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Hypnotherapy to quit smoking – does it really work?


One of the most well-known and mainstream applications for hypnotherapy is its usefulness in helping clients quit smoking. I myself was a smoker throughout most of my early 20’s, culminating in a habit of almost a pack a day at its worst. I knew smoking was a terrible habit and I was desperate to quit, but couldn’t seem to go more than a few days without a cigarette. My attempts at quitting left me feeling like a weak-willed failure and I was extremely frustrated with myself.

One morning I was flicking through my local paper and a small advertisement caught my eye. “Are you finally ready to quit smoking?” it read. Yes! I answered earnestly. As I read further I saw the ad was for a local hypnotherapist. At that time I had never experienced hypnotherapy and only had a vague idea of what it was. I was so desperate to quit that I was willing to try anything.

When I turned up to the first appointment I was feeling pretty nervous, and had actually started to doubt whether I was really ready to stop smoking. I literally stubbed out a cigarette on the way to the hypnotherapist’s office, quickly spraying myself with perfume and chewing gum before I entered to disguise the smell (which in hindsight I’m sure didn’t work!).

The hypnotherapist’s name was Margaret. She was an older lady, kind but very firm. “I hope you’re serious about this because otherwise you’re just wasting my time,” she told me briskly as I sat down. This threw me a bit, but was a masterful way to solidify my motivation. Classic reverse psychology!

The session progressed in Margaret’s capable hands, and I felt completely comfortable and relaxed throughout the whole thing. After that first session I noticed a significant drop in my desire to smoke, and though I did still experience some cravings here and there, they weren’t strong enough to sway me into having a cigarette. I couldn’t believe it! It felt as though another part of my brain was able to override the old habit whenever it resurfaced. I ended up seeing Margaret three times over the next three weeks, with great success. I was now a non-smoker!

Of course my own motivation and commitment was essential to the outcome, but hypnotherapy gave me the edge and support I needed to finally make a lasting change. 

The difference is that hypnotherapy works to change the subconscious thought patterns which underlie the mental/emotional dependency. Once you change these, you no longer need to rely solely on willpower to change a habit.

My story is just one of many. You won’t need to search far to find examples of ex-smokers who have utilised hypnotherapy to finally kick their habit. (And it was this initial experience with hypnotherapy which eventually led me to training and practising as a hypnotherapist myself!)

Furthermore, there have been scientific studies done examining the usefulness of hypnotherapy as a treatment for quitting smoking. As you can see by the following results, it greatly increases your chances of making a permanent change:

  • To give you an overall picture, a comprehensive meta-analysis done in the US looked at more than 600 studies that examined various methods to quit smoking, which included results from more than 70,000 smokers. Overall, the analysis found some convincing results for the effectiveness of hypnotherapy:
  • Hypnotherapy was found to be twice effective as self-care methods, like reading self-help books or quitting cold turkey.
  • Hypnotherapy was twice as effective as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) with nicotine gum.
  • Hypnotherapy was three times more effective than physician interventions that involved more than counselling.
  • In 2007, research conducted by the American College of Chest Physicians compared hypnotherapy to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). 50% of patients who were treated in the hypnotherapy group had still quit 26 weeks later, compared to just 15% in the nicotine replacement group. Patients who underwent NRT and hypnotherapy also had a 50% success rate.
  • A 1994 study published in Psychological Reports looked hypnotherapy’s effectiveness when used together with aversion therapy. In the study, 186 participants took part in a quit smoking program combining both methods. Almost 90% had still quit smoking three months later.    
  • In 2001, a study published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis researched the effectiveness of hypnosis and a rapid smoking protocol for quitting. Of the 43 smokers who participated, 39 remained smoke-free after 6 months.

My Quit Smoking Intensive Program is generally conducted over two sessions, and is tailored to each individual client’s needs. You will receive a personalised recording of the sessions and phone or email support as required.

To make a booking click here, or contact me for more information.




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