How Clinical Hypnotherapy Changes Neural Pathways

By Erin Del Toro, ACHE Licensed Clinical Hypnotherapist

The first time I saw a hypnotherapist, I was nervously trying it out as an alt-med last resort. After 4 years of regular psychoanalysis therapy, I felt like I’d hit a wall keeping me from progress and I decided to try a different route. After just 1 session, hypnotherapy surprised me by taking my trauma processing to the depth I needed and my self-awareness and self-love to a place of empowerment.

For four months, I continued my sessions and processed them with my family therapist before I felt like I was done with both, at least for a time. It seemed shockingly quick, yet I felt better than I had in over a decade. I didn’t know how it worked and I didn’t care – at the time I was just happy that it did. Now as a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, I love how science-based yet soul-healing the process is.

As far as the brain understands, unwanted feelings, actions, and behaviors are effects of dominant neural pathways which have formed in response to some type of trauma. Traumas can be as big as the death of a loved one or sexual violence, but they don’t all have to be huge, dramatic issues. They can be as small as burning your hand while cooking or feeling badly about being overbearing with your child. The more serious the trauma, the more quickly it creates dominant neural pathways.

When the mind processes any new event, neural pathways form and connect with the feelings happening at the time and the hormones beings secreted into the body. The hormones, feelings and neural pathways link together, making the memory of the event more vivid to the mind and more dominant in the structure of the brain.

Because the subconscious mind is processing over a thousand pieces of information per second, we usually don’t know that old traumas are being stirred up on a regular basis, and the neural pathways associated with them are reminding the body to secrete the memorized, stressful hormone blends into our bodies.

  • Because the subconscious mind is processing over a thousand pieces of information per second, we usually don’t know that old traumas are being regularly stirred up, and the neural pathways associated with them are reminding the body to secrete the memorized, stressful hormone blends.

Having too much of those stress hormones activated in the body can become overwhelming for our systems to handle, particularly when our conscious minds are not aware of the activity happening with maladaptive neural pathways. Anxieties, depression, loss of self-esteem, PTSD, compulsions and even deviant behaviors are examples of the ways these spill into our everyday lives.

In the last 25 years, science has made major advancements in understanding neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to change. There is still much to discover, but we know that our minds are primed for change and growth when we are babies and children because of the mass amounts of synapses being produced to help create and change neural pathways in our young brains.
As teenagers and even more so as adults, the ability to easily change and form neural pathways begins to reduce and only very specific and rare catalysts will stimulate periods of change and growth. One of these is processing information in a deeper state of consciousness, and a way to get there without the use of psychedelic drugs is hypnosis.

If you’re unfamiliar with hypnotherapy, it’s important to know that it’s nothing like a hypnosis show. A Clinical Hypnotherapist helps their clients enter hypnosis to slow brain waves from beta cycles down into alpha, theta or delta cycles, promoting a deep state of relaxation, hyperfocus and concentration.

The result is a peaceful, vivid, dreamlike state where the client is much more aware of their feelings, emotions and memories; and the brain’s ability to change neural pathways is at an optimum level. With neuroplasticity at a heightened state and the guidance of the therapist, the person in hypnosis more easily:

  1. Understands the root cause of their problems.
  2. Naturally restructures maladaptive neural pathways and forms corrective ones.
  3. Heals from traumas and unwanted feelings, behaviors, habits, thoughts and beliefs.

After a session of hypnotherapy, there’s a lot of information to process. Journaling, talking to trusted loved ones, or working it through further with your own therapist is highly recommended to further new neural pathway growth and to ensure the old, maladaptive ones get left behind to shrink and disconnect. 

If you are looking to learn more about hypnotherapy or would like to make an appointment, visit truenorthmindmanagement.com, call or text Erin at 435-429-2560 or email erin@truenorthmindmanagement.com.

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