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Rewind Technique

The Rewind Technique is a simple technique for processing traumatic memories and involves an element of exposure. It is best practiced within a formulation-driven approach to the treatment of trauma.

The ‘rewind technique’ is also sometimes referrred to as the ‘visual-kinesthetic dissociation technique’. It is an imagery technique used by some therapists in the treatment of traumatic memories. The Rewind Technique worksheet contains therapist instructions for the technique as described in a paper by Hossack and Bentall (1996).

Therapists should be aware that there are many good evidence-based techniques for processing intrusive traumatic memories. These include: prolonged exposure, reliving with updating (enhanced reliving), and eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). It is believed that a key ingredient in all of these techniques is the component of exposure to the traumatic memory. In theory, therefore, the rewind technique might be helpful given that it contains the element of exposure – like any exposure technique it may be helpful if it helps clients feel safe enough to approach a traumatic memory.

However, therapists should be aware that the evidence for using the rewind technique in isolation is very much weaker – there are no RCTs exploring the use of this technique. It is strongly recommended that an evidence-based treatment approaches for PTSD, informed by an appropriate therapeutic model (i.e. CBT or EMDR) be attempted as first line treatment. Therapists should be cautious regarding unwarranted claims made on the internet regarding the rewind technique – it is unlikely to be a ‘cure all’ or ‘magic bullet’. Clients should be cautious if their therapist is only proficient in the rewind technique and does not have trauma-specific CBT or EMDR training.

  • Muss, D. C. (1991). A new technique for treating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 1991, 30, 91-92.
  • Hossack, A., Bentall, R. P. (1996). Elimination of posttraumatic symptomatology by relaxation and visual-kinesthetic dissociation. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 9(1), 99-110.

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