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  • Writer's pictureLinda Campbell

The Science Behind Hypnotherapy: How does it work?

Have you ever wondered about the mysterious workings of hypnotherapy? How does it tap into the depths of our mind to create profound changes? Let's look at the fascinating science behind hypnotherapy.

Understanding Brain Waves:

Our brains are buzzing with electrical activity, which can be measured in the form of brain waves. These waves fluctuate in frequency and amplitude, each associated with different states of consciousness and mental activities.

  • Beta Waves: These are the waves we experience during our waking state, associated with alertness, focus, and logical thinking.

  • Alpha Waves: As we start to relax or daydream, our brain transitions into alpha waves. This state is characterized by a sense of calmness, creativity, and receptivity. This is a light state of hypnosis.

  • Theta Waves: Deeper still, we enter the realm of theta waves. This state is achieved with deeper states of relaxation, meditation, and hypnosis.

  • Delta Waves: When we're in deep sleep, our brain produces delta waves. This is the slowest brainwave pattern and is associated with deep, dreamless sleep.

Brain Waves and Hypnosis:

People often ask me if they can be hypnotized. ANYONE CAN! We all pass through a natural hypnotic state whenever we fall alseep. In order to get from our waking state of Beta into the sleep state of Delta, we pass through Alpha and Theta as our brain waves slow down and we fall alseep.

You might recall the feeling of being almost asleep and having surreal, dream like thoughts and yet being aware of the fact that you are not yet asleep.That is the Theta state. About 30% of my clients will reach a theta state in hypnosis. For them, it feels like hovering on the edge of sleep; at times listening and at other times drifting and often having very little conscious awareness of what I said to them during the session. Rest assured, even if your conscious mind is wandering, your subconscious is taking everything in.

Other clients stay in an alpha state, which means they are receptive, and typically more realxed, but also have a greater feeling of being aware, are following my voice and are able to pariticipate in doing mental exercises in hypnosis.

Neither state is preferable for hypnosis. It is more about the client being comfortable. Results can be achieved at either state assuming the hypnotherapist knows the correct techniques for working with different depths of hypnosis. I allow my clients to go to whatever depth of hypnosis feels most natural and safe for them and then I use techniques suitable to my client's depth. The client's depth can evolve over time as a client gets more comfortalbe with me, notices results, understands and enjoys the process, and develops a sort of "muscle memory" for achieving a hypnotic state.

Natural Trance States:

Aside from hypnotically induced Alpha and Theta states we all experience natural trance states throughout the day, without even realizing it. Have you ever found yourself lost in a good book, completely absorbed in the story? That's a trance state. Or perhaps you've driven home from work, only to realize you don't remember the journey? Another example of a trance state. Even daydreaming or getting lost in thought can put us in a mild trance, where our brainwaves shift into the alpha or theta range. This is another reason why I say anyone can be hypnotized; we go into that state many times a day naturally!

The Hypnotic State:

As you may now see, the common misconcpetions many people have that hypnosis is about losing control or falling into a deep sleep, are in fact untrue. Hypnosis simply leverages a state we enter into naturally, wherein we become more receptive, to intentionally open the subconscious up to new instructions, messages or guidance. It's a state of heightened focus and suggestibility, where the conscious mind takes a step back, and the subconscious mind takes center stage. In this state, the critical faculty of the conscious mind is temporarily bypassed, allowing suggestions to penetrate deeply into the subconscious.

Measuring the Mind:

Thanks to advancements in technology, we can now measure brain waves with remarkable precision using tools like electroencephalography (EEG). EEG allows us to observe changes in brain wave patterns during hypnosis, providing valuable insights into its mechanisms and efficacy.

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