Age Regression in Therapy

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Age Regression in Therapy

Age regression is an aspect of a number of psychotherapies: i.e., in hypnotherapy the term describes a process in which the patient returns to an earlier stage of life in order to explore a memory or to get in touch with some difficult-to-access aspect of their personality. Age progression is sometimes employed in hypnotherapy as well, allowing the patient to project themselves forward to see a desired outcome or the consequences of their current destructive behavior.

Consider this: Someone pushes your buttons . . . you feel rage . . . fear . . . sweaty palms . . . unbidden tears . . . you feel like a kid . . .

These are moments when we lose control of a situation and ourselves. In the book “Growing Yourself Back Up,” author John Lee explains emotional age regression and the circumstances that cause these seemingly uncontrollable feelings and shows how they are directly tied to our experience as children.

“No adult,” writes Lee, “need ever experience the helpless feelings of childhood.” His methods and visualization exercises developed in workshops for recognizing, preventing, and diffusing regression in ourselves and others, teaches that adults cannot be abandoned, they can only be left; if we’re feeling abandoned we’re age regressing. Lee also writes that no matter how overwhelmed we are, adults always have options; if we believe we don’t, we’re in a regression.

Age regression for the purpose of ‘recovering’ memories has become quite controversial inside and outside the therapeutic community, with many such cases involving child abuse, alien abduction and other traumatic incidents subsequently being discredited.

The notion of age regression is central to attachment therapy whose proponents believe that a child who has missed out on developmental stages can be made to redo those stages at a later age by a variety of techniques. Many of these techniques are intensely physical and confrontational and include forced holding and eye contact, sometimes whilst being required to access traumatic memories of past neglect or abuse or whilst being made to experience extreme emotions such as rage or fear. Occasionally ‘rebirthing’ has been used with tragic results, for instance for Candace Newmaker. Accompanying parenting techniques may use bottle feeding and systems of complete control by the parent over the child’s basic needs including toileting and water.

Last updated: October 9, 2014 at 9:27 am

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