On Managing Trauma & PTSD With Age Regression Therapy
Traumatic experiences can happen to any of us, and they affect each person differently. In particular, traumatic events in which severe physical harm or death was imminent or occurred can trigger feelings of stress and panic that last for weeks, months, even years afterward.
When the aftershocks of the trauma continue to cause distress, pain, and anxiety for more than one month following the incident, the phenomenon is referred to as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. PTSD symptoms can include flashbacks, disturbed sleep, panic attacks, and emotional numbness, as well as strong feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, sadness, and even guilt.
What Is Regression in Psychology?
Age regression therapy is an approach that aims to change the way that the painful or traumatic memories are recalled. Under the guidance of a professional therapist, the client is placed into a state of hypnosis and is taken back mentally to the age at which the trauma occurred so that they can change their perception around the events that transpired and experience healing.
The Aim of Age Regression Therapy
What is the purpose of regression in psychology? The goal of revisiting earlier ages and time periods in the client’s life is to uncover the root thoughts and feelings that are causing dysfunction in the client’s life now.
The way these earlier stages are experienced and the level of emotional intensity felt by the client depend on the level of hypnosis used in the age regression therapy session:
- Light Level or “Revivification”
The client is placed into a state of light hypnosis that is somewhat similar to relaxation or meditation. While in this relaxed state, the client uses their memory to recall events from the past and may find that they remember more details than they would have in a state of full consciousness. While they remember the past, the client is still aware of their adult life and the fact that they are in an age regression therapy situation.
- Medium Level or “Pseudo-Regression”
While in a very relaxed state of consciousness, the client is taken back to a younger age and relives events from that time as if they were viewing a videotape of themselves. The experience can be more intense at this level with the client remembering details like the tastes and smells that accompanied the event. However, as in the light level, they are still aware of their life after that age and are in full control of their “pseudo-regression” experience.
- Deep Level or Complete “Age Regression”
What is complete regression in psychology? The deepest level of age regression therapy is much more physical and emotional than the other two levels. In a complete age regression, the client is able to dissociate completely with the therapy situation and all of their adult life after the age to which they are regressing. They experience the event again as if it were actually happening, along with the accompanying movements and emotions. Only some clients are capable of this level of dissociation.
This level of age regression therapy can be the most confronting for the client but is also the most powerful for being able to reframe the event and transform the way the memory is recalled.
Criticisms of Age Regression Therapy
What is the risk of regression in psychology? There are two main dangers in the practice of age regression therapy. One of these is the accidental introduction of false memories by the therapist while the client is in a hypnotized state or trance. The other risk is that emotional harm can be caused when the client is forced to regress to childlike behaviors that are too confronting for them.
In both cases, problems in age regression therapy can be avoided by choosing a professional, qualified therapist who is highly skilled and sensitive to each client’s needs.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
In cases of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), age regression therapy is not the only way to help the client manage their symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can also be used to help the client increase their resilience and gain a new perspective.
What is CBT, compared to regression in psychology? As a solution-focused approach, CBT aims to identify dysfunctional thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and to modify them so that the client can experience and respond to events in their life in a healthier way.
In the case of PTSD, there are three main strategies used in CBT for helping the client with their past trauma:
- Exposure Therapy
In contrast to age regression therapy, this strategy involves being exposed to the past event in a safe and controlled way through writing, mental imagery, or visiting the place where the incident took place. The therapist can observe the client’s beliefs and feelings in connection with the event and help the client to modify those that are causing them distress.
- Cognitive Restructuring
With cognitive restructuring, the therapist helps the client to gain more perspective about a past event and make sense of the client’s experience. In contrast to age regression therapy, this technique is used while in a state of full awareness. For example, many clients feel guilt and shame about aspects of the incident that were not under their control. Cognitive restructuring can help to relieve the client of these unnecessary feelings of responsibility.
- Stress Inoculation Training
Through step-by-step exercises, the therapist teaches the client to feel less anxious in the face of stressful situations. This strategy can also help the client to view their experiences more positively and feel more empowered and in control. After all, what is regression in psychology or CBT for if not to put the client back in control of their thoughts, emotions, and life?
Face the Past Safely at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy
If you would like to face past trauma and find relief from post-traumatic stress disorder with cognitive behavioral therapy or age regression therapy, it is essential to choose a qualified and experienced therapist to help you. Anna Marchenko—the primary practitioner at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy—is a board-licensed hypnotist and counselor. As a highly trained therapist, Anna has a number of research-based therapy tools that can help you to make a breakthrough in a shorter period of time.
Take the first step by calling us to book an appointment. With the right help, a new outlook on life really is possible!