The Rewind Technique

The Rewind Technique (also known in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) as the “The Fast Phobia Cure” or “The Visual-Kinesthetic Dissociation Technique”) is an advanced tool to decondition phobias and trauma (such as PTSD). It’s efficacy has been assessed in many academic papers such as the work by Gray & Liotta. It’s safe, gentle and without the drugs, scare tactics, psychological archaeology and exposure used by the older and less effective phobia treatments.

The Rewind Technique is now widely accepted as the most reliable and effective treatment for all kinds of phobias, even long-standing and severe ones. It’s probably the single most reliable and effective tool in psychotherapy today and is being used more and more as a front-line treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder including trauma caused by accidents, assaults, war and witnessing critical incidents.

If you have ever seen someone being almost instantly released from their phobia on TV and thought “Wow, how did they do that?” you can bet the therapist used The Rewind Technique.

So how does it work?

A phobia is driven by a pattern-matching process whereby the unconscious mind creates “fear templates” around “dangerous” things or situations to try and keep you safe from the imagined threat in future. It then broadly matches these patterns to more and more situations as a phobia develops.

What The Rewind Technique does, in a very creative way, is interfere with those patterns – it subtly changes the templates by changing the way we experience the memories – so when the unconscious mind tries to match the patterns, they don’t match anymore and the anxiety is no longer triggered. The templates (memories) will still be there, they will just feel different. The emotional tag will be gone. The phobia just won’t work anymore.

This can all be done very quickly because the brain learns very fast. It learned to be phobic very fast. Teaching it how not to be phobic can be, and is necessarily, equally fast. It does not take long-term treatment. The mind can then start to generalise outwards, but this time in a very positive way, as it begins to associate more and more situations with feelings of calm and control.

One of the great things about The Rewind Technique is that it is non-intrusive: the therapist doesn’t need to know the precise details of the traumatic memories or phobic encounters because the sufferer brings their content (their experiences) to the process.

If you have a fear of driving then you can experience The Rewind Technique for yourself because our program uses a specially adapted version to work with driving phobias.


Can driving simulators help?

A new phobia treatment centre has opened in Spain (Burmin Institute) which uses virtual reality simulators to treat a range of phobias and anxiety states. The treatment – called virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) – is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) whereby gradual exposure to the feared situation in a controlled virtual world is intended to reduce or extinguish the fear responses.

Over the years there has also been research into the efficacy of virtual reality treatments on driving phobia. For example the study by The University of Manchester (Science Daily).

These studies show some benefit although it can be a slow process – often taking 12 sessions over 3 months – and a costly one (creating and running the advanced simulators is expensive).

Far better then to use the greatest virtual reality simulator know to man: the human brain. Everyone’s got one and access is quick and free. But using it correctly is the trick. In fact, it’s the misuse of this wonderful simulator – the human imagination – that creates so many problems in the first place.

That’s why we can terrify ourselves with nightmares and phobics can scare themselves just by thinking about their phobic trigger. A driving phobic just has to think about a future journey and the imagination will kick in and create a disaster movie of it in their head. The brain struggles to distinguishing between reality and this near-perfect simulation and starts to trigger basic survival responses and can tip them into panic even before they get anywhere near a car.

So what we do in the MindSpa Phobia Clinic when treating the fear of driving and other phobias is to utilise the power of this virtual reality simulator using a variety of tools which rely strongly on directed visualisations to decondition the phobic patterns and responses and install calm ones for future. This can all be done in a very safe and controlled way and very quickly – typically in one or two sessions.