What is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is a technique that uses “trance” states in the client in order to explore feelings and memories that might not be available to the fully conscious mind.
Hypnosis refers to a state of mind and is associated with trance states. There are several levels of awareness:
- Gamma is a state in which you are learning and processing information. This state is linked to high mental abilities, like memory and perception. Brain waves in this state measure above 30 Hz.
- Beta is your waking state, when you are alert and aware of your surroundings. You might be listening, making a decision, solving a problem. This is where most of us spend most of our time. Brain waves in this state measure above 12 Hz.
- Alpha is a level of awareness in which you are able to completely relax and yet focus, while blocking out much of the surrounding “noise.” You are able to communicate in this state. You are able to absorb new information. Average brain waves 8-12 Hz.
- Theta is a barely conscious state that you might experience just before sleeping and during the awakening process. It is said that the mind is capable of healing, learning and growth in this state. Brain waves 4-8 Hz.
- Delta is considered to be an unconscious state, but where you may be able to access collective consciousness. Brain waves 0.1 to 3.5 Hz.
Hypnosis takes place in the Alpha and Theta brain wave states. One is usually in the Alpha state for hypnotherapy since that is a place from which we can access our feelings, absorb new information, and communicate with the facilitator. You are essentially awake and in complete control of the process if you choose to be. For successful hypnotherapy, you must cooperate with the facilitator, so in this sense, it is merely self-hypnosis. Or, more realistically, it is guided relaxation.
It may be that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, requiring one’s willing participation. There is no scientific basis for the idea that a person is out of control of their faculties while in a “trance” state. It is generally accepted that you cannot be made to do something, while hypnotized, that you are otherwise unwilling to do.
The focused, relaxed state offers opportunities for therapeutic healing from past trauma. There are very few people who will not remember what transpired during a hypnotherapy session. It is estimated that about 3% of people are “somnambulistic,” which is like sleepwalking, and these people may go into a deeper state of trance, while still being able to communicate clearly with the therapist, but they won’t remember the conversation when they are once again alert. This is what I believe was taking place in the sessions between Dr. Brian Weiss (Many Lives, Many Masters) and the patient on whom his book is centered. Whatever that patient experienced during the sessions brought significant healing even though she did not remember the content.
If one is in any way concerned about what might take place during a hypnotherapy session, ask for the session to be recorded. It might be interesting to listen to the recording much later. Even though one is aware of all that transpires during a session, it is easy to forget the particulars over time, like one forgets one dreams. Forgetting does not interfere with the healing that took place.
For further reading: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6357291/