Hypnotherapy helps smokers kick the habit
has forty years of care in practice.
The pledge to stop smoking ranks among the top 10 New Year resolutions.
The accepted tool for quitting is hypnotherapy.
One ex-smoker who tried it suddenly lost his desire to light up, after only one appointment. Smokers know that tobacco use is linked to cancer and heart disease. However, it's not the rational, cognitive mind that keeps the nicotine habit in place. Habits and behaviours are stored within the recesses of the unconscious mind which can be reached through hypnosis.
In Germany, hypnosis has been recognized as a treatment method in the field of psychotherapy since 2006.
Hypnotherapy is the Bridge from conscious to the unconscious, facilitating change in long term habits and behaviours.
A smoker undergoing hypnotherapy to stop smoking is aware of what's happening around him or her.
Hypnosis is a natural state that everyone is capable of. When you are deeply engrossed in a great book or film, you are experiencing a state of hypnosis.
The mind knows that it is watching a fictional film with actors playing characters, but is able to suspend disbelief for two hours in a dark movie theater.
Utilising this trance-like state, the hypnotherapist communicates with the mind, helping the client to achieve their aims. After all, if we can suspend reality and emotionally respond to a book or a film, we are all able to believe that we are a non smoker.
Where there's a will, there's a way
Cologne lawyer Jochen Gerhard, 58, had smoked at least a pack a day for 40 years until he quit cold turkey two years ago.
In spite of coronary bypass surgery in his forties, Gerhard continued to smoke until his doctor gave him a hypothetical but realistic ultimatum: Quit smoking or die of a heart attack. The doctor then recommended a local hypnotherapist.
"At that point, my will to quit was so great I said, okay, I'll try it," said Gerhard, who had nothing to lose except the £150.
Gerhard was at first skeptical about hypnotherapy.
"I wondered if it wasn't all just hocus-pocus - but I tried to put aside those thoughts and concentrate on the hypnotist's voice," Gerhard said."
At the end of the therapy session Gerhard threw out his remaining pack of cigarettes.
"Since then, I've not had the urge to smoke. I don't miss it. I can't explain it," Gerhard said.
The test of Gerhard's resistance to cigarettes came last Christmas when he and his wife Sabine spent the holidays with his relatives, who are all heavy smokers.
"He didn't light up at all," said Sabine Gerhard, who had lived through Jochen's previous failed attempts to quit.
"He used to be a nervous wreck without cigarettes but now he behaves like a normal, emotionally balanced person," she said.
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Reprogramming the mind
Hypnotherapist Norbert Schick explained what happens during hypnotherapy:
"It's like reprogramming the unconscious mind.
The cigarette becomes less and less appealing until the smoker is indifferent to it."
Without hypnotherapy first attempts to quit smoking often fail but it's not addiction to nicotine that keeps smokers from quitting, since the quickly metabolized chemical leaves the body in a matter of days.
Martina Pötschke-Langer, head of the cancer prevention unit of the German Cancer Research Center, describes how a smoker's mind must be primed for quitting.
"Quitting is a mental decision, and if a person is not ready, then no method will be successful," said Pötschke-Langer.
However, hypnotherapy can help smokers kick the habit - depending on the skill and qualifications of the hypnotherapist.
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