Scientific Proof of Success With Hypnotherapy
As long ago as the Autumn of 1992, a report appeared in New Scientist magazine which began with the words:
“Hypnosis is the most effective way of giving up smoking, according to the largest ever scientific comparison of ways of breaking the habit.” New Scientist 31.10.92
This study, which was carried out at The University of Iowa in the United States, had already been reported in the Journal of Applied Psychology earlier in the same year. Eight years later, the London-based hypnotherapist Valerie Austin published a book in which she listed other published scientific studies going back as far as 1968, one of which reported a 94% success rate for hypnotherapy after a follow-up period of eighteen months.
NHS methods fail 93% of smokers when the results are reviewed one year from the start of treatment. In late 2005, the U.K. Department of Health finally decided to assess the long-term outcomes of its NHS Stop Smoking programme, which began in 2001. Previously, all NHS “success rates” were based on the number of smokers who had reported not smoking for four weeks – they were never previously monitored after that point, and as it turns out, nearly all of them relapsed.
So if you ever tried any of those methods and they did not work, or you only quit smoking temporarily, you did not fail – the method fails nearly everyone. They just didn’t tell you that.
This four-week model of assessing performance closely mirrors the original trials of nicotine replacement products, in which the results after only six weeks were accepted as the official “success rate” of the products. If the approval bodies had only assessed those results over a one-year period, N.R.T. products would never have been approved in the first place. Why? Because:
The independent Iowa study – which was described by New Scientist at the time as being the “largest ever scientific comparison of ways of breaking the habit” – looked at all methods available then, including willpower. The success rate arrived at for willpower alone was only 6%, which proves that willpower is simply a poor quitting method (see the Willpower Myth page on this site). The recent Borland Report into the long-term outcomes of NHS Stop Smoking Services discovered that 93.5% of smokers using those services would still be smoking at the one year follow-up, which puts the success rate at 6.5%… almost exactly the same as willpower!
The Hypnotherapy Solution
Success with hypnotherapy is completely different from other quitting attempts, which largely rely on willpower to resist the urge to pick up a cigarette. Those urges – often called cravings – are signals from the brain which prompt the repetition of habitual behaviour. Humans will experience lots of craving signals, they are not all about tobacco. The impulse to buy or eat chocolate, repeatedly snort cocaine, drink alcohol, play slot machines or eat fast food… these are all Compulsive Habitual behaviours, which often get called “addictions” when in fact they are not! They just look like addictions – they are really all compulsive habits that can be quite easily shut down with expert hypnotherapy, provided the person really wants to ditch the habit.
Hang on – isn’t tobacco addictive?
Actually no, but it certainly appears to be… as do cocaine and also alcohol. However, it would be true to say that the vast majority of people who drink alcohol sometimes are NOT ‘problem drinkers’. Most adults who have been drinking alcohol for years do not believe they are addicted to it, which seems odd if the substance itself is ‘addictive’. Likewise there are occasional cocaine-users who never develop a habit, just as there are those who sometimes drink tea or coffee but they can take it or leave it, whilst others drink ten cups a day, every day. Are they addicted? And if so, why isn’t everyone?
“Addiction” doesn’t explain it – “Compulsive Habit” does!
It is often suggested that sugar is ‘addictive’, as an attempt to explain the chocoholic’s behaviour – but what about gambling and fast food? Gamblers aren’t even consuming anything, yet that gets called an addiction too – as does playing computer games for hours on end – so does the word ‘addiction’ equally apply to anything you apparently can’t stop doing? If so, how would that differ from breathing, going to sleep or using toilet facilities? We certainly feel compelled to do those things too, and indeed seem unable to stop!
Natural v Unnatural
The difference can be easily demonstrated with hypnotherapy, provided the client would prefer to be rid of the problem. A real drug addiction – heroin is a classic example – cannot be simply shut down with a single session of hypnotherapy. Not in any case, so far as I am aware. All the other unnecessary habits can, and I have done that many times with tobacco, cannabis, alcohol, cocaine, various forms of gambling, chocoholics, fast food and computer gaming. In smokers, we also make sure we prevent the weight gain or overeating that many smokers fear when they contemplate quitting. So don’t worry, even if you have gained weight in previous quitting attempts, you won’t have that problem if you come to Central Hypnotherapy.
How it works
Hypnotherapy shuts down the impulse to reach for tobacco, which really has nothing to do with nicotine or anything else in the smoke. These impulses (sometimes called cravings) are signals from the brain which prompt you to repeat the usual habitual action in the usual situations. When smokers try to quit with willpower, they are attempting to just ignore or resist those impulses. This usually drives the smoker up the wall, because the signals only become more insistent if you do not respond at first. The brain assumes you didn’t notice the signal, so it sends a stronger, more insistent one! And it will usually keep doing that until you finally respond by lighting up.
Instead of fighting a battle using willpower, in hypnotherapy we explain to the Subconscious mind (which sends these signals) that the smoking matter is under review, requesting that the reminder signals be shut down. In fact, they shut down at regular intervals anyway: when you go to sleep, or whenever you go into a situation in which smoking is not possible such as a cinema or hospital, or if you board a plane. Few smokers are bothered by cravings whilst they are in these situations. Even the few smokers that do struggle with those restrictions only suffer because they have not really accepted the restriction, so they feel resentful about being told they are not allowed to smoke there!
Beliefs, Feelings and Concerns
In addition to requesting that the craving signals be shut down, it is important for the therapist also to explain the reasons for the change to the Subconscious mind – and take into account the feelings and concerns of that particular smoker – all of which may have a bearing on their response to the therapy process. Preventing over-eating or weight-gain is probably the most common example of an associated issue which may be a concern to some clients, and they will be very relieved to discover that they will not be gaining weight after the smoking habit is shut down – even if that did happen before when they tried to quit with other methods.
Quick and Easy
In most cases we can do all this in a single session, which takes about two hours from start to finish. The great thing about hypnotherapy from the client’s point of view is that they spend the whole time relaxing in a comfy chair and do not need to contribute anything else to the process apart from looking forward to being rid of the problem. This makes hypnotherapy by far the easiest, as well as the most effective method of stopping smoking.
N.B. Clients sometimes have mixed feelings about stopping smoking, and feel uncertain about the hypnotherapy process if they have not had hypnotherapy before. We take care of all those issues within that session, this is all quite normal. So if you have doubts, don’t let that put you off – some doubts are only to be expected and they do not get in the way of the process because the response comes from the Subconscious mind, not the skeptical conscious mind. Your Subconscious mind is blissfully unaware of any doubts that may be bothering your conscious mind about what the Subconscious mind can or cannot do. Let your conscious mind be pleasantly surprised by the outcome! Your Subconscious already knows what it can do, and it shuts down the craving signals regularly anyway, purely for your convenience. Of course it can shut them down forever, it only needs to hear a sound case for doing so. That’s my job, so you can leave that part to me!
Call me (Chris) at Central Hypnotherapy on 0161-474 8120 (Office Hours) Mobile: 07748 838 644 (any time, including evenings & weekends) for more info or to book an appointment.
Consultant Hypnotherapist Chris Holmes BA(Hons) HPD DipCAH MNCH is a Senior Registered Hypnotherapy Practitioner (General Hypnotherapy Register) and has been providing effective and confidential hypnosis and hypnotherapy services at Central Hypnotherapy for Stockport, Manchester, Tameside and Cheshire since August 2000.
Central Hypnotherapy, Merchants House, 24-25 Market Place, Stockport SK1 1EU