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How Regression Therapy Can Help You Heal from Past Traumas

Have you ever felt like something is always holding you back despite giving your best in life? Do you have unexplained, foreboding feelings that you simply can’t shake? Or notice unhealthy behaviors that leave you flustered and frustrated? If so, you may be grappling with a case of repressed memories.  When painful memories are buried […]

Author Generic Image By Therese de Liz, LMHC
Man, looking over Polaroid photos.

Updated on May 21, 2024

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Have you ever felt like something is always holding you back despite giving your best in life? Do you have unexplained, foreboding feelings that you simply can’t shake? Or notice unhealthy behaviors that leave you flustered and frustrated? If so, you may be grappling with a case of repressed memories. 

When painful memories are buried deep in your unconscious mind, they may wreak havoc on your mental health and lower your quality of life. Such problems may persist until you tackle them head-on.

Enrolling in regression therapy can help you get to the bottom of the problem and disentangle your life from the grip of your past traumatic experiences influencing your current behavior. 

What is Regression Therapy?

Regression therapy is a form of behavioral therapy that helps you explore unresolved traumas or experiences buried in your subconscious. The therapeutic approach traces back to Sigmund Freud and combines the principles of psychoanalysis and hypnotherapy. It centers on helping people heal from past trauma as a way of effectively addressing their mental health issues.

Regression therapy operates under the premise that traumatic events from your past may be the primary driver of your harmful habits or poor mental health state. Resolving and letting go of these painful emotions can help safeguard your mental health and improve your quality of life.

Theories and Principles of Regression Therapy

Regression therapy is grounded in consciousness, and regression therapists recognize three levels of consciousness:

Regression therapy holds that your mind collects and store memories as you move through life. Some memories are lodged in the conscious mind, while others are buried in your subconscious mind. Regression therapists believe the subconscious mind helps repress painful memories and trauma inflicted at a tender age when the mind is ill-equipped to process them. Such memories are often inaccessible but exert significant influence over your present day life. Regression therapy helps bring these traumatic memories to the surface so you can effectively deal with them.  

Types of Regression Therapy

Mental health professionals use three types of regression therapy to help you access your buried memories and experiences. They include:

Hypnotic Regression Therapy

Hypnotic regression uses hypnosis—a deep state of relaxation—to help people recall past memories and experiences. Hypnosis is a trancelike state that helps you relax and become finely attuned to your inner environment. When you’re under hypnosis, you become oblivious to the outside world as you focus on accessing and retrieving past memories and experiences.

While often shrouded in mystery, hypnosis is the most popular type of therapy because it has a grounding in science. Research shows that hypnotic suggestions activate the same areas of the brain you would activate when experiencing something in reality.

During hypnotic regression therapy, your therapist uses various hypnotic techniques such as guided imagery, suggestions, and storytelling to revisit your childhood. Hypnosis keeps you in a calm, relaxed state as you comb your unconscious mind for painful memories without triggering tension or anxiety.   

A hypnotist uses hypnosis as a tool to reduce emotional distress. You’re more receptive to their suggestions and direction in a hypnotic or altered state. As such, they’ll combine guidance with observation to help you remain calm as you work through painful memories.

Once you encounter a challenging memory, they may ask you to latch on to the emotional or physical sensations attached to them. Doing so helps memories buried deep into your unconscious mind bubble to the surface.

Once you unearth a traumatic memory, your therapist will help you reframe and address it so that it no longer has any power over you. Typically, a regression therapist will help you reframe the memories to make them less painful and traumatic. Hypnosis helps release the buried emotions to help you find relief.

Its strongly recommended that you consult a licensed hypnotherapist or psychotherapist trained in hypnosis when seeking hypnotic regression.

Age Regression Therapy

Regression is a defense mechanism that causes individuals to adopt a behavior they’d previously outgrown. For instance, a traumatic event may drive a child to regress and resume wetting their bed despite having stopped the habit.

Age regression therapy can help you identify such traumatic memories that are often buried deeply within your psyche that you remain blissfully unaware of. The ultimate goal of this therapeutic approach is to make you aware of the repressed memory. It lets you bring the suppressed memory to your conscious memory and decisively deal with it.

Age regression therapy revolves around the belief that processing repressed painful memories helps break the hold the trauma has over your life. Once you’re free of this hold, you can process the emotions associated with the experience and feel differently.

During age regression therapy, your therapist may engage you in child work, such as coloring or playing with toys to connect with your inner child. A regression therapist will guide you through the process by asking leading questions and making observations using proven evidence-based research methods. The approach provides healing by helping you establish a positive relationship with your inner child and become a complete person. You may become consciously aware of the experiences your inner child endured and how they impact and shape your beliefs and behaviors. 

Past Life Regression Therapy

Undoubtedly, past life regression is the most controversial form of therapy. Its beneficial to proponents of reincarnation because they believe you’re likely to carry over bad experiences from a past life.

Your therapist may defer to this modality to help you access past life memories—but only if you believe in reincarnation. 

People who hold such spiritual beliefs find past life trauma a rational explanation as to why they live with unexplained guilt and fears or face unexplained challenges in life. On the flip side, many scientists and psychologists feel past life memories are pseudoscience.

During a past life regression session, your therapist will help you access childhood memories from a past life. It’s grounded in the reincarnation belief that all human souls live on forever and are reborn as a different person each time. Undergoing hypnosis may help you access past events from a previous life that help shape your present life.

While anyone may use past life regression therapy to improve their mental health, there’s little scientific evidence supporting its efficiency.

How Hypnotic Regression Therapy Works

Hypnotic regression therapy uses a systematic, 5-step technique to help you identify and isolate the negative emotions in your life and work towards establishing their cause.

A regression therapist may adopt a therapist-directed or person-centered approach. A therapist-directed approach is considered less effective. The therapist follows a script tailored to the issues at hand, but there’s a high likelihood of overlooking core issues.

With person-centered hypnotic regression therapy, a therapist will use hypnosis to facilitate introspection so you can find the answers. This approach is more effective because it involves therapeutic techniques such as inner child and Gestalt therapy.

How Can Regression Therapy Help?

A therapist may defer to regression therapy to help a client address a past traumatic event. Your therapist may use regression techniques to get to the root of a problem resulting from a traumatic childhood experience.

While your mind may shield you from the full brunt of a negative experience as a child, the trauma may persist in your unconscious mind and drive your current habits and behaviors.

A therapist may use regression therapy to get to the core of your mental health issues. That allows them to create a tailored treatment plan and set you on the path to mental health and wellness.

Regression therapy is beneficial to anyone dealing with:

Benefits of Regression Therapy

Regression therapy offers numerous benefits to anyone who wishes to safeguard their mental health or improve their quality of life. These benefits include: 

Deep Insights and Understanding

Since regression therapy favors introspection, it may help uncover experiences and memories driving current emotional or psychological challenges. Gaining deep insights into these events may help drive self-understanding and help you get to the root cause of mental health problems.

Healing Trauma

Unresolved trauma and emotional wounds can fester and saddle you with emotional baggage, likely to lower your quality of life. With regression therapy, you can revisit and process the traumatic events in a safe and enabling environment. Resolving and healing from trauma helps improve emotional well-being and champions personal growth.

Releasing Emotional Blockages

Unresolved emotions can create emotional blockages that manifest as limiting beliefs, persistent negative emotions, and harmful behavior patterns. Revisiting and fully experiencing the emotions under the guidance of a skilled licensed therapist can prove cathartic and transformative. Releasing pent-up emotions lowers the susceptibility to mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety, and depression.

Behavioral Modification

Past experiences help shape one’s beliefs, behaviors, and patterns. Exploring these experiences may offer invaluable insights into the origins of unhealthy habits or negative cycles. Regression therapy may help increase self-awareness, improve problem-solving skills, and make a conscious effort to overcome negative behaviors.

Spiritual Exploration 

If you cherish spiritual or metaphysical beliefs, regression therapy can be a tool for self-discovery and personal enlightenment. It provides a platform to help you explore the concept of past lives and their potential influence on your current life. If you believe in reincarnation or that a soul lives for multiple lifetimes, a regression therapist may help you explore and deepen your understanding of your soul’s journey. Delving into your past life facilitates self-discovery and may offer insights into your talents, inherent strengths, and growth areas in your present life.  

Risks and Concerns Associated with Regression Therapy

While helpful, regression therapy remains controversial due to limited scientific research. Opponents’ opine results are highly subjective as they are impossible to standardize. 

Potential risks and concerns associated with regression therapy include:

Working with a skilled licensed therapist helps minimize the risk while maximizing your ability to achieve a positive outcome. 

Take Charge of Your Mental Health

Traumatic events and experiences from your childhood may be responsible for your poor mental health and unhealthy behaviors. While your brain may have buried them deeply into your subconscious mind, they may persist and significantly influence your life. Working with a qualified regression therapist can help unlock and resolve these issues to help you build healthier habits, safeguard your mental health, and improve your quality of life.

Have trouble connecting with a trained psychotherapist? Grow Therapy can help simplify your search. Browse through our network of over 4,000 certified psychotherapists across 36 states and schedule an appointment within 2 days.

FAQs

  • Regression therapy carries the risk of implanting false memories by blurring the lines between your experiences and imagination.

  • Regression therapy can help you address various mental health issues, including phobia, anxiety, depression, PTSD, insomnia, and unfounded fears and feelings of shame.

  • Regression therapy helps people overcome traumatic childhood experiences that may negatively impact their mental health or contribute to unhealthy behaviors.

About the author
Author Generic Image Therese de Liz, LMHC

Therese De Liz is a licensed mental health counselor with 17 years of experience treating patients using psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral methods and has received specialized training on OCD and ERP (Exposure-Response-Prevention therapy). She specializes in treating anxiety, depression, transition, acculturation difficulties, and culture shock for young adults, families, and individuals. Therese offers international online counseling for communities in Florida and the European Union.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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