Three months today! Woo-hoo! After 12 years of being off cigarettes, I started smoking again. Ugh. Such a bummer. And I didn't think I had another quit in me. I did everything I could to stop on my own and wasn't able to sustain more than a day or two. I finally had enough and found Rita on Yelp. I had one hypnotherapy sessions and left her office a non-smoker. These past 3 months have been relatively easy and calm. Sure, every now and again I think I want "just one," but a) one's too many and a 1000 is not enough, and b) I am a non-smoker!
Well, like most smokers you almost certainly have much more of a psychological dependence on smoking than a physical one. Over time, the psychological habits relating to smoking become thoroughly ingrained at a subconscious level. Smoking cessation products such as pills, patches and gum can provide relief from the physical side-effects of nicotine withdrawal, but they do not address the psychological issues that prevent or discourage people from quitting.
"Sometimes life becomes too difficult to battle on our own. Together, we can explore what events or relationships may be causing distress in your life and develop tools and skills to overcome these hardships. I strive to provide a warm and comforting therapeutic environment and convey empathy and understanding to allow my clients to feel safe and validated during our sessions. You are here, which means you've taken that first big step and I am here to help you through the rest of the therapeutic journey."
Mark Hall, a professional hypnotherapist and licensed social worker, was well aware of that, of course. He quit smoking many years ago himself—he says he still remembers reaching for a phantom lighter that wasn't in his pocket—and he has been holding sessions like these for more than 20 years, aimed at convincing others that they can do it themselves. Typically his hypnotherapy sessions cost around $150, or $95 with insurance coverage, but this event, sponsored by the Sanborn Foundation for the Treatment and Cure of Cancer, was near my home, and open and free to the public. In other words, there was no reason not to go, except, perhaps, a question that had been frightening me all week as the meeting approached: What if it doesn't work? Or, maybe even worse: What if it actually does? Then what the hell am I going to do? As crazy as it sounds, smoking is such a major part of my daily routine, the prospect of losing it is scary.
Look for a hypnotherapist who is a member of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) or the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. To be a member of either of these organizations, a hypnotherapist must have a doctorate level degree in medicine, dentistry, or psychology, or a master’s degree in nursing, social work, psychology, or marital/family therapy plus a specific number of hours of approved training in hypnotherapy. In some cases, accredited, doctoral-level practitioners of alternative health care, such traditional Chinese medicine, may also be approved for membership. Of course, in addition to looking at qualifications, you should also find a hypnotherapist with whom you feel confident and comfortable in a therapeutic relationship.