Some hypnotherapy methods try to weaken a person's desire to light up, others try to strengthen willpower or help them focus on a quit smoking programme.
Although there have been studies to assess whether hypnotherapy to help stop smoking is effective, the evidence has not yet been conclusive. For clinical trials, hypnotherapy has been tested against other therapies, counselling and no help at all.
A 2010 review of the evidence by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that although it is possible that hypnotherapy may be as effective as special quit smoking counselling, there is not enough solid evidence to be sure of this.
Hypnosis is defined as an altered state of awareness in which you appear to be asleep or in a trance. Clinical hypnosis may be used to treat certain physical or psychological problems. For instance, it is frequently used to in an effort help patients control pain. It is also used in a wide range of other conditions such as weight issues, speech disorders and addiction problems.
There is debate about how hypnosis works. Some people believe that when you are hypnotised, you relax and concentrate more and are more willing to listen to suggestions - such as giving up smoking, for example.
Even though you appear to be in a trance during hypnosis, you are not unconscious. You are still aware of your surroundings, and - despite what many stage performers may claim during an entertaining show - you cannot be made do to anything against your will. In fact, brain tests performed on patients during hypnotism sessions have shown a high level of neurological activity.
Hypnosis for smokers: Direct suggestion
In this method of hypnosis for smoking cessation, a patient is often asked to imagine unpleasant outcomes from smoking. For example, the hypnotherapist might suggest that cigarette smoke smells like car exhaust, or that smoking will leave the patient's mouth feeling extremely parched.
Spiegel's method is one popular smoking cessation hypnosis technique that focuses on three main ideas:
Smoking poisons the body
You need your body to live
You should respect your body and protect it (to the extent you'd like to live)
The hypnotherapist teaches the smoker self-hypnosis, and then asks him or her to repeat these affirmations any time the desire to smoke occurs.
Hypnosis for smokers: Multi-component/Cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy
This method is a combination of techniques tailored to smoking cessation. The combination of hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) called "cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy" combines a wide range of different, evidence-based, interventions, rather than just hypnotic suggestion alone.
How to find a hypnotherapist
Some mainstream doctors, dentists, psychologists and counsellors offer hypnotherapy services, but it can also be offered by people without formal training or qualifications.
Look for a qualified hypnotherapist with healthcare experience.
UK College of Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy.
NHS Choices: Hypnotherapy
Cochrane Collaboration: Hypnotherapy for smoking cessation
American Cancer Society web site: "Guide to Quitting Smoking."
The Directory of Complementary and Alternative Practitioners: Information for the public
US National Cancer Institute web site, "Quitting Smoking: Why to Quit and Where to Get Help."
American Society of Clinical Hypnosis web site: "Facts About Hypnosis: What is Clinical Hypnosis?"
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