How does Hypnosis Work, and How can it Help You?

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By Desiree Holmes Scherini, BCH, MHt, LBLt, CRMT


How does Hypnosis work, and how can it help you?

Let’s start with a brief explanation of the relationship between the conscious and subconscious mind.

We basically have two minds that affect our behavior. One is our conscious mind, the one that we are aware of, that we think with and that we believe determines our actions. The other is our sub-conscious mind, the one that quietly influences our behaviors without our awareness.

This is why it can be difficult to make positive changes that we consciously desire to make and consciously decide to make yet struggle to achieve our desires, or fail altogether. I often describe it like the amusement park cars that we used to drive as children, believing we were in complete control, yet we were confined by the bumpers on either side, that kept us from going off the intended track. The subconscious mind is like those bumpers. 

No matter how hard we try to turn the wheel of our conscious mind, sometimes we just cannot drive away from the established path determined by the subconscious mind.
Past experience, especially before the age of seven, is anchored in our subconscious mind and creates a framework that can predetermine our choices and thoughts without our realizing it.

Other experiences build upon that and add to the subconscious record, building beliefs, expectations, and biases. Negative beliefs, bad habits and self-sabotage can be the product of past experiences. So, when we consciously decide we want to make a change we are up against all of our history, and all of the messages we have received in our lifetimes. That’s a lot to get past. 

This is where hypnosis can give us a needed boost by helping to eliminate those old stories that hold us back from achieving change, and the level of happiness and success we desire.


How does hypnosis work to do that? 

Through hypnosis your mind comes to a relaxed, yet focused state that allows the conscious mind to “get out of the way” and opens access to the subconscious mind, allowing the therapist and client to explore and adjust beliefs and thoughts that are getting in the way of success, or to add positive suggestions that will help us move toward goals.

Some misconceptions exist around hypnosis. It’s not some “woo woo” magical thing. The state of hypnosis is a natural state that we experience every day. Our brains are electrical in nature, and our brainwaves are active in a range of frequencies. The brainwaves are on a continuum, from fast to slow frequency. 

For example, beta waves are experienced when we are alert and active, they are “faster” waves, whereas delta waves are experienced during deep sleep and are “slow” waves. Somewhere in between these frequencies is where the hypnotic state is experienced during the theta wave state. 

This same state may be experienced when in deep concentration, such as when deeply immersed in a focused activity, during meditation, or when just waking or falling asleep. Of particular importance in understanding the impact of events during the first 7 years of life is the fact that children primarily operate in a theta state between the ages of 3 and 7, making experience and suggestion extremely powerful in their future beliefs.

You’ve probably experienced knowing your dreams as you wake but forgetting them when fully awake. That’s the shift between theta wave and alpha, or beta wave states, and that’s the state that hypnosis works in. The subconscious mind is open to suggestion while the conscious gatekeeper is on a break. It is in this state that we can access information we were consciously unaware of, as well as help to eliminate old negative thought and behavior patterns, and create more beneficial ones.

Using the metaphor of a computer can help to understand the relationship between conscious and unconscious processes. Imagine the mind is a computer. The conscious mind is the hardware, keyboard, etc. 

The subconscious mind is the software that instructs what happens when a key is pressed, and how information is organized and accessed. Hypnosis allows us to “reprogram” the mind, just like deleting old programs and installing new software. Hypnosis provides us with a tool to choose our programming, for our best. It is a quick and effective therapy that can help us make the changes we are wanting.

Linda Thunberg
Author: Linda Thunberg

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