As I go in and out of my Kensington office building I sometimes notice people standing off to the side, in groups of two or three, talking and – smoking. And I remember, several years ago, seeing one of them point discreetly at me and whispering, “That’s him, the hypnotist! He got Brendan to quit smoking!” There was an incredulity in the voice, almost a dread, as though I were the hawk who had snatched away one of their companions into the smoking-cessation bordo, never to be seen again.
Brendan was a commercial realtor; he had an office on the first floor. Until recently, he would have been one of the ones out there taking a cigarette break, but now he was fully and completely smoke-free.
Brendan had come to me, of course. He was about to be married and wanted to have kids, and he felt it was time, so as not to be a danger or a burden to his new family and so he would be around with them for a long time.
When I see someone smoking, by my building or somewhere else, there is a certain temptation to walk up to them and say, “Do you really like smoking?” I think the answers would vary, from an emphatic “Yes!” to “No, but I just can’t stop,” to all sorts of nuances in-between. But of course, that would definitely be the wrong thing to do. First of all, MYOB – it is none of my business. Second, it really wouldn’t help, either for me trying to drum up business or for the person themself. My smoking cessation hypnotherapy works best when the client has already decided that this is what he or she wants. I don’t want to have to convince them of anything – that’s not my job – rather just to help them carry out a decision they’ve already made. (Occasionally I work with someone who is “on the fence,” leaning perhaps but not decided. That is another matter, and I approach it differently.) And even if I did convince them that they should quit, the success rate would not be nearly as high as when they come to me, which would negatively affect my reputation, my confidence, and ultimately my practice.
With Brendan , as with all of my smoking cessation clients, I had done three sessions.
Our first session lasted a whole two hours, and it was jam-packed. We went through his intake form together; we discussed hypnosis (which he had not experienced before), and I taught him self-hypnosis (The Zone and Power Self – https://www.hypnosissilverspring.com/three-basic-exercises/) and assigned him to practice regularly (“There’s homework here!” I told him). We talked about what it would mean, to him, to stop using tobacco and about how, though it is an addiction, people quit every day. I showed Brendan four “first-aid” measures, things he could do to take away a nicotine craving, if he should have one. This would be helpful, I told him, because even though most of my clients are smoke-free after their first session, they may (or may not) still experience some cravings for a few days afterwards. I showed him how to take himself even deeper into a hypnotic state, and at the end I hypnotized him once again, with framing and suggestions for being smoke-free permanently, recording this on his cell phone for him to listen to later, every day or so.
Sessions 2 and 3 were for reinforcement and followup – they are less structured, to address what the particular client needs at that point. I utilized Core Transformation and Wholeness to go deeper into and resolve the thoughts and feelings he had around smoking, to solidify and entrench Brendan's identity as non-smoker – smoke-free. We also had a little time to transform some of the anxiety he felt from time to time.
It has now been over five years since I have worked with Brendan – he remains smoke-free and we know that, by now, his body has fully healed from the destructive effects of smoking. (When I check with my clients a year after their last session, 75-80% are still smoke free.)
I wish I could convey all of this to the people smoking outside my Kensington office, but unfortunately, they are going to have to take the first step to re-joining brother Tim, as non-smokers, by contacting me.
See also Stop Smoking page and Smoking Cessation Bethesda! blog.
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