How to resolve the ISE and bring acceptance to the past
(This article provides detail on Step 6 of the process described in the Regression Hypnosis article on this site.)
During regression hypnotherapy the first part of the session will be devoted to finding the Symptom Producing Events (SPEs) or the Initial Sensitizing Event, the ISE (In the article, this is step for more on how to do this.) But what do you do once you’ve found it?
Interactive therapy to heal the past
There are various ways of doing this using parts therapy, transactional analysis, inner child work, and Gestalt. (Note that we’re not actually “healing the past”, we’re healing the presently occurring re-enactment of a past event.)
Here’s a process using the Child, Parent, and Adult ego states derived from transactional analysis. It assumes that when the initial wounding occurred, the child did not have the resources of the Adult ego state at its disposal, so it coped as best it could – often by punishing itself or by cutting off the emotion that was perceived to have created the trouble. The child is left feeling guilty or fatally flawed, so the aim of this therapy is to re-establish the innocence of the inner child and the realisation that the punishment, which became a symptom, is no longer appropriate.
a) The Child
You’ve regressed the subject to the scene of the initial wounding. The subject will now be experiencing themselves as the child in that situation. There might be emotional release (abreaction) at this point that you will need to manage. Don’t leave the child too long in this vulnerable position but bring in the Adult self to be with them. Let’s say the subject’s name is Jane and you’ve regressed to a childhood incident in which the mother appears to have rejected the child. “Now Jane I want you to go into that scene as the Adult Jane and just be with that little Jane for a while. It’s like you’re an older sister and you can just be with her there. Why don’t you just hold her or take her in your arms or just be there in some protective way – go ahead and do it now… And I wonder, now that little Jane has a friend there with her, what does she want to say? What does she want to say to mommy or to us that she didn’t get a chance to say then? Go on, you are safe, you can say it.”
Let the subject respond. Encourage further unburdening – let the little one tell you what they are feeling, and encourage them to keep to the present tense.
b)The Adult self
The child has now expressed herself, but she doesn’t yet know she is innocent and that she’s done nothing wrong. That perspective can only come from the Adult self, which the child did not have at the time of the wounding. So now you bring in the Adult self into the situation to reassure the younger self. “Now Jane, when you were so young, you didn’t know all the important things you know now. You’ve learned a lot in these years and I wonder, when you are being there with little Jane, what can you tell her that will make all the difference? What didn’t she know then that would have made her feel so much better? Go on, reach into the deepest, wises place in your heart and tell little Jane everything she needs to know about that situation.”
Encourage the message that the child is innocent. Usually, this will be an insight that is given spontaneously, but if not you can prompt it with something like, “And little Jane didn’t do anything wrong, did she? No, of course not, she is just a child, and the sole job of children is to play and have fun and to cry when they are sad and laugh when they are happy. You are innocent and always have been.”
c) The victim/perpetrator
Now that we’ve established the innocence of the child, we need to clear up the victim/perpetrator dynamic. The reason the symptom is troubling the subject in the present is because they haven’t been able to release what happened. They are still looking at the situation with the eyes of a wounded child, a victim. The task now is to get them to see the perpetrator as a fellow human being with their own complex drives and challenges.
“Now let’s look at mommy over there. I want you to look into her eyes and I want you to do it from a deep soul level, just look into her eyes and tell me .. what is she feeling? What makes her do that or say that?” The subject will usually offer deep insight into the behaviour of the other, for example by observing that mommy was frustrated or sad. Reinforce that this means that mommy wasn’t really angry with the little girl, she was angry or sad about something else in her life.
It’s important to also hear the adult protagonist’s viewpoint here, so ask, “And what does mommy have to say about this? What does she want to say that she couldn’t say back then?”
This might develop into a dialogue, which you can encourage. You can move this into a proper Gestalt dialogue by having the subject become the mother and any other characters in the drama. For an excellent exposition of the Gestalt approach, see Randal Churchill’s Regression Hypnotherapy.
Where you want to end up with this dialogue is a position in which forgiveness, or at least acceptance, is possible. For the first time in many long years of repression the inner child has the chance of seeing the situation from a different angle and laying the matter to rest. The “perpetrator” wasn’t being evil, they were just responding to a situation to the best of their abilities. Here is the chance for the deep insight that in every situation, people do the best they can with the resources at their disposal. This counts for the child as well as for the adult. Once this is seen, true forgiveness can set in.
To see where the process fits into a complete regression session, see this Regression Hypnotherapy article.
Russel Brownlee – Inspired Coaching & Hypnosis