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Regression: Is It For Real?
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Applications in Hypnotherapy/Psychotherapy

Recently a woman entered the office of a hypnotherapist to discuss a development which she did not understand. She had always, as far as  she remembered, been affected with sadness when a visitor left her home, but in recent years the feelings had increased. Not only had the  emotional disturbance become greater, it also now resulted in tears and  severe crying spells which approached the levels of hysteria.

This was increasingly embarrassing, for the emotional upsets came  when anyone went out the door. It was not limited to loved family  members and fears for their safety. It occurred regardless of who  departed--the plumber, carpenter, even the pest control serviceman. She felt the situation demanded attention and a friend had suggested  hypnosis.

While in traditional psychoanalysis the case might have required  many months or even years of therapy, the hypnotherapist felt that three sessions could prove adequate. The first session would involve  information gathering in the fully conscious state, familiarization of  the client with the nature of hypnosis and certain tests of  hypnotizabililty to provide the practitioner with information important  in determining methods and procedures appropriate to the client's  personality and belief systems.

A Case For Regression

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Stress  Management

The second session was planned to utilize techniques of hypnotic  regression, the purpose being to seek out the cause or event involved in the initial development of the problem. The therapist felt that  something, probably early in life, had occurred which created a  psychological imprint which subsequently had been forgotten or had been  unrecognized for the effect it could produce. It might have involved  parents, teachers, relatives, or siblings. Regression could pull back  the covers of the past to reveal the causal factors.

The regression proceeded normally. Since the hypnotherapist had no knowledge of either the age or circumstances involved, the client was  simply instructed to go back in time to the year and place where the  problem originated. Programmed to view the event as if it were a  television show and to be able to speak about it, the client was asked  what was going on.

She explained that she was sitting on the stairs in her home,  halfway down the staircase, looking down into the living room. She was  three years old. Her father had died and was lying in the living room.  She was called down and instructed to kiss her father goodbye, which  she did without reaction.

Well-meaning family members then sought to avoid a situation where, not understanding death, the child would not be constantly expecting  her father to return. They explained to her that when her father was  taken out through "that door," he would be gone forever and would never  return. That, she was told, is what death is. You go out a door and  never return.

Bingo! The explanation and the concept of doors was locked  subconsciously into the three-year-old mind. There was no  understanding, simply an authoritative statement that going out a door  led to something terrible. Parents, teachers and others often have no  idea that an explanation understandable and well-intended to adults can  prove devastating to a child's mind.

No Third Session

Having uncovered the casual factor and surrounding circumstances,  the hypnotherapist felt it would be fairly simple, through hypnosis, to  guide the client into releasing the past to the past where it would have no further effect on the present or the future. However, as is not  infrequently the case, it was not necessary. Simple understanding of  the cause--emerging from hypnosis with heretofore buried knowledge--was  in itself sufficient to resolve the problem. From that moment of  understanding the problem vanished instantly. In three years it has not returned. The third session was never needed.

Age regression has proved invaluable in hypnotherapy. Its use in  psychotherapy, following the work of the late internationally recognized psychiatrist, Milton Erikson, has been expanding steadily.

Regression, as in the case cited, has proved a superb vehicle for  rooting out causes. In many cases of stress or anxiety, the causing  factors are unknown to the conscious mind. But the unconscious, vastly  larger and more powerful, is the seat of all memory and can bring forth  from memory information and events related or pertinent to the problems  at hand.

Fears and phobias often have hidden, repressed or suppressed causes which can be ferreted out through hypnotic age regression. Perhaps the most important factor in successful regression is the rapport between  client and therapist. Hypnotic trips into the past can encounter very  sensitive and personal revelations, and solid trust and comfort between  the participants is essential to the achievement of goals.

Considerable attention has been given in recent years to the  phenomenon of "past life regression." Unfortunately a number of  individuals, untrained in hypnotherapy, psychology, psychiatry or  related fields, present group programs in what they term "past life  therapy." But the trained professional can resolve many problems using  this type of therapeutic procedure.

Such professionals usually do not claim that experience recalled in such regression is necessarily valid, noting that regression could call up past fantasies, imaginings or dreams. The consensus seems to be,  however, that whether the recalled experience is real or imagined is  really not significant if it solves the problem, which is often the  case.

Regression, of any type, presents no particular risks in the hands  of a competent and trained professional. It can offer major advantages  in revealing the sources of problems, even in cases of habit  control--smoking, overeating, etc. It is usually contraindicated in  cases of major medical disorders.

Content on this page ©1999 National Guild of  Hypnotists, Merrimack, NH 03054

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