Age-Regression is a hypnosis technique that is frequently used, however, there is some discussion as to whether it is always the best technique or if it is needed at all. Some believe that it is the go-to procedure for effective resolution of almost every issue. Other hypnotherapists don’t really believe that it is necessary at all and never use it. There is a middle ground where some hypnotherapists believe that there are specific times and issues where age regression works well and other times when it is better to use other procedures.
Age-Regression is when the hypnotist guides the client back to retrieve or re-experience memories that happened at an earlier age. This can be cathartic and there are some specific reasons why this is done. It is sometimes very effective in resolving issues. As the client sees and experiences events from the past, they are looking at them from a different perspective and seeing them in a different way with added resources for dealing with them and can therefore come away with different feelings and perhaps, an improved outcome or better perspective of the outcome. On the other hand, going back and re-living past traumas, experiencing those feelings again, can reignite traumas unnecessarily. It is also true that each time we go back to a past memory we change it and we may not be dealing accurately with things. How do we decide then if using age regression is the best choice?
There is not one right answer to this question. I think it depends on many factors and the decision will be very individual and may come somewhat intuitively. However, for me, there are some things that I consider. First, what is the client’s comfort level with going back and delving into those past traumas? Second, is there another way of addressing and dealing with the issues without using age-regression? If there is another way of dealing with the issues and resolving any undesirable feelings or behaviors associated with those issues, then I will choose not to do age-regression, unless the client is really wanting and expecting to experience it. It is always my goal to make the clients healing experience as trauma-free as possible. I try to set up the expectation that the treatment will be easy and not a difficult process with lots of pain and suffering involved. I have found that many clients do expect difficulty and suffering from their experiences with traditional psychotherapy and counseling and often dread the idea of going through such an experience. It seems obvious that re-traumatizing can do nothing, except hindering the healing process. It is always my goal to change that expectation and start things off with the client in a hopeful mindset with an expectation that issues will be easily and quickly resolved.
In many cases, issues can be resolved and feelings changed by dealing with the beliefs around a particular experience, rather than actually going back and recreating that time and experience. At other times, experiences can be reframed or energy can be refocused away from dwelling on those negative feelings surrounding past issues. Sometimes techniques designed to eliminate the physical and emotional symptoms associated with the trauma created by the negative event may work well. For instances, learning to recognize when and where you are holding tension in your body and learning to relieve or eliminate this tension may be enough to let go of the negativity and trauma from a past experience and move forward. It is believed that going back through regression can be somewhat re-traumatizing and if that can be avoided it seems worthwhile.
I have completed three different hypnotherapy training programs that emphasize handling things in different ways and have found positives in all of them. I have not found one that I believe does everything the best way in every situation, nor do I know that I have discovered the best way to handle every situation. I am constantly learning and finding new answers to these questions. I do rely strongly on my intuition in making these decisions, well as, constantly reading and talking with colleagues about their experience with various techniques. I am learning to trust intuition, along with adding continuously evolving knowledge, as I go along. I encounter new situations on a regular basis and continue to add more ways of effectively working with clients to my skills tool box. Hypnosis has been around for a long time and there is a huge amount of knowledge and many different approaches. There are numerous ways of dealing with some problems and all of them are successful in certain situations and with certain clients. There is not a one size fits all solution.
In conclusion, I have to say that in the right situation, a good age-regression can work very powerfully and effectively. I have experienced it myself and have seen the lights go on very quickly for clients through an age-regression experience. It tends to dissolve past trauma and eliminate triggers effectively in many cases.
Hypnosis has been shown to be as effective or more effective than other methods in stopping or eliminating bad habits. How and why does it work? It is not magic and still requires that the client be both willing to work and committed to making the change. However, a good hypnotist who also understands how the brain and our emotions work can help clients make quicker and more permanent change in stopping those undesirable habits. In a state of hypnosis, the client is relaxed into a trance or state where the subconscious is more accessible and open to suggestion. The subconscious is a taskmaster and takes on what we ask or program it to do. This is where the hypnotherapists understanding of the brain is important to the client’s success in eliminating bad habits. The language and focus of the suggestions or directions to the subconscious are important, as well as, tapping into and neutralizing the client’s emotions around the change process. Hypnosis can give these efforts a boost by tapping into to the subconscious mind and putting it to work for us. Neuroscience tells us that we change by forming new neural pathways and respond in new ways on a continued or repeated basis. The best way then to end or eliminate a habit is to replace it with a new more desirable habit or pattern of response forming a new neural pathway. If we do this the chances are very high that we will be successful.
While self-discipline is a needed and important aspect of creating the behaviors we desire, pure willpower is not a very effective way of stopping or ending undesirable behavior. The reason is simple - it is simply not the way our brain works. We do not form new neural pathways by saying stop to ourselves and our brain does not stop responding to stimuli and following those well-worn pathways we are trying to change. Despite our will to do otherwise, our brain does what it has been doing in a very automatic way. Repeated diligently enough we will form a habit of saying “no” to a particular set of stimuli, but this is not as strong as forming a new rewarding behavior. In order to change those patterns, we must do something to change them and form new neural pathways.
“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” -- Socrates character, “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” – Dan Millman
A mountain of research has shown that habits are stronger than willpower in most cases. However, eliminating bad habits is still very possible and hypnosis used correctly can be very effective. It is both the ability to access our subconscious mind and put it to work on our side and the ability to visualize and experience a successful outcome effectively that leads to success. Hypnosis can also help in reducing the emotional stress and anxiety that is sometimes a part of that process. It is also true that if you do manage to use willpower to push yourself into eliminating a habit, the change is less likely to last. You get tired and slip back. However, if you can build a new habit, forming those new patterns and neural pathways, you can maintain that change long term and are less likely to fall back into the old behavior. For instances, when I decided to stop drinking diet soda, I substituted Chia Lattes and it was fairly easy and painless to make the change. My substitution decision was, however, a little flawed as I soon had a new bad habit of “chai lattes”, which are both sugar laden and expensive. I kicked chai lattes by forming a new habit of herbal teas and coffee. It was fairly easy and painless and I chose herbal teas that are actually good for me and an occasional cup of a great organic coffee that has an amazing mellow taste.
With the help of hypnosis, committed intent and an understanding of how the brain and emotions work, eliminating bad habits and replacing them with new and more desirable behaviors can be easy! Next time you want to stop doing something remember these simple fundamentals of neuroscience and find a good hypnotherapist to help you make the change easier!
How Hypnosis Works for Trauma
Hypnosis has been shown to be effective in dealing with a wide range of trauma-related issues. It is helpful in dealing with trauma from abuse of many kinds, PTSD and traumas from abandonment, bullying and failures or losses. It is, in general, quicker and more effective than other types of counseling or psychotherapy. It is not for everyone, but if people are open to trying it the success rate is very good. How and why does Hypnosis work in dealing with trauma and how is it different than other ways of dealing with it. It is also noteworthy to say that there is more than one way of using hypnosis to deal with trauma. In some cases, regression may be used to deal successfully with trauma and in other cases no regression is needed and other techniques may be used for reframing and changing mindset, fears and releasing energies and memories associated with the past traumas.
It is worth noting that The British Medical Council, the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have all endorsed hypnotherapy as a valid therapeutic procedure for the treatment of PTSD.
How exactly does it work? Every Experience (both positive and negative) is stored in our brain encoding in neural connections. In our brain’s organizing system experiences or memories of a similar nature are stored or linked to those that are similar in nature. That is why a stimulus from one memory may bring up a similar memory or situation. The stimuli (such as sound, smell, song, color, voice tone) is called a trigger. An event that initiates trauma is different and usually painful and does not fall in with or connect easily with other life experiences. It is filed away in a special place, but still has its own set of stimuli associated with that event. Hypnosis can allow the patient to do a number of things which are helpful in healing trauma. First it is possible to isolate, retrieve and clarify the memory if needed. The client is looking at the trauma now from a more resourceful perspective and can allow them to see the situation resolved in a manner that brings calm, safety and a sense of accomplishment. Also, the client may be guided in visualizing a happy outcome and mastery over the fear or helplessness caused by the trauma. It can eliminate discomfort and anxiety and give the client the tools needed to reprogram their brain for better functioning and less anxiety and fear.
Hypnosis is powerful and deals with unlocking the subconscious mind. A qualified hypnotherapist can use it either by itself or in conjunct with other therapy. Knowing a lot about the client’s history and the nature of the trauma is very helpful in effectively using hypnosis. It must be used carefully. Defense mechanisms and blocking of traumatic memories serves a protective purpose and releasing these protective devices must be done with careful thought and intention. When done with a plan for replacing the panic with more positive and resourceful reactions it can be very helpful in permanently changing traumatic memory triggers.
In some cases, and with some clients it is possible to help the client look at the trauma from a new perspective where they are simply more capable and able to deal with the situation easily and without fear or panic. Seeing themselves in this new way will often be enough to eliminate future reaction to any triggers. Sometimes a past trauma may be modified with more information that was not available at the initial traumatizing event. This will often diminish its power.
So, the bottom line is that hypnosis is a tool that has the power to change and rewire the patterns and connections that stimulate the fear and panic reactions that are stored away in our subconscious. Through hypnosis those neural pathways can be replaced with more positive or resourceful reactions. It is a way of editing the story of the past, in order to create a better story in the present and the future.
Blog By Kate Olson
Kate is a Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner & Trainer, Reiki Master, Energy Healer, Life Coach and more. To find out more about her or her work, click the links below:
Get Kate's Book & Journal!
Living in Joyful Resilience: A Roadmap for Navigating Life's Ups & Downs & Simple Soul Thoughts : Collecting Moments of Joy
About the Blog
After 4 years of featuring at least 1 guest Author a month this blog changed in 2020. I loved featuring the posts of other great people who also believe in mind, body, spirit wellness. I will continue to feature articles submitted to me on this topic that align with my own mission. However, finding & reaching out to others is time consuming and I do it for my radio show, Soul Talks and other groups and projects and so for this blog i will be ramping up my own posts and perspective. posting mostly my own blogs. I will be happy & excited to post articles from those who submit them to me.