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Smoking Cessation Health Center

Hypnosis for Quitting Smoking

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Does Hypnosis Work?

Hypnosis, in general, does not work for everyone. About one in four people are not able to be hypnotized. When successful, the intensity of hypnosis can vary from person to person.

How well hypnosis works to help people stop smoking depends on who you ask. Study results have been mixed. In 2010, a systematic review of published studies found that there wasn't enough evidence to support the use of hypnosis. Another review published in 2012 said that studies do support a possible benefit from the use of hypnosis. In discussing alternative methods for quitting smoking on its web site, the American Cancer Society says that while controlled studies have not supported the effectiveness of hypnosis, there is anecdotal evidence that some people have been helped.

Despite some web sites and promotional materials that say otherwise, hypnosis is not an approved therapy by the American Medical Association (AMA). The organization does not have an official position on the use of hypnosis. A position statement regarding the use of the technique for medical and psychological purposes was rescinded by the AMA in 1987.

Researchers who have studied hypnosis say more, well-conducted studies are needed to determine if hypnosis really helps smokers kick the habit for good, but add that hypnosis remains a hopeful approach and has many other benefits. However, the best way to quit may be to combine several techniques. Patients often require several different strategies along the way.

How to Find a Hypnotherapist

If you want to try hypnosis to help you quit smoking, ask your health care provider to recommend a good hypnotherapist.

Here are some tips when looking for a qualified hypnotherapist:

  • Make sure they are licensed, trained, and credentialed. Hypnosis for smoking cessation and other medical or behavioral reasons should only be done by someone who has a current license in a health care field, such as medicine, psychiatry, psychology, or nursing.
  • Ask some tough questions. Ask about their professional training. The American Society for Clinical Hypnosis also suggests asking: “Is this practitioner able to help me without using hypnosis?" If the answer is no, you should look elsewhere.
  • Beware of too-good-to-be true claims or guarantees. Hypnosis does not work for everyone.

Remember, it's never too late to quit smoking. Doing so has immediate health benefits. And, if you quit smoking before you turn 50, you'll cut the risk of dying in the next 15 years in half, compared to those who keep lighting up.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on October 05, 2014
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