Hypnotherapy Training Journal – Week 4

This week we started with the 3 S’s: Smoking, Slimming & Stress. This is where the majority of the therapists work comes from. Because we have some smokers within our group it was really interesting to hear their reasons for why they started smoking, why they continue to smoke and why they ‘can’t’ give up.

Of the many reasons to give up smoking none of them quoted enlightening education from the myriad of TV adverts and anti-smoking propaganda. These media wars sponsored by the various patch and pill manufacturers seem to do nothing but harden their resolve.

I found this issue to be the most enlightening when it came to the questioning process. Finding out the core issue can be a complex process and requires many varied and leading questions and the core issue may not be what the client has come to the therapist for. The client that wants to become a non-smoker is a prime example of this as what triggered them to start smoking may be the issue that needs resolving before any thing else.

Some of these questions are really powerful and put the ownership of the problem squarely with the client under the premise that the healing happens from within. Some of my favorites are (and they’re not only useful for smoking cessation):

What needs to happen for this change to take place?
This is so powerful because most times we know what we need to do to fix a problem but never actually say it out loud. Once someone has spoken the words they can then start to plan.

Who’s important to you?
When the Dad answers “My kids are the most important thing in my life” he’s just given the therapist the switch they need to help that Dad stop smoking.

Who’s responsible for your health?
Kind of obvious this one, yes, we’ve got to take responsibility for our own lives. This is a great tool to discover if the client is going to be committed enough to move on.

In what ways will your life improve when you become a non-smoker?
Focus on the positive it’s very important to find out whether a client is a ‘towards’ or ‘away-from’ motivated person. In the example above with the Dad’s who’s most important thing is his kids that’s an away-from motivation because he doesn’t want to die and miss his kids growing up and the opposite would be a smoker who wants to save the money they spend on cigarettes on going on a dream holiday.

Since doing this part of the course I’ve been lucky to find someone brave enough to be my guinea pig. Mrs D, as I’ll call her here is a fairly light smoker but wanted help in stopping smoking all together.

Using the basic Hypnosis & Health Smokers Questionnaire I found out about her smoking history. Here are some of those questions and her answers:

How old are you?

What’s your occupation?

Do you have any fears, phobias or “little habits”?
A bit of a ‘fussy ass’, mildly obsessive when it comes to tidying.

Why do you want to become a non-smoker?
Health reasons mostly as I have high cholesterol which I’m taking medication for (statins).

Why do you smoke?
Because it’s a habit and there’s a part of me that thinks it reduces stress but I really know that it doesn’t.

What are the benefits of smoking?
Stress relief.

What are the benefits of becoming a non-smoker?
Health, avoiding strokes, get it out of your system. No more smoke smell.

What do you perceive are the drawbacks of becoming a non-smoker?
Finding something else to relieve the stress. Finding something else to do.

What do you want to achieve by stopping?
A longer life, seeing my grand-daughter grow up. My Mum died at 63…

What could you do instead of smoking?
Tidying, gardening, getting out more. Perhaps start going to yoga or pilates classes again.

What could prevent you from stopping?
Being with partner who smokes.

Is there any part of you that does not want to stop smoking?
No, not now.

Further questions and conversation uncovered Mrs D. wanted to live longer than her mother did and I decided to allude to this in the script. I also found out that she had given up once before, which lasted for two-years, with the help of hypnosis. She started again because she believed that it just took ‘that one cigarette’.

So, with all this information to hand I decided that I would perform the ego-strengthening script that we’d practiced previously so that Mrs D. would be in a heightened state of awareness for the main smoking cessation session.

I’ve practiced the ego-strengthening script many times before but before I started I wanted to make sure that the client was as comfortable as possible. As she had mentioned previously that she’d had a good experience with her previous hypnotherapist I asked her how she was sitting and how the hypnotherapist was sitting in the context of the room we were currently in. She moved her favorite chair so that she was facing me.

I also asked whether the previous therapist had asked her to create a relaxing scene in her mind as we progressed through the session – which he had.

Once I felt that her confidence had been boosted I progressed with the smoking cessation session during which I deposited a few nuggets of information gleaned from our earlier conversations. I mentioned the fact she wanted to live longer and have more energy and I also mentioned how proud her Mum would’ve been to know she was taking this positive step. I also mentioned how this step was also enabling her to see her grand-daughter grow up.

Another thing that I dropped into the session as a post-hypnotic suggestion was that she would be able to return to this relaxing scene whenever she felt the need to unwind.

Once the session was over and I was happy that she was fully aware and awake I asked how she felt. She explained, in a slightly blurry fashion, that she felt good and relaxed. After a few minutes more conversation I again eluded to the special relaxing place that she had created in her mind. I decided to try a little NLP (Neuro-Linguistic programming) trick and anchor this thought. I explained, in what I hoped was more hypnotic language, that she could use this anchor to return to this special relaxing scene at any time she felt she needed to unwind.


It almost feels like I’ve forgotten about this part of the weekends course but it was probably the most profound part for me.

We were taken through a slimming session with a brave volunteer from the course students as a client. Watching this session unfold was almost traumatic as the clients personal history came out. I was almost bought to tears which was a form of transference, something of which I’m going to have to learn to stop myself doing.

At another point we were all taken through a slimming script and my reaction after wasn’t what I’d expected at all; I was hungrier than ever!

But the really strange part of this is that I have kept recalling parts of the script at random times. Since the 1st January I decided that I would cut out a lot of the bad food from my diet such as chocolate, crisps and biscuits. It’s now been twenty-days and I feel great!

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