Hypnotherapy and Smoking Addiction

Two enthusiastic Year 13 Students from Lynfield College, Isiri and Tessa, are studying tobacco addiction this year.

photo interview

As part of their project they interviewed me on treating smoking addiction using Hypnotherapy.

I was thrilled to be interviewed, and to meet these wonderful girls who were keen and excited to interview me.

Here are some of the questions I was asked with my answers.

Can Hypnotherapy Treat Tobacco Addiction?

Yes. Hypnotherapy works with the unconscious mind.

The unconscious mind is an automatic program run only to react that is designed to protect you. Everything that comes through your senses, everything that you see, hear, feel, etc. creates a tiny movie that is  recording everything around you and stored in the unconscious mind.

These tiny movies are stored in related memory groups which hold encoding related to different things, like self-image, relationships, what trees are, what a cat is – it just stores information about “stuff.” It is a recording system and all memories are stored in the same way.

When something happens in consciousness (NOW) that is related to the encoding in a memory group the unconscious mind automatically brings up the thought- feeling- reaction that is associated with that memory into consciousness. That then triggers  behaviour (smoking) which has helped in the past and the thoughts and feelings that are imbedded in that memory are then creating a new memory and stored in the same way.

In other words, our minds are just reacting to behaviour that would have worked once for us in the past and made us feel safe or happy. The mind then thinks it is a really good idea to keep producing that behaviour in situations it feels fits the scene.

Smoking is a behaviour. It is something that the client is “doing”, like exercise, eating and sleeping. Pretty much everything that we “do” is a behaviour.

Our behaviours and emotions are driven by knowledge, beliefs, values and attitudes stored in the unconscious mind

Original Root Cause Memory

Belief Systems develop

Strong emotional beliefs become Values

Values determine Attitude

Attitude creates behaviours

As hypnotherapy works with the unconscious mind it can be used to negotiate with the unconscious mind to come up with better behaviours to protect the client other than smoking or the anxiety/or cause that drives them to smoke.

Hypnotherapy treats the root cause unlike many other treatments available for stop smoking; they only treat the Physical symptoms. (Electronic cigarettes, Patches)

How do you treat smoking addiction?

First I educate the client on how the mind works, how hypnosis works, and how smoking becomes a habit.

I also take the clients history and background, upbringing and current circumstances, lifestyle, triggers and relationships to have an understanding of the client’s view of the world.

Then I look at the client’s lifestyle and overall health, and address any biochemical imbalances if required.

Clients believe that they want to quit smoking but another part of them  doesn’t want to let go. Some clients have described this by saying it’s like there are two people in their head pulling in different directions – one part wants to stop smoking, the other part doesn’t.

Hypnotherapy can release that part of the client from the unwanted behaviour and have these “two people” working together by negotiating with the unconscious mind to come up with better ways to protect the client other than smoking or the anxiety/or cause that drives them to smoke.

Hypnotherapy is also used to build new memories of a smoke-free life and if the client finds themselves in a situation where they once smoked a new behaviour will take place in the thought-feeling-reaction in consciousness providing a difference response.

I also teach other techniques the client can use to create a calmer environment. Like most of the population smokers are shallow breathers until they smoke. When they breathe deeply smoking they activate the parasympathetic nervous system which calms them (rather than the harmful chemicals in cigarettes). Simple techniques and new behaviours can change the way the body responses to stress and other triggers.

Is the treatment long term or short term?

Change can happen in an instant. Once the unconscious mind knows that the behaviour you are doing  is no longer protecting you but harming you, it will drop the behaviour. Depending on the issue and person each session is treated uniquely.

If the client has a high level of stress, anxiety or other physical symptoms I may refer to an orthomolecular practitioner to treat the biochemistry. If a client’s biochemistry is unbalanced it can be harder to make a change at a psychological level.

Once we are treating the biochemistry we can work with the behaviours, beliefs and values surrounding the addiction.

With regards to smoking: clients can become smoke-free within one session, a follow up session is recommended and sometimes a second or third session maybe required as everyone is unique to the hypnosis process. A second session is important to check how the client has been since the first and either give them another personal reinforcement or make any adjustments to their treatment that maybe required.

Is it difficult to hypnotise people/ any problems hypnotising some people

There are many misconceptions about Hypnosis. It is not mind control, you are not unconscious and I can not make you do anything you do not wish to do. In fact, it is simply a relaxed state where it becomes easier to communicate with the unconscious mind and to access its resources. Trance states are like daydreaming, watching your favourite TV program where you become lost in the story and are no longer aware of your surroundings.

As a hypnotherapist we are simply a guide to facilitate the client through the process of trance. As long as the client is willing, open and gives permission, is not mentally impaired or a person with major biochemical imbalances any mind that can follow instructions can experience change through hypnosis.

What sorts of questions do clients ask regarding addiction?

Why can I not quit on my own?

What are the time frames or number of sessions needed?

Will it work straight away?

Will I have any cravings?

If I stop smoking cigarettes can I still smoke marijuana?

How long would each session be?

60-90 Minutes. Usually the first session is 90 minutes the first session is longer because I take history and educate the client about the mind and how Hypnosis can assist.

Is there a large amount of clients interested in hypnotherapy as a treatment to smoking addiction?

Yes, Hypnotherapy for Smoking addiction is very popular and well known for its success.


DISCLAIMER: Information on this website is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical advice or counselling, the practice of medicine including psychiatry, psychology, psychotherapy or the provision of health care diagnosis or treatment, the creation of a patient or clinical relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly.