When you were growing up, did you think of hypnosis in cartoon terms, such as a therapist sitting over a reclining patient, swinging a watch in front of the patient’s eyes? It’s somewhat unfortunate that many of us have this rather silly notion of hypnotism in our heads, because these days the practice of hypnosis is being used to help people overcome bad habits. One of the habits that hypnosis – or hypnotherapy – is reputed to help is smoking.
What Is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes. Hypnosis itself is a state of deep and focused relaxation, during which the person being hypnotized is said to be more open to suggestion.
In hypnotherapy, the therapist uses visualization and relaxation techniques to relax the patient, and then the therapist attempts to “talk to” the patient’s subconscious. The therapist then makes positive suggestions to the patient. Destructive habits are said to be replaced with positive ones.
Are There Any Dangers?
Some people are afraid of hypnosis – what if the therapist tells you to do something crazy, or tries to infuse your mind with false memories? First of all, this really isn’t what hypnosis is about. But if you are concerned, most hypnotherapists have an option where you can record your hypnosis session. In this day and age of mobile phones and digital images, a video or audio record of your hypnotherapy session should not be difficult to obtain. If the hypnotherapist refuses to let you do this, and that makes you uncomfortable, then by all means look for another hypnotherapist.
How Does It Help You Quit Smoking?
There have been smokers who testify as to the effectiveness of hypnotherapy. Some have claimed that one session removed all cravings for them permanently. Others have to return for several sessions.
Since hypnotherapy works by tapping into the subconscious, the therapist can go into those areas of the brain that are normally closely guarded and closed to the public, so to speak. He or she can access primitive areas where bad habits like cravings reside, and can replace those cravings with positive suggestions.
Some hypnotherapists tell the patient to breathe deeply, breathing in freedom and peace and breathing out stress and anxiety. This breathing imagery can tap into the inhale/exhale habit of smoking, and “re-wire” the brain to replace the cigarette with positive, relaxing thoughts.
Another approach hypnotherapists use is to suggest coping mechanisms to the patient while he or she is in a relaxed state. The therapist can help the patient anticipate withdrawal symptoms and help the brain to kick in with positive coping mechanisms when those symptoms hit.
Hypnotherapy is not for everyone, but it is becoming a more and more accepted option for help in quitting smoking.