Sometimes smoking is just smoke, but at others a fire burns beneath: hypnotherapy can help you put out this fire and stop the smoking.
Hypnotherapy has helped many people to quit smoking. It helps boost your own desire to give up and bolster your will power and self-belief.
Traditionally, hypnotherapists have mainly used a combination of aversion therapy and authoritative direct suggestion to reduce the desire to smoke. This has seen significant results, sometimes achieving success in no more than a single session.
While such methods have indeed proved effective for addictive behaviour that ranges from smoking to alcohol and even over-eating, I believe it is not a nuanced enough approach to help all.
Instead hypnotherapy and the techniques used can be based on addressing the individual needs of each person. Take the habit of smoking itself. This has never been a static addiction. It has changed as awareness of the impact on health and the regulations restricting when and where people can smoke have altered. The way in which people smoke, and their motivations for doing so have also changed considerably.
For many users of nicotine, smoking has changed from the socially acceptable, habit that could be regularly satisfied at home, on the bus or in the office. This regular usage helped create a real physical addiction – and high impacts on everyday health – that obviously needed to be broken.
The situation is now very different. Smoking is now often more a social habit: it is bound up in other associations of relaxation and reward, whether socialising (and often drinking) with friends, or relaxing after a days work.
The health impacts are less obvious, negating some motivations to quit, but even low levels of smoking have
significant long-term consequences for your health.
The nicotine addiction itself is still existent, but often better managed and less insistent. The daily cycle of withdrawal that an irregular smoker experiences is still, however, a factor in a smoker’s perceptions of stress and the relief attached to the use of tobacco.
In cases with less regular smokers a combination of hypnotherapy’s powerful suggestions to help you continue to make the choice to not smoke, the application of the ‘Delay, Distract, Decide’ framework and a retraining of the positive associations that have been learned as adjuncts to smoking, such as relaxation or social pleasure, can be beneficial.
For example, social anxiety is commonly a contributory factor in addictions such as smoking, alcohol and overeating. Hypnotherapy can be used to help explore and address these issues.
One recent client, outwardly sociable and professionally successful, identified cigarettes as an old friend and a reliable companion that was always there to rescue them from social awkwardness. They also came to realise that they – unintentionally and unwantedly – used cigarettes as a barrier to developing new relationships.
Other clients may connect their habits to stress at work or home, using cigarettes as a way to snatch a moment of calm in a hectic day or alcohol as a way to relax – and not always as you would expect.
One client even identified that they actually appreciated hangovers, as this was the only time that they did not put pressure on themselves to work and were able to relax.
In many such cases, using a combination of hypnotherapy and other techniques can help clients to gain insight into their underlying issues, re-learn the relaxation response without the aid of their habit, and manage their negative habits by consciously taking control of their thoughts, their emotions and their lives.
By Seth Wallis-Jones