Friday, August 31, 2012

Will Hypnosis Help you Quit Smoking?

Because hypnosis has become known for its ability to change behaviors quickly, it’s a natural starting point for many smokers trying to quit. Hypnosis relaxes your mind enough to identify unconscious triggers. "Hypnosis is nothing more than the alpha state—a state of mind that we pass through as we fall asleep at night, go deep into a memory, or as we watch television," explains Alan B. Densky, a certified hypnotherapist based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who specializes in smoking cessation.

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What Is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is concentrated relaxation. In other words, hypnotism allows a person to relax, while focusing on a particular problem or desired result. It's not just relaxing or falling asleep. During hypnotherapy, you relax your mind and body, moving past the guard of your conscious mind, to the subconscious mind. Your conscious mind constantly edits and grades and judges your thoughts and inputs. Your subconscious mind is a sponge waiting to absorb whatever you give it. Your subconscious mind doesn't know the difference between reality and imagination. Therefore, if you can get past the locked gates of your conscious mind to your subconscious mind, you can feed the subconscious "imagined reality." So if you can imagine yourself as a non-smoker, your subconscious mind will accept that as reality.

By reprogramming your subconscious mind you can change your actual behavior. Hypnosis is the key to removing the barrier your conscious mind places in front of you, and reaching the subconscious.

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How it Works?

Hypnotism isn't some magical, mystical trance that someone places on you by swinging a watch back and forth. Instead, it is a natural state of your most amazing brain. When you access your subconscious, you are basically using self-hypnosis. Probably the most obvious example of this is when you are driving a car and begin to relax your mind and think about something other than the road in front of you. Five, maybe ten minutes later, you arrive at your destination and suddenly realize you are there, but you don't consciously remember driving yourself there! You entered your subconscious mind. This is very similar to self-hypnosis.

When you go to the professional hypnotherapist, a typical session starts with a case history so that the therapist has an idea of the patient’s past experience with smoking. Then the therapist induces a state of relaxation in the client through one method or another—often guided meditation or visualization. Next comes a series of suggestions or a conversation to explore what might motivate the patient to quit. For example, with someone who always smokes in front of the television, a hypnotherapist might try to break that connection and replace it with a healthier habit.

During hypnosis for smoking cessation, a patient is also may be asked to imagine unpleasant outcomes from smoking. For example, the hypnotherapist might suggest that cigarette smoke smells like truck exhaust, or that smoking will leave the patient's mouth feeling extremely parched.

Spiegel's method is one popular smoking cessation hypnosis technique that focuses on three main ideas:
  • Smoking poisons the body.
  • You need your body to live.
  • You should respect your body and protect it (to the extent you'd like to live).

The hypnotherapist teaches the smoker self-hypnosis, and then asks him or her to repeat these affirmations anytime the desire to smoke occurs.

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There are a couple of ways that you can use hypnosis to stop smoking:
  1. Self-hypnosis
  2. Hypnotherapy by a certified hypnotherapist
Self-hypnosis involves using techniques to relax yourself, and guide yourself through the images that can make quitting smoking work. This technique can take practice and time to master.

A hypnotherapist is typically certified (or should be) and has specific training and expertise to help you relax and guide you using specific images and words that work to help a person quit smoking. Some hypnotherapists will offer a one-session program, while some may suggest multiple sessions to make sure you succeed.

A third alternative is really a combination of these first two methods: a recorded program produced by a professional, that you listen to in the comfort of your own home or office. This option is far less costly than visiting a hypnotist in person, and it gives you flexibility and repeatability in your program.

When you use self-hypnosis to stop smoking, the recorded CD will initially focus on getting you to relax as fully as possible. The general premise is that when you reach this highly relaxed state, referred to as a trance, powerful suggestions can be made to your unconscious mind. The types of suggestive statements which are used to help you quit smoking may include various affirmations. For example, “My lungs are cleaner each day I am smoke free” and “I value my health and enjoy a smoke-free life”. Another statement used during the trance may be, “My family and friends enjoy being around me more now that I am smoke free”. 

As you may notice, all of these statements are both present tense and positive. 
It is believed that positive statements based on what you do want (to be smoke free) are far more effective than negative statements focusing on what you don’t want (e.g. “I no longer desire cigarettes”). The belief is that the unconscious will interpret that as “I desire cigarettes”. Also, statements made in the here and now tell the unconscious that the desired change has already occurred, rather than keeping it in the future.
Many people find that repeated sessions will result in more lasting effects. Some therapists will recommend listening at least once a day or even twice a day for the first several days, and at least daily for a month. Also, using self-hypnosis techniques regularly to reinforce the new behavior can be very effective.

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Does it Work?

Hypnosis, in general, does not work for everyone. About one in four people are not able to be hypnotized. When successful, the intensity of hypnosis can vary from person to person.

How well hypnosis works to help people stop smoking depends on who you ask. Study results have been mixed. In 2001, a study published in the Journal of Dental Education concluded that it "seems justified to classify it as a "possibly [effective]" treatment for smoking cessation." And a handful of studies looking at Spiegel's method found that almost half of patients had stopped smoking by 11 months. However, the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute web sites clearly state that "reviews that looked at studies of hypnosis to help people quit smoking have not supported it as a quitting method that works."

Despite some web sites and promotional materials that say otherwise, hypnosis is not an approved therapy by the American Medical Association (AMA). The organization does not have an official position on the use of hypnosis. A position statement regarding the use of the technique for medical and psychological purposes was rescinded by the AMA in 1987.

Researchers who have studied hypnosis say more, well-conducted studies are needed to determine if hypnosis really helps smokers kick the habit for good, but add that hypnosis remains a hopeful approach and has many other benefits. However, the best way to quit may be to combine several techniques. Patients often require several different strategies along the way.

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Sources and Additional Information:

1 comment:

  1. Great blog, this could be the best blog I ever visited this month. Never stop to write something useful dude!.
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