Here is an interview with Trish Caetano, former president of IARRT, now living and teaching past life therapy to therapists in Europe. This one gets fairly specific about past life technique, Trish's approach to it. She was president when I joined IARRT more than ten years ago. She is as dynamic and straight off the shoulder, as she is attractive and charismatic. Trish Caetano's adventure with Past Life (Regression) therapy began in Portland, Oregon, before she went to college.
PC (Pat Chalfant): Hi, Trisha. It's Pat Chalfant.
TC (Trish Caetano): Yes, Pat.
PC: How are you this evening?
TC: Harried. Packing furiously. Cramming as much junk in as I can get. Probably half of it unnecessary.
PC: You're living in the Netherlands, according to what I read. Is that true?
PC: Is it sort of half and half?
TC: Well, sort of half and half but I'm four months traveling around to different countries. So, I have two homes, one in Amsterdam and then one here. So, I'm back and forth but I'm also four months' solid traveling.
PC: Ron Nash got your article to me and that was neat because I got to learn a little bit about what you were doing. I had the feeling when I read this that there was nothing that you would rather do than what you are doing. Is that true?
TC: You know, one of the things that has happened--because I've been working on myself for several years now--and one of the things that happens is that (since most of us live in the pain of the past and the fear of the future) it's like being crucified. You've got your arms nailed on the cross of opposites. So much of my life I've made my choices out of fear and when you do your work, what it does is it sets you free from the reactive patterns. Carlos Castaneda said that in order to live you have to die. And I think that we are all socialized and the acculturation and the socialization locks us into these right/wrong, good/bad patterns of behavior and these patterns force us to constantly go back and forth between these polar opposites. Once you resolve the past and you embrace the judge, then you're in a position of freedom to choose.
To answer your question, for the first time in my life I feel that I am free to choose. What I find is that I'm living in now time. So it's not a matter of "this is what I want to do." It's kind of more a matter of "this is what I'm doing now." I don't want to give you this big esoteric answer. It's curious that you're doing the interview at this time. None of the questions that you have asked or probably will ask would have been answered this way two years ago.
It really validates what we're doing as therapists by doing past life work. I'm training psychotherapists and therapists now and one of the things I repeat ad nauseum is "do your own work." If you haven't done your own work, you're going to project, you're going to react, you're going to countertransfer. So, the whole point of knowing about the past life work is--do it yourself.
PC: So, when you say you're doing your own work, and you tell them to do their work, you're talking about past life?
TC: I'm talking about whatever that means. This is another thing I feel strongly about--that it truly is a hologram. What you do is you stay with your client. If you want to do past lives, then fine, go hang up your shingle and say, "I'm going to do a past life for you." But if you want to be a therapist, you are always present with your client and if the client comes up with an argument they had with their spouse last night, or they come up with a lifetime 3000 years ago, or a painful experience they had in childhood, that's what you work with because that's therapy. It's very important to get off the agenda that they have to do a past life or until they do a past lives they can't heal, and all of these agendas and beliefs they have about and projections we put on our clients.
PC: Okay, this is great, because I was going to ask you what I try to ask everyone I interview, can you estimate (maybe you can, maybe you can't) how much time you spend actually doing past life work with clients.
TC: It depends on how much physical and emotional damage has occurred in the present life, because the more of that that has occurred, the more patterns and programs have been triggered and so the more reactive and defended the person will be. So when I'm doing the intake and I'm looking at severe physical and let's not forget emotional abuse, it can be as damning as physical abuse, then I know that I'm looking at a longer-term pace. I also know that it's not past life work, it's therapy and that means it's an energetic flow, it's a dance that you do together and so it's not just past lives, it's inner child, it's gestalt, psychosynthesis, it's what needs to be done at the time. Now my experience is that most people are unable to resolve the core issues without doing at least some past life work. There's a difference between doing past lives and the therapeutic process and past lives are a part of the therapeutic process and in dealing with core issues past lives have to be done. The amount and number of course would be ridiculous to try and estimate that because each client is unique and it's their process. And maybe with one client past lives click and you can do just a tremendous amount of past life work and for another client, it's not comfortable in their paradigm or their coping structure and so you may only do a few past lives almost as metaphors or as archetypal experiences. But my experience has been again that working with these core issues, doing the past life work really goes into deep, deep resolution. Another thing I want to comment on is--am I talking too fast?
PC: No, not at all, go right ahead.
TC: The thing I want to comment on is that I run into therapists who say, "Forget the present life. It's all past lives. It all leads back into past lives." This is my experience, that this is the physical body you're in now, that this is the physical body that the reactive programs have been triggered energetically in this body and I feel that the present life traumas and working with the body and the energy are things that we cannot neglect.
PC: That makes perfectly good sense.
TC: I feel that sometimes people go into past lives to avoid having to deal with the present life.
TC: And conversely, people will stay in the present to avoid dealing with past lives. So, as a therapist, if you've run three or four sessions only doing one or the another, I would begin to question what was going on. Let's say, I would evaluate what's going on.
PC: How did you get into past life therapy?
TC: My mother took me to a lecture and the speaker was in an organization in Portland, Oregon and it was people doing research and investigating pasts lives. The group is now defunct and has been for many years. The speaker wanted to use me as a subject for research into past lives. My mother was born in Scotland. My grandmother was a complete clairvoyant. So, my ability to access past lives was very comfortable and easy to do. And since I'm kinesthetic and sensory, I went very deeply into them.
PC: So did you work with that person for a while then?
TC: Yes, I worked with that person for a year and then went away to university and did nothing more with it for several more years. I got married and had children. First I graduated from university and then got married and had children. Then an impossible combination of events resulted in an adult education program in San Diego asking me to teach past life regression therapy.
PC: And how did that come about, did they know what you had done?
TC: It was one of those things where it was all of these coincidences and at the time I said I've learned how to do this. I had learned to do it with this group (in Portland) and after I graduated from university, I went back to this group and trained to do past life work. I was probably 22 to 24, so for two years I trained in past life therapy with this organization.
PC: What was the name of this organization? It's defunct now?
TC: It was just a group of people and they were doing past life research and they were putting it together as they went along. I can't remember the name of the group.
PC: So you had gotten a degree in psychology?
TC: No, my degree is in mass communications. My minor was psychology. of course, I read voraciously in the area because it fascinated me.
PC: So you are now training people in Europe?
TC: I have to say this, the reason I stopped training with this group was that I was married and I moved to Hawaii and Iran and didn't get back to it again until ten years later, when this adult education organization in San Diego asked me to teach. So, that was the chronological structure. I guess I need to say I've studied gestalt, I studied under Carl Rogers at UCSC, studied psychosynthesis, voice dialogue. So, as I went along I continued to get training and I continued to develop my skills. So, mine is an unconventional route. I say this to every one of the groups I teach because it is the truth. The most valuable things I've learned about past life work were taught me by my clients. You can take all the training and read all the books, but until you actually work with people and see the patterns and the structures and the flows and the connections and the energy, you're not really a therapist. I really think experience is the greatest teacher but you do need to ground it in the academic area. So I'm very strongly in favor of the combination. I don't think someone should just sit down and intuitively do past life work. On the other hand I don't think someone should just sit down and read a book and then say he's a therapist.
PC: Thanks, Trish, for taking the time to speak with me about Past Life Therapy--Regression Therapy. Good luck to you.