The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners.
by Roger C. Dent
As hypnotherapists, we learned the value of age regression techniques, primarily as a means of helping clients to overcome difficulties. When working with clients who are chronically ill, regression hypnotherapy also can provide a pathway to retrieving long-lost sensations of comfort, happiness and good health.
Since beginning my hypnotherapy practice, I have worked with many clients who have been ill for many years, most with Lyme or Lyme-related diseases. In addition to overall ill health, these clients are frustrated with a disease that has been on the “back burner” of modern medicine and a medical community that is ill-prepared to help them. Some of my more seriously ill clients were undiagnosed for years or even decades, and suffer irreversible muscle, bone and nerve damage. Even with the best treatments available, these people never will completely recover physically. Additionally, the psychological and emotional impact resulting from many years of Illness and misdiagnosis has left them exhausted and often depressed.
The more I worked with chronically ill clients, the more I began to see people whose connection with feelings of good health and happiness were fractured. More often than not, when I asked a client to tell me about a time when they felt well, they were unable to recall either a time or sensation of well-being!
I first observed the impact of long-term Lyme disease while visiting a neighbor. Mary had been ill for nearly twenty years, and at only 70 years old she no longer was able to walk or care for herself. She had been diagnosed and in treatment for several years, but the damage already was done. I visited Mary only as a friend, as she had told me that she wasn’t interested in hypnotherapy. During our conversations, she sometimes would talk about our neighborhood, bringing up times before she became ill. Mary’s recollection of events usually was a collection of remembered facts, void of emotional involvement, or worse, focused on negatives. On some occasions, I would ask Mary to make herself as comfortable as possible, to close her eyes, and tell me more about one of the events she had discussed. I used positive prompts to guide her away from negatives. For example, if Mary was talking about a time when neighbors got together for a summer barbecue, she might focus on how “miserably hot” it was that day. I would respond with something like, “I’ll bet it was cooler under the big oak tree in your yard. Was it already large then, too?”
Although I never formally induced a trance, Mary easily entered a trance state. I would listen to what she told me, carefully selecting “tangent” comments to help her recall positive experiences. When I sensed that Mary was in touch with a positive experience, I would ask open questions about her recollection. If she was talking about food, I would inquire about her favorite, how it tasted, what she liked about it. If the conversation was about a person, I would ask for an example: “Tell me about Bob. I never met him, though I’ve heard he was very interesting…” In many cases, Mary re-directed her conversation from purely factual to an emotion-based story. After each visit, I began to see that Mary was happier, more lucid and even smiled.
As I met with an increasing number of clients who had been ill for an extended time, I used a more systematic approach, interviewing to identify likely positive experiences, likes and dislikes, and to learn the duration of the client’s illness. Unlike my “visits” with Mary, I used a formal induction of hypnosis. With nearly every client, results are exceptionally positive. With experience, I found that eliciting a positive experience through hypnotic regression was very easy. Unlike a traditional regression where an emotional response is used to bridge to an event, in this case, an event often is used to bridge to an emotion. Because the emotion generally is positive, the client often becomes “self-directed,” leading themselves deeper into feeling good.
When clients are able to recall specific positive experiences in a waking conversation, elements of that experience that they have shared are used to bridge into recalling the associated emotional sensations, happiness, comfort, and feeling healthy. For those clients who struggle with being able to even recall a more positive time, a traditional regression process can be used to guide the client to a time before the onset of illness.
In nearly all of my experiences with this type of regression, clients find great benefit from their experiences of good health, comfort and happiness. It is very common for my clients to tell me that the positive feelings stayed with them for days, sometimes weeks. More than once, I have had clients tell me that they had forgotten what it felt like to feel good, and found that just the brief experience that they had in hypnosis made them want to get better.
Roger Cooper Dent, MBA, CCht has a hypnotherapy practice in Santa Rosa California. He completed his training at HTI in 2010, after four years teaching in public schools and almost thirty years in corporate management. Many of Roger’s clients suffer with Lyme disease. He is scheduled to present on his ongoing work with Lyme disease and hypnotherapy at the 2018 ACHE Conference in April. www.rogercdent.com