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The value of Regression Therapy - how a past life can help a present one.

Updated on February 24, 2013

What is regression therapy?

Regression Therapy, also known as Past Life Therapy, is the recounting of a particular past event by a client under hypnosis in order to clear distressing issues and/or ‘stuck’, limiting or inappropriate behaviour in the present.

It is a therapy that I found it to be one of the most valuable tools in my repertoire as a clinical hypnotherapist.

Hypnotherapy is most often used to help people safely face their phobias or fears, such as a fear of spiders or flying, reducing or more often, removing, their hold on the client. Dealing with such problems is a bread and butter basic of clinical hypnosis.

However there are times when people present with bizarre behavioural problems that impair their everyday life and which seem to have no obvious triggering event to work on. This is where Regression Therapy really comes into its own.

The brain laid bare ...
The brain laid bare ... | Source

The subconscious mind protects.

More often than not neither the client nor the therapist knows at the outset what is causing the inappropriate behaviour. It has to be left to the subconscious mind to reveal it to the client via hypnosis and it will only do this if it regards it safe to do so.

The subconscious mind is fanatically protective about its host (after all it has a vested interest in its survival) so it will only reveal the triggering event of the disturbing behaviour if it feels the host, i.e. the client, can cope with the knowledge.

Many people are worried that they will be shown something so horrible they will not be able to handle it but this is not how the subconscious mind works. Its duty is to protect them.

The subconscious mind drives all behaviour.

Whilst having the subconscious block the sufferer from accessing information that may help them shed unwanted behaviours may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, it must be understood that if the conscious behaviour was becoming a problem then that is usually the subconscious unblocking the triggering event so that it can be looked at consciously.

This is the point when the non-verbal subconscious is willing to release the memories it knows will help the client and is driving them to look at and acknowledge those memories.

Unfortunately it is not always easy to ‘get at’ such memories despite such subconscious ‘prompting’.

This is the point that a wise person should seek professional help and the quickest, safest way to access the memories that are causing problems is by hypnosis.

From then on the cure is simple. Usually, once the memory of the triggering event has been raised up into consciousness and acknowledged, the fear or inappropriate behaviour either totally ceases or is, at the very least, severely moderated.

I don’t believe in past lives!

Frankly, my experience has shown that it does not appear to matter whether you 'believe' in past lives or not. As a casual Buddhist/New Age spiritual weirdo myself I have encountered too many unexplained things not to believe in them.

This however was never an aspect that I shared with my clients. I was there to help them not indoctrinate them into the ideas of reincarnation and Buddhism. After all, Buddhism is the least evangelical of all world religions being a system for living rather than a religion.

Suspending disbelief in past lives.

So I would simply ask my client to suspend disbelief for a little while, the length of the therapy session in fact, and see what turned up. Everything they then described to me was from what would appear to have been another life and often this would appear to have little to do with their present day problem.

Despite this the client's presenting issue was always resolved by focussing on whatever the subconscious chose to show to them.

It would seem that the subconscious in its limitless wisdom did not deem it necessary for either myself or the client to understand why we were being shown what was being shown.

Past lives rarely show the client to have been anyone famous.

Contrary to most people’s expectations people rarely remember a past life as an important person. In fact the life recovered can often be very prosaic and even menial, so no Boudiccas or Napoleons I’m afraid.

Whatever memories are released by the subconscious are exactly the right ones needed for resolution of the client’s presenting problem.

The importance of a well-trained therapist.

However, even though the subconscious mind controls which events are revealed to the conscious mind, it is vital that the therapist’s questioning is non-directive.

Correct questioning in regression is vital to good practice and a safe and honest resolution of the client's problem.

All questions should be neutral, non-leading and deliberately bland in order to stimulate the release of genuine memories rather than the recall of matter that has been read in books or seen in films in an effort to please or appease the therapist.

The hypnotherapist's job is simply to induce a state of relaxation in the client to allow the subconscious to step out of the shadows and communicate. Once this has been achieved they are no more than a prompter to move the sequence on to the 'next significant event' in whatever time the client is accessing.

There is no room for ego in a therapist and the client should steer well clear of any therapist exhibiting any signs of conceit, overweening pride or self-satisfaction. The best therapists are usually those who appear humble and genuinely concerned about the client.

For a client the rule is simple: be warned: if they talk about themselves a lot, leave. They are only there to help themselves, not you.

Beware of the hypnotherapist who asks leading questions.

Unfortunately, it is likely that some therapists have brought regression into disrepute by the wrong sort of prompting. Some badly trained therapists may not even understand that they are asking leading questions; the sort of questions that can stimulate false memories.

Such questions may simply revive memories of television programmes that have left a lasting impression and which the client then accesses and believes to be their own memories.

This can sometimes lead people to think they were perhaps abused as children and that they have 'buried' the memory deeply. If their therapist also believes that they have stumbled upon a trauma they may 'load' the questions they ask of the client so that they are in a sense 'painting pictures' in the client’s mind.

When this happens the answers given will often appear to 'prove' their suspicions and the real truth can be very hard to get at. This is not best practice and it certainly does not help the client, the therapist ... or a legitimate and valuable therapy.

Trusting the event is relevant.

Frequently the event the subconscious raises in the conscious mind of the client whilst they are in a trance state (another name for hypnosis) can often seem to have little relevance to the presenting problem but it is worth remembering that the subconscious knows best.

Trance is the best possible method for allowing the subconscious mind the elbow room it needs to air the issues it feels should be addressed. As this part of the brain is all-knowing and all-remembering it is obvious that one has to let it do its job without trying to steer it down any pathways one thinks it should be exploring.

The best question a therapist can ask is always, ' ... and what happened next?'

Regression Therapy: a case study.

One of my more memorable, and poignant, cases involved a woman whose sleep was so turbulent and disturbed that she often tried to strangle her husband in his sleep even though she herself was also asleep.

At the initial interview she said she felt she was always 'waiting for something'. Needless to say she found all of this distressing and sought my help, against her husband’s wishes it must be said. He had the usual unfounded fear many people have of the hypnotic state.

Under regression my client remembered a life as what seemed to be a male Victorian artist. 'He' appeared to be clock watching, just sitting in his kitchen watching the clock. Under questioning she/he revealed 'he' was waiting for 'his' children.

In fact the whole event seemed to show that somehow 'he' had somehow become separated from 'his’ children, was constantly waiting for them and becoming distressed when they never showed up. It was a simple remembrance and sadly there was no touching scene of ever being reunited with them.

Perhaps this sense of loss and desolation was what had been retained in the soul’s memory. Memories released under regression are always to do with negative emotions. The final act of this remembered life was 'his' suicide by drowning and I remember thinking what a sad, bleak life it had been.

This lack of resolution in this past lifetime may have been the reason for the disturbed behaviour in the present lifetime but why the behaviour should present itself as strangulation of her present husband was unfathomable to both of us.

However on reporting back after treatment, my client said that she had had no recurrence of her sleeping problem. Her sleep pattern was now calm and her husband had remained unmolested from that date though neither of us ever understood why that particular past life should have had such particular relevance to her present one.

Would you consider past life therapy?

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Does a remembered death hurt?

Remembering a death from another life has never, in my experience, been a painful process. Rather it would seem to be more of a detached observation of the event.

Some people do weep at the things they see when in regression but I believe this to be a cathartic release which encourages a positive outcome to the therapy session and I have never had any evidence to the contrary.

Despite the somewhat inexplicable nature of Regression Therapy, it really should not be regarded with suspicion. It has been proven to work by many very reputable hypnotherapists and even more grateful and relieved clients.

The remarkable thing about Past Life Therapy that has always struck me is that even when clients have been sceptical before going into regression they always came out of it rather blasé, as if they knew all about it and it was commonplace.

One thing I can honestly say I have always found is that people really enjoy the hypnotic state whether they are utilising Regression Therapy or some other kind of trance therapy. They love the way they feel in trance and they love the feeling they are left with afterwards.

As Jim Morrison said, 'There are things known, and there are things unknown. And in between are the Doors'.

The doors, with a small 'd' in this case, are found within Regression Therapy and they can be safely opened.


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    • Angie Jardine profile imageAUTHOR

      Angie Jardine 

      7 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      @KDuBarry03 … as a clinical hypnotherapist I found it easy enough to persuade people to relax and enter a trance state. So, yes you are right about that but once there I had to subsume my own personality and simply become a tool to facilitate memory recall. But I would never work with anyone who was entering into therapy because someone else - a husband or other family member say - wanted them to. They had to be willing to work at their own personal development for their own sake.

      As for getting the present settled … sometimes that takes going back into the past in able to move forward, Keith :)

      Many thanks for your input on this hub … all viewpoints are valuable.

      @Ruchira … what a coincidence. I am a Reiki Master (which sounds grand but really isn’t) … I wonder if there is an affinity between the two disciplines? I became linked to reiki after my hypnotherapy training as I felt it might help me to be more useful when doing therapy … more sort of intuitive. I believe that it did do this.

      Karma is not what one learns about when training to be a therapist as it is a belief system and should really be kept out of the way when you are working with a client. I would go so far as to say that it could limit which clients would come to you too.

      I believe the only way to tackle karmic worries is to realise you are human and that you are on a brief journey in the flesh to learn lessons. If you do not make mistakes (and programme your mind to learn from them) you will never learn valuable lessons.

      I am not sure regression could help with this … only knowing yourself, as Buddhists say. For that I would prescribe meditation :)

      Namaste, m’dear! And bless you for the follow.

    • Ruchira profile image


      7 years ago from United States


      I have been looking into studying Regression Therapy mainly 'cause I am a Reiki Practitioner and want to help further.

      PErsonally, I would like to go for such a therapy since I feel that whatever I am suffering is 'cause of my previous life and karma cannot be reversed so ought to learn to accept it and not make those mistakes again.

      Good hub, angie. Would be a delight to follow you! Namaste!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      hypnotherapy also calls for some skills of persuasion from the hypnotist. Very interesting how they work and glad to hear you had a positive experience from one! I know I wouldn't do well in a Regression Therapy session since I'm more concerned getting the present settled, but it's definitely good food for thought :)

    • Angie Jardine profile imageAUTHOR

      Angie Jardine 

      7 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      I am so glad that you had a positive experience even if it was by default as it were. All ‘inner work’ is useful and can be dipped in and out of, and built upon, at a later date. There is an old saying 'If I do not go within, I go without’.

      It always amazes me that people believe they are ‘giving up their will’ when under hypnosis. It is in fact quite the opposite. One can even lie under hypnosis if one doesn’t want to share the facts with the therapist. I have had people tell me things after they have come out of trance that they did not share with me when they were under hypnosis ‘because I did not ask the right questions’!

      The subconscious mind is very literal and does not offer information unless prompted in the correct manner.

      I do hope you go for another ‘tune up’ as you put it … but for now just put it on the back burner of your subconscious … it’ll let you know if it agrees with you.


    • Sally's Trove profile image


      7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      I read this with great interest because of an experience I had years ago with a therapist trained in hypnosis. Although my experience was not intended to nor did it result in a past life regression, your words here ring true in many ways regarding my feelings and thoughts about hypnosis and how it can let us open doors to places in need of going.

      Let me explain a bit...

      I was making progress in therapy, but only to a certain point. One day, my therapist asked if I would be willing to try hypnosis to see if I could gain some insight into behaviors that weren't resolving through her traditionally-based psychoanalytic approach. Since I had come to trust her, I agreed, although I did not like the idea of what I thought would be giving up my will and control to someone else. It was a huge step for me to take.

      Before too long, with her skillful guidance, I found myself transported to early childhood, to a place of ecstatic joy and freedom where everything was possible. I was dancing, I was flying. That was so beautiful but also short-lived. Her simple next question, "And then what happened?" catapulted me into a gripping feeling of shame that turned my ecstasy to unbridled misery where I wept in uncontrollable tears. The result for me was a catharsis, as you explained.

      I didn't know then what event I may have been re-living, as I don't know today, but whatever happened, happened through a door my unconscious allowed to be opened, at least for a little while. The hypnosis session was a life-altering event that eventually helped me understand why I approach some things with confidence and other things with fear.

      I hadn't thought about this therapy session for years, until I read your hub today. I'm glad I found your words...there is more work (maybe more in keeping with a tune-up now) needing to be done.

    • Angie Jardine profile imageAUTHOR

      Angie Jardine 

      7 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Doesn’t sound as if you need to do anything to improve it, Mary. It’s only needed if things get really out of whack :)

      Thanks for the vote and for commenting.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      7 years ago from Florida

      Interesting Hub....I think I would prefer not to know about my past lives. I'm too busy with this one to make it better.

      I did vote this UP.

    • Angie Jardine profile imageAUTHOR

      Angie Jardine 

      8 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Hi Perspycacious ... and yet man makes idols of the suffering of Jesus.

      As your brother-in-law so rightly puts it, Buddhism is just a philosophy and for me another thing in it's favour is the fact that it is not evangelical.

      It leaves you with a personal choice ... you can make up your own mind whether or not to follow its teachings.

      Unlike the big mainstream religions you are not damned to eternal hell if you don't believe, you are not an infidel, you are not wrong. And you are free to follow both The Buddha and a religion if you want. Buddhism allows you to be human rather than Godlike, it accepts you may fail but it still simply wants you to try to live the best life you can and not to be afraid of its ending.

      Many thanks for commenting.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 

      8 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      "...the client's presenting problem was always resolved by focussing on them" a very positive statement, and intriguing.

      I believe my brother-in-law said it succinctly, when he said "Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion." On the other hand, as a philosophy it is not at any odds with Christianity...though I'm not sure what a God who has a commandment against idols thinks of images of a man, however good he surely was.

    • Angie Jardine profile imageAUTHOR

      Angie Jardine 

      8 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Hi pan, I agree.

      It is always looked upon and called a religion but really I see it as a code for living one's life ... and more importantly it's a code that fits perfectly for the 21st century embodying as it does pacifism, denial of the ego and compassion for others.

    • pan1974 profile image

      April Seldon 

      8 years ago from New Orleans

      This is a very interesting hub. I really do not see Buddhism as a religion, I feel it is a science, it is above ego.

    • Angie Jardine profile imageAUTHOR

      Angie Jardine 

      9 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Morning Jean, thanks for the congrats!

      Like you all my hubs take hours and I can recommend the 30 day challenge for making one sit down everyday. It does seem to help with self-discipline but then I am retired so if I can get my husband to do a bit of cleaning and cooking I can make the time to write.

      I would fully recommend you try regression, it is always beneficial on some level, even if you don't ever find out what!! I have used self hypnosis for regression and have solved quite a few of my current life questions with it.

      All the best, m'dear


    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 

      9 years ago from New Jersey


      Congrats on your 30 hubs in 30 days challenge! I have not been brave enough yet. The first month I began on HP, finding my way through, it would take me several hours to write a hub. Even now, by the time I research, decide what to say, find pictures and links, it still takes time. I was putting in the hours of a F/T job at first. I do enjoy the creative effort though. I also have never had regression therapy, but we are talking so much about reincarnation in my Metaphysics class, I am thinking of taking the plunge. Again, best wishes.

    • Angie Jardine profile imageAUTHOR

      Angie Jardine 

      9 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Couldn't agree more, Amanda. Thanks for the input.

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 

      9 years ago from UK

      Jenny Cockell's story is certainly an interesting one, and I've read her books several times. My Hindu friend was not necessarily typical. This was just her personal take on things. My own view is that sometimes the 'doors' between lives get left ajar. Alternatively, the sub-conscious utilises its own metaphors to bring about healing. Whatever the truth of the matter, regression is proven to be very helpful in many cases.

    • Angie Jardine profile imageAUTHOR

      Angie Jardine 

      9 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Thanks for this, Amanda, I have not heard that point of view before. I wonder how Hinduism views the fact that some people spontaneously view other lives then. (Thinking of Jenny Cockell here).

      I suppose I view it more as a 'brain thing' rather than a 'spiritual thing' - I only know it has always helped.

      All the best


    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 

      9 years ago from UK

      Angie, I also trained as a hypnotherapist, and I well remember the wide-ranging debates amongst my fellow students as to the continuity of the soul. Interestingly, one of the group was brought up in the Hindu faith, and although she was extremely accepting of the concept of past lives, she also was the least willing to use regression as part of her hypnotherapy 'toolbox'. Her view was that there is a reason that these 'doors' are closed between one life and another, and she did not wish to interfere with what nature designed. Personally I'm open minded on the subject, and it's fascinating to get a glimpse into your experiences.


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