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Hypnosis for Smoking CessationReview - Hypnosis for Smoking Cessation
An NLP and Hypnotherapy Practitioner's Manual
by David Botsford
Crown House, 2007
Review by Rosemary Cook
Feb 26th 2008 (Volume 12, Issue 9)

As the title indicates, this book is written for hypnotherapy and Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) practitioners, and it is dedicated to the cause of smoking cessation.  For this purpose, the author provides good examples of the techniques used, as well as guidelines for practice in private and corporate settings.  In addition, a worthy amount of information is dedicated to the practitioners need to understand the nature of hypnotic transformation, and the psychology of the smoker. 

Smoking is a nicotine addiction.  According to the DSM-IV 305.10, Nicotine dependence is a nicotine use disorder.  As such, we can expect the same characteristic tolerance to, and symptoms of withdrawal from nicotine, as would be expected with other drug addictions.  "Although 80% of individuals who smoke express a desire to stop smoking and 35% try to stop each year, less than 5% are successful in unaided attempts to quit" (p. 243). 

Because nicotine sources are readily and legally available, procuring this drug is usually not a problem for smokers, however the rising price for it maybe.  Continued use despite knowledge of medical problems related to smoking is a particularly important health problem (e.g., an individual who continues to smoke despite having a tobacco-induced medical condition such as bronchitis or chronic obstructive lung disease).  The pursuit of a smoke-free workplace is yet another quest useful to this cause.  Smokers themselves, however, can have many reasons for wanting to quit.  One client might simply want to smell better, while another may want to be freed from the many socially imposed exiles we now have for those who smoke.

In any case, the author makes it clear that the client who comes to a hypnotherapist to stop smoking is not coming to be hypnotized.  The client is coming in order to become a non-smoker.  It’s important to note that about 85% of those who smoke began as teenagers.  In every case, when a person starts smoking they do so for an intention -- it does something positive for them (e.g. they want to come across as cool or sophisticated).  Here, the unconscious mind accepts smoking as the most immediate way to achieve that positive intention.  Likewise, effective hypnotherapy for smoking cessation depends entirely on the use of positive messages and experiences.  The goal is to empower clients, so that they may draw on their own resourcefulness, and use their own knowledge for personal transformation, thus setting up a positive chain reaction that can enable them to remain non-smokers indefinitely. 

Hypnotic trance is an extremely powerful means of bringing about transformation in a persons behavior.  Behavior is governed by the unconscious mind, hence consciously wanting to quit smoking can have little to no affect on a persons behavior (i.e., their smoking pattern).  Also true, the unconscious mind can override the body’s physiological responses which is one reason hypnosis works so well to combat addiction.  In fact, hypnosis may very well be the original mind/body therapy.  It has been reported that the use of hypnosis for smoking cessation has a 94% success rate, and it has been found to have about 60% success in 5-year follow-ups on continued abstinence (Temes, p.152).  Combining Eriksonian hypnotherapy and NLP techniques, the author illustrates how to optimize the experience for success that can endure time.  The author, then, applies these techniques as they might be performed in a one to one session, working with groups, and in the corporate setting. 

The author, David Botsford, is an experienced hypnotherapist and NLP Practitioner whose work in the areas of personal growth, emotional well-being, and smoking cessation fit neatly together in this publication.  Although this book is called a Manual, a majority of the reading is set up like a study guide in that the author provides many definitions and case examples to illustrate the points being made, which in my opinion would not have such prominence in a manual.  But, in truth I think the inclusions make the publication more complete and very helpful to the practitioner. The book comes with a CD that includes client handouts and transcripts.  Personally, I would have appreciated if the checklists and questionnaires were included on the CD.  But, that’s just for convenience.  The book really provides everything an interested practitioner might need to start, support, and even grow a career in hypnosis for smoking cessation.   


American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, (forth edition).  Washington, DC.: American Psychiatric Association. 

Temes, R. (1999) Medical Hypnosis. Philadelphia, PA: Churchill Livingstone.

© 2008 Rosemary Cook

Rosemary Cook is a Therapeutic Counselor and Hypnotherapist in private practice living on Long Island, NY. 


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