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Smokers who want to quit are very often looking for miracles. Sometimes they get them - the one-session smoking cure does happen. Any therapist worth the salt has plenty of experience of that. But too often the expectation gets in the way and the smoker complains that 'it didn't work' - as if they had been given an ineffective drug. Or the miracle happens but the smoker relapses. because he or she has been left vulnerable: the therapy was not comprehensive enough.

Intelligent therapy for smoking concerns recognises
  • that some smokers can and will give up straight away with well focused assistance
  • that many other smokers need more sessions and careful coaching
  • that therapy should address not only how to stop but also how to stay stopped
  • that the smoking habit has hi-jacked some basic needs that will need to be met in new ways in the non-smoking pattern
  • that in some (though not all) cases additional therapy for associated concerns may be necessary

It includes:

  • motivational interview techniques through which clients can understand better how smoking has worked for them
  • solution focused counselling that allows clients to see and understand clearly how they will function as non smokers
  • hypnosis and guided imagery to counter the hypnotic power of the smoking addiction and make effective use of the power of the 'unconscious mind'
  • flexible use of a range of other communication techniques including metaphors and imaginative techniques
  • teaching ways of relaxing and focusing that build new flexibility and psychological skill
  • developing individually tailored strategies for maintaining new non-smoking habits
  • dealing with any associated issues effectively and without psychobabble

Smoking is an addiction and is widely recognized as such. Yet it is not simply a physical addiction; it has many psychological roots, perhaps especially because it is so widespread and until recently, socially acceptable. Also because of what could be called the hypnotic power of the smoking habit.

Smoking is hypnotic because it somehow manages to convince the smoker that it is useful, intelligent, cool, relaxing, stimulating, stylish etc etc. whilst in fact it is, as everyone knows, slow but sure killer that ruins health, wrinkles skin and makes people generally less attractive. One out of every two smokers dies of a smoking related concern. Statistics like these rarely bother smokers for long because smokers are incurably optimistic. Yet very few people would cross a road with only a 50% chance of reaching the other side.

Therapy that attempts to frighten smokers with this sort of information is, however, rarely effective for long. Smokers need sympathetic understanding in order to help them develop their own understanding and practical skill as non-smokers. This is the approach we take.

How many sessions?

It follows from the above that there is no easy answer to this question. It depends on you. However, we recommend a course of three sessions is the most commonly effective pattern to follow in order to hit all of the targets set out above - though of course we still allow for that one session miracle!


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