I offer a hypnotherapy service as an aid to people wishing to stop smoking, I now recommend a two session approach, with the initial session laying the foundation for the second session, which is the point at which smoking should cease. Quite often smoking reduces substantially and sometimes even stops after the first session, but I would still recommend completing the second session. Should this approach fail, I would recommend taking a longer-term addiction-based approach, however I have found this is rarely requested. Please note that, as with any therapy, results may vary from person to person, and it's important to note that hypnosis is not mind control, you will need a strong desire to stop smoking. If you feel you need help with motivation, it may be best to work on this first.
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How hypnotherapy can help:
Let's start by considering a simplified model of what is happening in the brain during hypnosis. The brain is divided into two hemispheres, left and right, each of which functions in slightly different ways. We can see a glimpse of this in our language, when we say 'our heart is saying one thing and our head is saying another', or that we're 'in two minds' about something. When hypnotised, there is a shift towards more activity in the brain's right hemisphere, which is the part of the brain that is more involved with feelings, instincts and intuition. It's the part of the brain that understands metaphor, and sees 'the big picture', as opposed to the logical, rational, analytical and detail-focussed left hemisphere. The right hemisphere also has more connections to the emotional centres of the brain; these are involved with emotions, such as fear or anger, and also with body functions, such as heart rate or breathing - part of the reason we get a 'felt' sense of such emotions.
When we 'think' of stopping smoking, we're using the left hemisphere's logical, analytical and rational processes, but these do not easily modify emotions. So we can think rationally and logically about how harmful, expensive and unacceptable smoking is, but it doesn't seem to help much in bringing about a change in our behaviour or habit. If it did, stopping smoking should be very easy for everyone.
When it comes to stopping smoking, what we usually need to work on is the emotional drive, over in the right hemisphere, not the logical thinking left. And this is where hypnosis can really help, it's the area hypnosis can be most effective in. Hypnosis certainly doesn't help by 'controlling your mind' and 'forcing' you to stop. So it follows that hypnosis is most effective when a significant 'part' of you wants to stop, in that state of mind hypnotherapy can really help by strengthening the part that wants to stop, and re-educating that emotional drive that lies behind the habit.
Research evidence showing the efficacy of hypnotherapy:
When it comes to evidence, research into different smoking-cessation programs is challenging for a number of reasons, such as the reliability of self-reporting and how to account for people who drop out of the program (neither treating them as relapsed nor discounting them will provide accurate results). There is also the question of how a volunteer's motivation differs from someone who is prepared to pay for therapy. Comparing different research results (e.g. in a meta-analysis) is also complicated by the same factors, and the fact that the research programs may have been designed in very different ways. As a result, the statistics may be unreliable, and certainly need to be handled with care.
However, a major meta-analysis carried out by Schmidt and Viswesvaran and published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 1992, combined the figures from over 600 different studies, involving almost 72,000 people from the USA and parts of Europe. The results show that smokers who used hypnotherapy to help them quit achieved the highest rate out of any of the therapy treatments in the study. Hypnosis was also shown to be much more effective than nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). More recently, research presented at CHEST 2007, (the 73rd annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians), showed that smoking patients who had participated in one hypnotherapy session were more likely to be non-smokers at 6 months, than patients who used nicotine replacement therapy alone or patients who quit "cold turkey".
Some helpful steps to take before quitting:
Set a date to quit - not 'next week' or 'in a month', because tomorrow is always tomorrow, but a date will arrive when it's expected. A significant date, such as a birthday, anniversary, or the old favourite of New Year may help with motivation.
In the run up to the date give yourself time to consider the reasons you want to stop; health, money, etc., and really think about what those reasons mean to you. It's important to find an internal motivation, so it's not just because someone else wants you to stop. It may help to picture yourself benefiting from those reasons, i.e. being fitter. Focusing on positive changes is always helpful.
Understand that lapses may happen, they are not a catastrophe and a reason to abandon any progress you have made. But don't let that idea be a justification to let yourself lapse!
Be prepared for cravings, understand they will come, they will pass, they will return... Stopping smoking is long-term, cravings are just short-term parts of that long-term process, but it's best to be prepared to experience them. In fact, facing them head-on, experiencing them fully by focusing upon how they feel, where you feel them, how they grow, change and fade is usually more productive than trying to suppress them. With the bonus that it can feel empowering to realise that you actually are bigger than them, and you don't have to fear them.
Please note that, as with any talking therapy, results may vary from person to person.
Call me directly on 07831-693684 to make an appointment, or send me an e-mail (there's a 'contact me' link below).
Following government guidelines, from March 2020 all sessions will be online; one-to-one sessions are suspended until further notice. When they resume, the location may vary from that shown below.
Sessions are at Delta House, near to London Bridge station, SE1, and cost £75.00 for a session of up to 60 minutes.