When you’re processing an event from the past, a lot can be happening at once. Thoughts and feelings are arising in response to What’s Happening. And if the event has a lot of emotional content it can feel overwhelming for the client. And you.
If it feels like you’re taking on too much – you probably are. So trust your gut. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was the client's problem.
When there’s a lot of emotional intensity, you don’t have to deal with everything all at once. You can chunk things down into manageable bites. This will make it easier for you to uncover all the aspects contributing to the problem. It will also make it easier on the client by making it safer to move through the event.
Any event is just a Story.
Like any story, an event has a beginning, a middle and an end. You can segment the event and deal with just one part of it at a time. Much easier. The beginning is whatever was happening before the upset occurs. The middle is where all the major drama is playing out. The end is what happened immediately after the event.
Breaking the Story up in to these three segments will make it easier to process all the contributing aspects. You can then systematically clear out the entire event. If you need to, you can break each part of the Story into even smaller segments. This will allow you to deal with one piece of the Story at a time.
1. How Does It Begin?
What was happening before the upset? Before the upset the client was feeling okay. Safe. Happy. Peaceful. Then something happened to change that. For some reason the Child is unprepared for what is about to happen.
That’s the main problem. It was unexpected. There was a moment of surprise. A shock to the nervous system. So, uncover what happened at the beginning of the Story to cause that initial disruption. Then release the shock and confusion associated with that.
2. What happens in the Middle?
This is where you uncover all the key elements.
- What was happening?
- Where was it was happening?
- Who was involved?
- How young was the client?
- What did those things make the client think?
- What sensations were triggered in the body?
- What emotions surfaced?
- What did they need or want that wasn’t available at that time?
What’s Happening? Where was most of the drama playing out? Where does the energy come to a peak? What’s the worst part?
Clear all the aspects that arise in the event. These are the 5 Sensory Perceptual Channels through which we download information from our environment. What is the Child seeing? What is the Child hearing? What is the Child smelling? Sometimes an event will have a taste associated with it. Smell is one of our most primal senses. So smells can get anchored and act as triggers.
- the smell of alcohol on someone’s breath
- the smell of tobacco smoke
- the smell of Mom’s cooking
What does the Child think about what’s happening? Thoughts arise as decisions about the things that are happening. The impact of these decisions will depend on the meaning assigned to what happened. So uncover what decisions are being made. Those decisions will be about self, others, the world, and life in general.
The problem with the overall event is that there was something missing that the Child needed. Often the problem is a lack of support. The Child wasn’t able to cope with what was happening because there’s no one there to support the Child.
The problem can also be one of having to deal with the situation alone. So the Child feels isolated and vulnerable. If the Child couldn’t make sense of what was happening, it’s because there’s no one there to help them make sense of it, and this generated confusion. Where there’s confusion fear will follow. So, find out who was missing that the Child needed.
Even when the person is missing from the event, if they came to mind, they need to be identified and cleared. These can be unresolved grievances calling for forgiveness. e.g. the child wants her Mommy.
What’s Happening in the Body? Events that seem inconsequential to the adult mind can be overwhelming for a Child. So the energy of the event might simply have been too much for the Child. Find out what feelings and emotions are being experienced by the Child.
Feelings are sensations in or on the body. e.g. touch, heat, cold, prickly, etc. Emotions, like fear and anger and sadness, are experienced as uncomfortable sensations in the body.
Helping the client release the emotional intensity that has been trapped in the Story will allow the nervous system of the body to relax. That’s when the client will experience a sense of relief. It’s like they can finally breathe. As a result, the client will often breathe a sigh of relief as the body relaxes.
A person can’t think when they’re in a stress response. Stress is all about flight or fight. A freeze-response is a flight inward. It’s what happens when a person is unable to take action to meet their needs.
An infant is unable to move away from a perceived threat. A child that is being held back or held down cannot run or fight back. These are perceived as threats to survival. So the feeling gets trapped in the body and the client can’t think.
Release the stress trapped in the event, and the nervous system will relax automatically. This will give you a client who can think more clearly which means they are better able to report what’s happening in the event.
The stress-response is an activation of the sympathetic nervous system of the body. It works in concert with this is the para-sympathetic nervous system which generates the relaxation-response. The sympathetic response produces uncomfortable tension and tightness. The para-sympathetic response produces comfort and expansion.
Releasing the stress-response automatically allows the relaxation-response to flow through the mind-body system. That’s when the client starts to feel better. They’ll feel it physically. In their body. When this happens, bring attention to their body and help the client acknowledge that sense of relief, no matter how small.
Where’s the Peak? There is always a peak or critical moment to an event. That’s what the client would call “the worst part.” It could be anything. Something said. Something done. Feeling overwhelmed with too much happening. Or just lacking the ability to make sense of things.
Think of the peak as the “turning point” to the story. Everything has been building up to this moment. It’s like the crest of the hill. If you release the emotional intensity before and after this peak, the nervous system will begin to relax and reset. When that happens, the client will have more clarity with which to report what’s happening. As a result, you’ll be able to uncover more of the details.
3. How Does It End?
What’s happens immediately after the event is just as important as what happens during the event. The client survived that experience. The problem is that their Subconscious Mind doesn’t know this, yet. It’s still trapped in the energy of the event.
After a traumatic event, there will be thoughts and feelings about what just happened. Decisions made at this time can form expectations about how life’s going to be from now on. This forms part of the client’s Life Story. So, a useful question to ask the Child following the event is, “Looking ahead in life … what does life look like because of those things that just happened?”
The goal is to help the Subconscious Mind realize the event is over. It’s not always necessary for the client to relive the trauma of the event. Situations of trauma can sometimes be resolved by going immediately after the event and processing things in hindsight.
You can go after the event and drain off a lot of the emotional charge. Processing the event in hindsight provides some distance from what happened which provides safety for the Child. This allows the Subconscious Mind to realize that it’s over. When that happens, the Subconscious Mind will move the event into long-term memory as a past event.
The way to do this is to go immediately after the event and process what happened using past-tense language. The client is still in a regressed state. They’re just at a point moments after all the intensity has happened.
It’s here that you can help the Child realize:
- They’re not alone.
- They’re safe now.
- They survived.
- It’s over.
Once the Child is feeling better, you can then take them back to the beginning to complete the healing. Because the Child is feeling calm and knows that she’s okay, it’s safe now to go before the event where you can proceed with the Inner Child Work. But before you do, instruct the Child to gather up all the realizations, and understandings, and all the good feelings of calm relaxation and safety.
You can then have the Child take them back before the beginning of the event, where the Child is still feeling safe. Only this time, she gets to know what she didn’t know the first time.
- That she’s not alone.
- That she will get through the event just fine.
- That it won’t last very long.
- That she’s allowed to learn from that experience.
Curiosity is a resource state. Human beings love to learn so suggesting that the Child be curious about what’s happening in the event brings love into the equation.
Because you have already drained off much of the intensity after the event, the client only has to deal with the residual aspects.
This is so much easier on you and the client than trying to hammer through all the resistance to facing a painful event.
Remember, all you’re dealing with is a Story.
It’s just how the memory got stored. The Story is based in the perceptions of the client at the age they were when those things happened. So, the recall is not going to be entirely accurate.
The younger the Child is, the more mis-perceptions you’ll uncover. Whatever the Child wasn’t able to make sense of. Or cope with. Or couldn’t feel completely didn’t get stored as a past event. Subconsciously, it’s all happening still.
Memories change over time. They’re not static events. Our memories are constantly changing. And they continue to evolve. That’s why subsequent events can flow back into an Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE) and make it stronger. The more times we get triggered, the more intensity there is to flow back into the original event.
The ISE is constantly undergoing change. The pressure is constantly building. As we acquire more knowledge and understanding that, too, can flow back into the ISE. And it can reduce the overall volume of emotional distress trapped in the causal event. This is why hypnotherapy works so well for emotional issues. Because memory isn’t static, we can extinguish the energetic charge in the event.
It doesn’t matter whether an event really happened or not.
We’re not looking for facts. We’re looking for how those things were perceived, what decisions were made based on those perceptions, and what feelings were generated as a result.
The Subconscious Mind does not make a distinction between real or imagined. Nor should we. All we’re interested to know is whether or not the client is still holding onto those feelings.
Anything that was perceived as a threat made an impression on the nervous system of the body. And it was automatically stored for future reference. That’s good. That’s the protective function of the Subconscious Mind ensuring our survival. But as a Child, the client didn’t have a choice.
Now they do.
Once the client discovers the Truth of what happened, they can consciously choose to either keep the old pattern, or release it.
So that’s it. When you find yourself in a bit of a rough patch, there’s no need to hammer away trying to get the client through. Realize it’s too much for them and use a gentler approach.
If it feels like it’s too much for YOU it’s definitely too much for them. Use a gentler approach. Just chunk things down. Work with smaller pieces. Changing even one part of the Story can result in a dramatic change. Just work with one perception. One thought. One feeling. And get some relief for the client. Then change the next piece.
There’s really no right or wrong way to do things in regression. What’s most important is to make it safe for the client to face their past. But being client-centered means matching your approach to the client. If you make it safe the client will go where you want them to go. Willingly.
There’s an ancient Egyptian blessing, “May the gods go with you through all the dark and empty places you must go.”
As far as the client is concerned you are the god that goes with them. You go with them. Your job is to guide them safely through the underworld of their Innermost Mind. Guide them gently.
It’s much easier to clear an event if you deal with it in parts. You can neutralize all the negative effects of a traumatic event by systematically clearing the beginning, middle, and end.
- Clear The End first. Go after the event and drain off the intensity.
- Go back to The Beginning. The Child takes the better state with her.
- Clear The Middle. Process whatever is left in the Story.
Working incrementally allows you to be more thorough because you only have to work on one small piece at a time. That will get you better results from your session. And in this way you walk the client right through a traumatic event and into their peace.