By: Pierre Benoit
Age regression is one of the most powerful tools available to the hypnotherapist. But lately it has come under fire for creating false memories. The truth of the matter is that it does work, but the hypnotherapist must be very careful when directing the regression.
Many therapies involving hypnosis take advantage of the mind’s ability to visualize. And this ability can be useful when treating someone for overeating, or helping them achieve athletic and career goals. But combining age regression and visualization must be done very carefully.
The subconscious mind retains every bit of information that it receives. If someone is having trouble retrieving a memory, the hypnotherapist may suggest that they visualize something that will help them retrieve it. If the suggestion is not carefully worded the mind may confuse the image with a memory. For this reason it is very important to use Nondirective Hypnotherapy.
A good example is the case of “Kathy.” She recently came to a colleague to discuss a personal development which she did not understand. As far back as she could remember, she had always felt certain sadness when visitors left her home; but the situation was becoming increasingly troublesome. The emotional upsets were no longer limited to loved ones, but happened whenever anyone went out the door. The feelings were growing stronger, and now also resulted in tears and severe crying spells bordering on hysteria. The situation seemed to be out of control and she felt it demanded attention. A friend suggested hypnosis.
After interviewing her, and testing her for suggestibility, the hypnotherapist decided that some event in her childhood had resulted in a psychological imprint which had either been forgotten, or had not been consciously recognized as the cause.
The hypnotherapist instructed her to go back to the time and place where she first remembered the problem happening. He suggested that she viewed the event as if it was a television show and to describe what she saw.
“Kathy” explained that she was three years old, sitting on the stairs in her home, looking down into the living room. Her father had just died and was lying in the living room. She was called down and instructed to kiss her father goodbye, which she did.
The well-meaning family wanted to avoid a situation where a child, not understanding what death was, would not constantly be expecting her father to return. They explained that when her father would be taken out through “the door,” he would be gone forever and would never return.
Without realizing what they had done, they had created an association between death and doors that remained locked in her subconscious mind. To her three-year-old mind, there was no understanding, only an authoritative statement that going out the door would lead to something terrible.
As with most cases of this sort, understanding the cause was enough to solve the problem. While traditional psychoanalysis might have required years to discover the cause of the problem, one hypnotherapist employing Nondirective Hypnotherapy was able to help this woman in just two sessions.
When choosing a hypnotherapist, it is important to be sure that he or she is qualified. Pierre Benoit, CHt, RCCH, is a member of the Association of Registered Clinical Hypnotherapists of Canada (ARCH) and of the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association (IMDHA) and can be reached at (514)472-3535.