- Elaine Way
How We Use Hypnotherapy to Help Smokers Quit
At the end of another busy week at the Studio and the enticing prospect of a ‘sunny-enough for-a-rule-of-six-BBQ’ weekend, I forgot to check my work text messages on Friday evening. Had I checked, I would have seen a lovely message from an amazing past client who was informing me that it was now 20 weeks since she had last smoked a cigarette! These are, of course, the kind of texts any therapist loves to receive….particularly when you know the client had been a heavy smoker for a great deal of her life. I am so pleased for her, and indeed all of the other smoking cessation clients I have had the pleasure to work with over the last few years.
Whether it is a knock-on effect of COVID awareness making people consider their cardio-vascular health or just the general effect of word-of-mouth recommendations, we’ve definitely been seeing more clients for smoking cessation over the last few months. So I thought it might be useful to make a post about using hypnotherapy to help with quit smoking, and how we do it here at the Studio.
I’m going to start with the most important point: you have to be MOTIVATED to stop smoking. This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at the numbers of enquiries we receive from people who openly admit they don’t really want to give up smoking, but feel they should do so because their significant other dislikes the habit. Motivation is definitely one of the most important keys to success; you have to want it to happen!
One of the most common misconceptions about hypnosis (thanks, Derren Brown!) is that hypnotherapy is ‘done to you’ and somehow the therapist will make you stop smoking using something akin to magical powers. Actually, if that were true, no one in the world would still be smoking.
This is why during the first phone-call I often ask a potential client to scale their motivation, with ‘10’ representing their highest ever motivation and ‘0’ being no motivation at all. Experience has taught me to politely discount anyone hovering around 4/5, because I could be as enthusiastic about you quitting smoking as I could possibly ever be (and believe me, I am!) but hypnotherapy is always a collaboration; no therapist can physically stop you from putting that cigarette in your mouth if you are only half-hearted about quitting for good. Hypnotherapy can be a very powerful tool, but it isn’t magic.
At the Studio, we also dispensed some time ago with the one very long appointment format. Yes, we know that the ‘one (often three hour) appointment and you’ll be cured’ approach you’ll come across with other therapists sounds quite flash, but we aren’t in this to be flash, we’re professional therapists in this to help you quit smoking for good. We also don’t wear waistcoats or swing pocket-watches….and believe me, there are still some of ‘those’ therapists around too…..
We did, admittedly, also use this approach many years ago, but we established through experience that both therapist and client preferred the 3 or 4 appointment format. Our sessions are quite fun, information-packed and dynamic, so including hypnosis in addition to all that means that by the end of a monster two or three-hour session, clients risk overload. Why stuff it all into one session? It doesn’t make sense, other than for soothing the ego of the therapist. If you have been smoking for decades, does it really matter if you see a therapist for one long afternoon, or three/four shorter visits at your convenience?
We discovered that in the majority of cases, people like the idea of a ‘follow up’ for support or even the sense of accountability that visit may bring, but from a therapist’s perspective of using an evidence-based approach, we have to look at the science, and we know that thought and behaviour patterns are made by repetition – and this is particularly relevant to any major lifestyle change like giving up smoking in the long term.
Whilst it might sound as though it would cost more to have multiple sessions, actually there are some astoundingly high prices being charged for the one, long session format. We don’t charge any more than our standard session prices for smoking cessation and breaking up the programme also allows the client, often for the same price as one of the longer sessions, have two or three tailored hypnosis sessions.
While naturally tailored to the individual, our format is still relatively straightforward. Our initial consultation, still kept at around half-price to allow the client to come in and meet us and talk about their issue in more detail, gets straight to work with the ‘brain explanation’. This is where we cover the brain science behind habit formation, but also any other issues that may be relevant to your smoking habit, such as anxiety. This is a very important tool and not to be underrated, because it starts to put you back in control of your thought and behaviour patterns.
As part of this consultation, you also receive a self-hypnosis track to use at home before the next session, should you wish to take one. We never ask clients to book blocks of sessions because we are resolutely ‘solution-focused’ and don’t want a client to take more sessions than they feel they need.
Standard sessions then involve more essential information about the brain, solution-focused therapy (a goal-orientated talking therapy to help create change and visualise life without the smoking) and clinical hypnosis. We use a mix of what is called indirect and direct hypnosis, which means that some sessions/tracks won’t appear to mention smoking specifically, whereas another may involve more direct suggestions about breaking the habit. We also use conversational hypnosis, which is a gentle type of hypnosis used while we are speaking together – nothing to worry about at all – we’re just using what we know about language, attention and the brain to help people see things differently. Hypnosis is not just about the power of suggestion, we also use it to help the brain process whatever we have been covering in the sessions, which is why it can help with efficacy as well as efficiency.
'Motivation is definitely one of the most important keys to success; you have to want it to happen!'
We pride ourselves on being honest therapists, so we don’t shy away from the fact that although hypnotherapy for smoking can (and for most people does) work very well, results can differ from person to person, just like any treatment or therapeutic process. What we are doing in our sessions is using specific tools that can really help to tip the balance in your favour, but of course, each person is different. We can honestly say that we’ve always had positive feedback, just like the wonderful message from our past client, now living a life fully without the use of cigarettes, having gone from five packs a week over decades, to absolute zero.
So if you are looking to give up smoking, hypnotherapy is a great tool to try with an open mind and more than a bit of confidence. Solution-Focused Hypnotherapy is a particularly great approach because it is extremely thorough and our place isn’t to scare you with hours of aversion tactics – you know the bad stuff already – we focus positively on your thought and behaviour patterns to help make the change.
If you’d like to find out more, why not give us a call? Today might just be the day to make a change for good and live a healthier, happier life!