While hypnotherapy refers to the use of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes, clinical hypnotherapy is the application of hypnosis to facilitate the treatment of physiological and psychological symptoms. By communicating directly with the subconscious mind, hypnotherapy is used to treat a wide variety of physiological to psychological symptoms.
Most therapeutic methods, such as counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy and coaching, work on a conscious level. The conscious mind, however, represents merely the tip of the iceberg. The power of hypnotherapy lies in its ability to work at a subconscious level, thereby directly targeting the source. Hiding underneath the surface of our conscious mind, the subconscious represents the largest part of our mind.
The brain is the control center of the nervous system, our body’s decision and communication center. The central nervous system comprises the brain and the spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system is made of nerves. Together they control every part of our daily life, from breathing and blinking to helping us memorize facts for a test.
The limbic system, often referred to as the emotional brain, comprises the hippocampus, amygdala, anterior thalamic nuclei, septum, limbic cortex and fornix, which support and control a variety of functions including our emotions, fears, behaviors, long-term memories and olfaction. The thalamus is a gateway that transfers all sensory information to the brain for processing, and determines whether or not to send the information to the cortex for conscious consideration. The hippocampus is in charge of transforming information into memories, which are then transformed into neural pathways and stored for future reference. The basal ganglia are a group of nuclei, which receive most of this information from the cortex and translate them into a variety of functions, including voluntary motor control, procedural learning relating to routine behaviors and habits, eye movements and cognitive and emotional functions.
The hypothalamus links the nervous system to the endocrine system. Among many other functions, it plays an essential role in our motivation and controls our body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue and sleep. The amygdaloid region of the brain, or amygdala, is part of the limbic system and involved in a wide range of behavioral functions. Among its primary role is the processing of our emotional reactions, such as anxiety, fear, desire or exhilaration. Because of this, it is said to participate in our emotional memory and affects the way we relate to the world and to each other.
The prefrontal cortex is primarily implicated in planning complex cognitive behaviors, mental functions and personality expressions. It is regulates our decision making process and moderates correct social behavior. The basic activity of this part of the brain is considered to be the orchestration of thoughts and actions in accordance with internal goals. It holds executive functions in its ability to differentiate among conflicting thoughts, determine good and bad, better and best, the consequences of activities and the advantages of working toward defined goals.
It is estimated that the brain counts around one hundred billion neurons. These billions of neurons connect with one another in complex networks. Called neural pathways, they allow communications to occur in the brain via neurotransmitters, producing different thinking, feelings, and behavioral actions. All our physical and mental functions depend on the establishment and maintenance of these networks. Our habits and skills, such as nail biting or playing a musical instrument, become embedded within the brain in frequently activated networks. When we stop performing an activity, the neural networks for this activity fall into disuse and may eventually disappear. When neurons are either over or under used, the chemistry of the brain changes and neurological or psychiatric disorders can occur.
The Transformational Role of Hypnotherapy
Hypnosis techniques address the currently held behaviors specifically. When old negative behaviors are correctly addressed, room is created for new positive behaviors to be formed. Healthy and beneficial positive emotional associations are brought forward, initiating new routines for the mind to focus on. Once former negative behaviors are reduced and released, active techniques are used to find, create and maintain new emotional balance. Hypnotherapy allows us to communicate directly with the subconscious mind, thereby enabling us to correct, rectify and treat a wide variety of physiological and psychological symptoms.