Facing difficulties in REGRESSION

Please share your experiences regarding the difficulties in REGRESSION and also share the techniques handled to surpass the problem.



In any new technique the emphasis is on success. There is an attempt made to lure stray comers into the fold by underlining its potentials and virtues. Only as a modality comes of age does a willingness evolve to critique it more impartially and to look at its limitations honestly, not just at its assets. Regression work is an approach relatively new to the field of psychotherapy-in fact, there are probably many who have never heard of it or who associate past lives with crystal balls· or, at best, with Shirley MacLainc’s experiences.

Still, as a form of therapy, regression work has evolved, and just because it is on the edge of credibility with so many, and especially in the psychotherapeutic community, it is necessary that its liabilities and its areas of failures be looked at calculatedly. Those of us who have worked with it as a modality know that it has many limitations and is not always a successful therapeutic agent, but the many times when it makes possible striking change and brings about almost miraculous healing, urge us to properly evaluate its limits and potentials and to set up criteria for its use.

The limitations of regression work fall into three areas: built-in realistic limitations, limitations brought by the patient, and those that must be laid on the doorstep of the therapist.

Realistic Limitations

The problem the patient brings may not lie in a past life, and if it does not, regression work will be only an intellectual trip or an escape from looking at the here and now. For this reason, most regression therapists work first in the current life and only when that does not yield enough material look further back.

The lack in certain patients of sufficient strength to integrate insights is a limitation. Juc’s experience is that borderline clients and other types with ego-deficit and object relations problems, though often in touch with their primary process and having easy access to past-life material, are handicapped by poor ego strength and find it difficult to make necessary changes.

My own experience is somewhat similar: borderline patients tend to tap into a fluid conglomeration of past lives and cannot focus on any one long enough to make therapeutic work possible. The third consideration, brought forward by Fiore, is that there are times when entities, people who have died and not quite made it to the next stage, interfere. I wish I could say that I have never found that to be true, but I have. It complicates the situation.

Limitations Brought by the Patient

There are a number of limitations that patients bring with them. The first of these is the difficulty of getting into an altered state in such a way that past-life material can be contacted. Sometimes patients cannot fix on a past life. Images from various lives come and go, changing periods, changing characters, seemingly totally confused. At other times the patient is not able to get into any life at all and sees at best a series of unrelated images. More intensive preparation and gentler induction techniques sometimes help.

Other patients are so ingrained in a static religious system that there is no openness to the unconscious. Jue found this to be true in his practice and has had success with this sort of patient by asking that a parable, or perhaps an allegory, be produced-moving within the theoretical framework of a conventional religious system often bypasses this sort of resistance. Some patients need to control the regression. If the therapist goes along

with the flow, usually it proceeds properly. One would expect that high-powered people would have especial difficulty in giving up control, but this is not necessarily so. Many of these people walk with confident strides through their unconscious, though sometimes responding impatiently or a little rudely to a therapist’s attempt at guidance. The people who are most afraid of losing control are those who perceive their unconscious as a time bomb and do not dare to take a chance on its being set off. They are the ones who are particularly afraid of hypnosis (and for whom other forms of induction into altered states may be preferable). Fiore thinks this often has to do with deaths under surgery in a previous lifetime.

Dethlefsen finds a similar source of failure in the patient’s not trusting the therapeutic process in a way that will allow unconscious material to emerge. Woolger mentions the need for the body to be involved if the regression is to be meaningful. He feels that failure results when patients have had many lifetimes, such as those of monks or nuns, without contact with their bodies or their feelings and the therapist allows this dissociation to continue. Energy patterns anchored in the etheric and emotional bodies need to be re-experienced in order to be released; without this abreaction therapeutic work will fail. Most therapists agree that lack of identification with the body experience can limit therapeutic effectiveness.

Traumatic situations of deep suffering and anger may block the regression process. When a patient moves into scenes of great anger that he dares not confront, he may wander off in thin threads of recall that say nothing pertinent, or he may blank out completely. For such a person modern techniques of getting in touch with anger, such as the Radix process, can be effective as a preliminary step.

Violent traumas in past-life deaths can also block recovery of memories. Snow reports Helen Wambach’s research dealing with people who after three workshops had not contacted either past-life or pre-natal experiences. When she worked with them privately, every one of those who could eventually progress back beyond childhood memories was immediately caught up in the violent emotional storm of a past-life death. Once this was faced and processed, none had further trouble with regression work. The next group of limitations patients bring has to do with their expectations. First comes the expectation of speedy change, in short, a miracle-one or two sessions at most! This expectation has been built up by psychics and the currently popular channels, who tell people what their past lives have been, usually not very accurately. People who are in a hurry for change do not go deep enough to find the core of their problems and patterns. Dethlefsen feels that a significant source of failure lies in being content with the outer layers of experience, allowing the core of the complex, such as the experience of primal guilt and the power urges connected with it, to remain unresolved.

Next in the area of expectations is the anticipation, built up by movies and literature, of glamorous lifetimes. Ninety percent of any social group consists of peons, but few people hear that. Moreover, some of the saddest

and most lamented lifetimes have come when in positions of power we failed in our responsibilities and sometimes led lives lonelier and less fulfilled than the peons. Often a patient, because he feels that he ought to produce a glamorous lifetime, resists a drab past life, fearing to be seen as unimportant.

Patients who are in "stuck positions" are not uncommon, as both Denning and Fiore point out. One stuck position that is frequently seen is that of the victim. So ingrained in some patients is this expectancy of being victimized that sometimes it is not possible to budge it. One of the most striking things that we learn from regression work is that we are not victims:

we ourselves bring into this life our need to be a victim. Knowing this, the regression therapist struggles to help this victim pattern become changed, but sometimes he does not succeed. The need to hold onto symptoms, not just of being victims but of problems in general, such as illnesses, may have too many secondary gains for the patient to be willing to give them up. Just as one cannot demand that anyone, such as a cancer patient, hang on to life because one wants him to, so one cannot demand that a patient give up a symptom or a stuck position until he is ready. Findeisen tells the sad story of a man whose regression successfully exposed the source of his exhibitionism, but he could not release it because he was not ready to give up the pleasure involved, and he finally ended up in prison.

Occasionally a patient who has not dealt adequately with the source of his dysfunction will move temporarily into a state where a symptom is remitted or there is apparently improved functioning. The patient’s unconscious motivation is to please the therapist. In analytic circles this is known as a transference cure, and once contact with the therapist ceases, the symptom returns or the dysfunction becomes reestablished. The therapist needs to be cautious when a patient shows minimal involvement with his material, especially if he over-praises the effectiveness of past-life work or of his therapist.

The major contribution that a patient makes toward failure in regression work is his lack of willingness to take responsibility for his life, which may overlap with one or more of the other situations discussed. The patient may resist taking responsibility because he has a conviction that unless he is special, in this life and past ones, he won’t be loved or doesn’t deserve to live. He may resist responsibility because that would mean giving up symptoms or stances that bring secondary gain. He may feel that he is hopelessly inadequate and the only way he can survive is to make others responsible. Whatever the source of his unwillingness, it negates ability to make use of regression work to bring about change and growth.

Sources of Failure Contributed by the Therapist

It goes without saying that training in regression work is necessary. Though this is limited in availability as yet, if there is the interest, training programs will be set up in the United States as they have been in the Netherlands. Regression therapy is more difficult than any other type of therapy and cannot be successful unless its techniques are built on the framework of sound psychotherapy. Regression work is a form of therapy: it is not a gimmick to be picked up in a weekend workshop and tried out on someone.

Therapist training includes an ability to evaluate the patient’s potential for regression, as Pecci points out. Establishing clear goals is especially important to him and also to Noordegraaf, who find that failures occur when objectives are not clearly perceived.

Pecci assumes that a patient needs to be able to contact a deeper level of himself and even to have guides to protect and help, and he is not willing to risk a past-life exploration if these conditions are not met because failure is all too possible. He warns also about the risks of regressing fellow therapists when there is no clear therapeutic matrix in which goals can be established and where personality patterns can be explored. He explains the reason:

Colleagues who have had a great deal of analytic work and selfexploration and whose therapists are not trained in regression work and often do not even consider it a modality, come to me asking for regression because they wish to deepen their understanding of themselves. I find it difficult to refuse them. since they often have no other recourse, but the results are not always satisfactory. Without knowing clearly the basic patterns they are working on, it is difficult to tune in intuitively to where they need to go and the way they can best be helped. After several regression sessions-and sometimes only one-there are times when neither of us has the feeling that we have worked on significant material. When the majority of our healing profession is trained to use regression techniques, it will not be so necessary for the few of us now doing regression work to risk such a situation.

One of the few times Pecci broke his own rule and worked with a fellow therapist (because the man had come from a distance), he found himself precipitated into a massive negative transference because the subject, who had actually come for the undeclared objective of finding out more details about a life of prominence, instead found himself confronted by a mass of shadow material. We all want to help our fellow therapists, but we have to decide what is appropriate.

Besides lack of adequate training, both in general psychotherapy and in regression work, there are other therapist deficits. Denning feels that a faulty philosophy of life, or, as I think, no philosophy at all, militates against success in regression therapy. Regression work leads inevitably to an expanded perception of oneself and the universe, and there needs to be some kind of matrix into which the experiences can be fitted. A superficial or negativistic attitude toward living on the part of the therapist is not a good bedfellow for regression work.

Failure can also result because the therapist is deficient in time management. He needs to structure time well, and if he is functioning within a 50-minute hour, he must allow enough time to work through an experience

of the death, even though other areas must be dealt with in a later session. He needs to allow sufficient time, also, to help the patient emerge from the altered state and become adequately grounded. Failure to structure time appropriately can leave a patient feeling roughly handled and unsatisfied.

The same sensitivity that deals well with time also provides the humanistic considerations that Reynolds feels are so important for the success of regression work. The therapist is primarily a guide and needs to be supportive and non-judgmental about any material that is recovered. A more authoritarian or judgmental stance seriously inhibits the flow of remembering. Snow feels that at times even a supportive stance is not enough: the core vibrational energy patterns of therapist and patient may be too far apart to allow sufficient rapport for an effective regression. This is a surprising concept that needs to be considered.

Jue points out that the same countertransference aspects that affect more conventional therapy also affect regression work. Picking up the need of a patient to be dependent and responding to this out of one’s own need

to be nurturing is an example. This pattern may interfere with the patient’s taking responsibility for himself and may continue his expectation that someone will make it come out all right. Another type of countertransference occurs when the therapist feels unspoken dissatisfaction with the material the patient is producing. In the sensitive altered state a patient often senses this dissatisfaction and easily transfers to the therapist the image of the critical parent he has known in the past. When transferences occur, the trained therapist must be aware of them and work through them with the patient, congruently conceding his own part in their occurrence if there is one. Otherwise, the patient will leave dissatisfied or angry, often not knowing why.

In conducting the actual regression the therapist may limit success of the process in several ways. Fiore and others observe that many patients cannot produce visual imagery. Requests as to what they are "seeing" bring no response. This error is easy to correct by changing one’s questions to deal with what is happening and avoiding an emphasis on visual recovery. Pacing material is another area where difficulties can arise. If the response of the patient seems stuck or slow, there are many questions and suggestions that can help the process along. Some patients need to take time to let impressions emerge, and being pushed may make them close up.

Experience and sensitivity, as Hickman points out, are needed to handle the pacing of a session in a maximally helpful way. The therapist must keep his own enthusiasm for regression from pushing the patient faster than is comfortable for him.

In dealing with the material, there are several ways in which therapists are inadequate in the interventions that are needed for a successful conclusion. One frequent failure consists of missing the connections between a past life and the current life. Usually a pattern is highly visible, but sometimes it is not. This is not always the fault of the therapist. The patient may bring into the situation some of his own agenda, as has been discussed, and may not want a pattern to emerge, but there are many techniques for extracting such a pattern, and the therapist needs to know these and sense which is appropriate to use. Even if the pattern is perceived clearly, the therapist may fail to help the patient integrate his new understanding into his current life processes. In general, the more adequately trained a therapist is and the more experience he has had, the better he can help this integration to occur.

One area of resolution that is emerging as increasingly important is polarity. Therapists need to have the experience of unearthing and integrating the shadow (polarity) material in their own lives in order to help the patient perceive and deal with his own. If the patient cannot effect such an integration, the regression work will peter out. Denning and Findeisen are particularly concerned with anger as an aspect of the shadow. A patient who is left with a heavy residue of anger has a difficult time making use of insights from a regression.

Pecci stresses as an overall goal, working to obtain an increasingly comprehensive viewpoint that can change the meaning and importance of life experience. Most regression therapists agree with this transformational objective and try to find ways of implementing it. If this is not done, and especially if no pattern is uncovered, the patient is left with a handful of dust, memories that are discrete from his experience, all that remains of an hour or more that may have been pleasant but is more likely to have contained sadness and distress.

Jue reviews some of these sources of failure:

Failures … bring a sense of humility to the therapeutic context and a realization that, at best, therapy is a collaboration, with tacit agreements and mutually held assumptions as to what direction one takes in the therapy process. To prevent failures, there is a need for greater appreciation of the importance of accepting clients as they are without setting unrealistic therapeutic goals, and to maintain a lead and pace approach in the therapeutic relationship. In that way, one focuses and gives more importance to process rather than to goals, even though it is recognized that the basic goal for therapy is toward personal integration.
Volume I

Dear family,
kindly share your views


I am from K2, the latest batch. In case of 2 of my clients, I was able to take them to arm catalepsy, but both could not recall any memories before age 5. Looks like something lacking in me as a therapist. Which area should I improve on to see some success?


I am from K2 batch and quite new here, yet to complete my final assessment. With 2 of my clients, I could take them to a point where they exhibited eye and arm catalepsy after using induction script in Dr. Weiss’s book, Elman followed by deepening using counting, guided imagery. However, none of them could uncover a single memory between ages 0 to 5 years of age. All childhood memories they recalled were the ones which they can recall even in their normal state.

Please help me understand where exactly I failed getting them regressed.

Is not arm catalepsy a sufficient sign to indicate the state of hypnosis and start recalling memories? If not, which are those signs I should look for before asking my client to recall any remote past memories and how do I get to the point of getting those signs?

Please help.


Hi Madhu sorry for the late reply. Would need more information as regards the issue you wanted to resolve about the client. The exact technique which you followed etc. You may share the details without disclosing the identity so that we may get a better picture and will be able to guide you.