Past Life Regression Therapy is one of the most controversial at the same time sought after therapy.
Past-life regression is typically undertaken either in pursuit of a spiritual experience, or in a psycho therapeutic setting. Most advocates loosely adhere to beliefs about reincarnation, though religious traditions that incorporate reincarnation generally do not include the idea of repressed memories of past lives.
What is Past Life Regression Therapy?
Past life regression is a technique that uses hypnosis to recover what many believe are memories of past lives or incarnations.
The technique used during past-life regression involves the subject answering a series of questions while hypnotised to reveal identity and events of alleged past lives, a method similar to that used in recovered memory therapy.
This therapeutic technique is not currently supported by any evidence basis, relies on the unproven hypothesis of reincarnation, and has a high risk of creating false memories. However, while psychiatrists and therapists may disagree about the validity of so-called past life memories, most agree that a patient's narrative while under hypnosis can be of therapeutic value.
What is the objective of past life regression therapy?
There are two primary objectives of any regression process:
- Release stored / suppressed emotions
- Get insights or learnings that can help one understand and resolve challenges that the client is experiencing in his/her life
These objectives hold true for past life regression therapy as well.
But does Past life really exist?
This is more of a philosophical question than one related to therapy.
There are certain schools of thought that believe past life or reincarnation exists and there are others that believe it doesn’t. Each school of thought seems to sound logical from their point of reference but there is really no conclusive evidence to concretely say whether past life and reincarnations really exist or don’t.
If there is no conclusive evidence for the existence of past life then why past life therapy?
The term past life therapy is just one of the terms to represent the process. It doesn’t really mean that a person is going through a past life. It simply means that during regression while exploring the cause of the current challenges in his/her life, a client naturally experiences or observes a memory that is not a part of their current life. While the memory is not a part of the current life, it feels very real and enables the client to both:
- Release suppressed emotions that they were or were not aware of and
- Learn something important that when applied in their current life situation will actually help them resolve the current challenge and achieve the therapeutic outcome
Since the exploration of the event/memory is actually helping the client resolve the challenge, the overall process can have immense therapeutic benefit, provided it is done responsibly and effectively.
Is it possible that during past life regression therapy the client is not really in a past life?
Possible, yes, it is very possible that the person is not really experiencing a past life. It could simply be like a dream where we experience something that feels very real, a dream that provides answers and solutions to certain challenges we are facing. But then the reverse argument is how do we know that the dreams that feel very real are really dreams or a past life or an alternate reality that we are experiencing?
And these are all very valid philosophical questions and points but from the point of view of therapy, these questions are not really relevant. The only relevant questions, from the point of view of therapy, are whether the process helps the client release the suppressed emotions or not and whether the insights derived during the process can be applied in client’s current life to overcome the current challenges?
As long as the answer to these two questions are yes, the rest isn’t really important.
In that case, why call it past life regression?
Past life regression is just one of the terms used to describe the process. We use the term metaphorical regression instead of past life regression to describe the same process. I know of many who simply call it regression. It is just that the term past life regression is more popular probably because it sounds mystical and spiritual.
How does one know that it is time to use past life regression therapy?
There is really no way to know with 100% certainty that past life regression therapy is required. And hence as a therapist starting with an assumption that you will need to do a past life regression during a session has a potential for major side effects. In my personal limited opinion, any therapist that says that a client surely needs past life regression therapy needs to actually learn more about the human mind and about therapy.
The only thing you can be sure of before starting a process is that the client needs regression because of the existence of a repetitive pattern in the client’s life. Whether it will be a past life regression or no, we would be able to know during the process.
How is past life regression therapy done?
When a client describes a problem that is like a repetitive pattern in their life, it is an indicator that regression as a process will be useful.
During regression, the client is asked to explore the cause of the pattern and to go back in time to the first time when they experienced the emotions associated with the pattern. As the client goes back in time there are two possibilities.
- The earliest memory that the client recalls is a part of an experience they had in the current life. In that case it becomes a normal regression therapy
- The earliest memory that the client recalls is not a part of any experience they have had in the current life. That said the content of the recalled memory revolve around the same emotion and the insights being derived from the recalled memory are relevant to the current challenge in client’s life, in which case it is called past life regression or metaphorical regression
After the recall of the earliest memory the therapist helps the client work with these memories, release stored emotions and get insights from the same.
Many practitioners also combine the past life regression process with revelation metaphor to help the clients get more clarity about insights. Having a conversation with a higher self is one of the examples of revelation metaphor that is used by many therapists to enable the client to get insights and re-script or reframe the memories as recalled during the past life regression process.
Finally, the insights from the past life regression are used during future pacing to help the client experience the applications of those insights in current life events and explore how that will help them achieve the therapeutic objective.
Can Past Life Regression Therapy be dangerous or have side effects?
Any therapy process when used by untrained practitioners can be dangerous. The same holds true for Past life regression therapy. When not done properly, it can lead to what is known as the false memory syndrome.
There is also a possibility that the client may begin to use the information explored during the process as a justification to hold on to the current challenges instead of overcoming them.
For example, I had a client once telling me that he has an extra marital affair in his current life because his wife (who was also his wife in the past life) had an affair in their past life. This affair is simply helping him clear the past karmic baggage. The problem was that the wife did not subscribe to that idea and they were having major issues in the current life because of that affair.
What if my client comes across traumatic experiences in their past life, can that create more problems?
If you have received proper training, you would have developed the skills to help the client work with these traumatic experiences effectively. But if you haven’t been trained properly then yes it can lead to additional problems for the client. So please go through a comprehensive training program in therapy before you start working with clients using these processes.
Is hypnosis a prerequisite for Past life regression?
In my understanding, every form of psychotherapy knowingly, unknowingly, consciously or unconsciously uses some or the other components of hypnosis. So really hypnosis is a prerequisite to every therapy.
As far as the past life regression therapy is concerned, the fact that these memories are generally not a part of clients conscious awareness means we are working with the subconscious and hence we are using hypnosis.
That said there are many practitioners that may not call it hypnosis but call it meditation or guided imagery. These terms in the context of past life regression therapy are really synonyms.
What type of problems can past life regression therapy be useful for?
Past life regression therapy can be effective for dysfunctional repetitive patterns, unexplained psychosomatic issues, challenges in relationships, inability to trust self or others and almost all types of problems provided the client experiences past life regression spontaneously as a part of overall therapy.
That said as mentioned earlier, there isn’t really any particular problem where one can decide in advance that a past life regression therapy will be necessary.
What about practitioners that call themselves past life regression therapists?
While I understand that for some practitioners the title is a branding tool but at times the title creates an expectation that the therapist will use past life regression with all clients for all problems. This expectation can come in the way of effective therapy.
It is for this reason that I don't recommend using this as your main title.
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