If you're having a hard time quitting smoking, you may want to consider hypnotherapy. Although the research is slim, some studies have shown it to be as effective as other methods in helping you quit.
What is hypnosis exactly? First of all, says the National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists (NPCCH), you need to get those old movie images out of your head. You know, the ones where a demonic hypnotist gets a hapless victim under his control and makes him bark like a dog on stage. Or the subject is put into such a deep trance he cannot remember anything that happened while he's "under" and begins a life of crime. According to NPCCH:
In fact, hypnosis is a state of heightened awareness. However, because there is an inward focus of attention, some extraneous external happenings may not be noticed. Nonetheless, people usually can remember everything that occurs in hypnosis.
A trained hypnotherapist helps you focus your concentration, so that you can tap into inner resources and make personal change. One such change can be to quit smoking.
How it stacks up against other smoking cessation programs is hard to measure. One reason is that there are many variations of hypnosis. You may choose to focus on not putting poison into your body, you may change your self-image from smoker to smoke-free, you may tell yourself to reach for a glass of water instead of a cigarette. Some smokers use hypnotherapy alone, while others use it in combination with nicotine replacement or other method. Some hypnotherapists say they have success with a single treatment, others suggest several treatments or an occasional "tune-up" if you feel a relapse in smoking coming on. You can also learn how to do self-hypnosis.
In one review of 48 studies of hypnosis and smoking cessation that encompassed over 6,000 participants, hypnosis had a 36 percent success rate, higher than other methods.
A small study in 2006 of 20 participants compared an intensive 8-time hypnotherapy treatment with a control group of smokers. After six months, 40 percent of those who had undergone hypnotherapy were abstaining from cigarettes while none of the control group had quit.
Hypnosis is not for everybody. If you are totally skeptical about its value or are not really motivated to make change, it's unlikely to work.
The cost of hypnotherapy ranges considerably — one estimate was anywhere from $50 to $500 — depending on the experience of the therapist and where you live. NCCBH has a geographical directory of clinical hypnotherapists who have gone through rigorous training and certification.