We've all heard about the ability to help someone recover a memory with hypnosis. How is it done? What should you watch out for? Can you trust hypnotically recovered memories?
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Why Regression and Recovery of Memories
You can help people by relieving them of the emotional pain of memories that have been bothering them for 10, 20, 30 or even 50 years. Through recovering memories (and techniques you can use once they've found the old memories), you can do something as important as releasing emotions or something as simple as helping someone find their lost car keys.
But before you go off recovering memories, there are some things you need to know. So, I'm going to divide this segment into 3 sections. In this first section, we'll talk about the pitfalls of recovered memory with hypnosis/NLP. In section 2, we'll talk about what you need to do to set up a recovered memory session and in the third section we'll cover some techniques you can use to recover memories.
Just recently, I got a phone call from a lawyer, he wanted me to help his client recover memories from a situation that was currently in litigation. His client had an incomplete memory of the event and needed to know more about what had happened. This type of situation is very tricky for a hypnotist.
Now, I'm not a lawyer, and nothing here should be construed as legal advice but pay attention anyway...
Hypnotically refreshed testimony is looked at with suspicion by the courts. Of course, laws vary from country to country but in general, the courts either toss out or place severe restrictions when admitting hypnotically refreshed testimony. You can even damage a person's ability to testify at all!
The reason is this...
...It's easy to imagine something while in hypnosis and begin to believe it was real. Because our imaginations and ability to visualize are often enhanced in hypnosis, imagined "memories" can seem quite real. Since it's difficult to tell real memories from imagined memories so courts don't take hypnotically refreshed memories at face value. In fact, the court may throw out all of the person's testimony unless they know exactly which portions of the testimony were related before the hypnosis occurred.
So, if you're working with a situation you think might end up in court, you'd better be a qualified forensic hypnotist and follow forensic hypnosis procedures.
Medical or Psychological Concerns
As always, if there's a medical or psychological issue related to the past event, you may need to seek a referral of someone who is qualified in that field. It's rare but you should be aware of the possibility. Two examples...
1) If someone had a head injury as a result of an incident, I would not regress them to that incident without a referral from a physician.
2) If someone developed a mental illness as a result of an incident I would not regress them to that incident without a referral from a psychologist, psychiatrist or licensed mental health counselor.
Agendas (Hidden or Otherwise)
Another thing to watch out for is when people have an agenda going in to the session. People may want things to have happened a certain way. Once again, in hypnosis, they can imagine it having happened that way. You don't know if that's a real memory, if they're deliberately making it up or if it's a sort of hypnotic "wishful thinking."
We'll tell you how to deal with these problems in the next segments but let me remind you that recovering memories can be extremely powerful in healing and problem solving.