. I realize that more than one product may be needed, but I would like to start in the right direction. I am having trouble with lack of sleep, guilt and health issues.


Dear Gerald,

Off the top of my head and without knowing too many specifics of your situation, I would say that if you can only afford one CD, the safest and most conservative place to start would be with regular, daily use of a basic relaxation CD, probably Relaxation & Wellness, so you can first get mastery over your own relaxation response, and then move on to the Healing Trauma CD.

So you start out by building up your ‘self-regulation’ muscle with some simpler, less intense imagery, to train you to relax and calm your mind and body at will - an excellent skill set to have under any circumstances, but absolutely indispensable for PTSD. (In fact, some people with PTSD get enough healing from doing this that they don’t have to do anything else.)

After a few weeks of this kind of skill-building, you can then listen to Healing Trauma and be able to regroup and calm yourself very quickly if something on that more intense CD proves to be too evocative for you. This was the format that was used in the research studies at Duke, and it worked very well. For the first 4 weeks, the participants listened to Relaxation & Wellness only, at a minimum of once a day. Then they switched to Healing Trauma for the subsequent 8 weeks, alternating it with Relaxation & Wellness. Their symptoms improved significantly and dramatically by the end of the 12 weeks and they stayed that way.

That would be a safe, 2-step process, and less expensive than buying the 9-track Imagery for the Three Stages of Healing Trauma, which is more comprehensive and varied, but probably more than you absolutely need. Certainly, if you can afford it, it’s got more choices and more depth than the 2-CD alternative (and it includes those two). It also has imagery to help with sleeplessness, grief, depression, and many other features of PTS, plus it has help for the aftermath - imagery for confidence, anger & forgiveness, and so on. It basically follows the sequencing and protocol from my book, Invisible Heroes.

But if you only want to spring for one CD and you’re emotionally up for it, Healing Trauma has the most "active ingredients" for healing PTS, and if you are ready for its intensity, you may just want to dive into that one and only that one. If you’re ready to feel your feelings again, and can tolerate some anxiety and discomfort, this could be enough. Most people tolerate it well and experience some benefit right away. Others get incremental healing that’s more subtle. Either way, repeated listening has been shown to make a significant dent on PTS symptoms, and can eventually evaporate them altogether.

You’ll know if it’s too intense for you when you listen to it. Some people dip their toes into this CD very slowly, increasing the ‘dosage’ incrementally, adding a few minutes more each day, because that’s all they’re up for. Others cannot get enough of it and listen over and over again for several weeks until something permanently shifts and they don’t need it any more. It’s up to the listener and that’s why that ‘pause’ button is such an excellent device!!

So I hope this answer doesn’t confuse you further. Feel free to write with questions if it does. Best wishes and good luck.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award