V-K dissociation is a hypnotic technique which involves the person separating or dissociating the observing ego from the experiencing ego (Fromm, 1965). This technique is extremely useful for helping people overcome, or comes to terms with, past trauma. The VK stands for visual-kinaesthetic. The technique has three components. First, the technique is used to help people to dissociate from the original traumatic incident or incidents. By dissociating, one is given the opportunity to separate from the visual and mental images (visual) and their associated feelings (kinaesthetic). During the procedure, the patient is encouraged to find a special place (Callow, 2003) in order to relax. The patient is then encouraged to imagine watching himself in the original trauma in a safe environment. This can be done by looking out of the window or watching a television scene. Often, it is a good idea to encourage the patient to reframe the scene so that they are in the winning position. The colours, shapes and images that are elicited by the patient can also be changed: this provides the patient with more control of the setting. This technique should be tailor-made to suit the needs of the patient. It is also a good idea to use patient-generated images during the process.
Other clinicians have adapted this technique for specific use in the consulting room; for example, the cinema technique, which involves watching yourself from the control booth, is derived from this procedure. The cinema technique is described as being a form of ‘double dissociation’ because the person in the control booth ‘watches himself watching himself’ on the screen (Ibbotson, 2012). The idea behind this is that it provides the patient with the ability to observe phenomena in a safe position—the more one dissociates from a trauma, the more one is able to reduce the intensity of the emotion. This technique is also helpful because patients are given the opportunity to rewind the tape and change the scenario so that they get resolution. Some patients also change the scene so that they are in the winning position. These hypnotic techniques are specialist treatment strategies and should only be used by psychotherapists or psychologists who have had additional training in trauma or post traumatic stress disorder.
David Kraft is an experienced psychotherapist in private practice. He has two clinics—one in Harley Street and the other in Enfield. David has specialist training in post traumatic stress disorder. He also offers reduced fees for the military and ex-military.
Appointments: 0207 467 8564