Quitting smoking is often a difficult process for many people, but it is also an opportunity to enhance health and lengthen life. For a smoking cessation specialist, one the most successful proven methods for quitting smoking is through hypnotherapy.
We will be exploring how an aspiring practitioner can become successful in helping people on their route to a smoking-free life.
We see hypnotists all over the world that are doing wonderful work, but they’re not necessarily running a successful business. How does one earn a good living through hypnotherapy work? One key ingredient when trying to find your place in the world of successful hypnosis practice is to narrow down your expertise, specializing in something that you’re passionate about and thus, becoming the very best at that one thing.
This way, the world will beat the path to your door as you will become an expert in your niche and achieve the best organic marketing result – referrals. People will be looking for your services and this will enable you to build a constantly growing network of new clients.
Some hypnotherapists get intimidated right from the start by the idea of helping people stop smoking and the main reason behind it is fear of failure, as this kind of service needs to produce a concrete permanent result. Everything that you’re doing in this kind of practice needs to be methodically thought out, and everything needs to build on the previous step.
Let’s see some of the ways you could build your own protocol by exploring one that has been already tested and proven efficient for smoking cessation therapy.
- 1 Smoking is not an addiction
- 2 Hypnotherapy for Smoking Cessation
- 3 Leaning into the magic of hypnosis
- 6 Three things are boilerplate to any successful hypnosis session
- 7 Wrapping Up
Smoking is not an addiction
First and foremost, it’s vital to understand the distinction between addiction and habit. What happens when people try to quit smoking? Among the most common reactions are getting grumpy, irritable, getting cravings and sometimes getting anxious – Notice all of those are in the mind.
Now let’s compare them with the physical withdrawal symptoms experienced when quitting addictive substances like heroin, cocaine – heart complications, shakes, sweats, convulsions, vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinations. These are much more intense, they can put one’s life in danger and need to be professionally monitored.
Also notice that you don’t see someone going from a pack a day to two packs, to four packs, to eight packs. Smokers find their spot and they level out – ‘I’m a two pack a day.’ ‘I’m a one pack a day.’ Some people even go down – ‘I used to be a package. I’m a half a pack now.’ That doesn’t happen with addictive substances.
Therefore, in a smoker’s case, it’s a habit. Nobody gets hooked on cigarettes after the age of 25, they’ve got to get you during the socializing period between the ages of 9 to 10, up to 21 to 25. That’s during the socializing period where it’s more important to fit in along, be cool, be rebel. So it’s a habit, a powerfully ingrained habit.
Everyone who comes to see you for any problem is conflicted – Part of their mind wants to be healthy, another part of their mind wants to eat cheesecake. Part of their mind wants to be free, another part wants to smoke. Whatever the situation is, they have a conflicted mind. Otherwise, they would have solved this problem for themselves long ago without your help.
Last but not least, understand that this habit is located at the identity level – ‘I am a smoker’ sounds like an identity statement, right? A smoker is beating themselves up for being a smoker worse than anyone else externally could ever do. It’s important to keep this in mind when working with smokers – it’s important to meet that client from this unconditional loving place, this non-judgemental space.
When you’re working with your client, rather than thinking “Let me fix this person’s problem” is saying “How can I help this person shift their identity from being a smoker to being a healthy person?” Working on this level is extremely efficient since the client will pick up their new identity, own it fully in their consciousness, and will be less likely to relapse since they won’t identify with their smoker-self anymore, it won’t represent them anymore.
Hypnotherapy for Smoking Cessation
In hypnotherapy for smoking cessation, a hypnotist usually takes the smoker into a trance-like condition during sessions, when they become more open to suggestions and thoughts, while the therapist is delivering positive reinforcement for quitting smoking. This method is intended to assist smokers in changing their mentality and behavior toward smoking, making it easier to quit.
Hypnotherapy can be adapted to the needs of the particular smoker, making it a very individualized method of quitting smoking. Most smokers can quit after only one or a few sessions.
Whether you want to become a hypnotherapist, coach or trainer, one of the ruling questions might be “How do I build a 100% referral practice? How do I turn my clients into enthusiastic referrals, so that I’m not spending half or more of my money just getting the clients to the door?”
“You need to be effective. If you have a 50% to 70% success rate, you’ll never be at 100% referral because you’ll get one referral, maybe two. But if you’ve got a 90% to 95% success rate, that’s going to be very effective. Some people are intimidated by helping people stop smoking because I believe they say “I don’t like working with smokers”.
And I think the real reason is because it either worked or it didn’t. There’s no gray area. If you’re doing stress relief, the client leaves your session feeling really good. They had a state change, but it doesn’t necessarily get a permanent result in the client’s nervous system”, says Ken.
Approaching the bad habits & addictions
Ken has a lot of valuable ideas that aspiring hypnotists can use in their own practice. As an expert in hypnosis, his definition of this technique is “a naturally occurring, common, peaceful state of being where one has open flow of communication to and from the greatest part of self and ability”.
In other words, it’s a state of being that is resourceful. And hypnosis is actually the most resourceful state of being that one can experience.
With that being said, during his sessions, Ken goes into hypnosis first, and his clients follow him there. There is no hierarchy with his clients where it’s like he is the hypnotist and the client is his subject. And one very important thing, he doesn’t take any of the credit for the changes, the client deserves all the credit for the changes that occur.
Therefore, he keeps everything he’s doing about taking that dependency that the client has, maybe on cigarettes or on sugar or on whatever program is running they want to get rid of, and reinforcing the resilience of that client as a powerful individual.
One thing with smokers – they are often identifying as the problem – “I am a smoker” is an identity statement. They feel they are the problem.
Through his experience, Ken realized how important it was for him to meet that client from this unconditional loving place, eventually becoming the foundation upon which everything he does is built.
But how do you exactly do that? You can close your eyes and imagine someone you feel unconditional love for. This should not be someone you’re romantically involved with or wish to be, because a) that isn’t unconditional and b) that’s obviously not the type of energy we want to be shining into our client, right? That’d be creepy.
Maybe think of a grandfather or a grandmother type of love. If it’s not a person, maybe it’s a pet that you feel unconditional love for. If it’s not a pet, maybe it’s a place that causes you to feel serene and peaceful and calm. But whether it’s a place, or a pet or a person, connect with that. Then when you open your eyes, shine that into your client with the intention of hypnotizing.
Leaning into the magic of hypnosis
A lot of people who are therapists or who are coaches, they put this enormous pressure on themselves to be two steps ahead of their client. And if you’re in your head thinking about where you’re going to take this person next, you’re missing the moment.
The magic of hypnosis happens in the moment.
And when you’re present in the moment, the perfect words flow from you, and you don’t miss those little flinches, that asymmetrical posture that they take. You can track all that because you’re present in the moment with your client. It becomes foundational to everything else that you do.
If you’re shining unconditional love into your clients, even if the session didn’t work, which is going to be very rare, even if it didn’t work, are you going to get a negative review? No, because you’ve created this wonderful connection. They’re going to contact you for next steps to get whatever went wrong, which is what you want them to do. So it’s crucial in building rapport, which is necessary for any session to occur.
And it puts the power of you and your client present in the moment. Because what happens is when you’re present shining unconditional love to your client, the critical faculty naturally melts away, and the trance begins. It’s about creating a safe place. And you can start your sessions like this no matter what type of session you’re doing, it’s not fundamental to stop smoking routines, it’s for everything and you’ll increase your success rate dramatically.
Three things are boilerplate to any successful hypnosis session
1. Positive Expectation
You don’t want your clients sitting there halfway through the pretalk going “Okay, impress me.” All that time could have been trance occurring because the client wasn’t bought in right at the very beginning. You want that ‘buy in’ right at the very beginning, at the greeting before we even begin. You want to build, you want to create confusion – Confusion leads to overload, creates trance. You want to redirect their attention and diffuse nervous emotion.
2. Creating Compliance
Another key aspect that is important to any hypnotist in business, keep the payment up front, right at the start of the session. A few good reasons to do this is because:
1. That’s when the commitment is created – you have your client paying you for a service you are about to provide.
2. At the end of the session the client is feeling great, they’re feeling blissful. The last thing you might want to do is go through the process of paying and possible issues, credit card not going through, discussing other forms of payment.
You can handle those before the session, not at the end of it, as that’s going to take them completely out of their experience. The session does not end when you count them up one up to five or one up to ten.
The session is still going on long after the client has left your office and they’re in their car beyond the horizon. So you want everything at the end of the session to be reinforcing future pacing, reinforcing what the client came for. So this is about making sure that everything is about the result that the client is there for from start to finish. And part of that is getting the commitment upfront.
3. Building credibility with your client
When dealing with clients struggling with various addictions, whether it’s smoking, drinking, eating, in most cases they’ve tried and failed so many times they may have even given up telling other people that they want to be free – So the belief in themselves is very low.
They’re coming to see you as a last resort, and they’re terrified they’ll just waste another few hundred dollars charge for the session. They’re nervous and they’re anxious, so there’s a lot going on with them. And they come in with this nervous, anxious energy and then try to translate this into a progressive relaxation.
You want to take what they give you and use overload and take that energy with them to convert that into trance and then relax them. You’re a sort of a judo master, taking whatever the client brings in with them. Instead of trying to relax them, you’ll take them all the way over to overload and collapse them into a trance, and then you relax them into where you want them to be.
A practical example that Ken gives of what a start of a session would look like: “The client walks in, I shake their hand and introduce them to my name. ‘Hey, Jonathan, great to meet you. Are you ready to be free of those cravings once and for all?’ That’s the first thing out of my mouth for a smoker. Now, some people, they want to create some rapport. So it’s like, did you have any trouble finding parking? How about that rain last night, was that heavy or what? We want to make some small talk, which is going to be hit and miss.
I’m going to build a rapport with my client by letting them know immediately that I’m here for what they’re here for, and I’m going to where they’ve tried and failed so many times before. This is going to be a very different experience. And we’re going to get everything that they came for and more. That’s how I rapport with them.”
To the question “Are you ready to be free of those cravings once and for all?” – nine times out of ten, I get a “yes”, Ken says. But if your client answers a different question than what you ask, there’s something there they’re wanting to protect. So be really observant when you ask a question, if they’re answering the question you asked. If they don’t, call them on it because there’s something really valuable there to unleash.
Ken initiates the Guzzo protocol in his sessions. It is a structured way of dealing with clients who want to get rid of bad habits, particularly smoking. There are steps to follow through and the success rate of his program is very high.
Whether you’re looking to become a smoking cessation specialist yourself, or simply a coach or trainer dealing with any kind of bad habit or addiction, Ken is definitely a true inspiration and also devoted teacher.
With emphasis on “habit”, Ken is breaking down all misconceptions about smoking and working with the mind toward profound change and transformation. He will also be sharing his effective method and protocol, an important and valuable asset to any therapist/coach/trainer interested in including hypnosis as an effective therapeutic solution for working with addictions.
About Ken Guzzo
Ken Guzzo is the founder of Non smoking Centres and the North American Academy of Hypnosis. He’s the creator of the Guzzo Protocol, a revolutionary intervention for people looking to quit their addiction. He’s a member of the board of advisers for the International Hypnosis Federation. And he’s been in practice with 100% referrals for more than ten years, helping more than 10,000 people stop smoking in one session with a lifetime guarantee. He has trained some of the world’s leading hypnotists who are replicating his results all over the world. Ken’s motto is that “hypnotists deserve to thrive”.
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Bilachi, J., & Peres, I. (2018). Effectiveness of Hypnosis Techniques to Quit Smoking. Journal of Global Oncology.
Herring, M.M. (2019). Strategies and Design of Hypnosis Intervention for Tobacco Cessation. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 61, 345 – 369.