New treatment methods have surfaced over the past years based upon current neuroscientific research into the neural networking of the brain. This research has shown that our brains have what is called ‘neuroplasticity’, or the ability to continue to change throughout our lifetime. Simply put, that means that we can indeed change the way our brain remembers certain incidents that may have carved difficult memories and reactions into our way of responding to the world.
Today many hospitals incorporate these newer treatment modalities such as hypnotherapy into their integrative medicine milieu, as evidenced in the following quotes from well-known sources:
"Hypnotherapy is now used at a number of well-respected medical institutions across the U.S., including Stanford Center for Integrative Medicine, The Cleveland Clinic, Mount Sinai Medical Center, and Beth Israel Medical Center in New York" (New York Times, April 15, 2011).
"Scientific evidence is mounting that hypnosis can be effective in a variety of medical situations, from easing migraine headaches to lowering blood pressure, controlling asthma attacks, minimizing hot flashes, and diminishing side effects from chemotherapy." (The Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2012).
The Mayo Clinic reported in a statement in December 2003, that "the purpose of hypnosis as a therapeutic technique is to help you understand and gain more control over your behavior, emotions or physical well-being.
Hypnotherapy and L.I. (Lifespan Integration Therapy) are two of the methods integrated into therapy at New Directions Counseling. We can become somewhat ‘stuck’ using the same coping strategies for new situations that feel familiar and pose a threat or fear similar to one we have felt in the past. These are the patterns that are so emotionally painful…such as PTSD, anxiety, memory of abuse, neglect, or abandonment that leave us emotionally frozen, ready to flee or fight….all incapacitating to our lives and emotional well-being. Other experiences such as being bullied, excessively criticized, or overly-controlled is harmful to our self-esteem and the ability to relate well to others.
What is truly exciting is that we can actually change these habitual neural networks, and thus change the way we deal with our life today. We have a more positive, self-affirming and effective way to navigate life. Knowing that our brains CAN change is good news for us. It means that we can, indeed, change old and destructive thought patterns, learn new ways of seeing ourselves and new ways to relate to our worlds.
Finally, a non-invasive way to resolve traumas, instill the nurturing we have always needed and create an internal emotional environment that is compassionate and loving toward ourselves. Both modalities help strengthen newly-created synaptic connections that allow us to view the past and ourselves in a more positive, grounded and holistic manner.
Both Hypnotherapy and L.I. are therapy methods that use this concept of changing neural pathways in order to create a more integrated whole. This ‘Holistic Self’ is better able to cope and thrive by using the knowledge and tools we have today and by virtually ‘changing our brain’.