Hypnotic Age Regression
While this technique can also be used to simply relive a pleasant experience of the past, we will be addressing age regression mostly in terms of helping to resolve problematic event(s) of the past that are causing emotional and/or behavioral concerns.
Due to susceptibility clients will respond to age regression differently. Some will act as if they are actually there at that time, for example they may act like a child or even speak like a child. Others will have a less involved experience and view it as they would any other memory. Normally there is a greater clarity and depth of recall when regression takes place. People also remember more than they thought they could and forgotten memories come to the surface.
In general the more conscious activity there is, the more prone people are to avoiding unconscious material. In hypnosis with a quiet conscious mind the unconscious is able to shed light on what was seemingly hidden, suppressed or just plain out of conscious awareness. As long as the client is using conscious level rationale to resolve the problem, then the conscious mind is still in control. As a result, the critical-analytical thinking of the conscious mind keeps the client from accessing the source of the problem which is embedded in the unconscious mind.
Identifying “the initial sensitizing event” that has caused the problem is essential if there is to be constructive change. Unless the cause of the problem is identified and effectively dealt with, it will never be properly addressed. People might have a string of related events that they feel are the cause. It is important to go back to the initial experience if you want success with this method. Initial sensitizing event is when something happens in a person’s life which affects their behavior and emotions from that point and into the future. The emotions, perhaps trauma or fear, of the original event embeds itself in the unconscious mind.
An example of an initial sensitizing event would be a person who was attacked by a dog as a young child and was traumatized by the event. Thereafter, each time the individual has contact with a dog it is colored by the dog attack years before. Each additional exposure with a dog only seems to reinforce the trauma of the original experience.
The ongoing effects of this root experience are controlled by two factors: the personality of the person and subsequent events in the person's life that reinforce the original event.
The ability to uncover the initial sensitizing event is essential in hypnosis because the problems the client presents to us stem from the emotional disturbances associated with the event. Removing or overriding the barriers and locating the original event in the unconscious mind permits it to be subjected to the examination necessary for therapy and for the client to change.
It is also important to note that regression therapy is often accompanied by an abreaction on the part of the client. This is when the individual feels a remembered event so well that they actually act out as if they are really experiencing it all over again. In other words, an abreaction is when the client is dealing with an event with such emotional activity it is as if the client is reliving it. Abreaction happens spontaneously, we never push for it to occur.
The abreaction state can display intense emotions and/or physical responses, and be emotionally draining for the client. The individual may appear to be in extreme distress. When an abreaction occurs, we always remain calm because realize that the distress, or overt emotional or physical reaction, is the release (or venting) of unwanted energies which have been stored up in the unconscious mind. As a result, the individual becomes quite receptive to new suggestions and reprogramming.
If the client becomes highly emotional or agitated, we sometimes lead the individual to second or third position, that is become an on-looker to what is occurring. In this way they can dissociate (distance) themselves from the emotional trauma of the first person position. They will then view the experience as watching themselves having the experience or watching themselves viewing the experience perhaps on a movie or television screen.
Categories of hypnotic regression
The hypnotist actively directs the client to return mentally in time to a known time and place in their past. The client is encouraged to go back to the initial sensitizing event, describe it and feel what is happening or to re-experience that event.
The client is instructed to go back as far as need be to discover the true cause of the problem. There is no known event so it is sometimes referred to as free-floating regression, as the client is instructed to float back into the past all the way back until they are floating over the very first event that caused the problem. The best way of doing this is with Time Line Technique. It is possible the client may go into what they perceive to be a past life.
Past Life and Recreational Regression
When properly approached and guided by a qualified therapist, past life (historical) regression can prove to be a viable source of information for clients and offer amazing therapeutic benefit. Whether this type of regression is intentional or spontaneous it can offer, at the very least, very interesting insights.
Some clients, without conscious awareness, have a strong need to deal with a problem which has been causing them distress at the unconscious level. For example, the individual may seek hypnosis to stop smoking and have no awareness that the unconscious needs to deal with a different issue which has been repressed by the conscious mind. Often, with this situation, the hypnotic induction process is enough to remove the conscious minds effort to keep the problem repressed. During the induction the person automatically regresses to the cause of the repressed problem. Spontaneous regressions can lead to rather emotional abreactions as the repressed memories are released.
Methods for achieving Regression
There are different methods that can be used to successfully achieve Hypnotic regression.
The Pin Point Technique
To pin point is to find the starting point of a neurosis. Every neurotic condition had to start somewhere. This starting point has often been referred to as the Pin Point. The aim is to locate the set of circumstances that acted as the precipitating factor of the neurosis. The basis for the technique is that there is no effect without a cause. Causes do have a beginning. With the Pin Point Technique, you attempt to find the initial or beginning cause.
The Pin Point Method is a regression technique where we simply ask the unconscious to pinpoint the exact starting point of the problem and take the client back there to either gain insight or revivify the experience, thus freeing the emotional charge that has kept the client “stuck in the problem”.
Examples of issues where we use the Pin Point Technique:
- persistent pain even after anesthesia or analgesia has been administered.
- migraines or any other specific neurotic system causing psychosomatic aches or pains.
- the reduction of phobia.
- stammering, stuttering, absent-minded, and is occasionally helpful in lisping.
- tics including tic douloureux.
- in almost all cases where only one specific problem or symptom is involved.
The pin-point method is not used where there is a conglomeration of systems, that is, where the presented problem is not specific, tangible or clearly definable as a 'problem'. For these cases, we track the emotion around the problem using the Affect Bridge Technique.
The Affect Bridge Technique
This is a direct and very effective approach to age regression, the affect bridge establishes a direct connection between the present in which the uncomfortable emotion exists and the earlier sensitizing event in which this same emotion was first experienced. The client bridges (using emotion or sensation) from the present to the past energized event. Now the person will deal with original event that is responsible for the current problem.
This technique is used when client is not consciously aware of the original sensitizing event that triggered the issue, it allows us to locate the original sensitizing event very easily and quickly. The amazing benefit of this technique is in the fact that client can revisit the original sensitizing event as a person who they are today, thus feeling empowered with the experiences they experienced since. This allows the client to process the original event very quickly and integrate all the insights into their unconscious mind.
In this technique we ask the client to count backwards from their present age to a pre-selected age while giving him the suggestions that at each number they will feel they are the age that number represents. This takes time, as the client is not going to respond as quickly as we are able to speak. We adequately pause after giving each instruction, giving time for the person to move back at their own pace.
Before proceeding with this, we usually set up an ideo-motor response (such as a finger levitation or a nod of the head) so the client can indicate when they have completed their response and are ready to move on. When the client reaches the predetermined age, we ask if the present problem (the one the client came to see you about) exists at that time. If it does, then we further regress them by having them count backwards until a time is located when the current problem has not yet arisen. Then we bring them forward in their memory to the time when something happens which starts the problem and explore this event in detail. At this point we continue with the appropriate therapeutic technique.
Movie screen imaging
We have the client view a movie-screen. We then ask the client to view the important times of the development of their symptoms and project those times on the screen. The unconscious mind will usually take them where they need to go. The ability to be detached from the event allows the viewing of events to gain insights without emotional involvement.
Summary of Part 8 - Regression
In this Part we described the various tools for Regression, below is a summary of the Regression techniques and their uses.
Hypnotic age regression is an optimal method for us to discover sublimated (unconscious) material, locating the source of a client’s problem and resolving it once and for all.
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The Part 9 of the series about Hypnosis focuses on the different approaches to hypnosis. Continue with Part 9 here.