I am always excited to read Roy Hunter's new material and his co-author Bruce Eimer adds a further touch of class to this work. The subject of the book, Regression Therapy, could leave the reader thinking that this is all the book is about, but there is so much more. So often do I see missing in texts the most important aspects of how to prepare the client for the technique that will be used and how to micro- manage the delivery of that technique. Not with The Art of Hypnotic Regression. As well as describing and guiding the reader/therapist through this they also include a section on emotional release and abreaction and how to create resolution to the previously repressed internal trauma. This is vital for getting the message of the book across and delivering what it proposes is missing for many therapists actually using the technique; a thorough and detailed instruction on how to work with regression safely and therapeutically.
The authors offer us a brief insight into the clinical history of regression therapy that sets the scene well, before moving into the style of Hunters regression that differs from the rest. Having trained in client centred therapy, I was curious to see how regression would fit with this model. I was not disappointed. I have long been an advocate of “the client knows best” stance of being and this is the translation I understand from Roy's client centred approach. It takes experience however to adopt this position, so to have Roy share this is a rare reward.
Bruce prepares an excellent argument for the approach in The Art of Hypnotic Regression, and within this makes a poignant case for hypnotherapy as an art, not a science. Maybe it is a little of both, but what is important is that the art they relate to is that of treating the client in a unique and individualised way, forming, shaping and moulding through the therapy a change that will last. This is artistic thinking at its best.
The primary objectives for the regression session are intricately explored and explained and this is really helpful in terms of getting to grips with using the method. Following this they open us up to the nuts and bolts of the session, and the beginning exploratory questions. Seemingly simple questions such as, “When did it start?” “What was going on in your life at the time?” and “When did it become a problem?” should never be underestimated. Indeed many therapists neglect to ask such questions, instead getting embroiled in their own search for the cause of the problem. Remember, the client knows best!
A very important section on guiding the client competently takes the reader into the realms of false memory syndrome, and a very good explanation is given to us about this fascinating and for many, frightening experience. I was struck by the list of undesirable leading questions! Would a therapist really ask those?! And then I remembered some of the shocking things I have heard previous therapists of my clients tell them in the past. Once again, the book does not leave this important area unanswered and provides us with yet more reason for its publication.
I appreciated the inclusion of the script process, and that the scripts are offered as a way of helping to access the client's creativity is clearly stated. As they write, there is more than one way from L.A. to New York. I have seen many trainings advocate the use of scripts as the be-all and end-all of hypnotherapy, which is a saddening position, as really engaging with the client and the power of their unconscious goes so much further, into an entirely different world of possibilities.
The seven psychodynamics of a symptom made for fascinating reading and positions the focus of the problem so well. There are some very important points also made at this point about the use of hypnotic language, such as “How old do you FEEL?” Communicating with the unconscious mind requires skill and the implication of what we say is vital, so escaping from logic as much as is possible is paramount. If you are asked, “How old are you?” you are likely to respond with your age. How old you feel appeals to an entirely different part of your perception.
I was delighted to see the inclusion of Gestalt role-play, which is so profoundly powerful, and reading the way the authors have used it makes me feel like I'm sitting back in the room with Gil Boyne again all those years ago when we first met in California!
The part of the book concerning re-learning gave me a real feeling that this approach covers all bases and that left me feeling confident I could use this process with safety. As the authors quite rightly point out, simply getting a client to abreaction and release is not enough. They then need to relearn what should have happened all those years ago.
Any book that delves into regression as thoroughly as this book does would be incomplete without a chapter on past life regression and the authors not only offer us this, but a well researched and argued case for at least considering the possibilities that may present themselves here. If we are to follow the author's stance that the client knows best, then is it actually important whether we believe in past lives or reincarnation or not? The authors assert through their message that what is actually more important is that the reader is informed of the different points of view on the subject and thus advocate that a knowledgeable therapist is what we should be. I applaud this and am overjoyed that this has been included.
With so much more understanding of PTSD, and the effective treatment of it, I am also pleased to see it placed within the context of this book. We can with this work do much to safely and effectively unlock the pains associated with memories of the past.
Hunter and Eimer conclude their book by saying, “there does not seem to be any perfect protocol for employing hypnotic regression therapy in a manner that will work for all the clients all the time ...” I have to say they have come remarkable close with this text and I know it will be devoured by students in the subject across the world.
This book, meticulous in writing and obviously close to the authors' hearts is an outstanding credit to them. They have shared generously their wealth of knowledge and their belief in HRT shines through. Enjoy and learn.