SPOTLIGHT ON HYPNOSIS: Hypnosis Is Highly Effective For Smoking Cessation
By Jimmy Eldred Quast

There seems to be an intriguing relationship between individuals who just can’t quit smoking, and individuals who happen to be the better candidates for hypnosis. Intractable smokers rarely know this, but when tested, they usually turn out to be among the best hypnosis subjects. While there are a number of tests for hypnotic ability, one test is widely acknowledged to be the most reliable. It was developed at Stanford University by Dr. David Spiegel, and is called the Hypnotic Induction Profile, or HIP Test. As it turns out, highly hypnotizable people are the very ones who are most susceptible to acquiring strong habitual behaviors. The HIP Test has also confirmed the long-held belief that around 9% of the population are poor subjects for hypnosis. As you might expect, that group also tends to be able to quit smoking with relative ease and with very little, if any, assistance.

Noting what I have just said, you may already realize that the above information is very good news for both smokers and the hypnosis profession. With rare exception, the only smokers who seek hypnotherapy treatment are the ones who have tried just about everything, and have been unable to quit on their own. Most of them will automatically be good-to-excellent subjects for hypnosis (though few smokers would ever have thought so themselves). For years this fortunate circumstance has certainly helped to favorably “stack the odds” for success in my own work with smokers. In fact, the success rate for the majority of competent hypnotists seems to remain around 80%, based on a one-year follow-up. I have been able to verify that rate with statistics from my own practice of 12 years.

However, I do need to point out that all of my nearly 1100 smoking clients have been seen on a
private, one-on-one basis. You have probably seen the ads for quitting smoking via group hypnosis. These groups are normally conducted by a hypnotist who travels from town to town. Such shows can be quite entertaining, but their effectiveness is very low compared to a private session. The reason for the difference is that every smoker’s habit is unique in regard to the times, places, and situations in which they smoke. To be most effective, the treatment must be tailored to fit the client like a suit of new clothes. Obviously group sessions must rely upon generalities. Furthermore, the very process of entering a state of hypnosis can require personal attention. In a private session it is easy to find out what kind of an environment is most relaxing to the client, and what kind of an approach will naturally allow them to enter an alpha state. As I have said so many times in these columns, we all enter hypnosis everyday, and we each do it in our own way. Again it is quite obvious that no group session can offer such individual attention. Therefore the possibility of success is significantly diminished.

You might ask why 20% of smokers who try hypnosis fail to quit? There are numerous possible reasons including a personality clash between the client and hypnotist. Another common one is that some smokers really don’t want to quit. Perhaps they have been hounded by friends and family to quit, or they may have been ordered to quit by their family physician. It can’t work if you go to the hypnotist only to please someone else. Or like many, they may believe the novels and movies that portray hypnosis as an intervention that overpowers a person’s will and makes them do anything the hypnotist suggests, whether they want to or not. From that perspective, it would be as though smoking is similar to having a controversial tattoo that you really like but it offends everyone else. So you just make an appointment to get it burned off and that’s the end of it. Hypnosis does not work that way. The best any hypnotist can do is free their client from the limitations that have prevented success. Furthermore, the success I am speaking of must be on the client’s terms, not the therapist’s. When there is an honest desire for change, the results often do seem magical, whether that means quitting a noxious habit, sleeping better, getting over an illness, eliminating pain, or loosing a predisposition for anger, sadness, fear, etc. Oh, and did I mention that hypnosis for quitting smoking is extremely pleasant and costs much less than the cigarettes?

Note: hypnosis for medical issues may require a physician’s referral.


© 2007 by Jimmy E. Quast, All rights reserved
Hanson Street Professional Center, 10 S. Hanson St., Suite 1, Easton, MD 21601410.819.8835email