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Doing Affect Bridge Age Regression with Clients Who Strongly Suppress Feelings

by Calvin D. Banyan, MA, BCH, CI

Note: This article is a copy of an email sent to our 5-PATH® and 7th Path™ Hypnotherapist support group. In it I am responding to a question e-mailed me from Eric, a medical doctor in California, and author of a book on emotions, repression of emotion and its part in the cause and healing of chronic illness. His book is due out in 2002.

All of our graduates are encouraged belong to our 5-PATH® and 7th Path™ Hypnotherapist support group e-mail list where we support them and they do a very good job of supporting each other. This group is made up of the graduates of our programs and use the 5-PATH® and 7th Path™ Systems across the USA and around the world.

Hi Eric, I understand that in the work that you do, that you want to use hypnotic age regression, to uncover a time when the client was impressed with the belief that he or she must not express feelings. As a result, your clients may have a very difficult time responding to the suggestion (in hypnosis) that they "bring up a feeling" associated with the problem (so that you can use it for Affect Bridge Age Regression). As a result, you are thinking of using the suggestion that they go back to a time when they first started to stop feeling (or equivalent suggestion). To avoid leading the client, I suggest that you continue to use the Affect Bridge Technique. I have worked with, and have been successful with clients who where initially unable to find the feeling. This challenge comes up from time to time, as a result, I worked to overcome this problem in several ways. I am still very impressed with how Affect Bridge Age Regression can take us to the Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE). To my way of thinking, even a small signal (affect) is better than no signal in which to regress on.

Here are some things that I have done to overcome problem of some clients being resistant to bringing up a feeling/emotion for use in Affect Bridge Technique:

  1. I condition my clients to go to a feeling that I suggest in the previous session (Phase I) and in the age regression session (Phase II) by doing the Three Powers of the Mind, (i.e., "And now your attention goes to the feeling of the shoes upon your feet" , "your pants touching your legs", (etc.) And now your attention goes to the feeling inside of you that you don't like, that has everything to do with why you have come here to see me today.?) This approach reliably causes the client to connect with the feeling.

  2. In my experience, the client is UNABLE to NOT respond to the conditioning that I used above. It is possible however that, he may be unaware of the feeling at the conscious level, but the suggestion (of his attention going to the feeling) will resonate inside of him and cause an awareness at the subconscious or unconscious level of the mind (at least). When this happens there will be some kind of physical evidence of this connection with the emotion, such as change in respiration, facial expression, muscle tone in the body, and so on. When this occurs, the therapist needs to point it out to the client, which then brings it into conscious awareness. It could go something like this, "I can see that you have become aware of the feeling, either consciously or unconsciously because your breathing has become deeper (or "faster," or "your face is turning red," or "by the expression on your face," etc.).

  3. When even the slightest evidence of the emotion has been found, attempt to increase its energy or otherwise improve the client?s awareness of the emotion. I might say something like, "And now as I count from 1 up to 5, that feeling grows inside of you, like a fountain flowing up from inside of you..."

  4. If that does not work, I have applied EFT to the response of "I don't feel anything." For example, "Even though I don't feel anything I deeply and completely accept myself." And for the rest of the points, "I can't feel" or "This, I can't feel," (I know the wording is strange in that one), or "My inability to feel." Then I would proceed with directing the client into Affect Bridge once again. I have been very impressed with how that has worked. It also works well with people who report that they ?can?t go back? (regress).

  5. Here is a backdoor approach. Regress on a pleasant feeling. There is usually no resistance to that. Go back as far as you can using the pleasant feeling, or as far back as it makes sense to go, given the known history of the client. Then move forward from there. If you are in deed, before the ISE, the child should report feeling safe, secure and loved when asked about how he or she feels. Then, move forward from that point, until the feeling of safe and secure or loved goes away. This is an ISE. Explore it and see when the child gets the message, "you better not feel that way," or "stop crying" or "I'll give you something to cry about," etc.

Having said all of that, I want to offer an observation. Sometimes I have seen some of our new therapists at our center have a similar problem, of having their clients not be able to feel the feeling or find the feeling. (I get to watch their hypnotherapy session videos.) Here are some common problems that they have:

  1. Insufficient level of hypnosis. It seems that if you have somnambulism, it is much more likely that they will find the feeling and have a successful Affect Bridge Age Regression.

  2. Being too gentle or clinical in approach. This is not a gentle process. It is the bulldozer! One must have the attitude of Ruthless Compassion! If we are going after deeply rooted and hidden feelings/beliefs we need to be powerful and passionate (authoritative) in our approach.

  3. Incongruent tone of voice or pacing. This "bulldozer" approach requires that we move swiftly at times, and the tone of our voice should always be consistent with what you are suggesting. I've even whacked my clients on the shoulder and shook them as I suggested that the feeling come up. When you speak in a dynamic and emotional tone, it creates an environment where such feelings can more easily be experienced.

Thanks for letting me share this with the group!

I hope that helps,

Cal Banyan

Copyright © 2001 Calvin D. Banyan. All rights reserved.