• Tom Dunsdon

The State of Hypnosis.

Hi guys, so this is my first blog post on what I hope will become a regular publication. I’ve started this blog to discuss and dispel all those old myths and fears surrounding hypnotherapy, life coaching and counselling. As you can see, this entry is entitled ‘The State of Hypnosis’ and as you have probably guessed I am going to give a brief run down here of how hypnosis works, where it came from and why it can be amazingly helpful in dealing with some issues.

So here we go first ever blog by Tom Dunsdon…………. (Fingers crossed)

The state of hypnosis is a natural trance state which everybody will experience at some point in their lives. It is a state that we will pass through when falling to sleep or when waking up, it is also common to experience it whilst driving. Have you ever completed a journey you know well and wondered how the hell you arrived at your destination????

It is safe to say the hypnotic state is a trance brought about by the application of several techniques such as a PMR (progressive muscle relaxation), which allow access to the subconscious mind by achieving an alpha or theta brain wave pattern (I’ll talk about alpha and theta down the page). The techniques of hypnosis date back to the 1700s and were first introduced to the world by Franz Anton Mesmer who would later go on to become known as the Grandfather of hypnosis. These techniques and concepts have changed greatly throughout the years, moved forward by people like the Marquis de Puysegur and then in the 1840’s by an English doctor, James Braid who coined the phrase hypnosis from the Greek God of sleep Hypnos. Although this term is slightly misleading as hypnosis is not sleep, it has become the term for which we all use.

In the 1900s Milton Erickson worked greatly with the idea of indirect suggestion and is now considered the father of the modern hypnosis and its techniques. We still use many of his techniques today.

It is also worth saying that therapeutic hypnosis is very different to stage hypnosis which is more a role playing and all for show exercise, although this is not the concern of this blog entry (don’t worry it will be of later ones!) so I will not go any further into that here, other than to say that although such acts can be entertaining, they have possibly damaged the reputation of hypnosis as a healing tool and we are only now beginning to move forward again.

So now we know how hypnosis came to be, let’s have a look at how and why it works by assessing the psychological aspects of hypnosis. To do this, we need to look at and understand the 4 different brain waves of the human brain. (Bear with me for this part, this is where it gets a bit heavy going)

The first of these are Beta waves (15 to 40 cycles per second) which are the waves produced when an individual is fully awake and engaged. Someone giving a lecture or engrossed in an engaging conversation or debate would be in the high levels of Beta waves (Hopefully this is where you are reading this blog!).

Next are Alpha waves (9 to 14 cycles per second) present when an individual is at rest and also present when undertaking problem solving or being creative. These are the waves you would expect to find in someone under light hypnosis or undertaking guided meditation. It is interesting to note that these waves are occurring in the brain by the age of 2.

Next are Theta waves (4 to 8 cycles per second), these occur during hypnosis and are present while dreaming and also in some meditation sessions. These brain waves are linked with the subconscious mind and are responsible for our learned behaviors and behavior patterns. If you go back to the first paragraph of this blog where I ask if you have arrived at a destination and wondered how, well these are the brain waves responsible for that situation. When you realise this has happened the brain moves back to beta waves to allow you to continue you journey safely and allow for “wide awake” thinking.

When an individual is in the Theta wave range this can allow access to subconscious and therefore suppressed memories, which can be distressing to start with but if handled well can be very therapeutic and allow the healing process to take place. These waves are also present when we take time to relax, say in the bath or out running (I’ve never attempted the running to find out) and this is why good ideas or epiphanies often occur to us at these times.

The last of the four brain waves is Delta (1 to 4 cycles per second), this is the brain wave present when we are asleep and is normally the only brain wave present on its own, the others often are present together but one is always the most active. Delta waves can be present while under very deep hypnosis, although they are more often associated with sleep where the individual would be around 2 waves per second. It is worth noting that this is the lowest form of activity our brains experience; we never get down to 0 as this only occurs at the end of life when brain death happens.

So now we know the 4 brain waves, it is easier to say why hypnosis can be such an effective tool.

Hypnotherapist most commonly want their client to be somewhere in the alpha or theta range which allows access to the subconscious mind and is where the client can experience the most beneficial effects of the hypnotic process, allowing the therapist to work on learned behaviours and allowing the ability to make suggestions which can be brought back to their everyday life. For example, this is the range you would want the client to be in if you were working on an addictive behaviour such as smoking or an eating disorder. For me it is at this level I carry out most of my work and my clients experience their best results.

So that about wraps it up for this post, obviously there is a lot more to it than what I have briefly mentioned above but I don’t want this to turn into an academic essay, so I’ve tried to keep it short and light.

If you would like more information on the subject discussed in todays post or would like to give me some feedback, good or bad (I’d prefer good), or if you would like to suggest a topic for discussion, please feel free to contact me either by the form on this site or you can email me directly at

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