Why Guided Imagery Is a Best Practice for Dissociative Disorder
We got this question from a woman whose therapist recommended she listen to our guided imagery to boost her progress in her treatment for Dissociative Disorder. DD is a condition, usually the result of traumatic events, where people experience involuntary disconnects from themselves, feeling detached from their body, their emotions and their current surroundings. People often describe it as if they were watching themselves from a distance.
We’re glad to get this question, because guided imagery can help a person who dissociates and “trances out” without even knowing it, and instead teach her to purposefully, positively dissociate, with a hypnotic technique targeting goals to help her heal.
Using the immersive, altered-state techniques of guided imagery, hypnosis or meditation regularly, will actually help her distinguish the difference between being “in” and “out”, and to deliberately choose to stay “in”. And, no question about it, it’s safer to stay “in”.
She will be far less likely to get into driving accidents or to injure herself in other ways, due to spacy inattention.
She will also be less likely to get attacked when out and about, because people who aren’t quite “home” in their bodies look like easy prey to predators, who instinctively know they’ll be easy to overcome,
She will also be less likely to get sick, too, because when her awareness stays inside her body, she can perceive internal signals and sensations, and be more cognizant of early warnings that something isn’t feeling quite right. So, here’s the question and the answer.
My therapist recommended your collection of guided imagery to help with my dissociative disorder. I am assuming that the PTSD series is where I should be looking, but I am not sure what is best for complex PTSD/DD and significant amnesia.
Also, I saw a note regarding versions available without reference to God, and that is what I would prefer.
Is that available in whatever titles I am looking for?
Even though guided imagery uses a dissociated, hypnotic state to get the job done, it paradoxically is just the ticket for healing Dissociative Disorder. It takes a trauma survivor like you, who automatically “trances out” without even knowing it whenever you’re triggered, and instead teaches you to purposefully deploy this positive, therapeutic form of dissociation, at will, to help you heal.
Using the immersive, hypnotic techniques of guided imagery, hypnosis or meditation regularly will actually train you to know the difference between being “in” and “out”, and to deliberately opt to stay “in”.
This in turn will make you safer – less likely to get into driving accidents or to injure yourself in other ways, due to trancey inattention. You will also be less likely to get attacked by a predator (because people who aren’t quite “home” look like (and are) easy prey, and predators instinctively know this and choose those folks.
And you’re less likely to get sick, too, because by locating your awareness inside your body, where you can perceive internal signals and sensations, you can notice signals and symptoms early on and be able to remedy them early on.
So, to be sure, your dissociation served you well once, cushioning you at times of immense fear and distress. But it took on a life of its own. Now it’s time to choose it or lose it, as the situation dictates.
So, I would recommend you start first with our imagery for Relaxation & Wellness,to see how you respond to it and to get you used to listening to it.
If it makes you uncomfortable or triggers you in any way (it shouldn't, but just in case), you can always hit the "pause" button. You might want to listen for the first time with your therapist, just to check it out in a super-safe space. On the affirmations track of this title, there is the one line toward the very end that says “I know I am held in the hands of God, and am perfectly, utterly safe”,
Then, after a couple weeks of listening to that imagery, once or twice a day (or more if you feel like it), you might want to start alternating that imagery with listening to something more directly therapeutic. One of our guided meditations that helps fortify and anchor a stronger sense of embodied self and adds to your internal ballast and identity, is our guided imagery for Heartbreak, Abandonment and Betrayal.
I think this imagery could be very helpful for the dissociative disorder issues. So, again, try it out, see how it feels to listen to it. Again, you might want to listen to it for the first time with your therapist. The affirmations track for this title also has that same sentence with the “God” word toward the end of the segment.
Then, if that seems to be working out, take a few weeks of alternating between those two meditations, before dipping your toes into the Healing Trauma imagery, which is the most emotionally evocative but arguably the most therapeutic guided imagery we've got. That’s why we recommend to certain trauma survivors to build up to it with other meditations first. It will indirectly and symbolically address your posttraumatic stress, which we can assume is what triggered the evolution of your DD in the first place. This is the title that does have the God-free option in digital format.
Again, listen for the first time with your therapist - this imagery, in Jungian terms, is a classic Hero's Journey, that has you making your way through a symbolic Dark Night of the Soul, entering Sacred Space, where you encounter Magician Energy, which invites powerful allies from the imaginal realm to serve you up a ritual of Transformation, Healing and Rebirth - a Soul Retrieval if you will.
Listen to it as often as much and as often as you like, and you can also work with alternating all three, choosing whatever suits you best at the time. This should give your treatment progress a nice, substantial boost.
If for some reason this technique doesn't suit you, don't push it. But I suspect it should work well for you. Don't forget, guided imagery is a form of positive, targeted, choiceful dissociation, and you should be a champ at using this familiar mind-state, only this time, consciously, in the service of your own healing. Your therapist was pretty darn smart to suggest it.
Best of luck and let me know how it's working out.
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