Age regression is a therapeutic intervention used to clear out negative emotions from the past. It consists of taking a person back to a past traumatic event and removing the emotional charge from that memory, thus eliminating whatever debilitating symptom it was causing.
Age regression is virtually always used in the context of hypnosis, even if the people handling the process don’t call it that.
With this, we mean that a phenomenon like age regression requires a deep hypnotic state, which can be produced by various means. From our point of view, meditation and other practices that take a person’s focus of attention inward are also forms of hypnosis as well; therefore age regression can also be done in conjunction with these techniques.
However, we are hypnosis instructors, so we’ll teach you how to use age regression in a formally induced hypnotic trance.
To facilitate comprehension, we've included short explanatory videos pulled directly from our Youtube channel. They're not essential. You can skip them if you prefer, but we recommend watching them for a better understanding of the concepts we present. If you'd like to see more of them, you can head over to our channel and subscribe.
You start with a regular hypnotic induction and deepener to create a deep and robust hypnotic trance state, which we call somnambulism. If you’re a regular consumer of our materials or even one of our students, you most likely already know how to do this very easily already. If you don’t, however, consider joining the Mike Mandel Hypnosis Academy, where we’ll teach you all about hypnosis, from beginner to advanced levels.
Set Up an Emergency Escape
We always tell our students: ecology first.
That means you should always look out for your clients’ ecology first and foremost, both physical and emotional; as well as your own. You should always aim for them to leave your office better than they came in.
That principle is especially important with age regression because it can be (and usually is) a very emotionally heavy experience. If handled carelessly, it could make the problem even worse, so know what you’re doing.
In order to protect the client from the potential dangers of bringing traumatic memories to the surface of their awareness, the first thing we recommend you do is set up what we call a lifeline anchor. If you don’t know what an anchor is, click here to learn all about anchors and how to set them up.
The lifeline anchor, also known as the bail-out anchor or a ‘laughing place’, works as an emergency escape. The idea is to set up an anchor to a very positive state the person can return to, if the regression experience becomes more stressful than they can handle.
We recommend you set up the anchor on the subject’s wrist, as Mike demonstrated. Gently pick up the person’s wrist (with their consent) and squeeze it lightly. Have them create a very positive and happy mental state through visualization, laughing on purpose or other means; and ask them to nod when they’re there.
When they nod, hold the anchor for a few seconds and say ‘That’s right…’
Stack a few of these on top of each other. Have them imagine something like a wonderful vacation they went on and repeat the process. Pick up the same wrist again, ask them to nod when they start feeling the pleasant sensations of whatever they’re imagining, and when they do, keep holding the anchor for a few seconds and repeat: ‘That’s right…’
Be creative with your suggestions. Anything that makes them feel good will work. Even silly things like laughing on purpose can be used to create several layers of feeling awesome and empowered.
After you’ve successfully layered at least three powerful suggestions of feeling good on top of the lifeline anchor, tell them: “If at any point, I squeeze your wrist like this, you’ll immediately come back to this happy place”.
This is your bail-out. If they start to abreact and freak out, use this lifeline anchor that you’ve just created. Test it to make sure it’s working. It has to be a very strong positive state, otherwise it won’t work.
With that emergency escape ready to be used at any time, you’re ready to move onto the next step.
Get to the Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE)
At some point in the past, there was an event in your client’s life that laid the foundation for the problem they’ve come to you, to get rid of.
The initial sensitizing event isn’t the same as the activating event. The ISE created the emotional distress, but it didn’t necessarily cause the issue right away. The activating event, on the other hand, is what triggered the symptom based on the emotions previously set by the initial sensitizing event.
They can be the same event, but they’re often not. Getting to the activating event alone won’t work. In order to clear out the issue completely, the key is to get to the initial sensitizing event, because that’s where the problem’s emotional component can be found.
There are two main methods we recommend:
The Affect Bridge
Let’s say we’re dealing with a spider phobia. Clearly, fear is the emotion this problem consists of. Some would go as far as to say any phobia is nothing but the fear of feeling fear, which can be triggered by anything. If this is the case, the Affect Bridge seems especially appropriate.
With the Affect Bridge, we use the emotion (in this case) to go straight to the initial sensitizing event. We don’t care about the specific trigger that’s causing the issue. That would mean going to the activating event, and we’ve already established that, that’s not going to solve anything. Instead, we aim straight for the emotions that are giving this person trouble.
Tell them: “I want you to feel that fear you feel when you see a spider”.
Pay attention: you’re not asking them to think about it. You’re asking them to feel it. You want to elicit the physiological responses the person gets when they come into contact with the trigger. Tell them to push it as high as they can to make it very powerful. This is when the magic happens.
Say to them: “I want your unconscious mind to take you to the very first time you felt that emotion”. That should take you right to the ISE. Ask them to nod when they’re there. To make sure you got it, ask them: “Is that the first or is there an even earlier one?” Eventually, you’ll get to the ISE.
The Somatic Bridge
The Affect Bridge works wonderfully when the problem has a very strong emotional component, as in the case of a phobia. But when we’re dealing with a symptom like a nervous tick, stuttering or something of a less emotional nature; it may be the best approach to use the Somatic Bridge instead.
The principle is the same, but with the symptom instead of the emotion. Simply have the client tune into that symptom and follow it back to the first time they had it.
Pay attention if the event where the symptom occurred for the first time had a strong emotional aspect. If it does, it may be a good idea to switch to the Affect Bridge and follow that emotion back. Either way, you’ll get to the ISE.
Abreaction - Is It Necessary?
At this point, the subject is likely to experience an abreaction. We need to have it dealt with, before proceeding to the next step.
Abreaction consists of taking the person back to the ISE and causing them to relive that memory, discharging all of its emotional content. We’re of the opinion that it isn’t truly necessary for therapy. There are less stressful ways of dealing with past traumatic experiences.
However, there is something you can do with abreactions that we highly recommend. We call it dipping.
This is where the lifeline anchor you set up before will come in very handy, because you’ll use it to discharge the negative emotions of the ISE without causing the client too much discomfort.
When your client abreacts, you’ll witness an outburst of the emotions contained in the memory you’ve regressed them into. They’ll likely be crying and showing other signs of emotional distress. When they do, fire the lifeline anchor you created.
Verbally support it. Say something like: “and you go right back to your happy place, leaving all that negativity behind … Breathe … That’s right.” Point out how good they feel and compliment them, telling them what a great job they’ve done.
Follow up with something to the effect of “We’re going to go back now, and it’s going to be less intense because we just got rid of so much. So go back there now.” Then let them discharge some more and bring them back to the happy place again. It’ll be less intense each time you do it. You’re dipping them into that negative experience and clearing out its emotional content.
With all the negative emotions out of the way, it’s now time to give that memory a new meaning.
Re-patterning and Re-learning
Having released the emotional content of the ISE, it is necessary to give the mind a new and positive meaning to attach to that event. This will make sure that memory is always linked to something positive, preventing any other dysfunctional patterns or behaviors from appearing. We call this process re-patterning or re-learning.
The best way to do this is by re-running the event with a totally different outcome. That means creating a new memory that will exist in parallel to the original one. This new version of the event will cause the client to feel positive feelings about what happened and have behaviors that are beneficial rather than destructive.
The client knows it’s just an imagined event. You’re not deliberately creating a false memory that he’ll actually believe in. But the thing is: the unconscious mind can’t tell the difference. It’ll react to that imagined sequence of events as if it had really happened.
Let’s say you’ve cleared out the negative emotions from the ISE that was causing the spider phobia we previously discussed. If this event was something like a cockroach falling from the ceiling into their cradle when they were very young (remember the ISE isn’t the same as the activating event. It sets the emotions in place, not the trigger), you can have them imagine there was a very thick blanket on top of them where the cockroach bounced on and fell off right onto the ground, far away from them.
It works even better if you associate positive sensations of feeling strong and empowered into the new memory. If the person used to be bullied and physically assaulted as a kid, you can have them imagine they beat the bully in a fight and felt strong and powerful. Be creative. Use what the client gives you and turn that into a positive experience they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.
And now, it’s time to check your work.
Future Pacing - How To Make Sure It Worked
Future pacing is a way of checking whether your work has produced lasting results on a client. It can (and should) be done after any therapeutic intervention, not just age regression.
May hypnotists purposely skip this part because they’re afraid of finding out what they did hasn’t actually worked. This not only shows lack of confidence, but irresponsibility too. You must make sure your client’s problem has been dealt with before sending them away. Don’t let them think they’ve got their issue worked out when it hasn’t truly.
Preferably while they’re still in trance, ask them what will happen the next time they’re faced with the situation where that symptom would arise.
“I want you to imagine when you head back home and you see a spider climbing through your wall. What will happen then?”. Obviously, the scenario will depend on what they’ve come to see you for. If they have a bad stage fright or something else entirely, that’s what you’ll future pace
It’s extremely important that you calibrate their external behavior while they respond. They may tell you that they’ll be fine and nothing will happen, but their demeanor, body language and vocal tone might say otherwise. They might show signs that some part of the issue is still there. If that’s the case, you’ve still got work to do.
However, if they’re congruent in their response, meaning they can smile and confidently state that they’ll be fine and that their issue is resolved, you can rest assured your work is complete.
Direct Suggestion Solidifies Change
Finally, the easiest and most gratifying part of the session. We’ll finalize our work by cementing all of the wonderful changes we’ve created with empowering direct suggestions.
It’s as simple as saying something like this:
“You’ve made wonderful changes that will last your entire life. Feel proud of yourself, you’re a winner! You’ll sleep a lot better tonight and you’ll feel a whole lot happier over the course of the week because you know you’ve done a great job and that issue you used to have is gone forever.”
By giving them all kinds of ego-strengthening direct suggestions, all stated in the positive, of how they’ve beaten this problem and now they’ll have a amazing life; you’re fabulously wrapping up the session by making sure everything you’ve done sticks and sending them out into the world fully refreshed and invigorated.
You can do this while they’re in trance using your hypnotic voice after you’ve already awakened them, using an enthusiastic and encouraging voice. Click here to learn more about how to use your vocal tonality in hypnosis.
Beyond Age Regression
Age regression is an excellent choice of intervention for many things, but it’s only one of a great number of techniques a hypnotist can use to skillfully get rid of phobias, anxieties and all sorts of issues. To become a masterful hypnotist, one must have a complete set of tools in their toolbox of hypnosis techniques.
That’s why, if you truly want to master hypnosis, the Mike Mandel Hypnosis Academy is an awesome pick for you.
We’ve designed this course to teach you all about hypnosis, from the most basic concepts to more advanced techniques. With Mike’s Neo-Ericksonian approach, you’ll learn the best of both classic, direct suggestion-based hypnosis and the more indirect Ericksonian model of hypnosis.
Click here to get started with the Mike Mandel Hypnosis Academy