Weena - It depends on what I'm asking. The most amazing experience of past lives is when I literally have an experience as that other life. When I go into the Records I do get images and I can get a full series of images/symbols like walking into a movie. I also hear and read information, or get a sensate feeling at times. For clients, I always go for a multi-sensory experience, and it depends on the question and which way the client can receive the information.
It can be tricky having an Akashic experience, because we're accessing the pre-conscious state which feels dreamlike, and can initially feel like we're making things up. If you were to simply speak out loud whatever you're experiencing, it's easier to remain in a state of witnessing with gratitude, and you move into stream of consciousness mode which releases the judging mind. Even if you're doing a reading for yourself, you can always use a digital recorder - but don't start dwelling on doubt and judgment. When we do, our mind gets in the way and the whole process is liable to stop!
When you're first going into the Records, the senses that you use in your waking life will be the ones that you will default to when your doing readings. The more we have an even experience with our senses in our lives, the easier it is to receive information in a multi-sensory format in the Records.
Yes, in your case it probably is a self-trust issue. Try this as a temporary workaround till you feel more comfortable. Do the reading in 3rd person, like you're reading for someone else - "What is a lifetime Weena had that she really enjoyed? Which lifetime has an originating karmic issue for Weena?"
Finding a compatible teacher can be an issue!
I've found that in trainings it depends on the students and the teacher. If the teacher cannot really access the Records or is not really psychic, even if they use someone else's program that did work, the students will have little or no real experience. This is a transmission piece that most people are not aware of. If the teacher is for real and has a knack for transmitting their experience to others, then the students own conflict would be the barrier. In one training I had about 70 students - everyone had interesting experiences, with only 2 having minimal experiences, and they actually told the rest of the class what their fear was. Hope that helps!