Researchers from Texas A&M University looked at the effect hypnosis had on smoking cessation and whether it assisted smokers with quitting the habit. The study offered thirty smokers three individualized sessions of hypnotic intervention in a clinical setting. All the participants of the study were referred by their doctor. After the three sessions, 81% of the patients reported that they had stopped smoking. 12 months after the study, 48% of patients had remained non smokers. More than 95% of the patients reported being satisfied with the hypnotic intervention and process. The study also found that smokers would be 20% more likely to quit after the 12 month period if they had completed the total 3 sessions and not just two or one.
In the first session data was collected from the patients concerning their smoking history, an assessment of their mental status and any psychopathology. The session also covered aspects relating to the addictive nature of nicotine as well as the relationship between stress and tobacco consumption. Each smoker was asked to pick a goal date to quit, to throw out anything in their possession related to smoking, and to return to the consultation location on the specified quit date. Each patient was asked to discuss and talk about the possible after effects of quitting smoking and the likely implications. An overview of the myths and misconceptions regarding hypnosis was also given. These first sessions were approximately 45 minutes in length. This time allowed for the development of both rapport and the groundwork for a positive therapeutic intervention.
In the second session patients participated in a 25 minute hypnotic intervention that covered various hypnotic techniques. The induction was standardized across the board but the benefit suggestions were tailored to each individual’s preferences. Some of the aspects of the hypnosis intervention included:
- Relaxing imagery and related suggestions,
- Stop smoking commitments,
- Decreased craving for nicotine and other post hypnotic suggestions,
- Self hypnosis training,
- Benefits visualization.
A hypnotic audiotape was also given to patients reinforcing the hypnotic benefits of relaxation (the audiotape did not contain any direct smoking suggestions)
In the final session covered the progress, the ease and or difficulties faced since the hypnosis intervention and a reinforcement hypnotic session was also delivered.
Some of the limitations to this study included the fact that there was no control group to measure the placebo effect. In simple terms, whenever a group of people are given treatment, regardless of what that treatment is, the condition will show improvement in some of the people. If there is no control group, we are limited in knowing the extent to which hypnosis is successful in treating the condition of smoking. Furthermore, it would be beneficial in future studies to have higher levels of participants to increase confidence in future study outcomes. And lastly, the study did not take into account the hypnotizable of the smokers. Obviously increased levels of hypnosis susceptibility will impact on the success of smokers post hypnotic intervention and thus the results of the study.
This study highlights and shows some evidence for the efficacy of hypnosis on smoking. Furthermore, the fact that smokers were more likely to quit after 12 months if they completed the final reinforcement session also shows the
benefits of receiving multiple hypnotic sessions. More studies need to be conducted to further ascertain the impact hypnosis interventions have on smoking. There has been for some time a large variation in study outcomes that concern quit smoking hypnosis and it is for this reason why more studies are required.
Elkins, G., & Rajab, M. (2004). Clinical hypnosis for smoking cessation:
preliminary results of a three-session intervention. International Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis, 52(1), 73-81.
Filed under: Smoking