Question: What do you do as a therapist, when a client suddenly seems to be in a past life regression?

by Paul Vereshack M.D.
(Notwithstanding his M.D. Dr. Vereshack is not a licensed physician)

This is one of the hardest questions for me, and the answer is that I don't know what to do in any strictly knowledgeable sense.

The safe response would be simply to say to the client at the end of their sequence, that I do not believe in past life regression, then to refer them on to someone who does.

The next safest answer is to tell them of my disbelief but offer to continue my work with them promising to try and maintain an open mind.

While I do not believe in past life regression, I can't lay claim to ultimate knowledge of the universe's processes. I know that on the one hand I feel shame around my own lack of total awareness in this and other areas, while on the other hand I pride myself on being therapeutically grounded in what I see as "reality".

What to do?

Being an explorer, I would continue the work, with constant reference to a healthy skepticism and the application of basic clinical experience.

First I would observe the quality of the process to see if there might be other possible causes for this kind of regression. I would look for such things as a psychotic delusion. I would watch for other clues in this area, such as any disorder of thought, like loosening of associations, unusual tangential thinking, etc.

Next I would watch for the sense of the past life regression's integrity, looking for such things as an overall sense of reality, coherence, logic etc. I would want to see if the experience was unusually histrionic and overblown which might give me a clue to any possible hysterical dissociative base. In the last century there were many instances of florid symptoms appearing when the therapist expected them to do so, especially during demonstrations to other colleagues!

At this point I recommend a review of the more subtle symptoms in Schizophrenia and in Hysterical Dissociative states.

Even if everything seemed to make good sense, I would probably continue to see the past life regression as a symbolic statement of an earlier problem in the primal sense. I would perhaps in my own mind treat the production as a dream sequence and let my clients work their way through it.

It is a fact that in play therapy children may work their way through a fantasy and heal without the therapist ever having to make actual interpretations of the symbolism.

If relief were obtained (believing in openness with my clients) I would point out the possibility that this "reliving" might be a symbolic experience.

I would do this in a gentle way, trying not to be dogmatic and hurtful toward something that I don't truly understand. Thus I would try and prevent the client, "spinning out" into more and more florid past life experiences, and the possibility that they might ultimately be building for themselves a deeper and deeper belief system rooted in avoidance.

At the same time, knowing that I don't have the final answer, I would be respectful of the client's beliefs.

Thus I would try to walk the line between respecting something I didn't comprehend on the one hand, while on the other, trying not to be sucked in to something which might be an avoidance.

If the client is showing definite signs of improvement and their personality remains stable, it would I think be very arrogant of any therapist to be rigid in the face of such growth.

I see myself as a medically and psychiatrically trained therapist and thus as having a very solid bias toward what I would call work that is grounded in reality.

I am at the same time very aware that my ship is small and that the Universe is large, and that I am in the end powerfully ignorant. I am also aware that with each passing year I am more and more believing in, and marveling at, what might be called "psychic" events, i.e. that we are all broadcasting and receiving on levels I would never have given any credibility to as a medical student.

The sub atomic ground of things, the void, it's laws and processes awe and entice me. Until I know for certain however that any given process does in fact exist, I will open myself to examining it, but I will not unqualifiably base my client's mental or physical health in such "unusual" phenomena.

If you want to travel with me, you will have to put up with what I would call a healthy and unwavering skepticism, and my "narrowness" of view.

Paul Vereshack

P.S. Because I get my articles in early I usually have time to review in my mind, what I have written for the PPP. In this case I have felt incomplete, as though there is something I avoided saying.

What I have avoided is this. I do not believe in past or future lives. I see this as a vast oversimplification of Universal Processes, a fairy tale.

The notion that the universe is so simple as to scoot our little chunk of Universal Consciousness back around in Karma driven circles, like the next ride on the midway, is to me blatantly ridiculous, one more attempt to reassure our greatly constricted consciousness that everything is really Ok. There, I have said it and can put it all down now.

I believe that past Life regressions are the mind's way of dealing with primal material in a symbolic manner. I believe that worked out within the past life framework and with no dissolving of the metaphor/dream/symbolism we can still heal just as the child heals in play therapy without the necessity of interpretation. I believe that the healing is probably slightly less complete than if we actually "woke up" to the underlying or latent content. I also believe that it is possible to be derailed into a false positivity and a false belief system by remaining within the past life framework

Yes and by the way, I do not myself believe that consciousness ends at death. I believe that we recoalesce with the Universal Intelligence. Maybe I am a little childlike in this area myself. This is a belief secondary to the experiences I have discussed in the third section of my book which is available on line at, in the section dealing with Sudden Illumination, or Satori.


P.P.S. In thirty five years of being a therapist, not one person has ever spontaneously, or in any other way, brought a past life into my practice.

Now they are popping up everywhere.

I find this very very telling as an argument against the reality of past lives.


(Bob Holmes' Response to Dr. Vereshack's Article)

Other pages on this website about Dr. Vereshack's writings include:

Book Review of Help Me -- I'm Tired of Feeling Bad
The Primal Page's Favorite Quotations from Help Me -- I'm Tired of Feeling Bad
The Primal Psychotherapy Page Interviews Paul Vereshack, M.D.

Return to Index of Dr. Vereshack's Questions

Return to the Primal Psychotherapy Homepage

A Response to Paul Vereshack’s Column Regarding Past Life Regression

by Bob Holmes

As an experienced client, and facilitator, in both primal and past life therapy, I wish to respond to Paul Vereshack’s recent answer on the PPP to the question, “What do you do as a therapist, when a client suddenly seems to be in a past life regression?”

I am very glad to see that Dr. Vereshack acknowledges that he does not believe in past life regression. In this acknowledgement he is speaking his honest truth, and I appreciate that. It is an essential requirement to be real, of people in general and therapists in particular.

In speaking my truth, however, I have to say that past life regression, and the therapy which utilizes it, not only can be enormously healing, it can heal where other therapies have only had partial success, including primal work. I’m not just theorizing here, I have experienced such healing myself. Although a belief in past lives is not necessary for a client to successfully clear issues in past life therapy, at the very least a willingness to suspend disbelief is necessary. This, in fact, is the very essence of openness. Disbelief, on the other hand, is an experience killer.

This requirement to openness in past life therapy extends to the therapist as well. He or she must at least be willing to suspend disbelief in whatever the client is reporting, otherwise the client-therapist rapport soon becomes contaminated with the therapist’s “disbelief system”, and growth stops, or is derailed. There was a time not so long ago, when the prevailing assumption in psychotherapy was that neonates could not feel, which was a wonderful justification for practices such as circumcision. But those of us who have primalled our infant sufferings of all kinds know differently. So it is important for us, as therapists, to be wary of our disbeliefs, in case they camouflage our own personal justifications.

In Chapter Two of Dr. Vereshack’s book, “Psychotherapy of the Deepest Self”, he speaks of the varying depths at which therapists work, and primal is about as deep as it gets. True enough. But in addition, some therapists work at various breadths, and past life therapy is almost as broad as it gets. Like primal, past life therapy is aimed at uncovering the source of present-time difficulties, finishing what has remained unfinished, and healing the wound. When the client is ready, and the two are combined -- breadth plus depth -- the healing can be utterly awesome.

If Dr. Vereshack really is open, and an explorer as he says, then I would encourage him to first explore his own psyche beyond the current life framework, and experience first-hand the efficacy of past-life therapy. Really, should not the guide have some experience of the landscape if he or she is to companion the client’s journey?

But if his disbelief system is firmly in place, perhaps it would be better for all concerned for him to follow his own first safe response, and refer the client to a practitioner who has had some significant successful experiences of his or her own. After all, would we do primal therapy with a therapist who had never experienced primal, and disbelieved in its workings?

Dr. Vereshack Replies:

To suspend skepticism is the most dangerous practice of all. What we believe or disbelieve has no bearing on whether something is true. I have seen powerful beliefs and powerful disbeliefs collapse over the years.

In the face of this, to refer someone to a believer in past lives when this belief may well be a myth, is potentially more dangerous than to treat that person from a background of healthy skepticism.

Skepticism and openness may be a better base upon which to offer treatment even when the therapist doesn't believe.

The answer to all this is to be completely open with the client about all aspects of this issue and then let them make the choice.

Paul Vereshack

On this website also see:
Primal Theory vs Past Lives Theory by Réal Beaulieu
An Argument For Past-Life Therapy by Bob Holmes