Regression Therapy: Uses, Types, and Techniques


Regression therapy is a type of psychotherapy (also called talk therapy) that guides people to remember past events and traumas buried in their subconscious. Age regression therapy and past life regression therapy are two versions of this method.

The practice, which was first developed by Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, is based on the principle that processing past traumas and releasing the difficult emotions they have caused is the key to well-being. be. Regression therapy practitioners believe that emotions are buried by the mind to protect a person from their intensity.

These buried emotions can affect a person with both physical and emotional symptoms, including headaches, sleep problems, and anxiety. Regression therapy aims to release these emotions and thereby heal the body and mind.

This article covers the methods, benefits, and risks of hypnotic, age, and past life regression therapy.

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Types of regression therapy

Three common types of regression therapy are hypnotic regression, age regression, and past life regression. Below are more details about each of these types of regression therapy.

Hypnotic regression therapy

Hypnotic regression is when a psychotherapist helps a person tap into buried memories with hypnosis.

Hypnosis is a trance state in which a person seems detached from the outside world while being extremely in tune with their inner world. The relaxed state people experience in hypnosis makes them more open to suggestions from a therapist.

During hypnotic regression, a therapist can use imagery, exploration of physical sensations, and storytelling to guide their patient through the past. Once a difficult memory is retrieved, buried emotions can come to the surface to be released.

The memory and its effects could also be reframed to be less painful for the person. By releasing these emotions or reframing difficult events, a person may feel an improvement in their daily life.

Age regression therapy

During age regression therapy, a therapist uses hypnosis to guide a person to remember a specific age or past event, usually in childhood. The therapist can gradually approach the age in question by going through each previous year.

The relaxed state a person is in, as well as the safe environment of a therapist’s office, can make difficult childhood memories less frightening to discuss and process.

Note that this type of therapy is used in both therapeutic and forensic settings, but the use of age regression in either setting is controversial.

Past life regression therapy

Past life regression is a controversial hypnotherapy technique that claims to help people remember lives that would have existed before they were born.

Those who believe in past life regression believe in reincarnation, the idea that the soul of a deceased person is reborn as a new person. Practitioners of past life regression believe that there are traumas from other lives that affect people in their current lives.

Most psychologists do not support the practice and believe it is the product of a therapist’s suggestion. Some say past-life memories could simply be information people gleaned from books, TV shows, and familiar places when they were younger.

Some practitioners believe that even though reincarnation isn’t real, past life regression might be an effective role-playing technique that can help label subconscious issues. Others say there is a risk that past life regression could plant false memories, and if those memories are traumatic, the person could suffer harm.

Uses of Regression Therapy

Regression therapy may be effective in treating:

Benefits of Regression Therapy

The benefits of regression therapy include:

  • The method creates a safe environment to access difficult emotions.
  • The relaxed state of hypnosis can make a person feel more open to approaching their inner life.

Regression Therapy Risks and Concerns

The risks of regression therapy include:

  • Revealing false memories of trauma or events that are not real.
  • Some false memories could result in legal action, such as memories of alleged abuse.
  • Uncovered or false traumas could be harmful to a person.
  • Reframing events in regression therapy could be dishonest and the person could become numb to the trauma instead of addressing it directly.
  • A person may not want their pain released. In this case, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on how thoughts and beliefs affect behaviors and emotions, might be more effective.

Hypnosis Myths

Many believe that hypnosis is a completely altered state. In reality, people under hypnosis are generally aware of their surroundings. Hypnosis is not just physical relaxation; it also includes being extremely focused on all sensations in the body and images in the mind.

Hypnosis allows a person to live their inner life without being distracted by their surroundings. We experience mild forms of hypnosis when we read a book or drive mindlessly. In a hypnotic state guided by a therapist, a person is better able to focus on and describe their memories.

What to expect

During regression therapy, a therapist will encourage the person to relax by closing their eyes. This could include going under hypnosis. Other techniques used during the session may include:

  • Visualization
  • Describe past events from a personal perspective
  • Feel and label the physical sensations and emotions that memories cause
  • Go back to a specific moment in childhood
  • Catharsis, or an intense flow of pent up emotions

Regression can take multiple sessions and ideally would result in the healing of issues that interfere with day-to-day well-being.

How to Find the Right Regression Therapist

It is important to find a regression therapist with whom you feel comfortable. In addition to personal compatibility, you might consider:

  • Licenses and IDs
  • Experience in regression therapy
  • Hypnosis experience
  • That the therapist uses scientific methods that have been researched
  • Experience with your specific concerns
  • Long term availability


Regression therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which a therapist leads a person to remember events buried in the subconscious. The goal of regression therapy is to bring repressed emotions back to a conscious state and then release them. Regression therapy can include hypnosis, a trance state in which a person is open to suggestions.

Regression therapy has been used to cure depression, anxiety, phobias, PTSD, insomnia, and other physical and emotional ailments. It has a success rate of around 60% to 70%, ranging from mild improvement to complete cure of symptoms.

Regression therapy can be risky for some because it can plant false memories or unearth hard-to-process trauma. Some people might find it difficult to relax enough to pass regression therapy, while others might prefer to stay attached to their emotions.

A word from Verywell

Everyone has past hurts that can affect them today. These can be benign events that simply shape us, or traumas that interfere with our well-being. If your past is affecting you negatively but you don’t know where to start, you might consider regression therapy.

When seeking a regression therapy practitioner, it is important to choose someone who is ethical and experienced, as there could be a risk of harm from traumatic memories or false memories.

If you can’t afford regression therapy or find a practitioner in your area, you might consider online help or support groups to share your memories with others. Talking to trusted loved ones about memories you are unsure of can also help clear up unclear incidents from the past.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does a regression therapist do?

    A regression therapist first guides you to a relaxed or hypnotic state where you feel safe and open to memories that may surface. Next, you are asked to describe events from your past from a personal perspective. Any emotions that arise are validated and encouraged to be released. With age regression, a therapist can gradually take a person back in time to a specific age or buried trauma.

  • Is regression therapy safe?

    Regression therapy is generally considered safe, however, there are some concerns. Some people might be newly traumatized by memories experienced under hypnosis, while others might experience false memories. These false memories could even cause legal issues, such as false memories of abuse. It is important to choose a licensed and experienced practitioner with whom you feel comfortable when considering regression therapy.

  • What are the uses of regression therapy?

    Regression therapy can be used to find the root of unexplained physical or emotional pain. The method can help to understand the effects of the past in a specific and personal way. As a result, a person releases pent up emotions or reframes a situation so that it no longer negatively affects their daily life. Regression therapy has been used for depression, anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, migraines, unexplained pain, phobias, and low self-esteem, among other conditions.

  • Does regression therapy actually work?

    Regression therapy might help improve or cure symptoms in about 60-70% of those who try it. Although it may not address all causes of a problem, the method can help start the process of dealing with past hurts. For those who are not comfortable with hypnosis or are not open to overcoming painful emotions, regression therapy may not be effective.


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