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Learn The Truth About The Science Behind Hypnotherapy

Written by: Rachael Davies, Senior Level Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Rachael Davies

Understanding the science of hypnotherapy requires a dive into how our brain works during a hypnotic state. It's a fascinating intersection of psychology and neurobiology. During hypnosis, a person experiences a state of focused attention and heightened suggestibility, accompanied by a sense of deep relaxation. This state allows the hypnotherapist to bypass the critical consciousness and communicate directly with the unconscious mind. (You can read more about the science in this article.)


overhead view of psychotherapist writing on clipboard and male patient lying on couch

Advanced neuroimaging studies have given us a glimpse into how our brain behaves under hypnosis. Functional MRI (fMRI) scans show a significant decrease in activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate, a part of the brain involved in cognition and motor control. This decrease may explain the state of focused attention in hypnotherapy. Additionally, increased connectivity between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the insula during hypnosis suggests a heightened state of mind-body connection, which could explain the efficacy of hypnotherapy in pain management and physical symptoms.


Another fascinating aspect is the role of the brain's neuroplasticity in hypnotherapy. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain's ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections. Hypnotherapy can leverage this ability to reframe and reshape thoughts, behaviours, and emotional responses. This is particularly effective in addressing phobias, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), where the brain needs to develop new, healthier pathways to replace old, harmful patterns. This Brainz Magazine article explores this in more detail.


What does hypnotherapy work for?


Pretty much anything! Let’s examine some case studies:


Managing chronic pain


"Emily," a 35-year-old with chronic back pain, found little relief in conventional treatments. Her pain was not only physical but also deeply linked to stress and anxiety, exacerbating her condition. Through a series of hypnotherapy sessions, Emily learned to control her perception of pain. Her therapist guided her through visualisations and suggested imagery that rerouted her brain's response to pain. Over time, Emily reported a significant reduction in her pain levels and an improved quality of life.

 

Overcoming anxiety


"Mark," a 42-year-old facing debilitating anxiety, struggled with traditional therapy. Hypnotherapy offered him a unique solution. His therapist used techniques to help him access his subconscious mind, where he could confront and reframe the deep-seated beliefs driving his anxiety. Over several sessions, Mark learned to trigger a state of relaxation whenever he felt anxiety symptoms. This empowerment significantly reduced his anxiety episodes and gave him a tool he could use in his everyday life.


Stopping smoking


"Linda," a 55-year-old who had been smoking since her teens, turned to hypnotherapy after multiple unsuccessful attempts to quit. Her therapist focused on the psychological aspects of addiction, using hypnosis to alter her subconscious urges. Linda was guided through visualisations where she imagined her life free from smoking, associating positive feelings with a smoke-free existence. This mental reconditioning, coupled with strategies to handle cravings, eventually led Linda to quit smoking, a change she maintained in her follow-up sessions.


Why hypnotherapy works


As we've explored, hypnotherapy is far more than a stage spectacle; it's a scientifically-backed, effective therapeutic tool. Whether it's managing chronic pain, overcoming deep-rooted anxieties, or breaking long-standing habits, hypnotherapy offers a path to profound and lasting change. The science behind it reveals a fascinating interplay between the mind and body, showcasing the power of our brains to alter our experiences and responses. If you have enjoyed this article, you will enjoy this one too!


To learn more about hypnotherapy, click here.


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Rachael Davies Brainz Magazine
 

Rachael Davies, Senior Level Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Rachael Davies is the creator of the InsideOut Wellness brand which includes her private therapy & coaching practice, a wellness centre in North Wales and InsideOut Wellness Academy which offers professional certification and CPD for coaches, counsellors & hypnotherapists. As an NLP Master Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Integrative Counsellor and Energy Healer, Rachael has created a unique method to support clients in healing from the inside out.

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