Regression techniques from a master hypnotherapist
When I learned hypnotherapy I was taught that regression was the “crown jewel” of the hypnotherapist’s art. It’s the skill that turns a hypnotist into a true hypnotherapist. I still remember the goosebumps I felt as I watched my first demonstration of a regression and saw someone being released from the clutches of a phobia that had made their lives truly miserable.
Randal Churchill’s Regression Therapy: Transcripts of Transformation is the first volume in a two-volume set, the other being Catharsis in Regression Hypnotherapy. Both volumes are described in the Volume 1 preface as teaching texts for beginning and experienced practitioners of hypnotherapy. As someone who regularly conducts regressions I certainly found plenty of information to deepen my work and to provide new tools and alternatives.
Hypnosis and Gestalt work
One of the unique points of focus of the first volume is its integration of Gestalt work with hypnotherapy. Churchill explains some of the basics of Gestalt work and then shows how it is applied in regression. Gestalt is an approach that moves client and therapist out of the mind and into feeling. Typically, the therapist will guide the client to act out the roles of the various protagonists that arise in the regression, for example, the inner child, the parent, the abuser. By fully living into each of these roles the client gets to express and complete those feelings and communications which could not be expressed at the time of the sensitising incident. More than half the book is composed of actual case studies in which this approach is thoroughly demonstrated.
Another gem is Churchill’s exposition of Hypnotic Dreamwork, which is his trademarked process integrating hypnotherapeutic modalities with Gestalt dreamwork. I’ve never felt very confident about analysing dreams so I’ve stayed away from this type of therapy – but this approach isn’t about analysing or interpreting dreams at all. The client is guided into “being” all the characters in the dream and setting up a dialogue between them. The resultant process works at an energetic and physical level rather than an abstract mental level, bringing deep insights and accomplishing emotional catharsis. For more information on dreamwork, see Churchill’s book Become the Dream : The Transforming Power of Hypnotic Dreamwork.
Something I’ve integrated into my own practice after reading this book is the use of ideomotor signalling to indicate subconscious readiness for regression and to provide feedback at a sub-verbal level. After the induction, Churchill will usually set up signalling by eliciting yes/no/don’t know finger signals. He will then ask something like, “Is it safe and appropriate for you to remember any and all experiences you have had that have to do with your [problem]? If the signal is affirmative, you can add, “Is it safe and appropriate for you to be open to your emotions during the recall of these experiences?”
The text outlines strategies for dealing with any “no” responses. For instance, a no to facing the emotions can be circumvented by distancing techniques that allow the client to view the events as though they are happening to someone else.
Here’s a summary of some of the useful techniques discussed in the book:
- How to elicit the troubling emotion or feeling
- How to regress on the troubling emotion or feeling
- How to set up ideomotor signals and when to use them
- How to get around subconscious objections to experiencing emotions or remembering events
- How to conduct Gestalt work to process incomplete experiences
- How to use regression for uses not related to trauma (e.g. self-growth, finding lost objects)
- How to work with dreams
There aren’t that many books specifically on regression, so this book is valuable for that reason alone. However, it is also very readable and presents unique approaches to this essential art, so it’s certainly a worthy addition to any serious hypnotherapist’s library.
Russel Brownlee – Expert hypnotherapy and life coaching in Cape Town.