How hypnotherapy changes the brain to promote emotional healing

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FEATURE — The first time I saw a hypnotherapist, I was nervously trying it as a last resort. I’d seen some results after four years of traditional therapy, but I felt like I’d come up against a wall that was keeping me from necessary progress. 

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In that first session, hypnotherapy surprised me by taking my trauma processing, self-awareness and self-love to new heights. For four months, I continued hypnotherapy sessions and worked with my regular therapist to amplify my progress; then I felt like I was finished with both, at least for a time. 

It seemed shockingly quick, yet I felt more stable than I had been in years. I didn’t know how it worked, but at the time, I was simply happy that it did. Now as a certified clinical hypnotherapist, I love how science-based yet soul-healing the process is.

Unwanted or negative feelings, actions and behaviors are common effects of dominant pathways in the brain that have formed in response to some type of trauma. Traumas can be as big as sexual violence or the death of a loved one or as small as a parking lot fender-bender or feeling badly about being overbearing with your child. The pathways which form from traumas are made up of neurons in the brain and are called neural pathways. 

The more serious the trauma, the more likely it is to create strong neural pathways quickly. When the mind processes trauma, hormones are released with the feelings happening at the time. The hormones and new neural pathways link together, making the memory of the event more vivid to the mind and more dominant in the structure of the brain and body. We usually don’t know that these unwanted neural pathways are activated, but we often do notice the negative feelings they create. 

Too many stress hormones in the body can become overwhelming for our systems to handle, causing anxiety, depression, physical symptoms, loss of self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorder, and compulsive and deviant behaviors that spill into our everyday lives. For relief, the brain must learn to change by deactivating the unpleasant neural pathways of the past. 

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The brain’s ability to change is called neuroplasticity. Over the past 25 years, there have been major advancements in understanding neuroplasticity. There’s still so much to discover, but we know that our minds are primed for change and growth when we are babies and children.

As we grow to adulthood, the ability to easily change and form neural pathways begins to reduce, and only very specific and rare catalysts stimulate heightened opportunity for the brain to change. One of these is processing information in a deeper state of consciousness, and one way to get there without the use of psychedelic drugs is hypnosis. 

Hypnotherapy is nothing like a hypnosis show. A clinical hypnotherapist is trained to help clients enter and stay in a state of hypnosis, slowing brain waves and promoting a deep state of relaxation, hyperfocus and neuroplasticity.

With the brain open to change and with the guidance of the therapist, the person in hypnosis can receive the following therapeutic benefits:

  • Understands the root cause of their problems.
  • Heals from traumas and unwanted feelings, behaviors, habits, thoughts and beliefs.
  • Subconsciously restructures the pathways that have formed incorrectly. 

After a session with a clinical hypnotherapist, clients have a lot of information to process. Journaling, talking to trusted loved ones or working your feelings through with your own therapist is highly recommended for optimal establishment of new neural pathways and to ensure the old, unwanted ones shrink and disconnect. 

Written by ERIN DEL TORO, certified clinical hypnotherapist at True North Mind Management

This article was first published in the January/February 2021 issue of St. George Health and Wellness magazine.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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