Regression Therapy

Updated January 21, 2022
Medically Reviewed By: Kay Adkins, LPC
Do you sometimes feel as though your past is holding you back? Do you find yourself wishing you could be more present in the moment?

Regression Therapy Can Help You Work Through Past Events And Move Forward

Perhaps it's something you can't remember, but you strongly feel that it's hidden somewhere in your mind? If so, regression therapy might make sense for you. You might be wondering how this therapy can help you get in touch with a part of your life that seems lost in your memory. And if you do get in touch with that earlier time, what can you do about it now? Getting the facts about this or any therapy first is the best way to decide whether to pursue it.

Regression therapy is dedicated to uncovering things from your past that may be contributing to your current mental state or harmful habits. There are two types: age regression therapy and past life regression therapy. The first type is designed to target things that may have happened during your childhood, and the second type is to help you resolve issues from your past lives (although it is often used in a more metaphorical capacity). We will review these two therapies in detail later in this article.

Regression therapy comes with its controversies, and some people may be hesitant to try it. That said, if you believe in some of the concepts behind this type of therapy, you should know that there have also been cases where people have experienced positive results.

How Can Regression Therapy Help?

It's a specific approach to psychotherapy that helps people improve their emotional and cognitive health by resolving past events.

Problems Addressed

When a therapist regresses you to an earlier time or a previous life, their goal is to help you resolve your problems in the present. They use regression techniques to find and resolve your feelings about past situations, so you can feel better about your current situation.
 
These past feelings may cause you to feel and behave in ways that don't make sense in the present moment. For example, these feelings and behaviors from the past might cause you:
  • To have fears and phobias without knowing why
  • To feel guilty for no easily understood reason
  • To have difficulty being intimate
  • To have a variety of relationship issues
  • To suffer from mental disorders

Using Hypnosis

Although there are many ways to conduct regression therapy, hypnosis is the most common method. (Psychoanalysts often use hypnosis as well.) Hypnosis puts you in a relaxed state that allows you to access and evaluate memories that you usually aren't aware of or that you have forgotten or repressed.

Regression Therapy Types

Age regression therapy takes you back to an earlier time in your life. Alternatively, past life regression therapy goes back beyond your current life and into previous reincarnations.

Age Regression

In this therapy, you might learn about things that happened to you when you were very young. In some cases, this therapy may uncover memories that surprise you because you were not aware of them.

The goal is not just to re-experience the memory, but also to bring it to your conscious mind where you can deal with it intentionally. Regression theory assumes that, by processing these memories and the emotions surrounding them, you free yourself to feel different about similar experiences now.

Past Life Regression

Past life regression is supposed to take you back to past incarnations, so you can deal with problems that arose long before your current lifetime. Many people feel this therapy makes sense for them because there appears to be no reason why they're living with fears, guilt, or other difficulties. They may also hold certain spiritual beliefs that allow them to benefit from this form of therapy.

Regression Therapy Process

There are several stages to regression therapy, beginning with hypnosis.

Relaxation. Relaxation is the first part of the hypnosis phase. The therapist talks to you slowly and gently, guiding you through a systematic process to relax your body and mind.

Visualization. Next, you move on to the visualization stage of hypnosis. Instead of asking if you see a particular thing or feel a certain way, the therapist is careful to ask open-ended questions. These types of questions allow you to talk about whatever you recall, even if it's something the therapist doesn't know.
 
As you see memory in your mind's eye, you might feel the way you did when it first happened. You might also feel compassion for the younger person you were when the event occurred. If what you're remembering is an incident of abuse or violence, you may become upset. Before the therapist guides you back to awareness of your surroundings, they'll help your younger self-deal with the problem.
 
Consciously Examining Memory. Once you explore and re-experience the situation, the therapist will help you transfer that knowledge to your conscious mind. They may tell you about what happened, or they may offer you a recording of the session. Once you're aware of the memory you discovered, your therapist will help you begin to put it in perspective.
 
Finding the Significance. After rediscovering a memory, you need to understand why it matters to you. How has it affected your life? Now that you remember it, how do you feel about yourself, those involved in the event, and the world in general? What have you learned?
 
Learning from the New Information. If you've recently recovered a memory, you can use it to understand yourself better. You might also know more about other people in your life. Your therapist can help you apply this new information to current feelings, conflicts, and behaviors.

Controversiality

While some people may say that they've benefitted greatly from age regression and past life regression, this type of therapy still hasn't gained widespread acceptance in the mental health community. Some therapists believe in the benefits of age regression, but they don't believe in reincarnation, so past lives don't make sense to them either.

The two main aspects of regression therapy that have caused the most controversy are the lack of evidence for its effectiveness and the possibility of creating false memories.

Furthermore, many therapists avoid this therapy because they're concerned it might be a waste of time. They feel it's more effective to spend time on therapies that have been proven to work in many scientific studies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy. At the moment, there's little research to confirm the effectiveness of regression therapy, but many people say there's proof of the dramatic results they've experienced.

Does It Create False Memories?

If the therapist isn't careful to ask only open-ended questions, they may inadvertently cause you to imagine something that never happened. Opponents of this type of therapy point out that these false memories can become indistinguishable from memories of events that did happen. They also say that these false memories can destroy relationships or even cause parents and caregivers to be punished for abuse that never happened.

Is It Safe to Do Age Regression and Past Life Progression on Your Own?

It may or may not be possible to do regression therapy on yourself through self-hypnosis. The real question is-is it safe? After all, what happens if you remember something, and you don't know how to deal with it? You may put yourself in a situation that causes you considerable emotional pain with no way out on your own. To be as safe as possible, it's best to work with a licensed therapist.

Who Benefits

If you're interested in pursuing this therapy, your best option is to find a therapist who has been trained in it. It can also be helpful to talk to a therapist who specializes in working with people who have faced abuse and violence, especially if you're aware this might be in your past.

Therapist Training

The International Board for Regression Therapy offers accreditation to therapists who have both studied regression therapy and demonstrated their ability to practice it. The most important part of training is learning proper hypnosis techniques. People who try to tackle difficult memories without adequate training in hypnosis can make matters worse.

Alternative Solutions

The methods described below are completely safe to try at home and have strong evidence of success.

Practice Visualization Exercises

Being able to envision what it is that you remember and what you have experienced is important. For some, visualization may come easy, but for others, it can be difficult to recreate things in their mind. Practicing creative visualization at home can better prepare you for hypnotherapy. It also allows you to experience other parts of your life in more detail.

Try Meditating and Inducing a Trance

Meditation is another exercise that has a ton of health benefits and is helpful when being hypnotized. If you may try regression therapy in the future, consider practicing meditation first as a way to improve your focus and grounding.

Regression Therapy Can Help You Work Through Past Events And Move Forward

BetterHelp Therapy

If you're wondering why you feel, think, or behave the way you do, you might benefit from regression therapy. Many other therapies address problems like fears and phobias, guilt, and relationship issues, too, so it's important to work with a qualified therapist who can help you find the therapeutic modality that works best for you. You can connect with a therapist now on BetterHelp. Working through past problems to resolve current conflicts and feelings can improve your life dramatically.

BetterHelp is a great choice for people who need therapy because you can meet with a therapist anytime and anywhere. You can also trust that the certified counselors on this platform are qualified to support you with any issues that arise. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors.

Counselor Reviews

"In one session Douglas has helped me realize and find a way to break a pattern that I've been having for the last few weeks and probably lifelong. This is going to help me improve my relationships and my life will be more fulfilling. I'm glad I got to talk to Douglas, I can sense he is a great professional."

"Mary Smith is very thoughtful and a great listener. I can tell she has a lot of experience dealing with many situations and people, which gives me comfort. She always stays on track with my concerns and goals, and always offers relevant suggestions and tools to help me to conquer issues. I recommend Mary Smith to anyone who feels stuck in their toxic ways formed by difficult past experiences, but you want to overcome them. I believe Mary has the skills to help someone who wants to change for the better."

Regression Therapy Conclusion

Granted, it's not for everyone, but if you want to try it, the right therapist can help. Exploring your past can help you transform.

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