Back From The Future Technique

In this method, hypnotic age progression techniques are utilized as described by Yapko (1984, 1986), Erickson (1985), Frederick and Phillips (1992), and Torem (1992). Here, a discussion is held with a patient about a desired future image the patient would be interested in as representing her full recovery and reaching an ideal stage regarding personal goals, as well as body image and a state of healthy living. This is particularly important with a developing adolescent patient who is in the process of change and is generally struggling with the question of 'Who shall I become?' The patient is guided into a state of self-hypnotic trance and suggestions are structured as with the following example:

... Everyone who is committed to a process of healing and recovery has an image of the future. If you wish, you may take this very special trip in a time machine, a trip in time, into the future. Ready ... enter into your special time machine and experience yourself moving forward in time ... as you continue to mature, turning into the age of 17 [assuming the patient is 16 years old] moving forward into 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, that's right and now age 25 ... By this time, you have graduated from college and you are working in a job of your choice, gainfully employed, living in your own apartment, enjoying your state of independence. You may wish to experience yourself strolling in a department store, trying on new clothes. Find yourself sitting at the counter consulting a cosmetic sales representative regarding the special colours of lipstick and other make-up items that fit your skin tone and colour. As you try these on, you look in the mirror and you see with joy how much you like your face, and the rest of your body, and yourself, and your blooming femininity presenting the young woman in you. As this goes on, you may continue to experience yourself, on a date with a young man who truly communicates uncritical acceptance of you and loves you with respect and dignity, and, if you wish, you may experience the special joy of having a date and wondering about your natural and healthy attraction to the young man that you love too, wondering about the special compatibility and chemistry that exists between the two of you, trusting the centre core of your subconscious mind that has guided you and led you to this point. On the job, you continue to excel and do what you like best, feeling a sense of self-accomplishment and self-actualization ... going to work every day with a special feeling of looking forward to the day, being assertive, appropriately so, expressing your feelings and your emotions verbally, clearly, representing your own point of view and at the same time, being flexible, adaptively so, to consider the opinions of other people, as well. Now, with a sense of wisdom, inner joy, intelligence, and special deep knowledge I'd like you to travel in the time machine to the year 1998 ... age 16 ... and bring with you back from the future, into the present, all these feelings of confidence and competence, the sense of self-actualization, the joys, the sense of contentment, the sense of maturity that you already have experienced at the age of 25, bringing these experiences with you back to 1998, into age 16, and let your subconscious mind guide you and use the special feelings, the joys, and the wisdom to guide you in the present in moving you forward, on your journey of healing and recovery. That's right, now, you don't have to remember anything that's been discussed and experienced here by you. In fact, even if you don't remember anything at all, your subconscious will continue to do all the work every minute of the hour, every hour of the day, every day of the week, every week of the month, every month of the year every year for the rest of your life. However, if you wish to remember, you may remember whatever you need to remember to continue and guide you in this special journey of healing and recovery, that's right, very good, that's right.

The patient is now encouraged to return to the alert state.

This is followed by a discussion with the patient on what the patient remembered of the exercise of the future-oriented hypnotic imagery. In this modification, which I have called Back From the Future, the patient brings back from her trip to the future all the experiences that have already been accomplished in the patient's hypnotic future-oriented imagery. The patient is then given the assignment of writing in her personal journal the details of this experience of her trip to the future, and is requested to bring her completed assignment to the following session. At that time, I ask the patient to read to me her assignment and I will listen carefully to the tense the patient uses in describing her trip into the future. I have found that patients who describe their trip into the future using the past tense throughout their writing assignment usually respond well to this technique, and I use it as a positive, prognostic indicator. Many times, this has proven to be a turning point in the patient's therapy.


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