Updated: Dec 6, 2021
In the past it was thought that the brain was a static hardwired structure, essentially unchanging after an initial critical period of growth and development within childhood and adolescent. However in more recent years it has been discovered that the brain is anything but static, it has the ability to grow and change physiologically throughout our lives adapting neuropathways in response to our experiences and interactions with our external world.
The brains cells and connections between neurons are continually & dynamically learning and adapting, changing and reorganising in response to needs or life events as circumstances require or impose.
Structural and functional connections between neurons differ in strengths of bonds and connections dependant on instigating experiences and level of use, for connections to become strong there needs to be reinforcement & repetition making it an automatic neural pathway.
This ability of the brain to learn and change is a vital factor in psychological therapies. It means that there is real potential and opportunity of re-inventing the way that the brain thinks and responds allowing changes to be made in behaviours and emotions enabling new ways of overcome anxiety, stress, worries, fears & trauma changing what is seemingly hard wired and embedded.
What role does Hypnosis play in encouraging Neuroplasticity?
When we practice hypnosis, we allow ourselves to become relaxed, our attention becomes focused our chattering brain is quietened. Our brain waves in normal waking life are of Beta frequency (14-40Hz), our brains are conscious, reasoning, alert logical and critical.
Whilst in hypnosis our brains switch frequency to between Alpha and Theta waves(4 -14Hz) Operating at this level we have enhanced visualisation and imagination, heightened learning and concentration all of which makes it an optimal level for instigating new cognitions & behaviours through suggestion imaginal rehearsal of situations and of desirable behaviours and outcomes. This level of hypnosis is often thought of the gateway to the subconscious mind.
It is during this level of hypnosis that neuroplastic change is influenced allowing new connections to be made. The brain see’s and feels these hypnotic experiences, imaginings, visualisations and suggestions as if they are happening right now. The brain is unable to tell the distinguish between external ‘real’ life happenings or hypnotic imaginings.
By practising desired behaviour's and outcomes in the imagination not only does the brain create new synaptic connections but these bonds are strengthened by repeated practice within hypnosis.
The Neuroplasticity of the brain reacts to these internal rehearsals exactly the same way as if interacting with the external world, however within hypnosis these changes can be much more focused to specific problem areas, the resulting changes can be accelerated as other external interfering factors such as the critical mind is subdued allowing much quicker and stronger bonds in the neural pathways.
https://youtu.be/gOJL3gjc8akImproving our neuroplasticity | Dr. Kelly Lambert | TEDx
https://youtu.be/akoL5RAee9w Rewiring Revolution:Neuroplasticity's Impact on Wellbeing | Kristen Meisenheimer | TEDx