How successful is hypnotherapy at helping smokers?
I understand that you are making a big commitment when you are signing up for hypnotherapy to help you quit smoking and I'm often asked why I don't quote success rates. Although it sounds like a cop-out or a deliberate evasion, it's actually because it is not ethical or legal for me to do so.
Advertising of any service or product designed to help smokers to quit is strictly regulated. In many ways, that's as it should be; it prevents quack remedies being marketed irresponsibly and protects those wishing to stop by ensuring they get reliable information about the methods most likely to help them. As part of this, the Advertising Standards Agency (A.S.A.) says advertisers must hold 'robust' and 'rigorous' proof to back up any claims made about success rates.
According to the A.S.A., claims should not be made based on the number of people who do not come to follow up sessions. They also say that contacting clients to ask if they have stopped is 'not robust enough to prove definitive success rates' (Dune Hypnotherapy Group, 5 November 2003). This rules out the ways most therapists traditionally estimated the success rates they quoted.
The report then goes on to say 'Blood tests are likely to be the only way of ascertaining whether people have given up smoking.'
In some ways, you might be relieved to hear I can't follow up on your therapy with blood tests. Unfortunately, this also means I can't quote a success rate.
A few therapists are unaware of this regulation or choose to ignore it. If you see anyone quoting success rates, ask lots of questions.
What evidence do they have to back up their claims? Can you see it before booking an appointment? How do they calculate their successes: how was information collected, over what period of time, how many people were involved? How long did clients have to stop for before being counted as a success? If you can't get proper answers, move on.
Does hypnotherapy help smokers to quit?
Although I'm unable to publish personal success rates, there is information in the public domain which gives you an idea of how well hypnotherapy as a method works.
Research comparing many different studies of hypnotherapy has shown that on average smokers are over five times more likely to break the habit with hypnosis than by willpower alone. Hypnotherapy, in general, is also proven to be more than twice as effective as nicotine gum.
Below are a couple of useful articles I found on a trawl through the Internet. In case you haven't guessed (!) I didn't personally take part in any of these studies. But I'm including them here as they seem to be well referenced and to come from reputable sources. I've provided links, so you can read the originals, and screenshots in case the originals are taken down. I'll add more studies from time to time, or you can probably Google some more for yourself.
According to New Scientist, 'Hypnosis is the most effective way of giving up smoking'.
- Link to this Report 1 Screenshot 1 (New Scientist précis)
- Link to this Report 2 Screenshot 2 (More complete version of the article)
Minnesota Hypnotherapy Associates have gathered together details of a variety of studies which used hypnosis to help with different topics and issues. The studies done with smokers identified a variable success rate up to 90.6%
Although these results are very positive, hypnosis wasn't right for everyone who took part. As it says elsewhere on this site, hypnotherapy is not mind-control or a magic wand. Choice is always part of the decision to quit smoking and you have to actively make that choice in order for it to be successful for you.
However, if you really want to stop smoking, one session of hypnotherapy could be just the help you need.