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Hypnosis for Smoking Cessation

People begin smoking for different types of reasons.  For some it may have started early in life because they were identifying with someone they respected.  For others, they may have started smoking to replace something else.  In either type case however, smoking becomes an addiction, and not a mild one at that.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine (CDC, 2014).  Some of these hyper-addictive qualities of tobacco products today have been attributed to the various additives, many of which are toxic.  However it doesn’t stop there.  Recently researchers at the University of Massachusetts, School of Medicine found that advances in the science behind the tobacco products have made the nicotine delivery system more efficient than ever before (Gray, 2014). 

Fortunately medical science has moved forward with advances as well that have assisted many in their quest to quit smoking.  Unfortunately the desire to smoke often goes much further in a person’s subconscious make up than just the chemical addiction itself.  Perhaps this is why hypnosis has become so well known as a successful method for kicking the habit as has been documented repeatedly by verifiable, clinical case studies.  Just how successful is hypnosis over other methods?  For an unbiased answer consider the following:

In the largest study ever conducted on smoking cessation, The Institute of Actuaries statistically analyzed the results of 633 smoking cessation studies which involved 71,806 participants.  The results published by the American Hypnosis Association cited that researchers “found that among all of the techniques used, hypnosis was the most effective” (Viswesvaran & Schmidt, 1992).

This may prompt the smoker who has failed to successfully quit in the past to wonder if those who quit managed to stay smoke free.  Generally the studies show that they do, but more importantly than the relapse is the reason.  Just as people start smoking for different reasons, those who relapse also do so for different reasons and this can often be avoided with hypnosis as well.  For example, some may decide all they need is a single session to quit smoking.  While that sounds rather fantastic, it is actually been shown effective in clinical studies (Williams & Hall, 1988; Spiegel, Frischholz, Fleiss, & Spiegel, 1993).  A potential downside to the single session approach is that the client then doesn’t get the added benefit over the course of their sessions of being able to have the hypnotherapist help them deal with anxiety related issues that can at times be the catalyst for the ex-smoker to reach for that first cigarette again. 

To put this in verifiable numbers, in a study conducted through the University of Washington, School of Medicine, researchers utilizing hypnotherapy and NLP techniques documented a 90% success rate in smoking cessation at the 6 month follow up period.  Of the study participants who did not remain smoke free, they cited that they resumed smoking in response to intolerable anxiety (Barber, 2001). 

Anxiety of course is another area for which hypnosis has an impressive and verifiable track record.  It is for this reason in part that in this practice we tailor the smoking cessation plan to the individual.  If the daily nicotine intake is at a point that the actual cessation sessions can begin immediately, an initial 3-7 day follow up to reinforce the new behaviors and take care of any problems that arise is normally scheduled.  For those with more barriers a protocol created by Dr. Harold Crasilneck is utilized in which three shorter sessions are conducted over three consecutive days.  In either case we ask that clients report in with progress or challenges.  In this manner if stressful situations occur and additional sessions are needed, we can attempt to make accommodations quickly.

In other situations the physical nicotine addiction may be too strong, such as in cases where the client is smoking multiple packs a day.  In cases such as these, it is advisable to bring down the daily amount by utilizing a proven protocol combined with hypnotherapy sessions prior to the cessation session(s).  In either event, be it a single session case, or multiple sessions, a three week follow-up is scheduled.  This seems to be the crucial point where things can begin to change and reversals in behavior can be seeded if not addressed. 

As we often explain to clients you didn’t become addicted overnight, and while we may be able to help you stop smoking overnight, the goal is not for you to stop smoking, but to become a permanent ex-smoker.  This is where the reinforcement sessions come into play.  If approached in this manner as a team effort, the College of Hypnotherapy cites impressive results.  An additional plus to the client is that with rising cost of tobacco products, smoking cessation sessions likely pay for themselves.

If you have questions and would like to speak with someone regarding hypnotherapy for smoking cessation, contact us online, or call the office at 469-225-9040.

William Carpenter holds a certification in Hypnosis for Smoking Cessation from the American Hypnosis Association.



Barber, J. (2001). Freedom from smoking: integrating hypnotic methods and rapid smoking to facilitate smoking cessation. International journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis, 49(3), 257-266.

CDC; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (n.d). Smoking & Tobacco Use; Nicotine Addiction.  Retrieved from cdc ‘dot’ gov/tobacco/quit_smoking/how_to_quit/you_can_quit/nicotine.

Crasilneck, H. B. (1990). Hypnotic techniques for smoking control and psychogenic impotence. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 32(3), 147-153.

Gray, S. (2104, January 14).  DPH, UMMS researchers discover increased cigarette nicotine yield; Findings indicate change in design by tobacco companies.  Retrieved from umassmed ‘dot’ edu/news/news-archives/2014/01/dph-umms-researchers-discover-increased-cigarette-nicotine-yield.

Spiegel, D., Frischholz, E. J., Fleiss, J. L., & Spiegel, H. (1993). Predictors of smoking abstinence following a single-session restructuring intervention with self-hypnosis. American Journal of Psychiatry, 150, 1090-1090.

Viswesvaran, C., & Schmidt, F. L. (1992). A meta-analytic comparison of the effectiveness of smoking cessation methods. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77(4), 554.

Williams, J. M., & Hall, D. W. (1988). Use of single session hypnosis for smoking cessation. Addictive behaviors, 13(2), 205-208.