Historical Development


The concept of using hypnotic regression therapy for physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual healing contains many threads of insight from many schools of thought from around the world. In the 1960’s and 70’s there emerges a culture in the West which distinguishes itself from the stark materialism that has been prevailing in western culture, science and psychology. At the same time there was a revival of interest in wisdom of Eastern traditions including those of India and China. Many people were opening their minds to the unseen realities and this started a new paradigm shift away from materialism.

In Medicine and Health, the focus on healing began to shift from an external agent to that of the self. In 1988, Dr. Normal Shealy, a neurosurgeon who, together with Carolyn Myss, a medical intuitive, laid down their thinking of the Holistic Health concept in their book, Creation of Health. A year later, Dr. Deepak Chopra, an endocrinologist, published his ideas on Mind-body Medicine in his book, Quantum Healing. At around the same time, Defthlefsen, a psychologist together with Dr. Dahlke, a physician, published their book on The Healing Power of Illnesses in 1983 (in German) and laid the groundwork for the regression therapy movement to take off.


In the 1950’s a British psychiatrist, Alexander Cannon, regressed over 1400 patients with symptoms that were not curable by conventional means, and observed significant improvement in them (Casimiri, 2013).  By late 1960’s and 70’s the use of hypnotic regression had become generally accepted, and the availability of increasingly sophisticated hypnotherapy techniques enabled the patient to perceive and process past experiences concurrently. This gave momentum to the initial development of regression therapy. With the establishment of the affect bridge technique as a form of induction by Morris Netherton, the patient could connect quickly with the relevant past event by flowing backwards on a feeling.

In the 1960’s Denys Kelsey, a British psychiatrist worked closely with Joan Grant (1907-1989), a psychic who could tune in at will to her own and other’s past lives. He conducted regression on his patients in a small cottage in France and Grant would help him by providing insights into those past life traumas at the root of what troubled his patients. Together they published their exploratory work on the value of past life therapy in Many Lifetimes in 1967 (Grant & Kelsey, 1967). Today Kelsey is being remembered for having introduced into modern psychiatry the teaching that not only have we many lives before our current one, but the origin of some psychiatric problems may well reside in a patient’s former lifetime.

The first wave of development of regression therapy occurred in the 1970’s when Morris Netherton came with a systematic therapy approach to solve problems that originates from former lives. Many of his patients sought therapy to heal physical and emotional pain and free themselves of addictions, phobias and physical problems. He integrated the concepts of the mind, body and the soul and his first book, Past Lives Therapy (Netherton, 1955) and gave training workshops in Europe and Brazil.

Helen Wambach (1925-1986), a clinical psychologist tabulated details of research findings from hundreds of subjects in specific time periods and also explored pre- and postnatal experiences in her two books, Life Before Life (Wambach, 1984) and Reliving Past Lives (Wambach, 1978). Another psychologist, Edith Fiore, also published her findings with spectacular cures when people were regressed into former lives in her book, You Have Been Here Before (Fiore, 1978).  At around this period, Thorwald Dethlesfsen published interesting case studies from Europe and his books provided a provocative treatise on psychosomatic medicine (Dethlefsen, 1978).

It was in the 1970s that regression therapy really took off. Peter Ramster began his pioneering work in Australia, while Hans TenDam led the way in Europe. In the meanwhile, a significant body of evidence on the existence of past lives was being collected by Ian Stevenson (1918–2007), Professor of Psychiatry of the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He authored around three hundred papers and fourteen books on reincarnation centred on cases of children who spontaneously remembered their past lives (Stevenson, 2000)(Tucker & Stevenson, 2008).

Over the decade of the 1970-80, there was a growing impulse among therapists to look at the existential meaning of life and the focus of past life regression therapy shifted towards the concept of the soul’s journey. It was becoming clear that where regression therapy supersedes other therapies in terms of effectiveness, it was in the more profound perspective on the meaning of life. In the 1980’s Roger Woolger taught the value of working with the experience of the body and pioneered the technique of combining body psychotherapy with psychodrama to release the traumatic memories embedded in particular body parts (Woolger, 1988). More recently, Brian Weiss, Chief of Psychiatry in Mt. Sinai Medical Centre in Miami, found himself drawn into past-life therapy when a patient plagued by anxiety, phobias and depression suddenly revealed details of her past lives while under hypnosis. His book Many Lives, Many Masters has since exerted a significant impact on the modern psychiatric community (Weiss, 1988). 

Professional Bodies and Journal

The regression therapy movement began with the first conference being held in May 1980 at the University of California at Irvine. In October of the same year, a formal organisation was founded and named the Association for Past-Life Research and Therapies. The movement correlated with the emergence of a new school of psychology, known as “transpersonal psychology.” The Association first published its journal, the Journal of Regression Therapy in 1986.

The First World Congress for Regression Therapy was held in the Netherlands in 2003. In 2006, the Earth Association of Regression Therapy (EARTh) was founded in Frankfurt, with Hans TenDam as the first President. The objective of this body is to create and maintain an international standard in regression therapy and improve its professional acceptance by offering workshops and providing a meeting ground for conferences. In the meanwhile, the International Board of Regression Therapists was set up in response to the need for establishing professional standards for certifying regression therapists.

Meanwhile in India, under the leadership of Newton Kondaveti, a physician, the Association for Regression and Reincarnation Research was founded in Hyderabad, India in 2010 with the aim to promote research and awareness in past life regression and reincarnation. With the increasing need to advance the discipline within Medicine, the Society for Medical Advance and Research in Regression Therapy was formed in 2013 in Portugal. Membership of this new body consists of physicians and clinical psychologists worldwide. In Oct 2014, during the 5th World Congress of Regression Therapy, the Journal of Regression Therapy was formally passed over to the EARTh to be continued as the International Journal of Regression Therapy.

Regression Therapy Training

While a number of Hypnotherapist Certification courses are on the rise during this period, it is recognised that the student’s exposure to regression techniques is inadequate. A move has since been made to implement special and formalised training for regression therapists. 

The Past Life Regression Academy was created in 2000 by Andy Tomlinson, a psychologist and psychotherapist, to bring together the best psychotherapeutic techniques of regression with spiritual practices to offer students a system of holistic and transpersonal system of healing and transformation. The training content was agreed in consultation with various schools of regression therapy to ensure a single worldwide standard, and finalised at the 1st World Congress for Regression therapy in 2003. Training programs have since been delivered in the UK from 2002, Norway from 2004, Turkey from 2006, Sweden and Singapore from 2008, Italy and South Africa from 2012, Mexico and Australia from 2013 and the USA in 2015. The professional standards enabled students to become accredited therapists and set up practice on completion of their qualification.

Several books have since been written to assist students on the Academy training. They are available in English, and some of them are available in French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.


Casimiri, D. (2013). Christians Remember Your Past Lives Learn How. Authorhouse.

Chopra, D. (1989). Quantum healing. New York: Bantam Books.

Dethlefsen, T. (1978). Voices from Other Lives. New York: Evans and Company.

Dethlefsen, T. & Dahlke, R. (1983). The Healing power of illness: the meaning of symptoms & how to interpret them. (tr. 1990) Brisbane, Australia: Element Books Limited.

Fiore, E. (1978). You Have Been Here Before - A psychologist looks at past lives. New York: Ballantine Books.

Grant, J., & Kelsey, D. (1967). Many Lifetimes. Ariel Pr.

Lucas, W. B. (1993). The History of Regression Therapy. in W. B. Lucas, (Ed.), Regression therapy: a handbook for professionals, Vol. I: Past-Life Therapy. Crest Park, CA: Deep Forest Press.

Netherton, M. (1955). Past Lives Therapy. Ace.

Shealy, C. N. & Myss, C. (1988). The Creation of health: the emotional, psychological, and spiritual responses that promote health and healing. New York: Three Rivers Press.

Stevenson, I. (1997). Where Reincarnation And Biology Intersect. Praeger.

Stevenson, I. (2000). Children Who Remember Previous Lives: A question of reincarnation. McFarland.

Tucker, J. B., & Stevenson, I. (2008). Life Before Life: Children's Memories of Previous Lives. St. Martin's Griffin.

Wambach, H. (1978). Reliving Past Lives: The Evidence under Hypnosis. Harper & Row (First Edition).

Wambach, H. (1984). Life Before Life. Bantam.

Weiss, B. L. (1988). Many Lives, Many Masters: The true story of a prominent psychiatrist, his young patient, and the past-Life therapy that changed both their lives. Fireside.

Woolger, R. (1988). Other Lives, Other Selves: A Jungian Psychologist discovers past lives. Bantam.

Woolger, R. (2004). Healing Your Past Lives: Exploring the Many Lives of the Soul. Boulder, CO 80306: Sounds True, Inc.