Age Regression

Age regression is the reliving of an early life experience with no conscious awareness of any future realities beyond the time frame being experienced and some Clients are able to experience a total reliving of an early life experience. This involves a complete dissociation from any other references to adult life. The Client actually believes that they are the younger self. They see, hear and feel everything that the younger self saw, heard and felt. Whilst experiencing this they have no awareness of any future life. They have amnesia for the time following the age they are currently experiencing.

Quite often, Clients need to be trained to have a total dissociation in this way. This training can take considerable time in some cases and one should question whether it is really necessary. Most psychological problems can be helped without the Client experiencing a complete regression. Usually a revivification is enough. In experimental work or investigative hypnosis where the therapist is attempting to uncover memories of some deep trauma it may be necessary. Generally speaking, is satisfactory for dealing with most problems.

There are, however, some talented subjects who are able to regress quite spontaneously without much effort. When presented with this kind of Client or subject the therapist should use this opportunity for exploring deeper levels of unconscious ability. I may be criticised for suggesting that we should use our Clients to practice on. I have, however, always believed that a therapy practice is what it’s name suggests – an opportunity’ to practice.

I had a 45 year old Client once who came to me with an eating disorder. Whilst in trance I regressed her to the age of 22. She was communicating with me via automatic writing and she was a talented hypnotic subject even though this was her first (and last) experience with hypnosis. I was a little concerned when I asked her the date (to help establish whether she was really regressed or was just remembering) she told me that the year was 1714. She then described in great detail her 18th century clothing and wrote that her name was Eve (her name was really Carol). She appeared to be totally reliving the life of a girl in the early 18th century.

This past life regression was not suggested by me directly or indirectly. I personally do not believe in reincarnation even though I have been a Buddhist since the age of 14. When Carol came out of trance she had amnesia for the whole experience and did not recognise her own handwriting obtained from “Eve” during the trance. So If you have a talented subject learn from them.

Age revivification is the reviewing of an early life experience with conscious awareness of other time frames.

Most Clients seem to find it easier to re-view early life experiences rather than re-experience. The reviewing does not imply that the Client is not actually going through the experience. Whilst reviewing, the Client is in fact often experiencing the early life event but at the same time maintains an awareness of an adult existence and the therapy situation. The Client usually knows who the therapist is and why he is there. Revivification is a form of intense remembering. The Client can experience both the remembered and present reality simultaneously.

If you have seen my training video “Training in Indirect Hypnosis” you will see the hypnotic subject, Avril, hallucinating herself at a younger age. She is not regressed in the true sense she is experiencing an age revivification. Additionally she is not just remembering in the normal way but actually seeing (hallucinating) herself. She is able to describe the appearance of her younger self including{‘ what she is wearing. She does this with her eyes open although she is in only a medium trance.

Regression usually has more kinaesthetic/emotive content than revivification.

Naturally with regression, the Client experiences more emotion because of the total reliving of the event. The process of reliving the event with the exclusion of all external references is very intense. The reliving will usually seem as intense as the original event. This can sometimes cause problems for the therapist. If the Client is recalling fully a traumatic experience then by rights the therapists has no right to be there. He didn’t exists in the Client’s life at that time in the past so how is the Client expected to make sense of his presence at the scene of the event now? Usually the Client imagines that the therapist is one of the characters in the scenario. This is fine if the Client imagines the therapist as the good guy. But what happens if the Client imagines that the therapist is the bad guy – the one who caused their problems. In cases of abuse this can be a real problem for the therapist. If the Client re-lives the abuse, the therapist runs the risk of being imagined as the guilty party. It is only logical after all, in abuse cases there are usually only two participants the abuser and the victim of abuse. This mirrors the Client/therapist relationship in as much as there are two participants. I was talking to an inexperienced therapist who told me that he was asked to teach self hypnosis to his daughter’s best friend because she found it difficult to relax. The therapist induced trance and asked the girl to imagine walking through the countryside and lying down under a tree. The girl was an  excellent hypnotic subject and responded by recalling a time when a new boyfriend had rapped her under a tree. In her re-living of the experience she hit out at the therapist and accused him of rape believing him to be the boyfriend. The therapist did every’ thing he could to try and cope with the situation and told her that she should come out of trance immediately and have an amnesia for the event. When she came out of trance she had forgotten about the re-living of the rape experience but now accused the therapist of sexually molesting her during trance. Luckily the therapist’s daughter had witnessed the whole therapy session and was able to reassure her friend that her father had not done anything.

When working with possible victims of abuse the therapist should take all precautions to insure that the above scenario cannot happen. For example it is wise to ask the Client to bring along a friend to sit in on the session. If this is not possible another therapist (preferably female) should be asked to attend the session. If these choices are not available then a cassette recording of the entire therapy session should be made. In addition to this the therapist can avoid such a transference occurring by suggesting to the Client that only the sound of the therapists voice will go with them during the regression (which of course is a truism) and that the Client’s unconscious mind will know at all times that the therapist’s voice is there to help protect and support them during the regression.

Revivification is a form of dissociation in time with or without a dissociation in body/self

In revivification the Client dissociates from one time frame to another. In some cases the Client may actually experience the event, and in other cases he may see himself experiencing the event. When the Client sees himself experiencing an event he is experiencing a form of double dissociation. The first dissociation being a dissociation in time, the second dissociation being a dissociation in body/self.

By deliberately suggesting that the Client experience a double dissociation of this kind the Client may be able to re-call the memory of the event more easily and come to terms with it because he does not have to re-live the pain or emotions associated with the event. The double dissociation puts a distance between the visual recall and the kinaesthetic experience of the event. The Client looks at the event as if it is happening to someone else. The technique called the VK dissociation creates a different kind of double dissociation in that the Client sees himself seeing himself. So he is twice removed. With an hallucinated revivification (as with Avril in m\’ training video) the double dissociation refers to a dissociation in time and then self.

Here are some examples of approaches to regression and revivification: Frame setting metaphors, analogies about remembering and forgetting early life experiences whilst overlapping

It is always a good idea for therapists to set the frame when attempting a regression or revivification. This involves giving the Client metaphors about naturally occurring amnesia or times in the Client’s life when they remembered things they thought they’d forgotten. As the therapist gives these analogies or metaphors he should use colourful language in order to overlap the sensory experience of the Client and create a three dimensional internal representation of the metaphor or analogy.

The principle is to evoke naturally occurring recall of memories by association. Sometimes this is all the therapist need do. If the Client is ready to regress then the simple reminiscences of the therapist may trigger a regression in the Client.
The therapist offers analogies or metaphors about amnesia to structure an amnesia for the present. When a Client regresses they not just remember the past, they also have an amnesia for all subsequent experiences. So any metaphors about remembering forgotten events should be based on the past and all metaphors about forgetting events should be based on the future.
For example the therapist might talk about how it is possible to walk down the street and smell something that remind him of a childhood experience. This is a common experience for most people and one that can often evoke an immediate recall of early memories. Then the therapist might talk about how when the Client was a child he had no idea of who he would become as an adult. This is suggesting an amnesia for the future by implication.

Serial suggestions gradually recalling dates, facts and universal/Client’s personal memories

Starting with the present time, the therapist can gradually work his way back via dates, facts and memories slowly recovering thoughts and memories of earlier times in the Client’s life. For example he can mention Christmas followed by the birthday that the Client had prior to Christmas that year followed by a holiday prior to that. By gradually working backwards from now into the past and utilising either universal dates, public holidays etc. or personal memories of the Clients gained through information gathering prior to the induction, the therapist can assist the Client in regressing. The therapist should attempt to gather as much information about the Client’s past as possible before using this technique. The information should be factual otherwise the events and dates mentioned by the therapist will mis-match the Clients actual recall.

Watching pages of a calendar/reviewing old photos etc

The therapist can ask the Client to visualise the pages of a calendar flicking backwards through the dates or visualise either a real or imagined photo album of the Client’s life again flicking back through the pages as time passes backwards further and further into the Client’s past. The old black and white “B” movies of the 1940’s often used a technique of seeing the pages of a calendar flicking backwards in the wind to suggest the recall of memories. Because this is a familiar image to many people the therapist can talk about these old movies and get the Client to recall a calendar representing their own life.

Embedding past realities in a staircase technique

Here the therapist can ask the Client to go down the stairs, enter through a door into a past time, a past memory, a recent memory in the Client’s life. The therapist can then ask the Client to find another staircase (which appears magically all by itself), to walk down this staircase going deeper into trance, and enter another past memory, going further and further back in time with each set of stairs and embedded reality. Alternatively, if the Client appreciates art, the therapist can ask the Client to imagine seeing an old painting of a recent memory and then floating up and into the painting. The Client then explores this memory for a while and then sees a second painting of a more distant memory. He floats up and into this painting, exploring this memory’ and so on until the Client is regressed to the desired age.

Another technique which can also be used for dissociation is where the Client sees himself in a mirror and then watches his younger self step out of his body. An even younger self can then step out of this second body and so on until there are several selves seen in the mirror each one getting progressively younger. The various selves can then be asked to talk to one another and share life experiences and resources. An entire therapeutic approach can easily be developed by using this technique as it contains so many possibilities for experimentation.

Accessing a feeling and following the kinaesthetic thread to its source

When a Client starts to cry, hold his breath or hyperventilate during the information stage of a therapy session he is on the verge of regressing. The therapist can often utilise this emotion and ask the Client to return to its source by following the feeling back though time to the first time that the Client ever experienced the emotion. This will often take the Client directly back to the source of his problem. This is a technique often used for evoking an abreaction.

The therapist can also use this principle to promote a regression by asking the Client to get a nice comfortable feeling, maybe a feeling that he often enjoys. The therapist can then ask him to take the feeling back through time to some earlier time in his life when he first had the feeling. The same process can utilise negative feelings, however this is not useful unless the outcome is to work specifically on a negative feeling that is part of the presenting problem.

The Multiple Mirror Therapeutic Induction

In this particular technique the Patient is encouraged to see himself in a mirror whilst stepping out of his body to either the left or right. Further dissociation can be achieved by either asking the Patient to step out of the self that has previously stepped out of the body (like a set of Russian dolls) or by having many different sub-selves stepping out of the Patient in turn. This particular technique is fairly useful for inducing age regression whilst inducing trance.

Multiple Mirror Induction – 1st Version

  • The patient closes her eyes
  • The patient looks at her reflection in a mirror
  • She sees herself going into trance (with suggestions from the therapist)
  • She is told that her unconscious will allow younger selves to step out of her body as she watches and that these younger selves will be from critical times related to her problem.
  • She is told to watch the refection of a younger self stepping out of her body to the right
  • She is told to watch the refection of an even younger self stepping out of her body to the left
  • This process is continued until there are several younger selves standing / sitting around the patient and with whom she can discus her problem.

Multiple Mirror Induction – 2nd Version

  • The patient closes her eyes
  • The patient looks at her reflection in a mirror
  • She sees herself going into trance (with suggestions from the therapist)
  • She is told that her unconscious will allow younger selves to step out of her body as she watches and that these younger selves will be from critical times related to her problem.
  • She is told to watch the refection of a younger self stepping out of her body to the right
  • She then watches a younger self step out of this self (again to the right), and a younger self from that one etc (like Russian Dolls) until there is a row of several selves with whom she can discus her problem.

The technique creates a dissociation, simultaneous age regression and trance induction. Because this technique combines dissociation and regression within an induction it is very useful for treatment requiring these three components. As each self dissociates and steps out of the other the Patient can see and hear each self at a different age. If the therapist suggests that each self will step out at an age related to the formation of the Patient’s problem the Patient then has access to the self at these different stages.

The selves can be encouraged to form a committee of selves to work on the Patients problem

The Patient can be encouraged to converse with the different selves or give support to each self as part of the healing process. This process of therapeutic negotiation can be very powerful for the Patient. It utilises unconscious processes can give the Patient the feeling that their unconscious mind is very much an important part of the healing process.

The selves should always be re-integrated before trance or therapy is terminated

You should not leave your Patient in a dissociated or regressed state. You should always ask that they put themselves back together. The taking apart and re-integrating is an important part of the healing process. It helps the Patient develop insight into the structure of their problem and gives them the opportunity of giving resources to the self at different ages. Therapy can also be given to the self at these different stages of development. The technique should not be used with psychotic Patients or Patients with multiple personality disorders.

Age Progression as a psycho-therapeutic process

How often have you said “If only I had known then what I know now, I would have done it differently’ When people are in the middle of a problem it is difficult to be objective. All they want to do is change the situation now! They spend very little time looking into the future at the possible resources and solutions available to them.

Pseudo-orientation is a rehearsal of new behaviours

In NLP terms this is often called future pacing, although this is not quite the sameThe therapist asks the Patient to go into the future to find out whether the therapeutic interventions that occurred during the therapy session have now worked. The therapist is actually asking the Patient to rehearse the successful result of the treatment The Patient imagines himself in a situation that in the past would have caused difficulty and the Patient experiences themselves without their problem behaviour in the future context. The rehearsing of the success of treatment is a way of compounding the success.

Pseudo-orientation is an ecology check

By asking the Patient to go into the future and try out the success of the therapy the therapist is also checking to see if the new behaviours are appropriate. When a Patient experiences therapeutic changes occurring after therapy, the changes may not be always be appropriate for all contexts or consistent with the Patient’s belief systems or life style. So by asking the Patient to go into the future and check out how the suggested new behaviour feels, the therapist is identifying whether the therapeutic intervention is appropriate for the Patient in future contexts.

Pseudo-orientation ratifies therapy

Again, as with rehearsing new behaviours, by asking the Patient to step into the therapeutic solution to the problem, the therapist is ratifying the therapy that has occurred. The rehearsing compounds the success of the therapy.

Pseudo-orientation identifies new therapeutic approaches

If the therapist is unable to make decisions about how therapy should progress he can ask the Patient (in hypnosis) to go into the future, and imagine himself having received therapy successfully. The therapist then asks the Patient what the therapist did in order to help the Patient during the treatment. The Patient reports back on the therapist’s interventions and the therapist then carries out these interventions in order to achieve the future goal of therapy.

When looking at this technique we should differentiate between Conscious Fantasies and Unconscious Fantasies

Conscious Fantasies represent accomplishments apart from reality. They are complete in themselves yet expressive of no more than conscious, hopeful, wishful thinking. Unconscious Fantasies are not complete in themselves, nor are they apart from reality. They are psychological processes in various degrees of formulation which the unconscious is waiting to make part of reality. They do not merely signify wishful thinking but rather the actual intention to act at the opportune time.

So unconscious fantasies are not people’s imaginations running away with them, but a serious unconscious appraisal, in fantasy form, of possible realities which are in keeping with the subjects own understanding of themselves.

Steps for Pseudo-orientation in time

  • Be conversational and give analogies about dreaming and how it is possible to dream of something that occurs a few days, weeks, or even months in the future, almost as if the future is unconsciously preordained.
  • Give analogies about your own experience of future orientation or those of Patients or friends.
  • Give metaphors about amnesia and forgetting dreams and experiences of knowing what you have to do – and then discovering that you have already done it.
  • Introduce a good reliable trance possibility by asking the subject to consider plans that he had in the past and has for the future, pacing and leading the subject into a state of absorption.
  • Deepen trance by counting, arm levitation, multiple tasks and stacking realities etc.
  • Orientate the subject into the future (not specifying the exact time at the present) by offering confusing yet explicit suggestions for age progression.
  • Introduce the implication that the subject can discover himself in the near future at some time when he has overcome his presenting problem.
  • Continue the progression/confusion techniques introducing visual/kinaesthetic experiences of walking into the future or seeing the pages of a calendar flip over into the future.
  • If possible establish verbal contact with the subject and confirm the date of the future orientation.
  • Utilise the subject’s previous experience with dissociation during hypnosis to review all of the positive changes that have contributed towards resolving the problem.

OR

When the subject is orientated in the future offer him a challenge to build motivation and then utilise ‘shock’ to bring about a sudden realisation at the unconscious level that he has overcome his problem in some way. This should be followed by discussion of the changes that may have contributed towards resolving the problem (these will consist of the various therapeutic interventions that the therapist was considering introducing).

OR

Give extensive post-hypnotic suggestions for a chain of new behaviours that will accomplish resolution of the conflict, then project the subject further into the future and have them tell you about the completion of the new behaviours and successful results of therapy. Re-orientate the subject to the present and give extensive suggestions for amnesia.

By The British Hypnosis Research & Training Institute|2018-11-28T12:52:17+07:00May 10th, 2016|Blog, Hypnotherapy techniques|
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