A question about using the Informed Child Technique, while doing Age Regression Therapy with a client with a history of sexual abuse.
Answered by Calvin D. Banyan, MA, CI, BCH
This past August I took a 2hr seminar on age regression with you at the NGH convention. I enjoyed the seminar but need more information to feel confident with where I want to go with my clients. I just finished reading your 5 path article and that was very useful. However, you lost me when you got to the informed child section when you instructed the "grown-up" to say...if you only knew then what you know now...I am currently working with a sexual abuse survivor and am not sure how I am to proceed at this point.
If the adult client is informing the child...would the child have taken steps to avoid/stop the situation? or just be reassured that even though something has happened they will be okay (somehow that does not sound like the correct way to go)? If you can help me out it would be greatly appreciated as I am confident this will be a valuable mode of therapy but I want to be very clear on my direction.
Chris Hinckley MA, CH
I'll see if I can help.
Some therapists will do an Age Regression Therapy (AR) and then rewrite the history of the client. By this I mean, in your client's situation, have her avoid the situation that led to the sexual abuse. I usually don't take the therapy in that direction. It just doesn't make sense to me. Your client will know that in reality, she did not avoid it, and may feel confused about the situation.
I would rather suggest that you take her to before the Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE), and inform her of what is going to happen. I tell the "adult" to tell the "child" whatever she needs to hear so that she gets through the event feeling safe and secure (i.e., knowing that she will live through it, she will still be loveable, it was not her fault, the abuser is the one with the problem, etc.).
Once that is done, I have the child experience the event, while the adult sits in the background and watches. The adult lets me know what is going on. When and if the child has any problems, such as starts to become scared, I say "everything stops" and I have the grownup client go in and help her. Typically it will go like this, the grown up will go up to the child and say, "I told you that I'd be here for you. I'll never let you down. You will never be alone. Because I love you and understand." Then the adult reminds the child of everything that she needs to hear to get through the event without being negatively effected by it.
Once that is done, I ask the child, "If the same exact thing happened again, would you have to be afraid?" If she says "yes" then the adult and myself go back to work on her, to help her understand that she makes it through this event and does not have to be afraid (or think negative thoughts about herself, etc.)
If she says "no" she would not be afraid, then I quickly say, "Good because as I count from 3 back to 1, it happens all over again. 3,2,1! Be there." The adult again reports to me how the child is doing. At this time the child will usually get through it just fine. But, if she needs more help, then the adult client and myself are there to help her through the situation.
Once that is accomplished, we can move forward through Subsequent Sensitizing Events (SSE's). Then wrap up the session with suggestions for what your client came in to see you about (i.e., weight, phobia, etc.).
Thanks Chris, for the good question. It is a good way to get my morning started--my first cup of coffee and a question about AR. I just love this stuff!
Chris, let me know if you need more information, and thanks for the nice comments about my talk at the NGH convention.