It’s no wonder why so many people want to quit smoking. A
Stopping can improve your health, but for many people, quitting is a huge challenge. There are many methods and products for quitting smoking. One that gets a fair amount of attention is hypnosis.
Some people credit hypnosis with helping them quit. Studies have shown conflicting results and it’s clear that more research is needed.
It’s likely that hypnosis, when combined with other smoking cessation programs, can help some people quit smoking.
Read on to learn more about hypnosis for quitting smoking, how to find a qualified practitioner, and other tips for quitting.
If you’d like to try this method or any other, speak with a doctor, who can help you create a cessation plan that works for you.
Hypnosis has long been used as a form of entertainment. In that context, it looks like a form of mind control. The hypnotist holds power over the subject and pushes them to do silly things. But that’s all for show.
Hypnotherapy is real, but there’s no mind control involved. It’s more of a meditative state.
A trained hypnotist uses verbal cues to lead you into a highly focused, meditative state in which you might be more open to advice. The therapist makes suggestions based on your goals.
Unlike the folks in those stage performances, you won’t be under a spell. And you can’t be persuaded to do anything you don’t want to do.
Hypnosis alone may not be enough to help you quit smoking for good. But it may help:
- weaken your desire to smoke
- strengthen the desire to quit
- help you focus on your smoking cessation plan
Hypnosis may help reinforce other things you’re doing to quit.
The review above also cited limited evidence that hypnotherapy may be effective for a variety of conditions, including smoking.
An old 2008 randomized trial concluded that hypnosis alongside nicotine patches compares well with standard behavioral counseling for quitting long-term.
- hypnotists may exaggerate their rates of success
- positive results in uncontrolled studies may not reflect lasting success
- there’s not enough evidence to say if hypnotherapy is more effective than other types of counseling or quitting on your own
There’s no evidence that hypnotherapy has adverse effects or is in any way dangerous. You may be disappointed, though, if you pin all your hopes on it.
If you want to quit smoking and are interested in hypnotherapy, you may want to consider making it part of a bigger strategy. Speak with a doctor for help with quitting smoking.
Quitting smoking is difficult and a few hypnotic suggestions won’t change that. Go into hypnotherapy knowing that it takes:
- an open mind
At your first visit, you’ll talk about your smoking habits and your desire to change. Also up for discussion should be what you’ve tried so far and what methods you’ll continue to work on along with hypnosis.
Hypnotherapy methods may vary a bit from one practitioner to another, so ask potential therapists how they’ll go about it.
Sessions can last from 60 to 90 minutes. How many it will take depends on how well you respond to hypnosis and how much reinforcement you feel you need.
Your hypnotherapist will use verbal cues and mental imagery to guide you to a relaxed, meditative state. Once you’re in this altered state of awareness, you’ll get suggestions like:
- smoking is poisonous
- smoking is unpleasant
- you don’t feel well when you smoke
- you should protect your body from smoke
- you should control smoking and not let smoking control you
- you’ll enjoy many advantages as a non-smoker
- reminders of healthy alternative behaviors when the urge to smoke hits
The goal is to have these thoughts surface when you get the urge to smoke. Remember, you’ll be fully aware of what’s happening. You will not lose control over your behavior during the session or later on.
To reinforce what you’ve taken in, the therapist may also:
- provide audio or video recordings to use at home
- recommend apps you can use on your own
- teach you the basics of self-hypnosis
A 2019 research review suggested that self-hypnosis to quit smoking is associated with a 6-month abstinence rate of
Prices vary according to individual practitioners and locations.
According to the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists, smoking cessation sessions average between $75 and $125 per session. Some may be higher than that.
Not all health insurance policies cover hypnotherapy. Some may cover part of the cost when you use a qualified professional.
Be sure to check your policy or contact your insurance company before making an appointment so you’re not caught off guard.
If you’re concerned about the cost, it’s worth having this discussion early on. Ask for information about self-hypnosis and other tools you can use on your own.
If you’re interested in hypnotherapy to quit smoking, here are a few ways to start your search for a practitioner:
- ask your doctor
- ask people you know for referrals
- check with your health insurance company
- contact local mental health and human service agencies
- contact professional associations of mental health professionals and hypnotherapists
You can also search these databases:
- American Hypnosis Association
- American Society of Clinical Hypnosis
- National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists
Arrange to speak with the hypnotherapist before committing to an appointment.
Since hypnosis involves relaxing and entering a meditative state, it’s important to feel comfortable with the hypnotherapist you work with and find their voice soothing.
Things to discuss in advance:
- training and qualifications
- experience in helping people quit smoking
- whether they will provide resources for you to use on your own
Some hypnotists may want you to commit to a set number of sessions. You should probably avoid paying for a complete package until you’ve had a chance to experience a session.
There’s not a lot of scientific evidence on the effectiveness of hypnosis apps to quit smoking. Hypnosis itself is hard to study, so much of what we hear is anecdotal.
On the other hand, there’s a growing number of quit-smoking apps and a fair amount use self-hypnosis as a tool. You can give these apps a try on your own or as a complement to hypnotherapy.
The other approach to quit-smoking apps is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). This is a mindful approach in which you acknowledge triggers and change how you respond to them.
The odds of quitting smoking were 1.49 times higher in the ACT app group.
People quit smoking in many ways and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. It may take several attempts to find out what works for you. Some of these methods are:
- cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges
- non-nicotine prescription medication, such as varenicline
- complementary therapies like acupuncture or meditation
- cold turkey or gradual withdrawal
You can also:
- Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. A confidential
Quitline(1-800-784-8669) to connect with a trained quit-smoking coach.
- Call 877-44U-QUIT. Speak with smoking cessation counselors through the National Cancer Institute’s Quitline.
- Text QUIT to 47848. Sign up for SmokefreeTXT to receive targeted daily tips and tools.
Hypnosis is a therapeutic tool used for a variety of problems, including quitting smoking.
If you plan on trying hypnosis to quit smoking, be sure to look for qualified practitioners with experience in smoking cessation.
To have any chance of working, you need to be open to hypnosis and comfortable with your hypnotherapist.
Although there’s not a lot of evidence as to its effectiveness, there is little risk in using it to back up your total smoking cessation plan.