Musical modalities for treating trauma

Hypnosis and ‘heavy metal’: musical modalities for treating trauma

Megan Elizabeth Cassano

Abstract: Music is a fundamental element in the lives of people today. Music is played for babies while still in the womb in attempts to soothe them. Music represents special occasions that might occur during a person’s life, such as religious rites of passage, weddings, graduations, funerals and more. Music can be heard during most forms of entertainment, in department stores, while on hold during a phone conversation and even while riding in an elevator. Music is everywhere, and everyone experiences it in different ways. Just as a certain smell has the ability to resurrect a memory, a song can remind a person of something that he or she has endured. Music provides a means for rejoicing, in addition to providing comfort during the solitude of heartbreak. Music allows for a unity of voices to come together in harmony. Music has the strength to deeply touch the soul and to embrace even the darkest of secrets held within the crevices of the subconscious mind. The author proposes that when certain types of music are introduced at precise times during hypnotherapy sessions, people are given enhanced sensations of power, more fitting senses of self and a greater understanding of their traumas, while increasing the ability to address their demons in efforts to successfully move forward. This theory is supported by the results of the author’s research study, “Affective Music,” which includes the opinions of 100 people regarding music and mood. These results provide a glimpse into the inherent relationship between music and the subconscious mind while in a hypnotic trance.


Since the beginning of time, music has been a uniting force of community. The creation of sound was innately accomplished by using any available materials, i.e., rocks, sticks, taut animal skin, and voices to conduct spiritual ceremonies, warn of danger, and to indicate personal feelings. Since then, those sounds have developed into the myriad of musical choices that the world has today. Music is regarded by many cultures as a symbolic means for communication, celebration and emotional expression.

The author proposes that the relevant use of various kinds of music during a hypnotherapy session greatly enhances its effectiveness. According to the results of “Affective Music,” 100% of the participants confirmed that music either sometimes or always intensifies their moods. Ste (2004) stated

On the emotional and mental bodies, music is very effective. In

particular, music affects the limbic system, that aspect of the

brain, which governs emotional response. Through using specific

music (specific for the individual), we can help elicit certain

emotional responses that may be very therapeutic and transformative

in their nature (p. 1).

The world today would be indisputably bland without music. Without conscious awareness, music can either shape or augment the way that people come to understand their life experiences. According to “Affective Music,” 90% of the participants agreed that their favorite television shows and movies would not arouse the same feelings without music. When feelings enter conscious awareness, the subconscious mind creates a memory based on what is happening. For example, many movies use music as a means of increasing the impact of the story line. When a particularly sad scene is accompanied by a certain song, it is probable that feelings of sadness will come up for the person upon hearing that same song, even years later, with potentially no conscious recall of the movie.

Music has the capacity of evoking various emotions based on lyrics or sound. When listening to music, people have a tendency to apply the lyrics that they hear to their own lives. Social Psychology indicates that people are inclined to become friends with those who they perceive as being on their same physical, emotional, psychological and intellectual levels. In the same way, people also resonate with songs that they feel are representations of their lives. This addresses the very interesting question of “why people like the music that they do.” When an individual hears a song with lyrics that are applicable to his or her life, the subconscious mind records the feelings that are summoned by the song. This happens without any conscious awareness on the person’s part.

When using music during a hypnotherapy session, there are many things that the practitioner must be aware of and sensitive to. For example, if the client’s first language is Spanish, it might not provide optimal results to use songs that are predominantly recorded in English. There is a certain degree of forethought that accompanies the proper selection of songs. A practitioner should have a wide variety of music and must be prepared to shift songs around based on what is occurring in the session. In addition to language, the practitioner also has to be sensitive to age. A fifteen-year-old client might not respond well to music from fifty years ago. The music used has to be an appropriate fit, relating to the client’s situation, culture, language, gender, ethnicity, race, age and anything else that seems important to him or her.

According to the “Affective Music” study, it was concluded that the majority of the 100 participants associated ‘Rock’ and ‘Dance’ music with feelings of happiness. ‘Easy Listening’ music seemed to be the type that evoked the most sadness. ‘Heavy Metal’ music appeared to make people feel the angriest. Participants of the African American population predominantly associated ‘R&B’ music with both happy and sad feelings. ‘Rap’ music seemed to evoke the most anger. The Hispanic population related happy feelings to ‘Dance’ music, sad feelings to ‘Easy Listening’ music and angry feelings to ‘Heavy Metal’ music. The Caucasian population predominantly related happy feelings with ‘Rock’ music, sad feelings with ‘Easy Listening’ music and angry feelings with ‘Heavy Metal.’ Men generally related happy feelings to ‘Rock’ music, sad feelings to ‘Easy Listening’ music and angry feelings to both ‘Heavy Metal’ and ‘Rap’ music. Women primarily related happy feelings with ‘Rock’ music, sad feelings to ‘Easy Listening’ music and angry feelings to ‘Heavy Metal.’

Treatment Modality 1:

Hypno-Music Introduction. Applying musical treatment methods to the subconscious mind for the purposes of decrypting hidden feelings

Case example

In the first session using music, a client with Bi-Polar disorder was initially asked to consciously describe the feelings of anger that she had been experiencing. Being unable to identify anything concrete, she was asked (still in her conscious mind) to listen to a song that she had never heard before. The angry lyrics of this particular song happen to be extremely difficult to understand. Upon the song’s completion, when asked if it had evoked any feelings, the client stated she wasn’t really feeling anything remarkable, nor was she able to adequately understand the words. The author then guided the client into hypnosis. While the client was in a trance, the song was played a second time. The client was immediately able to retrieve angry feelings that she had subconsciously been directing toward herself. After extinguishing the anger, the client was guided back to her favorite place to find peace before she was brought out of the hypnotic trance and back into the room.

Post-session, as the client was processing the emotional afterglow of what her subconscious mind had brought to her attention, she was asked if she could remember anything about the song. Not only had she been able to understand the song in its entirety while under hypnosis, but she was also able to consciously recall specific lyrics. The lyrics that she was able to remember acted as direct messages from her subconscious mind, highlighting the issues that still needed to be addressed in further sessions. These connections were essential to her understanding of what she ultimately needed to do to heal.

This example suggests two main theories. First, that the subconscious mind is clearly able to decipher words, phrases and context that the conscious mind simply cannot (or that it is not yet prepared to handle). Second, the subconscious mind will offer to the conscious mind pieces for further processing, post-hypnosis. In this case example, the lyrics that the client was able to recall included words such as “bury me in fear” and “I don’t want to be here anymore.” These phrases clearly correlate to the feelings of self-hatred that came up for her during the session. The lyrics that resonate with people while in their subconscious minds are ones that represent the very issues that they are at war with. This treatment modality is very effective with helping clients to gain some insight and clarity into the roots of their feelings. Additionally, this initial, more transitory session gives clients a taste of what hypnosis feels like and usually relieves many apprehensions. This quenching of fears can encourage positive feelings about advancing the work in subsequent sessions.

Treatment Modality II: Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy session, in its entirety, with the application of specific songs during the course of three different treatment phases

I. The INDUCTION Phase. As Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy suggests, soft, lyric-less music is ideal. The commonly used “Desert Flower” music, performed by Jo Anna Burns-Miller, is very appropriate.

II. The ACTIVE Phase. As the client enters the core of his or her session, various genres of music should be played depending on what is occurring. Sad songs should be played if the client is enduring pain and angry sounding songs should be played to prompt the extinguishing of associated feelings. The training received from The Wellness Institute provides its practitioners with the unique ability to tune into a client’s pain and to perceive what he or she may need to further their process. If the practitioner knows that the client is dealing with memories containing abuse, a song that discusses this topic might be played. Music also provides an excellent means of drawing a client out of a dissociative fugue or psychological shock. Furthermore, for clients who typically have difficulties remaining in their bodies but are obviously restraining anger, the practitioner might have them sit up and use the Heart-Centered therapies energy-release hose to beat the floor to the sound of the music. Some of the angrier sounding music has a deep intonation that can be very grounding to someone who has difficulty feeling. This deep resonation can be integrated into the whole body via the root chakra. Pounding the hose to the beat of the music can help facilitate the movement of energy to where it needs to go.

III. The HEALING Phase. As instilled by The Wellness Institute, the session should always complete with a healing process. Playing a song that contains positive, affirming lyrics is a wonderful way to anchor the euphoric feelings of this hypnotherapeutic experience. For women who have encountered marital issues or divorce, for example, the song “I’m a Survivor” by Destiny’s Child is a great one to acknowledge the client’s strength, and to act as an ever-present reminder of the power of self-reliance. In this phase a client may assume a ‘theme song’ to represent the work done in the session. The practitioner may even advise the client to make a mix tape or compact disc (CD) of all of the songs that have come up during the healing components of his or her sessions. When the tape or CD is listened to, the subconscious mind will automatically recall the experience of how good it felt to be in a place of unconditional self-love and power.

As previously mentioned, a practitioner may have to select a song to jump-start a client’s process. This is not in any way meant to manipulate the situation, but is with the intentions of encouraging the subconscious mind to uncover what is really there. If a particular song doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, the practitioner can simply change it; the client, well in a trance, will not be disturbed. For example, hard-rock band Korn’s song “Daddy” is one that can be used to intensify the extinguishing of anger related to incest. This song depicts a true story about Korn’s front man, Jonathan Davis’ experiences with sexual abuse. This painful, nine-minute long song tells the heart-wrenching story of a child abused by his father. It is obvious that Davis enters into a type of trance and is able to release a great deal of emotion while singing through his sobs,

You raped! (I feel dirty),

It hurt/ (As a child),

Tied down! (“That’s a good boy”),

And f*cked your own child,

I scream! (No one hears me),

It hurts/ (I’m not a liar),

My God! (Saw you watching),

“Mommy, why?” (Your own child).

“I didn’t touch you there,”

Mommy said she didn’t care;

“I didn’t touch you there,”

(that’s why mommy stopped and stared …) (1994).

Participants from “Affective Music” shared some different songs that they have experienced as particularly triggering, or healing, as related to various situations or issues:

Death of a loved one

“Angel” by Sarah McLachlan

“If you Sleep” by Tal Bachman

“Twenty Years Ago” by Kenny Rogers (War-Related)

“To Where You Are” by Josh Groban

“My Immortal” by Evanescence

“Honey” by Bobby Goldsboro

“It’s So Hard to say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Boyz II Men (also recorded in Spanish)

“I Remember You” by Skid Row

Substance use/abuse

“Not an Addict” by K’s Choice

“God of Wine” by Third Eye Blind

“Wasted Time” by Skid Row

“Coma White” by Marilyn Manson

“Fall to Pieces” by Velvet Revolver

“Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd

Physical and emotional abuse

“Down with the Sickness” by Disturbed

“Kim” by Eminem

“Thoughtless” by Korn

“Pretty” by Korn

“Scars” by Papa Roach

Sexual abuse and incest

“Daddy” by Korn

“Me and a Gun” by Toil Amos

“Daddy” by Jewel

“Janie’s Got a Gun” by Aerosmith

“Dirty” by Korn


“Good God” by Korn

“Right Now” by Korn

“One Step Closer” by Linkin Park

General sadness

“Bad Day” by Fuel

“Mean to Me” by Tonic

“In the End” by Linkin Park

“Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails

“Yellow Ledbetter” by Pearl Jam

“Colorblind” by Counting Crows

“The World I Know” by Collective Soul

Codependency/abandonment issues

“House of Pain” by Faster Pussycat

“4AM” by Our Lady Peace

“Landslide” performed by Dixie Chicks

“Estranged” by Guns ‘n Roses

“Crown of Thorns” by Mother Love Bone

“Somewhere I Belong” by Linkin Park

Spiritual longing

“My Own Prison” by Creed

“Forest” by System of a Down

“In a Darkened Room” by Skid Row

“God’s Child” by Selena

“Christian Woman” by Type O Negative

Relationship issues

“Don’t Cry” by Guns ‘n’ Roses

“If I Am” by Nine Days

“Something I Can Never Have” by Nine Inch Nails

“Warm and Soothing” by Kate Bush

“I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love” by Chicago

“Yesterday” by The Beatles

“Again” by Janet Jackson

“Dondequiera Que Estes” by Selena (“Wherever You Are”)

“Firefly” by Breaking Benjamin

“It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette

“Cigarette Lighter Love Song” by Marvelous 3

“Vindicated” by Dashboard Confessionals

“I’m Not OK (I Promise)” by My Chemical Romance

Positive affirmations for anchoring personal resources

“I’m a Survivor” by Destiny’s Child (Empowerment after relationship issues)

“Somewhere Out There” by Our Lady Peace (Peace after the death of a loved one)

“I Believe” by Fantasia Barrino (Empowerment)

“Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera (Physical illness or disability)

“Returning” by Jennifer Berezan (Empowerment/being grounded)

“Free Your Mind” by En Vouge (Releasing stigma)

“Thy Will Be Done” by Chloe Goodchild (Spiritual reconnection)

“Hero” by Mariah Carey (Empowerment)

“Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” by Shania Twain (Embracing femininity)

“I Made it Through the Rain” by Barry Manilow (Internal power)

“Amazing Grace” by performed by Aretha Franklin (Spiritual reconnection)

“To Make Me Who I Am” by Aaron Neville (Empowerment)

“I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack (Empowerment)

“What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong (Appreciation)

“Alive” by POD (Spiritual reconnection)

“My Way” by Limp Bizkit (Internal power)

Upon further investigation, it has also been determined that music is highly effective when working with people who have been afflicted with substance-abusing tendencies. The following modalities can be used with a small group of highly motivated people who are already engaged in the abstinence and/or harm reduction/relapse prevention process. (It is not advised that these methods be used with people who have such co-occurring disorders as the combinations of substance abuse and Dissociative Identity Disorder and/or frequent psychotic episodes.) It is best that the practitioner begin to introduce various forms of release therapy slowly, so as not to overwhelm the clients, who often have such difficulty identifying feelings to begin with.

A) As typically indicated, the first session should be dedicated to creating ground rules for the group to ensure confidentiality and mutual respect. This will help to ensure that group members feel safe enough to function within the process. Any fears or anticipatory feelings about the group should be explored at this time.

B) The second session should be dedicated to ‘clearing the air.’ This entails everyone going around the room and really seeking to identify any potential grudges, judgments or negative feelings that he/she may be harboring about someone else. Each participant conveys this form of non-threatening communication so that there aren’t any energy blockages, hurt feelings or barriers to working together. The Heart-Centered Clearing Process should also be utilized as needed, as well as any de-roling that may need to occur, to acknowledge projections. This aspect is essential to avoid negative energy about any relationships in the group. Individual work will otherwise suffer and could produce ineffective results.

C) The third session should be devoted to getting right to the core of work that needs to be done via the Heart-Centered Shame Release Process. This takes the form of each member going around the circle and sharing EVERYTHING that he/she still carries shame about (e.g., if the person was raped, or perhaps, if the person raped someone else–whatever it is.) As each person shares, they are asked to make every effort to keep eye contact with the facilitator or group members. This process creates group solidarity and will afford the members the opportunity to clear out some of the things that have possibly inhibited them from succeeding. A handout (below), developed by the author, can be given at the end of the session to help further each member’s processing during the week:

1) How did it feel to release things that you have been carrying all this time?

2) Eye Contact: What did you find particularly helpful or uncomfortable about this experience? Let yourself become aware of why this is.

3) How did it feel to receive verbal validation and acceptance from the group?

4) Is there anyone in particular whom you feel you need to make amends to/with?

5) How might that look to you (i.e., how would you do it, what would you say, etc.)?

6) What’s holding you back from doing so?

D) The fourth session allows clients to experience a hypnotic trance for the first time and guides them into being able to locate their inner child. Many people have never been given this opportunity. Furthermore, many clients aren’t even able to articulate that this part of them still exists. As adults, people typically discount whatever traumas they may have experienced as children. They may make excuses based on adult insights. However, these ‘adult perceptions’ do not at all override the fact that grief may still exist for the child inside. Unless the adult is willing to accept and recognize what his or her child has experienced, and has direct participation from that inner being, the person will not get very far in life. The following script, developed by the author, is used to help facilitate this experience.

SCRIPT: Bridging the Gap between the INNER CHILD and ADULT

Induction Deepening Anchor a Favorite Place

“Now allow yourself to get in touch with your inner child. This is the younger part of you. Really allow yourself to see what this child looks like, what color hair he/she has, how tall he/she is … get in touch with the age of this child. Spend a few minutes just focusing on this other being. You are seeing yourself, only younger. Allow yourself to get in touch with how you feel in the presence of your younger self. Allow yourself to realize how the child appears to feel.

“Now spend some time talking with your inner child. What questions do you have for him/her? You are safe here, in your most favorite place, to ask these questions and to find out the answers. Nothing can hurt you here; you are just asking these questions for the purposes of getting some information. You might ask your inner self what things you need to work on the most in your treatment process. Don’t judge or question what comes to you here, just write it down, keeping your eyes closed. Maybe it’s an unresolved issue with a loved one, or maybe something that happened to your child a long time ago that has gone unaddressed.

“Ask your inner child for some feedback about how you can best address these issues. Ask him/her what he/she wants from you … perhaps how you can improve your relationship with each other. Ask him/her if there are any questions that he/she has for you, or any tasks that he/she wishes you to carry out…. Ask him/her for suggestions on positive behaviors that you can incorporate into your own life.

“Now thank your inner child for everything that he/she has shown you. Let him/her know that you will always be there for him/her and will promise to honor what he/she has brought to your awareness.”

Wise Adult Continuation (as adapted from the Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy[R] script):

“Now allow yourself to drift to another one of your most favorite places. Get in touch with how it feels to be there. Now allow yourself to get in touch with the adult part of you. This is the wise part of you, the part of you that is responsible for making good choices and decisions. Allow yourself to come to a time when this adult acted wisely on your behalf. Get in touch with the age of this adult as you really bring up this situation where your adult acted wisely. When you come to that experience, raise your finger. (If you are having difficulties finding this situation, get in touch with a male/female adult outside of yourself, who you respect. It could be a father or mother, a grandfather or grandmother, an uncle or aunt, or a friend. Get in touch with the qualities that you like about this person. It could be his/her strength, courage, or honesty … whatever you feel is most important to you.) Now really bring up these qualities of either yourself, in a time where you acted wisely, or qualities you appreciate in another strong male/female figure. Begin to incorporate these qualities into yourself. Feel them taking over your body and mind now, stronger and stronger with every breath. Strength, honesty, respect, courage, power … whatever words you want to use that describe these feelings. Feel this part of you getting stronger and stronger now, so in control, capable of growth and healing. Let yourself really get in touch with how good this feels to have someone act positively on your behalf. It’s like riding a bus or a train and having someone else in the driver’s seat … you can just sit back and relax, knowing that a responsible, capable adult is in control and will always take care of you and help you make positive choices about your life.

“Now imagine bringing the two selves that you have interacted with today together as one … both your inner child and your adult. Let them be together now, as you integrate these two souls, allowing them to really love each other and connect with each other. Allow the strong adult part of you to tell the little child everything that he/she needs to hear. Perhaps the things that you wanted to hear as a child and didn’t. Let him/her know that you are going to take care of him/her always, and will honor his/her needs and feelings. Tell him/her that you love him/her and accept him/her for everything that he/she is and that you’ll always be there for him/her no matter what…. Let a word come to you now that describes this experience. This is your power word. Anytime you say this word, you will allow yourself to come right back to this place of healing and connectedness. The two selves don’t have to be separate anymore. They can co-exist together in perfect harmony and will always be in tune with what the other is feeling. Allow yourself to make these feelings of self-love and acceptance really strong now and notice where you carry these feelings in your body. Maybe it is in your throat or your head or your heart. Allow these feelings to be so strong that you are filled with a sense of peace and gratitude toward your child and your adult, now one complete being.”

Wake up

E) The fifth session, using the ‘Preparation for Work’ script, developed by the author, is designed to assist clients in the beginning stages of being able to identify what various emotions feel like, and why they arise. Different songs represent different shadow parts. Each person is assigned a ‘sitter’, for the purposes of writing down what is said, keeping the person safe, and offering reminders to breathe. After being taught how to breathe appropriately to incorporate the breathwork technique into the session, the clients are then guided into hypnosis. After anchoring their ‘safe place’, they are asked to shift into the role of an observer to see what comes up for them as they hear various songs, chosen to potentially trigger them (different songs represent various shadow parts).

SCRIPT: Preparation for Work



Anchor a Favorite Place

“Begin breathing now in the way that we practiced; deep breathes in and out through your mouth. Any sounds you hear are just the normal, everyday sounds of living. They do not bother or disturb you in any way; they just serve to take you deeper and deeper. Let your breaths be like waves in the water; constant and unending. There are no gaps. Back and forth. As you exhale, you begin to inhale easily, feeling the breaths meet as they flow together back and forth, in and out.

“Now just allow yourself to be in a quiet place, using the words calm and relaxed, calm and relaxed to quiet any thoughts. You are safe to do the work that we are about to do. There is nothing that you can’t handle here. You are safe and well protected. As you move through this process, see yourself as an observer and allow yourself to explore whatever feelings come up for you. Whenever anything comes up, tell your sitter so that he/she can write it down for you. This way, there will be a record so that we will be able to do more work at a later time. Don’t try to think or remember; it’s automatic. Your subconscious mind always knows where to go and will protect you.”

Music to play:

1) “Send the Pain Below” by Chevelle

2) “Thoughtless” by Korn

3) “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day

4) “One Step Closer” by Linkin Park

5) “My Immortal” by Evanescence

6) “Sun Doesn’t Rise” by Mushroomhead

7) “Colorblind” by Counting Crows

8) “Broken Home” by Papa Roach

9) “Bad Day” by Fuel

10) “Freaking Out” by Adema.

11) “Scars” by Papa Roach


“Now allow yourself to find again your inner child. Imagine that this next song was sent to you directly as a message from your inner child. See him calling out to you as you move through this process.”

12) “Wasted Time” by Skid Row


“Now allow yourself to get in touch with the qualities of the strong adult who always cares for the inner child. Your friend (the sitter) is going to give you some affirmations to help you with this process. Just open up your heart and accept what your friend tells you; all of your wonderful qualities, really incorporating them into yourself.”

13) “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera

(Healing work: partner gives positive affirmations)

Wake up.

Explanation of Songs

1) “Send the Pain Below” by Chevelle

Shadow: Fear. Fear of suffocation; being closed in; repressing emotions to avoid hurting self or others.

2) “Thoughtless” by Korn

Shadow: Anger/Resentment/Bitterness. Anger for being picked on; magical thinking (fantasies); feeling lost; feeling stuck.

3) “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day

Shadow: Loneliness, Sadness/Desperation. Feeling alone; separated from everyone else.

4) “One Step Closer”by Linkin Park

Shadow: Rebelliousness. Defiance; refusal to align with societally-determined rules; issues with authority figures.

5) “My Immortal” by Evanescence

Shadow: Sadness. Guilt; feelings of being haunted; missing someone/having to make amends with someone.

6) “Sun Doesn’t Rise” by Mushroomhead

Shadow: Destructiveness. Fear of abandonment; abandonment issues; ‘leaving before one is left’, or clinging on to a relationship after it has clearly ended.

7) “Colorblind” by Counting Crows

Shadow: Depression/Mental Illness. Repression of feelings; withdrawn; isolative; feelings of not being integrated; easily bored.

8) “Broken Home” by Papa Roach

Shadow: Rage/Anger. Feeling alone, misled, out of control. Issues with men/father figures.

9) “Bad Day” by Fuel

Shadow: Shame and Judgment. Feeling rejected; easily hurt by others; not allowing one’s self to be accepted by others.

10) “Freaking Out” by Adema

Shadow: Addiction. Feeling out of place; needing to use to be accepted; feeling out of control or chaotic; feeling persecuted; easily give up.

11) “Scars” by Papa Roach

Shadow: Codependence. Using substances as a means for disguising feelings; allowing one’s self to get ‘stepped on’ or taken advantage by others; getting wrapped up in negative, unhealthy relationships; addiction to attention or using relationships with others as a means for defining one’s self.

12) “Wasted Time” by Skid Row

Inner Child addressing the addict qualities in the Adult.

13) “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera

Healing: Partner gives positive affirmations to person.

F) The sixth session is designed to allow clients to go to the next level of their awareness by making a subconscious/body connection. This script, adapted by the author, encourages clients to simply get in touch with what they are feeling in their bodies while listening to very clear and quiet music. This process is meant to scan the body for traumas or clues, indicating what a client may need to address. Post-session, each client is given a copy of the Mind/Body Chart (below), developed by The Wellness Institute, so that they can make notes based on what came up for them.

Trauma Scan



“Now imagine that you are on an escalator. There are fifteen levels going down. Each level that you go down you become more and more relaxed. The sound of my voice and the sound of the music will serve to take you deeper and deeper into hypnosis.

“You’re at level 15 now, going down to level number 14, calm and relaxed, relaxed and calm … you are not disturbed by any conscious thoughts. Going down to level number 13 now, calm and relaxed, floating down to level number 12. Anytime conscious thoughts come into your mind, just release them like sand slipping through your fingers. You do not need them right now. Just repeat to yourself ‘calm and relaxed … calm and relaxed’ to quiet those thoughts.

“Going down to level number 11 now … so relaxed … just melting into the chair … feeling so at peace. Be really aware of your breathing now, as you allow yourself to breathe in and out … out and in … in and out. Going down to level number 10. When you get down to level number 1, you will be all the way down to the bottom of relaxation. Breathing in and out … like waves in the water … so relaxed and calm … going deeper into hypnosis … Down to level number 9, so relaxed now … breathing in and out … feeling more relaxed with every breath…. Down to level number 8 … feeling still and peaceful inside … all of your muscles are so relaxed now, you can’t even believe how relaxed you feel.

“Down to level number 7 … calm and relaxed … calm and relaxed to quiet any conscious thoughts…. Down to level number 6, just feel or picture the words calm and relaxed in your mind … focus on the way it feels to be so relaxed. Down to level number 5…. When you get to level number 1, you will be all the way to the bottom of relaxation, feeling peaceful and calm. Don’t try to make yourself feel relaxed … you will find that you are already there … just give in to it. … Down to level number 4, so relaxed … any sounds you hear are just the normal, everyday sounds of living. They do not disturb or bother you in any way, they only serve to take you deeper and deeper into hypnosis…. Down to level number 3, so relaxed … and down to level number 2, calm and relaxed, calm and relaxed…. And down now to level number 1, down to the very bottom of relaxation.

“I’m going to ask you now to get in touch with the way your body feels. We are going to do a scan to find any feelings that you may be holding in different places in your body. Start out down by your feet and going up your legs. Notice any feeling that you may be experiencing there. Notice any thoughts or memories that come to you. Going up to your hip area. Notice any feelings there or any memories. Really allow yourself to get in touch with anything that you may be experiencing. Feel yourself becoming younger. … This area represents when you were just being born, or maybe you feel a few months old…. Allow yourself to get in touch with what it feels like to be this age, a tiny baby … what are you doing there? How are you feeling about being alive?

“Moving up to your lower abdomen, feel yourself getting a little older now … maybe ten months old, give or take…. Breathing in and out, allowing yourself to feel any feelings here … or any memories. Don’t judge what comes to you, just let it flow … give or take … allow yourself to get in touch with what it feels like to be this age, what you looked like, how you are feeling, who is around you…. Moving up to your stomach, feeling yourself grow into a toddler … noticing any feelings here … breathing in and out … really allowing yourself to feel what’s there, seeing yourself really clearly now … maybe two or three years old…. Notice what comes to you there, how you’re feeling, what you think about yourself.

“Moving up to your heart center, seeing or feeling yourself grow to the ages of 4, 5 or 6…. See yourself about Kindergarten age, allowing yourself to get in touch with anything that you may be feeling here, any memories or feelings that come to you … allowing them to just flow … any messages that you may be receiving. Notice what you look like … let yourself get in touch with what dreams you had for yourself when you got older….

“And moving up to your throat, recognizing what is held here…. See yourself growing older now … 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 … anywhere in that span. Allowing yourself to speak your truth … what have you always wanted to say but felt you never could? Who would you say it to? Get in touch with any feelings that you may be experiencing here, anywhere in that span…. What was this time like for you? How are you feeling about yourself?. Let yourself really become clear about what it is like to be this age….

“Moving up to your forehead where your third eye is, asking for clarity…. Now seeing yourself grow into a teenager, you are growing older now. Allow yourself to become clear about what it is you need to work on … seeing things so clearly now … getting in touch with anything that you may be experiencing here, in touch with what this feels like to be this age…. How do you feel about the people around you? Notice any feelings that come up for you….

“Moving up to the top of your head now … See yourself now as an adult…. Imagine energy going in and out through the top of your head … allowing anything to come to you here that you may be experiencing…. Notice how it feels to be where you are in your life at this stage … allow yourself to really get in touch with what it is that you want most from yourself at this time.

“Thank yourself for any of the messages that you received today. Your body and mind are your best friends and will give you the greatest opportunity to do the work that you need to do to move forward. Find the feelings of peace now in your favorite place that you are always able to find in your mind. See your inner child there now, loving you so much. And your wise adult there, taking care of the child…. Begin to feel energy running through your body now, giving you the power to do anything that you want to do.”

Wake up.

Some of these scripts may appear to be very basic, but this simplicity is occasionally warranted when working with clients who do not yet have insight into their emotions and are not yet able to connect to the prospects of undergoing deeper work, such as hypnotherapy and even psychodrama. After the sixth session, clients of this nature are usually ready to begin hypnotherapy sessions and other forms of experiential release therapy.

Without question, the use of music is a powerful treatment method for clinicians to incorporate into their hypnotherapy practices. Just the tune of a song or the sound of someone’s voice is enough to create a feeling. Music has a unique way of taking people outside of their consciousness and into a different realm of awareness. Lyrics that make emotional sense to people often give rise to visceral feelings that are difficult to ignore. In the words of an anonymous contributor, “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

The author thanks everyone who participated in the research study, “Affective Music.” Special ‘thanks’ to friend, Tommy Zezima, for helping with the recruitment of participants.


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Megan Elizabeth Cassano, MSW, ACHt, RPt, 639 Summer St. #23, Stamford, CT 06901,203-621-4170,

COPYRIGHT 2005 Wellness Institute

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