Regression hypnosis often takes the client back into the womb. What you will discover there is that our most basic programming begins before birth. The developing fetus is not merely a ‘baby on board’ awaiting delivery. It is a sentient being, absorbing and responding to information from its environment.
According to the latest research, our expectations of life are being formulated prior to birth, based on Mom’s mental state. Which makes sense from a survival standpoint. After all, knowing what to expect prepares us which makes us less vulnerable to trauma.
This article from ScienceDaily (Nov. 10, 2011) reports: As a fetus grows, it’s constantly getting messages from its mother. It’s not just hearing her heartbeat and whatever music she might play to her belly; it also gets chemical signals through the placenta. A new study, which will be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that this includes signals about the mother’s mental state. If the mother is depressed, that affects how the baby develops after it’s born.
This is brain candy!
For regression hypnotherapists this is brain candy. The hallmark of an Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE) is that the child feels safe and secure before the event occurs. Then there’s the shock of the unexpected which traumatizes the child. That’s contrast. If the environment within which the child is developing (the womb) is consistent with the environment into which the child will be born (the family), then there’s no contrast. So there’s no problem. The child has learned what’s ‘normal’ and what to expect. Based on this the child will develop strategies for surviving under those particular conditions.
That’s basically what programming is about. Experiences early in life are laying down track in the neural net so we know how to be and not be in order to survive. Where there’s a problem is when what’s expected changes. The child is being programmed to expect certain things in life. This provides a sense of certainty which equates with control. But when what’s been experienced on the inside doesn’t match what’s happening on the outside it disrupts neural development. That can generate problems later in life.
The following two examples are typical of what you’ll bump into when you regress a client into the womb.
Condition A: Child is wanted
With Condition A the Child grows inside Mom feeling safe and secure and loved. Then comes an experience that introduces contrast which disrupts the Child’s sense of security.
Darlene felt good inside Mom. She knew she was loved and wanted. And she looked forward to being born into her family. Then, just before her birth something happened to change things. What happened? Her older sibling died suddenly and unexpectedly.
This sudden loss plunged Darlene’s mother into a profound grief that lasted several years. While Darlene got a taste of this contrast just prior to birth, her time inside the womb had not prepared her for the fact that the world she would be born into would be very different from what she expected, based on her time inside the womb.
Condition B: Child is unwanted
With condition B the Child is unhappy news for the expectant mother. Maybe it’s an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy that causes distress for the expectant mother. Maybe there’s even been an attempted abortion. These things are devastating to the Child.
A difficult pregnancy can leave Mom resenting the Child. Or regretting ever getting pregnant. Or worse, afraid to love the baby for fear it will die. As a result the child grows up in a cesspool of negativity. Then, when she is born something changes. Mom realizes she wants the child, after all. Or Mom is joyful to have made it through the pregnancy. While she now holds her Little Darling in her arms, none of this makes up for the developmental months inside the womb.
Little Darling has already adjusted to expectations that no longer match her present reality. That’s contrast. And when the expectation of good things happening is set low, that becomes the upper limits of feeling good. It’s a prime formula for self-sabotage.
Dr. A.E. Barnett hypothesized that many issues have their origins in the birthing experience. The birthing process, in and of itself, is traumatic. So if the age regression lands your client in an event in the womb it might be prudent to guide her through the birthing process. Identify any contrasting aspects and resolve them before they have a chance to grow roots.
In the era of medicalized birth procedures (1950’s +), what happens immediately following birth is not positive. The child is routinely whisked away to be suctioned and poked and prodded by strangers. She is then left alone under warming lights at a time when her primary biological need is to be held by Mom.
One of the most critical factors in the post-birthing experience is bonding. So make note. Research indicates that bonding occurs when mother and child make eye contact.
If bonding didn’t happen the first time, you can engineer things so the Child has that much-needed experience. Let the child look into Mom’s eyes and tell you what s/he sees. Help the child find the goodness and love that’s there for her. Don’t worry – it’s there. Love is Life. So there must have been enough love to sustain the client’s life through to birth.
According to Dr. Robert Scaer, author of The Body Bears the Burden, social bonding extinguishes trauma. When a person receives comfort immediately following a traumatic event, they tend to recover without symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS). When allowed to express their feelings about “what happened’ (talk it out, cry it out, scream it out, shake it out, etc.) in an environment of unconditional acceptance (forgiveness), they soon come to the realization they’re okay, it’s over and they survived.
That’s where they’ve been stuck – reliving the fear that they won’t survive. Until they realize that they’re safe, that the event is over, and feel that way, too, the past will continue to haunt them.
Often debated on hypnosis forums is the question of re-traumatizing the client by having them relive a painful event from the past. But the client is already doing this to herself. The Subconscious Mind is timeless. It doesn’t recognize that the event is over. That’s why it’s still a problem. As far as the Subconscious Mind is concerned it’s all happening now. This means that the client is retraumatizing him or herself by reliving the event, either consciously or unconsciously, in an attempt to find resolution. This just compounds the problem.
It's possible that therapists who are critical of regression are uncomfortable with emotions. Perhaps they simply do not want to 'go there.' Perhaps they don't know how to 'go there.' Perhaps they're afraid to 'go there.' Clearly, they prefer alternatives approaches such as direct suggestion, guided imagery, timeline therapy, and dissociation techniques. But here's the problem . . .
While these are all useful techniques, you can’t just suggest away traumatic memory. Suggestion alone will, at best, offer temporary relief from the uncomfortable feelings generated by unresolved events from the past. The greater the emotional charge, the less effective this approach will be. In some cases, it can even make things worse.
Timeline and other dissociation techniques can be helpful because they allow the client to keep some distance from the event. These make good preliminary approaches because they honour the subconscious mind’s Prime Directive to ensure safety. But the problem itself is one of dissociation. That’s what happens in trauma. Consciousness leaves the body. To generate healing we must restore consciousness to the body.
It takes consciousness to heal consciousness.
Healing with the mind requires consciousness. The event needs to be re-examined consciously to alter it’s impact in the client’s life. This is not to say the client has to relive the intensity of the event. You can use your skills as a healing practitioner to reduce the overall charge of the event before asking the client to step into it. One of the ways you can do this is to release after the traumatic event.
Trauma can be released, in hindsight, by using past-tense language. This is a way to provide safety. So once you have located the event, if facing what happened is too overwhelming, take the client to a point immediately following the experience. Then release all the thoughts and feelings about “what just happened.” This will drain off a lot of the intensity trapped in the event.
A similar approach to this is EFT’s “Tearless Trauma Technique” which involves having the client come up with a title for the event, as if it were a movie, and then tap on the title. This is a generalized approach that takes the whole problem and sticks a label on it. Then you treat the label - kind of like medicine. Except, unlike medicine, it’s a preliminary technique. Once the overall charge has been reduced, i.e., symptoms of overwhelm have settled down, the specific aspects generating the problem can safely be addressed.
This is how you get a complete healing.
The first step is to release after the traumatic event. Once you have released everything after the event, the next step is to go just before the event.
When the client can talk about what just happened and feel okay, the next step is to go just before the event. But first, gather up all the internal shifts – the insights and understandings and better feelings, Then, carry them back to the Child just prior to the traumatic event. This way the Child will know a great deal more than she did the first time – namely that she survived.
One of the things Regression Hypnotherapy has taught me is that, when change occurs, there’s a ripple effect that goes out in all directions. Not only does this change the client’s future but the past is changed as well. What this means is that releasing after a traumatic event will change how the client is going to feel before the event happens.
I know this sounds a bit weird. But to the conscious, thinking mind, time is organized along a linear pathway. We’re in the ‘here and now’ and the ‘then and there’ is either backwards or forwards along that timeline. But the subconscious mind doesn’t process time this way. As far as it’s concerned, it’s all Now-Now-Now-Now. This is how a person can get stuck in an event. It’s because it’s all happening Now.
Inform the Child
The next step is to inform the Child about what is going to happen. The purpose of informing the child is not merely to deliver ‘bad’ news and prepare the child for the event. It also serves the following 3 purposes.
Empowerment is about choice. Informing the child allows the client to make better decisions about how to respond, from now on, when things that used to act as triggers happen in daily life.
We can’t change what’s happening “out there.” But we can change a person’s responses to those things. So the goal is not to change the event itself. It’s to change how the client feels about the event and the meaning she gives it.
Reprogramming has to do with contrast. Changing the perception reprograms the client’s expectations of the future. So even though those things will happen to the Child (because they did), she can expect to make it through, okay. (Because she did. The proof is sitting in your chair.) And no matter what happens, she will still be loved and continue to be love-able. These are the conditions necessary to satisfy the subconscious mind’s need for safety so that it can relax and stop generating unwanted symptoms.
Children tend to blame themselves for the things that happen to them. We can ensure that, no matter what happens, the Child will remain blameless throughout the event.
A Course in Miracles states: “I am, and I remain, as God created me.” That’s forgiveness. It’s a recognition that nothing happened. You started out okay. And you’re still okay. End of story. As the client gives love and acceptance and forgiveness to the Child, even though those things will happen, she is providing a kind of ‘prophylactic forgiveness.’
When the client can go through the entire event without any discomfort, she has given herself convincing proof of the power of her own mind. If her mind has the power to create the problem, it also the power to heal it. Once the emotional charge is gone, the lesson has been completed. And it’s over. A problem that has plagued the client, in some cases for a lifetime, can be brought to light, cleared, and filed away in permanent memory as a valuable learning experience for the purposes of self-empowerment.
Direct suggestions are most powerful when used to acknowledge and reinforce positive changes that have already occurred. We call this Compounding. Suggestions based on changes that have already occurred are powerfully accepted by the subconscious mind, reinforcing the truth that change is occurring. Additionally, this encourages the subconscious mind to continue to allow more changes to occur.
To utilize this natural function, formulate suggestions that tie all the changes – insights, thoughts, feelings, realizations – to the client’s presenting issue. Then Future Pace or use Mental Rehearsal techniques to compound positive expectations and new behaviours.
So that’s it. Many of the problems clients come to us for help resolving are rooted in emotional trauma that occurred long before they were old enough to make sense of things. Sometimes, even before they were born.
This simple strategy has proven very effective in helping clients move through traumatic memories more easily to realize healing. Take a few minutes to think about how these simple strategies might empower you in your regression hypnosis sessions with clients.