The redecision therapy use of regression
Regression is the return to an earlier childhood phase of a persons psychological development. It can be both a defence mechanism and a natural human process.
As a defence mechanism when a person feels anxiety they cope with it by again feeling and thinking like they were a four year old child. This in essence becomes the passive behaviour of incapacitation and the goal of all passive behaviours is to form a symbiosis with another person. Once that symbiosis is formed then the person thinks and hopes that their anxiety will be dealt with and solved by the other person. Thus the person is defended against their anxiety by having someone else solve the problem for them.
Regression as a defence mechanism process
1. Person B feels anxiety
2. They feel they cannot cope
3. They move into the passive behaviour of incapacitation by decommissioning their Parent and Adult ego states (regression)
4. Hoping person A will form a symbiosis with them and solve their problem
5. Person A believes person B is incompetent and seeks to solve their problem.
Regression is also a normal human reaction to stress. When people become stressed there is a natural tendency for them to start to think, feel and behave like they did when they were say 4 years old. In this case the person is not trying to defend themselves against their anxiety or trying to get someone else to solve their problems (so it is not a defence mechanism). Instead it is just a normal human reaction to stress.
Almost all therapies use this natural reaction in people to regress the client as part of their process. If you place the client under stress then you have them psychologically as four year old child sitting in front of you. The advantage of this is the person is then in a state of mind that is much more amenable to psychological change. They don’t have their Adult and Parent ego states functioning to interfere or resist usually by trying to maintain control.
Redecision therapy is a good example of this. The Gouldings combined Transactional Analysis with Gestalt therapy because it is the Gestalt that allows the person to get into emotions and therefore to regress. A common way to do this is with the two chair or empty chair work. Most people can easily do this especially after they have done it a few times and most are quite happy to do it.
Once involved in the empty chair work people usually can regress quickly and at times quite deeply. As a therapist one needs to be aware that if a client is regressed then you are talking to a person who is thinking and feeling like a four year old. Even if they are forty years old the therapist must alter how they communicate to them as though they were four years old.
When a couple argues you end up with two people who are thinking and feeling like they were four years old.