Holly Holmes-Meredith, M.A., M.F.T.
I have been using regression therapy in some form in my private practice since 1981 and have been training hypnotherapists and past-life therapists through HCH, a state-licensed institute, since 1986. I have a strong background in NLP and use reframing and rescripting techniques primarily while working with habit control and current-life inner child work. I find reframing and rescripting profoundly transforming in these areas. In past-life work, however, I consider reframing and rescripting unnecessary and dishonoring of the soul journey and soul lessons; not only of the client, but of all other souls involved in the past-life events and soul experiences. The discussion that follows will explain my thoughts on these important clinical issues.
If the client requests inner child work I spend time asking what he wants and expects from present-life regression therapy. A detailed discussion follows which outlines the therapist and client’s responsibilities in doing present-life regression therapy. I explain that we can focus on current presenting issues with pragmatic goals as the outcome. The present-life regression work becomes a means to an end, not an end in itself. Because of the legal limits of the use of hypnosis in California, I make sure my client gives informed consent and understands that any information he accesses in a hypnotic state is not admissible in a court of law nor can it be used in a deposition for testimony. I make sure my client has his own healing and wholeness as the focus of the work and that he understands that uncovering memories does not necessarily prove that what was remembered is factual. The client is informed that the inner child work is a process to which one must commit in his own time and way, but that the present-life regression work, itself, is just the beginning of the process.
I tell the client that it is my responsibility as the guide to ask open-ended questions and to allow the content of the experience to arise solely from himself. I explain that I will be a “tour guide” but that he is the “driver” of the experience. I empower the client to verbalize any needs that arise during the regression and to feel free to comment on any problems or concerns he may have while experiencing the hypnotic state. I inform him that accessing in hypnosis is a skill and suggest that by being open with me as the guide I can help him learn how to access more easily while in the hypnotic state. I encourage the client to tell me if “nothing” is happening and assure him that “nothing” is “something” and is perfectly all right.
I work to use impeccable language patterns which are non-directive and client empowering. (See Russ Davis’ article in 1997 Journal and Henry Bolduc’s article in the 1998 Journal.) And NEVER do I tell the client what to create as a reframing or rescripting of the childhood experience. Here’s why: If I, as the therapist, tell the client what to experience or create, I am implying that the client can’t heal without an outsider’s input. By my directing the content and/or by me becoming a character in the client’s rescripting I give the client the message: “You need me to rescue you from this memory and you need help outside of yourself to heal.”
I also know as a long-time recovering codependent people helper, that I need to stay out of the client’s process and content so that I am not acting out my own “needs to be needed.” The client’s Higher Self is always used as the resource and the director of the reframing or rescripting. The content always comes from the client’s Higher Self because the client can and will create a corrective and healing experience. There is no one else who could possibly know the child’s needs or heal him better than the client himself! To support the client’s Higher Self in doing the work I generally ask: “What does the child need?” The client’s self-directed inner response is typically spontaneous.
In psychotherapy and hypnotherapy, inner child work or present-life regression therapy has several purposes. The first is to free the subconscious from having to hold the lid of repression in place. This uncovering, in itself, can bring relief and free up psychic energy. Secondly, through present-life regression therapy a client can get new insight as to why and how he has developed the adult personality style and current defenses. The client can have a very conscious and direct experience of the long-term effects of unmet needs. Thirdly, in a present-life regression a client’s childhood experience witnessed from the client’s adult consciousness helps a client realize how as the child he often misinterpreted actual events and made decisions which are not based on the whole truths. (This is how I explain to clients that present-life memories can be “real” even if they are not based on facts.) In all these situations the child’s needs which were never met at the time of the memory can finally be met through either reframing or rescripting of the incident. This creates a corrective emotional experience which allows the ego to heal and to move out of a negative experience which in some ways has the client “frozen” back in time and currently responding based on old perceptions or childhood “realities.” The details of the work, however, must come from the client, NOT from the therapist.
Past-life work, from my perspective, has very different purposes and effects. Where present-life regression supports psychological healing, ego development and the ongoing sense of an emerging self, past-life regression therapy supports soul healing and the knowing of Self. Past-life therapy opens the transpersonal realms of experience – an understanding that goes beyond the ego and personal self. It is my experience both as a client and a guide that it is common for a past-life experience to propel the experiencer into a greater understanding of the “why me?” and the cosmic purpose or soul lesson behind an experience. Once the lesson is gleaned there is an acceptance of the past-life event as a teacher of the lesson. The work in the interlife through which the client can know soul purpose really supports this spiritual and transpersonal level of understanding.
Past-life therapy has the effect of disengaging the client’s present-life identification with a past-life event by helping the client know from his own experience that there is continuity of consciousness through which much can be known and integrated of all of one’s lives. From the transpersonal perspective the client has a direct experience in knowing that he is, in reality, none of the past-lives; nor is he, in reality, the present-life. He is a soul which takes on different roles each life to learn soul lessons; all of which are in support of the soul remembering who it is: a spiritual being having a human experience.
If, in reality, we are not the experience of the past life, then why would we need to change the experience to heal it? In my opinion, healing the past-life is in part realizing that we have the life experience to learn lessons which support us in remembering who we are. Rather, I believe the healing is from the meta-consciousness or knowing that we, as souls, transcend identification with the suffering and the ecstasy of all human experience. Going through many experiences allows us to disidentify from the drama and attachment to all of life’s ups and downs.
Another area for discussion concerns the issue of karma. Many of the spiritual traditions profess that WE ARE ONE in spirit: that what affects one, also affects another. If this Oneness is truth in a cosmic sense, then when we heal ourselves, we heal each other. If there is no time and all past-lives are really concurrent and happening in other dimensions, then changing the outcome of a past life for ourselves will potentially change the outcome of that life for all other souls involved. When we, as the guide, make changes or ask the client to make changes in the client’s past-life to make the outcomes better, happier and easier, we are not necessarily making all the other souls’ lives better, happier or easier. We are potentially karmically interfering with what is rather than supporting the client in accepting and understanding what is.
Many of my clients experience that there are soul agreements with other souls which we choose in the interlife before incarnation. These agreements are related to lessons which our souls must learn. We need each other to play specific roles in each lifetime so that we can interface with experiences which provide the opportunities to learn the lessons. Changing the outcomes of past lives potentially affects all the souls involved in the event and dishonors the cosmic plan in which we agreed to participate.
In my mind, in a past-life session the therapeutic time is best spent supporting the client in coming to his personal knowing of his soul’s journey for the purpose of remembering who and what he is in the larger spiritual reality. Then, it doesn’t matter whether a past-life turned out badly or not. The past-life turned out the way it did as a part of the perfection of the soul’s journey to wholeness and remembering the truth of who it is. With this transpersonal view of the past-life events, a client will come to an acceptance of his own present and past and a greater understanding of the lives of others. It is the acceptance which brings us to the place of loving what is and understanding that all of life is spiritual. This understanding will support the client in his present life to live more fully in the moment with loving acceptance of the way it is and with the awareness that the way it is, is perfect. Part of a past-life healing is a higher understanding of one’s experience and lessons which leads to Forgiveness of self and others. Forgiveness usually clears the way to the experience of Love.
In summary, I find reframing and rescripting techniques very effective in supporting a client’s ego development and in healing current life issues affecting the personal self. The personal self of the past-life is released in the death experience as the soul is reabsorbed by the light. It is the soul or Self which reincarnates. It is unnecessary, and perhaps undesirable from a karmic perspective, to use rescripting and reframing in the past-life part of therapy. Rather, it is more effective and a better use of the therapeutic time to support the client in coming to acceptance and understanding that all life experiences, both good and bad, are a part of a human journey which leads to wholeness and the direct experience of Self.