A client came to see me about the shoulder pain she had been experiencing for years, so I prepared a simple and effective pain reduction technique. I began the body scan and relaxation technique and counted her down from ten to one. On one my client suddenly began shaking and sobbing, it was then that I realized that my planned session had taken a sudden and unexpected turn.
A: What’s happening?
C: Oh God! No, No, No! They’re hitting us with bombs, my men are getting blown up! (sobbing)
Deeply sensing that my client was reliving a horrific scene and with a new understanding that trauma is stored in the body’s cells and passed down through the generations, I thought it best to move my client out of this scene and into another scene.
A: I want you to fast forward to another scene in this lifetime. Staying in this lifetime, let's now go to another scene.
C: I am married with two children. But, I feel lonely.
A: You are married with two children. Why do you feel lonely?
C: I can't talk to my wife and children about the war and my friend from the war, Gerhard, lives far away so we only see each other on rare occasions. He is coming to see me.
A: Gerhard is coming to see you. Has he arrived?
C: Yes, he and I are seated alone in the front room, talking.
A: What are you talking about?
C: We are talking about the war.
A: As your soldier self, speak to Gerhard.
C: I feel terrible about what happened.
A: Become Gerhard and respond. (This is the Gestalt technique in which a person switches to become the other person in order to dialogue and insight)
G: You did the best that you could, you saved many soldiers lives.
C: But still many soldiers died. Pierre died.
G: You saved my life. I saw Pierre. He went crazy. There is nothing you could have done. Had you gone after him, you would have died, too.
C: I have to go back, I have to return to the bombing scene to see more.
A: (Sensing that it was important that my client returns to the traumatic scene) Ok, go back now. What do you see?
C: I see a dirt wall, I am facing the wall of a trench. I am frightened and crouched down. There is confusion and yelling behind me.
A: Look behind you. What do you see?
C: I see Pierre -he’s my best friend -he is German but has a French background. He’s lying on a table. He’s is riddled with holes, there is a lot of blood everywhere. There is a woman- a nurse and a man - a doctor, looking at Pierre and yelling. There are bombs dropping around us and soldiers are running back and forth.
A: What is happening now?
C: Oh no!!! The doctor has pushed Pierre off the table onto the ground. Another wounded soldier is thrown onto the table. "Pick up Pierre, patch him up"! Pierre is barely breathing.
(client is crying)
A: Is Pierre dying?
C: Yes, I feel so guilty! I want to save him!
A: Let’s go to the time when Pierre became wounded. Moving back in time, three, two one, you are there, what do you see.
C: I see Pierre on the ground. The enemy is running at us. What is he doing? Why is he lying in the grass in an open field!? Oh god! Oh No! Oh No!
A: What's happening?
C: A bomb just landed in the field and Pierre is blown to pieces! (client sobbing) Gerhard and I are on the other side of a disabled tank, we are fine.
A: I want you to talk to Pierre.
C: Why were you lying in the field?!
P: I needed to feel alive again, I needed to touch and feel the green grass again, and pretend for a moment I wasn’t there.
C: But you knew being in the field would expose you to the enemy. Why!?
P: Because I was tired of the fighting, the war, and destruction.
C: But you died! You were the best soldier I had and my best friend. I miss you!
P: You must know that I'm okay now and that you can let go of this guilt and weight that you have been carrying for so long. Let it go now. I did what I wanted to do. It’s not your fault. (client begins sobbing, after a long pause)
A: Is there anything else you wish to say to Pierre before we close this scene.
C: I will let it go, thank you. I miss you. I love you-you are my brother.
P: I love you, too.
When the session was over, my client noticed the absence of pain in her shoulder. I checked with her a week later and she was happy to inform me that her shoulder pain was still gone. A month later she still has no pain and interestingly was compelled to watch the WWI movie 1917.
This post is made possible with the permission of my client. All rights reserved.