Practitioners of regression therapy conceive of it in five different ways:
1. Real reliving is unnecessary. People only need to know what happened. If they cannot remember, we ask the higher self, interview a guide, or somebody else can see it for them. The knowledge gained often is used in a religious way: admonishment, prayer, forgiving ourselves and others, etc.
2. People have to relive, but not in full. They only have to understand what happened. If, unfortunately, reliving becomes difficult, tense or painful, we get them out and have them replay everything from a distance, without having to feel the impact. Like an American colleague said: “Reliving trauma is only retraumatizing.”
3. Full reliving is in itself healing.
4. Full reliving is the first step only. Repetitions are necessary till the traumatic episode is being relived calmly.
5. Full reliving is necessary, but only new understanding brings full release. The original experience remains charged, but appears in a new light. People are no longer burdened. They are unstuck.
The first approach is psychic consultation telling people what they have done or experienced in past lives that explains why they are not radiantly happy today. It is not true past-life therapy. The consult may be complemented by psychic treatment like Reiki, aura healing or chakra healing. For people who cannot work themselves (autistics, psychotics, retards, infants) a godsend. For people who do not want to work (professional patients and professional consumers) an escape. For people who want to work and who can work a delay – and a handicap, as they cannot enter later sessions with an open mind.
Franklin Loehr wrote in Psychography:
”The clinician himself is not — repeat NOT – to use regression therapy of his clients for his own psychic development. The client’s past-life recall is his experience. For the clinician to “feel along with it,” to psychically pick it up or even to precognitize it, detracts from the quality of the client’s experience. I learned this early. I have 40 years experience as a psychic channel… but I scrupulously keep my work with a recall client to that of a clinician and counselor only. I remember speaking for a group of regression therapists, and overhearing one boast how he could “go along all the way” with his client. No! Your client pays you to be a skillful psychotherapist, not a sidewalk fortuneteller.”
An interesting variant of this first school is exploring past lives by testing the arm or another body part. Kinesiology is using the body of the client as an oracle. It resembles swinging the pendulum, but uses variations in muscle tension. It is no therapy, but an alternative as induction and exploration. Ultimately, people need to relive. This method may work for people who have difficulty visualizing. The findings of kinesiologists correspond with experiences from regular past-life regressions.
Many therapists of the second approach consult the higher self of the patient or evoke spiritual guides. Guides are asked if regression is permitted or useful and what would be a good session topic. Sessions may wobble between regression and channeling. Some therapists let their own guide communicate with the guide of the patient. Naturally, many sessions are about the deceased, including attachments. In the better sessions, guides do not present themselves as higher beings, but as friends and acquaintances from past lives, or a deceased family member of this life. Some therapists working this way add – rightly – that a guide who prescribes you what to do, is not a guide, but an intruder. Real neurotics cannot be helped this way, because this approach contains little psychotherapy. The darker sides of human nature, and evil, also cannot be dealt with this way. This approach is not enough grounded for that. But pretty often it may work, and if it works, it works simply and quickly. Especially sessions with children may be beautiful.
A good example of the third approach to past-life therapy is Brian Weiss’s report on the hypnotic sessions he did with one of his patients. To his surprise, those sessions spontaneously led to past lifetimes. In the same hypnotic condition, messages came through from guides, which explains the title of the book: Many Lives, Many Masters. However, somebody who lacks a body is not necessarily a master, and it remains strange to find that an intelligent, critical and well-educated psychiatrist drops his jaw when things are said from the Beyond that range from quite reasonable to platitudes and generalities. More interesting is that people may be cured dramatically, just by reliving, without any therapeutic processing. Unfortunately, in practice this is not always the case.
An example of the fourth approach is the oldest and basically obsolete form of regression therapy: dianetics of Ron Hubbard (1950). All episodes of lessened consciousness, and of physical or emotional pain lead to engrams. Identifying and repeated reliving of those engrams leads to discharge. His methods are rigid, probably effective, but inefficient. Like many pioneers, his significance is more in opening new territory than in developing a handy conceptual framework. His ideas resemble those of Columbus: obstinate misconceptions, but epoch-making results. Out of dianetics came scientology, a bastion formed by a religious denomination, copyrights on each sentence, and a tenacity resembling Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Hubbard has the remigrant or patient holding in his hands two tin cans or other electrodes connected to an E-meter that measures skin resistance. The therapist, called auditor, keeps track of the meter. The auditor counts back in time, till the E-meter shows lower skin resistance. He dates the period that gives lower resistance precisely. He clarifies the initial situation. He asks the remigrant to go over the whole episode in his mind and then to tell the experience. He has the agony traversed many times till the client remains completely calm. The auditor then asks if there is another situation linked to this one, which has to be dealt with. If the E-meter shows a reaction, he searches for those other episodes and processes them likewise.
Often the client prefers to avoid an experience. Questions that open the engram are: ‘What can you sense? What precisely do you see? What can you confront? What can you be responsible for?’ Scientologists are tenacious. One case took forty hours working at one situation.
Many engrams are anchored in postulates: the conclusions and decisions we used in dealing with the situation. Examples are: “It isn’t really happening.” Or: “I will never more show how I feel.”
Later approaches that connect past-life therapy to behavioral therapy, are in one respect even more primitive: discharge is sought by mere repetition, while dianetics stresses confronting the situation and taking responsibility, be it in a mechanical way.
Tasso belongs clearly to the fifth approach, the cathartic approach. Lasting catharsis presupposes that work has been done and results have been booked on four levels: mental, sensory, emotional and physical. Well-known examples of this fifth school are Morris Netherton, Roger Woolger and Hans TenDam. Practitioners like Stanislav Grof use strongly somatic induction (forced breathing) and strongly somatic processing. Other therapists stress mental processing: understanding and reinterpreting. Often a therapy has positive effects, but takes long or leads to inconclusive results, because either mental or somatic processing was neglected. Occasionally, mental processing and somatic processing have both been done while the emotions have been neglected.