Forensic Hypnosis helping trauma and other problems at 1066 Therapy
covering East Sussex, Battle, Hastings, Bexhill, Rye, Heathfield, Hailsham, Eastbourne, Crowborough, Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Ashford and Kent.
‘Forensic Hypnosis’ or ‘Forensic and Investigative Hypnosis’ to give its full title is a specialised group of techniques. The relevant sectors use these techniques globally to enhance the memory recall of the victims and witnesses of crime and trauma.
In the UK, due to Home Office guidelines governing the use of forensic hypnosis, we developed ‘F.I.M.E.T. FIMET stands for Forensic and Investigative Memory Enhancing Techniques. These (FIMET) techniques are based upon the very latest research, conducted by the world’s leading experts in human memory.
a) Experienced some kind of traumatic incident(s) and is struggling to process (get over) and come to terms with it. They may be suffering some problems as a result of the event e.g. may have symptoms of PTSD.
b) Experienced some kind of traumatic incident(s) and has poor memory recall (or possibly none at all) about it.
c) See (b) above, and the information we gather about the experience(s) may be used in Civil or Criminal legal proceedings.
‘Traumatic incidents’ include rape or sexual assault, physical assault, war, serious accidents, witnessing sudden death, muggings and so on.
How have the relevant sectors used these methods in the past?
Traditionally the (hypno)therapist/interviewer would tend to lead the session in the direction they felt was most beneficial. They may have some preconceived ideas about what occurred. The therapist may have made some perhaps inappropriate suggestions at times. All of this may well impact upon the traumatised person’s recall of the event.
In addition, many think that hypnosis itself, including forensic hypnosis, is somehow ‘magical’ and has special memory enhancing properties. This too may have contributed to its use in a misguided and inappropriate manner.
Using traditional forensic hypnosis techniques has, in a significant number of cases, been unsuccessful or even detrimental. In the worst case scenario, these traditional techniques can produce highly distorted memories. Even in many cases where the material recalled is largely accurate, it is likely that some potentially important information will have been missed. In addition, a traditional forensic hypnosis session held in this way is unlikely to really help a victim of (or witness to) a traumatic event, in getting over the experience and processing the emotional trauma in the most effective way.
UK Home Office Guidelines
The UK Home Office Guidelines regarding the use of hypnosis for investigative purposes state:
“Under section 78 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 the court has a discretion to exclude evidence if, having regard to all the circumstances, including the circumstances in which the evidence was obtained, it appears to the court that admitting the evidence would have such an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings that the court ought not to admit it.
As evidence obtained from a witness who had been hypnotised cannot properly be tested in cross-examination, there must be a serious risk that the courts would rule it inadmissible under section 78.
It would be prudent, therefore, to assume that any confession obtained by hypnosis will not be admissible in evidence and any potential witness who is hypnotised will not be permitted to testify.”
The Home Office guidelines are indeed only guidelines and do not completely prohibit the use of investigative hypnosis. The guidelines, however, do caution against its use. Therefore it’s probable that a Criminal Court of Law will not admit into evidence most post-hypnotic testimony. This is why we don’t actually use hypnosis now, when we conduct forensic interviews (see FIMET below). There are no regulations or guidelines regarding the admission of post-hypnotic testimony in a Civil Court.
Studies have shown that the use of hypnosis per se does not contribute to either increases or decreases in quantity and accuracy of information recalled. Instead, it is factors such as the use of suggestion, direction or leading questions (from the therapist/interviewer), along with factors internal to the victim or witness, which impact upon a person’s recall.
Traumatic Memory Differs From Ordinary Memory
We store traumatic and ordinary memories in different ways. Usually, we store ordinary memories of neutral, positive, and even some negative events as ‘autobiographical events’ or ‘narrative memory’. We can usually retrieve these stories easily from our ‘memory banks’ and tell others about them. Sometimes this type of memory can change over time, and we tell the story slightly differently each time. We store emotionally overwhelming or traumatic events differently, at least until we properly process the events.
In some cases, we remember highly emotional or traumatic experiences more clearly than neutral experiences. Psychological stress tends to focus a person’s attention to an event This means that “encoding” (storage in the brain) takes place more effectively. However, the encoding tends to takes place in the emotional centres of the brain rather than the place where narrative memory is stored. This can lead to later ‘flashbacks’ and unwelcome intrusions in the mind sometimes for months or years following the event. We tend to store traumatic events as fragments in the mind, and so remain ‘un-integrated’. Problems with retrieval of such fragmented information stored in the brain may be due to psychological defence mechanisms coming into play following a traumatic experience. This may be limiting or even completely preventing recall of that event.
Forensic Hypnosis / F.I.M.E.T (Forensic and Investigative Memory Enhancing Techniques)
The Forensic and Investigative Memory Enhancing Techniques (F.I.M.E.T) techniques may or may not include the use of light hypnosis depending on whether or not it is appropriate to do so. We do use light hypnosis on many occasions, as it is a very straightforward way of enabling a client to relax, feel safe and focus solely on reporting everything that comes to mind. On other occasions, however, we specifically don’t use hypnosis because of the negative view that British Criminal Courts have upon testimony revealed under the influence of hypnosis. Here we would use some relaxation techniques (which have the same benefits of allowing a client to feel calm, safe and focused) instead.
Prior to a Forensic Hypnosis session, I always discuss with a client as to whether or not they may wish to use the resulting information in a Criminal Court. The techniques used are not in any way suggestive or directive or leading: they merely enable a client to recall an event by creating a safe and non-judgmental atmosphere, in conjunction with using proven memory enhancing and psychotherapeutic techniques. The Cognitive Interview (CI) and Enhanced Cognitive Interview (ECI) processes include several of these memory enhancing techniques. The CI and ECI are interviewing techniques designed to enhance memory in co-operative interviewees (usually witnesses and victims of crime but, in some cases, suspects) and to obtain as much accurate information as possible. This is mainly done using two distinct types of investigation:-
Critical Incident Debriefing (CID)
This was originally introduced to be used with those working in the Emergency Services or the Armed Forces. Its use aimed to limit or prevent the development of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Stress Related Illness in people exposed to critical incidents. A critical incident is any event that causes an unusually intense stress reaction, overwhelming a person’s normal coping mechanisms and their ability to adjust. These tend to be events that are outside “ordinary” human experiences.
The relevant sectors increasingly use CID now to help people overcome the effects of traumas such as road traffic accidents, sudden deaths, and violent and sexual crime. These people don’t need “therapy” per se but need to be able to process the experience and then move on. Critical Incident Stress Debriefing aims to prevent people from bottling up their feelings and emotions. PTSD is a recognised psychological disorder. We most commonly associate it with the Armed Forces during the wars. However, anyone who experiences trauma can develop PTSD.
Three types of symptom identify PTSD:
Intrusive recollections of trauma (e.g. flashbacks);
Physiological (physical/bodily) arousal;
Numbing (emotional), withdrawal, avoidance.
The Cognitive Interview (CI)
The Cognitive Interview has slowly been replacing the familiar “interrogations” that Police Forces have used for a long time. The CI is a friendly and structured interview. We create rapport with the victim. Then we use memory enhancing techniques in order to gain maximum useful information from the interviewee. I use these techniques to obtain/recover information. I work to put people at ease at all times. You will recall information in as gentle a way as possible.
In a “typical” session, we will have an initial discussion to help you to feel more comfortable with the process. I will explain to the you what you can expect. This is because it is likely an unfamiliar situation that you have not faced before. I will answer any fears or worries before the process of focused retrieval commences. It’s quite alright to say “I don’t know” to any questions, or “I don’t understand”. At the end of the session I will give a summary of what we experienced and relay it back. This is so that you can add or change things according to your understanding of the situation. I will then close the interview.
Forensic Hypnosis / F.I.M.E.T Consultation
A FIMET consultation aims to help clients to elicit as much information as possible about an event. This is especially when a police investigation and/or legal proceedings need to use this information. Because a sessions won’t inadvertently create memory distortions or inaccuracies. Perhaps more importantly, it can provide a good way for clients to process and move on from a traumatic event(s).
The FIMET that we use fully take into account the UK Home Office Guidelines. Also those issued by the Crown Prosecution Service. I will make an audio recording from start to finish of a forensic session. As a result, we secure a complete record of the information recovered.
If you wish to discuss having a FIMET session please call me on 07722783490. I look forward to hearing from you.
1066 Therapy helping the people of East Sussex, Battle, Hastings, Bexhill, Rye, Heathfield, Hailsham, Eastbourne, Brighton, Crowborough, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Ashford, Kent.