Regression Hypnotherapy with Catherine
It was my absolute pleasure to work with a great client called Catherine a couple of years ago on campus at NUI Galway. Catherine has given me her permission to use the videos of our sessions together to help other therapists learn hypnotherapy.
Catherine is an amazing woman, a great therapist and healer. She is married to a wonderful man and they have two fabulous grown up boys. They are a tight knit and very close family who all take care of each other.
However, things weren't always great for Catherine. Catherine had a very difficult childhood but was fortunate enough to meet her future husband when she was 15. The events from her childhood had contributed to Catherine's anxiety. Catherine was not a victim of physical, sexual or mental abuse. We do not use this kind of regression on those problems because of the risks of confabulation and False Memory Syndrome.
Together they raised two boys. However one of their sons had experiences in childhood which resulted in a couple of episodes where he had to be resuscitated.
As you can imagine, the trauma her son experienced coupled with difficult events in her own childhood, were very difficult and had residues that were still affecting her in the here-and-now. Catherine never really had the opportunity to process these events or to even make sense of them.
Catherine wanted just one thing: To be rid of high anxiety. This meant being able to 'let go' of her boys and to give them the freedom they need to live their lives.
I used an instant somnambulism technique – I’ve never named it – and told her a story of how mothers in nature take care of their young. This conversational approach is both permissive but very authoratitive – I’m letting my client know, I’m taking over and I speak to her about the journey to safety. There is a lot going on in this bit alone.
To facilitate your learning and understanding of the processes involved in this kind of deep hypnotic work, I've listed a number of questions below the video. To get the most from this Master Class, please read the questions before watching the video.
Please note that this is just ONE part in a series of sessions to help Catherine achieve her goals.
Deepen Your Understanding
Read this Before Watching the Video
Conversational Hypnosis and History Taking
I took a case history from Catherine before I started this video. When a student, fellow therapist or a client is generous enough to allow me to record a session - I am very careful to never include the case history - if I feel it would disclose sensitive information. Although the conversational hypnosis during history taking sets the stage for great therapy work - I didn't record it. I'm a client centred therapist and everyone in the room that day was deeply privileged to hear Catherines felt experiences and to develop a deep understanding of the traumatic events that led her to be anxious whenever her two boys went out socialising.
How did I go about explaining the psychology of change to my client before starting therapy?
How did I acknowledge her difficult experiences?
How did I explain our goals for that session?
What would we ordinarily do in a typical session that was missing from this classroom demonstration? I pointed out three things? Name them.
Structuring The Session
You’ll notice that as I begin to work with Catherine, I am very careful to always let my client know what I am going to do before I do it. Watch carefully as I will state the goals of each part of the session. Why do I do this?
I use a pendulum moving from side to side to encourage my clients eyes to close. How is this more effective than just asking a client to close their eyes?
I place my hand on her forehead and on the nape of her neck? Why do you think I do this?
What benefit might it have?
I informed my client before I touched her. Why is this absolutely essential?
Five Levels of Hypnosis
There are five levels of hypnosis - Hypnoidal, Light, Medium, Deep, Somnambulism
How would I know my client is capable of somnambulism? You don’t see me figure it out during this recording but we use suggestibility exercises to understand how our clients respond to hypnosis?
Why do I tell the story of the ‘Mammy’ (mother) animals?
What is the purpose of this?
How do I set my client up for a good experience during hypnosis?
Building Catherine’s Confidence and Self Belief
I firmly believe that we cannot use regression until our client has the confidence and the skills to go back and ‘do the work’.
How did I make sure Catherine was able to go back and do the work?
What was the purpose of saying to her ‘I’m going to say something which you may or may not believe…’
Gestalt Process in Regression Hypnotherapy
I tell her ‘I want to speak to that part’ (that is confident) – why am I doing this?
You see me take her hand and drop it to her lap. This is to deepen the immersion in regression experience. Notice how I explain what I am going to do before I do it. Why?
I use the ‘sleep’ command. The reason for this is because ‘sleep’ and ‘deep’ or ‘deeper’ are shorthand words that I have used on Catherine to prime her mind to respond to suggestion.
I ask my client to go back to a time when she was about 7 or 8 and then I turn the camera off. I do this to preserve the privacy and the confidentiality of the information Catherine wants to share.
Facilitating the Regression
Watch out for the steps involved in facilitating a regression.
How do I separate out the ‘young girl Catherine’ from the adult who is experiencing regression hypnotherapy?
When I take Catherine back to her childhood, I am very clear on my instructions. I tell her to freeze the scene just before the event happened. Why do I do this and why am I being authoritative?
I encourage dissociation during the regression and encourage Catherine to observe the scene below her like a reporter. What is the purpose of this approach?
What dangers do we need to be aware of at this stage?
Revivication or Hypermnesia
There are two main responses our clients have to regression work. Hypermnesia is a partial regression where our clients have a detailed recall and emotional re-experiencing.
Revivication is a full recall where our clients report that it feels as ‘if it is happening all over again’. Which do you think Catherine is experiencing?
How do I confirm that the regression is taking place?
What do I say to the young girl to verify that Catherine is in a regression experience?
I give ‘grown up Catherine’ a name, did you notice what that name was?
Bottom Up Approach and Top Down Approach to Healing Trauma
Regression hypnotherapy uses both a bottom up and top down approach to help release and repair the effects of traumatic memories. Catherine becomes very emotional during the session as she reaches out and connects with the younger version of herself. Good regression uses our clients emotional responses as a mechanism to help release trapped emotion, process the traumatic experiences and also to deepen the connection our adult client has with their inner child.
When bad things happen to us as children there are a number of truisms we can use to help guide the experience. We can encourage the grown up to communicate to the inner child.
You did the best you could
It wasn’t your fault
That was grown up stuff
Your past doesn’t dictate your future
You don’t yet know your future
* We only use the statements that are relevant.
We Leverage What We Know
I also encouraged Catherine to explain to her inner child that she would in time get her happy ever after. We know this to be true because Catherine has a secure attachment and the safety, support and unconditional love as an adult.
Working Through Past & Present Timeline
How does that name facilitate the building to Catherine’s confidence in her grown-up timeline.
I give my grown up client a series of very clear instructions to facilitate healing and trauma repair in the regression – what do I tell my grown up client to do?
Why do I lead when I am at this stage?
Grounding Catherine After The Regression
How do I ground Catherine after the regression experience?
How I Work With Clients
You cannot truly plan for a regression session and you certainly cannot use scripts. However, you do need to be absolutely sure where you are going - when you are taking a journey into your clients past. Equally you must be 100% sure where not to go. The most unexpected things can and do happen during a hypnotic regression experience. Your job as a fee-paid therapist is to lead the session and to be comfortable as strong emotions bubble (and sometimes explode) to the surface.
You will at all times need to be able to self-regulate your nervous system, show compassion and share the experience. Your nervous system will be 'speaking non verbally' to your clients so you must have a Trauma Grounding Kit to help you keep your client grounded and to self regulate.
At every step along the way, I knew where I was going with the session and the outcome I wanted for my client. I had a map of the journey we were taking but I did not know what the terrain would be like. I was there to navigate and to guide my client to the desired outcome. I teach all my students how to use a Regression template (map), so they can stay on track and get the work done in one single sitting.
Knowing how to break down a complex problem into smaller manageable chunks is key to your success.