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The Science Behind Hypnosis

Updated: Apr 8

When you think about hypnosis, what do you visualize? For many, it’s a watch-swinging magician or a comedy act that forces an unwitting volunteer to make embarrassing public admissions or cluck like a chicken on stage.

But, it’s not like that….

Clinical hypnosis or hypnotherapy doesn’t involve swaying pocket watches, and it isn’t practiced on stage as part of an entertainment act.

Many people who have experienced Hypnosis can attest to the benefits. The evidence is in their improved thoughts and behaviors. But did you know you can see evidence of hypnosis in studies of their brains, too?

David Spiegel, Professor and Associate Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, scanned the brain regions of subjects participating in hypnosis and found some fascinating results.

During hypnosis, activity decreases in the dorsal anterior cingulate. This is the area of the brain that processes incoming information. When activity here slows, the subconscious mind is easier to reach.

The scans also found that hypnosis increases the mind-body connection. This was demonstrated through increased activity between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the insula. This shows us that hypnosis can help you make impactful change, not only at an intellectual level but at a core, functional level too.

And finally, the brain scans showed that hypnosis temporarily reduces the connection between the brain’s executive control network and the default mode network. This means that hypnosis allows you to circumvent the rigid thought patterns that prevent you from making positive changes and, instead, find new ways to reach your desired results.

Hypnotherapy isn’t mind control. In fact, because your unconscious mind is always working to keep you safe, there’s no way it could be. Your unconscious mind is always aware during hypnosis, keeping you safe.

How it works

Hypnotherapy can be a valuable tool for improving mental health and accessing your own inner resources. Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and trauma can often be linked to negative thought patterns and beliefs that are deeply ingrained in the subconscious mind. Hypnotherapy can gently help to release these patterns, leading to more positive thoughts and behaviors.


By inducing a trance-like state (similar to meditation or day dreaming) hypnotherapy allows the client to access their unconscious mind and their own unique inner resources. This can be a powerful tool for gaining insights and clarity on issues that may be difficult to address through traditional talk therapy alone. Through hypnosis, clients can access the deeper parts of their minds that may hold the answers to their problems or challenges.


Hypnotherapy can also be useful for improving self-esteem, self-awareness

and confidence, which are important factors in maintaining good mental health. By accessing the inner guidance, the Inner Wisdom that lies within each of us, clients can discover their own strengths and capabilities, which can help to boost self-esteem and promote positive self-image.


In addition to improving mental health, hypnotherapy can also be helpful for physical health issues such as chronic pain. By accessing the subconscious mind, hypnotherapy can help to manage pain and reduce stress levels, leading to a better quality of life.

Overall, hypnotherapy is a powerful tool for improving mental health by accessing your innate Inner Wisdom and helping to identify and release  negative thought patterns, gain insights and clarity on issues, and improve overall well-being.

But if you’re still worried about being made to bark like a dog, know that hypnosis cannot make you do anything you’re not open to. When you see someone acting like a fool onstage, know that they are having a great time, because that was their desired outcome.

Hypnosis isn’t a magic bullet

“The benefits of hypnosis aren’t always immediate. For most patients, it takes a series of sessions to see results, it’s not a magic bullet. It takes time to build trust between the patient and the hypnotherapist, and that’s key for hypnosis to work.”

- Dr. Dina Ferguson

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