We structure hypnosis for smoking in three sessions. The first two sessions occur on consecutive days, the third session is held two weeks later. In the first session, a history is taken, followed by determining how much the patient has smoked, how long, and how many packs/day. Then it is determined when the patient smokes (for instance, when first awakening in the morning, with a cup of coffee, while driving to work, arriving at work, on the phone, during stressful times, after meals, etc.). These times and situations in which the patient smokes are explained to the patient as environmental cues which trigger the smoking response. Then, during the hypnosis session of the first day, it is suggested to the patient: "When these environmental cues occur, there will be another unconscious program that will respond, instead of the smoking program. An unconscious non-smoking program will respond, to be relaxed, calm and comfortable, without a cigarette." In each of these situations, this new response ("relaxed, calm and comfortable, without a cigarette") is paired with each one of these environmental cues. The patient is also told that, "There will be no other unconscious substitute, other than the one that we have agreed upon. No other substitutes, such as increased eating, or drinking, or nailbiting, or any other unproductive behavior. You may have no urge whatsoever to smoke when this new program of being 'relaxed, calm and comfortable without a cigarette' works perfectly. However, there may be times that the old smoking program will respond as well and you may have an urge to smoke. If you do, you are to say, 'No,' and if necessary, take a few deep breaths which will reduce the urge noticeably, if not eliminating it, but certainly reducing it to a tolerable level."
When the patient returns on the second day, all of these situations are again discussed. Usually, in over half of the response situations, the patient has been relaxed, calm, and comfortable without any urge to smoke. At the times when there is an urge to smoke, usually it is tolerable, and when met with the decision, "No," and with a few deep breaths, the urge disappears. Any urges that persist are identified as difficult times, and during the second hypnosis session, these times which were teased out as being the more difficult ones are now given special attention and the unconscious mind is asked to give the patient additional help and reinforcement at these times. It is suggested to the patient: "Day by day this new program gets stronger as it's being used, and the old smoking program gets weaker since it is not being used. The new one is stronger, the old one weaker, until the new one replaces the old." This sometimes is completed within a few days, and other times it may take two or three weeks.
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Hypnosis is a capital instrument for relaxation and alleviating stress. It helps calm down both the brain and body, giving a useful rest. All the same it can be rather costly to hire a clinical hypnotherapist, and we might not always want one around when we would like to destress.