Smoking hypnotherapy is one of the most popular applications of hypnosis. It involves the use of hypnosis techniques to help a subject break their smoking habit. Success rates of smoking hypnotherapy are anecdotal and opinions regarding its effectiveness as a smoking cessation treatment vary greatly.
Hypnosis is a natural drug-free therapy in which a subject is put in a highly relaxed and hyper suggestive mental state. This is achieved by a therapist’s verbal direction, usually beginning with the suggestion of deep relaxation. Hypnotized subjects are not unconscious but rather exceptionally focused on the issue presented by the hypnotherapist. Hypnosis has been described as putting the nervous system to sleep.
During smoking hypnotherapy, the subject is fully awake and aware of his or her surroundings with a high level of focused attention leaving them hypersensitive to suggestion. This increased state of suggestibility allows desired ideas, opinions, and thoughts to be introduced and accepted into the subconscious mind. The hypnotized subject's open suggestibility allows for adjusting of dysfunctional habits to be effectively addressed.
A patient seeking smoking hypnotherapy would meet with a therapist to discuss his specific smoking related issues. The hypnotherapist would gather information regarding the subject’s personal reasons for wanting to rid himself of the smoking habit as well as specific emotions and associations making it difficult for him to do so. The subject’s individual reasons for wanting to quit will be reinforced in the therapy sessions.
Once in a hypnotic state, the therapist will attempt to change or reset attitudes and emotions related to smoking. They will try to replace positive smoking associations with negative ones through visualization and suggestion. A common smoking hypnotherapy technique is to have the subject visualize smoking a cigarette and see it directly poisoning their body. The suggestion that the subject no longer needs or wants to smoke will be introduced in an attempt to reinforce efforts to quit.
Although, many opinions exist as to the effectiveness of smoking hypnotherapy, almost all proponents agree that it is best administered by a licensed psychologist. It is also generally agreed that more than one session is necessary for success. Because smoking hypnotherapy can be costly, often times a session will be recorded and a copy sent home with the subject for continued use and reinforcement.