The functions of beta, alpha, theta, and delta brainwaves in hypnosis
The brain is composed of billions of cells called neurons. The neurons communicate with one another using tiny electrical signals. When the brain is looked at as a whole, these signals form patterns called brainwaves.
With the invention of sensitive equipment to measure brainwave activity, it was discovered that these brainwaves changed depending on what a person was doing. The electrical activity of someone doing a complex task is quite different to the activity of someone meditating or sleeping. We can now associate particular activities to certain ranges of brainwave frequencies (measured in Hertz, or cycles per second). There are four known frequency groups that occur in the human brain: beta, alpha, theta, and delta.
- Beta: 38-12 Hz – This is the wide-awake, alert state in which we are capable of performing complex tasks. The mind is capable of processing information and making decisions. From a hypnosis perspective, this state of activity is fairly closed to suggestion because the critical faculty is firmly in place and suggestions can easily be rejected.
- Alpha: 12-8 Hz – In Alpha you are awake but are not engaged in multitasking or complex thought. Alpha is the typical daydream state – ideal for visualization techniques. The critical faculty is partially offline so suggestions are more acceptable than in Beta. This is the state of the light hypnotic trance.
- Theta: 8-3 Hz – Theta is the state of deep relaxation or light, dreamful sleep. Theta creates a state of hyper-suggestibility, where mental programming is especially effective. It’s associated with deeper hypnotic trance.
- Delta: 3-0.2 Hz – Delta is the state of deep, dreamless sleep. You are unconscious at these frequencies, and the body is using this time for self-healing and restoration. This state is too deep for most hypnotherapy tasks.
A hypnotic induction that gets the client to relax and to focus on a single point automatically moves the brain from Beta frequencies to Alpha. Further deepening can move the client down to Theta. Another way to change frequencies is to use brainwave entrainment.