Regression Hypnotherapy is a process of going back into past events to resolve internal conflicts that cause a person pain and suffering. But there is one thing that all these events have in common - they're responsible for forming Parts. The secret to helping your clients resolve painful events from the past lies in your ability to work with Parts.
Parts Work is a foundation for effective Regression Hypnosis.
Parts are also known as sub-personalities or ego states. Fritz Perls, the father of Gestalt Therapy, recognized that we have many “Parts” that make up our personality. The function of Gestalt Therapy was to bring all these Parts together as an integrated whole.
Virginia Satir created a family therapy system that works with Parts of a person. And a process she called a “Parts Party” whereby multiple Parts of the personality can be worked with at the same time.
Charles Tebbets adapted this therapy for use as a Hypnotherapeutic process calling it “Parts Therapy.” He passed the torch to C. Roy Hunter who continues to teach Tebbets approach. His book, Hypnosis for Inner Conflict Resolution: An Introduction to Parts Therapy is written specifically for hypnosis practitioners.
I make a distinction between Parts and Ego-States.
Parts are all the aspects of the personality that form the Critical Faculty of the Mind. They’re all the Parts of the personality which, together, generate a person’s world view. It’s our lens on life that decides what we see. And it’s all based on our life experiences.
When a Part takes over it become “executive”. That’s when it becomes an “ego state.” The person unconsciously embodies a “state” which is expressing the recording held by that specific Part of them.
This is why a person can feel very juvenile or childish in certain circumstances. It is not the totality of their personality, but merely one viewpoint.
The problem is that it is usually not a “grownup” or rational perspective. It is a recording of the thoughts and feelings and responses associated with specific events from the past which caused the formation of the Part. It is an echo from the past.
Regression Hypnotherapy is a process of tracking back to the moment of inception and resolving the internal conflict which is generating distress in a person’s life. So Parts Work is really a foundation for what we do.
One of the easiest ways to learn how to work with Parts is by working with your dreams. Every Part of your dream is a Part of you. So working with your dreams can help you hone your skill as a hypnotherapist.
There are many systems that work with Parts.
Exploring one or several of these systems can help you get better results in your sessions with clients. For example, Voice Dialogue Work (Hal and Sidra Stone) and Internal Family Systems Therapy (Richard Schwartz) are systems for working with Parts.
John and Helen Watkins published the results of a study in what they called “Ego States: Theory & Therapy” at Stanford University. I highly recommend this book as a foundation to Parts Work in hypnosis.
Another approach to working with Parts is Transactional Analysis (TA). TA defines the 3 Primary Parts which we work with routinely in regression. "I'm OK - You're OK" by Thomas Harris is an excellent primer on these Parts.
- The Child Part
- The Parent Part
- The Adult (Grownup) Part.
Parts Theory recognizes that all Parts are good.
Parts form in response to early experiences in life. Situations that were perceived as stressful (i.e. confusing or frightening to the Child) caused Parts to form as ways of coping. So they serve a positive purpose.
Think of these Parts as ‘recordings’ of actual experiences earlier in life. Over time these develop into patterned responses. With Regression Hypnotherapy, we are tracking back to the moment these Parts formed.
Over time, these learned responses because automatic and tied to specific triggers. So, when we’re under pressure, certain Parts will step forward automatically to take charge. And respond to the situation. They become “executive.” Later, a person can feel quite disconcerted to realize their conscious, thinking mind was temporarily not in control of their behavior.
Regression hypnosis is a process of going back into past events so you can resolve internal conflicts which formed as Parts. The secret to helping your clients lies in your ability to work with Parts. Parts are also known as sub-personalities or ego states.
They're Parts of a person's personality. Each holds a specific point of view. And together, all Parts of the personality generate a person’s world view.
Parts often express as automatic responses. When a Part gets triggered it takes charge and this can make the person feel out of control.
The Inner Child is a Part.
John Bradshaw popularized Inner Child Work in the 1990’s. It sparked a self-healing movement that brought sexual abuse out of the closet.
This was remarkable because average, ordinary people were starting to think about Childhood and how it had affected them. They wanted to heal.
This trend brought a lot of business to therapists. I know this because I owned a self-help bookstore which served the healing community.
Inner Child Work brought sexual abuse out of the closet. It made it okay to think and talk about the unthinkable and unspeakable pain of childhood. And I was at the center of the storm.
I carried exactly this kind of material in the bookstore. And introduced it to therapists and clients who were doing the work that, essentially, we do as hypnotherapists.
Parts Work led me into Dream Work which eventually brought me the regression to cause therapeutic hypnosis. And I discovered all three work together - like an integrated whole.
Fritz Perl’s approach to Dream Work can help you do your own work of self-healing. And it can help you in your work with clients by honing skills at uncovering and dialoguing with Parts, especially the Child and Parent Parts, which show up in regression sessions.
Parent Parts are recordings of external happenings.
They reflect the things that were said or done to the Child. Or what was modeled to the Child at that time.
Inner Child Parts are internal responses to whatever was happening at the time. Child Parts embody the perceptions, thoughts, and feelings in the body of the child.
Situations that were perceived as stressful or threatening to the Child caused Parts to form as a way of coping. These allowed the Child to survive by adapting to its environment. Over time, these responses become automatic.
Because the Subconscious Mind’s Prime Directive is to protect the Child, these automatic responses can be triggered. The Subconscious is trying to protect the Child that the client once was. It does not realize the client is an adult.
It’s stuck in the echo. So, when you locate the situation that caused a Part to form, you can provide the safety that was missing in the original event. You can bring in adult resources that were not accessible to the Child at that time.
As the Part is liberated from the energy of the event it has been trapped in, the unwanted patterns that were causing distress for your adult client are released, and healing happens.
Healing is not about getting rid of a Part of a person. Healing is about accepting all Parts. It’s about getting all Parts working together. Harmoniously. As an integrated whole. This allows a person to feel in control of how they think, feel, and behave.
The most significant Parts formed prior to Critical Faculty of the Mind.
Most of these “recordings” were shaped before age 5-6 (some say before 24 months). These Parts formed in response to the specific needs of the Child in a specific situation. So their purpose is always positive.
Where they can become problematic is when they get stuck. They got stuck because the Child lacked sufficient support. Or the resources necessary to make sense of what was happening. Or to come up with effective strategies to satisfy important needs.
Not being able to make sense of things or take action to meet one’s needs is a threat to survival. The Part formed in an attempt to take care of the needs of Child. And has continued trying to fulfill that role with only the wisdom and resources of the Child at that age. So it got stuck in time.
Think of them as coping strategies.
Virginia Satir identified four common patterns which she called “stances.” These are defense strategies. Think of them as coping strategies. According to Satir, when a person is under stress they will tend to respond in one of four ways. They will take on a stance of either placating, blaming, being super-analytical, or irrelevant.
- Placating is a pattern of pleasing.
- Blaming is a pattern of resentment. It's holding onto grievances. And fault-finding.
- Super-analytical is a real left-brainer pattern. The person with this coping strategy insists on reason and logic.
- Irrelevant is a very disorganized and anxious pattern that can be unpredictable.
In the book, Celestine Prophecy, James Redfield identified four similar patterns which he called “control dramas.” He described these responses as ways a person tries to get energy when they are feeling powerless.
Redfield calls these four control drama patterns as the Poor Me, Interrogator, Intimidator, and Aloof patterns.
- The Poor Me pattern uses whining and complaining as a way to get attention. The attention gives the person who is feeling powerless energy.
- The Interrogator pattern uses questions which require reason and logic.
- The Intimidator pattern using aggression and bullying tactics. This authoritarian stance provides a sense of control.
- The Aloof pattern is one of withdrawal. Disengaging is how the person gets energy when feeling disempowered.
These are “conditioned responses”.
They indicate how the person learned to cope in stressful situations early in life. Think of this as an echo from the past. As such, it can be followed back to whatever happened in the past to cause the Part to form in the first place.
When Parts of the personality get stuck trying to get their needs met the client is stuck out of time. They’re still trying to cope using only the resources of the Child. That's because, as far as their Subconscious Mind is concerned, whatever happened back then is happening still. It's this characteristic of the Subconscious that what makes regression work possible.
Time is a construct of the Conscious Mind which uses time to organize and make sense of information and events. That is its primary function – to make meaning of things. And human beings are meaning-makers.
The Subconscious Mind, on the other hand, has the reason and logic of the Child. It’s timeless. And the Subconscious has no problem with a person being five months old, five years old, and fifty years old at the same time.
When you regresses a client into a past event they're not going anywhere.
You are just bringing up that “package” of information up into the Conscious Mind. Once brought to conscious awareness it can be re-examined with adult reason and logic.
Healing is about helping a person reconnect with who they were before the Child first perceived that threat. It’s before they knew what it was like to feel confused, or unprepared, or scared, or helpless. In other words, before the Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE).
The basic problem is that experiences early in life caused us to disconnect from ourselves.
We disconnected from the awareness of who we are truly are – at our core. We are never really disconnected from our core state. But our awareness of it got blocked.
This sense of disconnection is often experienced as a feeling of “something missing.”
Events in the past caused us to make certain decisions about ourselves, others, life in general. Many of those decisions were made prior to the formation of the Critical Faculty of the Mind. That’s well before we were old enough to make sense of the world.
It’s these decisions that formed many of our core Parts. And Parts decide how we think, and how we feel, and how we cope with situations in daily life.