Does it seem like you have tried everything to overcome smoking but it just hasn’t worked? If you answered, “yes” then hypnosis could be just the method to help you stop smoking. To help understand what hypnosis is and how hypnosis can help you overcome smoking, I have interviewed therapist Terry Moore, LICSW.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Omaha, NE. I work in a group practice with about 10 other therapists.
I grew up near Chicago, and moved to Omaha in the early 1970’s to attend Creighton University. I completed my undergraduate degree with a double-major in psychology and sociology. At the time, Creighton didn’t have an accredited Social Work program but I took some basic courses offered through the Sociology Department, and participated in an internship program.
I completed a Master of Social Work degree in December of 1980 from the University of NE at Omaha. I started my private practice part-time in 1986, and transitioned to full-time the following year. Along the way, I had started informal study of clinical hypnosis. That process accelerated over time, as the practice group I had joined featured a staff steeped in the use of hypnosis. Later, I joined the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, took training from them, and eventually became certified and named an Approved Consultant through ASCH. That entitles me to help others achieve certification through individualized training.
I use hypnosis in my work virtually every day, and continue to read and attend trainings to advance my knowledge. It continues to fascinate me, despite a passing of almost 30 years since my first formal class in hypnosis.”
What is hypnosis?
“You would think that would be an easy question! Curiously, I bet we could ask several seasoned clinicians trained in hypnosis and get a different answer each time. Nonetheless, this is what I can offer:
It is likely that every human being has a capacity for focus, concentration, absorption into states we might call reverie or daydreaming or meditative/thoughtful states. This likely happens to most everyone spontaneously throughout everyday activities. That might include activities like reading, sports performance, playing a musical instrument, watching a movie – or just sitting on a park bench watching the clouds roll by. Those activities, and the shift in focus & absorption represent a naturalistic access to relaxation, time distortion, and subtle dissociation.
In clinical hypnosis, we help clients access these naturalistic states in a more planed and directed manner. We do so to activate a learning state that facilitates change. One thing that I find myself saying to most every new client is that they might consider that hypnosis is to personal change what a syringe is to medicine. Hypnosis is a facilitator – a modality of delivery – for ideas. In the same way that a syringe is a way of delivering a vaccine or other medicine.
So, the phenomenon of experiencing hypnosis is not that a curative activity in and of itself. It is a tool, a process, and a catalyst to that end.”
How can hypnosis help someone overcome smoking?
“There are a number of elements that are relevant that we might use with clients who want to make this change. I don’t use scripts, so each intervention is customized – based on the individual client. [I sometimes get calls from someone representing a group of friends or co-workers who want a group hypnosis experience. While that has an economic appeal, clinically it’s a mistake. It would be hard to do a proper assessment for a roomful of people and impossible to tailor an intervention to a group.]
For individuals, here are some of the possible areas of focus:
Hypnosis boosts personal confidence in being able to make and maintain significant personal change.
Hypnosis helps shift one’s identity from smoker to former smoker.
Hypnosis helps identify personal needs [and ways to better cope] that past smoking fulfilled in some way.
Hypnosis links to personal motivations that are unique to that person [typically health, energy, to be able to maintain relationships with loved ones].
Hypnosis helps rehearse how one will move through a typical day as a non-smoker with comfort and confidence. New responses to old triggers are then developed. Caring for personal needs without tobacco.
Hypnosis diminishes feelings of cravings, predicting their fading and resolution.
Hypnosis is linked to the body’s healing over time from past smoking.
I typically see people for 2 hypnosis sessions scheduled about 7 to 10 days apart. Session 1 focuses on the process of stop smoking. Session 2 focuses on maintaining that success over time. I record the audio from each session, and transfer it to a compact disc on the spot for at-home reinforcement, as desired.”
Does hypnosis have to be combined with other forms of therapy or medication in order to be increase it’s impact?
“There is no one-size-fits-all protocol here. I have had some clients stop a long pattern of heavy smoking with seemingly little discomfort, and I’ve met some people who report multiple attempts without being able to maintain it. My preference is to talk to people before he or she comes in. If people are being treated for depression or mood swings, they are often on psychotropic medications already [or have been in the past]. Others report cravings for smoking even in the first hour of each new day. Still others report access to smoking environments that offer little resistance to old habits. Someone who works in construction, or a long-distance truck driver, regrettably, are used to smoking whenever they want – not much practice with deferring gratification of needs. Challenging!
So, sometimes I do suggest that people talk to his or her doctor about medications designed to help with stopping smoking or to consider whether they may need nicotine replacement therapy [gum, patches, etc.]. I tell people that whatever is legal, ethical, and affordable is a legitimate tool!”
What advice would you like to leave for someone who is considering hypnosis to help him or her overcome smoking?
“The key element is motivation and readiness for change. While I have occasionally seen people who ‘needed’ to quit because an orthopedic surgeon demanded it [nicotine impairs healing of bones, I’m told] – people will do better when they are freely making the choice about when and how to stop smoking. Additionally, one must be ready to make some adaptations to the process. When I talk to people before scheduling, I ask about personal readiness. Occasionally, a person will say that they are going to stop smoking ‘if the hypnosis works’. At that point, I tell callers that I cannot see that now – it would be stealing money from them. I tell them that hypnosis can facilitate stopping – making it easier – but that they should call back when they are ready to stop, unconditionally.
Lastly, choose your hypnotist carefully. In most states, the job title of ‘hypnotist’ is not protected in any way. Ask lots of questions about training, years of experience. Once you select a provider, make sure you will be seen individually, and that the services are tailored for you and not just a tape running into headphones! [yes, that can happen].”
Thank you Terry for doing the interview on how hypnosis can help someone overcome smoking. For more information on Terry Moore or her work you can check out her website on www.terrymooreomahahypnosis.com.
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