[Contributed by Michiko Walraven]
"I had decided to use hypnosis simply because: (1) I knew I did not have strong willpower; (2) I honestly believed that I would go under very easily. Also, the initial session was covered by our medical insurance, since it was a referral from my physician. My appointment with the doctor (a General Practitioner with a certificate for hypnotherapy) was 9 a.m. on my birthday (sheer coincidence, which turned out to be a great motivator later). I had my last smoke in the car in the parking lot at 8:59 a.m. The doctor asked me at the beginning of the session to describe to him why I was going to quit. It was, I told him, because I knew I had to quit eventually, and that it was as good as any other time (rather laid-back attitude). One thing I really emphasized was that I didn't want to turn into an ex-smoker who would become a strong anti-smoker, poking his/her nose into everybody else's (i.e. smoker's) business.
"My session began. He asked me to look back for the first happy moment I could remember as a non-smoker. That took a lot of going back... I had been a smoker since 16 or so. I was about 12 years old or so in that image. The doctor then told me that I no longer needed to smoke, and asked me if I could visualize myself being a non-smoker in that image, only at the current age. After some time I would see myself being a non-smoker. He then asked me if I could see myself being a non-smoker one week from that day, one month, 3 months, etc. etc. finally down to one year from that day. Fortunately I could really see it.
"That was basically it. I did not become violently ill at the smell or sight of smoke, I did not turn into a radical anti smoker. I am just a happy and proud non-smoker for over two years now. Of course this newsgroup helped a LOT, particular at the beginning, and when I was going through some legal/family trauma. Sure, the thought comes to me 'Boy, a smoke would really hit the spot' once in awhile. But if necessary, I can always go back for a follow-up session. Actually I was told to have an follow-up after 2 weeks/months, but never bothered because (1) I did not need it all thatmuch, and (2) it would cost me $80.00 CDN. (First session was covered by the medical insurance, lucky!)
"If you are interested, ask your family doctor. That is exactly what I did, and he recommended doctors who could do hypnotherapy (1 hr) for my purpose. It was strictly a private session. I don't know how a group session would have worked for me, since I wasn't interested."
Here is more on hypnotherapy, from a licensed practitioner.
Bob Christofferson asked a hypnotist who posted to AS3:
"Do you have any advice for how to select a hypnotherapist? Is one session enough, or are results better with more sessions? Are group sessions any good? Is there a way for a person to tell if he or she would be a good candidate for hypnotherapy? Is that enough questions for now? :) "
Edward Hutchison, a practicing hypnotist, responded:
"First, I don't know any sure guide to picking a lawyer, a good school, a wife ... or a hypnotherapist. There really aren't any good accrediting agencies with universal recognition for hypnotists or psychotherapists so about all I can suggest would be to ask friends or perhaps your family doctor. But, to be honest, although hypnosis is taught at some medical and dental schools it is not a part of the typical MD's training. Consequently, not enough of them are aware of its full potential and some patient might ask a question about it and, as you probably know, MD's are bred to never say 'I don't know.'
"As to the number of sessions: it depends. I prefer to see people once, and for about 70%, that one visit is enough to quit smoking. Crassilneck and Hall have published a study with an 82% success rate but it is predicated upon four sessions and the only subjects seen were males with a medical referral.
"I have conducted numerous group sessions - usually where some employer undertakes the expense of the program. The success rate is only about 50%. But in terms of cost-effectiveness these programs, especially in the absence of other options, can be very worthwhile. They last three hours (with two brief breaks) as opposed to about 70 minutes for the individual sessions.
"The last question is the easiest. Virtually everyone with the intelligence to ask the question is a good candidate for hypnosis. That is to say, about the only people who have any difficulty in obtaining the light trance necessary for stop-smoking suggestions are those who are very dull and those who are actively psychotic. In a long private practice I have only about one percent who were, in my opinion, refractory to hypnosis. Of course, the goal is not hypnosis, but change, and unfortunately no good way exists to measure the motivation so essential to all change."