Hypnosis to Stop Smoking

by Diana Powley

The law to ban smoking in public places will come in next year and we need to prepare now, says Diana Powley, a leading UK hypnotherapist and founder of Habitbreakers

Smoking will probably be banned in all pubs, clubs and workplaces in the whole of the United Kingdom from summer 2007. It could still be banned at outdoor locations that are ‘substantially enclosed’ such as football grounds and railway platforms. It is believed that an extra 600,000 smokers will give up over ten years as a result of this ban. The Irish Government hails their smoking ban as a success that is already bringing health benefits to bar workers and creating a more pleasant atmosphere in which to socialise.

Throughout the UK thousands of people’s lives are severely damaged every year as a result of smoking and this impacts on their health, relationships, family life, work and finances. This is therefore yet another powerful incentive for stopping smoking.

So what has been preventing people until now? Personal health issues don’t stop many people, the smell doesn’t stop them, and the cost doesn’t stop them. Yet, why not?

I would suggest that it’s fear and fatigue. Fear of failure. Tired of trying. You know the story: they’ve tried so many times before using willpower, patches, maybe Zyban, even acupuncture, and nothing has worked for very long. So they’ve accepted that they are unable to stop.

Then clients come to hypnotherapy, often as a last resort. They may know someone who was stopped using this method. And provided that they really want to stop then this method can reach the parts that all those other methods just couldn’t reach. The majority of clients stop and stay stopped (see success rate chart). Why? Because smoking is a mental habit. It’s a deeply ingrained habit which has been reinforced several times a day for years, even decades. It’s like an old record that has got stuck. ‘I need a cigarette, I’ve got to have a cigarette.’

New Scientist magazine reported the largest ever scientific comparison of ways of stopping smoking. Of all of the different methods analyzed the survey found Hypnotherapy to be the most effective, being five times more effective than will power alone, and three times more effective than nicotine gum:

… “Most techniques turned out to be hopeless. Hypnosis, however, came out as the most effective anti-smoking technique”

New Scientist Magaine (vol 136 issue 1845)

Let me explain a little about hypnosis

Hypnosis is increased relaxation and concentration. We take negative habits and replace them with positive habits. We all go into hypnosis everyday – when you drive your car, when you daydream, whilst listening to music, watching a film – when you’re on automatic pilot, its known as environmental hypnosis.

Now let me explain the connection with our conscious and unconscious minds. In the conscious mind is our awareness, our logic and reasoning, our short term memory. Yet this part is only about 10% of our mind and can only process about five or six pieces of information a second.

On the other hand our unconscious mind can process over 2 million bits of information a second. This is the part which is on auto-pilot and runs our life for us. It’s been building habits for us perfectly since the day we were born. Everything we do is an unconscious habit. The way we brush out teeth, the way we put our shoes on, drive a car, even breathing. We don’t have to think about because the autonomic nervous system is run by our unconscious mind and does it for us.

However when we were learning to drive we had to think of so many things – looking in the mirror, how and when to change gear, signalling. It was a complete overload for the tiny conscious mind until, by repetition, it downloaded the information to the powerful unconscious mind and those things all became, over a period of time, automatic habitual behaviours. It is the same with smoking. It is a learned experience which by repetition becomes an unconscious habit.

So how do we do it?

Hypnotherapy removes the desire for smoking, replacing that ‘record’ with one which will serve them better: ‘I am now a non-smoker and I’ll be a non-smoker for the rest of my life.’

Most people stop smoking after one session with a few usually stopping after a backup session or telephone support.

During the session we replace the old ‘negative’ habit with a new ‘positive’ mental attitude. This ensures that the client leaves, not only as a non-smoker, but with a more positive focus which will serve them better, with a much healthier approach to life. For example, many choose to drink more water, eat more fruit, salads and vegetables, others to exercise more.

Whilst the majority of people stop smoking after just one session, many hypnotherapists like myself provide full back up support for up to a year following the appointment.

Ultimately the facts speak for themselves: We have got a year to turn over half a million smokers into non smokers. We can do if we work together and utilise the most effective methods of helping people break their smoking habit, and hypnotherapy is the most effective statistically proven method.

Diana Powley is a leading Neuro-Linguistic Programming Hypnotherapist. She is founder of Habitbreakers, a UK-wide organisation of professional NLP Hypnotherapists specialising in smoking cessation, weight management, fears, phobias and other negative habits – www.dunehypnotherapy.co.uk

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