Can You Quit Smoking With Hypnotherapy?
There are many conventional ways to quit smoking, cold turkey, nicotine replacement therapy and various medications. However for people looking a method that is a little outside the box there are also a few alternative therapies that have shown some potential to help people quit. Without doubt of the most popular and well known of these alternative therapies is quitting smoking with hypnotherapy.
But what is it? Does it work? Who regulates it?
Hypnosis is the process of putting people into a highly suggestive trance like state by using various verbal commands and thought processes. There is a huge amount of debate about the amount of influence a hypnotist can have on someone and on exactly what happens to the brain when someone is hypnotized However it is widely accepted that hypnosis cannot make people perform actions that they would not be consciously willing to do. (So all those stage performer hypnotists you may have seen have some serious questions to answer).
Hypnosis can be used for relaxation and meditation, but the type of hypnosis that we will be focusing on for quitting smoking is called clinical hypnosis. Clinical hypnosis is a form of hypnosis that is used to treat specific conditions such as depression, anxiety and PTSD. It can also be used to help people break habits such as smoking.
What Is Hypnosis Like? What Can I Expect?
So if you have found a hypnotherapist that helps people quit smoking and you are ready to start your first stop smoking hypnosis session, what happens next? There is a huge amount of variation between practitioners but this section should give you a rough overview of some pretty universal practices.
You will be told to sit or lie down somewhere, get comfortable and close your eyes. The hypnotherapist will then use their methods to get you in a a trance like suggestable state. This has been quite nicely described as feeling similar to the state of mindlessness people occasionally experience when driving a car without consciously thinking, just much more relaxed.
Once you are in a sufficiently suggestable state the hypnotherapist will then start their specific stop smoking session to try and change the way you think about your relationship with tobacco. These usually are based around visualization techniques. For example you may be asked to visualize what it would be like to suck on a car exhaust, or you may be asked to imagine the amount of ash you have inhaled over your lifetime in a big pile.
A popular method of quit smoking hypnotherapy that is used by hypnotherapists world wide is called Speigles Method. It focuses on three main complementary points.
Smoking is poison for your body.
You need your body to live.
For as long as you want to live you need to treat your body with respect and protection.
Sounds pretty straightforward but it forms the corner stone of most smoking cessation hypnotherapy sessions. If using Speigles method a hypnotherapist will say things based around all three of these points.
Regardless of your hypnotherapists specific methods of therapy you will need several sessions to get the full benefit. Many hypnotherapists will refuse to see people that only wish to commit to one session to protect their reputation. So be wary of hypnotherapists that claim they can undo a smoking habit of many years with just one short session.
Any good hypnotherapist will complement their cessation sessions by teaching you stop smoking self hypnosis techniques. Encouraging you to reinforce the ideas that were planted in their practice on your own every few hours or when cravings create a strong desire to smoke.
There are various other ways to explore cessation related hypnosis apart from one to one sessions.
Psychiatrists and therapists are often trained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and clinical hypnotherapy. This can provide a two pronged approach to cessation support. Using hypnosis techniques to help battle the cravings and more traditional therapy methods to try and remove underlying issues that may cause the addiction.
Online stop smoking hypnotherapy sessions have been around for as long as MP3’s have. Since the advent of the smart phone Android and iOS hypnosis apps have been developed, but do not really expand on the mp3 download model. They just seem to add a little bit more structure to the sessions.
These apps and downloads can provide a great introduction to hypnosis and do have some anecdotal evidence suggesting a level of success. However they have been cited by hypnotherapists as being less compared successful to in person sessions. They widely state that the prerecorded hypnosis downloads cannot be tailored to your specific needs and cannot adapt to your reactions to the therapy while the session is in progress.
Group stop smoking hypnotherapy sessions are often popular ways to get the most bang for your buck – often being much cheaper than one to one individual sessions. But again hypnotherapists usually recommend individual sessions to get the maximum benefit due to the inability to tailor the hypnosis to one individual.
Hypnosis is deemed to be safe by most government health services around the world but according the UK’s National Health Service hypnotherapy should not be used if you have one of a small number of mental health issues (such as personality disorders or psychosis) – check with your GP if you suffer from mental health issues.
Does stop smoking hypnotherapy work?
This is the big question. Quite simply the answer is – sometimes. Any hypnotherapist worth their salt will tell you that results are not guaranteed and that only some people can be hypnotized.
In fact up to 25% of people are unable to be hypnotized. This is due to many factors but the one that is most often cited is an open mind. If you are skeptical in nature and are unable to approach the sessions with an accepting and open state of mind then hypnotherapy may not be right for you.
Out of the remaining 75% of people that can be hypnotized the success rate of people successfully quitting smoking with hypnosis still varies wildly.
Several clinical studies have been conducted on the subject. One of the most prominent was conducted in by Cochraine in 2010
. It concluded that:
“Although it is possible that hypnotherapy could be as effective as counseling treatment there is not enough good evidence to be certain of this.”
The American Cancer Societies official position is that no controlled studies have produced conclusive evidence proving that hypnotherapy can help people quit smoking. They go on to say that despite the lack of clinical evidence, there does appear to be substantial anecdotal evidence that suggests it can be an effective cessation method for some people.
Lee Westmaas - director of tobacco control research for the American Cancer Society while being interviewed for the Atlantic said
“At this time there's not enough evidence to say that hypnosis works definitively”.
“Perhaps for some people it might work, and, indeed, I have friends who swear by it. Possibly there might be a minority of people for whom it works, but if that's the case we don't know who.”
The anecdotal evidence is abundant however, it was not difficult for me to find one or two people I know personally that have been helped by hypnotherapy. I would hazard a guess that it would be the same for most of you reading this.
When we asked some hypnotherapists about the results we got the following response (The person quoted below wished to remain anonymous).
“The reason that controlled studies have not produced results that are consistent with anecdotal evidence could because there are a wide variety of different hypnotherapy practices - each with their own personal style and methods. Some may be more effective than others. It is clear that further research is needed.”
There are plenty of reviews for hypnotherapy as a cessation treatment online. You will be able find debates on forums (and inside our Quitza group) both for and against the effectiveness of the treatment.
Luke O’Neil for The Atlantic reviewed quit smoking hypnotherapy when he tried the treatment himself. He said
“I left the session feeling noticeably different. I sat in my car outside for a half hour and did not smoke. I went to dinner nearby and sat, and had a drink, and did not smoke. Eventually I caved in to the craving, but I didn't like it. I'm still smoking, I just don't enjoy them anywhere near as much as I used to anymore.”
So how much does stop smoking hypnotherapy cost? Well the price of one to one quit smoking Hypnosis can vary slightly in price. On average in the UK you will be paying between £60 and £90 per session. In the USA around $70-$100 is not a bad ballpark figure.
Group hypnosis sessions are often cheaper from around £30 to $50 per session. This is still cheaper than something like vaping, but with promo codes
you can bring the cost of using electronic cigarettes down. But they are much harder to come across and are not offered by all practices.
Bear in mind that you will probably need at least two or three sessions to get the maximum benefit from the therapy and as we previously mentioned many hypnotherapists will not perform a single session on its own. However there is a silver lining to this– as many practices will offer bulk buy discounts to entice you to sign up for the amount of sessions they recommend.
Hypnotherapy can be covered by some US based health insurances but this is usually for mental health issues and not to help people stop smoking cigarettes. If you are in the UK the NHS state on their website that it is unlikely that you would be able to receive quit smoking hypnotherapy for free on the NHS.
It is important when choosing a practice that you check if they are certified with a reputable board of hypnotherapists. Anyone can promote himself or herself as a hypnotherapist regardless of training or certification. So It pays to do a little research - however most practices are reputable with proper training. Ask where they were trained and who has certified them.
As most hypnotherapy clinics get business via word of mouth – the ones that cannot deliver on their promises do not generally last long so check how long they have been in business – but bear in mind just because a clinic is new does not mean it is not trustworthy.
Quitting smoking with hypnotherapy is certainly not for everyone. The uncertainty in its effectiveness and the significant number of people who cannot be hypnotized could put many people off the treatment. For other people it could just be the little extra help they need to kick the habit.
Whatever your decision it is clear that hypnotherapy is not a magic bullet to quitting smoking. The most effective way to utilize this potentially powerful tool is by combining hypnotherapy with other more traditional methods of quitting such as nicotine patches or gum.
So if you have not tried quitting smoking with hypnosis before and you are out of ideas, perhaps it is worth a try. How long would you have to be a nonsmoker for to pay for the treatment costs?
This Quitza group is for people that have quit using hypnotherapy to share experiences and ask questions about quitting smoking using hypnosis. Create a free Quitza account to ask real people about their experiences with hypnosis.